Articles By All
Former Florida State quarterback De'Andre Johnson is breaking his silence on what happened that night at the bar when a surveillance camera caught him punching a woman.
Johnson got caught in an altercation with a woman, regardless of how the situation escalated, he says he never should have let it get that far.
"I should've never raised my hand to her," Johnson said.
Johnson goes on to say how sorry he is for hurting his mother by getting caught in a situation like this. He mentioned that she didn't raise him this way and through the tears are words of sincerity. He also understands Florida State's decision to dismiss him.
Ohio State assistant Tony Alford was so giddy at the thought of being Ezekiel Elliott’s new position coach that he temporarily misplaced his filter.
When asked this spring what it will be like to go from Notre Dame to the role of running backs coach at OSU, Alford immediately retorted, “I don’t know. Is it pretty easy to drive a Lexus after you’ve been driving a Volkswagen?”
Alford then gulped and recalled he had several topflight skill players under his tutelage at ND the past six years.
“Those guys are really good players, too,” he said. “But in all seriousness, it certainly helps to come here and have great players around and some guys who really understand how to work.”
The Buckeyes backfield will have its usual array of ball-toting talent this fall, including emerging weapon Curtis Samuel and true freshman Mike Weber among those who can line up behind any one of OSU’s proven quarterbacks, all major running threats in their own right.
But without question, the outlook for the rushing game is blinding primarily because Elliott is revved up for his junior season and projects to be even more dangerous, if that’s possible.
Last year was a breakout season of gridiron-shredding proportions as the 6’0”, 225-pounder raced for 1,878 yards — 696 of them coming at season’s end as the Buckeyes flogged Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game and stunned both Alabama and Oregon in the first College Football Playoff.
Taking over the tailback spot admirably for the departed Carlos Hyde, Elliott racked up six 100-yard games in the regular season but apparently was just getting started. He set the tone for the eye-opening postseason with an early 81-yard touchdown gallop against the Badgers. That led to a 220-yard rushing day that paced a 59–0 annihilation of UW.
Elliott topped that performance with 230 yards and two TDs — including a clinching 85-yarder — on just 20 carries in the 42–35 win over No. 1 Alabama. He then destroyed Oregon with 246 yards and four scores to put the Buckeyes on the college football mountaintop.
Afterward, OSU head coach Urban Meyer labeled Elliott a “monster,” but also praised the youngster’s humility.
“I love Zeke because he’s very humble, he comes from a great family, and he understands the offensive line deserves the credit,” Meyer said in the interview room. “However, he’s the most underrated back in America. He’s the most post-contact-yards guy I’ve ever been around, and on top of that he’s a great human being. We get him for at least one more year, so I can’t wait.”
Elliott averaged 6.8 yards per carry and played through all of the grabs and rakes from Oregon defenders. Even when it was clear Elliott was the focal point, the Ducks couldn’t slow him down, let alone stop him. His 36 rushing attempts set a career high.
Elliott capped Ohio State’s final drive of the season with a 1-yard plunge into the end zone. That completed a sophomore season in which he threatened Eddie George’s school-record 1,927 yards set in the Heisman Trophy-winning season of 1995. The St. Louis-area product passed all-time greats Archie Griffin (1,695 in 1974) and Keith Byars (1,764 in 1984) during the Oregon game, and his 246 yards tied the third-best single-game output in OSU history.
It was such a dreamy campaign that it even awed Elliott’s biggest supporter — his father.
“That first long run against Wisconsin, that’s when it really hit me,” says Stacy Elliott. “I had tears in my eyes and remember thinking, ‘Boy, Ezekiel has arrived.’ I was blown away.”
Stacy was an outside linebacker at Missouri, where he met his wife, Dawn, a track standout at the school. Despite their affinity for their alma mater, neither pushed Ezekiel to follow in their footsteps.
“I’ve involved my parents in all my big decisions in life, but they always try to act as a guide for me,” Ezekiel Elliott says. “They never told me to go to school where they went. They wanted me to figure it out for myself.”
Still, Elliott agonized before becoming one of the last to commit to Meyer’s highly rated 2013 recruiting class.
One of Elliott’s many pursuers was Alford, who was still at Notre Dame at the time. The coach says his mouth was agape when watching 2014 OSU game film, although he always expected Elliott would be successful because of his family dynamic.
“When I watched Zeke and his family and they would sit on the couch, his mom would reach over and she would pat him on his knee,” Alford says. “He would turn and hug his dad. He would goof around with his sisters. That shows you they had a lot of admiration and love and respect in that household.”
Further proof that Ezekiel is from good stock: His 16-year-old sister, Lailah, is the John Burroughs High School record holder in the triple jump and an AAU national qualifier in several events, and 9-year-old Aaliyah also is an adept jumper and sprinter.
Still, the genial Ezekiel is an original who marches to a different drummer. He opted for a pink cast after he underwent a second surgery on his left wrist following the season. When the Buckeyes were honored at a Cincinnati Reds game, Elliott vowed to wear a Cardinals cap but instead didn’t attend because he would have missed a class.
Elliott’s flamboyance certainly has been well received. Fans flock to him in public locales. The Columbus Zoo recently named a baby penguin “Zeke” in his honor.
“People have told me they are naming their dogs and even their children after him, so that’s crazy,” Stacy says.
In a recent interview, Dawn described her son as “a bit goofy.” Teammates agree.
“Zeke’s different, but that’s my dude,” safety Vonn Bell says. “I’ll go to war with him every time.”
And when it’s time to make a play ...
“The switch goes on,” Alford says. “And that’s what you want when they click that helmet. You want to see his eyes change. That’s who you want to coach. That’s what I want to coach.”
Elliott gave hints of his explosiveness as a freshman while averaging 8.7 yards per carry. Still, followers of the program paid more attention to hotshot H-back Dontre Wilson of Texas with the belief that he was the key to turning OSU into a big-play offense.
“What a lot of people don’t know is Ezekiel is just as fast as Dontre,” Stacy says.
At John Burroughs High School, Elliott not only toasted football defenders with regularity, but he also captured four state championships in track as a senior by besting the field in the 100-meter dash, 200m, 110m high hurdles and 300m hurdles.
And there’s some grit behind the sizzle.
Elliott actually was sick the entire week of the national championship game. He also played the entire season with a cast and pin implanted into his fractured wrist.
“I couldn’t switch hands; I couldn’t really punch with it,” he says. “I couldn’t really do much. I was pretty handicapped.”
Elliott’s heroic feats and video-game-like production in the College Football Playoff inspired elite recruits such as Weber, a Detroit product, and class of 2016 New Jersey phenom Kareem Walker to commit to Ohio State.
But this fall, the pigskin will go into Elliott’s belly — even if that belly is now covered up due to a new NCAA equipment restriction banning crop tops some are calling “the Elliott Rule.”
“The NCAA has its rules and it’s our job to abide by them,” Elliott says with a wink, even though he signed a petition with more than 10,000 signatures asking the rule to be tossed out.
The day after Ohio State’s spring game, Elliott flew to New York City to attend a ceremony as a finalist for the Sullivan Award. It’s very possible he will return to the Big Apple at the end of the year as a top candidate for another prestigious award — the Heisman Trophy.
“I’m not very surprised by Ezekiel’s success,” his father says, “because he works hard and he doesn’t choke up — he competes. But the Heisman talk and all that kind of stuff, that’s been amazing.”
-by Jeff Rapp, SportsRappUp.com
Damian Lillard is no stranger to the mic.
The Trail Blazers point guard dropped some new music and it's not bad. Usually athlete-rapper crossover never works out, but people are giving Lillard the benefit of the doubt.
The song is pretty dope and worth a listen. If this is a taste of what's to come, then fans are sure to devour the rest that the Portland star has to offer.
Lillard has already proved he has crazy freestyle skills on Sway's morning show.
Would you buy an album by Lillard (and another copy for me)?
It’s amazing what people focus on in a 2015 world marked by 140-character Tweets, five-second Snapchats and zero attention span. Despite a weekend of great Kentucky racing, producing a rules package that holds promise, the largest headline can be shortened to three words.
“Go f**k yourself.”
That’s Danica Patrick’s message to Dale Earnhardt Jr., spoken on the radio and then on pit road after she got wrecked midway through the Quaker State 400 in Kentucky. NASCAR’s two most well-known drivers outside the sport had a rare conflict inside it, Earnhardt losing his brakes and slamming into the left rear of the No. 10 Chevrolet with 60 laps to go. The GoDaddy car then went straight into the wall, ruining Patrick’s night and leaving her exasperated, slamming into the No. 88 on pit road in retaliation.
“If you didn’t have any brakes, why would you drive in underneath me?” she said to no one in particular on the radio. “Weren’t you thinking about that, maybe the corner before that?”
Earnhardt, who had a difficult race of his own, snapped back a bit after finishing the night in 21st.
“We didn’t have any brakes going into the corner,” he explained. “I know better than to run into her because it gets so much attention. There wasn’t nothing I could do. I mean, as hard as I hit her, what the hell did she think I was doing, trying to wreck her? We ain’t got no problem.”
I agree with that assessment; the story should fade away quickly, especially with Earnhardt and Patrick on the same “team.” (Patrick’s car, run by Stewart-Haas Racing shares information and gets both chassis and engines from Earnhardt’s Hendrick Motorsports team). This type of rivalry won’t be allowed to continue under that type of roof; the media blitz can’t force hate where there is none.
The big loser, though when all is said and done is Patrick, her promising season rolling downhill faster than ever. Eight races in, she was 13th in points and coming off a top-10 finish at Bristol. Now, she’s sitting 22nd, 94 points out of a Chase bid that appears near impossible. While teammates Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch assert themselves as top title contenders, Patrick is suddenly lost in space. She’s struggling with similar equipment, early chemistry with crew chief Daniel Knost fading during a time SHR Marketing is desperately searching for sponsors. GoDaddy leaves the team in 2016, no replacement has been named and the clock is ticking as NASCAR’s Silly Season heats up.
So what if you’re a Fortune 500 company hoping Patrick will one day make a breakthrough? You open up the news this week, see the words “go f**k yourself” and how she didn’t act with decorum Saturday night. That’s on top of her poor race results after nearly three seasons in the Cup Series and an advancing age (33) that suggests her window of opportunity is closing. Marketing execs might have slipped some scotch inside their coffee Monday morning….
Sure, Patrick was a victim Saturday night. Wrecks at Pocono last month and Daytona last week wiped away potential top-10 finishes. But the sporting world is full of would haves, could haves, and should haves. Earnhardt claims Patrick needs to “chill out.”
At this point, if performance doesn’t improve she’s on the verge of a permanent “timeout.” It’s a potential loss for the sport, like her or not, because whenever Patrick does so much as sneeze, important people pay attention. But it’s hard to make headlines these days if you’re sitting home collecting an unemployment check.
So begins a critical summer of Patrick’s career. Words won’t get the job done; top-tier finishes will. Time to step up or step out.
Through the Gears we go….
FIRST GEAR: Kyle Slices Up Kentucky Competition
New rules, old hat for Kyle Busch. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver put together a marvelous performance Saturday night, leading 163 of 267 laps to score his second victory in three weeks. Busch, whose career average finish at Kentucky is 3.8, has never finished lower than 10th at the track.
“In the long run our car was really good,” he said. “I just was able to kind of move around and find some grooves that helped me.”
Busch now sits just 87 points behind that magical 30th place in the standings, the threshold from which he’ll earn a Chase bid. None of his competitors for that spot, running 29th through 32nd in points, finished inside the top 20 Saturday night. That’s great news for Busch; even better was that his JGR team has the early edge on NASCAR’s new rules package. All four of their cars finished inside the top 5, a powerful statement for a group that has struggled on these types of 1.5-mile ovals.
For Busch to make the Chase, he’ll need to maximize gains on bigger tracks like Michigan in August and Indianapolis the end of the month. Even with a better rules package the raw speed needed at those places leaves Busch’s main rivals for 30th — Justin Allgaier, Cole Whitt and David Gilliland — without the speed to be competitive.
SECOND GEAR: Passing? Yes, Thank You Very Much
NASCAR’s new package, designed to increase passing, received rave reviews Saturday night – and it should have. Cars could run side-by-side for extended periods of time, drivers moved up and down through the running order, and gone was the single-file parade that has plagued intermediates like Kentucky in 2015.
“I came from two laps down,” said Denny Hamlin, another JGR driver who had a solid performance (third). “I passed a ton of cars throughout the day. There was a pass for the lead with 15 laps to go. And we don’t even have a tire honed in on this racetrack yet.
“I can’t really complain a whole lot.”
Most of the competition agreed, drivers happy the overall outcome is placed more in their hands instead of engineers. In-race adjustments made a bigger difference and cars weren’t “stuck in place” the entire race; a 17th-place car early on in the night could be turned into a fifth-place car and vice versa. It’s a great baseline to draw from.
What still needs work: extra tire falloff, the kind Hamlin was talking about and what Goodyear needs to research. In their defense, these new rules came too quick to put a softer tire on the track for Kentucky. There also needs to less “aero push” up front. Thirteen lead changes, an increase of just one from last year’s race, isn’t exactly an eye-popping number. Yes, Busch and Joey Logano ran hard in the closing laps, but you didn’t get the sense we’d see a heart-stopping finish to the checkered flag.
Looking back at “old school” NASCAR, what would be good to see is the ability for guys to rub fenders a bit, bending up sheet metal while still able to run up front. It feels like everyone is afraid to touch each other for the fear one small wrinkle cuts your speed by five miles an hour. You’ll only get rid of bad aero if you wind up slowing the cars down, another reduction in downforce I feel will be coming within the next year or two.
THIRD GEAR: Bowtie’s Bad Day
Kentucky marked just the second time all season no Chevrolet driver finished inside the top 5. The best anyone could muster was Jeff Gordon in seventh, falling short in his bid to score a victory at the only active NASCAR Cup track where he doesn’t have one. Kevin Harvick, coasting to the regular season points title had a quiet night, failed to lead a lap for the first time on an intermediate track this season, and came home eighth. Teammate Kurt Busch spun out on his own, and was forced to claw back to wind up 10th. Six-time Cup champ Jimmie Johnson ran ninth, just one spot better and complained about his car so much you’d think the No. 48 ran 39th.
Should people be concerned? Not really. This package, while getting tested over the summer will be used in exactly zero races come NASCAR’s September Chase. That means the best cars will be the ones who ran well under the old rules – a package Johnson, Harvick, Busch and co. have already mastered. Why work on 2016, like JGR has when you know you have the best chance to win now? These guys will take a week or two behind the curve if it still leaves them on top of the podium come Homestead’s season finale in November.
FOURTH GEAR: Big Misses for Big Names
People were looking for Tony Stewart to run better under a rules package that put control back in the driver’s hands. Instead? He was 33rd, running two laps down at the finish, and got caught up in an accident mid-race. Never so much as sniffing the top 10, feuding with crew chief Chad Johnston intensified on the radio and makes you wonder whether SHR will make a change. Indianapolis, held at the end of the month, is a place Stewart can get his mojo back along with Watkins Glen in early August. But I don’t think he’ll get there without a major adjustment to the status quo.
Kyle Larson, the pole-sitter, also dropped like a rock, albeit more slowly, from his top starting spot. Wrecking late, the 35th-place finish leaves him 86 points outside the final Chase spot. Can he win somewhere? Again, the focus will center around crew chief Chris Heroy. Will Chip Ganassi Racing shake things up for their promising sophomore?
It was a rough weekend for small-time Premium Motorsports. Driver Brendan Gaughan left the team this week, frustrated over poor equipment and was replaced by Reed Sorenson, who did no better (36th). The team’s second car, run by Josh Wise, wrecked at Kentucky, wound up dead last and led to Wise leaving the team Monday. “We have different goals,” the driver said in a cryptic Twitter statement announcing his departure… NASCAR needs to do something about rain-delay qualifying if they want to get new owners involved in the sport. Both Leavine Family Racing and the Wood Brothers missed out when their first practice speeds would have easily qualified them for Saturday night’s race. Why not set the entire field based on the top 36 speeds from first practice, filling out the rest with the provisional system that helps protect full-time teams? The risk is so great for part-timers these days, especially with the financial commitment involved it’s turning potential new owners off from competing.
Photos by Action Sports, Inc.
With several strong options at pitcher, AL manager Ned Yost and NL counterpart Bruce Bochy just named their respective team’s starter. Dallas Keuchel will open up the game against Zack Greinke, although they will most likely only pitch one inning apiece.
Keuchel leads the AL in wins (11) and innings pitched (137.1) as the ace of one of the MLB’s most surprising team. On the opposite side, Greinke continues his dominance with the Dodgers, maintaining an MLB-best 1.39 ERA and 17 quality starts. With such great pitchers on the mound, the hitters will certainly have plenty to deal with. Greinke hasn’t allowed a run in 35.2 innings, so let’s see if the AL can push anything across him.
See some reasons why they were chosen below:
The MLB season opened with the St. Louis Cardinals, and the first half of the season wrapped up with them. However, the past two games for the Cardinals have been heartbreakers, having faced their division rival Pirates. Both games have gone to extra innings, and both have ended in a Pirates come from behind walkoff victory.
On Saturday, St. Louis led by two in the 8th, one in the 10th, and one in the 14th, all before the Pirates mounted comebacks and scored a two-run homerun off the bat of Pirates superstar Andrew McCutchen. Then, last night, after tying the game in the 8th, the Cardinals struck early in extra innings, scoring two runs in the 10th. With All-Star closer Trevor Rosenthal on the mound, the game seemed all but locked up. With a man on second and two outs, the Pirates singled three straight times to tie up the game. A walk loaded the bases, and Gregory Polanco drove in the winning run on a single. What a great ending to the first half.
Watch the two walkoff hits below:
The preseason Outland Trophy award watch list was announced on Friday with 81 of the top interior linemen in the nation receiving recognition from the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). The watch list included players from all Power 5 Conferences with the SEC leading the pack with 15 nominees. The Pac-12 had 13 players on the list, followed by 11 each from the Big 12 and Big Ten, and seven from the ACC.
Among the early favorites to capture the 2015 honor is the lone returning semifinalist from last season, Baylor’s Spencer Drango. Ole Miss has two potential candidates to earn the honors, offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche. South Carolina right tackle Brandon Shell, Ohio State’s Taylor Decker, UCLA defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, and Alabama nose guard A’Shawn Robinson are among the other players who could grind their way to the postseason hardware.
Other SEC contenders with a reasonable shot at winning include Alabama center Ryan Kelly and left tackle Cam Robinson, Arkansas right guard Sebastian Tretola, and Georgia right guard Greg Pyke.
The three semifinalists will be announced on Nov. 19 with the winner being named on Dec. 10 during "The Home Depot College Football Awards Show" at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, which will be televised on ESPN.
Outland Trophy Watch List (SEC players highlighted)
G Vadal Alexander, LSU
C Jack Allen, Michigan State
OT Adrian Bellard, Texas State
DT Andrew Billings, Baylor
DT Beau Blackshear, Baylor
C Austin Blythe, Iowa
C Evan Boehm, Missouri
C J.T. Boyd, East Carolina
C Jake Brendel, UCLA
DT Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech
OT Le'Raven Clark, Texas Tech
DT Kenny Clark, UCLA
DT Maliek Collins, Nebraska
OT Jack Conklin, Michigan State
OT Austin Corbett, Nevada
OT Joe Dahl, Washington State
C Ty Darlington, Oklahoma
DT Sheldon Day, Notre Dame
OT Taylor Decker, Ohio State
OT Spencer Drango, Baylor
G Parker Ehinger, Cincinnati
G Pat Elflein, Ohio State
G Dan Feeney, Indiana
G Joshua Garnett, Stanford
DT Adam Gotsis, Georgia Tech
Darius Hamilton, Rutgers
OT Ike Harris, East Carolina
C Marcus Henry, Boise State
C Joey Hunt, TCU
OT Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M
OT Roderick Johnson, Florida State
DT Gerrand Johnson, ULM
OT Tyler Johnstone, Oregon
DT Chris Jones, Mississippi State
C Ryan Kelly, Alabama
C Nick Kelly, Arizona State
OT Denver Kirkland, Arkansas
G Alex Kozan, Auburn
G Jimmy Kristof, Western Michigan
DT Luther Maddy, Virginia Tech
DT Corey Marshall, Virginia Tech
C Nick Martin, Notre Dame
OT Ryker Mathews, BYU
OT Kyle Murphy, Stanford
C Andrew Ness, Northern Illinois
DT Thomas Niles, UCF
DT Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
C Tyler Orlosky, West Virginia
DT Joe Ostman, Central Michigan
DT Davion Pierson, TCU
G Greg Pyke, Georgia
DT Jarran Reed, Alabama
G Andrew Reue, Rice
DT Hassan Ridgeway, Texas
DT A'Shawn Robinson, Alabama
OT Cam Robinson, Alabama
G Isaac Seumalo, Oregon State
OT Brandon Shell, South Carolina
C Matt Skura, Duke
C Matt Sparks, Massachusetts
OT Garrett Stafford, Tulsa
OT Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame
OT Freddie Tagaloa, Arizona
G Chris Taylor, Tulane
G Wyatt Teller, Virginia Tech
G Sebastian Tretola, Arkansas
C Max Tuerk, USC
DT Travis Tuiloma, BYU
OT Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss
G Landon Turner, North Carolina
OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai, TCU
OT Clint Van Horn, Marshall
DT Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA
C Dan Voltz, Wisconsin
DT Adolphus Washington, Ohio State
G Christian Westerman, Arizona State
OT Cody Whitehair, Kansas State
DT Antwaun Woods, USC
— 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.
The man who brought you the most convincing video for Ezekiel Elliott's bid for the Heisman, is back with another hit.
His beloved Ohio State Buckeyes are the centerpiece yet again. Meshed with highlights and a song the team needs to play in the locker room before each game, this video will get you excited for the second coming of the Silver Bullets.
Darron Lee, Joey Bosa, Elliott and more make appearances and if this is any indication, no one will want to be in the way of these Silver Bullets.
The song is great, but will the Buckeyes' play match?
It was considered a bold move, but Jordan Spieth went ahead and competed in the John Deere Classic this past weekend. And he proved that it was a great idea, as he took home the title in a two-hole playoff with Tom Gillis. Down a few strokes on the back nine, Spieth came roaring back, almost as if it was to be expected.
The win marks his second there and fourth of the year, as he will head to the British Open this week with all the momentum. Without defending champion Rory McIlroy playing, Spieth will come into the event as the favorite. Not only that, but there is a chance for him to claim the No. 1 ranking in the world.
Watch some highlights of the final round below:
The long held theory that Canadian football is not on par with American football is starting to pivot. Each year more and more high school talent from up north is making their way south to play college ball in the U.S. Another recruit helping open the floodgates is wide receiver Chase Claypool.
Colleges south of the Canadian border are very familiar with Claypool. The 6-foot-5, 214-pound receiver reports 14 scholarship offers with teams like Oregon, Rutgers, Michigan, Arizona, Tennessee, Washington and Nebraska seeking the red zone target on their squad at the next level.
On July 7, Claypool broke down his list to five — Rutgers, Notre Dame, Oregon, Michigan and Washington. Many believed the battle was between Oregon and Notre Dame with Washington pushing for a regional advantage.
Claypool committed to the Fighting Irish during ESPNU’s telecast of "The Opening" becoming the 12th verbal commitment for Notre Dame. During the on-the-field activities at the Nike camp Claypool demonstrated his effectiveness in the passing game. Due to his frame and athleticism he could be an outside receiver or add weight and become a nightmare mismatch for defensive coordinators as a pass-catching tight end.
Notre Dame 2016 Verbal Commitment List
OG Parker Boudreaux, 6-4, 287 lbs, Bishop Moore Catholic, Orlando, Florida
WR Chase Claypool, 6-5, 214 lbs, Abbotsford HS, Abbotsford, British Columbia
OT Liam Eichenberg, 6-6, 290 lbs, St. Ignatius HS, Cleveland, Ohio
CB/WR Jalen Elliott, 6-1, 175 lbs, Lloyd C. Bird HS, Chesterfield, Virginia
LB Jamir Jones, 6-3, 230 lbs, Aquinas Institute, Rochester, New York
RB Tony Jones Jr., 6-0, 212 lbs, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Florida
OT Tommy Kraemer, 6-5, 305 lbs, Elder HS, Cincinnati, Ohio
CB Julian Love, 5-11, 175 lbs, Nazareth Academy, LaGrange Park, Illinois
DE Julian Okwara, 6-4, 220 lbs, Ardrey Kell HS, Charlotte, North Carolina
SS Spencer Perry, 6-3, 200 lbs, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Florida
LS John Shannon, 6-2, 230 lbs, Loyola Academy, Wilmette, Illinois
WR Kevin Stepherson, 6-0, 180 lbs, First Coast HS, Jacksonville, Florida
— 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.
The MLB has been bringing its best players together since 1933 in an annual All Star Game. Since its inception, countless memories have been made, from game-winning hits to final farewells. The game started to gain greater importance in 2003, as the winner began to determine home-field advantage for the World Series. This year's game takes place on July 14 at Great American Ballpark, home to the Cincinnati Reds. Take a look at some of the most memorable moments since 2000 (listed chronologically):
2000: Andres Galarraga receives a standing ovation in his first at bat after non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma forced him to sit out the entirety of the 1999 season. He singled in that at bat and later ended the season as the NL Comeback Player of the Year.
2000: In front of his home crowd in Atlanta, Chipper Jones homered off of James Baldwin to left-center field, bringing the crowd to its feet. Hank Aaron hit a homerun when the last All Star Game was in Atlanta, and he happened to throw out the game’s first pitch.
2001: In Cal Ripken’s final All Star Game, he received an ovation and treated the fans to a home run in route to the MVP. When the AL took the field, Alex Rodriguez, the team’s shortstop, surprised Ripken and gave him the position. Ripken had played third base for his first and last few years of his career, but he helped revolutionize the shortstop position.
2002: Barry Bonds had been the league’s most feared hitter and connected on a deep shot that looked to be a home run. However, Torii Hunter, arguably the league’s best fielder, robbed Bonds of the home run. The game ended up tying, thus it proved to be a pivotal play.
2006: With two outs and two strikes in the top of the 9th down 2-1, Michael Young laced a triple to center field to take a 3-2 lead. Even more impressive, the game-winning hit came off of Trevor Hoffman, who is second in career saves in the MLB.
2007: In a feat never accomplished before, Ichiro destroyed a ball to deep right field that hit off the wall and bounced in a strange direction. The ball hit a banner on the wall, which bounced far away from Ken Griffey Jr., who was playing in right field. This allowed for Ichiro to score an inside-the-park-home run, the first and only in All Star Game history.
2010: On the morning of the 2010 All Star Game, George Steinbrenner, one of the winningest owners ever, passed away. To honor him, there was a pregame video followed by a moment of silence at the stadium that displayed the history and admiration for the longtime Yankees owner.
2013: Mariano Rivera, the all-time saves leader, took the All Star field for the final time of his career before retiring later that year. He came out of the bullpen to “Enter Sandman” and took the field alone out of respect. The entire stadium stood on their feet to pay respect to the future Hall of Famer. He came in and pitched a perfect eight inning as expected.
2014: Just one year after his former teammate’s final game, Derek Jeter also played in his last All Star Game. Jeter went 2-2 with a double and a run, although Adam Wainwright, the pitcher he faced in the first inning, claimed after the game that he gave him easy pitches to hit. He drew some questions of integrity over this, but later claimed that he was joking. Jeter came out of the game in the 4th inning to a standing ovation and hugs from the entire dugout.
2015: Just one season removed from their first World Series trip since 1985, the Kansas City Royals sent four starters to the MLB All Star Game. Though only a couple may be truly deserving, their fans have been voting excessively as a reward for last year’s success. However, their voting has brought controversy and a possible reconsideration of the All Star voting process.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a team that plays four more high-profile games than BYU does in the month of September. The Cougars open at Nebraska, host Boise State and then travel to UCLA and Michigan to start the season.
That's quite a gauntlet.
Be that as it may, Taysom Hill and the Cougars are a proud and confident bunch that is ready to take on all comers. Hill — a Heisman candidate a season ago before going down with a leg injury — has said recently that he feels like his team will be in position to win every game on its schedule. If that is going to happen, he'll need a lot of support from teammates on both sides of the ball. There are four players in particular who could hold the key to how BYU kicks off and subsequently finishes the 2015 campaign. If these players can step up and play up to or beyond their potential, the ceiling is pretty high for the Cougars this season.
Here are the "wild card" players for BYU in 2015.
Jamaal Williams, Running Back
After rushing for more than 1,200 yards in 2013, injuries plagued his '14 campaign and limited him to 518 total yards on the ground. It appears he's now healthy. With Williams behind Hill in the Cougar backfield, defenses will need to account for two elite runners on every down. That will open up BYU's underrated and already efficient passing game.
Brad Wilcox, Left Tackle
After seeing time in all 13 of BYU's games a season ago, Wilcox steps into the starting left tackle role. Obviously, he'll be charged with protecting his uber-talented quarterback's blindside. Additionally, he'll play a key role in BYU's running game — especially on off-tackle dives and quarterback keepers/designed runs — against some extremely talented defensive front sevens throughout the season.
Bronson Kaufusi, Defensive End
Bronson, the son of BYU's defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi, is projected by many to be one of the better pass rushers in the nation. He'll need to live up to those expectations and possibly exceed them in order for BYU to fulfill Hill's prophecy of being in position to win every game. The Cougars will likely play in many high-scoring shootouts, so Kaufusi should get plenty of opportunities to tee off on opposing signal-callers.
Sione Takitaki, Linebacker
Takitaki should end up being the youngest starter in the linebacking corps. He saw considerable playing time a season ago, using his elite athleticism to make a handful of key plays throughout the season. He has the talent to be one of the better linebackers in the nation. If he can realize his potential in 2015, it'll go a long way in making BYU's defense one to be feared by every opponent on the schedule.
Whether you like sports or not, you're paying for it.
John Oliver talks about how billions of our hard-earned money is being used for sports stadiums, despite the team's owners being good for it. The speech will make you think twice about the amazing luxury boxes and swimming pools inside the stadiums.
(Warning: Some parts of the video are NSFW)
We should all get into games free. After all, we are paying for the stadiums to be built.
Projecting college football’s breakout players for any given season is no easy assignment. After all, each person has a different take on what a “breakout player” is, and college football is always home to several new faces throughout the season. While it’s difficult to label breakout players, the new stars of any season can have a huge impact on conference championship or national title races.
Related: Big 12 Predictions for 2015
The Big 12 has several names waiting to emerge as breakout players for 2015, including three quarterbacks in Baylor’s Seth Russell, Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph and Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes. There’s no shortage of talent on defense, as Oklahoma State’s Vincent Taylor and Texas’ Malik Jefferson are names to watch in the fall.
Predicting the Big 12's Breakout Players for 2015
Mike Freeze, LB, TCU
The back seven of TCU’s defense must be retooled this offseason. The Horned Frogs lost standout linebackers Paul Dawson and Marcus Mallet, and the secondary lost three all-conference performers. The linebacker position was a work in progress for coach Gary Patterson in the spring, but Freeze made a push for a starting job after enrolling early in spring practice. The three-star recruit is penciled in as one of TCU’s starting linebackers.
Related: Big 12 Predictions for 2015
Shelton Gibson, WR, West Virginia
Dana Holgorsen’s high-powered offense is looking for new playmakers at receiver after the departure of Kevin White (109 catches in 2014) and Mario Alford (65 receptions). Jordan Thompson is the team’s leading option at receiver, but the Mountaineers have a collection of young receivers pushing for snaps. Gibson redshirted in his first season with the Mountaineers and caught four passes for 60 yards in 2014. The Ohio native took a step forward in the spring and caught four passes for 84 yards in the final scrimmage. Gibson should be one of the go-to targets for quarterback Skyler Howard in 2015.
Dravon Henry, S, West Virginia
High expectations followed Henry in 2014, and the true freshman turned in a solid debut for coordinator Tony Gibson. In 13 games, Henry recorded 45 tackles (one for a loss), two interceptions and two pass breakups. With cornerback Daryl Worley and safety Karl Joseph established as stars, combined with Henry’s development, the Mountaineers should have one of the nation’s top defensive backfields.
Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
Jefferson is only a true freshman, but high expectations surround the Mesquite, Texas native in 2015. Jefferson ranked as the No. 10 overall player in the 247Sports Composite and enrolled in time to compete in spring ball. Jefferson recorded five stops (one for a loss) in the Orange-White scrimmage and is expected to start at linebacker this season.
Related: Big 12's 2015 All-Conference Team
Elijah Lee, LB, Kansas State
With the departures of quarterback Jake Waters and receiver Tyler Lockett, Kansas State has to lean on its defense in 2015. With six starters back, there’s plenty of talent for coordinator Tom Hayes to rely on. Lee is another impact defender to watch for Hayes, as he impressed in 13 games as a freshman last season. Lee recorded 19 tackles and 4.5 sacks in limited action and should push for all-conference honors in his first full year as a starter.
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
Mahomes isn’t guaranteed the starting job yet, as he will compete with Davis Webb in the fall for the No. 1 spot. However, Mahomes showcased his upside as a true freshman and his case for the starting spot in seven games last season. He completed 105 of 185 passes for 1,547 yards and 16 scores and tossed only four picks. In the season finale against Baylor, Mahomes threw for 598 yards.
Mike Mitchell, LB, Texas Tech
After giving up 41.3 points per game last season, Texas Tech’s defense will be under the microscope in 2015. New coordinator David Gibbs should help this unit improve, and seven returning starters certainly helps the rebuilding process. Mitchell was a five-star recruit in the 2013 signing class and redshirted in his only year at Ohio State. The Texas native sat out 2014 due to transfer rules but is expected to be a key cog in Gibbs’ defense this season.
Steven Parker, S, Oklahoma
The Sooners certainly have room to improve in the defensive secondary after giving up 24 plays of 30 yards or more last season. Cornerback Zack Sanchez is one of the best in the nation, but new secondary coach Kerry Cooks is looking for players to step up at the other positions. Parker is expected to take on a bigger role this season after playing in 13 games in 2014. The sophomore recorded 31 tackles, one sack and six pass breakups in limited action.
Dalton Risner, C, Kansas State
B.J. Finney leaves big shoes to fill on Kansas State’s offensive line. The All-Big 12 center started 52 consecutive games in his career and was a Rimington Trophy semifinalist in 2014. Risner redshirted in his first year on campus and is expected to anchor the center position for coach Bill Snyder in 2015.
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
Rudolph’s emergence in the final three games of 2014 is one of the biggest reasons for optimism in Stillwater this season. Rudolph closed out last season by passing for 853 yards and six passing scores on 49 completions and guided Oklahoma State to a 2-1 mark in the final three games of the year. In the bowl win over Washington, Rudolph passed for 299 yards and two touchdowns. With an improving offensive line and a deep corps of receivers at his disposal, Rudolph should be able to build off a solid finish to 2014 and emerge as one of the Big 12’s top quarterbacks.
Seth Russell, QB, Baylor
Robert Griffin III, Nick Florence and Bryce Petty each produced big seasons in coach Art Briles’ offense at Baylor. And Russell has been handed the keys to the high-powered attack after completing 48 of 85 passes for 804 yards and eight touchdowns in 2014. In each of the last four years, Baylor’s starting quarterback has surpassed 3,850 passing yards and 29 scores. Expect Russell to easily eclipse those marks in 2015.
Kent Taylor, TE, Kansas
Quarterback play is a big question mark for new coach David Beaty after Michael Cummings was injured in the spring game. It’s uncertain if Cummings will make it back by the opener, but if he doesn’t play in 2015, Beaty is expected to turn to Montell Cozart or true freshmen Carter Stanley or Ryan Willis. In addition to the quarterback concerns, the Jayhawks also lack proven options at receiver. Taylor should alleviate some of the concerns from this group, as the Florida transfer is eligible after sitting out 2014 due to NCAA rules. Taylor ranked as the No. 79 recruit in the 2012 signing class.
Vincent Taylor, DT, Oklahoma State
Coordinator Glenn Spencer should have one of the most improved defenses in the Big 12 in 2015. The Cowboys return seven starters, and the overall depth and experience for this unit should be better this season. The defensive tackle position is one of the few positions of concern for Spencer, as last year’s starters – James Castleman and Ofa Hautau – expired their eligibility. Taylor played in 10 games in 2014 and recorded 13 tackles and continued his development with a strong spring performance.
Related: Big 12 Predictions for 2015
Ranthony Texada, CB, TCU
The secondary is usually a strength under Gary Patterson’s watch at TCU, but this unit will be a work in progress in 2015. The Horned Frogs must replace standout cornerback Kevin White, as well as All-Big 12 safeties Sam Carter and Chris Hackett. Texada joins Derrick Kindred as the returning starters for Patterson, and both players will have to anchor the unit early in the year. Texada started all 13 games as a redshirt freshman in 2014 and recorded seven pass breakups and 31 tackles. Texada should be even better as a sophomore.
Demond Tucker, DT, Iowa State
After the Cyclones allowed 246.3 rushing yards per game last season, coach Paul Rhoads wasted no time searching for upgrades. Tucker is one of two junior college recruits brought to Ames to play immediately on the defensive line. The No. 38 recruit in the 247Sports Composite of junior college recruits and was a NJCAA first-team All-American in both years at Copiah-Lincoln Community College. Tucker has to adjust to the Big 12 level, but he could be a difference-maker for the defense.
Mike Warren, RB, Iowa State
Iowa State ranked ninth in the Big 12 by averaging only 124.1 rushing yards per game last season. Assuming the Cyclones have better luck in the health department up front, there should be more consistency and production from the ground attack. Of course, coordinator Mark Mangino also needs a go-to running back to emerge. Last season’s top two running backs (Aaron Wimberly and DeVondrick Nealy), leaving Warren and sophomore Tyler Brown as the leading candidates. Warren was a three-star recruit and redshirted in his first season in Ames.
Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma
It’s no secret Oklahoma’s Sterling Shepard is one of the Big 12’s best receivers. But coordinator Lincoln Riley needs to find other options to take some of the pressure off of Shepard in 2015. Westbrook only recorded two touches in the spring game but finished with 50 yards. The junior college product has big-play potential for the Sooners and his explosiveness should help the passing attack stretch the field.
Connor Williams, OT, Texas
Joe Wickline is one of the best offensive line coaches in the nation, and the Longhorns will be looking for improvement up front after inconsistent play in 2014. Four starters are back, but the lineup and starters may change with added competition through the recruiting ranks. Williams enrolled in time to compete in spring practice, and the true freshman is pushing for a starting spot. If Williams continues to develop in the fall, he should start at one of the tackle positions for Wickline.
Every athlete has their own unique way of celebrating, and anybody watching Novak Djokovic’s victory over Roger Federer at Wimbledon surely saw how he embraced the moment. Right after he won and shook hands with the chair umpire, he reached down to the famous grass on the court. He ripped out a few pieces and began chomping away on it.
The action required a double-take from viewers to confirm what they were seeing, and reporters after the game asked him about this odd celebration in front of the crowd. He announced that this was something he had dreamed about as a child, to do something crazy after an incredible moment. Well, he did it alright.
Watch Djokovic eat the grass below:
Tennessee's season opener is still nearly two months away, but the Volunteers are already making national headlines, placing five players on the preseason watch lists for the Maxwell and Bednarik Awards. The five representatives on the two watch lists is two more than other team in the SEC.
For the Robert W. Maxwell Award, which has been given out annually to the best player in college football since 1937, Tennessee is represented by junior quarterback Joshua Dobbs and sophomore running back Jalen Hurd. A trio of Volunteers made the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award, which has honored college football’s best defensive player at the conclusion of each season since 1995. Sophomore defensive end Derek Barnett, senior linebacker/defensive end Curt Maggitt and junior cornerback Cameron Sutton are among those vying for the prestigious honor.
Dobbs and Hurd are the first Vol players to make the Maxwell watch list since 2012 when quarterback Tyler Bray and wide receiver Da’ Rick Rodgers garnered the honor. The first and only Tennessee player to win the Maxwell Award was Peyton Manning in 1997.
Dobbs is coming off of a very successful 2014 season that concluded with MVP honors in the TaxSlayer Bowl in a lopsided victory over Iowa. Dobbs started five games last season, leading the Vols to a 4-1 record. In six total games played, the dual-threat standout completed 63 percent of his passes and amassed 1,675 yards of total offense and 17 total touchdowns (9 passing, 8 rushing). Dobbs also has been named to several preseason All-SEC lists by various publications, including third team by Athlon Sports.
Hurd will attempt to be the first Vol running back to win the Maxwell. Last season, Hurd rushed for 899 yards and five touchdowns on 190 carries, while adding 35 receptions for 221 yards and two scores. The former 5-star recruit concluded his 2014 campaign by rushing for 122 yards and two touchdowns on just 16 carries in the TaxSlayer Bowl. Hurd has also been receiving his share of preseason accolades (third-team All-SEC by Athlon), as most expect a breakout season for the rising sophomore in 2015.
As previously mentioned, the Vols are also well represented on the Bednarik watch list with three defensive standouts making the cut, more than any other team in the SEC, and matched only by Oklahoma and Notre Dame nationally. Tennessee has never had a player win the prestigious Bednarik award, but two Vols have been named semifinalists — linebacker Kevin Burnett in 2004 and defensive back Eric Berry in '08. The last Tennessee player to make the watch list was former linebacker A.J. Johnson, who landed on the list in both 2013 and '14.
All three of the Volunteer players represented on this season's Bednarik watch list are worthy of the honor and possess the talent to win the award, but none more so than Barnett. In route to Freshman All-American and second-team All-SEC honors, Barnett led all SEC true freshman with 72 tackles last season. He also broke UT freshman records for sacks in a season (10), a game (3, vs. both South Carolina and Ole Miss), as well as total tackles for a loss (20.5).
To put Barnett’s 2014 numbers into perspective, compare them to former South Carolina star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney’s freshman totals. In 13 starts, Clowney had half as many total tackles with 36, almost half the number of tackles for a loss with 12 and two fewer sacks than Barnett.
A Vol fan favorite, fifth-year senior Maggitt also should make a strong case for the Bednarik in 2015. Last season, Maggitt recorded a team-best 11 sacks, which were good enough to rank third in the SEC. He also collected 48 tackles and 15 tackles for a loss. He is listed on several preseason All-SEC lists (Athlon second-teamer) for 2015, and a big senior season should result in multiple accolades at year’s end.
The final Tennessee player to be named a preseason Bednarik contender is Sutton. The star cornerback and punt returner has started every single game since he set foot on campus in 2013. As a sophomore, Sutton proved to be one of the better defensive backs in the SEC by successfully breaking up 13 passes, which tied him for the most in the league in 2014. This, in spite of opposing quarterbacks often choosing to avoid throwing in his direction. He also had three interceptions, a forced fumble and made 37 tackles last season.
As a punt returner, Sutton averaged just over 11 yards per punt return in 2014. His biggest return was a 76-yarder for a touchdown against Vanderbilt. Like Barnett and Maggitt, Sutton’s name can be found on multiple preseason all-conference lists for both roles. He's a second-teamer on defense on Athlon's 2015 All-SEC team and made the fourth team as a punt returner.
The Maxwell Football Club will announce the semifinalists for both the Maxwell and Bednarik Awards on Nov. 2, followed by the selection of the three finalists on Nov. 23. The winners of each award will be announced as part of "The Home Depot College Awards Show," which will be televised by ESPN on Dec. 10.
— Written by Rob McVey, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. McVey is a diehard Tennessee Volunteers fan who loves singing "Rocky Top" every opportunity he gets. Follow him on Twitter @Rob_UTVOLS
If your kicker can make a field goal from almost parking lot distance, your team is in pretty good shape.
Nick Rose has the leg of something that's not human. The Texas kicker is seen here crushing an 80-yarder with ease.
80 or easy idk pic.twitter.com/ocAjwWHsnc— Nick Rose 2⃣3⃣ (@NickRozay23) July 12, 2015
Yes, this is the same guy who does the backflip field goal as well.
This should be a stern warning that no game will be out of reach with this guy on the team.
The College Football Playoff Committee proved the general trend of tougher scheduling last fall.
There are nearly two dozen great non-conference games in the ACC in 2015.
|These two historic programs have only met twice. Clemson won the last meeting 16-10 in 1979 in South Bend. Two years earlier, Joe Montana led the Irish to a 21-17 victory in Death Valley in the battle of two top 15 teams. Both teams could be ranked in the top 10 when they meet Oct. 3 for the rubber match.|
|The Gators lead the all-time series lead in the Sunshine State rivalry 34-23-2, but the Noles have been the better team since Jimbo Fisher arrived. Florida State has won four of the last five, including his last two trips inside The Swamp.|
|The Jackets and Irish will be playing for the 35th time — 27 of which resulted in Notre Dame wins. The last time they met, however, Georgia Tech crushed the Golden Domers 33-3 in South Bend. There is a good chance both of these teams could reach 10 wins in 2015.|
|National television on Labor Day Night to begin a national title defense sounds like fun to me. Bud Foster and one of the nastiest defenses in the nation will test whichever Buckeyes quarterback Urban Meyer decides to run out there. One coach desperately needs a national statement win and the other coach has major revenge on the mind after the Hokies upset win last fall.|
|Paul Johnson's squad broke through with a huge 30-24 win over the Dawgs in Athens last season. It was just Johnson's second win in seven tries against the Dawgs and his first since beating Mark Richt in his first year in Atlanta in 2008. There is an outside chance both teams are poised to play in a championship game a week after the meeting.|
|Related: ACC Teams as Rock and Roll Bands|
|Bobby Petrino has won all 10 season openers but will have a tough time against the heavily-favored Tigers. Louisville won the only previous meeting between the two programs with a 16-3 win over Auburn in Birmingham back in 1974.|
|The Tigers own a 66-42-4 all-time series lead but are coming off their first win in the rivalry since 2008. Clemson could be eyeing a playoff bid in the season finale and will be looking for their first win in Williams-Brice Stadium since 2007. Dabo Swinney is 2-5 against Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks.|
|Nebraska's 41-31 win in Lincoln last year broke the all-time series tie (6-5). Both teams should be good enough to make a run in their respective leagues but both head coaches need a marquee win (for different reasons). However, there is no national title on the line like in many previous Miami-Nebraska bouts.|
|The Carolina Bowl has only taken place twice since 1991 with the South side winning both times (2007, 2013). The season opener features two defenses that are in desperate need of improvement if either team has any prayer of competing in their respective divisions.|
|The Panthers and Irish have played a pretty even series almost every year since 1999 with Notre Dame winning seven of the 12 meetings during that span. The last six meetings in Pittsburgh are split 3-3, including a memorable 28-21 Panthers upset win in the last tangle,|
* - neutral site
Best of the Rest:
Louisville at Kentucky, Nov. 28
Miami at Cincinnati, Oct. 1
LSU at Syracuse, Sept. 26
Boston College vs. Notre Dame, Nov. 21*
Pitt at Iowa, Sept. 19
Notre Dame at Virginia, Sept. 12
Virginia Tech at East Carolina, Sept. 26
Northwestern at Duke, Sept. 19
Virginia at UCLA, Sept. 5
Boise State at Virginia, Sept. 25
Indiana at Wake Forest, Sept. 26
Wake Forest at Notre Dame, Nov. 14
Illinois at North Carolina, Sept. 19
You hear the term "blue blood" tossed around quite a bit when talking about college sports. I've used it myself. It's a term we media members and fans use to describe programs that have historically been dominant, and as such, supposedly possess a certain element of prestige.
That's no longer the case in college football.
Sure, you have your Alabamas and Ohio States — both of whom would presently be classified as blue bloods — still sitting at or close to the top of the college football world. But you also have newly successful programs that, for whatever reason, are right there with them and don't appear to be going away.
It used to be that Texas could pull a recruit away from Baylor simply by showing interest. TCU was never a factor. Boise State was a commuter school. Coaches at programs like Nebraska, Michigan, Notre Dame and USC could wow and pull in recruits just by showing up on their doorstep wearing the school colors. Once inside the house, these same coaches could then entertain the entire family with legends and folklore that embodied the rich traditions at that particular university. It made recruits want to be part of it. It made families want to be part of it.
Going to one of these schools meant that you would be playing at a place with NFL-caliber facilities. It meant that there would be seemingless endless funds and resources available to you to help develop you into the best player you could be. It meant you'd be playing on national television and have the chance to become a household name long before you left college. And it likely meant you'd have an even greater chance to get to the NFL.
The not-so-well-kept secret nowadays is that there aren't many FBS programs in the country that can't provide you those things. In fact, I can't think of a Power 5 program where a player wouldn't have all of those things.
I've written a couple of articles about this topic in the past, with the bulk of them directed at Nebraska. The end result was arguments with fans and Nebraska media members alike who disagreed with what I had to say. The thing is, it's not just Nebraska — it's everywhere.
No college football program in 2015 can rest on its logo and history and assume it's a more desirable option for potential recruits based on those two things alone. I cringe when I hear fans or media members say thing like "Eight or nine wins is just not acceptable here at School X." They say things like that because of history. It's like there is some scientific formula that only fans and supporters of these "blue blood" schools know about that says "Because this happened here in the past, we should not settle for anything less happening here in the future, because we are School X."
Again, you can't do that in 2015.
The elephant in the room — and I know Nebraska fans hate hearing it— is that 18-year old kids don't care about your history or traditions. They don't care about sellout streaks, Blackshirts, Bear Bryant's hat, The Four Horseman, slapping the sign, rubbing the rock, The Big House or Something for Joey. They just don't care.
Because of this, the coach, his personality and his system are far more important in 2015 than the brand will ever be.
Those 18-year-old kids only want the answers to these questions:
1. Will I see playing time?
2. Will I get on TV?
3. Will I play in a fun, exciting and winning system?
4. Will I have a shot at making it to the NFL?
After that, it's the coach, not the program's history and traditions, who must convince recruits that the answer to all four of those questions is "Yes."
I've called Urban Meyer a "used car salesman" in the past. That's not an insult. It's a necessity for success at the college level. In a world where everyone wants to be thought of as the quiet genius, striving to be as Belichickian as they can, it's as though coaches and athletic directors forget what builds successful college football programs in 2015. Meyer is personable. He's likeable. He sells his program with a smile to recruits and families. He then sells his system — one that historically wins everywhere he's been. And then he sells them on getting to the NFL. He's always closing the sale, and right now, he and Ohio State are reaping the rewards.
Ohio State's history, tradition and money have little to do with it. Would you bet against Meyer at West Virginia or Iowa?
Neither would I.
Coaches like Meyer, Art Briles, Steve Sarkisian, James Franklin and Gary Patterson are what drive success in college football in 2015. It's not the maize "M", the red "N", the golden helmets or the 100,000 seats in your ancient stadium. If a school has the fan and booster support combined with the money to invest in being competitive, it's really all you need, regardless of history or tradition. Most schools have tradition. Most have money. It's tougher to change traditions than it is to change how you spend money.
Blue bloods have been replaced by new bloods and new ideas. It's happening all over the world in every business. College football is not immune to it and it's not going back to the way it was. Fans, media and athletic directors at "blue blood" schools — if they haven't done so already — need to get on board or get left behind.
What's ok and what's not in the world of journalism. These days the line between right and wrong is severely blurred.
After news broke that Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul may have his finger amputated, Adam Schefter caught a lot of flack for tweeting his medical records. In an interview with SI.com, the ESPN NFL insider defended his actions.
"This wasn't as if some player were admitted to the hospital with a secret illness or disease ... the extent of his injuries were going to come to light, maybe that day or later that week, but soon," Schefter said.
Schefter went on to say that the image of the medical records came to him and that he never requested anything. Although the ESPN reporter doesn't apologize for what he did, he did admit that he should've done a little more before tweeting.
"In hindsight I could and should have done even more here due to the sensitivity of the situation," Schefter said. "ESPN has trusted me on any number of stories over the years, and granted me great latitude, fortunately. Sometimes in the fast-paced news world we live in, it's easy to forget you should lean on the knowledge and experience of the people surrounding you ... On this one, there should have been even more discussion than there was due to the sensitivity of the story; that's on me."
It's a tough lesson for many journalists to learn. In the end, if you can believe, Schefter will be even better for it.
Renovations, scheduling, prices, realignment and weather can impact attendance numbers. Even how a school reports its given numbers can vary from program to program (unfortunately).
Most notably, however, is the quality of the team. The easiest solution to "fixing" dropping attendance numbers is to win more games.
In 2014, Texas A&M (+21 percent), Maryland (+14), LSU (+11), Mississippi State (+10), Rutgers (+9), UCLA (+9) and Florida State (+9) led the Power 5 teams in attendance growth for different reasons.
The SEC schools saw boosts from renovations while the two Big Ten teams each saw a spike from joining a new league. The Bruins' attendance grew simply because the team was expected to be and was really good.
So Athlon Sports looked back at all 65 Power 5 teams and ranked them by average capacity based on the reported numbers. How packed was your favorite team’s stadium?
|2||Bill Snyder Family Stadium||106.2||53,081||38th|
|14||Notre Dame Stadium||100.0||80,795||16th|
|15||Doak Campbell Stadium||99.9||82,211||14th|
|17||Davis Wade Stadium||99.6||61,127||28th|
|20||Amon Carter Stadium||99.3||44,719||52nd|
|21||Camp Randall Stadium||99.0||79,520||18th|
|23||Ben Hill Griffin Stadium||96.9||85,834||12th|
|24||Jones AT&T Stadium||96.8||58,934||29th|
|25||High Point Solutions Stadium||96.5||50,632||43rd|
|26||Papa John's Stadium||96.3||52,972||39th|
|30||Jack Trice Stadium||95.3||52,197||41st|
|32||Milan Puskar Stadium||94.5||56,686||34th|
|34||Darrell K. Royal Stadium||93.9||94,103||8th|
|41||TFC Bank Stadium||91.1||47,865||45th|
|44||Boone Pickens Stadium||90.3||54,387||37th|
|45||Bobby Dodd Stadium||88.2||48,519||44th|
|46||Sun Devil Stadium||86.8||57,179||32nd|
|47||Kenan Memorial Stadium||86.7||54,667||35th|
|54||Wallace Wade Stadium||80.4||27,291||82nd|
|55||Sun Life Stadium||80.3||52,518||40th|
There was a time when many considered South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore as one of the best college running backs. However, after two knee injuries in consecutive years, including one of the most gruesome ever seen, his future quickly looked bleak. The San Francisco drafted him with a 4th round pick in 2013, but he never recovered fully from the injury, retiring late in 2014.
Reflecting upon his time with the 49ers, he told reporters, “It was hell. Every day.” However, he never really let the team know that, as he participated with a faux smile on. The pain from his knees was apparently too much to bear, and he could no longer go on playing on it. It leaves eevrybody wondering what could have been for the college star.
See the play that forever changed his career:
According to the Tallahassee Democrat, Cook was allegedly involved in the battery of a woman outside of a bar. The article from the Tallahassee Democrat indicates the police report was heavily redacted and noted the victim was intoxicated and suffered minor bruises.
Charges have yet to be filed, but ESPN reports Cook will be charged with misdemeanor battery. An arrest warrant is expected to be issued.
Additionally, the ESPN report indicates Cook allegedly punched the woman in the face several times.
Earlier this week, Florida State dismissed quarterback De’Andre Johnson after video was released of an incident at a bar, which the freshman punched a woman in the face.
Cook was a key part of the Seminoles’ playoff run last season and was considered one of the top running backs in the nation.
Needless to say, Cook’s future at Florida State will depend heavily on how this case plays out in the next few months.
After both winning their semifinals matches in straight sets, No. 1 Novak Djokovic will take on No. 2 Roger Federer for the Wimbledon title for the second straight year. Djokovic enters the match as the defending Wimbledon champion, while Federer has won seven titles there previously. The two have been great rivals for several years now, having faced one another 39 times prior.
And in those previous head-to-head matchups, Roger Federer holds the lead by one win, with a record of 20-19. Djokovic has won the previous three matchups, and he looks to tie up the all-time series with his third Wimbledon victory. However, a win for Federer would give him the most men’s singles Wimbledon titles.
Here's something to expect this Sunday:
Several weeks after his appeal, Greg Hardy’s suspension has been cut from 10 to 4 games for the upcoming NFL season. The suspension came about for his alleged involvement in a domestic abuse case. The troubled NFL star was suspended for 15 games last season with the Carolina Panthers.
The Cowboys certainly have to be glad that Hardy will be on the field for more games, having signed him to a one-year deal worth $11.3 million in free agency. The reduced suspension may surprise many, considering all of the backlash for the seemingly lenient punishments last year. It will be interesting to see how people react to this change.
See what Hardy brings to the Cowboys: