Articles By Braden Gall

Path: /college-football/oregon-ducks-2013-spring-football-preview
Body:

Oregon just finished a historic run in Pac-12 play, going 33-3 in conference games over the last four years, including a trip to the BCS National Championship game. Those four years are better known as the Chip Kelly era in Eugene. However, Kelly is coaching in the NFL and former assistant Mark Helfrich is now leading the program and has elite expectations swirling around his first season as the head coach.

Oregon Ducks 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 12-1 (8-1)

Spring practice dates: April 2-April 27

Returning Starters: Offense – 9, Defense – 7

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Marcus Mariota, 230-of-336, 2,677 yards, 32 TDs, 6 INTs
Rushing: Marcus Mariota, 106 att., 752 yards, 5 TDs
Receiving: De'Anthony Thomas, 45 rec., 445 yards, 5 TD
Tackles: Brian Jackson, 69
Sacks: Taylor Hart, 8.0
Interceptions: Erick Dargan, 5

Redshirts to watch: DB Reggie Daniels, LB Brett Bafaro, WR Chance Allen, QB Jake Rodrigues, TE Evan Baylis

Early Enrollees to watch: LB Joe Walker

2013 Schedule

Aug. 31 Nicholls State
Sept. 7 at Virginia
Sept. 14 Tennessee
Sept. 21 Open Date
Sept. 28 Cal
Oct. 5 at Colorado
Oct. 12 at Washington
Oct. 19 Washington State
Oct. 26 UCLA
Nov. 2 Bye Week
Nov. 7 at Stanford (Thur.)
Nov. 16 Utah
Nov. 23 at Arizona
Nov. 29 Oregon (Fri.)

Related: Pac-12 Football 2013 Spring Preview and Storylines

Offensive Strength: Backfield. With Marcus Mariota returning at quarterback and both De'Anthony Thomas and Byron Marshall back to carry the ball, Oregon is loaded once again with ball-carriers.

Offensive Weakness: Offensive line. There really is no weakness on this offense but replacing Kyle Long, Ryan Clanton and Nick Cody up front will be an area of focus.

Defensive Strength: Depth. This team is known for playing a lot of players in its rotation and despite some key losses there is a wealth of talent and experience at every position. Defensive tackle and the secondary are especially strong.

Defensive Weakness: Veteran leadership. The heart and soul of the defense is gone with veteran leaders Michael Clay, John Boyett, Dion Jordan and Kiko Alonso departed.

Spring Storylines Facing the Ducks

1. Replace linebackers Clay and Alonso. Michael Clay was a fixture inside on the Ducks defense, and despite some career speed bumps, Kiko Alonso developed into a star as well. Not only did they make plays (182 tackles, 24.0 TFL) a year ago, but they were the leaders of the defense. Derrick Malone, Tyson Coleman, Boseko Lokombo, Rahim Cassell and Rodney Hardrick have all seen plenty of reps but organizing this depth chart and developing leaders in this group will be key for defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti this spring.

2. Sort out the defensive line. Dion Jordan and Issac Remington earned all-conference recognition and both are gone. Much like the linebackers, however, the rotation of bodies has given this depth chart plenty of experience. Taylor Hart will star at one end while Wade Keliikipi returns after an honorable mention All-Pac-12 season. This means former elite recruits like DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Christian French and Ricky Heimuli need to step into bigger roles and develop into the players scouts believed they were coming out of high school.

3. Fill the gaps along the O-line. Having All-Pac-12 center Hroniss Grasu and tackles Jake Fisher and Tyler Johnstone back is an excellent place to start along the offensive line. But both guards and overall depth needs to be developed. This offensive system runs at light speed and uses a lot of bodies to stay fresh up front so look for other names like Everett Benyard and Mana Greig to figure heavily in the mix.

4. Establish the process. Mike Belotti gets credit for building Oregon as both a head coach and athletic director. Chip Kelly gets credit for taking this program to the next level. And Helfrich is charged with not only maintaining elite-level success but taking the final step that has eluded the previous two regimes, a national title. He is familiar with the program and that will help the transition, but Kelly was so instrumental in elevating this offense to unprecedented levels, that many wonder if Helfrich can keep up. This spring will be his first chance to prove his detractors wrong by installing his game plan and setting the benchmark for expectations.

Related College Football Content

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Pac-12 Football Schedule Analysis for 2013
College Football's Top 10 Spring Storylines for 2013

Ranking the Pac-12 Coaching Jobs for 2013

Ranking All 125 College Football Coaching Jobs for 2013

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Teaser:
<p> Oregon Ducks 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - 09:45
Path: /mlb/setting-roster-major-league-baseballs-all-steroid-team
Body:

Steroids are now just as synonymous with baseball as hot dogs or cold beer. It is an unfortunate era of the game that fans of all ages must accept. Are the use of performance-enhancing drugs terrible for the body and a form of cheating? Yes, and this country should work diligently to combat their growth. But steroids are a part of why the game of baseball returned to the nation’s heart after a work stoppage and no World Series in 1994.

The 1998 home run chase between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, for example, revived a lifeless sport and, like it or not, everyone from the owners and the players to the managers and the fans benefited.

Should steroid users be in the Hall of Fame — alongside plenty of other great players who bent the rules? Who benefited more from PEDs: Hitters or pitchers? Will there ever be confirmation of who used what when? Since there will likely never be a definitive answer to these questions maybe baseball should build a “Steroid Wing” in Cooperstown and just lump everyone from 1990 to 2006 — when Bud Selig finally created the Joint Drug Prevention and Blunt Treatment Program.

How would that roster look? Here is the all-time steroid team made up of names who have been connected in one way or another to some sort of PED at some point. The starting lineup is a murderer’s row and the rotation has one of the all-time greats fronting it.

C: Pudge Rodriguez (1991-2011)
Key Stats: .296/.798, 2,844 H, 311 HR, 1,332 RBI
Awards: All-Star (14), Gold Glove (13), Silver Slugger (7), MVP

He is one of baseball’s all-time greatest catchers. He has more putouts (14,864) than any other catcher in history by a wide margin as his 21-season career would indicate. He hit over 20 home runs, however, just five times. They all came in consecutive seasons with the Rangers after playing three years with Jose Canseco. His 35-homer, 113-RBI MVP season is a clear outlier as Canseco claimed to have personally educated Rodriguez about steroid use. He never topped 30 home runs or 100 RBIs in any other season. Following the release of Canseco's inflammatory book, Juiced, the 215-pound catcher showed up at Tigers camp at 187 pounds and never hit more than 14 homers the rest of his career. Honorable Mention: Mike Piazza, Javy Lopez

1B: Mark McGwire (1986-2001)
Key Stats: .263/.982, 583 HR, 1,414 RBI
Awards: All-Star (12), Silver Slugger (3), Gold Glove (1), Rookie of the Year

McGwire is one of the few who has openly admitted that he used PEDs during his playing career. In fact, he dates his use of steroids back to as early as 1989 when he and Canseco won the World Series in Oakland — the modern birthplace for steroids. The Big Mac would have been a big bopper no matter what drugs he took, but breaking Roger Maris’ single-season home run record two years in a row seems highly unlikely. Especially considering he did it at age 34 (70 HR) and 35 (65). Honorable Mention: Rafael Palmeiro, Jeff Bagwell

2B: Bret Boone (1992-2005)
Key Stats: .266/.767, 252 HR, 1,021 RBI
Awards: All-Star (3), Gold Glove (4), Silver Slugger (2)

Boone’s career stat sheet is one that steroid haters point to on a regular basis. How could a 5-foot-10, 180-pound second baseman who hit a total of 62 home runs in his first six seasons somehow blast 37 dingers and lead the league in RBIs (141) with a .331 average at age 32? His .950 OPS that year dwarfed his career .767 mark. In eight of 14 seasons, Boone hit 15 round trippers or less. But from 2001 to 2003, he hit 96 of his career 252 homers. Once again, it was Canseco’s book that fingered Boone as a potential steroid user. Honorable Mention: Brian Roberts, Chuck Knoblauch

3B: Alex Rodriguez (1994-present)
Key Stats: .300/.945, 647 HR, 1,950 RBI, 318 SB
Awards: All-Star (14), Silver Slugger (10), MVP (3), Gold Glove (2)

Playing in Seattle and Texas, two steroid hotbeds, A-ROD tested positive for PEDs in 2003 and eventually confessed to his use of banned substances from 2001-03. He has also seen his name mentioned prominently with more recent accusations hailing from Biogenesis in South Florida. He was an elite player with elite skills but his 40-40 season, multiple MVPs and historic numbers have all been called into question by his decision to cheat. His legacy will be an interesting one to track over the next, say, five seasons? Honorable Mention: Ken Caminiti, Mike Lowell, Gary Sheffield

Fantasy: Athlon Sports 2013 Fantasy Baseball Big Board

SS: Miguel Tejada (1997-2011)
Key Stats: .285/.793, 304 HR, 1,282 RBI
Awards: All-Star (6), Silver Slugger (2), MVP (1)

Tejada was arguably the top shortstop in the game during a five-year stretch from 2000-04. He hit over 30 home runs in four out of five seasons, led the majors with 150 RBIs in 2004 and won the 2002 MVP as a key cog in the emergence of the "Moneyball" era in Oakland. But like many Bay Area players, the Latin star was fingered for steroid use by a variety of people. Rafael Palmeiro accused him of giving him tainted B-12 shots. Canseco accused him in his book. And then his name was featured prominently in the Mitchell Report. It all eventually led to a somber confession in 2009, as he was facing federal perjury charges, leaving little doubt that his career is tainted.

OF: Barry Bonds (1986-2007)
Key Stats: .298/1.051, 762 HR, 1,996 RBI, 514 SB
Awards: All-Star (14), Silver Slugger (12), Gold Glove (8), MVP (7)

The most high-profile steroid user in the history of baseball also just happens to be its all-time home run champ. Everyone knows the number 755 but few know Bonds’ 762. This is all, of course, due to his miraculous late-career power surge. He never hit over 50 home runs in a season until he blasted 73 in 2002 at age 36. He hit over 40 dingers only three times in his career before topping 45 in five straight seasons from 2000 to 2004 — his 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th seasons. He was at the center of the BALCO scandal playing in a roided-up city during the peak of the steroid era. This one is a no brainer and it’s a shame, because he might have been one of the greatest hitters of all-time if he hadn't cheated. Honorable Mention: Ryan Braun, Gary Sheffield

OF: Sammy Sosa (1989-2007)
Key Stats: .273/.878, 609 HR, 1,667 RBI, 234 SB
Awards: All-Star (7), Silver Slugger (6), MVP (1)

This should be the only stat you need to know about Sosa and the steroid era: The Cubs' slugger broke Maris’ single-season home run record three times (1998, 1999, 2001) and never once led his league in homers. Think about that? He was a power hitter despite his 6-foot, 165-pound frame before 1998, but his numbers spiked dramatically during his historic home run chase with McGwire. He hit 207 HR in his first nine seasons and 292 long balls from 1998 to 2002. His 2005 Congressional hearing performance was one for the ages and he was fingered by The New York Times in an article stating Sosa tested positive for PEDs in 2003. Seriously, Baseball-Reference has him listed at 6-foot and 165 pounds… and he has 609 home runs? Honorable Mention: Jose Canseco, Juan Gonzalez

OF: Manny Ramirez (1993-2011)
Key Stats: .312/.996, 555 HR, 1,831 RBI
Awards: All-Star (12), Silver Slugger (9)

There weren’t many better right-handed hitters in all of baseball than Man-Ram in his prime. But that all came crashing down when he tested positive in 2009 for testosterone levels and was suspended 50 games. He then tested positive again in 2011 for a banned substance. All of this after he was fingered as a user back in the infamous 2003 drug test that reportedly also implicated Sosa, A-Rod and others. He was an elite hitter who delivered in the clutch and led his team to four different World Series. But he also quit on his team and earned the "Manny Being Manny" moniker after bizarre and often inexplicable on-field behavior. Honorable Mention: Brady Anderson, Melky Cabrera

DH: David Ortiz (1997-present)
Key Stats: .285/.928, 401 HR, 1,326 RBI
Awards: All-Star (8), Silver Slugger (5)

Big Papi has a strange career boxscore. In six seasons with the Twins, Ortiz slugged just 58 home runs — or less than 10 per season. But paired up with Man-Ram in Beantown for an organization that is willing to do anything to win and he became the greatest hitting DH of all-time. He has averaged 34 home runs per season in his 10-year Red Sox career and topped out at a league-leading 54 in 2006. Ortiz, like so many others on this team, reportedly tested positive for steroids in 2003, information that finally came to light in 2009, and his power numbers have dropped ever since that disclosure. Honorable Mention: Jason Giambi, Hideki Matsui

SP: Roger Clemens (1984-2007)
Key Stats: 354 W, 4,916.2 IP, 4,672 K, 3.12 ERA
Awards: All-Star (11), Cy Young (7), MVP (1)

The Bonds of the mound, Clemens used PEDs to match the slugger's MVPs with seven Cy Young awards. He led the league in ERA seven different times, including a sterling 1.87 mark — his career best — at age 42 while pitching in a notorious steroid town (Houston) in 2005. The change in his career dates back to his move north of the border. After four middling years in Boston from 1993-96, he signed with Toronto and went 41-13 in 498.2 innings with a 2.33 ERA and 563 strikeouts — at age 34 and 35. He was then traded to New York and made more than $97.8 million from age 37 to 44. His name came up 82 times in the Mitchell Report and he has been fingered by former trainers and even teammates as a possible rule-breaker. Honorable Mention: Andy Pettitte, Kevin Brown, Jason Schmidt,

RP: Eric Gagne (1997-2008)
Key Stats: 187 SV, 643.2 IP, 718 K, 3.47 ERA
Awards: All-Star (3), Cy Young (1)

Gagne was magical when he was at his best. He converted an MLB-record 84 straight saves and closed 152 games with 365 strikeouts and a 1.79 ERA in just 247.0 innings from 2002 to 2004. In his other seven seasons combined, he closed 35 games total. However, pitching on the West Coast during those years will raise major question marks and he was named prominently in the Mitchell Report complete with extremely incriminating evidence. He was never the same pitcher following his Tommy John surgery in 2005. Honorable Mention: John Rocker, Guillermo Mota

 

Note: This is simply for fun and not intended to cast official judgment of anyone named above nor is it investigative journalism.

Teaser:
<p> Major League Baseball's All-Steroid Team</p>
Post date: Monday, April 1, 2013 - 11:20
Path: /college-football/oregon-state-2013-spring-football-preview
Body:

Mike Riley finished the 2011 season with a nasty taste in his mouth after losing nine of 12 games. It was his worst season as the head coach in Corvallis and his defense was the issue. Last season, Riley reinvented the defense and it led to nine wins. Now that Oregon State is back in contention, Riley is faced with battling Stanford and Oregon for Pac-12 North Division supremacy. And it all begins this month with spring practice for the Beavers.

Oregon State Beavers 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 9-4 (6-3)

Spring practice dates: April 1-April 26

Returning Starters: Offense – 8, Defense – 7

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Sean Mannion, 200-of-309, 2,446 yards, 15 TDs, 13 INTs
Rushing: Storm Woods, 192 att., 940 yards, 13 TDs
Receiving: Brandin Cooks, 67 rec., 1,151 yards, 5 TD
Tackles: Michael Doctor, 83
Sacks: Scott Crichton, 9.0
Interceptions: Rashaad Reynolds, 3

Redshirts to watch: RB Chris Brown, WR Malik Gilmore, DB Tyler Hasty, CB Zack Robinson, OL Garrett Weinreich

Early Enrollees to watch: CB Steven Nelson, DT Kyle Peko, DT Edwin Delva, DT Siale Hautau, DE Charlie Tuaau, DE Lyndon Tulimasealii

2013 Schedule

Aug. 31 Eastern Washington
Sept. 7 Hawaii
Sept. 14 at Utah
Sept. 21 at San Diego State
Sept. 26 Colorado
Oct. 5 Bye Week
Oct. 12 at Washington State
Oct. 19 at Cal
Oct. 26 Stanford
Nov. 1 USC (Fri.)
Nov. 9 Bye Week
Nov. 16 at Arizona State
Nov. 23 Washington
Nov. 30 at Oregon

Related: Pac-12 Football 2013 Spring Preview and Storylines

Offensive Strength: Running game and backfield. There is plenty of talent and depth in the backfield at both quarterback and running back. Four starters return to the offensive line as well.

Offensive Weakness: Passing game. Talent needs to develop around wide receiver Brandin Cooks for the passing game to be a strength and settling on one quarterback would help.

Defensive Strength: The back seven. This part of the defense returns fairly intact other than the loss of Jordan Poyer. Safety, in particular, is in good shape where both starters are back to quarterback this side of the ball.

Defensive Weakness: Defensive line. Replacing three out of four starters won't be easy so expect plenty of new faces in the rotation up front.

Spring Storylines Facing the Beavers

1. Replace the defense line. Riley worked minor miracles defensively to turn around his team in 2012, but he will have to provide an encore as three of four defensive line starters are gone. End Scott Crichton, who won't be able to practice due to a shoulder injury, was the best of the group and he returns, so finding a dependable player opposite him is what Riley needs to accomplish this spring. The tackle position is a more pressing matter, however, as both starters Andrew Aeumalo and Castro Masaniai moved on from Corvallis. Finding not only production but leadership from this group will be imperative after the losses up front this offseason. This is why Riley signed four junior college defensive linemen, including potential starters inside in tackles Edwin Delva and Siale Hautau. If the Beavers are going to compete with Oregon and Stanford in the North, they must play defense like the 2012 team, not the '11 edition.

2. Support Brandin Cooks in the passing game. Markus Wheaton was an all-time great for Oregon State and will be missed. That said, Brandin Cooks is one of the single most underrated wide receivers in the nation and will be just fine serving as the team's No. 1 pass catcher. The problem for the Beavers' passing game, however, is depth outside of Cooks and at tight end. Riley is expecting big things from an incoming freshman class heavy on pass catchers but they don't arrive until the summer. Tight end Connor Hamlett and rising junior receiver Obum Gwacham have great size and should step into much bigger roles this spring.

3. Find a way to replace Jordan Poyer. He was one of the top defensive backs in the nation — and school history — and won't be easy to replace, not only on defense but as a leader and special teams performer. Safety Ty Zimmerman is out for spring and Anthony Watkins is gone as well, leaving just safety Ryan Murphy and corner Rashaad Reynolds as the only ones with starting experience who will participate in spring practice. Reynolds has big-time potential and will be counted on to fill Poyer's shoes, but in an explosive conference like the Pac-12, providing him with support on the other side of the field will be key. Keep an eye on junior college transfer Steven Nelson and key veteran reserve Sean Martin as well.

4. Pick a quarterback. Sean Mannion is the starter and will be listed atop the depth chart, however, Cody Vaz is nipping at his heels and will get half of the reps with the starting offense this spring. This is the time for Mannion to show Riley that his excellent freshman season was no fluke and that he is the clear-cut choice to lead this offense. He has the talent to be a playmaker in the Pac-12 and, if asked off the record, the bet would be the coaching staff would like to see the rising junior separate himself from Vaz this spring. Although Riley has admitted that he likely won't make a decision until the fall, Mannion could make it easy on him and his staff with a great month of practice.

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Teaser:
<p> Oregon State 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Monday, April 1, 2013 - 07:30
Path: /college-football/byu-football-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

The start of the 2013 college football season is still months away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about preseason predictions and some of the top games to watch in each conference — and since BYU doesn't play in a conference, the Cougars stand alone.

Bronco Mendenhall is entering his ninth season in Provo and the Cougars have won at least 10 games in five of those eight seasons. However, BYU now has to schedule a fully independent slate for the third season in a row. It means that the Cougs will face another brutal schedule with few easy wins and upwards of seven or eight bowl teams.

BYU 2013 Schedule

Aug. 31 at Virginia
Sept. 7 Texas
Sept. 14 Bye Week
Sept. 21 Utah
Sept. 27 Middle Tennessee (Fri.)
Oct. 4 at Utah State (Fri.)
Oct. 12 Georgia Tech
Oct. 19 at Houston
Oct. 26 Boise State
Nov. 2 Bye Week
Nov. 9 at Wisconsin
Nov. 16 Idaho
Nov. 23 at Notre Dame
Nov. 30 at Nevada

* A trip across the country to face an ACC opponent steeped in a rich tradition of football success isn't normally how anyone wants to start the season. However, Virginia lost eight games a year ago and there isn't much to indicate they will be dramatically improved. The season opener will be tough but is very winnable for the Cougars.

* An early-season visit from Texas provides Provo a chance to host and defeat a national powerhouse. Texas has issues but is extremely talented and has eyes on a Big 12 title. This is a huge barometer game for both programs, as well as their respective head coaches and quarterbacks.

* The first bye week comes early in the year in Week 3 but is well placed following two tough power conference opponents and prior to The Holy War with Utah. Getting a second week to prepare for the school's most hated rival can only be a good thing.

* Following the in-state battle with the Utes, BYU will host back-to-back Friday night affairs with tricky but beatable mid-majors. Both Middle Tennessee and Utah State have experienced success of late and both will be looking to knock off the Cougars.

* After the two Friday night primetime games, the schedule starts to get rough. Georgia Tech, Houston and Boise State are three of the winningest programs over the last few seasons and BYU will face the trio in consecutive weekends in October. The good news is the Yellow Jackets and Broncos have to come to LaVell Edwards Stadium.

* The second off weekend also is well placed following a tough October and prefacing a brutal November. Three road trips to Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Nevada are about as tough a final month of the season as there is in the nation. Idaho at home will offer a small breather, but 2-2 in November would have to be considered a success for Mendenhall's bunch.


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Teaser:
<p> BYU Football 2013 Schedule Analysis</p>
Post date: Friday, March 29, 2013 - 10:59
Path: /college-football/notre-dame-football-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

The start of the 2013 college football season is still months away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about preseason predictions and some of the top games to watch in each conference — and since Notre Dame isn't in a conference, the Fighting Irish stand alone.

So, too, does the difficulty of their schedule.

Brian Kelly led the Irish to the BCS National Championship game in 2012 well ahead of schedule. And while no team might have been capable of beating Alabama in that game last year, the Irish were plenty deserving of being in the game. Notre Dame plays one of, if not the, most difficult schedules each and every season. The 2013 slate is no different as major powerhouses like Michigan, Stanford, USC and Oklahoma dot the calendar. Toss in teams like Arizona State, Michigan State, Pitt and BYU and the Irish are looking at playing upwards of nine or 10 teams that played in bowl games last season.

If Notre Dame runs the table in the '13 regular season, it will be completely worthy of playing in the title game once again.

Notre Dame 2013 Schedule

Aug. 31 Temple
Sept. 7 at Michigan
Sept. 14 at Purdue
Sept. 21 Michigan State
Sept. 28 Oklahoma
Oct. 5 Arizona State (Arlington)
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 19 USC
Oct. 26 at Air Force
Nov. 2 Navy
Nov. 9 at Pitt
Nov. 16 Bye Week
Nov. 23 BYU
Nov. 30 at Stanford

* Breaking in the new lineup against Temple at home is one of the easiest ways the Irish could have possibly opened their season. The Owls won't press the new starters on defense too much as they lack the playmakers to challenge the Irish. This is a perfect way to start the year for Kelly's bunch.

* The warm up in the opener will be just that for a huge Week 2 test on the road against rival Michigan. Devin Gardner is now under center for Michigan and Brady Hoke's offense will now be much more traditional — and more difficult to stop. The new defensive starters need to grow up quickly in order to be prepared for the trip to Ann Arbor — a place where the Irish haven't won since 2005. 

* Fans in the Midwest who love the regional rivalries with the Big Ten should be sure to sit back and enjoy another three-game, early-season schedule with the Big Ten. Soon, the Irish will be playing five ACC games each season, meaning the Big Ten rivalries are the ones that will fall by the wayside. So relish the back-to-back-to-back games with Michigan, Purdue and Michigan State.

* Following the Big Ten portion of the schedule, the Irish welcome Big 12 powerhouse Oklahoma to town before heading to Dallas to take on Arizona State in Cowboys Stadium. The Sooners are rebuilding at quarterback and on defense, so this should be a brutal but winnable test for the Irish. The Sun Devils, with an elite offense, might actually be the tougher test for the Golden Domers. 

* The bye week is nicely situated to allow for Kelly's team to take a deep breath following a tough first six weeks to the season and before a visit from USC. Although you can pretty much throw out the records when these two historic teams get together, giving Kelly two weeks to prepare affords the Irish a major advantage.

* The triple option portion of the schedule comes at a good time. The defense might have been susceptible to the option early in the season but the depth chart should be stabilized by the time Air Force and Navy show up in '13.

* The second bye week is placed perfectly between a road trip to new ACC team Pitt and a tricky final two weeks of the season. Getting an extra week to prepare for BYU and Stanford is huge for Notre Dame as those two teams could be two of the top five teams it will face in 2013. Finishing the year at Stanford is great for the fans but could be dangerous if ND is back in the national title picture.
 

 

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Teaser:
<p> Notre Dame Football 2013 Schedule Analysis</p>
Post date: Friday, March 29, 2013 - 07:30
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketballs-top-10-arena-nicknames
Body:

There are many reasons why fans gravitate to the college ranks over the professional ones. For those of us who love college sports, NCAA basketball is a vastly superior product over the NBA. Yes, the NBA features the best athletes in the world playing the game, but many point to a boring regular season, lack of overall defense and me-first holier than thou attitude that comes with million-dollar salaries.

While the level of athlete isn’t even comparable in the college game, there are many other reasons why its more enjoyable. Student sections, campus life, small towns, deeply connected alumni bases, dramatic game play, cheerleaders, defensive effort and kids playing for the love of the game are at the top of that list. But college arenas and stadiums are more intimate and interwoven into the history of a school unlike the NBA buildings (minus maybe Madison Square Garden or the Boston Gardens).

And the traditions of the college game — like arena nicknames — are priceless. Here are college hoops best arena nicknames:

1. The Pit, New Mexico (University Arena)
New Mexico’s famous basketball-only arena opened in 1966 as University Arena and was renamed officially as “The Pit” in 2009. It got its nickname from how the building was constructed, as the floor of the arena is 37 feet below “ground level,” meaning the court is actually built inside of a pit. Because it was built into such a small space with steep grading and relatively tight quarters for 15,411 capacity seating, the Lobos have enjoyed one of the loudest home quarter settings in all of college hoops. It cost a relatively affordable $1.4 million to build and the building itself reminds fans and opposing players that it sits a mile above sea level as well.

2. The Phog, Kansas (Allen Fieldhouse)
Named in honor of former head coach Dr. Forrest C. Allen, who led the Jayhawks program for 39 years and was nicknamed “Phog” for his distinct booming fog-horn voice. Allen Fieldhouse was opened in 1955 following four years of construction, the building currently seats 16,300 and originally cost just $2.5 million to build. The Phog is widely regarded as one of the loudest building in college basketball, and thanks to decades of great teams, is arguably the toughest place to win in all of sports. At home, Kansas is 107-2 since 2007, 263-14 since 1994 (the last renovation) and 699-108 all-time, so all who enter clearly must “Pay Heed.”

3. The Barn, Minnesota (Williams Arena)
One of the older buildings in the nation, Williams Arena was opened in 1928 and cost just $650,000 to build. Its 14,625 rowdy Golden Gophers fans and rounded ceiling shape give it a raucous barnyard feel — which is how the student section (The Barnyard) and building got their of their nicknames. The most unusual characteristic of the building, however, might be the raised floor design. The court is roughly two feet above player benches, press row and the first rows of seats. The Barn has hosted both The NCAA basketball finals (1951) and a pair of Frozen Fours (1958, 1966).

4. The Kennel, Gonzaga (McCarthey Athletic Center)
McCarthey Athletic Center was opened in 2004 and goes by The New Kennel or K2 to fans in the know, however, The Kennel is the best and most fitting. The nickname has carried over from the previous facility in Spokane, the Charlotte Y. Martin Center, and couldn’t be more appropriately named. The Bulldogs play extremely well at home and the boisterous fans pack the tight 6,000-person arena each and every home game. The Kennel cost Gonzaga $25 million to build.

5. The RAC, Rutgers (Louis Brown Athletic Center)
Rutgers’ basketball arena was originally titled the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) when it opened in 1977. It was renamed in 1986 as the Louis Brown Athletic Center but the nickname stuck through the name change. The 8,000-seat building hosted the New Jersey Nets from 1977-81 as well as the Scarlet Knights basketball and volleyball teams. The home team hasn’t been a championship contender, but Rutgers plays great at home and the fans are intimidating close to the action. The RAC just sounds like a great place to play hoops.

6. The Slim Gym, San Diego (Jenny Craig Pavilion)
Jenny Craig Pavilion, or the JCP, was opened in 2000 on the beautiful Toreros campus in San Diego, Calif. Named after famous weight loss guru Jenny Craig, the building quickly became known as the Slim Gym for obvious reasons. The punny nickname is one of the most creative and original nicknames in college hoops. JCP seats 5,100 patrons and cost $17.5 million to build.

7. Octagon of Doom, Kansas State (Bramlage Coliseum)
Kansas State plays all of its men’s and women’s basketball games in a place known as The Octagon of Doom. It seats 12,528, was opened in 1988 and cost $17.5 million to build. The nickname comes from the building’s eight-sided shape and was started by fans who would bring octagonal shaped signs with “Doom” written them due to reputation of tenacious defense. The Manhattan arena’s nickname has quickly (2007) become one of the best pseudonyms in college sports.

8. The Tad Pad, Ole Miss (C. M. Smith Coliseum)
The Ole Miss Rebels have called C. M. Smith Coliseum home since 1965-66 when the building was originally called Rebel Coliseum. Smith was a three-sport star at Ole Miss, a coach and eventually became the Athletic Director in Oxford. The important Mississippi personality went by “Tad” and so the 9,061-seat building is now referred to as The Tad Pad.

9. Dome of Doom, Wyoming (Arena-Auditorium)
With a formal name like Arena-Auditorium, its no wonder the fans in Laramie came up with a nickname for their basketball arena. The 15,028-seat building was built in 1982 for $15 million and is officially the highest arena in NCAA Division I basketball. Situated at 7,220 feet above sea level, the Dome of Doom, or “Double-A,” literally causes headaches to opposing teams and fans.

10. The Rock, Seton Hall/NJIT (Prudential Center)
165 Mulberry Street in Newark, N.J., is home to one of the most well-used buildings in college sports. Named affectionately for the Rock of Gibraltar corporate logo of Prudential Financial, The Rock is home to three different hockey teams, namely the New Jersey Devils, and has hosted both the New Jersey Nets and New York Liberty of the professional basketball ranks in the past. But why it makes this list is famed Seton Hall basketball — as well as NJIT — calls The PC home. The 18,711-seat building (for basketball) cost an astronomical $375 million to build back in 2007. 

The Best of the Rest:

11. The Thriller Dome, Georgia Tech (Alexander Memorial Coliseum)
12. Dean Dome, North Carolina (Dean Smith Center)
13. The Hump, Mississippi State (Humphrey Coliseum)
14. The Dunk, Providence (Dunkin Donuts Arena)
15. The O-Dome, Florida (Stephen O’Connell Center)
16. The Pete, Pitt (Petersen Events Center)


Old-School Honorable Mention:

Big Brown Box that Rocks, Loyola-Chicago (Alumni Gym)
From 1924 to 1996, Loyola-Chicago called Alumni Gym home. The 2,000-seat building was known for its crazy fans and eventually became known as the Big Brown Box That Rocks.

Chamber of Horrors, New Orleans (Human Performance Center)
New Orleans began playing Division I basketball in 1969 and called the Human Performance Center home until 1983 and then again following Hurricane Katrina from 2005-08. It seated just 1,200 fans was known as The Chamber of Horrors.


NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Previews

Re-Ranking the Tournament: The Sweet 16
Midwest Region Sweet 16 Weekend Preview

South Region Sweet 16 Weekend Preview

West Region Sweet 16 Weekend Preview

East Region Sweet 16 Weekend Preview

College Basketball's Top 10 Dunkers of 2012-13

The NCAA Tournament's Biggest Upsets and Closest Calls of All-Time

Teaser:
<p> College Basketball's Top 10 Arena Nicknames</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/auburn-tigers-2013-spring-football-preview
Body:

Auburn fans can't forget about the 2012 season quick enough. The first 0-8 season in SEC play, as well as widespread off the field chaos, led to the eventual ouster of head coach Gene Chizik, who led the Tigers to a BCS title in the 2010 season. Enter Gus Malzahn, who was the offensive coordinator for that undefeated national championship team. He takes over a roster that was recruited well but clearly not coached much at all. Malzahn has his work cut out for him but there are plenty of four- and five-star recruits walking around The Plains right now. Developing this talent in the spring will go a long way to making Auburn competitive once again.

Auburn Tigers 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 3-9 (0-8)

Spring practice dates: March 20-April 13

Returning Starters: Offense – 6, Defense – 9

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Kiehl Frazier, 62 of 116, 753 yards, 2 TDs, 8 INTs
Rushing: Tre Mason, 171 car., 1,002 yards, 8 TDs
Receiving: C.J. Uzomah, 7 rec., 136 yards, 1 TDs
Tackles: Demetruce McNeal, 90
Sacks: Dee Ford, 6.0
Interceptions: Trent Fisher, 1

Redshirts to watch: OL Alex Kozan, OL Jordan Diamond, TE Ricky Parks, DB T.J. Davis, DL Tyler Nero

Early Enrollees to watch: QB Nick Marshall, DT Ben Bradley, OL Devonte Danzey, DB Brandon King, LB Kenny Flowers

JUCO Transfers to watch: RB Cameron Artis-Payne, DT Ben Bradley, OL Devonte Danzey, LB Kenny Flowers, DB Brandon King, QB Nick Marshall

2013 Schedule

Aug. 31 Washington State
Sept. 7 Arkansas State
Sept. 14 Mississippi State
Sept. 21 at LSU
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 Ole Miss
Oct. 10 Western Carolina
Oct. 18 at Texas A&M
Oct. 26 FAU
Nov. 2 at Arkansas
Nov. 8 at Tennessee
Nov. 16 Georgia
Nov. 23 Bye Week
Nov. 30 Alabama

Related Content: SEC's All-Underrated Spring Team

Offensive Strength: The running game. Tre Mason returns as arguably the team's best player and four starters are back along the line.

Offensive Weakness: Quarterback. This is a major concern heading into the 2013 season as few teams played as poorly under center as Auburn did a year ago.

Defensive Strength: Defensive backs. This is the position that was hit the least with departures as only one key player (T'Sharvan Bell) doesn't return to the secondary.

Defensive Weakness: Front seven star power. Corey Lemonier, Daren Bates and Jonathan Evans leave three holes in the front seven — soon to be front six. This group has talented bodies but someone needs to step up and lead.

Spring Storylines Facing the Cardinals

1. Who will start under center? By far the biggest question mark swirling on The Plains is who will start at quarterback for the Tigers? Kiehl Frazier is the leading returning passer — if what he did last year can be called passing — but he is fairly young and his skills fit what Malzahn wants to do on offense.While Jonathan Wallace might be a slightly less refined (if that's possible) and talented version of Frazier, he was more effective last fall. With three highly touted passers coming to town in the summer, both Wallace and Frazier need to make major headway this spring. New offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee will bring the no-huddle hurry-up back to Auburn and that system should allow the two scholarship players on campus to make plays with their legs. Are they keeping the seat warm for junior college transfer Nick Marshall or elite freshmen Johnny Johnson and Jason Smith or can Frazier/Wallace realize their potential and grasp the starting job?

2. Develop an edge up front on offense. The good news is the offensive line returns four starters. The bad news is those starters were horrendous last season. This group was dead last in the SEC at protecting the quarterback (3.09 sacks allowed per game) and finished 78th nationally in rushing. Creating a push and playing with a killer instinct up front will go a long way in helping develop a quarterback. This group has talent according to the recruiting sites but it hasn't played with the intensity and edge needed to be successful against SEC defenses. Look for Lashlee and Malzahn to instill some toughness in this group and develop talent up front on offense this spring.

3. Grow the defensive line. Gabe Wright has tons of upside at nose guard. So too does Dee Ford, the team's leading sack artist last fall, Nosa Eguae and LaDarius Owens on the outside. No one player may be able to replace Lemonier but as a whole this unit could be improved in 2013. Of course, on a team that was 14th in the SEC in rushing defense, 11th in the SEC sacks and 12th in tackles for a loss, the only place to go is up. Developing this area of the field, more so than any other, will help Auburn get back to competitive football as quickly as possible.

4. Create depth at linebacker. Jake Holland is the only returning linebacker with any substantial experience after Jonathan Evans and Daren Bates graduated. Ellis Johnson is moving this defense to a 4-2-5 and so this position might not be as big a concern had the switch (from 4-3) hadn't happened. However, Holland needs some help to step up around him. Kris Frost is someone Auburn fans have been excited about for some time and this spring is his chance to shine. Cassanova McKinzy has some time under his belt but needs to iron out his game to earn a starting spot while Justin Garrett also figures heavily into the mix.

5. Find playmakers on offense other than Mason. The Tigers' starting tailback, while not a true SEC workhorse, was the most productive player on the team last year. But there is little depth around him at running back, wide receiver or tight end in terms of playmakers. Emory Blake and Philip Lutzenkirchen are gone and this spring will likely see Malzahn attempt to find supporting pieces for Mason and his quarterbacks. Quan Bray, Trovon Reed and tight end C.J. Uzomah have upside and should develop into starters while Sammie Coates, Ricardo Louis and running backs Corey Grant, Cameron Artis-Payne and Peyton Barber will look to create depth. Finding big-play options at running back, wideout and tight end will be huge this spring for the soon-to-be fast-paced offense.

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Teaser:
<p> Auburn Tigers 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 - 08:15
Path: /college-basketball/ncaa-tournaments-all-time-biggest-upsets-and-closest-calls
Body:

While none of the 112 No. 16 seeds has won a game in the NCAA Tournament (more on that below), six No. 15 seeds have shocked No. 2s since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985. And two of them took place during this year's March Madness. Here's our look at the biggest upsets and closest calls from college basketball's NCAA Tournament. 

THE BIGGEST UPSETS: No. 2 vs. No. 15 (7-109)

Florida Gulf Coast 78, Georgetown 68 (2013)

The dunk-fest that is Florida Gulf Coast is partly why Sunday's second (or third, officially) round action was the highest-rated in 20 years. Andy Enfield — and his famous wife Amanda Marcum — led the Eagles to an improbable upset over the second-seeded Hoyas. Atlantic Sun Player of the Year Sherwood Brown scored 24 points as FGCU outplayed the regular season Big East champs from start to finish. And just to prove that it wasn't a fluke, Brown and the Eagles ran the seventh-seeded San Diego State Aztecs out of the building 81-71 to become the first 15-seed to ever make it to the Sweet 16. Gulf Coast's high-flying alley-oops were the top story of the first weekend of play in 2013 — and Enfield got a paltry $10,000 bonus for making the Sweet 16. Fans can bet he will be getting a big raise in the off-season.

Norfolk State 86, Missouri 84 (2012)

The Missouri Tigers were a chic pick to make it to the Final Four in 2012 after winning the Big 12 tournament. But Mizzou failed to make it out of the first round despite shooting 52.7% from the floor and making 13 three-pointers. It wasn’t enough to top the MEAC tournament champs from pulling off the monumental upset. Kyle O’Quinn led the Spartans with 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting and 14 rebounds. A big reason the guard-heavy Tigers got beat? Norfolk State dominated the glass 35-23 in the two-point victory.

Lehigh 75, Duke 70 (2012)

The Mountain Hawks entered the tournament as Patriot League champions, led by superstar guard C.J. McCollum. The junior finished with 30 points, six rebounds and six assists in the startling upset of the powerhouse Blue Devils. Making the upset even more improbable was where the shocker took place: Greensboro, N.C. Duke missed 20 of its 26 three point shot attempts in the five point loss.

Hampton 58, Iowa St 57 (2001)

The Pirates of Hampton became only the fourth 15-seed to win in the first round when Tarvis Williams made a four-foot jumper with less than seven seconds left in the game. The Cyclones’ Jamaal Tinsley went the length of the floor and missed a point-blank lay-up to give Hampton the historic win. One of college basketball’s most memorable images is Hampton head coach Steve Merfeld sprinting around the court and being hoisted into the air, legs flailing wildly, by backup David Johnson.

Coppin St 78, South Carolina 65 (1997)

The Eagles of Coppin State entered their first-round tilt against South Carolina as a 30-point underdog. After Coppin State took the lead with just over six minutes left, the Gamecocks crumbled. For a team that, to this day, has not reached the second round of the tournament since 1973 — much less the Final Four — the loss to Ron “Fang” Mitchell’s upstart Eagles was especially painful.

Santa Clara 64, Arizona 61 (1993)

A Canadian freshman point guard by the name of Steve Nash knocked down six of eight free throws down the stretch to key the Broncos’ upset win over the Wildcats. Arizona, featuring a roster littered with future NBA players — Reggie Geary, Damon Stoudamire, Chris Mills and Khalid Reeves — put together a 25–0 run that spanned the end of the first half and the opening minutes of the second half. The Broncos answered with their own 19–7 run, and Pete Eisenrich’s jump shot gave them the lead late in the game before Stoudamire missed a three at the buzzer. Nash would go on to win two WCC Player of the Year awards.

Richmond 73, Syracuse 69 (1991)

The Spiders, led by 18 points and six assists from Curtis Blair, pulled off the first upset by a No. 15 seed in NCAA Tournament history. Billy Owens and the Syracuse zone were ineffective, as Richmond never trailed during the game. A Michael Edwards 3-point attempt that would have tied the game fell short with four seconds remaining, and 12-year coach Dick Tarrant had his signature moment as the Spiders’ head man.

 

THE CLOSEST CALLS 

It’s been well-documented that a No. 16 seed has never beaten a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but there have been some extremely close calls. Did you know that five teams have nearly pulled-off what might be considered the biggest obstacle in mainstream sports?

Here are five 1 vs. 16 games decided by four points or less.

Purdue 73, Western Carolina 71 (1996)

The Southern Conference champs, coached by first-year head man Phil Hopkins, employed a zone defense that stymied Purdue for most of the game. The Catamounts actually had two chances to put themselves in a category all their own, but both the potential game-winning 3-pointer by Joel Fleming and the possible game-tying Joe Stafford 15-footer hit off of the back of the rim in the final seconds. Ironically, this Boiler team had to forfeit 18 of its 26 wins, including this game, the most recent near-miss by a 16 seed. Another interesting sidenote: Hopkins’ top assistant at the time, Thad Matta, is now the head coach at Ohio State.

Michigan St 75, Murray St 71 (OT, 1990)

The Ohio Valley champions, led by sophomore center Ronald “Popeye” Jones, pushed the vaunted Spartans to overtime by drilling a 3-point basket at the end of regulation. Jones’ game-high 37 points and 11 rebounds were not enough to slow MSU’s Steve Smith, who posted a team-high 22 points, including six of his team’s 10 overtime points. With 26 seconds left, Jones missed an interior shot and the Spartans snatched the rebound and held on to win the only 1-vs.-16 matchup ever to go to overtime.

Oklahoma 72, ETSU 71 (1989)

In the first of four straight trips to the NCAA Tournament for ETSU, the Buccaneers’ starting lineup featured three sophomores and two freshmen. Point guard Keith “Mister” Jennings, a 5'7" dynamo, led the Bucs to a 17-point lead over OU. The Sooners’ defense led the comeback, and after Jennings fouled out, Oklahoma found itself with the ball and a one-point lead shooting a one-and-one with four seconds left. Oklahoma’s Mookie Blaylock missed the front end, giving ETSU one final heave at the buzzer. The half-court air ball fell short, and Oklahoma escaped the historic upset.

Georgetown 50, Princeton 49 (1989)

In Pete Carril’s 22nd season as the Princeton head coach, the Tigers nearly pulled off one of the biggest upsets in tournament history. With Princeton trailing by one with eight seconds left, Georgetown center Alonzo Mourning blocked two Princeton shots — one by Bob Scrabis and the other by Kit Mueller — to preserve the Hoya victory. To this day, Princeton fans still claim Mueller was fouled.

Michigan 59, Fairleigh Dickinson 55 (1985)

Head coach Tom Green spent 26 seasons leading Fairleigh Dickinson, but it was in his second year when he almost made his biggest mark. Despite losing four players to fouls, the Knights took the top-seeded Wolverines to the wire. Two late Roy Tarpley free throws sealed the win for the Maize and Blue. Villanova, the lowest-seeded team ever to win the title, proceeded to beat Michigan in the second round by the exact same score — 59–55 — en route to its famous upset of Georgetown in the finals.

Teaser:
<p> While none of the 116 No. 16 seeds has won a game in the NCAA Tournament, seven No. 15 seeds have shocked No. 2s since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985.&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketballs-10-best-dunkers-2013
Body:

Part of what makes basketball such a fan-friendly sport is the high-flying, eye-popping feats of athleticism witnessed regularly on the hardcourt. And the dunk is the single most exciting, electric and jaw-dropping play in the sport. And as March Madness 2013 wraps up its first weekend, we thought we would provide the fans with our choices for the best dunkers in college hoops today.

Some of whom could be playing deep into the tourney this month.

1. Markel Brown, G, Oklahoma State (6-3, 190, Jr.)
What makes Brown so electric is his ability to build a highlight reel as just a 6-foot-3 guard. He can elevate and make defenders look silly. Depsite an early exit against Oregon in the first round of the Big Dance, Brown has still given fans in Stillwater plenty to cheer about. In fact, my favorite Brown throwdown is one against Mizzou that was so fierce he got a technical four and was ejected from the game.
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2. Victor Oladipo, G, Indiana (6-5, 214, Jr.)
Few players showed as much improvement this season as Oladipo. And his unreal athletic abitlity is part of what has made him a National Player of the Year candidate. He has played huge in huge games and this play against Ohio State, in which he comes out of nowhere to throw it down, was downright sick.


3. Rodney Williams, F, Minnesota (6-7, 200, Sr.)
The senior has long been a fixture above the rim in The Barn at Minnesota. So here is a compilation of high-flying throwdowns from one of the nation's best athletes.


4. D.J. Stephens, G/F, Memphis (6-5, 188, Sr.)
Memphis has had a tremendous tradition of elite athletes who play above the rim over the last decade or so. And Mr. Stephens is this year's torch-bearer in that respect. This one in particularly was impressive because it came in the biggest game of the conference season for the Tigers.


5. Sam Thompson, F, Ohio State (6-7, 200, So.)
The Ohio State Buckeye might be one of the freakiest athletes in all of the nation. His dunking ability has been on full display since getting to Columbus two years ago and it could be a key piece to a deep Tournament run for Thad Matta's team.


6. Kyisean Reed, F, Utah State (6-6, 215, Sr.)
Reed is one of the darkhorses to watch in the 2013 Dunk Contest in Atlanta come Tournament end. He is a underrated player because of where he plays, but his ability to throw down with the best isn't underrated at all.


7. C.J. Fair, F, Syracuse (608, 25, Jr.)
Cuse has loads of lengthy, rangy athletes who can play above the rim and Fair is certainly among them. This particular dunk against National Player of the Year candidate Otto Porter of Georgetown was especially impressive.


8. Doug Anderson, F, Detroit (6-6, 212, Jr.)
Because he plays at a small school, many don't know about Anderson. Be he clearly has uncanny ability to star in a dunk contest — or just a regular season game.


9. Cody Zeller, C, Indiana (6-10, 240)
Zeller makes his living around the rim and has a long highlight reel of impressive dunks, many coming on forceful put backs. We'll simply call this one against Michigan at home Exhibit A.


10. Deuce Bello, G, Baylor (6-4, 187, So.)
For a guard, Bello has extreme hops. He is more of an honorable mention since he wasn't a huge part of his team this season, playing just over 11 minutes a game. But his historic prep career at Westchester Country Day (N.C.) more than served as a showcase for his dunking ability. This video has a slow start but delivers the goods and is worth checking out.

Best of the Rest:

Andre Roberson, Colorado
Chris Evans, Kent State
Ronald Roberts, St. Joseph's
Shaquille Johnson, Auburn
C.J. Leslie, NC State
Roman Galloway, La Salle
Vander Blue, Marquette
Nick Johnson or Gabe York, Arizona
Dezmine Wells, Maryland

Teaser:
<p> College Basketball's 10 Best Dunkers of 2013</p>
Post date: Monday, March 25, 2013 - 11:10
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-50-quarterbacks-bcs-era
Body:

Greatness is defined in so many different ways. Statistical production, individual awards, team success, longevity, supporting cast, raw talent and athletic ability all factor heavily in determining overall greatness. Sometimes, you simply know greatness when you see it.

So all factors were considered when trying to determine who the greatest quarterbacks of the BCS era have been. Here are the Top 50 signal callers since the BCS was implemented in 1998:

* - active, ** - not all seasons played in BCS era

1. Vince Young, Texas (2003-05)
Stats: 6,040 yds, 44 TD, 10 INT, 62.8%, 3,127 yds, 37 TD
The Texas quarterback was the most unstoppable single force of the BCS era. Just ask Kansas. He earned Rose Bowl MVP honors following his ridiculous performance against Michigan to finish his sophomore season. It was a sign of things to come as he was named Big 12 Player of the Year in 2005. His offense averaged more than 50 points per game, he was a consensus All-American, led the Big 12 in passing efficiency, won the Davey O'Brien, Manning and Maxwell awards while finishing second in the Heisman ballot. His smooth running skills led to an all-time Big 12 career record 6.8 yards per carry. And no one will ever forget his second Rose Bowl MVP performance against USC in the greatest game of the BCS era, returning the national championship to Austin.

2. Tim Tebow, Florida (2006-09)
Stats: 9,285 yds, 88 TD, 16 INT, 66.4%, 2,947 yds, 57 TD
The top two quarterbacks are a cut above the rest as Tebow is the only player who can challenge Young for top honors. Four years of huge statistics makes him the all-time SEC leader in total yards, total touchdowns, rushing touchdowns and passing efficiency (170.8). He won the Heisman Trophy in 2007 as well as the Davey O'Brien and Maxwell Award. He won the SEC Player of the Year, Manning and Maxwell Awards the following year in which he led Florida to its second national title in three years. He fell one game shy in 2009 of playing in — and likely winning — three national titles in four years. His speech following the loss to Ole Miss in '08 has been immortalized in Gator football lore.

3. Matt Leinart, USC (2003-05)
Stats: 10,693 yds, 99 TD, 23 INT, 64.8%, 9 rush TD
Leinart won two national titles in three years starting at powerhouse USC under Pete Carroll. He finished in the top six of Heisman voting in all three seasons, winning the award in 2004, finishing sixth in 2003 and third in 2005. He also earned AP Player of the Year, Manning, Walter Camp, Unitas and consensus All-American honors during his remarkable Heisman campaign of 2004. He capped the season with arguably the second-best performance by a quarterback in a national title game by dissecting Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.

4. Andrew Luck, Stanford (2009-11)
Stats: 9,430 yds, 82 TD, 22 INT, 67.0%, 957 yds, 7 TD
The best quarterback prospect in over two decades broke all kinds of rookie NFL records in his first trip through the professional ranks. This merely lends credence to his remarkable college career. Few players have meant more to their school in history than Luck meant to Stanford. He led his program to its first BCS bowl win and set every school passing record en route. The two-time Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year finished second in the Heisman twice (2010, '11) and won the Unitas, Walter Camp and Maxwell awards in 2011. He is the Pac-12's all-time leader in completion percentage, yards per play (8.5) and passing efficiency (162.8). He was 27-4 in his last 31 starts and has an architecture degree from Stanford.

5. Robert Griffin III, Baylor (2008-11)
Stats: 10,366 yds, 78 TD, 17 INT, 67.1%, 2,254 yds, 33 TD
Right alongside Luck will always be RG3 as the duo will be forever linked in football history. Griffin III beat out the Cardinal signal caller to win the 2011 Heisman Trophy while leading Baylor to back-to-back bowl games. He led the NCAA in passing efficiency (189.5), was a consensus All-American and won the Davey O'Brien and Manning awards to go with his stiff-armed trophy. In fact, Griffin III is just one of the few players to have meant more to their school than Luck. His impact on Baylor Bears football is immeasurable and could continue for decades. Had he been healthy for his entire career — he missed nine games in 2009 — his numbers might have been the best the BCS era has ever seen.

6. Michael Vick, Virginia Tech (1999-00)
Stats: 3,299 yds, 21 TD, 11 INT, 1,299 yds, 17 TD
Johnny Manziel might be the only redshirt freshman to ever match Vick's impact on the game in just one season. The Hokies signal caller revolutionized the quarterback position in one year as he led Virginia Tech to its only BCS title game appearance with unprecedented foot speed and arm strength. He dropped jaws and popped eyes every step of the way, including a furious second-half comeback in the Sugar Bowl against eventual champion Florida State. He finished third and sixth in the Heisman voting both years he played, and had he stayed three full seasons under center, he could have pushed Young or Tebow for top billing simply based on never-before-seen athleticism.

7. AJ McCarron, Alabama (2010-12)*
Stats: 5,956 yds, 49 TD, 8 INT, 66.7%, 3 rush TD
McCarron could leave Alabama as the most successful college quarterback in the history of the game. He already has three BCS National Championships — two as a starter — as he enters his final season for the Crimson Tide. He earned BCS title game MVP honors as a sophomore before leading the nation in passing efficiency last fall (175.3) with 30 touchdowns and just three interceptions. His offensive system will never allow him to post elite numbers and he has been surrounded by first-round draft picks his entire career, so he may never get the recognition he deserves. Also, shouldn't he get some credit for Katherine Webb?

8. Chris Weinke, Florida State (1997-00)
Stats: 9,839 yds, 79 TD, 32 INT, 58.7%, 2 rush TD
There was little left unaccomplished in Weinkie's college career. He led his stacked Florida State squad to an undefeated BCS national title in 1999 over Virginia Tech before returning to win the Heisman as well as the Sammy Baugh, Johnny Unitas and Davey O'Brien awards the next season. His team lost one game over that span — the 2000 BCS title game against Oklahoma. He is still the ACC's all-time leader in yards per pass attempt (8.9).

9. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma (2007-09)
Stats: 8,403 yds, 88 TD, 16 INT, 67.6%, 5 rush TD
It didn't take long for the three-star recruit to establish himself as one of Oklahoma's best of all-time. He set a school record for yards in a half in the first half of his career and broke another school record for consecutive completions the next game (22). By season's end, Bradford owned the NCAA's all-time freshman passing touchdown record with 36. He also won the Big 12 championship. The following season, Bradford led the Sooners to the BCS title game against Florida and beat out Tebow and Colt McCoy for the Heisman Trophy. He won Sammy Baugh and Davey O'Brien honors as well. Bradford owns the NCAA record for career quarterback efficiency at 175.6 making him the most efficient quarterback in the history of the game. He also owns the NCAA mark for yards per play as well (8.7) and 86 of his 88 total touchdown passes came in just two seasons.

10. Kellen Moore, Boise State (2008-11)
Stats: 14,667 yds, 142 TD, 28 INT, 69.8%, 3 rush TD
The underachiever from Boise State has numbers that most quarterbacks dream about. He is the all-time winningest quarterback in college football history with an unreal 50-3 record and left school with more touchdowns passes than anyone in history (since broken). He completed nearly 70 percent of his passes, won two WAC Player of the Year awards and three conference championships. He set most school passing records as a sophomore as he led his team to a 14-0 perfect season and a Fiesta Bowl win over TCU. His overall lack of competition and raw talent keeps him from being higher on the list.

11. Russell Wilson, NC State/Wisconsin (2008-11)
Stats: 11,720 yds, 109 TD, 30 INT, 60.9%, 1,421 yds, 23 TD
Not many players own school records for two different programs but Wilson excelled in both the ACC and Big Ten. He posted the single greatest season by a Wisconsin quarterback in history en route to a league crown and near national title berth. He owns the NCAA record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass (38) and the single-season mark for passing efficiency at 191.8. His NFL rookie season with the Seahawks only solidifies his standing as one of the game's greatest players.

12. Colt McCoy, Texas (2006-09)
Stats: 13,253 yds, 112 TD, 45 INT, 70.3%, 1,571 yds, 20 TD
Few players got more out of their abilities than McCoy. He was a consensus All-American and won the Big 12 Player of the Year while finishing second in the Heisman in 2008. He won the Walter Camp, Davey O'Brien and finished third in the Heisman voting in 2009. He left school with more wins than any quarterback in history (since broken), led his team to the national title game and owns the NCAA single-season record for completion percentage (76.7)

13. Pat White, West Virginia (2005-08)
Stats: 6,049 yds, 56 TD, 23 INT, 64.8%, 4,480 yds, 47 TD
He left school as the NCAA's all-time leading rusher as a quarterback and was a stalwart in Morgantown for four years. He earned Big East Player of the Year honors twice and is the only player in NCAA history to start and win four bowl games. He finished sixth and seventh in the Heisman voting in 2006 and '07 and has a Big East-record 103 total touchdowns.

14. Colin Kaepernick, Nevada (2007-10)
Stats: 10,098 yds, 82 TD, 24 INT, 58.2%, 4,112 yds, 59 TD
No player was more dynamic both passing and rushing than Kaepernick. He is one of four player in the 6,000-4,000 club and accounted for 141 total touchdowns. The two-time WAC Player of the Year is the league's all-time leader in yards per carry (6.9) and touchdowns (60). He finished eighth in the Heisman voting in 2010 and led the 49ers to the Super Bowl as just a second-year NFL player. He was simply impossible to stop in Reno.

15. Drew Brees, Purdue (1997-00)
Stats: 11,517 yds, 88 TD, 45 INT, 61.2%, 925 yds, 14 TD
The two-time Big Ten Player of the Year led Purdue back to the Rose Bowl and finished among the top four in Heisman voting twice (1999, 2000). He owns the NCAA record for passes attempted in a game with 83 tosses against Wisconsin in 1998 and is the Big Ten's all-time leader in completions (1,003), passing yards, passing touchdowns, total yards and total touchdowns.

16. Cam Newton, Florida/Auburn (2008, 2010)
Stats: 2,908 yds, 30 TD, 7 INT, 65.4%, 1,586 yds, 24 TD
Newton's career is an intriguing one that could have been one of the greatest of all-time had he played more than just one season at Auburn. He was essentially kicked out of school, intertwined with a recruiting scandal and left early for the NFL. Yet, his one season in 2010 was one of the best in history. He single-handedly carried Auburn to a BCS title, won the Heisman Trophy as well as Davey O'Brien, Archie Manning, Maxwell, Walter Camp and AP Player of the Year honors. His one season on The Plains was one of the greatest single seasons in BCS history, but its difficult to make the case that his career belongs in the top 10.

17. Josh Heupel, Oklahoma (1999-00)
Stats: 7,242 yds, 53 TD, 30 INT, 63.8%, 43 yds, 12 TD
He isn't the most talented quarterback to play in Norman but he might have the best understanding of the position. He won the AP Player of the Year, Big 12 Player of the Year, was a consensus All-American, earned the Walter Camp Trophy, finished second in the Heisman and led the NCAA in completion percent (64.7) in 2000. And he led Oklahoma to arguably the biggest win in the history of the program over Florida State in the BCS championship game in 2000.

18. Ken Dorsey, Miami (1999-02)
Stats: 9,565 yds, 86 TD, 28 INT, 57.9%, 2 rush TD
Dorsey was a two-time Big East Player of the Year, finishing third and fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting. He led a loaded Miami roster to back-to-back BCS championship games, winning one with ease over Nebraska. He also is the conference's all-time passing touchdowns leader. Many think he was more caretaker than playmaker, but leading his team to two BCS title games takes plenty of talent. And his performance in the first half against the Huskers was legendary.

19. Chris Leak, Florida (2003-06)
Stats: 11,213 yds, 88 TD, 42 INT, 61.4%, 137 yds, 13 TD
Leak is second all-time in SEC history for passing yards and is the all-time leader in completions (895). He earned BCS Championship Game MVP honors after dismantling the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2006 title game. He gets knocked for lacking elite talent and for padding stats with a stacked roster at a powerful program, but he should get credit for posting most of those numbers under Ron Zook.

20. Philip Rivers, NC State (2000-03)
Stats: 13,484 yds, 95 TD, 34 INT, 63.5%, 98 yds, 17 TD
The most productive passer in ACC history, Rivers owns the ACC record for completions (1,087), attempts (1,711), passing yards, passing touchdowns, total yards and total touchdowns. He won ACC Player of the Year honors in 2003 and finished seventh in the Heisman balloting. He also is a member of the historic 2004 NFL Draft class that includes fellow quarterbacks Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger.

21. Andy Dalton, TCU (2007-10)
Stats: 10,314 yds, 71 TD, 30 INT, 61.7%, 1,611 yds, 22 TD
The two-time Mountain West Player of the Year is the most successful, most talented and most productive quarterback to play at TCU since Davey O'Brien roamed the Ft. Worth campus in the 1930s. He eventually led the Frogs to an unblemished record and Rose Bowl championship over Wisconsin. He also has led Cincinnati to the playoffs in both of his professional seasons.

22. Eli Manning, Ole Miss (2000-03)
Stats: 10,119 yds, 81 TD, 35 INT, 60.8%, 5 rush TD
The third and final Manning to play quarterback in the SEC elevated Ole Miss to its highest levels of success during the BCS era. He claimed the Unitas and Maxwell awards, along with SEC Player of the Year honors and finished third in the Heisman Trophy balloting in 2003. He is Ole Miss' all-time leading passer and is seventh in SEC history in passing yards. He is clearly one of this generation's greatest talents.

23. Case Keenum, Houston (2007-11)
Stats: 19,217 yds, 155 TD, 46 INT, 69.4%, 897 yds, 23 TD
It's hard to argue with Keenum's level of production. He is the NCAA's all-time passing leader in completions (1,546), passing yards, passing touchdowns, total yards, total touchdowns and is second all-time in attempts (2,229). He won the Sammy Baugh Trophy twice and earned C-USA Player of the Year honors. He never won enough games against big enough competition to get Houston to a BCS bowl or earn himself national notoriety like Moore.

24. Brad Smith, Missouri (2002-05)
Stats: 8,799 yds, 56 TD, 33 INT, 56.3%, 4,289 yds, 45 TD
Smith is one of four players in the 6,000-4,000 club after becoming the first player to accomplish the feat back in 2005. He is arguably the most dynamic playmaker in the history of the program and was nearly unstoppable in the backfield. His 799 rushing attempts are fifth all-time in Big 12 history and his 4,289 yards rushing are fourth in league history.

25. Ben Roethlisberger, Miami-OH (2001-03)
Stats: 10,829 yds, 84 TD, 34 INT, 65.5% 246 yds, 7 TD
Big Ben began his legacy as a whirling dervish, play-extending improv artist while in the MAC at Miami, Ohio. He won the Player of the Year award in the league and finished ninth in the 2003 Heisman ballot. Going on to win two Super Bowls indicates his talents were far superior than his statistical resume.

26. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State (2008-11)
Stats: 9,260 yds, 75 TD, 27 INT, 69.5%, 1 rush TD
The Pokes quarterback set all the important school passing records in 2011 and then returned to Stillwater in 2012 and set them all over again. He led Oklahoma State to its first-ever Big 12 title and first-ever BCS bowl win. His 69.5-percent completion rate is third all-time in Big 12 history.

27. Matt Ryan, Boston College (2004-07)
Stats: 9,313 yds, 56 TD, 37 INT, 60.0%, 39 yds, 11 TD
Ryan did more for Boston College than any player since Doug Flutie. He won the ACC Player of the Year and led the Eagles to the ACC title game. He was seventh in the Heisman ballot and won the Johnny Unitas and Archie Manning Awards before beginning his elite career in the NFL. From a raw talent standpoint, few players on this list are better quarterbacks than Matty-Ice.

28. Eric Crouch, Nebraska (1998-01)
Stats: 4,481 yds, 29 TD, 25 INT, 51.5%, 3,434 yds, 59 TD
The Nebraska signal caller continued the long run of elite running quarterbacks in Lincoln with a Heisman Trophy season that ended with a trip to the BCS title game against Miami. The two-time Big 12 Player of the Year also claimed Davey O'Brien and Walter Camp honors and led the Big 12 in rushing touchdowns three consecutive seasons.

29. Troy Smith, Ohio State (2003-06)
Stats: 5,720 yds, 54 TD, 13 INT, 62.7%, 1,168 yds, 14 TD
Smith won the AP Player of the Year, Davey O'Brien, Walter Camp awards and the Heisman Trophy in 2006 en route to a perfect season and BCS championship game berth against Florida. The consensus All-American was the first Buckeyes quarterback to go 3-0 against Michigan since the 1930s.

30. Aaron Murray, Georgia* (2010-present)
Stats: 10,091 yds, 95 TD, 32 INT, 61.5%, 202 yds, 9 TD
The debate between Murray and David Greene is a good one. Murray has already blown past his touchdown totals and will easily pass his win total and passing yards. He could easily rewrite the SEC passing record books and simply needs to finish a season in Atlanta with a win to entrench his legacy in Dawgs lore.

31. David Greene, Georgia (2001-04)
Stats: 11,528 yds, 72 TD, 32 INT, 59.0%, 5 rush TD
Left as NCAA's winningest QB (42). Led UGA back to an SEC title and is the SEC's all-time leading passer.

32. Joe Hamilton, Georgia Tech** (1996-99)
Stats: 8,882 yds, 65 TD, 39 INT, 61.7%, 1,758 yds, 18 TD
O'Brien winner, finished second in Heisman, a consensus All-American and No. 2 all-time in ACC total yards.

33. Collin Klein, Kansas State (2009-2012)
Stats: 4,724 yds, 30 TD, 15 INT, 61.3%, 2,485 yds, 56 TD
Finished third in Heisman, led Kansas State to a Big 12 title and is 13th all-time in NCAA in rushing TD.

34. Antwaan Randle El, Indiana (1998-01)
Stats: 7,469 yds, 42 TD, 37 INT, 49.8%, 3,895 yds, 44 TD
Fourth all-time in Big Ten in total TD and fifth in total yards. Big Ten P.O.Y finished sixth in 2001 Heisman voting.

35. Aaron Rodgers, Cal (2003-04)
Stats: 5,469 yds, 43 TD, 13, 63.8%, INT, 336 yds, 8 TD
Led Cal back to relevance, finished ninth in Heisman and led NCAA in comp. percent and yards-per-attempt in '04 (66.1).

36. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M* (2011-present)
Stats: 3,706 yds, 26 TD, 9 INT, 68.0%, 1,410 yds, 21 TD
Will only work his way up this list after unprecedented redshirt freshman season — and living life like it.

37. Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan (2006-09)
Stats: 12,905 yds, 102 TD, 36 INT, 66.4%, 2,948 yds, 47 TD;
MAC record for comp., att., total yards (NCAA No. 4), total TD (NCAA No. 2) and won two MAC P.O.Y. awards.

38. Chase Daniel, Missouri (2005-08)
Stats: 12,515 yds, 101 TD, 41 INT, 68.0%, 971 yds, 10 TD
Heisman finalist is fourth all-time in Big 12 passing and total yards, passing and total TD.

39. Todd Reesing, Kansas (2006-09)
Stats: 11,194 yds, 90 TD, 33 INT, 63.8%, 646 yds, 15 TD
Most important QB in Jayhawks history owns every major school passing record and won a BCS bowl.

40. Chad Pennington, Marshall (1997-99)**
Stats: 11,446 yds, 107 TD, 30 INT, 63.6%, 61 yds, 4 TD
Finished fifth in Heisman, won Sammy Baugh Award and is the MAC's all-time leader in TD passes.

41. Geno Smith, West Virginia
Stats: 11,662 yds, 98 TD, 21 INT, 342 yds, 4 TD

42. Jason White, Oklahoma
Stats: 7,922 yds, 81 TD, 24 INT, 2 rush TD

43. Joey Harrington, Oregon
Stats:6,289 yds, 53 TD, 21 INT, 211 yds, 17 TD

44. Alex Smith, Utah
Stats: 5,203 yds, 47 TD, 8 INT, 1,072 yds, 15 TD

45. Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech
Stats: 7,017 yds, 44 TD, 20 INT, 2,196 yds, 23 TD

46. Graham Harrell, Texas Tech
Stats: 15,793 yds, 134 TD, 34 INT, 12 rush TD

47. Braxton Miller, Ohio State*
Stats: 3,198 yds, 28 TD, 10 INT, 1,986 yds, 20 TD

48. Matt Barkley, USC
Stats: 12,327 yds, 116 TD, 48 INT, 6 rush TD

49. Tajh Boyd, Clemson*
Stats: 8,053 yds, 73 TD, 28 INT, 765 yds, 16 TD

50. Brian Johnson, Utah
Stats: 7,853 yds, 57 TD, 27 INT, 848 yds, 12 TD

The Next 25:

51. Carson Palmer, USC: 11,668 yds, 72 TD, 49 INT, 9 rush TD
52. Brian Brohm, Louisville: 10,775 yds, 71 TD, 24 INT, 44 yds, 9 TD
53. Paul Smith, Tulsa: 10,924 yds, 83 TD, 35 INT, 666 yds, 28 TD
54. Taylor Martinez, Nebraska: 6,591 yds, 46 TD, 27 INT, 2,858 yds, 31 TD*
55. Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State: 8,317 yds, 66 TD, 31 INT, 1,858 yds, 22 TD
56. Rex Grossman, Florida: 9,164 yds, 77 TD, 36 INT, 6 rush TD
57. Colt Brennan, Hawaii: 14,193 yds, 131 TD, 42 INT, 547 yds, 15 TD
58. Greg McElroy, Alabama: 5,691 yds, 39 TD, 10 INT, 71 yds, 2 TD
59. Matthew Stafford, Georgia: 7,731 yds, 51 TD, 33 INT, 213 yds, 6 TD
60. Denard Robinson, Michigan: 6,250 yds, 49 TD, 39 INT, 4,495 yds, 42 TD
61. Landry Jones, Oklahoma: 16,646 yds, 123 TD, 52 INT, 3 rush TD
62. Timmy Chang, Hawaii: 17,072 yds, 117 TD, 80 INT, 6 rush TD
63. Tom Brady, Michigan: 4,982 yds, 31 TD, 19 INT, 3 rush TD**
64. Darron Thomas, Oregon: 5,910 yds, 66 TD, 17 INT, 719 yds, 9 TD
65. Michael Bishop, Kansas State: 4,401 yds, 36 TD, 13 INT, 1,314 yds, 23 TD**
66. Kevin Kolb, Houston: 12,964 yds, 85 TD, 31 INT, 751 yds, 21 TD
67. Daunte Culpepper, UCF: 9,341 yds, 72 TD, 32 INT, 1,003 yds, 19 TD**
68. Michael Robinson, Penn State: 3,531 yds, 23 TD, 21 INT, 1,637 yds, 20 TD, 52 rec., 629 yds, 3TD
69. Jason Campbell, Auburn: 7,299 yds, 45 TD, 24 INT, 307 yds, 9 TD
70. Jay Cutler, Vanderbilt: 8,697 yds, 59 TD, 36 INT, 1,256 yds, 17 TD
71. Byron Leftwich, Marshall: 11,903 yds, 89 TD, 28 INT, 181 yds, 6 TD
72. Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State: 6,177 yds, 57 TD, 26 INT, 2,164 yds, 17 TD
73. Kirk Cousins, Michigan State: 9,131 yds, 66 TD, 30 INT, 1 rush TD
74. Jake Locker, Washington: 7,639 yds, 53 TD, 35 INT, 1,939 yds, 29 TD
75. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech: 12,423 yds, 95 TD, 40 INT, 5 rush TD

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Post date: Monday, March 25, 2013 - 07:00
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Mississippi State started 7-0 last year before running into the eventual national champs, the eventual Heisman Trophy winner, LSU, in-state rival Ole Miss and a Northwestern team that celebrated its first bowl win since 1949. Needless to say, the end of the season didn't go as Dan Mullen had planned. That said, Mullen still led State to its third straight bowl game and its second 4-4 SEC record in three seasons. In a loaded SEC West, sledding will always be tough for the Bulldogs. However, State is 24-15 over the last three years and Mullen has the program consistently overachieving. To maintain this new level of success, Hail State will have to fill plenty of holes this spring.

Mississippi State Bulldogs 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 8-5 (4-4)

Spring practice dates: March 21-April 20

Returning Starters: Offense – 6, Defense – 5

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Tyler Russell, 231-of-394, 2,897 yards, 24 TD, 10 INT
Rushing: LaDarius Perkins, 205 car., 1,024 yards, 8 TDs
Receiving: LaDarius Perkins, 19 rec., 160 yards, 2 TDs
Tackles: Benardrick McKinney, 102
Sacks: Preston Smith, 4.5
Interceptions: Nickoe Whitley, 3

Redshirts to Watch: LB Richie Brown, LB Beniquez Brown, OL Devon Desper, DL A.J. Jefferson, DB Quadry Antoine

JUCO Transfers to Watch: DB Justin Cox, WR Jeremy Chappelle

2013 Schedule

Aug. 31 Oklahoma State (Houston)
Sept. 7 Alcorn State
Sept. 14 at Auburn
Sept. 21 Troy
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 LSU
Oct. 12 Bowling Green
Oct. 19 Bye Week
Oct. 24 Kentucky (Thur.)
Nov. 1 at South Carolina
Nov. 9 at Texas A&M
Nov. 16 Alabama
Nov. 23 at Arkansas
Nov. 30 Ole Miss

Offensive Strength: The backfield and line. Tyler Russell and LaDarius Perkins form one of the best 1-2 punches of any ground attack in the SEC. And four, possibly five, offensive linemen will be back as well.

Offensive Weakness: Pass catchers. The top four receivers are gone from last year's roster, including star wideout Chad Bumphis and dependable tight end Marcus Green.

Defensive Strength: Front seven. One key member of the defensive line (Josh Boyd) and the linebacking corps (Cameron Lawrence) will need to be replaced. However, seven of the top eight defensive linemen and six of the top seven linebackers return.

Defensive Weakness: Cornerback. Stars Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay moved on to the NFL and safety Corey Broomfield departed as well. The secondary needs to find covermen.

Spring Storylines Facing the Bulldogs:

1. Lockdown corners are needed. Banks and Slay were stalwarts for Mullen on the backend of his defense as was Broomfield at safety. Finding lockdown corners to step in and take over will be extremely difficult this offseason but spring practice offers a chance to evaluate the competition. Jamerson Love, Kendrick Market and Taveze Calhoun all saw time last year and are poised to battle for starting time in Starkville this spring. However, junior college transfer Justin Cox (6-3, 190) could be a huge addition this spring as his size and frame gives him the chance to contribute all over the defensive backfield. Will Redmond and Cedric Jones also will get plenty of looks as Mullen and defensive coordinator Geoff Collins try to rebuild their secondary.

2. Find some pass catchers. Receivers Chad Bumphis, Chris Smith and Arceto Clark combined for 141 catches last year while tight end Marcus Green added six touchdowns. All four (and Brandon Heavens) are gone from the Bulldogs roster and Mullen is left to restock his entire receiving corps. Robert Johnson brings size (6-1, 220) and a vertical threat to the offense — as well as a truly legendary Mississippi blues name. He caught 17 passes and two scores last year. Jameon Lewis (5-9, 185) complements Johnson well with shifty slot ability. Joe Morrow, Fred Brown and Ricco Sanders will figure heavily in the mix as well. The wildcard could be junior college transfer Jeremy Chappelle and his prototypical 6-2, 215-pound frame. A big, physical receiver seems to be one of the few positions that has eluded Mullen in Starkville. Malcolm Johnson appears poised to take over for Green at tight end and has intriguing upside.

3. 

Fill leadership voids on defense. While most of the depth chart returns at linebacker and defensive line, but there are two major voids of leadership departing. Lawrence was a second-team All-SEC performer and the team’s leading tackler with 120 stops last year. Boyd was an NFL-type talent at tackle up front. And the departing trio in the secondary has been well documented. Kaleb Eulls, Denico Autry and Preston Brown have experience and talent but need to become leaders. Benardrick McKinney and Deontae Skinner are in the same situation at linebacker. There is tons of depth along the line and at linebacker but the huddle needs a new leader with all of the departing senior leadership. Look for younger upside players like Quay Evans to step into much more prominent roles.

4. Keep up with the Joneses. There is no rest for the weary in the SEC, especially in the West. Five of the last six national champions play in the West and it doesn’t appear LSU or Alabama are slowing down. Meanwhile Texas A&M has joined the mix in a big way. Over the last three seasons, Mississippi State is achieving at a higher level than it has since 1998 but still struggled down the stretch last year. Are Mullen and his Dogs destined to finish fifth or sixth every season or can this program rebuild quick enough to challenge the big boys? It likely comes down to coaching and this spring is where Mullen can gain ground on guys like Les Miles.

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Post date: Thursday, March 21, 2013 - 12:25
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Heisman Trophy trends finally appear to be changing. Defensive players are getting invited to New York City with increased regularity as one player from that side of the ball has been a finalist in three of the last four seasons. The age stigma has fallen by the wayside as well with Tim Tebow and Johnny Manziel each winning the award in just their second seasons on campus.

Johnny Heisman confirmed his amazing season by putting on a record-setting show in the Cotton Bowl win over Oklahoma. But is the redshirt sophomore-to-be the frontrunner to win the Heisman again in 2013? Considering only once in 77 years has someone won the stiff-armed trophy a second time, and that was back in 1975 (Archie Griffin), the odds are distinctly against the Aggies' signal caller.

So with the NFL Draft deadline well in the rear-view mirror and spring practice in full swing across the nation, Athlon delivers its Top 25 Heisman Trophy candidates for 2013 — complete with Vegas odds. Keep in mind, Manziel wasn't one of the top 50 most likely players to win the award a year ago heading into the fall.

The Heisman Finalists:

1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State (7/1)
The Buckeyes' quarterback was easily the biggest finalist snub this past season, as he ended up finishing fifth in the voting. As the unquestioned leader of an unbeaten Ohio State squad, Miller single-handedly carried the Bucknuts to victory week after week. He was fourth in the Big Ten in rushing (105.9 ypg), second in passing efficiency and second in total offense. Few players on this list can improve their numbers like Miller will in his second year in Urban Meyer's unstoppable spread scheme. His electric play-making ability, raw toughness and perfect fit in the system make him a virtual lock as a Heisman contender next season — as well as potential top overall NFL Draft pick.

2. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson (15/1)
Few players posted numbers comparable to Johnny Heisman, but Boyd was one of them. He led the ACC in passing efficiency (165.59) and total offense (339.2 ypg) and was fifth and seventh in each category nationally. He scored 46 total touchdowns (36 pass, 10 rush) and has a host of elite weapons returning. More importantly, this team should be the preseason favorite in the ACC with Boyd under center and Chad Morris calling the plays. He is one of few players who will have the numbers, the marquee showdowns (vs. Georgia, at South Carolina), the potential championship and the offensive support to win the Heisman.

3. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina (12/1)
There is little doubt that Clowney is the most physically gifted player in the nation. He is a near lock as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. And because he set the table as a sophomore with a monster hit against Michigan and huge numbers statistically, he has a great chance at landing in New York. The monster defensive end finished third in the nation in sacks (1.08 pg) and second nationally in tackles for loss (1.96 pg). He enters his third year with 21.0 sacks, eight forced fumbles and 35.5 tackles for loss and because he plays a stat-heavy defensive position, his boxscore will speak for itself. However, winning the SEC East might be a must if Clowney wants to become just the second true defensive player to ever win the award.

4. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M (4/1)
What else is there to say about Manziel? His numbers speak for themselves and his Cotton Bowl performance will go down in Aggie lore as one of the greatest postseason performances by a Heisman winner of all time. But Tim Tebow couldn’t repeat. Neither could Mark Ingram, Matt Leinart or Sam Bradford. All were elite talents like Manziel, but the odds of repeating are 1-in-77. And now that SEC defensive coordinators will be spending the next five months figuring out ways to stop him, a repeat of his production seems highly unlikely mostly because he set the bar so high for himself in 2012.

5. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon (18/1)
Manziel gets most of the love as a redshirt freshman, but Mariota wasn’t far behind. He rarely played in any second halves and led the nation in road passing efficiency. Overall, he led the Pac-12 in passer rating and scored 37 total touchdowns. He plays with poise and confidence well beyond his years. The big question mark will be the loss of head coach Chip Kelly. The last time Oregon switched head coaches internally, there was little drop off, but one has to think this offense will take a small step back. Yet, as the leader of Oregon's offense, the supremely gifted 6-foot-4, 200-pound second-year starter should be destined for at least one trip to NYC in his career.

6. Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona (33/1)
Carey was the most underrated player in the nation last fall. He led the nation in rushing (148.4 ypg, 1,929 yards), set the Arizona single-season rushing record and the Pac-12 single-game rushing record (366 yards). He scored 24 times and helped turn the Wildcats from a four-win team in 2011 to an eight-win, zone-read monster. And he did all of this as a sophomore. With spread guru Rich Rodriguez calling the shots, the tough-nosed workhorse has a chance to post huge numbers once again in 2013. Although Carey's on-field performance merits inclusion, there is one glaring issue with Carey. Should his off-the-field behavior — a domestic abuse issue and basketball game incident — become an issue, he drops out of the Heisman race. Currently, he is being disciplined internally and is practicing, so he makes the list.

The Top Challengers:

7. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia (10/1)
The Dawgs' signal caller will make a push to rewrite the Georgia and SEC record books with another big year in Athens. He led the nation in passing efficiency and has 77 total touchdowns in the last two seasons. With a loaded offense returning around him, Murray just needs to eliminate the bizarro game from his resume — e.g., Florida and South Carolina in 2012, Mississippi State in 2011 — to be an NYC finalist. He might also need to finish a season in Atlanta with a win instead of a loss.

8. De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon (10/1)
An elite big-play machine, Thomas’ biggest weakness is actually one of his biggest strengths. The Oregon scheme lends itself to huge numbers but it also distributes the football. Simply put, he needs more than 137 touches on offense to get to New York. The change in head coach will also play a role with Thomas' campaign like it will Mariota's.

9. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia (--)
It will be tough for Gurley to top his freshman numbers in the brutal SEC, but his quarterback and offensive line return intact. He led the league in rushing by a running back and scored 17 times. Only Trent Richardson has ever scored 20 rushing TDs in SEC history as a running back. With Murray and Gurley in the same backfield, one has to wonder if the UGA vote will be split between two elite players.

10. T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama (18/1)
Looking for another true sophomore to win the award? Look no further than the extremely gifted Yeldon. As just a freshman, he rushed for 1,000 yards and 10 scores as a backup last season en route to a national championship. Nick Saban’s offense is a proven Heisman commodity for running backs and Eddie Lacy has moved on to the NFL. If Yeldon gets 200+ touches, he easily has the skill to make it to New York.

11. Duke Johnson, RB, Miami (12/1)
The De’Anthony Thomas of the East Coast, Johnson led the ACC in kickoff returns and was third in all-purpose running as just a freshman. As the season went on, Al Golden trusted Johnson more on offense and he topped 100 yards three times in his last four games. The key will be his role in 2013 as Golden looks to get him more involved in the traditional offense. He could see a big jump from 139 carries a year ago, and should that happen, fans can bet the sophomore speedster's numbers will be eye-popping.

12. Marqise Lee, WR, USC (9/1)
With a proven commodity at quarterback coming back, Lee would be in the “Finalists” category. But with Matt Barkley — and counterpart Robert Woods who drew plenty of defensive attention — leaving for the NFL, Lee’s numbers will almost assuredly go down. He is an elite player who may not have the supporting cast to get to Radio City Music Hall.

13. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville (--)
The hot name du jour is the Cards' signal caller after his electric performance against Florida’s nasty defense in the Sugar Bowl. The numbers have to get bigger and better for him to be a finalist, however, as Louisville's system is the most bland of any of the other contenders. Charlie Strong isn't going to throw the ball 50 times a game. Also, The Ville likely needs to run the table for the junior-to-be to get an invite to the Big Apple.

14. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska (15/1)
Few players make the eye-popping plays in the backfield like Martinez. He showed marked improvement in efficiency and decision making this fall, leading the Big Ten in total offense and passer rating. A pair of potential showdowns with Braxton Miller will likely determine T-Magic’s Heisman fate. Four more losses for the Big Red and Martinez will find it hard to get to New York without elite statistics.

15. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA (20/1)
The Bruins finally found a quarterback. The redshirt sophomore-to-be threw for three 300-yard efforts in his first four career games. He then led his team to the Pac-12 title game, scored 38 total touchdowns and produced nearly 4,100 yards of total offense in just his first year under center. The show will be all his in Westwood now that Johnathan Franklin is gone.

16. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama (12/1)
A big part of why Yeldon will be successful will be the return of McCarron. The O-line will have to be rebuilt (to some extent), but the talent at the skill positions could be better than Saban has ever had at the Capstone. If McCarron goes for 30 TDs and just three interceptions again, he will most definitely be in the Heisman race. The biggest issue is his offensive system may never allow for big numbers from the quarterback as names like Ingram, Richardson, Lacy and Yeldon get most of the attention.

17. Devin Gardner, QB, Michigan (40/1)
Fans in Ann Arbor have been waiting for Gardner for years and 2013 will be his chance to shine. In just five starts last year, the former elite recruit accounted for 18 touchdowns, just five interceptions and 264 yards of offense per game. He fits Brady Hoke's scheme better than Denard Robinson but has similar athletic ability. His ability to pass the football could set him apart from his former teammate.

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

19. Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor (20/1)
Seastrunk's journey to Heisman contender has been long and winding, but he is finally here. He left Oregon before ever playing a down and finally set Waco afire in the second half of 2012. The former five-star recruit rushed for 831 yards, including five 100-yard games, and six of his seven touchdowns in the season's final six games. Art Briles system is set up for big numbers but he needs solid play from a new quarterback to get to NYC.

20. Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State (--)
The Fresno State offensive system will allow Carr to air it out all season long. He has 7,648 yards passing and 63 touchdowns against only 16 interceptions over his last two seasons. An unbeaten record and BCS bowl bid would go a long way in elevating the Heisman profile for the Bulldogs' starter.

21. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska (18/1)
Nebraska has always loved to run the football and the explosive back will finally be the full-time starter in Lincoln. After starter Rex Burkhead went down with an injury, the sophomore stepped in and provided big support in the running game. He posted six 100-yard efforts over a nine week span in place of Burkhead and should get the lion's share of carries this fall.

22. Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois (--)
For Lynch to get to Manhattan next December, he would have to improve on what could be considered the best single-season in MAC history. A BCS bowl bid, nearly 2,000 yards rushing, over 3,000 yards passing, 44 total touchdowns and just six interceptions will be tough to reproduce.

23. Venric Mark, RB, Northwestern (--)
The Northwestern offense is as dynamic as any in the nation and Mark will be the centerpiece. He rushed for 1,366 yards, caught 20 passes and scored on two punt returns. He can do everything for a team looking to win its first Big Ten title since 1995. With exciting players returning around him, Mark's only negative heading into the season will be the losses along the offensive line. That said, the Wildcats normally plug in the next guy on a roster that isn't ever overloaded with talent.

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

25. Blake Bell, QB, Oklahoma (30/1)
Bell has one of the most bizarre stat lines in college football. As a backup quarterback entering his first season under center, the massive 6-6, 260-pound passer has had more rushing touchdowns (24) than passing attempts (20). He has rushed 104 times and has scored on nearly a quarter of his attempts. On a team poised to make yet another run at a conference crown, passing the football effectively is still the overwhelming concern for Bell's Heisman candidacy.

Some Defensive Long Shots to Consider:

Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
Is a terror off of the edge and will push for nation's lead in sacks.

Devonte Fields, DE, TCU
Elite recruit produced All-Big 12 season as just a freshman. The sky is the limit.

Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas
Legacy talent needs to stay healthy all year to prove how dominant he can be.

C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
Elite leader is one of few major defensive stars who elected to return to college.

Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
Lost a lot of talent around him, but no one hits harder and bigger than Shazier.

Will Sutton, DL, Arizona State
Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year back on a team that could push for a division title.

Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
Elite playmaker who should blossom into an All-American as just a sophomore.

Stephon Tuitt, DL, Notre Dame
Supremely gifted athlete could pass Louis Nix as top Irish defender this fall.

 

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Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 25 2013 Heisman Trophy Candidates</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 21, 2013 - 07:25
Path: /college-football/notre-dame-2013-spring-football-preview
Body:

An undefeated run and a BCS National Championship were clearly premature for Brian Kelly. However, no one has ever doubted his ability to return the Golden Dome to national prominence and 2012 was proof. Now, the bar has been raised considerably for Kelly and his Irish. With elite recruiting class stacked upon elite recruiting class, Notre Dame fans are as optimistic about their future, including 2013, as any team in the nation. And the next run at a national title begins with the start of spring football on March 20.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 12-1

Spring practice dates: March 20-April 20

Returning Starters: Offense – 5, Defense – 8

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Everett Golson, 187-of-318, 2,405 yards, 12 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: George Atkinson III, 51 car., 361 yards, 5 TDs
Receiving: TJ Jones, 50 rec., 649 yards, 4 TDs
Tackles: Bennett Jackson, 65
Sacks: Stephon Tuitt, 12.0
Interceptions: Bennett Jackson, 4

Redshirts to Watch: DL Jarron Jones, RB Will Mahone

2013 Schedule

Aug. 31 Temple
Sept. 7 at Michigan
Sept. 14 at Purdue
Sept. 21 Michigan State
Sept. 28 Oklahoma
Oct. 5 Arizona State
Oct. 12 Open Date
Oct. 19 USC
Oct. 26 at Air Force
Nov. 2 Navy
Nov. 9 at Pitt
Nov. 16 Open Date
Nov. 23 BYU
Nov. 30 at Stanford

Offensive Strength: Offensive line. This group returns three starters with a combined 39 starts last year and a deep host of elite recruits.

Offensive Weakness: Playmakers. The top two rushers, the main two contributors at wide receiver and tight end Tyler Eifert have moved on. The offense needs to find skill players to contribute.

Defensive Strength: Defensive line. Losing Kapron Lewis-Moore hurts but this unit returns largely intact, and with more experience, could be one of the nation's elite front lines.

Defensive Weakness: Leadership. Four senior leaders, including Manti Te'o, Lewis-Moore and safety Zeke Motta have departed. Each layer of the defense will need a new leader.

Spring Storylines Facing the Fighting Irish:

1. Replace Manti. There is no shortage of talent in the Irish linebacking corps. Dan Fox, Prince Shembo, Carlo Calabrese and Danny Spond have loads of experience while Ishaq Williams, Ben Councell, Jarrett Grace and Kendall Moore add intriguing upside to the position as well. However, Te'o was the heart and soul of the locker room and his leadership will be missed as much as his 113 tackles and seven interceptions. Williams has a chance to be special and will push for time on the outside along with Concell. Fox, Calabrese and Grace appear to be the most likely candidates to fill Te'o's spot on the inside. Look for coordinator Bob Diaco to pay special attention to this group over the next month.

2. Build a supporting cast for Everett Golson. Running back and tight end, in particular, should be interesting position battles this spring. Troy Niklas is the most talented tight end of the bunch but Ben Koyack and Alex Welch will battle for time as well. George Atkinson III is the top returning rusher but Kelly undoubtedly wants to establish some depth behind the speedster. USC transfer Amir Carlisle, redshirt freshman Will Mahone and junior Cam McDaniel will all see plenty of time this spring in an effort to replace Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood. Two star freshmen are waiting to show what they can do in the summer (Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston), so spring practice should be an opportunity for one or more ball carriers to step up and take control of the position. 

3. Find safeties. Zeke Motta, Jamoris Slaughter and Dan McCarthy are all gone. Slaughter missed all but three games last year with an injury while Motta was an unquestioned leader of the secondary. So rebuilding depth at this position is important this spring — especially considering the gaping voids Alabama exploited in the Irish backfield in the BCS title game. Matthias Farley has the most experience and he will be joined by Elijah Shumate and Nicky Baratti on the backend. Austin Collinsworth could also factor in if healthy. Developing the talent at cornerback, which appears like it could be a position of strength in 2013, will help break in the new safeties as well. Getting Lo Wood back after missing all of 2012 will improve the defensive backfield overall.

4. Rebuild the interior of the O-line. The return of Zack Martin was a huge boost to the Irish offseason's expectations. But losing Braxton Cave and Mike Golic hurts the interior of the offensive line. Kelly has recruited at an elite level along both lines of scrimmage and new names will need to step up this spring to fill voids at center and guard. Matt Hegarty is first in line to take over at center and should be more than capable after playing in nine games last year. Nick Martin played in 13 games, Conor Hanratty played in six games and is versatile along the line while Bruce Heggie was officially the backup at right guard last year. Look for Kelly and O-line coach Harry Heistand to have some fun sorting through a very talented depth chart up front on offense.

5. Handle expectations. Notre Dame's unexpected run to the BCS national title game sped up the expectations calendar in South Bend. Many have long believed that Kelly is the right fit at Notre Dame and last year proved that to be accurate. However, after throngs of Irish fans left Miami Gardens, Fla., with their heads buried in their hands, Kelly will have his work cut out for him in 2013. Key seniors have departed at key positions, and despite those losses, Irish faithful are still expecting another push at a national title. This roster and coaching staff is capable of returning to a BCS bowl game once again in 2013, but Notre Dame is no longer the hunter. They now have to handle the bulls-eye firmly planted on the backs of their jerseys.

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Teaser:
<p> Notre Dame 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 07:40
Path: /college-football/michigan-state-spartans-2013-spring-football-preview
Body:

Entering 2012, Mark Dantonio's program faced an age-old question of rebuilding or reloading? Had Michigan State, following the two most successful seasons in program history (11 wins), become a program that reloads or rebuilds? After five losses in Big Ten play, it appears the Spartans are closer to rebuilding than reloading. However, with a host of talent returning to both sides of the ball, Dantonio's bunch won't be "down" for too long. Expectations in East Lansing will be high once again this summer.

Michigan State Spartans 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 7-6 (3-5)

Spring practice dates: March 19-April 20

Returning Starters: Offense – 8, Defense – 6

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Andrew Maxwell, 234-of-446, 2,606 yards, 13 TD, 9 INT
Rushing: Nick Hill, 21 car., 48 yards, 1 TDs
Receiving: Bennie Fowler, 41 rec., 524 yards, 4 TDs
Tackles: Max Bullough, 111
Sacks: Denicos Allen, 3.0
Interceptions: Darqueze Dennard, 3.0

Redshirts to Watch: QB Tyler O'Connor, TE Josiah Price, TE Evan Jones, S Demetrious Cox, OL Jack Conklin, LB Riley Bullough, DB Jermaine Edmondson, WR Monty Madaris, RB Nick Tompkins, CB Ezra Robinson

2013 Schedule

Aug. 30 Western Michigan (Fri.)
Sept. 7 USF
Sept. 14 Youngstown State
Sept. 21 at Notre Dame
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 at Iowa
Oct. 12 Indiana
Oct. 19 Purdue
Oct. 26 at Illinois
Nov. 1 Michigan
Nov. 9 Bye Week
Nov. 16 at Nebraska
Nov. 23 at Northwestern
Nov. 30 Minnesota

Offensive Strength: Offensive line. Dan France, Jack Allen, Skyler Burkland and Blake Treadwell return after making a combined 41 starts a year ago.

Offensive Weakness: Running back. Le'Veon Bell and Larry Caper are gone and the duo combined for 400 carries, 1,901 yards rushing and 12 of the team's 13 touchdowns on the ground.

Defensive Strength: Linebacker. This position has everything any coach could want: experience, talent, versatility, production and depth.

Defensive Weakness: Defensive line. William Gholston and Anthony Rashad-White are gone from this unit as is contributor Tyler Hoover.

Spring Storylines Facing the Spartans:

1. Develop a workhorse. Le'Veon Bell touched the ball 414 times last year on offense — the most of anyone in all of college football. He is gone as is his backup Larry Caper. That leaves Mark Dantonio with a glaring hole in his offense at tailback. Nick Hill and Jeremy Langford return but rushed for a total of 71 yards last season. Redshirt freshman Nick Tompkins, who battled an ankle injury all of last year, will also compete for touches this spring. A host of talented newcomers will join the battle this summer (Gerald Holmes, R.J. Shelton, Delton Williams), but Hill and Langford will have a chance this spring to get a headstart on the competition. Dantonio would feel much better about his running game if one of these players can step up and prove themselves in spring practice.

2. Establish a new identity on offense. New co-offensive coordinators Jim Bollman and Dave Warner take over running the offense for the Spartans. The system will still be a pro-style, power running attack but look for the new architects to add wrinkles. The first decision will be to decide if Andrew Maxwell is the final answer at quarterback. There is plenty of talent behind him with Connor Cook and redshirt freshman Tyler O'Connor pressing for time this spring. Adding an athletic dimension to the quarterback position is something MSU wants to do but Maxwell isn't the guy for that job. It will be interesting to see if Cook and O'Connor can close the gap on the incumbent this spring.

3. 

Stablize the defensive line. Two very dependable players — William Gholston and Anthony Rashad-White — have left the starting defensive line and Ron Burton will now be in charge of the D-line. So with one of the best back seven's in all of college football, the Spartans' one area of focus on defense this spring has to be the defensive line. Marcus Rush will lock down one defensive end spot while Shlique Calhoun seems like the favorite to replace Gholston. James Kittredge, Denzel Drone, Lawrence Thomas and Micajah Reynolds return with experience and all have the talent to start up front. Organizing this group and settling a rotation will be key in a league based so heavily on running the football.

4. Get the redshirts some reps. Michigan State has the luxury of a deep and talented class of redshirt freshmen to pick from this spring. The aforementioned O'Connor and Tompkins will compete at two key offensive positions but so too will names like safety Demetrious Cox, linebacker Riley Bullough, wide receiver Monty Madaris and cornerback Ezra Robinson. Josiah Price and Evan Jones, a pair of redshirt tight ends, also will be particularly interesting to watch this spring as they battle to replace the departed Dion Sims.

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Teaser:
<p> Michigan State Spartans 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - 12:00
Path: /college-football/penn-state-nittany-lions-2013-spring-football-preview
Body:

Year One After Paterno was a tough one to handle off of the field, but was a pleasant surprise on it. Bill O'Brien took over in the face of the worst NCAA scandal in history and Penn State was rewarded with an offense that was more creative and innovative than anything Happy Valley had seen since (at least) Michael Robinson's Orange Bowl run in 2005. The sanctions continue to hold this program down, but the returning talent has PSU poised for yet another winning season.

Penn State 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 8-4 (6-2)

Spring practice dates: March 18-April 20

Returning Starters: Offense – 6, Defense – 6

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Steven Bench, 2-of-8, 12 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Zach Zwinak, 203 car., 1,000 yards, 6 TDs
Receiving: Allen Robinson, 77 rec., 1,018 yards, 11 TDs
Tackles: Glenn Carson, 85
Sacks: Deion Barnes, 6.0
Interceptions: Adrian Amos, 2

Redshirts to Watch: RB Akeel Lynch, TE Brent Wilkerson, WR Malik Golden, WR Eugene Lewis, OL Wendy Laurent, DL Austin Johnson, DB Jake Kiley, OG Anthony Stanko, DT Derek Dowrey, DT Brian Gaia

JUCO Transfers to Watch: QB Tyler Ferguson

2013 Schedule

Aug. 31 Syracuse
Sept. 7 Eastern Michigan
Sept. 14 UCF
Sept. 21 Kent State
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 at Indiana
Oct. 12 Michigan
Oct. 19 Bye Week
Oct. 26 at Ohio State
Nov. 1 Illinois
Nov. 9 at Minnesota
Nov. 16 Purdue
Nov. 23 Nebraska
Nov. 30 at Wisconsin

Offensive Strength: Offensive line. This group returns three starters as well as the top four tight ends on the roster. The running game should be just fine with three of the top four rushers returning as well.

Offensive Weakness: Quarterback, quarterback, quarterback. There aren't many weaknesses on this offense with the glaring exception under center.

Defensive Strength: Depth. There are major holes to fill on all three layers of the defense, but there are tons of bodies in the secondary and young stars ready to emerge along the defensive line. The redshirt freshmen class is large and will be on full display this spring.

Defensive Weakness: Linebackers and leadership. Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges depart, leaving a gaping void in the linebacking corps and in the leadership department. It is time for new faces to continue the LB-U trend in Happy Valley.

Spring Storylines Facing Penn State:

1. Develop a quarterback. Bill O'Brien transformed Matt McGloin into a very capable quarterback and now he will have to do it again with players far less experienced. Sophomore Steven Bench and junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson are the only two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster this spring. Both are simply keeping the seat warm for incoming uber-recruit Christian Hackenberg, who will show up in Happy Valley this summer. This spring gives both Bench and Ferguson the chance to prove that Hackenberg doesn't need to be ready to start right away. The incoming freshman has the talent to steal the job by the end of the fall but does O'Brien want to go into the season opener counting on a true freshman?

2. Replace leadership at linebacker. It's safe to say that the Nittany Lions wouldn't have been close to eight wins without the leadership of Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges at linebacker last fall. Not only will their 204 tackles be missed so too will their uncanny ability to elevate the play of those around them. Glenn Carson and Mike Hull return with experience and were solid as a supporting cast. Yet, both will need to step into lead roles now and continue the tradition of Linebacker-U. Others like Nyeem Wartman and Ben Kline will need to take over as supporting actors.

3. 

Rebuild the defensive line. Two All-Big Ten performers, first-team tackle Jordan Hill and honorable mention end Sean Stanley, need to be replaced. Depth also is a concern, as tackle James Terry and end Pete Massaro have departed. It is time for big-name recruits to blossom into all-conference performers. Names like Deion Barnes and C.J. Olaniyan have bright futures while DaQuan Jones, Kyle Baublitz and Anthony Zettel all have major upside. This unit isn't hurting for talent, and by the year's end, it could be one of the Big Ten's best. But that path begins this spring. 



4. Find a center and left tackle. Center Matt Stankiewitch was one of the nation's top pivots a year ago and left tackle Mike Farrell earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors. The left tackle and center are the two most important offensive line positions and both must be replaced this spring. Donovan Smith has the inside track on the left tackle spot while a host of young, talented players will battle for reps with the first team this spring. John Urshcel and Miles Dieffenbach return to the guard positions and will be leaned on for leadership all year long. This offense has loads of talent at tight end, wide receiver and even in the backfield, so filling holes along the offensive line is one of the few concerns on offense (along with quarterback, obviously).

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Teaser:
<p> Penn State Nittany Lions 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Monday, March 18, 2013 - 07:40
Path: /college-football/michigan-wolverines-2013-spring-football-preview
Body:

It didn't take Brady Hoke long to get Michigan back into contention for conference titles and BCS bowls. He also ended the long losing streak against Ohio State. Yet, the Big Ten championship and trip to the Rose Bowl has eluded this coaching staff as it enters its third season in Ann Arbor. And now, for the first time in four years, the Wolverines will enter a season without Denard Robinson under center.

Michigan Wolverines 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 8-5 (6-2)

Spring practice dates: March 16-April 13

Returning Starters: Offense – 5, Defense – 6

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Devin Gardner, 75-of-126, 1,219 yards, 11 TDs, 5 INTs
Rushing: Fitzgerald Toussaint, 130 car., 514 yards, 5 TDs
Receiving: Jeremy Gallon, 49 rec., 829 yards, 4 TDs
Tackles: Jake Ryan, 88
Sacks: Jake Ryan, 4.5
Interceptions: Raymon Taylor and Thomas Gordon, 2

Redshirts to Watch: OG Kyle Kalis, OG Blake Bars, OL Erik Magnuson, WR Jehu Chesson, DE Chris Wormley, DE Matthew Godin

Early Enrollees: DB Dymonte Thomas, OL Logan Tuley‐Tillman, DE Taco Charlton, OL Kyle Bosch, TE Jake Butt, DB Ross Douglas

2013 Schedule

Aug. 31 Central Michigan
Sept. 7 Notre Dame
Sept. 14 Akron
Sept. 21 at UConn
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 Minnesota
Oct. 12 at Penn State
Oct. 19 Indiana
Oct. 26 Bye Week
Nov. 1 at Michigan State
Nov. 9 Nebraska
Nov. 16 at Northwestern
Nov. 23 at Iowa
Nov. 30 Ohio State

Offensive Strength: Potential. There is a lot to like about what Michigan returns on offense but senior leadership and experience isn't a part of that. However, there is a ton of upside and potential in this group with players like Gardner set to take on bigger roles.

Offensive Weakness: Skill playmakers. Finding a workhorse tailback and a No. 1 wide receiver will be key for this offense. Can an injured Fitzgerald Toussaint or smallish Jeremy Gallon be those players?

Defensive Strength: Linebackers. This is as deep a position as Hoke has on his roster. There are veterans, rising stars and young depth to pick from.

Defensive Weakness: Star power. There is a lot of depth and a lot of young talent returning to the defense, however, four All-Big Ten performers depart this offseason. Talented rising stars need to take the next step and develop into household names — and team leaders.

Spring Storylines Facing Michigan:

1. Replace three starters on the O-line. Patrick Omameh was an All-Big Ten player and Ricky Barnum and Elliot Mealer combined for 26 starts last year. Filling these three voids are made much easier by the return of tackles Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield, but this is still a major concern for Michigan. The interior of the line will be an area of focus this spring as Hoke looks to rebuild the heart of his O-line. Jack Miller and Graham Glasgow will battle it out for the pivot position while talented youngsters Kyle Bosch and Kyle Kalis will duel for the right guard position. Ben Braden, Blake Bars and Joey Burzynski are the top candidates at left guard.

2. Fill gaps along the defensive line. Craig Roh wasn't a flashy player but was dependable and consistent. Will Campbell earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors last year as well. Both are gone and Michigan needs to replace them. There is little in the way of experience up front on defense and Hoke needs to find bodies who can play. Frank Clark, Mario Ojemudia, Brennen Beyer and Keith Heitzman all got playing time a year ago and all four will vie for time at end. Jibreel Black and Quinton Washington return to the middle while the coaching staff is still waiting for Ondre Pipkins to break out. This area of the team must be stabilized to make a run at the Big Ten title in 2013.

3. Develop Devin Gardner. Gardner took over in difficult circumstances a year ago and made the most of it. In five games under center, he threw for 11 touchdowns while rushing for seven. He won his first three starts before the competition level took a big jump (Ohio State and South Carolina) and Michigan lost those games. He has all the tools needed to be a superstar but needs to develop as a passer and leader for Hoke. This team needs a definitive voice pacing the huddle and it needs to be Gardner's. Look for him to take command of the team this spring.

4. Find a workhorse tailback. The best way to help Gardner will be if Hoke can find a power running game. Prized recruit Derrick Green won't show up until fall camp and Fitzgerald Toussaint will be out until then as well. This spring is the time for the Wolverines tailbacks to shine if they want carries. The path is clear for Thomas Rawls to take a huge step forward while Justice Hayes figures to be the mix as well. Hoke craves a workhorse back, and he may have to wait until the fall to find him, but fans can bet the runners on the roster will get a heavy workout this spring.

5. Reaplce two All-Big Ten defensive backs. Jordan Kovacs was the leader of the defense as he patrolled the back end of this unit for years. J.T. Floyd was the top cover corner. Both All-Big Ten players must be replaced this spring. Hoke is hoping that Blake Countess, who missed all but one game a year ago with a torn ACL, will be back to man one corner spot while Raymon Taylor, Courtney Avery and Delonte Hollowell will compete for the other. Thomas Gordon returns to his free safety spot while a host of new faces will battle for the starting strong safety spot.

6. Make some big-plays down the field in the passing game. Jeremy Gallon is a solid player but is he a superstar wide receiver that makes a difference on the outside? That remains to be seen, so Hoke and Gardner need to find some big-play weapons they can trust on the outside to go with Gallon. Jerald Robinson has loads of ability while Drew Dileo and Jeremy Jackson also return. The continued development of Devin Funchess and early enrollee Jake Butt at tight end will help in the passing game as well.

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Teaser:
<p> Michigan Wolverines 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Friday, March 15, 2013 - 08:20
Path: /college-football/top-15-alabama-football-teams-all-time
Body:

Alabama has arguably the most storied tradition in college football. It recently won its 15th national championship, and there is no fan base in the nation more rabid about its program than the Crimson Tide. Decades of winning, hundreds of NFL players and two of the greatest coaches to ever patrol the sidelines are just a few of the bullet points on the resume.

But how would John Hannah match up against the vaunted front seven of 2011 led by Dont'a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw? Could Johnny Musso spin and twist his way to victory against Mount Cody and the 2009 championship squad? The fact of the matter is that no one will ever know for sure, so trying to rank the best teams in Alabama history is virtually impossible. But we're going to try.

1. 2009 (14-0, 8-0)
Head Coach: Nick Saban
The 14-0 record is the best record in Alabama history, and the '09 depth chart is probably the most talented collection of players ever assembled in the history of the Capstone. This team already features 13 first- or second-round draft picks (10 in the first) and could add to that total this spring with names like Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack. The backfield featured a Heisman winner and a Heisman finalist in Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, while Julio Jones is quickly showing the NFL that he is one of the most physically gifted wideouts in all of football. A Butkus winner in Rolando McClain and star nose guard Terrence Cody led a defense that also included a young Mark Barron, Hightower and Upshaw. This team rolled through the SEC, upset Tim Tebow in Atlanta behind heady play from boy genius Greg McElroy at quarterback and then crushed Texas in the national title game. To top it all off, Javier Arenas, who starred at cornerback, gave Bama a huge weapon on special teams as well, earning SEC Special Teamer of the Year honors. Few teams ever assembled on any campus have ever been as complete as the 2009 BCS National and SEC champions.

2. 1979 (12-0, 6-0)
Head Coach: Bear Bryant
The 1979 National and SEC champs were never ranked lower than No. 2 in the polls and finished the season unbeaten under legendary head coach Bear Bryant. This defense pitched an amazing five shutouts on the season, holding Baylor, Wichita State, Florida, LSU and Miami to a total of zero points. After a dominating Sugar Bowl performance against future SEC rival Arkansas (then of the SWC), Bryant claimed his sixth and final national title for Bama. All-America blockers Dwight Stephenson and Jim Bunch led a vaunted rushing attack spearheaded by Major Ogilvie, while fellow All-American Don McNeal led the stingy defense. The coaching staff included Sylvester Croom, Mal Moore, Ken Donahue and Bill Oliver.

3. 2011 (12-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: Nick Saban
From a statistical perspective, few teams in the history of college football have ever been as stingy as the 2011 Alabama defense. Saban's defense led the nation in scoring, total, rushing and passing defense, setting a modern college football record — the BCS era — with just 8.2 points allowed per game. It then avenged its only loss on the season to LSU by simply crushing the Tigers in their backyard in the BCS title game. LSU totaled 92 yards of offense, five first downs and are the only team in BCS history to be shut out in the championship game. Doak Walker winner Trent Richardson and Outland Trophy winner Barrett Jones steamrolled opposing defenses while a young AJ McCarron blossomed in the season finale. With four first-round picks and counting off this roster, Saban's '11 squad sits behind his '09 team simply because of the 9-6 overtime loss to LSU at home late in the season. This is the only BCS champion not to win its conference.

4. 1961 (11-0, 7-0)
Head Coach: Bear Bryant
In just his fourth season at Alabama, Bryant gave fans a glimpse of what life would be like with the Bear on the sidelines. Led by quarterback Pat Trammell and two-way stars Lee Roy Jordan and Billy Neighbors, Alabama rolled through the '61 campaign with relative ease. It shut out six opponents on the season, including five straight to end the regular season. After a 10-3 bowl win over Arkansas, Bryant claimed the consensus national championship and the first of his six titles. This team outscored opponents 297-25 on the season and never allowed more than seven points in any game (NC State scored 7).

5. 1992 (13-0, 8-0)
Head Coach: Gene Stallings
In his third season as the head man, Gene Stallings constructed one of the best Alabama teams of all-time. His team won all 13 games and held 10 of those opponents to 11 points or less. His tenacious defense was led by star defensive backs George Teague and Antonio Langham — both of whom intercepted six passes that season. After a thrilling win in the first-ever SEC championship game against Florida that featured a game-winning interception returned for a touchdown by Langham, the Tide earned the right to face No. 1-ranked Miami and their Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Geno Torretta. Alabama was a heavy underdog but rolled to an impressive 34-13 win. Quarterback Jay Barker and special teams dynamo David Palmer starred on offense, while All-Americans John Copeland and Eric Curry formed one of the nastiest defensive end duos in Crimson Tide history.

6. 2012 (13-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: Nick Saban
An extension of Saban's previous two national title winners, Alabama's third title-winning team in four years posted a dominating performance against Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship game. An all-world offensive line stocked with NFL talent and yet another stellar defense led the Tide to its 15th championship with elite defense, a power running game and incredibly efficient play from quarterback A.J. McCarron. Like the 2011 team, this squad led the nation in total and scoring defense, while McCarron was second nationally in passing efficiency (30 TD, 3 INT). It was technically McCarron's third national title ring as he was a redshirt on the '09 team. This team wasn't as dominant as Saban's previous two title-winners, losing to Texas A&M and beating LSU and Georgia in nail-biters en route to the SEC title. And, of course, this team gave us Katherine Webb.

7. 1966 (11-0, 6-0)
Head Coach: Bear Bryant
Led by four first-team All-Americans in defensive tackle Richard Cole, defensive back Bobby Johns, offensive tackle Cecil Dowdy and split end Ray Perkins, Alabama came up just shy of winning the national title. Had there been a playoff, Bama would have earned the right to play either No. 1 Notre Dame or No. 2 Michigan State — who tied 10-10 in their legendary regular-season matchup. Starting quarterback Ken Stabler and Bama outscored their opponents 144-7 over the final five games. In fact, this team allowed 37 points on the season and was one of the most dominant defenses in Alabama history. The '66 squad is arguably the best team not to win a national championship at Alabama.

8. 1978 (11-1, 6-0)
Head Coach: Bear Bryant
The Tide began the season as the No. 1 team in the nation until USC's Charles White rushed for 199 yards and the Trojans forced six turnovers to defeat Alabama 24-14 in Week 3 at Legion Field. The famous performance by White would be the last loss before Bryant and the Tide claimed 28 straight wins over the next two-plus seasons. Following the USC loss, All-Americans Marty Lyons and Barry Krauss led the defensive effort that fueled eight consecutive wins and a right to face Joe Paterno's No. 1-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions in the Sugar Bowl. Running back Major Ogilvie led the Tide rushing attack to 208 yards (compared to PSU's 19) and a hard-fought 14-7 win that featured a legendary goal-line stand. The former Tide tailback claims that "it was, by far, the hardest hitting game I've participated in [and] there's not even a close second." It would be the first of back-to-back national titles for Bama.

9. 1934 (10-0, 7-0)
Head Coach: Frank Thomas
Thomas, in his third season as the head coach, led Alabama to a national championship in just its second season of SEC play. Thomas claimed it was his best team during his tenure at the Capstone, and in an era when points were tough to come by, his '34 squad averaged 31.4 per game. Hall of Fame wideout Don Hutson was one of three All-Americans, joining tailback Dixie Howell and tackle Bill Lee. The 29-13 performance against Stanford in the Rose Bowl solidified this team as one of the greatest in Crimson Tide history.

10. 1973 (11-1, 8-0)
Head Coach: Bear Bryant
Bryant and the Tide rolled through the regular season with an unblemished 11-0 record. Three first-team All-Americans — offensive tackle Buddy Brown, split end Wayne Wheeler and linebacker Woodrow Lowe — led a star-studded lineup into the Sugar Bowl against Notre Dame. It was the first ever meeting between the two most powerful brands in college football, and it went the way of the Irish. In an epic showdown in New Orleans, Notre Dame outlasted Alabama 24-23 in a game that actually lived up to the pre-game hype. Despite losing "The Game" and Notre Dame finishing No. 1 in the AP poll, Alabama still claimed a national championship.

11. 1971 (11-1, 7-0)
This John Hannah-led squad came up just shy of a national title after debuting the wishbone and losing to No. 1 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.

12. 1964 (10-1, 8-0)
An undefeated regular season ended with a national title, but a loss to Texas in the Orange Bowl.

13. 1965 (9-1-1, 6-1-1)
Ended the season No. 4 in the polls before beating Nebraska and jumping both Arkansas and Michigan State. A truly back-door national title.

14. 1977 (11-1, 7-0)
A seven-point road loss to Nebraska is the only thing that kept this team from winning three straight National Championships ('78, '79).

15. 2008 (12-2, 8-0)
This team rolled through the regular season unbeaten before losing to Tim Tebow and Florida in the SEC title game.

The best of the rest:

1974: 11-1
1994: 12-1
1991: 11-1
1989: 10-2
1963: 10-1

 

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Teaser:
<p> Top 15 Alabama Football Teams of All-Time</p>
Post date: Friday, March 15, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/missouri-tigers-2013-spring-football-preview
Body:

Missouri's first trip through the vaunted SEC left Tigers fans disappointed for the first time in years. Gary Pinkel built this program into a Big 12 powerhouse and it appears he will have to start over again in the most powerful league in the nation. The good news is this team returns a lot of offensive talent and the entire program should be better prepared to battle against SEC defenses. But it all starts with spring practice.

Missouri Tigers 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 5-7 (2-6)

Spring practice dates: March 12-April 20

Returning Starters: Offense – 7, Defense – 6

Returning Leaders:

Passing: James Franklin, 139-of-234, 1,562 yards, 10 TDs, 7 INTs
Rushing: Marcus Murphy, 46 car., 251 yards, 1 TDs
Receiving: Marcus Lucas, 46 rec., 509 yards, 3 TDs
Tackles: Andrew Wilson, 80
Sacks: Michael Sam, 4.5
Interceptions: Four tied with 1

Redshirts to Watch: QB Maty Mauk, LB Michael Scherer, OT Jordan Williams, WR Levi Copelin, LB Donavin Newsome, RB Morgan Steward, DL Markus Golden, S Chaston War, LB Torey Boozer, DL Evan Winston, DL Harold Brantley

Early Enrollees to Watch: QB Trent Hosick, QB Eddie Printz

JUCO Transfer to Watch: DB Duron Singleton 

2013 Schedule

Aug. 31 Murray State
Sept. 7 Toledo
Sept. 14 Bye Week
Sept. 21 at Indiana
Sept. 28 Arkansas State
Oct. 5 at Vanderbilt
Oct. 12 at Georgia
Oct. 19 Florida
Oct. 26 South Carolina
Nov. 1 Tennessee
Nov. 9 at Kentucky
Nov. 16 Bye Week
Nov. 23 at Ole Miss
Nov. 30 Texas A&M

Offensive Strength: The passing game. James Franklin returns under center, ideally healthier than he has been in over a year, as does a deep and talented receiving corps.

Offensive Weakness: Running back. This position has been an issue for Pinkel of late and Kendial Lawrence has departed. Questions remain about Henry Josey and his ability to carry the load after missing 2012 with a knee injury.

Defensive Strength: Secondary. Three of the top four returning tacklers, including EJ Gaines, will play in the defensive backfield this season.

Defensive Weakness: The front seven. Sheldon Richardson, Zaviar Gooden, Brad Madison and Will Ebner have all departed leaving Pinkel looking for star power up front.

Spring Storylines Facing Mizzou:

1. Rebuild the defensive line. Losing Richardson and Jimmy Burge from the heart of the defensive line will hurt while the absence of Madison on the outside will be felt as well. Returning starter Matt Hoch will spearhead this group but Pinkel needs to provide a supporting cast. Lucas Vincent and Marvin Foster have some experience and redshirt freshman Harold Brantley (6-3, 300) has garnered a lot of attention this offseason. Michael Sam, the team's leading sack man a year ago, is back as is Kony Ealy, Shane Ray and Markus Golden. Organizing this depth chart to compete with the massive SEC offensive lines will be imperative this spring.

2. Replace Gooden and Ebner at linebacker. Andrew Wilson returns after leading the team in tackles a year ago, but the leadership and athletic ability of the departing duo at linebacker will be tough to replace. Donovan Bonner will need to take the next step in his development while Pinkel searches for contributors at this position. In the SEC, this is a position of elite speed, versatility and physicality. Mizzou needs to find those type of players this spring.

3. Keep the stars healthy. Both quarterback James Franklin and running back Henry Josey have dealt with major injuries throughout their careers. Keeping these two key offensive components healthy will be a big step in the right direction for an offense that was uncharacteristically unproductive a year ago. This goes for the offensive line as well. Justin Britt, Mitch Morse and Taylor Chappell all dealt with injuries a year ago. This group of players, along with new offensive coordinator Josh Henson, will be charged with improving the 96th-rated offense from a year ago.

4. Can Josey be a feature tailback? Of those injured offensive players, Josey might be the biggest question mark. The undersized (5-10, 190) running back shredded his knee late in the 2011 season and it cost him the entire 2012 campaign. He had rushed for nearly 1,200 yards before getting hurt and it is unknown if he can handle the workload of an SEC workhorse back. Ideally, Pinkel will be able to take it easy on his star running back this spring while developing names like Marcus Murphy, Russell Hansbrough and Morgan Steward. Building the depth chart at this position has to be an area of focus this spring.

5. Organize the O-Line. Replacing Elvis Fisher, Jack Meiners and Travis Ruth will be key, but since all three had injury issues in 2012, plenty of backups got playing time. The offensive line is tied directly to success in the SEC, so organizing the depth chart and keeping bodies healthy will be important this spring. Morse, Chappell and Britt should all be penciled in as starters while sophomores Evan Boehm and Brad McNulty continue to develop. This group, should it stay healthy, could be a much improved area of the team in 2013.

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Teaser:
<p> Missouri Tigers 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 11:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Fantasy, News
Path: /mlb/2013-fantasy-baseball-rankings-big-board
Body:

Spring training is in full swing. The World Baseball Classic is halfway done. But most importantly of all, Opening Day is less than three weeks away.

This also means that the fantasy baseball season is close at hand. Draft time is drawing near and rankings can be found all over the Internet. Athlon Sports' 26th annual MLB Baseball Preview annual is on newsstands now, which includes complete fantasy positional rankings.

In addition, Athlon also has constructed the truest and most comprehensive 2013 Fantasy Baseball Big Board available online. The updated 2013 Big Board features the rankings of these trusted and respected sites:
CBSSports.com, ESPN.com, FF Toolbox.com (FFTB), FOXSports.com, KFFL.com, MLB.com, Razzball.com (RAZZ), RotoChamp (RC), USAToday.com (USA) and Yahoo! Sports (Y!) averaged into one consensus top 200.

Ryan Braun grabs the top spot on the updated Big Board, but he's not an uanimous No. 1 across the board. Braun was ranked No. 1 by five different sites with AL Rookie of the Year Mike Trout picking up four No. 1 votes and Triple Crown winner and AL MVP Miguel Cabrera receiving the other one. Trout probably would have ended up no lower than third overall had it not been for KFFL.com's somewhat curious No. 26 ranking of the young Angels' outfielder.

Fantasy Baseball Positional Rankings: Big Board | C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | DH | SP | RP

2013 Consensus Fantasy Baseball Big Board:

Rk Player Team Pos CBS ESPN FFTB FOX KFFL MLB RAZZ RC USA Y!
1 Ryan Braun MIL OF 1 1 2 1 1 3 2 2 1 2
2 Miguel Cabrera DET 3B 2 3 3 2 2 2 1 3 2 3
3 Robinson Cano NYY 2B 4 4 4 6 3 5 5 4 3 4
4 Mike Trout LAA OF 3 2 1 3 26 1 4 1 7 1
5 Albert Pujols LAA 1B 5 7 7 4 6 6 6 12 8 6
6 Andrew McCutchen PIT OF 7 5 5 5 10 8 3 13 5 8
7 Matt Kemp LAD OF 6 6 6 7 13 4 14 8 4 5
8 Joey Votto CIN 1B 8 9 9 9 7 9 8 6 6 7
9 Prince Fielder DET 1B 9 10 11 8 24 11 7 5 14 10
10 Carlos Gonzalez COL OF 17 8 8 10 5 7 11 26 9 9
11 Justin Verlander DET SP 11 13 14 12 4 20 21 9 13 11
12 Giancarlo Stanton MIA OF 13 15 10 11 44 13 9 18 10 14
13 Jose Bautista TOR OF 12 20 15 13 30 12 18 10 16 16
14 Troy Tulowitzki COL SS 10 11 13 20 25 10 22 25 20 15
15 Clayton Kershaw LAD SP 15 14 18 14 14 22 40 11 11 13
16 Buster Posey SF C/1B 16 16 12 17 8 26 30 7 21 20
17 Adrian Beltre TEX 3B 25 18 16 22 21 18 16 28 17 17
18 Justin Upton ATL OF 26 12 19 15 20 14 10 55 19 23
19 Josh Hamilton LAA OF 14 19 17 16 64 16 15 15 22 21
20 Stephen Strasburg WAS SP 32 24 22 19 15 25 25 19 33 12
21 Evan Longoria TB 3B 20 21 24 25 41 33 12 16 25 19
22 David Price TB SP 23 25 30 21 19 31 33 20 32 24
23 Jose Reyes TOR SS 22 29 29 31 11 23 23 48 12 30
24 Ian Kinsler TEX 2B 19 27 27 30 27 29 17 32 27 26
25 Dustin Pedroia BOS 2B 18 26 23 28 28 24 24 40 29 25
26 David Wright NYM 3B 31 17 20 18 52 17 28 60 23 22
27 Felix Hernandez SEA SP 21 22 26 26 40 34 41 34 31 18
28 Hanley Ramirez LAD 3B/SS 29 23 21 24 45 21 30 64 18 28
29 Jason Heyward ATL OF 37 28 25 23 31 15 36 68 15 27
30 Adam Jones BAL OF 36 34 40 32 43 28 13 22 38 34
31 Edwin Encarnacion TOR 1B 24 31 28 29 61 37 27 14 42 29
32 Cole Hamels PHI SP 30 33 38 38 9 39 45 31 37 31
33 Matt Cain SF SP 44 30 33 34 17 35 48 23 59 32
34 Cliff Lee PHI SP 46 32 31 43 16 41 55 27 46 33
35 Matt Holliday STL OF 27 46 41 36 36 42 29 47 36 40
36 Bryce Harper WAS OF 52 37 44 33 94 19 37 21 26 35
37 Jay Bruce CIN OF 51 36 43 41 42 51 34 38 30 37
38 Adrian Gonzalez LAD 1B/OF 33 41 58 27 49 43 20 70 28 43
39 Jered Weaver LAA SP 34 39 34 42 12 54 79 29 52 38
40 Starlin Castro CHC SS 68 35 32 37 48 32 32 80 24 41
41 Billy Butler KC 1B 45 38 35 46 56 56 58 17 39 42
42 Ryan Zimmerman WAS 3B 28 51 36 45 71 27 26 104 34 44
43 Yoenis Cespedes OAK OF 53 52 47 44 29 36 51 63 43 49
44 Jacoby Ellsbury BOS OF 38 45 46 35 75 30 50 66 49 36
45 Craig Kimbrel ATL RP 56 43 39 63 33 50 53 33 64 55
46 Ben Zobrist TB 2B/SS/OF 39 54 53 62 65 63 39 30 47 69
47 Gio Gonzalez WAS SP 50 49 63 53 46 45 54 36 73 53
48 Joe Mauer MIN C/1B 40 65 45 40 18 80 92 49 41 68
49 Brandon Phillips CIN 2B 77 42 65 64 50 38 38 57 45 65
50 B.J. Upton ATL OF 69 47 50 49 66 48 46 69 48 51
51 CC Sabathia NYY SP 47 60 76 47 23 58 81 52 57 48
52 R.A. Dickey TOR SP 42 59 75 50 62 40 83 24 69 50
53 Zack Greinke LAD SP 49 40 48 55 69 44 42 116 63 39
54 Madison Bumgarner SF SP 43 53 56 51 51 68 52 61 85 45
55 Paul Goldschmidt ARI 1B 86 72 55 48 76 47 19 91 35 46
56 Chase Headley SD 3B 35 44 49 60 80 60 44 96 56 62
57 Aramis Ramirez MIL 3B 62 70 42 52 63 75 66 46 40 80
58 Adam Wainwright STL SP 70 50 64 65 39 76 57 75 76 47
59 Carlos Santana CLE C/1B 48 76 62 72 35 66 61 45 94 77
60 Allen Craig STL 1B/OF 41 63 52 54 93 82 60 83 62 52
61 Chris Sale CHW SP 55 66 73 67 73 55 82 54 91 58
62 Johnny Cueto CIN SP 63 67 79 75 32 64 96 65 77 61
63 Matt Wieters BAL C 80 56 54 76 47 70 91 51 70 87
64 Yadier Molina STL C 66 48 60 58 37 52 178 39 84 76
65 Jason Kipnis CLE 2B 85 61 37 57 90 84 118 50 61 57
66 Yu Darvish TEX SP 54 55 66 61 68 53 85 108 97 54
67 Ian Desmond WAS 2B/SS 78 64 104 59 58 46 62 105 59 66
68 Freddie Freeman ATL 1B 87 90 67 69 72 93 77 35 50 71
69 Mat Latos CIN SP 64 69 82 87 34 57 64 84 115 60
70 Aaron Hill ARI 2B 72 73 71 90 53 85 69 71 71 67
71 Roy Halladay PHI SP 59 75 88 81 60 79 97 67 78 56
72 Michael Bourn CLE OF 89 58 70 68 55 49 124 92 54 81
73 Jimmy Rollins PHI SS 67 77 95 78 78 94 47 59 72 75
74 Pablo Sandoval SF 3B 74 80 78 79 145 61 43 95 44 63
75 Brett Lawrie TOR 3B 101 57 51 66 160 81 67 73 58 59
76 Shin-Soo Choo CIN OF 58 78 69 80 77 73 35 165 55 86
77 Alex Rios CHW OF 76 74 68 70 83 86 74 97 87 74
78 James Shields KC SP 57 88 94 82 38 59 84 94 105 91
79 Elvis Andrus TEX SS 91 93 100 71 121 100 70 53 51 64
80 Desmond Jennings TB OF 92 68 59 73 100 89 49 127 95 73
81 Jose Altuve HOU 2B 88 86 85 86 81 78 107 44 82 96
82 Jordan Zimmerman WAS SP 83 71 84 92 57 95 63 102 106 85
83 Jonathan Papelbon PHI RP 82 79 77 106 70 69 80 90 93 92
84 Austin Jackson DET OF 94 62 74 74 82 72 71 136 88 89
85 Kris Medlen ATL SP/RP 60 84 90 93 122 67 87 41 146 82
86 Alex Gordon KC OF 75 83 72 83 59 133 72 161 53 90
87 Max Scherzer DET SP 65 92 89 84 162 62 56 114 96 83
88 Jason Motte STL RP 104 82 83 120 67 71 93 89 110 97
89 Asdrubal Cabrera CLE SS 84 98 102 88 116 77 106 107 66 93
90 Martin Prado ARI 2/3/SS/OF 93 91 81 99 114 98 122 77 67 107
91 Aroldis Chapman CIN RP 61 81 86 103 194 96 68 62 130 78
92 Yovani Gallardo MIL SP 71 89 96 89 98 90 86 140 141 84
93 David Ortiz BOS 1B 81 107 103 77 96 97 103 126 143 70
94 Ike Davis NYM 1B 119 95 80 98 112 156 59 81 99 106
95 Victor Martinez DET C 129 87 91 104 95 91 116 138 80 88
96 Carlos Beltran STL OF 109 132 108 95 163 113 76 58 74 94
97 Mike Napoli BOS C/1B 134 156 87 102 22 87 170 43 89 138
98 Matt Moore TB SP 122 85 97 96 86 101 65 185 116 79
99 Curtis Granderson NYY OF 98 104 57 39 152 65 113 191 122 99
100 Melky Cabrera TOR OF 97 97 105 117 99 108 - 79 68 111
101 Hunter Pence HOU OF 117 127 119 123 87 102 73 131 81 124
102 Rickie Weeks MIL 2B 73 150 118 94 91 109 117 137 79 119
103 Anthony Rizzo CHC 1B 120 109 99 111 168 - 90 37 98 72
104 Eric Hosmer KC 1B 181 105 111 101 125 132 101 56 92 104
105 Paul Konerko CHW 1B 128 139 93 97 127 121 151 42 109 103
106 Josh Willingham MIN OF 110 113 109 107 144 117 112 88 86 126
107 Shane Victorino BOS OF 100 116 101 116 74 - 114 87 119 105
108 Mark Trumbo LAA 1B/3B/OF 135 111 107 85 193 129 78 111 90 134
109 Brandon Morrow TOR SP 99 100 116 118 108 124 111 119 189 101
110 Mariano Rivera NYY RP 113 101 98 155 119 125 94 101 171 123
111 Nelson Cruz TEX OF 131 136 124 119 85 118 75 183 131 100
112 Doug Fister DET SP 105 99 121 127 109 104 168 74 175 120
113 Ian Kennedy ARI SP 106 103 127 105 89 88 141 144 200 102
114 Miguel Montero ARI C 79 175 114 91 102 74 177 180 108 113
115 Fernando Rodney TB RP 108 96 125 151 84 92 198 98 135 127
116 Joe Nathan TEX RP 114 110 120 159 106 111 131 93 142 132
117 Chase Utley PHI 2B 107 158 113 124 123 141 120 146 75 130
118 Wilin Rosario COL C 103 184 143 100 92 83 137 135 166 95
119 Rafael Soriano WAS RP 136 94 92 136 134 103 133 149 133 131
120 Jeff Samardzjia CHC SP 112 144 167 133 128 115 99 141 132 110
121 Jake Peavy CHW SP 90 119 139 137 133 99 88 - 199 108
122 Josh Johnson TOR SP 96 114 137 122 169 139 162 113 162 116
123 Hiroki Kuroda NYY SP 140 117 155 130 118 105 167 109 181 122
124 Salvador Perez KC C 132 - 134 126 105 107 108 - 104 129
125 Adam LaRoche WAS 1B 153 151 115 112 178 153 163 112 103 140
126 Sergio Romo SF RP 147 145 133 180 104 126 132 72 194 151
127 Andre Ethier LAD OF 115 153 129 140 - 120 126 134 124 152
128 Dan Haren WAS SP 160 108 123 128 138 131 166 182 150 109
129 Ryan Howard PHI 1B 124 147 130 114 195 - 104 145 147 98
130 Nick Markakis BAL OF 111 - 148 182 97 - 127 86 120 135
131 Jesus Montero SEA C 146 - 159 148 54 - 138 103 129 142
132 David Freese STL 3B 127 126 110 109 - - 161 - 83 112
133 Norichika Aoki MIL OF 158 - 131 153 132 154 129 110 126 150
134 Neil Walker PIT 2B - 123 141 115 88 151 181 151 125 168
135 Mark Teixeira NYY 1B 137 128 61 56 - - - - 65 199
136 Derek Jeter NYY SS 126 186 126 139 - 106 156 172 102 141
137 Tim Lincecum SF SP 116 118 142 121 146 - 145 - 153 114
138 C.J. Wilson LAA SP 102 152 178 145 79 147 - 152 180 133
139 Jon Lester BOS SP 95 138 165 141 - 176 98 - 139 118
140 Will Middlebrooks BOS 3B 168 188 172 108 - 137 153 82 112 154
141 Angel Pagan SF OF 163 115 140 132 111 110 - - 167 145
142 Danny Espinosa WAS 2B/SS 171 135 122 110 - 148 89 - 148 160
143 Brett Anderson OAK SP 143 140 138 152 107 191 193 129 140 153
144 Carlos Gomez MIL OF 139 102 106 125 - 144 191 - 163 117
145 J.J. Putz ARI RP 155 106 117 171 110 193 - 100 - 137
146 Jim Johnson BAL RP 148 130 145 156 115 146 200 123 188 146
147 Erick Aybar LAA SS 178 122 166 143 153 119 155 148 137 176
148 Alcides Escobar KC SS 172 142 190 150 189 112 158 117 100 180
149 Chris Davis BAL 1B/OF 193 168 136 144 164 142 95 143 179 157
150 Huston Street SD RP 170 154 161 175 131 169 136 118 152 158
151 Alejandro de Aza CHW OF - 129 132 142 171 122 - 120 169 139
152 Carl Crawford LAD OF 156 141 116 113 - 155 146 - 183 115
153 Anibal Sanchez DET SP 144 120 151 184 - 138 164 156 157 144
154 Michael Morse SEA OF 118 160 149 135 172 - 149 - 113 170
155 Kyle Seager SEA 2B/3B 165 165 146 169 - 161 119 106 155 181
156 Pedro Alvarez PIT 3B 173 157 154 138 - 128 159 186 127 147
157 Nick Swisher CLE 1B/OF 138 195 135 174 - 127 185 160 117 149
158 Jonathan Lucroy MIL C 133 - 182 129 103 180 176 157 159 169
159 Greg Holland KC RP 179 146 147 194 101 177 135 147 - 164
160 Howie Kendrick LAA 2B - 133 158 149 158 136 157 - 134 178
161 Torii Hunter DET OF - 124 197 162 170 130 125 - 101 194
162 Ben Revere PHI OF 157 137 150 147 - 116 - 169 186 143
163 Josh Reddick OAK OF 174 181 157 179 - 189 128 76 136 186
164 Mike Minor ATL SP 123 179 179 158 157 123 142 - - 163
165 Jonathon Niese NYM SP 121 121 163 165 176 - 110 - - 167
166 Mike Moustakas KC 3B 177 148 160 146 - - 152 - 114 136
167 Lance Lynn STL SP/RP 130 134 156 131 - 163 171 197 - 156
168 Josh Rutledge COL 2B/SS 145 - 187 170 - 166 100 115 178 183
169 Dan Uggla ATL 2B 149 170 174 160 - - 121 - 156 125
170 Matt Harvey NYM SP 142 163 169 167 - - - 78 - 148
171 Brett Gardner NYY OF - 131 194 134 151 194 147 153 198 171
172 Michael Cuddyer COL 1B/OF - - - 168 - 114 150 124 164 162
173 John Axford MIL RP 198 125 128 190 165 172 175 162 182 190
174 Ichiro Suzuki NYY OF 176 193 189 161 139 171 123 179 195 165
175 Jarrod Parker OAK SP 150 159 152 154 - - 140 - 187 161
176 Tom Wilhelmsen SEA RP 154 - - - 136 167 134 139 - 175
177 Homer Bailey CIN SP 182 161 175 - 124 135 139 - - 192
178 Dexter Fowler COL OF 159 177 191 157 - - 130 - 111 184
179 Kendrys Morales SEA 1B - 190 153 198 149 - 105 - 149 173
180 Joel Hanrahan BOS RP 164 112 144 178 - 170 - 178 - 174
181 Todd Frazier CIN 1B/3B/OF 196 173 164 181 - 152 102 - 168 -
182 Grant Balfour OAK RP - 172 177 - 117 140 - 133 - 198
183 Jayson Werth WAS OF 175 - - 192 135 160 192 - 107 -
184 Matt Garza CHI SP 194 - 181 163 181 198 165 193 170 121
185 Adam Dunn CHW 1B 190 - - 172 - 145 184 174 145 155
186 A.J. Burnett PIT SP 141 200 - - - 150 143 - 160 185
187 Coco Crisp OAK OF - 180 - 164 - - - 122 154 159
188 Brian McCann ATL C 125 - 168 186 - - 180 - - 128
189 Alexi Ogando TEX SP - 194 - - 129 186 - 85 - -
190 Rafael Betancourt COL RP - 166 176 - 154 192 - 130 - 179
191 Manny Machado BAL 3B 197 178 171 183 - - 154 - 121 -
192 Wade Miley ARI SP 169 149 170 189 - 190 172 166 - -
193 Marco Estrada MIL SP/RP 161 - - 200 196 157 - 125 - 166
194 Justin Morneau MIN 1B 151 - - - 143 199 188 - 128 197
195 Corey Hart MIL 1B/OF 152 199 - 58 - - - - - -
196 Tim Hudson ATL SP 195 167 180 176 - 143 - 158 - 200
197 Jeremy Hellickson TB SP - 164 173 195 126 - - 177 184 -
198 Alexei Ramirez CHW SS - 191 162 185 197 - - 168 123 -
199 Chris Perez CLE RP - 192 183 173 148 173 - - 191 196
200 Ryan Doumit MIN C/OF 188 - - 177 137 158 - - - -

Note: Positional eligibility is accoring to Yahoo! leagues.

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Teaser:
<p> 2013 Fantasy Baseball Consensus Big Board</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/boise-state-broncos-2013-spring-football-preview
Body:

The 2012 season was the most nondescript and least heralded in some time at Boise State. And yet, Chris Petersen's bunch won at least 10 games for the seventh straight season and twelfth time in 15 campaigns. Despite losing seven All-Mountain West performers from the starting lineup, expectations will be higher in Boise, Idaho, in 2013 than they were a year ago. The quarterback is back, the defensive line will be incredible and the receiving corps is deep and talented. Petersen and the Broncos are poised for yet another stellar year on the blue turf.

Boise State Broncos 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 11-2 (7-1)

Spring practice dates: March 11-April 15

Returning Starters: Offense – 4, Defense – 5

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Joe Southwick, 248-of-371, 2,730 yards, 19 TDs, 7 INTs
Rushing: Jay Ajayi, 82 car., 548 yards, 4 TDs
Receiving: Matt Miller, 66 rec., 769 yards, 5 TDs
Tackles: Jeremy Ioane, 70
Sacks: Demarcus Lawrence, 9.5
Interceptions: Jeremy Ioane and Darian Thompson, 2

Redshirts to Watch: OL Mario Yakoo, OL Travis Averill, DB Chris Santini, QB Nick Patti, LB Ben Weaver, RB Devan Demas, DE Darien Barrett, CB Chaz Anderson

JUCO Transfers to Watch: RB Derrick Thomas, CB Cleshawn Page, K Tyler Rausa, DT Deuce Matale, DT Justin Taimatuia, CB Mercy Maston

2013 Schedule

Note: Only opponents have been set for the Mountain West. Times and dates are to be determined.

Aug. 31 at Washington
Sept. 7 Tennessee-Martin
Sept. 14 TBD
Sept. 21 TBD
Sept. 28 Southern Miss
Oct. 5 TBD
Oct. 10 TBD
Oct. 19 TBD
Oct. 26 at BYU
Nov. 1 TBD
Nov. 9 TBD
Nov. 16 TBD
Nov. 23 TBD
Nov. 30 TBD

Home dates, times to be determined: Air Force, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming
Road dates, times to be determined: Colorado State, Fresno State, San Diego State, Utah State

Offensive Strength: The passing game. Joe Southwick returns under center as do the six of the top seven receivers, including the top two pass-catchers in Matt Miller and Kirby Moore.

Offensive Weakness: The running game. Star running back D.J. Harper and three starting offensive linemen, including all-MWC blocker Brenel Myers, must be replaced up front. That said, there is no lack of talent at either running back or offensive line.

Defensive Strength: Defensive line. Mike Atkinson was an elite player who will be missed at nose tackle. However, the top four defensive ends return as do four of the top six defensive tackles.

Defensive Weakness: Cornerback and linebacker. Two All-MWC cornerbacks and two All-MWC linebackers are gone from the roster in '13. Finding replacements at these two positions is important this spring.

Spring Storylines Facing the Broncos:

1. Develop cover corners. There aren't too many question marks on this depth chart but Petersen will have to replace three cornerbacks, including two All-Mountain West performers in Jamar Taylor and Jerrell Gavins. Corey Bell and Donte Deayon have some experience and should get first crack at replacing the two stars, however, fans can look for Deon'tae Florence, Jonathan Brown and Bryan Douglas — who is still recovering from a torn ACL — to provide support. A host of newcomers — junior college recruits Cleshawn Page and Mercy Maston and redshirt freshman Chaz Anderson — will likely get plenty of looks as well. The Mountain West has some big-time offenses so finding covermen will be paramount this spring for Boise State.

2. Plug holes along the offensive line. Myers was a star at right tackler and will be missed as will both guards Joe Kellogg and Michael Ames. The good news is first-team All-MWC pivot Matt Paradis returns at center while second-team left tackle Charles Leno is back as well. These are two elite pieces to build around for Petersen. Names like Spencer Gerke and Jake Broyles, both guards, have some starting experience and will be the first names into the starting lineup. This group has to replace three starters but the two returning are excellent and should help lead the new faces up front on offense.

3. Find depth at linebacker. J.C. Percy led the team in tackles and was a first-team All-MWC linebacker. Tommy Smith received honorable mention honors from the conference as well. Both are gone and Petersen is left with little in the way of experience at the heart of his defense. Blake Renaud and Tyler Gray got plenty of playing time a season ago and will get the first crack at the starting jobs this spring. Dustin Kamper is a senior who will be asked to step up in spring camp. Travis Saxton, Ben Weaver, Andrew Pint and Christopher Santini will see time as well.

4. Is Jay Ajayi ready to carry the load? Harper wasn't a traditional workhorse back like his predecessor Doug Martin, but he was a veteran who made plays. His 15 rushing touchdowns and 1,137 yards will need to be replaced. Jay Ajayi is the top returning rusher and, at 222 pounds, plays much more like Martin than Harper. He can carry the load and could be the Broncos' next great star at tailback should he grasp the starting job this spring. Jack Fields will be his top competition but figures to be the backup. Depth could be an issue at this position so expect new faces like junior college transfer Derrick Thomas and redshirt freshman Devan Demas to get plenty of chances as well.

5. Pick a kicker. Fans in Boise don't want to hear about the field goal kicking game and how important it can be. It's a bit of a sore subject, understandably so. Michael Frisina is gone after making 15-of-20 kicks last year and Petersen is left with three options: junior Dan Goodale, junior college transfer Tyler Rausa and redshirt freshman Sean Wale. Choose carefully, Coach Pete.

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Teaser:
<p> Boise State Broncos 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 07:30
Path: /college-football/arkansas-razorbacks-2013-spring-football-preview
Body:

Fans in Fayetteville (and some uninformed SEC media members) had no idea how important Bobby Petrino was to the Arkansas program. After a heart-breaking offseason, the Razorbacks did little during the fall to prove they could survive without their fired head coach. The offense plummeted to 89th nationally in scoring and 49th in total yards following Petrino's ouster. The end result was the worst football season — eight losses — since entering the SEC in 1992. Needless to say, the one-year John L. Smith experiment didn't work so Arkansas turned to three-time Big Ten champion Bret Bielema to rebuild the program. In the SEC West, he has his work cut out for him.

Arkansas Razorbacks 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 4-8 (2-6)

Spring practice dates: March 10-April 20

Returning Starters: Offense – 3, Defense – 8

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Brandon Allen, 21 of 49, 186 yards, 1 TDs, 3 INTs
Rushing: Jonathan Williams, 45 car., 231 yards, 0 TDs
Receiving: Mekale McKay, 21 rec., 317 yards, 2 TDs
Tackles: Rohan Gaines, 75
Sacks: Chris Smith, 9.5
Interceptions: Three tied with 1

Redshirts to Watch: OL Jeremy Ward, DE Taiwan Johnson, DE Brandon Lewis, CB Jared Collins, RB Donovan Roberts, DT Darius Philon

JUCO Transfers to Watch: LB Martell Spaight, OL Jonathan McClure, CB Carroll Washington, S Tiquention Coleman

2013 Schedule

Aug. 31 Louisiana-Monroe
Sept. 7 Samford
Sept. 14 Southern Miss
Sept. 21 at Rutgers
Sept. 28 Texas A&M
Oct. 5 at Florida
Oct. 10 South Carolina
Oct. 19 at Alabama
Oct. 26 Bye Week
Nov. 1 Auburn
Nov. 9 at Ole Miss
Nov. 16 Bye Week
Nov. 23 Mississippi State
Nov. 30 at LSU

Offensive Strength: Pass catchers. Losing Cobi Hamilton will hurt, but five of the top seven receivers return this spring. Sophomore MeKale McCay and seniors Javontee Herndon and Julian Horton will be more than capable of filling the void left by Hamilton.

Offensive Weakness: Everyone else. Only three starters return to the offense and center (Travis Swanson) and tackle (David Hurt) are the only proven commodities. Quarterback, running backs, tight end and three-fifths of the line need replacing.

Defensive Strength: Defensive ends. Chris Smith and Trey Flowers are a solid duo coming off of the edge and will continue to get pressure on quarterbacks.

Defensive Weakness: Overall depth. Two solid ends return to the roster but the rest of the front seven needs replacing. Five of the top eight linemen are gone and four of the top six linebackers have departed. And the secondary underachieved last year.

Spring Storylines Facing the Hogs:

1. Be physical up front on offense. Bobby Petrino's system can be miscast as a high-flying spread offense. He always turned to the power running game to set up his quarterbacks, and the inability to run the ball was a huge factor in the Hogs' struggles a year ago. This team ranked last in the SEC in rushing and will face elite defenses in Alabama, Florida, LSU and South Carolina in 2013. Three starters are gone from the O-line as is the backfield tandem of Knile Davis and Dennis Johnson so there are big holes to fill. Bielema made his money in the Big Ten playing physical, power football and he has a star in center Travis Swanson to build around. Finding blockers and ball-carriers to support him will go a long way this spring to setting the tempo for the fall.

2. Find a workhorse tailback. To quote Steven Lassan from the SEC Spring Storylines to Watch: The Razorbacks were the SEC’s worst rushing attack last season, averaging just 118.7 yards per game. And the cupboard is looking a little bare for spring practice, as Knile Davis left for the NFL and Dennis Johnson finished his eligibility. Jonathan Williams is expected to work as the No. 1 back this spring and is still largely an unknown after recording just 45 carries last year. The sophomore did show promise in limited work but needs to have a strong showing this spring, especially with touted freshman Alex Collins arriving this summer. With a new quarterback taking over, along with Bret Bielema’s run-first mentality, the spotlight is on Williams to show he can be a No. 1 back. I couldn't have said it better myself.

3. Develop the talent in the secondary. A big chunk of those 409.9 yards allowed were passing yards. Most of the talent is back in the secondary minus hybrid safety Ross Rasner. The talent is there in the form of Tevin Mitchell, Rohan Gaines and Will Hines, but the production isn't yet. Developing this area of the defense through the coaching and practicing of sound fundamentals should improve what was the SEC's worst passing defense (285.8 ypg).

4. Rebuild depth in the front seven. The good news is the top two sack artists return to the roster in the form of Chris Smith (9.5 sacks) and Trey Flowers (6.0) while Otha Peters and A.J. Turner return at linebacker. That said, there is little depth behind them at end, tackle and linebacker. In a league predicated on being physical up front, particularly on defense, depth is imperative. Arkansas allowed over 400 yards of offense per game last year (409.9) and were gashed up front by powerful rushing attacks like Alabama, Texas A&M and Mississippi State. Finding a supporting cast for what could be a solid front seven will help keep Arkansas in games with a host of bigger, more powerful programs on the '13 slate.

5. Settle on a quarterback. Ryan Mallett and Tyler Wilson were two of the most productive quarterbacks in school history and Bielema's first big decision will come under center. Brandon Allen played five games a year ago with nondescript results as the backup to Wilson. Dual-threat athlete Brandon Mitchell got some garbage time as well. Knowing Bielema's run-heavy, pro-style attack, fans should expect Allen to earn the starting nod. The question then becomes is he ready to compete at an SEC level?

6. Get to know the new faces. The new coaching staff is just a part of the massive turnover taking place in Fayetteville. A host of new junior college transfers and redshirt freshmen will officially join the depth chart in an effort to ease Bielema into the SEC. Important voids at linebacker and offensive line could be filled by some of these new faces this spring.

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Teaser:
<p> Arkansas Razorbacks 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/wisconsin-badgers-2013-spring-football-preview
Body:

This offseason marked the first time since the 1980s that Wisconsin had to go through a true coaching search. Athletic Director Barry Alvarez took his time and settled on a respected football mind in Gary Andersen. The former Utah State coach has stated he won't change the schemes too much in Madison, but this spring will be important as he looks to put his stamp on the program. This is a team that has been to three straight Rose Bowls and has high expectations once again in 2013.

Wisconsin Badgers 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 8-6 (4-4)

Spring practice dates: March 9-April 20

Returning Starters: Offense – 6, Defense – 6

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Joel Stave, 70 of 119, 1,104 yards, 6 TDs, 3 INTs
Rushing: James White, 125 car., 806 yards, 12 TDs
Receiving: Jared Abbrederis, 49 rec., 837 yards, 5 TDs
Tackles: Chris Borland, 104
Sacks: Tyler Dippel and Brendan Kelly, 5.0
Interceptions: Three tied with 1

Redshirts to watch: OL Dan Voltz, QB Bart Houston, DB Hugs Etienne, LB Vince Biegel, OL Jake Meador, DT Arthur Goldberg, OL Walker Williams, RB Vonte Jackson

JUCO Transfers to Watch: QB Tanner McEvoy, DB Donnell Vercher

2013 Schedule

Aug. 31 UMass
Sept. 7 Tennessee Tech
Sept. 14 at Arizona State
Sept. 21 Purdue
Sept. 28 at Ohio State
Oct. 5 Bye Week
Oct. 10 Northwestern
Oct. 19 at Illinois
Oct. 26 Bye Week
Nov. 2 at Iowa 
Nov. 9 BYU
Nov. 16 Indiana
Nov. 23 at Minnesota
Nov. 30 Penn State

Offensive Strength: Offensive skill talent. Despite the loss of NCAA record-setting tailback Montee Ball, the Badgers aren't short on offensive talent. James White and Melvin Gordon will get the bulk of the carries while wideout Jared Abbrederis and tight end Jacob Pedersen provide two extremely dependable targets.

Offensive Weakness: Quarterback instability. There are a lot of bodies for Andersen to pick from but few proven commodities. Joel Stave is the best passer but is returning from injury. Curt Phillips is the best athlete but has never been healthy. Danny O'Brien is still around as well. Redshirt freshman Bart Houston might fit the scheme best of all.

Defensive Strength: Front seven depth. Only one member of 2012's starting front seven won't be back this fall. Mike Taylor was a great player but the top nine defensive linemen and six of the top seven linebackers return, including star tackler Chris Borland.

Defensive Weakness: The secondary. Three-fourths of the starting lineup is gone, including both starting cornerbacks. This team struggled to get turnovers and will need to develop pass defenders quickly this spring.

Spring Storylines Facing the Badgers

1. Stabilize the sideline. Bret Bielema had to deal with massive coaching defections prior to the 2012 season. And now, Madison welcomes just the third head coach to the sideline since 1990 when Alvarez was first hired. So for the second straight season, Wisconsin will have a totally new set of position coaches roaming the practice fields. Andersen needs to implement his process, establish his attitude for the program and bring stability to the sideline. This roster was young the last two seasons and growth can be stunted by constantly having to listen to new teaching voices. Andersen will set the entire tone for his tenure this spring.

2. Flesh out the quarterback situation. Stave was clearly the best passer on the roster a year ago until his broken clavicle caused him to miss the final quarter of the season. He is back healthy this spring but his pro-style, pocket-passing skills may not be exactly what Andersen wants under center. Phillips brings unique athletic ability and a knack for making big plays late in games, but he has dealt with multiple torn ACLs and is one hit from another injury. O'Brien was totally ineffective, both running and passing, and looked completely overmatched most of the time he was in the game. Houston could be the wildcard after redshirting last fall. The big passer ran the triple option at famed De La Salle High School and was one of the highest-rated QB recruits to ever sign at UW. Junior college recruit Tanner McEvoy will join the competition in the fall and is a good fit for coordinator Andy Ludwig's offense. The good news is Andersen has plenty of options. The bad news is none of them may be effective enough to win a fourth consecutive Big Ten title.

3. Fill the gaps left on the O-Line. There really isn't much talent departing this roster but two first-team All-Big Ten blockers have moved on to the NFL. Travis Frederick might be the best center in the draft and Ricky Wagner played the most important spot on the line. This position has been and will always be solid at Wisconsin, but filling two massive voids at left tackle and center will be key this spring. Ryan Groy, Kyle Costigan, Rob Havenstein and Zac Matthias will try to hold off a deep collection of young, highly touted players looking to earn a starting spot. Look for redshirts Dan Voltz, Jake Meador and Walker Williams to press for time.

4. Develop lockdown covermen. Both Marcus Cromartie and Devin Smith earned some sort of All-Big Ten honor last year and both are gone. As is safety Shelton Johnson. The trio was a solid group but didn't make big plays and wasn't overly talented. It feels like Bielema struggled to find lockdown covermen in his time at the helm (he was gifted Jack Ikegwuonu). So as the Big Ten begins to shift towards more spread passing attacks, including scheduled conference opponents Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State and Indiana, Andersen needs to rebuild and stabilize his secondary. An early trip to the desert to face Todd Graham, Taylor Kelly and Arizona State will provide a gaudy test for a new defensive backfield once the season starts.

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Teaser:
<p> Wisconsin Badgers 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Monday, March 11, 2013 - 13:30
Path: /college-football/tennessee-volunteers-2013-spring-football-preview
Body:

Tennessee enters spring practice with its fourth different head coach since the 2008 season. Needless to say, it's impossible to compete for championships in Conference USA without stability on the sidelines much less the SEC. Erasing the Derek Dooley era from Volunteers' fans memories is now the job tasked to Butch Jones. He has a better roster of talent than UT's 2-14 conference record the last two seasons seems to indicate. Obviously, however, Jones has his work cut out for him in Knoxville.

Tennessee Volunteers 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 5-7 (1-7)

Spring practice dates: March 9-April 20

Returning Starters: Offense – 5, Defense – 7

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Justin Worley, 15 of 23, 134 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs
Rushing: Rajion Neal, 156 car., 708 yards, 5 TDs
Receiving: Marlin Lane, 29 rec., 228 yards, 0 TDs
Tackles: A.J. Johnson, 138
Sacks: Three tied with 2.0
Interceptions: Byron Moore, 5

Redshirts to Watch: DE LaTroy Lewis, WR Jason Croom, WR Drae Bowles, TE Justin Meredith, QB Nathan Peterman, DL Danny O'Brien

JUCO Transfers to Watch: DB Riyahd Jones, TE Woody Quinn

2013 Schedule

Aug. 31 Austin Peay
Sept. 7 Western Kentucky
Sept. 14 at Oregon
Sept. 21 at Florida
Sept. 28 South Alabama
Oct. 5 Georgia
Oct. 10 Bye Week
Oct. 19 South Carolina
Oct. 26 at Alabama
Nov. 1 at Missouri
Nov. 9 Auburn
Nov. 16 Bye Week
Nov. 23 Vanderbilt
Nov. 30 at Kentucky

Offensive Strength: Offensive line. And more specifically, the running game. Four starters are back from one of the best O-lines in the SEC a year ago and both tailbacks — Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane — return as well.

Offensive Weakness: The passing game. Tyler Bray, Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson, Zach Rogers and Mychal Rivera are all gone. That's the starting quarterback and the Vols' top four pass catchers from last season if you're scoring at home.

Defensive Strength: Linebackers. When healthy, this is a talented collection of hard hitters. A.J. Johnson, Curt Maggitt, Channing Fugate and Jacques Smith have loads of experience.

Defensive Weakness: The secondary. This unit was thrashed a season ago by opposing quarterbacks. There are plenty of bodies and even some upside (LaDarrell McNeil, for example) but improving the 111th-rated pass defense in the nation won't be easy.

Spring Storylines Facing the Vols:

1. Establish the process. The sideline in Neyland Stadium will welcome its fourth different head coach since the 2008 season when Jones debuts on August 31 against Austin Peay. The previous regime must be given credit for rebuilding the roster after it had eroded under Phil Fulmer. However, Dooley's staff did little to develop talent and even less in the way of motivation. If Jones wants to get the Vols back to the postseason, he needs to set the tone in spring practice. He needs to install his "process" and instill an attitude that's been lacking in Big Orange nation for years.

2. Who will replace Tyler Bray? Bray drove Vols fans insane during his time in Knoxville. He had all the talent in the world to be an All-SEC passer but couldn't get out of his own way — both on and off the field. Jones undoubtedly will be looking for a leader who can command a huddle and inspire those around him to play hard. His system has been QB-friendly at both Central Michigan and Cincinnati but it remains to be seen if UT's personnel fits his principles. Justin Worley will get the first crack with Nathan Peterman, Joshua Dobbs and Riley Ferguson competing for reps as well. Worley has the experience and will likely start out of the gate but Dobbs will be the wildcard come summer as his combination of skills fits what Jones wants to do on offense. Obviously, he is the only signal caller on the roster that was recruited exclusively by the new coaching staff. 

3. Find some pass-catchers. No team in the nation lost more in its receiving corps than the Vols. Hunter and Patterson were special talents and Rogers overachieved regularly. Rivera was also an underrated player as well. No player returns to the roster with more than 13 receptions, but there is some intriguing talent to choose from. Alton Howard, Vincent Dallas and Jacob Carter will battle with two elite redshirt freshmen recruits in Drae Bowles and Jason Croom for starting spots this spring. Both Bowles and Croom were highly rated prospects and both should press for reps with the starters. Tight ends Brandan Downs and Justin Meredith will compete to replace Rivera, as will JUCO transfer Woody Quinn. Look for a lot of bodies to get into the rotation as Jones looks for ways to replace a star-studded receiving class.

4. Work on fundamentals on defense. Most spring practices across the nation are intended to help develop young players by teaching fundamentals and technique. Schemes and formations are usually saved for the summer months. This couldn't be more true than in Knoxville. There are a lot of talented pieces but this defense was so horrendous a year ago that simplifying the approach this spring would be intelligent. Form tackling, coverage drops, hand placement and recognition skills should be the focus for a team that allowed at least 37 points in all but one SEC game. This team was dead last in the SEC in total and scoring defense so there is only way way to go — up.

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Teaser:
<p> Tennessee Volunteers 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Monday, March 11, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /nfl/nfl-draft-rankings-2013-outside-linebackers
Body:

Each year a unique set of prospects enters the professional ranks with a chance to make an immediate impact on the country's most powerful sport. The 2013 NFL Draft, held April 25-27, won’t be any different. Georgia's Jarvis Jones leads a fairly deep class of athletic defenders who should be capable of contributing on the next level.

1. Jarvis Jones, Georgia (6-2, 245)
Final Stats: 155 tackles, 44.0 TFL, 28.0 sacks, 9 FF, 1 INT
The star Bulldog defender isn't a true outside linebacker in the 4-3 sense, but he is undoubtedly one of the most talented pass-rushers in the nation. He is a perfect fit in the 3-4 as a hybrid James Harrison-type of player. He is a tenacious (just pop in the tape of the Missouri or Florida games from 2012) blitz backer who can play in space if need be. He isn't as big as some other hybrids of recent memory, but he makes up for it with elite-level quickness and explosion. He can't really "grow" into a 4-3 defensive end and his strengths aren't suited for the traditional 4-3 OLB either, but his skill set is perfect for the outside 3-4 backer that is used off of the edge to make plays. If he can prove the health issues aren't reoccurring, he is a surefire starter in year one at the professional level. He posted back-to-back double-digit sack totals and led the nation in QB takedowns as a sophomore.

2. Chase Thomas, Stanford (6-3, 244)
Final Stats: 229 tackles, 50.5 TFL, 27.5 sacks, 9 FF, 2 INT
When star middle linebacker Shayne Skov was lost for the season in 2011, it was Thomas who stepped in and became the centerpiece of the Cardinal defense. He constantly plays behind the line of scrimmage and has a huge, powerful frame. He has excelled in the traditional 4-3 outside position in college, but his size and instincts give him Clay Matthews-type of skills. He is a fundamentally sound athlete who rarely is out of position and has little downside after an extremely productive college career. All of that on the most physical, stingiest defensive front West of the Mississippi — one that has won a ton of games.

3. Khaseem Greene, Rutgers (6-1, 241)
Final Stats: 387 tackles, 31.0 TFL, 11.5 sacks, 2 INT, 12 FF
Stable. Athletic. Fast. Dependable. And in the modern NFL world of speed and passing attacks, Greene's overall athleticism makes him an intriguing upside prospect. He played safety in his first two seasons and, after some adding some bulk, he shifted closer to the line of scrimmage to get his playmaking talents around the football. He played on the league's top defense and if Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano wasn't already loaded with young linebackers, he wouldn't pass on the tackler he recruited and coached at Rutgers.

4. Sean Porter, Texas A&M (6-1, 229)
Final Stats: 261 tackles, 34.5 TFL, 14.5 sacks, 1 INT
Von Miller Porter is not. But he did have an excellent junior season filling the pass-rushing void left by Miller's departure. However, the Aggies shifted to a 4-3 under a new coaching staff and Porter was shifted into a more traditional 4-3 outside role. He simply wasn't asked to rush the passer at all his last season in College Station. Scouts will have to decide if his position experience is a good thing (meaning versatility) or a bad thing (limited to one thing). He has plenty of talent, but only time will tell where he should be playing on the next level.

5. Zavier Gooden, Missouri (6-1, 234)
Final Stats: 256 tackles, 20.5 TFL, 5 INT
This prospect is a freaky athlete with an NFL-ready body. He was a converted safety and has the speed, quickness, burst and range to match. His rare physical talents have allowed him to grow into an elite outside linebacker prospect. With good coaching, Gooden is all but assured a starting role on the next level.

Related: Athlon Sports 2013 NFL Mock Draft 2.0

6. Gerald Hodges, Penn State (6-1, 243)
Final Stats: 249 tackles, 21.0 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 3 INT
Hodges is the definition of a traditional outside linebacker position in a traditional 4-3 defense. He has excellent athletic ability and was successful in all phases of the game in college — blitzing the passer, playing physical and displaying discipline against the run, and he also is fluid and quick in space against the pass. Some added bulk and strength would only help improve his stock and professional outlook.

7. Jamie Collins, Southern Miss (6-3, 250)
Final Stats: 314 sacks, 45.0 TFL, 21.0 sacks, 7 FF, 3 INT
The undersized defensive end was stellar in his time at Southern Miss to the point of being unblockable as a senior. He was incredibly disruptive and constantly is playing behind enemy lines in the backfield, including on special teams. He appears destined for the hybrid role on the outside of a 3-4 scheme as he will be learning to play standing up in the NFL all over again. He will have to overcome the level of competition criticism as Conference USA offensive tackles aren't exactly a proving ground of NFL talent. Does he have the athleticism to make the speed and position transition at the next level?

8. Sio Moore, UConn (6-1, 245)
Final Stats: 274 tackles, 44.0 TFL, 16.0 sacks, 4 FF, 3 INT
Moore is a well-coached, dedicated prospect who takes his work seriously. He is disciplined and rarely out of position, giving him the chance to make plays on a regular basis. He is a fundamentally sound tackler who is almost certain to out-perform his draft stock. He showed much better than expected at the Combine.

9. Jelani Jenkins, Florida (6-0, 243)
Final Stats: 182 tackles, 16.5 TFL, 6.0 sacks, 3 INT
The Gators tackler is a superb athlete. He can run and cover from sideline-to-sideline and moves well in open space. He needs to learn to get tougher at the point of attack and is limited in his position versatility. If he can learn better technique and develop a nasty streak, he could be a steal come draft weekend.

10. Etienne Sabino, Ohio State (6-2, 247)
Final Stats: 120 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 1 INT
Sabino was a big-time recruit coming out of high school and his overall athletic ability and strength proved the scouts were right. He can play inside as well and likely lands on the strongside. He doesn't possess elite quickness or agility but he was rarely out of position during his Buckeyes career.

11. Keith Pough, Howard (6-2, 239)
12. Brandon McGee, Arizona State (5-11, 223)
13. Jake Knott, Iowa State (6-2, 243)
14. DeVonte Holloman, South Carolina (6-1, 243)
15. Cornelius Washington, Georgia (6-4, 265)
16. Mike Taylor, Wisconsin (6-1, 234)
17. Lerentee McCray, Florida (6-2, 25)
18. Sam Barrington, South Florida (6-1, 246)
19. Nick Moody, Florida State (6-1, 236)


2013 NFL Draft Positional Rankings:

NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Quarterbacks
NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Running Backs

NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Wide Receivers

NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Tight Ends

NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Offensive Tackles

NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Guards and Centers

NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Defensive Tackles

NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Middle Linebackers
NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Outside Linebackers

Teaser:
<p> NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Outside Linebackers</p>
Post date: Friday, March 8, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /nfl/nfl-draft-rankings-2013-middle-linebackers
Body:

Each year a unique set of prospects enters the professional ranks with a chance to make an immediate impact on the country's most powerful sport. The 2013 NFL Draft, held April 25-27, won’t be any different. The best inside linebacker prospect might be the most covered, most scrutinized prospect in the entire draft. Manti Te'o heads a class that isn't all that deep but has some elite playmakers at the top of the board.

1. Manti Te’o, Notre Dame (6-1, 241)
Final Stats: 437 tackles, 34.0 TFL, 9.5 sacks, 7 INT
Where to begin? Te'o was the sure-fire No. 1-best player at his position before the bizarre fake girlfriend scandal broke. There is no doubt it affected his play in the title game and it is that performance against Alabama that might have hurt his stock the most. He dropped a few pounds for 2012, which has given him excellent quickness and burst to go with tremendous strength, tackling skill, physicality, intangibles, leadership and size. His 40-time was underwhelming at the combine, but Brandon Spikes ran a 5.0. Playing middle linebacker is much more about recognition, quickness and football IQ than sprinter speed.

2. Arthur Brown, Kansas State (6-1, 241)
Final Stats (KSU): 201 tackles, 16.5 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 3 INT
Brown could play both inside and out but he checked in bigger than anticipated and could easily stick inside at 240+ pounds. He has the instincts and pedigree to be successful at the next level. It took him a while to get started after transferring from Miami (Fla.) back home to Kansas State, where he eventually developed into a star on a team that competed for league championships the two seasons Brown he started. He is a tremendous all-around athlete and competitor who could be a lights-out defender on the next level. He could have entered the draft last year, but returned to help the Wildcats win a Big 12 championship.

3. Alec Ogletree, Georgia (6-2, 242)
Final Stats: 197 tackles, 20.0 TFL, 1 INT, 3 FF
Physical. Explosive. Can play in any system. He faced the nation’s top programs as a Bulldog. Ogletree has had some issues off of the field but they have been relatively minor and shouldn’t keep him out of the first round. The raw upside on Ogletree makes him one of the most intriguing players in the upcoming draft at any position. If he stays clean off of the field, his speed, explosiveness and physicality will be too much to pass up early on draft day.

4. Kevin Minter, LSU (6-0, 246)
Final Stats: 206 tackles, 18.5 TFL, 1 INT
On a team with little depth and talent around him at linebacker, Minter played excellent football in 2012. He has good size, was the leader of the LSU defense, made plays all over the field and has elite-level toughness. He played behind an NFL defensive line, so scouts will want to see him in traffic more often. The good news for Minter is he has saved his best season for his last and it will help him come daft day.

5. Kevin Reddick, North Carolina (6-1, 243)
Final Stats: 275 tackles, 36.0 TFL, 8.5 sacks, 2 INT
A slow senior season likely cost Reddick some money this fall. He still has excellent size, speed and strength for the interior of any defense. He possesses NFL skills, but didn't make enough big plays to be considered an elite prospect. However, he has the talent needed to be a productive player at the next level.

Related: Athlon Sports 2013 NFL Mock Draft 2.0

6. Michael Mauti, Penn State (6-2, 243)
Final Stats: 183 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 3 INT
The steady veteran displayed elite levels of character, leadership and mental toughness throughout the horrific scandal in Happy Valley. He isn’t overly talented at any one thing but is extremely consistent and physical. Think Sean Lee, Dan Connor or a slightly less talented version of Paul Posluszny. His two ACL surgeries likely raise a glaring red flag with NFL personnel, which could result in him dropping lower on team's boards.

7. Kiko Alonso, Oregon (6-3, 238)
Final Stats: 144 tackles, 21.0 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 6 INT
It remains to be seen if Alonso has the dedication and leadership skills to lock down a huddle at middle linebacker. But when it comes to versatility and athletic upside, few can match the former Oregon Duck. He has missed time due to injuries and off the field issues, but is big, fast, powerful and dynamic. Just pop in a tape of the Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin to see his potential shine.

8. Jon Bostic, Florida (6-1, 245)
Final Stats: 237 tackles, 19.0 TFL, 7.5 sacks, 5 INT
In the midst of a semi-disappointing senior year (from an NFL scouting standpoint), Bostic became a focal point and leader for one of the nation’s elite defenses. He is a tough hitter and can make big plays from all over the field. He has the size and toughness to start inside on the NFL level, but will need to prove his overall talent can handle the prestigious NFL air. He is at his best when playing downhill and attacking.

9. Nico Johnson, Alabama (6-2, 248)
Final Stats: 163 tackles, 16.5 TFL, 2 INT
There is a lot to like about this senior’s resume. He won three national championships with the Crimson Tide and was a big part of one of the nation’s top defenses every year. He was excellent against the run and can play inside or out. Yet, he also displayed long stretches of relatively quiet play. Is that a sign of steady production no matter the situation or a sign of less than elite consistency?

10. Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech (6-1, 237)
Final Stats: 226 tackles, 33.5 TFL, 16.5 sacks
The Hokies defender makes up for a lack of speed and size with excellent overall strength and power. He was extremely well-coached and used his frame to the best of its abilities. He played a lot of productive football for Virginia Tech but also dealt with injuries — which raises questions about his long-term upside.

11. Steve Beauharnais, Rutgers (6-1, 240)
12. Tom Wort, Oklahoma (6-0, 235)
13. A.J. Klein, Iowa State (6-1, 250)
14. Jonathan Stewart, Texas A&M (6-4, 242)
15. John Lotulelei, UNLV (5-11, 233)

2013 NFL Draft Positional Rankings:

NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Quarterbacks
NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Running Backs
NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Wide Receivers
NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Tight Ends
NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Offensive Tackles
NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Offensive Guards and Centers
NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Defensive Tackles
NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Middle Linebackers
NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Outside Linebackers

Teaser:
<p> 2013 NFL Draft Rankings: Middle Linebackers</p>
Post date: Friday, March 8, 2013 - 10:00

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