Articles By Braden Gall

Path: /nascar/10-races-every-motorsports-fan-must-attend-2013
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Athlon Sports has dissected the 2013 racing calendar and picked the top 10 must-see events of the year. Races from the Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series, Truck Series, IndyCar Series and Formula-1 were considered and events must take place within the lower 48 states. So gas up the RV and stock the coolers, because Athlon’s motorsports road trip is getting started this weekend:

1. Indianapolis 500 (97th)
Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Where: Indianapolis, Ind.
When: May 26
Defending Champ: Dario Franchitti

Beginning in 1911, the Indy 500 is called the Greatest Spectacle in Racing for a reason. The releasing of the balloons, the singing of "Back Home Again In Indiana" by Jim Nabors, the drinking of the championship milk and the most famous words in motor sports will send chills down the spine of any racing fan. Drivers, crew chiefs and owners come from all over the world to compete at the world’s greatest track — a 2.5-mile oval complete with its own gold course — many of which will only compete in one race all season long. When an open-wheel rocket ship flies past Gasoline Alley or Tower Terrace down the front stretch and into the nastiest turn in racing at 230 miles per hour, the 300,000 spectators can’t help but smile. Many racing purists believe that the turns at IMS are the ultimate test for a driver. For many drivers, nothing in life will equal the Borg-Warner Trophy. And the Mardi Gras-esque party the night before is worth checking out (at your own risk, of course) too.

2. Daytona 500 (55th)
Track: Daytona International Speedway
Where: Daytona Beach, Fla.
When: Feb. 24
Defending Champ: Matt Kenseth

The Daytona 500 is to stock car racing as the Indy 500 is to open-wheel competition. The 500-mile Sprint Cup race stands alone as NASCAR’s most prestigious and most important race of the season each year. And as the sport’s “kickoff classic,” the build-up is nearly as entertaining as the event itself. Speedweek provides fans with ample opportunity to enjoy the Rolex 24, ARCA Series, Nationwide Series, Bud Shootout and qualifying throughout the weeklong festivities. The Great American Race, due in large part to restrictor plates, puts roughly 40 cars at full throttle inches from each other at over 200 miles per hour. It is the ultimate test of wills with the payoff being as high as there is in any sport.

Get Athlon Sports' complete Daytona 500 coverage

Mudsummer Classic3. Mudsummer Classic (1st)
Track: Eldora Speedway
Where: Rossburg, Ohio
When: July 24
Defending Champ: N/A

While the Indy and Daytona 500s are steeped in unmatchable history, tradition and lore, the inaugural Mudsummer Classic offers something totally different to fans this year. For the first time, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will race on dirt at famed Eldora Speedway in Ohio. The legendary half-mile oval track was built in 1954 and has been owned by Tony Stewart since 2004. The prospects of running a major series truck race on dirt smack-dab in the middle of the season has everyone excited about the late July trip to Rossburg. It will be the first NASCAR-sanctioned National Tour event held on dirt since September 1970. You don’t want to miss this one.

4. Irwin Tools Night Race (52nd)
Track: Bristol Motor Speedway
Where: Bristol, Tenn.
When: Aug. 24
Defending Champ: Denny Hamlin

The first time Bristol Motor Speedway hosted a night race under the lights was the Volunteer 500 in 1978. It has been one of the hottest and most entertaining NASCAR tickets ever since. The half-mile track is the fourth largest sports venue in America (165,000) and is nestled in “Thunder Valley” deep in the hills of East Tennessee. The track has long hosted two weekends, and both are excellent experiences, but the August race is clearly the one to go to if you can only pick one. Not only is racing under the lights more entertaining (and more comfortable for fans) but the late August date has become a key cog in NASCAR’s playoff structure. The driving is intense and physical and every seat in the house is perfect. There is a reason the Bristol night race is one of the hottest tickets in sports every year.

5. Formula-1 United States Grand Prix (2nd)
Track: Circuit of the Americas
Where: Austin, Texas
When: Nov. 17
Defending Champ: Lewis Hamilton

Technically, the F-1’s U.S. Grand Prix has been running on and off since 1908. Watkins Glen, Indianapolis and Phoenix have all hosted the event, but Austin’s brand new Circuit of the Americas appears to be its new home. The late November trip to Texas will be the series’ only visit to the United States in 2013, and for F-1 fans, will be a circled date on the calendar. The 3.4-mile track features 20 turns and will once again be the penultimate race of the F-1 season. Lewis Hamilton won the inaugural event a year ago over eventual points champion Sebastian Vettell by a mere six tenths of a second.

6. Camping World RV Sales 500 (45th)
Track: Talladega Superspeedway
Where: Talladega, Ala.
When: Oct. 20
Defending Champ: Matt Kenseth

Since its inception in 1969, the race has been held in either September, August or July, and now resides in October, where it has been following a schedule change in 1997. It has become the wild-card event in the NASCAR Chase for the Championship with massive wrecks, bizarre racing strategies and unpredictable finishes. Many fans believe that restrictor-plate racing is the most entertaining in the sport and, much like the Daytona 500, wide-open engines inches from each other for 188 laps around the 2.66-mile tri-oval is one of the marquee dates on the racing calendar each season.

7. Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200
Track: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
Where: Lexington, Ohio
When: Aug. 17
Defending Champ: N/A

While the truck series debuts on dirt in The Buckeye State, the Nationwide series will make its debut at a new track in Ohio as well. The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was opened in 1962 and has hosted GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series, IndyCar, AMA Pro Racing, Le Mans and motorcycle events throughout the years. However, the Nationwide Series will bring a new audience to the 15-turn, 2.4-mile road course. And with the recent success and entertainment value of road races in all NASCAR circuits, this one should be filled with fireworks.

8. NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race (29th)
Track: Charlotte Motor Speedway
Where: Concord, N.C.
When: May 18
Defending Champ: Jimmie Johnson

Four 20-lap segments followed by a no-holds barred, every-man-for-themselves, rubbing is racing, 10-lap showdown for $1 million makes the NASCAR All-Star event one of the most intriguing and entertaining all-star events in all of American professional sports. Team orders and points championships mean nothing when roughly 20 drivers are thrown into a blender in NASCAR’s home town of Charlotte. The only drivers allowed to compete are winners from the previous and current seasons, the last ten All-Star winners and former points champions. It is a straight cash grab — except it’s done by the world’s best drivers using 900-horsepower performance machines.

Related: Ranking Pro Sports' Most Popular All-Star Events

9. Federated Auto Parts 400 (55th)
Track: Richmond International Raceway
Where: Richmond, Va.
When: Sept. 7
Defending Champ: Clint Bowyer

Famed Richmond International has hosted a late-season NASCAR event since 1958 when Speedy Thompson won the 100-mile event. It has gone by dozens of names over the years, but in 2004 the race at the asphalt 0.75-mile oval took on new meaning. It is the final race of NASCAR’s regular season and, with the newly implemented wild card points system, every lap at Richmond provides edge-of-your-seat action. Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch battled feverishly on every lap at RIR last season in an attempt to secure a spot in the Chase for the Championship.

10. Goody’s Fast Relief 500 (64th)
Track: Martinsville Speedway
Where: Ridgeway, Va.
When: Oct. 27
Defending Champ: Jimmie Johnson

Few races combine the importance of the moment, the tradition of the location and the excitement of elite racing like Martinsville. Additionally, positioned with just four races to go in the NASCAR season, few races will play as big a role in the Sprint Cup Championship like The Paperclip as well. Martinsville Speedway also is the longest active location in the series as at least one race has been run here every year since 1949 and the fall race has been running every year since 1950. Its unique slender shape and sharp turns help the 0.526-mile half-asphalt, half-concrete course produce some of the best on-track action of any venue on the circuit.

Best of the Rest:

“The Brickyard” (Sprint Cup)
July 28, Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Southern 500 (Sprint Cup)
May 11, Darlington Raceway

DuPont Pioneer 250, U.S. Cellular 250 (Nationwide)
June 8 and Aug. 3, Iowa Speedway

Coke Zero 400 (Sprint Cup)
July 6, Daytona International Speedway

Aaron’s 499 (Sprint Cup)
May 5, Talladega Superspeedway

Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 (IndyCar)
May 5, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Road America 200 (Nationwide)
June 22, Road America

Food City 500 (Sprint Cup)
Mar 17, Bristol Motor Speedway

Cheez-It 355 at The Glen (Sprint Cup)
Aug. 11, Watkins Glen International

Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (IndyCar)
Mar. 24, St. Petersburg, Fla. 

Teaser:
<p> The 10 Races Every Motorsports Fan Must Attend in 2013</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/2013-college-football-recruiting-rankings-no-10-auburn-tigers
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College football's 2013 National Signing Day is in the books and Athlon Sports kicks off its 2013 team recruiting rankings countdown with an in-depth look at the best classes in the nation. Gus Malzahn took over for Gene Chizik on The Plains and instantly brought a renewed energy to the Auburn program. His Tigers were one of the big winners on National Signing Day and it resulted in a top 10 class that should build the foundation for a return to success on the field.

No. 10: Auburn Tigers 

SEC: Sixth
Athlon Consensus 100
Signees:
 3
National Signees: 7
Total Signees: 23

Where They Got 'Em:

Malzahn has the unenviable task of recruiting at an elite level in the same state as Nick Saban. And while Alabama landed the top five players in the state, Auburn did an excellent job inside the Yellowhammer State. Six new faces that hail from Alabama signed with Auburn, including two nationally rated quarterbacks who will vie for playing time in the new offense.

Florida (4), Georgia (3) and Mississippi (1) will always be a focus for the Auburn coaching staff and this season was no exception. Oklahoma, Indiana and Colorado are non-traditional recruiting territories for Auburn, but Malzahn went into each state and landed one player, while community colleges in Kansas (5) and California (1) also added to the Tigers' haul.

Related: Athlon Sports Top 25 Recruiting Classes for 2013

Areas of Focus:

Auburn had many issues a year ago, and not all of them will be addressed in one recruiting class, but Malzahn is looking to check the quarterback position off his "to do" list. Jeremy Johnson is the highest-rated prospect at the position and has elite upside. He is generously listed at 6-5 and 215 pounds and earned Mr. Football honors in Alabama after throwing for 3,193 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2012. He will battle with another nationally rated signal caller in Jason Smith. The 6-1, 180-pounder is a dual-threat talent who will bring a different dimension than Johnson to the new Auburn offense. Should either freshman not prove to be ready, Malzahn has another option in junior college transfer Nick Marshall. The dynamic athlete threw for 3,142 yards and rushed for 1,095 a year ago at Garden City (Kan.) Community College.

Joining the talented trio of quarterbacks in the backfield are three new running backs. Under previous regimes the power rushing attack was a signature of Auburn football, however, under Chizik this offense lacked the physical presence many fans were accustomed to (minus Cam Newton, of course). While none of the three are nationally ranked by Athlon, speedster Johnathan Ford, early enrollee junior college prospect Cameron Artis-Payne and Peach State workhorse Peyton Barber should more than take care of the backfield woes on The Plains.

On the outside of the offense, four wide receivers provide new playmaking ability. Tony Stevens (6-3, 175) and Earnest Robinson (6-2, 200) bring big frames and plenty of vertical talent to an offense that needs some big-play talent. Marcus Davis (5-10, 165) will play in the slot and two-way star Dominic Walker (6-2, 195) can play all over the offense.

Malzahn signed only two offensive linemen in this class and neither were nationally rated.

After struggling so mightily to control the line of scrimmage against elite SEC offensive lines, Auburn had to address the defensive line. And it did so in a big way as all three AC100 signings will play along the D-line. The best three players in this class — Montravius Adams, Carl Lawson and Elijah Daniel — make this one of the more intriguing defensive line groups in the nation. Adams, who is one of the top tackle prospects in the nation if not the top player at his position, will run with JUCO Ben Bradley on the interior while Daniel and Lawson provide serious talent on the edge. Replacing Corey Lemonier won't be easy but this class has the talent to come close.

A fairly non-descript four-man secondary class and two-man linebacking class provide some interesting depth to the back end of the defense. While none of the defensive backs are nationally ranked, the group has some excellent upside. Khari Harding and Brandon King bring elite size to the safety spot while Mackenro Alexander and Kamryn Melton will man the cornerback position.

It's a long and uphill battle to catch up with Alabama within the state lines, but Auburn's new coaching staff took a big first step with a top ten class in 2013.

Related: National Signing Day 2013 Winners and Losers

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 3, RB: 3, WR: 4, TE: 0, OL: 2
Defense: DL: 4, LB: 2, DB: 4, ATH: 0, K: 1

AC100/National Recruits:

AC100 Name Pos. Pos. Rk Hometown Ht Wt
10. Montravius Adams DT No. 4 (DL) Vienna, Ga. 6-3 310
21. Carl Lawson DE No. 6 (DL)  Alpharetta, Ga. 6-2 250
50. Elijah Daniel DE No. 12 (DL) Avon, Ind. 6-4 250
155. Jeremy Johnson QB No. 14 Montgomery, Ala. 6-5 215
167. Tony Stevens WR No. 17 Orlando, Fla. 6-3 175
180. Jason Smith QB No. 19 Mobile, Ala. 6-1 180
190. Earnest Robinson WR No. 23 Pinson, Ala. 6-2 205

Early Enrollees:

Name Pos. Hometown Ht Wt AC100
Cameron Artis-Payne RB Harrisburg, Pa. 5-11 210 --
Ben Bradley DT Hutchinson, Kan. 6-1 305 JUCO
Devonte Danzey OL Hutchinson, Kan. 6-4 295 JUCO

Athlon Sports 2013 Recruiting Classes:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
4. Florida Gators
5. Michigan Wolverines
6. Ole Miss Rebels
7. LSU Tigers
8. Texas A&M Aggies
9. UCLA Bruins
10. Auburn Tigers

Teaser:
<p> 2013 College Football Recruiting Rankings No. 10: Auburn Tigers</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - 06:30
Path: /college-football/2013-college-football-recruiting-rankings-no-9-ucla-bruins
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College football's 2013 National Signing Day is in the books and Athlon Sports kicks off its 2013 team recruiting rankings countdown with an in-depth look at the best classes in the nation. Jim Mora got his tenure at UCLA kick-started with a great season on the field, nearly winning a conference championship. He parlayed it into the Pac-12's No. 1-rated recruiting class, dethroning the USC Trojans from their typical perch.

No. 9: UCLA Bruins

Pac-12: First
Athlon Consensus 100
Signees:
3
National Signees: 10
Total Signees: 24

Where They Got 'Em:

Jim Mora didn't over-think his first full recruiting class at UCLA. He targeted the best states for talent in the nation, by landing 13 players from California, three from Texas and two from Florida. Otherwise, he picked and chose his way through a handful of other states for elite players. He landed a nationally rated player from Arizona, Washington, Hawaii and Tennessee as well. In all, the Bruins used seven states to sign 24 new players.

Related: Athlon Sports Top 25 Recruiting Classes for 2013

Areas of Focus:

The back seven of the defense got the most attention in the Bruins' 2013 haul. Nine new faces will play defensive back or linebacker for Mora and seven of them are nationally rated in the AC100 rankings. Star top 100 safeties Priest Willis and Tahaan Goodman, as well as Tyler Foreman, form one of the most impressive safety classes anywhere in the nation. Johnny Johnson is the lone cornerback of the group as all four defensive backs are four-star recruits.

Three of the five linebackers are highly touted as well with Isaac Savaiinaea, Myles Jack and Deon Hollins Jr. the highest-rated of the bunch. All three bring great height (6-3, 6-3, 6-2) and excellent size (230, 230, 222) to campus with them. Interestingly enough, all three hail from outside of California. Jayon Brown and Cameron Judge are smaller, quicker players who likely fit perfectly on the outside. This is a balanced and talented linebacking class.

A pair of defensive lineman, including top-rated Kylie Fitts, gives Mora a couple more bodies to help the deep group that is already returning to Westwood.

On offense, the line of scrimmage was clearly the area of focus. UCLA didn't sign a running back, picked up just one tight end and only one quarterback signed with the Bruins. Yet, seven offensive lineman inked scholarships with UCLA. Only Christian Morris is rated nationally and he comes to the West Coast all the way from Memphis, Tenn., but overall this group is extremely deep and helps rebuild an area of the team that has been a major concern under previous regimes. Morris will battle with Poasi Moala and Kenny Lacy at the tackle position. Caleb Benenoch, John Lopez and Alex Redmond will compete at guard while Scott Quessenberry appears to be the next starting center. This is an excellent group that has tremendous balance.

Quarterback Asiantii Woulard could be the star of this class, however, once this group begins to contribute on the field. Coming to UCLA all the way from Florida, the talented dual-threat player wanted to play in the UCLA scheme Brett Hundley made successful last fall. He can do everything this offense asks of its quarterbacks and he could be the heir apparent to Mr. Hundley.

A trio of unranked wide receivers signed in this class as well. Early enrollee Eldridge Massington (6-3, 205) brings a big frame and outside, vertical ability while the smaller Darren Andrews and Jalen Ortiz will fill the slot roles in the near future.

Related: National Signing Day 2013 Winners and Losers

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 1, RB: 0, WR: 3, TE: 1, OL: 7
Defense: DL: 2, LB: 5, DB: 4, P: 1

AC100/National Recruits:

AC100 Name Pos. Pos. Rk Hometown Ht Wt
39. Priest Willis DB No. Tempe, Ariz. 6-2 200
65. Tahaan Goodman DB No. Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. 6-2 190
93. Isaac Savaiinaea LB No. Honolulu, Hawaii 6-3 230
103. Kylie Fitts DL No. Redlands, Calif. 5-11 180
137. Myles Jack LB No. Bellevue, Wash. 6-3 230
147. Johnny Johnson DB No. Fresno, Calif. 5-10 180
152. Asiantii Woulard QB No. Winter Park, Fla. 6-3 205
169. Tyler Foreman DB No. Encino, Calif. 6-2 190
178. Deon Hollins Jr LB No. Missouri City, Texas 6-2 222
207. Christian Morris OL No. Memphis, Tenn. 6-6 285

Early Enrollees:

Name Pos. Hometown Ht Wt AC100
Eldridge Massington WR Mesquite, Texas 6-3 205 --

Athlon Sports 2013 Recruiting Classes:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
4. Florida Gators
5. Michigan Wolverines
6. Ole Miss Rebels
7. LSU Tigers
8. Texas A&M Aggies

Teaser:
<p> 2013 College Football Recruiting Rankings No. 9: UCLA Bruins</p>
Post date: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 10:40
All taxonomy terms: NFL, NBA, MLB, NASCAR
Path: /nfl/ranking-pro-sports-most-popular-all-star-games
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Another lackluster NBA All-Star weekend wrapped up in Houston Sunday night. The dunk contest isn't what it used to be and the game features superstars playing some sport vaguely akin to professional basketball. But on the surface, the NBA All-Star game gets rave reviews from die-hard fans and celebrity hoopsters alike. The pomp and circumstance of the NBA — and its overall culture — lends itself perfectly to a glamorous, exclusive weekend where only the elite get an invite.

However, the numbers say something different about its popularity. Fewer people tune in to the NBA All-Star game than both the Pro Bowl or MLB's midsummer classic. Yet, for some reason, people love to publicly, and rather loudly, hate the Pro Bowl.

Well, they are all just liars.

Because the Pro Bowl — a game the players don't want to play in and one this particular football fan hasn’t watched in nearly a decade — is still the most popular all-star event in professional sports. And there is a reason the Pro Bowl is the most popular All-Star event in all of the major American sports.

1. NFL Pro Bowl (Jan.)
Despite more public grumbling and finger-wagging than any other sport, the NFL’s Pro Bowl is still the most popular all-star game in American professional sports. The game pulled a 7.1 U.S. rating last month, down slightly from the previous year’s rating of 7.3. The game itself is actually the farthest from its regular-season form than any other sport, as the NFL implements rule changes for safety concerns. It's also the only all-star game in which the athletes have no real interest in actually competing at a high level. How could it possibly be in the best interest of Haloti Ngata to give it his all in the Pro Bowl? There is no incentive to play a "real" game, and better yet, is it even reasonable to expect that from these gladiators who destroy their bodies for the fans every Sunday? The high-scoring devolution of the game might deserve some credit for pulling in viewers, but the real answer is much more simple. The worst all-star event is the most popular all-star event because football is king. If the oblong spheroid is on the TV, people will watch.

2. MLB All-Star Game (July)
The midsummer classic was as much a part of my childhood as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. But if the recent viewership trends continue, the game could be relegated to cable TV sooner rather than later. Broadcast on FOX since 2001, MLB’s All-Star Game has watched a steady decline in ratings since its peak in 1970 (28.5). It reached a historic low last summer with a 6.8 number. Making it “count” by adding home-field advantage to the stakes hasn’t had the impact Commissioner Bud Selig had hoped. This game seems to rouse the most nostalgia and seems to be the most highly thought of by dedicated sports fans (myself included). However, the trends are concerning and it clearly sits well behind the NFL.

3. NBA All-Star Game (Feb.)
It is hard to argue that the NBA All-Star festivities didn’t peak in the early 1990s. The Dunk Contest was electric because the best players in the game took it seriously and delivered a show for the fans every year (looking at you Michael and Dominique). And the ratings for the game itself prove that out with a high-water TV mark of 14.3 in 1993. However, since the early '90s, the game has seen a steady decline until recently. After bottoming out with a 4.2 rating in 2007, the game reached its highest numbers last fall since '03 (6.6). The 2012 event posted a 5.4 U.S. rating, up slightly from the '11 game, which drew a 5.2 U.S. rating. Is this a trend that will continue and potentially allow the NBA to move ahead of baseball? Or will competing with Sunday night TV and occasionally the Oscars eventually halt any growth the league has seen in recent years?

4. NASCAR All-Star Race (May)
NASCAR’s all-star event is extremely entertaining and might be one of the few events that actually improves on the regular-season product. A shortened field running a shortened race over various segments with no points implications and loads of cash on the line? Yes, please. In all but one year — Atlanta in 1986 — the event has been held at Charlotte Motorspeedway, the home track and birthplace of the entire sport. Yet, much like the rest of the NASCAR viewership, the ratings simply don’t carry the weight of football or baseball. That is the bad news. The good news is that the numbers have been stable for a long period of time pulling a 2.2 in 2012 after three straight 2.1’s from 2009-11. This might be the most underrated of the professional all-star events.

5. NHL All-Star Game (Jan.)
As expected, this is easily the lowest rated all-star event of the four main professional sports. This is partly due to Olympic and work stoppage interruptions but also because the sport has been relegated to smaller cable networks. It’s unfortunate since the gameplay itself is some of the most enjoyable of any of the pro events. The game still pulls solid ratings in Canada but the overall US viewership is clearly the lowest of the major sports. The 2011 event pulled a 1.3, up 33 percent from the '09 game, and was the highest such number since the '04 event that landed a 2.7 U.S. mark. After two years of steady TV ratings, it will be interesting to see what happens to the NHL mid-season classic. The work stoppage this season led to the game being cancelled and there will be no all-star game in 2014 due to the Winter Olympics in Russia. So the 60th annual NHL All-Star game in Columbus, Ohio, has been pushed back until January 2015.

6. MLS All-Star Game (July)
One of the least popular pro sports in America is soccer. And despite pockets of deeply passionate fans — kudos to you fútbol fans in Seattle, by the way — the sport has lagged behind its other professional brethren since its inception in 1996. So the other all-star game played in the summer is relegated to a mid-week broadcast on ESPN2. The game pulled a 0.34 U.S. TV rating in 2012, down from a 0.46 in '11. Unfortunately, soccer will never be huge in this country and neither will its all-star event.

Teaser:
<p> Ranking Pro Sports' Most Popular All-Star Games</p>
Post date: Monday, February 18, 2013 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/2013-college-football-recruiting-rankings-no-8-texas-am-aggies
Body:

College football's 2013 National Signing Day is in the books and Athlon Sports kicks off its 2013 team recruiting rankings countdown with an in-depth look at the best classes in the nation. No team in the nation has capitalized more on its recent conference defection than the Texas A&M Aggies. Yes, finally hiring a quality coach and a redshirt freshman Heisman Trophy winner help, but make no mistake, the little "SEC" logo on shoulder pads and coaching polos is making the biggest impact on the recruiting trail. And with the recent struggles of Mack Brown at Texas, the Lone Star State could be up for grabs.

No. 8: Texas A&M Aggies

SEC: Fifth
Athlon Consensus 100
Signees:
 3
National Signees: 9
Total Signees: 32

Where They Got 'Em:

The battle for the state of Texas could be one of the more intriguing recruiting tugs-of-war to watch over the next few years. Kevin Sumlin has the Aggies brand riding at an all-time high, and while the Longhorns are always the biggest program in the state, he has noticeably closed the in-state gap. The Aggies landed 23 players from the Lone Star State, including eight nationally ranked prospects. It's the exact same number that Mack Brown landed at Texas this year and that is a huge step in the right direction for Sumlin.

New SEC territories, Louisiana (3) and Georgia (2), delivered five prospects to College Station while Sumlin went out West for a total of four players from California (2), Hawaii and Arizona.

Related: Athlon Sports Top 25 Recruiting Classes for 2013

Areas of Focus:

The overall depth of this class is tremendous. In fact, some are wondering how Texas A&M is going to get all 32 players under the scholarship limitations (star wideout Derrick Griffin doesn't even count). But with eight early enrollees counting back towards the 2012 class, Sumlin should be able to restock his roster with one of the largest hauls in the nation. And the passing game stands out like a Johnny Manziel touchdown run.

Six wide receivers, one tight end and two quarterbacks give Sumlin and his high-flying passing attack an entirely new toy box. Ricky Seals-Jean is the top-rated player in this class and brings a massive (6-5, 225) frame to the vertical passing game. Smallish speedsters Sebastian Larue and LaQuvionte Gonzalez will be dynamic in the slot and short passing game. And former AC100 (2012) wide receiver Ja'Quay Williams will finally get to a college campus after a year of prep school. He is an elite 6-3, 210-pound big-play machine who might be the most gifted pass-catcher in the class. Toss in former Tennessee tight end Cameron Clear and Manziel should have loads of weapons to throw to.

Backing up Manziel will be two nationally ranked quarterback prospects from Texas. Few teams can lure more than one elite player at this position but the chance to play in Sumlin's system is obviously a big draw. Kohl Stewart (6-2, 200) and Kenny Hill (6-1, 215) each bring a different style to the position. Stewart was a three-star prospect who is more of a pure passer while Hill earned Texas Gatorade Player of the Year and 5A Offensive Player of the Year honors at storied Southlake (Texas) Carroll. Technically, Manziel could leave A&M for the NFL following the 2013 season and having two elite passers to back him up is quite a luxury.

One running back and three offensive line prospects also signed with the Aggies in this class. None are considered nationally ranked prospects.

Even though Sumlin is an offensive coach with an elite scheme, he understands that to win in the SEC he will have to be strong on defense. In particular, the front seven. He signed six defensive lineman and linebackers in this class, completely restocking his defensive front. The defensive line is especially talented as three of the top five players in this class will play along the D-line. Justin Manning and Isaiah Golden are stud tackles who will stabilize the interior of the line while Daeshon Hall, a late signing day flip-flop from Washington, gives the line a tremendous pass-rushing presence. Jay Arnold and Jordan Points will join Hall on the outside while Hardreck Walker will play inside with Manning and Golden. This was a key area of focus and could be the key to success in the SEC.

None of the six-man linebacking class were nationally ranked but they are an extremely deep and versatile group. The seven-man secondary class was headlined by nationally ranked safety Kameron Miles. He is one of four safeties to sign with the Aggies. Sumlin also signed three cornerbacks to bolster the outside of his pass defense. His defensive class isn't loaded with five-star talent but it is one of the deepest groups in the nation with 19 signees headed for that side of the ball.

Related: National Signing Day 2013 Winners and Losers

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 2, RB: 1, WR: 6, TE: 1, OL: 3
Defense: DL: 6, LB: 6, DB: 7, ATH: 0

AC100/National Recruits:

AC100 Name Pos. Pos. Rk Hometown Ht Wt
25. Ricky Seals-Jean WR No. 3 Sealy, Texas 6-5 225
76. Justin Manning DT No. 15 (DL)  Dallas, Texas 6-1 270
94. Isaiah Golden DT No. 17 (DL) Carthage, Texas 6-2 320
127. Sebastian Larue WR No. 15 Los Angeles, Calif. 5-11 180
136. Daeshon Hall DE No. 24 (DL) Lancaster, Texas 6-6 225
170. Kohl Stewart QB No. 16 Tomball, Texas 6-2 200
185. LaQuvionte Gonzalez WR No. 22 Cedar Hill, Texas 5-10 165
195. Kameron Miles S No. 32 (DB) Mesquite, Texas 6-1 215
219. Kenny Hill QB No. 23 Southlake, Texas 6-1 215

Early Enrollees:

Name Pos. Hometown Ht Wt AC100
Reggie Chevis LB Houston, Texas 6-1 255 --
Cameron Clear TE Yuma, Ariz. 6-6 270 JUCO
A.J. Hilliard LB Klein, Texas 6-2 210 Transfer
Jordan Points DE Rockwall, Texas 6-3 255 --
Tommy Sanders LB Butler, Kan. 6-2 210 JUCO
Alex Sezer Jr CB Orange, Texas 5-9 180 --
Brett Wade LB Kennedale, Texas 6-1 225 --
Ja'Quay Williams WR Fork Union, Va. 6-3 210 Prep School

Athlon Sports 2013 Recruiting Classes:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
4. Florida Gators
5. Michigan Wolverines
6. Ole Miss Rebels
7. LSU Tigers

Teaser:
<p> 2013 College Football Recruiting Rankings No. 8: Texas A&amp;M Aggies</p>
Post date: Monday, February 18, 2013 - 06:45
Path: /college-football/college-football-recruiting-big-ten-team-consensus-rankings-2013
Body:

Recruiting in college football is downright nasty. It is a cutthroat, cannibalistic big business that is microscopically analyzed by fans, administrators and media members alike. The Big Ten's recruiting trail is chalked full of intriguing storylines. Coaches on the hot seat struggling, a host of new coaching staffs are getting adjusted, Nebraska is beginning to flex its recruiting muscle and two historic programs are setting an entirely new bar.

Related: The Class of 2013 Top 25 Recruiting Classes

Urban vs. Brady
Big Ten recruiting has become a distinctive two-horse race. Michigan and Ohio State have long been the best two programs and two most powerful brands in the Big Ten, but the new coaches have taken it to a new level. Brady Hoke has the Maize and Blue back in the top five nationally in just two seasons and Urban Meyer has the Buckeyes competing for recruiting national championships after just one season in Columbus. And there appears no reason to think that this trend will slow down any time soon. The rest of the league — even Nebraska and Penn State — has been left scrambling to keep up with the big boys from Michigan and Ohio State.

Bill O’Brien works small miracles
In the face of the worst NCAA scandal in history and unprecedented heavy-handed sanctions, O’Brien put together one of the most impressive classes in the nation. Christian Hackenberg has a good chance at being the best quarterback in the nation and might even turn out to be the best player in the nation regardless of position. The fact this was a small group at only 17 total signees but still landed fourth in the Big Ten is impressive and to nearly land in the top 30 nationally with the swirling negativity in Happy Valley is astonishing. O'Brien also deserves credit for sticking around when he clearly had offers to return to the NFL.

Bo’s best Big Red class
Nebraska recruiting during the Internet era (since 2002) hasn’t been up to par with past Cornhuskers success on the field. And Bo Pelini’s classes haven’t been top 25 groups with the exception of the 2011 haul (17th nationally). In fact, the 2013 class tied that year as Pelini’s best recruiting class during his five-year tenure in Lincoln (17th). Otherwise, his classes have consistently ranked much lower than one would expect from Nebraska: 37th in 2008, 33rd in 2009, 31st in 2010 and 26th in 2012. The last three have easily been the best with two top 20 classes in three years. Perhaps, Big Red recruiting has turned a corner.

Sneaky good class for Kevin Wilson
Indiana has ranked no better than 59th nationally (2009, '11) in the last five classes and has been ranked as low as 92nd (2010). The Hoosiers average an 11th place finish in Big Ten recruiting rankings and have an average national rank of 70.8 over the last five seasons. But in 2013, Kevin Wilson’s staff made quite a statement by finishing seventh in the league and 46th nationally. This is the best IU class in recent memory and it should only continue the positive momentum for this team after improving from one to four wins in 2012.

Bad timing for Kirk Ferentz
The embattled Iowa head coach is making a whole lot of money — roughly $3.65 million per season — to be losing eight games a year. So the timing of this below average recruiting class for Ferentz couldn’t have been worse. The Hawkeyes average a sixth place finish in Big Ten in recruiting over the last five years, so claiming the 10th-rated class in the league this fall won’t sit well with the fans. The 53rd-rated class in the nation has to be considered a disappointment after three straight solid classes, including the No. 30-ranked group in 2011.

Related: Ranking the nation's most talented rosters

2013 Athlon Sports Big Ten Team Recruiting Rankings:

Rk Team Nat'l Rk AC100 Signees Rivals 247 Scout ESPN
1. Ohio State 2nd 10 24 2nd 5th 1st 3rd
2. Michigan 5th 5 27 5th 8th 2nd 6th
3. Nebraska 17th 0 26 17th 21st 11st 23rd
4. Penn State 33rd 2 17 40th 26th 45st 24th
5. Michigan State 36th 0 18 38th 40th 44th 35th
6. Wisconsin 38th 0 17 56th 34th 38th 33rd
7. Indiana 46th 0 22 41st 45th 51st --
8. Illinois 48th 0 25 46th 55th 42nd --
9. Northwestern 52nd 0 21 53rd 54th 46th --
10. Iowa 53rd 0 21 52nd 53rd 52nd --
11. Purdue 60th 0 23 55th 66th 58th --
12. Minnesota 69th 0 18 60th 70th 74th --

Teaser:
<p> College Football Recruiting: Big Ten Team Consensus Rankings for 2013</p>
Post date: Friday, February 15, 2013 - 06:42
All taxonomy terms: AC100, College Football, LSU Tigers, Recruiting, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/2013-college-football-recruiting-rankings-no-7-lsu-tigers
Body:

College football's 2013 National Signing Day is in the books and Athlon Sports kicks off its 2013 team recruiting rankings countdown with an in-depth look at the best classes in the nation. The LSU Tigers have recruited as well as any team in the nation in recent years and 2013 is no different. This group is nationally elite and sets a foundation for future success on the Bayou. The only issue? Finishing seventh nationally is only good for fourth in the SEC and third in the SEC West.

No. 7: LSU Tigers

SEC: Fourth
Athlon Consensus 100
Signees:
 5
National Signees: 14
Total Signees: 27

Where They Got 'Em:

Les Miles knows that Louisiana is one of the more underrated states for elite talent. He inked 12 of his 27 players in this class from The Pelican State, including five nationally rated recruits. The rest of the SEC helped out as well, sending three prospects each from both Florida and Georgia. Alabama and Tennessee each shipped one player to Baton Rouge as well.

Miles also went outside of his region to get talent. LSU landed two big-time players from California, including a potential star in quarterback Hayden Rettig. Illinois and North Carolina each sent an AC100 prospect while Nebraska and New Jersey watched a nationally rated prospect head South to play for the Tigers as well.

Related: Athlon Sports Top 25 Recruiting Classes for 2013

Areas of Focus:

This class' breakdown has to start with the line of scrimmage. Twelve new faces, seven on defense and five on offense, will play in the trenches from this class. The defensive line class, which technically doesn't include AC100 talent Kendell Beckwith because he is listed as a linebacker, is one of the best collections of talent in the nation. End Frank Herron and tackle Greg Gilmore lead the way as the top-rated names in the group, as both were AC100 prospects. Three more nationally rated names in tackles Christian LaCouture and Maquedius Bain and end Tashawn Bower bring massive size and versatile athleticism. Add to it smallish ends Lewis Neal and M.J. Patterson and Miles has arguably the deepest and most talented defensive line class in the nation. 

On the opposite side of the ball, elite blocker Ethan Pocic leads the way. He has bookend tackle size and athleticism. Josh Boutte is a mauler inside and was nationally ranked as well. Andy Dodd, K.J. Malone and massive junior college prospect Fehoko Fanaika (6-6, 340) round out a very talented offensive line group. This five-man class can play all three positions on the line and should only continue LSU's recent run of elite blockers.

Beckwith, who is officially listed as a linebacker by the Tigers, could be yet another rush end if he adds weight and proves he can handle the running games in the SEC. Otherwise, he heads a three-man linebacking group that is talented but doesn't match the depth of the Tigers' 2012 LB haul.

On the back end of the defense, this class' top prospect will be the star. Tre'Davious White is an electric cornerback who will make a immediate impact on special teams. He could remind fans in Baton Rouge of the Honey Badger in that sense — well, on the field, at least — and should likely be a much better coverman. Rashard Robinson and Rickey Jefferson round out a fairly small secondary class. 

LSU didn't sign a single running back in this class and none of the four wide receivers were nationally ranked. Early enrollee and prep school prospect Avery Johnson should be the best of the group once he finally gets into the offense. Tight end DeSean Smith is one of the most game-ready players at his position in the nation and could easily be the earliest contributor of all the offensive skill players in this class. 

The quarterback position should be in good hands, however, as two of the top 25 signal callers in the nation signed with LSU. Hayden Rettig, the younger brother of Boston College starter Chase, is the higher-rated of the bunch and was an Army All-American this winter. The pro-style passer will compete with dual-threat prospect Anthony Jennings for the starting job once Zach Mettenberger moves on. They are built very similarly — both are listed at 6-2 and 200 pounds — but each brings a unique skill set to the offense, giving Miles and new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron plenty to work with in the coming years.

Related: National Signing Day 2013 Winners and Losers

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 2, RB: 0, WR: 4, TE: 2, OL: 5 
Defense: DL: 7, LB: 3, DB: 3, ATH: 1 

AC100/National Recruits:

AC100 Name Pos. Pos. Rk Hometown Ht Wt
45. Tre'Davious White DB No. 11 Shreveport, La. 5-10 170
57. Ethan Pocic OL No. 5 Lemont, Ill. 6-7 285
70. Frank Herron DE No. 13 (DL) Memphis, Tenn. 6-5 245
73. Greg Gilmore DT No. 14 (DL) Hope Mills, N.C. 6-4 275
77. Kendell Beckwith LB No. 8 Jackson, La. 6-3 225
125. DeSean Smith TE No. 5 Lake Charles, La. 6-4 225
128. Jeryl Brazil ATH No. 3 Loranger, La. 5-9 180
143. Hayden Rettig QB No. 10 Los Angeles, Calif. 6-2 200
144. Josh Boutte OL No. 21 New Iberia, La. 6-4 325
193. Rashard Robinson DB No. 31 Pompano Beach, Fla. 6-1 165
206. Christian LaCouture DT No. 36 (DL) Lincoln, Neb. 6-5 290
210. Maquedius Bain DT No. 37 (DL) Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. 6-5 285
213. Tashawn Bower DL No. 38 Somerville, N.J. 6-5 240
231. Anthony Jennings QB No. 25 Marietta, Ga. 6-2 205

Early Enrollees:

Name Pos. Hometown Ht Wt AC100
John Diarse WR Monroe, La. 6-0 210 --
Fehoko Fanaika OL San Mateo, Calif. 6-6 340 JUCO
Anthony Jennings QB Marietta, Ga. 6-2 205 No. 231
Avery Johnson WR Pompano Beach, Fla. 6-1 180 --
Christian LaCouture DE Lincoln, Neb. 6-5 290 No. 206
Ethan Pocic OL Lemont, Ill. 6-6 285 No. 57
Hayden Rettig QB Los Angeles, Calif. 6-2 200 No. 143
Logan Stokes TE Booneville, Miss. 6-4 240 JUCO

Athlon Sports 2013 Recruiting Classes:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
4. Florida Gators
5. Michigan Wolverines
6. Ole Miss Rebels

Teaser:
<p> 2013 College Football Recruiting Rankings No. 7: LSU Tigers</p>
Post date: Friday, February 15, 2013 - 06:40
Path: /college-football/2013-college-football-recruiting-rankings-no-6-ole-miss-rebels
Body:

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

Few teams in the nation had a more exciting, more explosive National Signing Day than the Ole Miss Rebels. Head coach Hugh Freeze built on tangible momentum by finishing with a flurry of commitments on the cycle's final day. This is arguably the best recruiting class in school history and it all began with the nation's No. 1 prospect.

No. 6: Ole Miss Rebels

SEC: Third
Athlon Consensus 100
Signees:
 4
National Signees: 7
Total Signees: 28

Where They Got 'Em:

The SEC footprint supplied all but one prospect in Ole Miss' 28-man class. Only Laquon Treadwell from Illinois heads to Oxford from outside of the SEC region. The state of Mississippi, which is one of the best states for talent per capita, provided nine athletes to Ole Miss. The Magnolia State had an above average year for talent in 2013 and Freeze capitalized.

Georgia (5), Tennessee (4), Alabama (3), Texas (3), Florida (2) and Louisiana (1) each shipped talented athletes to The Grove as well. Freeze and his staff used almost every SEC state to build this class and had a presence in every SEC West state except Arkansas. 

Related: Athlon Sports Top 25 Recruiting Classes for 2013

Areas of Focus:

Hugh Freeze turned the Ole Miss offense around in one short season and he knows he needed to add big-time playmakers to that side of the ball. He did just that with at least 12 offensive skill players in this class and the potential for more should one or more of the "athletes" land on offense. 

Ryan Buchanan (6-4, 205) and Devante Kincade (6-1, 185) bring two totally different skill sets to the quarterback position. Freeze will have both a dual-threat option with athletic ability (Kincade) and a pro-style pocket passer (Buchanan) to work with in the near future. This duo should give Ole Miss a solid foundation at the most important position on the field. 

The best thing Freeze could do for his two young signal callers was surround them with elite talent. Three wide receivers and three tight ends should give these quarterbacks plenty of talented targets. Laquon Treadwell is the nation's No. 1 wide receiver in the nation and he should play right away. He is a special talent who is extremely gifted and physically prepared for the SEC as a freshman. He highlights the six-man pass-catching class that also could feature former elite recruit Nick Brassell. The electric athlete was an AC100 wide receiver in 2011 but needed a pit stop at East Mississippi Community College before landing in Oxford.

A deep and talented four-man running back class also completely restocks the roster. Two of the top seven players in this class, Kailo Moore and Mark Dodson, will tote the rock for the Rebels. Both bring state championship pedigrees and workhorse backgrounds. Eugene Brazley brings a smaller frame and some speed while Jordan Wilkins is the bigger, rangier power back. Ole Miss should have at least one quality replacement for Jeff Scott.

What will make those four runners successful, however, will be a four-player offensive line class led by a pair of elite prospects. Laremy Tunsil is the No. 1 offensive line recruit in the nation and has bookend prototypical left tackle skills. Austin Golson barely missed landing in the AC100 and has elite tackle upside as well. Daronte Bouldin and Davion Johnson could both end up at guard and round out a very nice OL class.

The defense got less of the focus with just eight players slated to play on that side of the ball. The defensive line — as well as the entire class, for that matter — is headlined by the nation's No. 1 player Robert Nkemdiche. He is a college-ready edge rusher as a freshman and could easily develop into the game's best inside-outside three-down defensive lineman by his junior season. A pair of tackles join him on the defensive line and two middle-of-the pack linebacker recruits help bolster the front seven. Ole Miss' defense already has some young talent, which is why Freeze didn't focus on his front seven in this cycle.

Antonio Conner is one of the top safety recruits in the nation and he leads the three-man secondary signing class. Much like the receivers, however, this group could get a boost should any of the three "athletes" land on defense.

Related: National Signing Day 2013 Winners and Losers

Positional Breakdown:

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

AC100/National Recruits:

AC100 Name Pos. Pos. Rk Hometown Ht Wt
1. Robert Nkemdiche DE No. 1 (DL) Loganville, Ga. 6-5 270
3. Laremy Tunsil OL No. 1 Lake City, Fla. 6-6 320
14. Laquon Treadwell WR No. 1 Crete, Ill. 6-3 198
32. Tony Conner DB No. 9 (DB) Batesville, Miss. 6-2 205
107. Austin Golson OL No. 15 Prattville, Ala. 6-6 290
138. Kailo Moore RB No. 19 Rosedale, Miss. 5-10 190
217. Mark Dodson RB No. 24 Memphis, Tenn. 5-10 195

Early Enrollees:

Name Pos. Hometown Ht. Wt. AC100
Mark Dodson RB Memphis, Tenn. 5-10 195 No. 217
Lavon Hooks DT Booneville, Miss. 6-4 290 JUCO
Quadarus Mireles ATH Raymond, Miss. 5-11 185 JUCO
Christian Morgan TE Plano, Texas 6-4 255 --

Athlon Sports 2013 Recruiting Classes:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
4. Florida Gators
5. Michigan Wolverines
6. Ole Miss Rebels

Teaser:
<p> 2013 College Football Recruiting Rankings No. 6: Ole Miss Rebels</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 11:20
Path: /college-football/sec-east-football-schedule-analysis-2013
Body:

With signing day in the books, spring practice is just around the corner for all 125 FBS teams. And it’s never too early to start thinking about the upcoming season and some of the key games on the schedule.

The SEC East appears to be a three-team battle atop the standings next season. Georgia and South Carolina are the likely frontrunners, with Florida slightly behind the Bulldogs and Gamecocks. Georgia faces a tougher schedule than it has in recent years, but South Carolina has to play in Athens this year.

While Georgia, Florida and South Carolina will likely be the only top-25 teams from the East, Vanderbilt is poised to earn its third consecutive bowl berth, while Tennessee and Kentucky should show improvement under new coaching staffs. Missouri had a disappointing debut in the SEC but could be better with a full offseason for quarterback James Franklin to heal.

With spring practice getting ready to start across the nation, Athlon takes a look at the schedules for each of the SEC East teams and examines some of the interesting storylines, scheduling tidbits and trends to watch. 

Related Content: SEC West 2013 Schedule Analysis

SEC East Football Schedule Analysis for 2013

Florida

Aug. 31 Toledo
Sept. 7 at Miami, Fla.
Sept. 14 Bye Week
Sept. 21 Tennessee
Sept. 28 at Kentucky
Oct. 5 Arkansas
Oct. 12 at LSU
Oct. 19 at Missouri
Oct. 26 Bye Week
Nov. 2 Georgia (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Nov. 9 Vanderbilt
Nov. 16 at South Carolina
Nov. 23 Georgia Southern
Nov. 30 Florida State

* The second week should be circled for Florida fans. Al Golden has Miami pointed in the right direction and seems to be making progress nearly every week with a young roster will only continue to develop. This is a huge moment for the Hurricanes getting the SEC power at home and will be a major hurdle for Florida to clear so early in the season. A win over the Canes likely means a 5-0 start heading into Baton Rouge.

* Florida will play both major Sunshine State powers in Miami and Florida State. The three-team round robin is great for college football in the state of Florida and fans across the country should be paying attention. The Gators will be favored in both games but this could feature three fairly evenly matched teams.

* Following the trip to Miami in Week 2, Florida will get an off week before hosting Tennessee. The Gators have won eight straight over the Vols and while Will Muschamp gets an extra week to prepare for new coach Butch Jones, Tennessee will be traveling to Eugene, Ore., and back. This all but assures a ninth straight win for the Gators.

* Five straight SEC games pinnacle with a trip to Baton Rouge. This has been one of the best and most physical crossover rivalries in the conference and both teams could easily be unbeaten when they lock horns on Oct. 12. Florida and LSU both have one tough road game but should be no worse than 4-1 entering this game.

* Upset alert for Florida is clearly the road trip to Missouri the Saturday following the LSU game. The Gators will have to expend copious amounts of energy and will have to play at an elite level to defeat the Tigers in Baton Rouge. Should that happen, a long trip to Columbia to face a team that gave them fits in 2012 is an obvious spot for a slip-up. Can Muschamp get them up for a second straight week?

* Following the five-game SEC stretch, Florida will get another bye week before playing a key rival. From 1990-2010, Florida was 18-3 against Georgia, and often times, the win clinched the SEC East for the Gators. But the Dawgs have won two straight in the series in heart-breaking fashion. The extra time off couldn’t have come at a better time than before a trip to the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

* After facing all of that in the first three months of the season, Florida could be unblemished and ranked in the top five nationally. However, the entire season could come crashing down when the Gators head to South Carolina on Nov. 16. Some will pick the Gamecocks to win the East, and in fact, both teams could be unbeaten when they tangle in Columbia. This game, possibly more than the Cocktail Party, could decide who plays in the SEC title game. The enormity of this game could also cause Florida to totally overlook the tricky Vanderbilt Commodores the week before.
 

Georgia

Aug. 31 at Clemson
Sept. 7 South Carolina
Sept. 14 Bye Week
Sept. 21 North Texas
Sept. 28 LSU
Oct. 5 at Tennessee
Oct. 12 Missouri
Oct. 19 at Vanderbilt
Oct. 26 Open Date
Nov. 2 Florida (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Nov. 9 Appalachian State
Nov. 16 at Auburn
Nov. 23 Kentucky
Nov. 30 Georgia Tech

* Special moments are extremely difficult to overcome in college sports. Entire towns, fanbases and programs build hype and pour themselves into specific moments in time. South Carolina did it to Georgia last year and Clemson will have a chance in 2013 right out of the gate. This moment will be huge for the Tigers at home, as they have a chance to make it two in a row against the SEC. Tajh Boyd’s offense is filthy loaded and the Dawgs are breaking in eight new starters on defense. A loss does nothing to the Dawgs SEC title hopes but…

* Georgia’s national title hopes could hang in the balance in the first two weekends. South Carolina comes to town in Week 2 and a home game with LSU wraps up one of the toughest first months of play anywhere in the nation. This team will face three top 10 teams in the first five weeks. Should UGA defeat Clemson, a win in the home opener over the Gamecocks is likely. But should they slip-up in Death Valley, a win over South Carolina — a team that has hung 80 points on Georgia in the last two meetings — the next week seems highly unlikely. What happens in the first two weeks will determine the entire ’13 season for Mark Richt.

* After facing three elite teams in the first month, should Georgia leave September unbeaten (4-0), the rest of the nation better watch out. The remaining schedule features some intriguing road trips and one Outdoor Cocktail Party, but the Dawgs would likely be favored in every game the rest of the way.

* Like the Gators, Georgia too will get an extra week to prepare for the trip South to Jacksonville. The Bulldogs have won two straight over Florida but needed some tricky fourth-down gambles and one amazing forced fumble to win both of those games. It is good for the SEC and for the fans that both coaches and teams get two weeks to prepare for what could be the biggest game of the year in the SEC East.

* After the cocktail party, all bets are off for Richt and company. The Bulldogs will finish with three of their last four at home and all three should be easy wins. The lone road trip to Auburn will be the toughest game of the final four weeks, and while the Tigers should be improved, one has to assume UGA will be a heavy favorite over a team that lost nine games in 2012. The final month could simply be a tuneup for another meeting with Alabama in Atlanta.
 

Kentucky

Aug. 31 Western Kentucky (Nashville, Tenn.)
Sept. 7 Miami, Ohio
Sept. 14 Louisville
Sept. 21 Bye Week
Sept. 28 Florida
Oct. 5 at South Carolina
Oct. 12 Alabama
Oct. 19 Bye Week
Oct. 26 at Mississippi State
Nov. 2 Alabama State
Nov. 9 Missouri
Nov. 16 at Vanderbilt
Nov. 23 at Georgia
Nov. 30 Tennessee

* Kentucky has the toughest schedule in the East every single season simply because it doesn’t get to face… Kentucky. Playing in the SEC is nasty for the Floridas and Georgias of the world, but the Gators, for example, have it much easier because they don’t have to face the Gators. The Wildcats get no breaks in the East as they have to play every major power in the division each season.

* LP Field should be rocking in Nashville on opening weekend for the Wildcats. Western Kentucky will debut Bobby Petrino on its sideline with a chance to defeat an SEC team in Week 1. The entire college football world will be watching and it only increases the pressure new head coach Mark Stoops will be facing in his own debut. To top it off, the Cats have no more than five chances at wins and losing to a Sun Belt team in Week 1 could doom Stoops’ first year.

* Kentucky will head into the bye week in Week 4 after facing hated rival Louisville. This in-state basketball trio has long been extremely intriguing and fairly competitive, but with two new coaches and a one new league, these football teams are now moving the needle as well. No one could write a worse way to start a tenure for Stoops than an 0-2 in-state record.

* Playing well early is key for the Cats because wins will be impossible to come by once SEC play starts. Stoops’ first three SEC games will be absolutely murderous as Kentucky faces Florida at home, South Carolina on the road and Alabama at home in three consecutive weeks. At least the bye week will allow the Cats to lick their wounds once the Crimson Tide leaves town. Best of luck, boys.

* Three of the last five SEC games will also come on the road. Trips to Starkville, Nashville and Athens afford Kentucky few chances at upsets. However, the two home games against Missouri and Tennessee could provide upset opportunities. To somehow get to a bowl game, which appears to be a very long shot, the Wildcats would have to likely win both (and come up with an another upset somewhere else as well).

Related Content: SEC West 2013 Schedule Analysis
 

Missouri

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. 2 Tennessee
Nov. 9 at Kentucky
Nov. 16 Bye Week
Nov. 23 at Ole Miss
Nov. 30 Texas A&M

* This is how Gary Pinkel should have started his first season in the SEC: With easy non-conference wins. A road trip to Indiana might be the toughest test of the first five weekends for Mizzou and it likely means an undefeated record heading into conference play. And considering it’s the first month of SEC play, the Tigers will need all the momentum they can get.

* Pinkel’s bunch might be facing the toughest month of October in the nation. Road trips to Vanderbilt and Georgia to begin conference play are brutal but the month finishes with Florida and South Carolina coming to town. This four-week stretch is absolutely brutal and could take an unbeaten team and give them four straight losses.

* To make a bowl game, Mizzou likely has to win both the Nov. 2 home game with the struggling Volunteers and the Nov. 9 road trip to Kentucky. These two games were the only two conference wins for the Tigers a year ago and might be the only two in 2013 as well. If this team wants to return to the postseason after missing a bowl game for the first time since 2004, these two are must wins because…

* Mizzou finishes the ’13 campaign with two nasty conference games. In fact, while SEC East powers face Coastal Carolina, Kentucky and Georgia Southern, the Tigers will face a road trip to Oxford and a home game against Johnny Manziel. It’s a nasty way to finish and an upset against either seems unlikely.
 

South Carolina

Aug. 31 North Carolina
Sept. 7 at Georgia
Sept. 14 Vanderbilt
Sept. 21 Bye Week
Sept. 28 at UCF
Oct. 5 Kentucky
Oct. 12 at Arkansas
Oct. 19 at Tennessee
Oct. 26 at Missouri
Nov. 2 Mississippi State
Nov. 9 Bye Week
Nov. 16 Florida
Nov. 23 Coastal Carolina
Nov. 30 Clemson

* Much like Georgia, South Carolina faces a solid ACC team in Week 1. But hosting a rebuilding North Carolina team that lost tons of NFL talent isn’t the same as visiting the ACC preseason frontrunner. The Gamecocks should roll over the Tar Heels in the Shriner’s Bowl, setting up a huge road trip to Athens in Week 2. Carolina has won three straight in the rivalry by outscoring the Dawgs 97-56 in that span. The atmosphere will be electric between the hedges for what could be a defacto SEC East championship game.

* Once the Gamecocks return from Georgia, the schedule sets up nicely. Getting Vanderbilt at home is key before getting the first bye week. Games with UCF and Kentucky wrap-up the first half in fairly easy fashion. An unbeaten 6-0 mark is well within reach for Steve Spurrier.

* Georgia and Florida are the two biggest games of the year for South Carolina, but a three-game road trip in October against Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri will determine if this is going to be a special season in Columbia. All three games are winnable and Carolina should be favored in all three, and a few years ago, this stretch would be as nasty as any in the nation. Spurrier’s bunch always loses one game it shouldn’t and this three-week stretch is where it’s most likely to happen. On the flip side, two new coaches and a bruised Mizzou team should pose little resistance if Carolina wants to consider itself a national championship contender.

* Mississippi State comes to Williams-Brice Stadium to start November in another key scheduling break for the Cocks. The Bulldogs, much like the Dores, might be able to pull an upset over South Carolina at home but will be heavy underdogs down in The Palmetto State.

* So after an extremely winnable six-game stretch without a break, Carolina will get an extra week to prepare for the Florida Gators. While Will Muschamp’s bunch will have to battle with Vanderbilt the week before, Spurrier and his team will be sitting at home resting and preparing for what could be the second defacto SEC East title game. The Cocks have won two out of three over Florida, including the last time these two met in Columbia.

* There is a chance that one of the most vicious rivalries in college football could be a national championship elimination game. Clemson visits South Carolina on the final weekend in what could feature two unbeaten, top-five teams. It’s a long shot, but should that happen, this nasty in-state rivalry will finally get the national recognition it deserves. Even if Carolina rolls for the fifth straight season.
 

Tennessee

Aug. 31 Austin Peay
Sept. 7 Western Kentucky
Sept. 14 at Oregon
Sept. 21 at Florida
Sept. 28 South Alabama
Oct. 5 Georgia
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 19 South Carolina
Oct. 26 at Alabama
Nov. 2 at Missouri
Nov. 9 Auburn
Nov. 16 Bye Week
Nov. 23 Vanderbilt
Nov. 30 at Kentucky

* Butch Jones should get an easy win behind his stellar offensive line in his debut. But a win over Bobby Petrino in Week 2 is much less of a sure thing. After the disappointing 2012 campaign, a 2-0 start would do wonders for a famished Big Orange fan base. A loss to a coach that many fans in Knoxville opined for during the extended UT coaching search would be downright devastating to an already crippled program.

* A 2-0 start is also extremely important due to back-to-back road trips to Oregon and Florida. Few teams will face two teams that went 23-3 a year ago on the road in consecutive weeks like the Vols will. Keeping the bloodshed to a minimum would be a moral victory for Jones. While his team is trying to stop Marcus Mariota and De’Anthony Thomas in Auzten Stadium, Will Muschamp’s team will be kicked up in their lazy boys during the off week licking their chops.

* There is no rest for the weary, either, as the month of October offers little comfort to the downtrodden program. Tennessee will face Georgia and South Carolina at home and Alabama in Tuscaloosa in a four-week span in October. The only comfort that month will be a much-needed bye week following the visit from the Bulldogs in Week 6.

* The Vols run at a potential bowl game will come following the Alabama game. It begins with a road trip to Missouri where revenge should be on the minds of the Big Orange players. A win in Columbia could kickstart a manageable final month of the season for Tennessee. Home games with Auburn and Vanderbilt are tricky but winnable, with at least a split is likely needed for a bowl berth. A win over Kentucky in Lexington in the season finale is a must if Jones wants to reach the postseason in his first season.
 

Vanderbilt

Aug. 31 Ole Miss
Sept. 7 Austin Peay
Sept. 14 at South Carolina
Sept. 21 at UMass
Sept. 28 UAB
Oct. 5 Missouri
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 19 Georgia
Oct. 26 at Texas A&M
Nov. 2 Bye Week
Nov. 9 at Florida
Nov. 16 Kentucky
Nov. 23 at Tennessee
Nov. 30 Wake Forest

* There might not be a better way to get the season started than with Ole Miss visiting Vanderbilt. Wait, really? Yes, Ole Miss is one of the hottest names in college football after an unexpected bowl season and elite recruiting class. Vandy returns most of its offense and is riding high on West End after back-to-back bowl games. This matchup will set the tempo for both teams and fans across the nation should enjoy the offensive ingenuity involved in sneaky-good crossover contest.

* James Franklin isn’t scared of anyone, and he will have a chance to prove it in 2013. Not only does Vandy host Ole Miss but also has to visit South Carolina in the first three weeks of the year. A 2-1 start is well within reach and would have to be considered a successful start to the year. A 1-2 start could dampen the rampart energy running through this program at the moment.

* Should the Commodores start well in ’13, a 5-1 start is extremely reasonable. Following the nasty trip to Carolina, the Dores have three very winnable games with non-conference foes UMass and UAB before hosting a mediocre Missouri team. If Franklin wants this team to take the next step, winning five of the first six is almost a must.

* After the bye week following the Mizzou game, things get tough for the Dores. Vanderbilt will face Georgia at home and both Texas A&M and Florida on the road over a four-week span. It’s a brutal stretch and Franklin’s only comfort is a bye week sandwiched between Johnny Heisman and The Swamp.

* The end of the season provides the Dores with ample opportunity to get to a third straight bowl game for the first time in their program’s history. Home games with Kentucky and Wake Forest sandwiched around a key road trip to Knoxville is a fairly pleasant way to end an SEC season. Vandy should be a favorite in all three but a win over the Vols on the road could put a stamp on yet another stellar season on West End.

* Right now, Vandy appears to be the favorite in eight games and the underdog in four. This team should win the games it supposed to and should lose the games it’s supposed to. Upsets on either side of the coin seem unlikely.
 

Related College Football Content

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SEC Team Consensus Recruiting Rankings for 2013

Ranking the Best College Football-Basketball Coaching Tandems in the SEC

College Football's Top 15 Impact JUCOs for 2013

Teaser:
<p> SEC East Football Schedule Analysis for 2013</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 06:30
Path: /college-football/college-football-recruiting-big-east-team-consensus-rankings-2013
Body:

Recruiting in college football is downright nasty. It is a cutthroat, cannibalistic big business that is microscopically analyzed by fans, administrators and media members alike. There is very little to get excited about when it comes to Big East football and the recruiting trail is no different. But the 2013 class could be historically bad for a league that is accustomed to being ranked at the bottom of the power conferences.

Related: The Class of 2013 Top 25 Recruiting Classes

Bad for business… as usual
Rarely do Big East teams press for elite recruiting classes, so its no shock that the best in the league was outside of the top 25. However, this season was particularly bad for the conference as the top class, Rutgers, could do no better than 40th nationally. Additionally, no other team finished in the top 50 this year. By comparison, Rutgers was 22nd nationally a year ago while Louisville was 38th and both Pitt and USF landed in the top 50 nationally. Even 2013 member Houston was 47th nationally in recruiting a year ago. No, 2013 was epically poor even for a normally very weak recruiting conference. The Big East is on life support, and if recruiting is the lifeblood of the sport, the conference clearly isn’t getting enough blood.

Where is the AC100 talent?
This might be redundant, but the Big East signed the fewest Athlon Consensus 100 prospects of any major league in the nation. One AC100 prospect signed with the entire conference, and even he, wide receiver James Quick, will be playing most of his career in the ACC. Nothing can illustrate the talent differential between the Big East and the nation’s best conference, the SEC, better than the 2013 Athlon Consensus 100. Southeastern Conference schools signed a combined total of 41 AC100 prospects.

Okay, now it’s just piling on
Missouri is the lowest rated class in the SEC at 35th. Kansas State is the lowest rated class in the Big 12 at 64th. Colorado is the lowest rated class in the Pac-12 at 67th. Minnesota is the worst class in the Big Ten at 69th. This means that nine “BCS” conference teams ranked 68th or worse this year and four of them come from the Big East while two others were former Big East teams (Syracuse, Boston College). Only Minnesota was 68th or worse and not a member of the Big East or ACC. Memphis finished with the worst power conference class in the nation.

It's only getting worse
Rutgers and Louisville have dominated this league in terms of attracting talent of late and once again claimed the top two classes in 2013. There is only one problem, however: none of these players will play in the Big East. Technically, anyone who plays in 2013 will get one year of Big East action, but both teams are departing the league following this season. The Knights are headed to the Big Ten in 2014 while the Cardinals are joining the ACC. Can a league survive when its best recruiting class is ranked 57th in the nation (USF)?

Houston can contend immediately
The Cougars are one of the lone bright spots for this league and should develop into one of the Big East's better programs over time. The 2013 season will be a year of transition for the four new members of the conference, but only the Cougars appear ready to compete right away. Houston beat more traditional Big East teams Cincinnati, UConn, Temple and former member Syracuse for talent in this class. Even a year ago, the Cougars' 47th-rated class would have been good for fourth in the conference. It means that Houston should be able to build its franchise as a Big East title contender by cultivating the rich waters of The Lone Star State. 

Can Tommy Tuberville maintain status quo
Mark Dantonio. Brian Kelly. Butch Jones. All three recruited at a mediocre level nationally and all three used conference championship runs to land big-time jobs. Tuberville isn't an up-and-comer like the Bearcats' previous head coaches, so he isn't necessarily looking to move on right away. But he will have some lofty standards to maintain and will have to do it with classes ranked consistently in the 50s. Will he elevate the recruiting status of the program or can he win the league with middle-of-the-pack recruiting hauls?

Related: Ranking the nation's most talented rosters

2013 Athlon Sports Big East Team Recruiting Rankings:

Rk Team Nat'l Rk AC100 Signees Rivals 247 Scout ESPN
1. Rutgers 40th 0 22 43rd 50th 31st 37th
2. Louisville 55th 1 17 57th 47th 56th --
3. USF 57th 0 23 49th 49th 63rd --
4. Houston 58th 0 26 50th 59th 61st --
5. Cincinnati 59th 0 22 71st 57th 50th --
6. UConn 63rd 0 24 65th 62nd 60th --
7. SMU 68th 0 19 69th 63rd 69th --
8. UCF 79th 0 25 74th 79th 88th --
9. Temple 82nd 0 23 84th 91st 92nd --
10. Memphis 84th 0 29 89th 87th 102nd --

Teaser:
<p> College Football Recruiting: Big East Team Consensus Rankings for 2013</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 06:25
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College football's 2013 National Signing Day is in the books and Athlon Sports kicks off its 2013 team recruiting rankings countdown with an in-depth look at the best classes in the nation.

Ohio State and Michigan appear poised to separate themselves from the rest of the Big Ten. For the second straight season, nothing can illustrate this more than the conference's recruiting rankings. In the first battle for talent between Urban Meyer and Brady Hoke, the Midwest duo finished fourth (OSU) and sixth (Michigan) nationally, while Nebraska finished third in the league, but outside of the top 25 nationally. With two more top-five classes nationally, the league appears to be headed for another Big Ten-Year War.

No. 5: Michigan Wolverines

Big Ten: Second
Athlon Consensus 100
Signees:
6
National Signees: 5
Total Signees: 27

Where They Got 'Em:

The Midwest will always be Michigan's focus in recruiting and 2013 was no different. In fact, the biggest difference between Hoke and Meyer thus far in recruiting is Ohio State's national approach while the Wolverines are more regionally focused. Ohio (9), Michigan (8) and Illinois (3) provided three-quarters of this group, including ten of the 15 nationally ranked prospects in the class. Snagging nine prospects from that state down South has to be particularly satisfying for Hoke.

Other Big Ten footprint states like Indiana and Pennsylvania as well as Northeastern territories like Massachusetts, Virginia and Maryland each provided one player each. The only states located outside of the Big Ten region to send a player to Ann Arbor were Colorado (1) and North Carolina (1).

Related: Athlon Sports Top 25 Recruiting Classes for 2013

Areas of Focus:

Meyer has cast a major shot across the Big Ten offensive line bow with two elite defensive line classes in a row at Ohio State. Hoke countered with one of the best offensive line classes in the nation as six new faces signed with the Maize and Blue. Five of those six new blockers are nationally rated prospects who were coveted by nearly every team in the league. Patrick Kugler and Kyle Bosch are AC100 prospects while a pair of massive tackles — Chris Fox who stands 6-6 and Logan Tuley-Tillman who stands 6-7 — give Michigan not only one of the most talented line classes but also one of the largest. This group will have to develop quickly in order to keep up with OSU's stellar defensive line over the next four years.

The skill positions are also a big part of Hoke's 2013 haul and it should only help the transition back to a pro-style attack. Shane Morris is the No. 3-rated quarterback prospect in the nation and could be a special talent who reminds fans in Ann Arbor of Michigan quarterbacks of past years. And he won't be alone in the backfield either. Burly workhorse tailback Derrick Green is the top-rated player in the class and might be able to start immediately if he can grasp the offense. Along with De'Veon Smith, Hoke should have plenty to work with in his backfield for the first time since getting to Michigan. 

Morris is joined by three wide receivers and two tight ends in this class to help rebuild the passing attack. Only tight end Jake Butt is nationally rated so this isn't an elite haul, but the added depth is excellent.

On defense, Hoke focused on the secondary as six new names will join the depth chart. Defensive back is the new glamour position and Michigan got one of the best groups in the nation, led by AC100 talent Dymonte Thomas. Thomas has excellent range, physicality and size, so he will likely star at safety while Jourdan Lewis, who barely missed landing in the top 100, is the top coverman in the group. Reon Dawson (6-2, 175) and Channing Stribling (6-2, 170) bring elite size and length to the defensive backfield as well.

Up front, a trio of nationally ranked lineman restock the D-line. Henry Poggi (6-4, 260) can play inside or out but should grow into the tackle position. Taco Charlton (6-5, 250) has unpolished, elite upside and should be a terror off of the edge once he gets into a big-time football program. Maurice Hurst Jr. is a true tackle (6-2, 305) and should help clog up the middle as well. This isn't a deep group, but it is an overtly talented bunch.

Nationally rated Mike McCary and Ohio native Ben Gedeon were the only two linebackers to sign with the Wolverines.

Related: National Signing Day 2013 Winners and Losers

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 1, RB: 3, WR: 3, TE: 2, OL: 6
Defense: DL: 3, LB: 2, DB: 6, ATH: 0, LS: 1

AC100/National Recruits:

AC100 Name Pos. Pos. Rank Hometown Ht Wt
26. Derrick Green RB No. 5 Richmond, Va. 5-11 220
68. Patrick Kugler OL No. 7 Wexford, Pa. 6-5 280
72. Dymonte Thomas DB No. 16 Alliance, Ohio 6-2 195
74. Shane Morris QB No. 3 Warren, Mich. 6-3 185
92. Kyle Bosch OL No. 9 Wheaton, Ill. 6-5 310
108. Jourdan Lewis DB No. 22 Detroit, Mich. 5-10 160
109. David Dawson OL No. 16 Detroit, Mich. 6-4 285
122. Henry Poggi DT No. 23 (DL) Baltimore, Md. 6-4 260
134. De'Veon Smith RB No. 18 Warren, Ohio 5-11 218
141. Taco Charlton DE No. 26 (DL) Pickerington, Ohio 6-5 250
146. Chris Fox OL No. 22 Parker, Colo. 6-6 300
148. Mike McCary LB No. 18 Trotwood, Ohio 6-4 230
154. Logan Tuley-Tillman OL No. 23 Peoria, Ill. 6-7 305
221. Jake Butt TE No. 7 Pickerington, Ohio 6-6 235
222. Maurice Hurst Jr DT No. 42 (DL) Westwood, Mass. 6-2 305

Early Enrollees:

Name Pos. Hometown Ht. Wt. AC100
Kyle Bosch OL Wheaton, Ill. 6-5 310 No. 92
Jake Butt TE Pickerington, Ohio 6-6 235 No. 221
Taco Charlton DE Pickerington, Ohio 6-5 250 No. 141
Ross Douglas DB Avon, Ohio 5-10 180 --
Dymonte Thomas DB Alliance, Ohio 6-2 195 No. 72
Logan Tuley-Tillman OL Peoria, Ill. 6-7 310 No. 154

Athlon Sports 2013 Recruiting Classes:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
4. Florida Gators
5. Michigan Wolverines

Teaser:
<p> 2013 College Football Recruiting Rankings No. 5: Michigan Wolverines</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 06:30
Path: /college-football/college-football-recruiting-acc-team-consensus-rankings-2013
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Recruiting in college football is downright nasty. It is a cutthroat, cannibalistic big business that is microscopically analyzed by fans, administrators and media members alike. The ACC has been taking a beating on the field and in the media from fans and analysts alike for its recent lack of success. It has struggled in BCS bowls and, in particular, against the SEC. While the conference isn't nearly as bad as the incessant badgering would indicate, the results of this year's recruiting cycle still has to leave ACC fans nervous.

Related: The Class of 2013 Top 25 Recruiting Classes

No top-10 class
The ACC has had at least two top-10 classes nationally in four of the last five recruiting cycles. Only 2010 featured a single ACC top-10 class. So for the conference’s best class (Florida State) to be ranked 11th nationally doesn’t bode well for an already tarnished image. For comparison, the ACC had three teams land in the top 25 while its regional rival, the SEC, posted 11 top 25 classes. Florida State, Clemson and Miami carry the mantle of recruiting in this league and if none can pull a top-10 class, the league will continue to be ridiculed nationally. In particular, Jimbo Fisher and Florida State is accustomed to being not only in the top 10, but the top five nationally. An 11th-rated class is still an excellent haul, but it remains to be seen if that can get the Noles back to national championship relevance. The good news? Seven different teams landed at least one Athlon Consensus 100 prospect and the league more than doubled the numbers of top 100 signees than that of the Big 12.

Dabo maintains status quo… and then some
Dabo Swinney has had an interesting up-and-down career at Clemson. He has been doubted and questioned. He also won the team’s first ACC title in 20 years. Over the last five recruiting cycles, Clemson has finished no better than third in the ACC just once (2011). With the No. 2-rated class in the league this time around — and his second in three seasons — Swinney has put Clemson in a position to become the dominant team in the league. The Tigers won a couple of National Signing Day battles and it finished just two spots behind the vaunted Seminoles (No. 11). This highly touted top 15 class will only add to the pressure of being the likely preseason pick to win the ACC in 2013.

Al Golden continues to work miracles
A 26th national ranking isn’t anything to write home about for Miami football recruiting. But after the biggest BCS signing class in the nation a year ago (33 signees) led to double-digit freshman starters, Golden didn’t have too many scholarships to offer. Yet, he made the best of it by winning some late battles for key players. His four AC100 signees are tied with Florida State for the ACC lead and only seven other schools in the nation signed more. This wasn’t supposed to be a big class (16) but there are plenty of marquee instant impact prospects in the group. And for a team facing a litany of NCAA inquiries, Golden continues to deserve major kudos for his work on the trail.

Quality over quantity
Miami wasn’t the only school to sign a smaller class with an emphasis on quality. Virginia Tech landed a top 25 class with just 18 signees and North Carolina finished 28th nationally with just 17 new faces. Both were ranked in the top five in the ACC ranks and both signed top-level talent. The Tar Heels landed six four-star players while the Hokies landed seven that received at least four stars. Essentially, a third of each class were elite-level national talents. Give both Frank Beamer and Larry Fedora credit for landing highly touted classes without the benefit of deep numbers.

Paul Johnson’s scheme better work
First, Georgia Tech only signed 14 players, so it was going to be tough to land an elite class with such small overall numbers. That said, 11th in the ACC and 77th nationally isn’t what Yellow Jackets fans want to see. Johnson has averaged a 47.6 national recruiting ranking and has ranked no better than 41st or no worse than 55th nationally since arriving in Atlanta. No, his triple-option system doesn’t need five-star athletes to be effective, but this 2013 haul is easily his worst class to date. Only time will tell if Tech is devolving or simple rebuilding.

Mike London needs to get back to winning
London stepped on to campus in Charlottesville and reinvented the Cavaliers' name brand on the recruiting trail. He has landed the 25th- (2011) and 27th-rated (2012) classes in the last two years and added to it with the 31st-ranked group in 2013. And it appeared that the energy on the recruiting trail was going to translate into wins, going from 4-8 in his first season to 8-5 in his second. Yet, a major step back in 2012 (4-8, 2-6) has raised concerns. The 2013 class was another solid group for the Wahoos and the pressure is now back on London to generate similar results on the field.

Pitt will be fine, Syracuse not so much
The Panthers landed the seventh-rated class in the ACC and the 39th-best class in the nation. It puts Pitt dead in the heart of its new conference in terms of talent. With Paul Chryst leading the way, this program should be able to adapt and compete rather quickly if it can maintain this type of recruiting. New Orange head coach Scott Shafer will have a much tougher job ahead of him, however. This team has consistently been one of the least talented BCS rosters in the nation over the last five years. Shafer will have to do improve Syracuse's recruiting prowess — which was 74th nationally this cycle — or work minor miracles on the practice field. 

ACC’s hierarchy is painfully obvious
Florida State (13), Clemson (2) and Virginia Tech (4) have won 19 of the last 22 ACC championships. Only three times since 1991 has a team other than those three won an outright ACC title — 2001 Maryland, 2006 Wake Forest and 2009 Georgia Tech. This is due in large part because those three programs have the best players. Boston College, Duke, Wake Forest and NC State consistently finish in the bottom of the league in recruiting and 2013 was no different. All four, along with Georgia Tech, ranked outside of the top 50. There is a reason this group is a combined 62-98 in ACC play over the last five years. It doesn’t look like this trend will end anytime soon and makes the ’06 Demon Deacons team that much more impressive.

Related: Ranking the nation's most talented rosters

2013 Athlon Sports ACC Team Recruiting Rankings:

Rk Team Nat'l Rk AC100 Signees Rivals 247 Scout ESPN
1. Florida State 11th 4 22 9th 9th 16th 9th
2. Clemson 13th 1 23 14th 15th 15th 13th
3. Virginia Tech 21st 2 18 22nd 14th 35th 19th
4. Miami 26th 4 16 44th 19th 28th 21st
5. North Carolina 28th 0 17 39th 28th 30th 20th
6. Virginia 31st 1 22 26th 29th 41st 34th
7. Pitt 39th 1 27 33rd 32nd 22nd --
8. Maryland 42nd 1 22 30th 31st 49th --
9. NC State 56th 0 25 47th 60th 53rd --
10. Wake Forest 64th 0 25 58th 81st 62nd --
11. Duke 72nd 0 20 67th 77th 62nd --
12. Syracuse 74th 0 19 72nd 69th 75th --
13. Georgia Tech 77th 0 14 84th 78th 73rd --
14. Boston College 83rd 0 17 87th 93rd 90th --

Teaser:
<p> College Football Recruiting: ACC Team Consensus Rankings for 2013</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 06:20
Path: /college-football/2013-college-football-recruiting-rankings-no-4-florida-gators
Body:

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

Florida head coach Will Muschamp was not happy on National Signing Day. It had nothing to do with his elite top-five class ranking or deep collection of future Gators stars. No, he was worn out from a hard season on the recruiting trail and was ready for the process to be over. But all that hard work paid off in spades and Florida landed one of best classes in the nation.

No. 4: Florida Gators

SEC: Second
Athlon Consensus 100
Signees:
6
National Signees: 11
Total Signees: 30

Where They Got 'Em:

The state of Florida will be and always should be the primary focus of any head coach in Gainesville. More top-flight prospects come out of The Sunshine State each season than anywhere else in the nation. It shouldn't be a surprise then that Muschamp landed 19 in-state signees, including eight nationally ranked players. Florida can recruit nationally, but the foundation for every Gator class should come from within its borders.

Georgia has quickly become the No. 4 (Fla., Texas, Calif.) state for talent nationally and the Gators took advantage here as well. Six players signed with Florida from The Peach State, giving this class 25 players from either Georgia or Florida. Pennsylvania, Virginia, Michigan, North Carolina and Tennessee provided one signee each.

Related: Athlon Sports Top 25 Recruiting Classes for 2013

Areas of Focus:

It seems impossible, but Florida has lacked big-time playmakers on offense since Percy Harvin, Riley Cooper and Louis Murphy departed campus. This offense has been desperate for a star on the outside and Muschamp hopes that he has found one with five highly rated wide receiver signees. Three of the top 15 wideout prospects in the nation are headed to Gainesville. Demarcus Robinson (6-2, 195) and Almad Fulwood (6-4, 200) bring size and vertical ability to the outside while Alvin Bailey (5-11, 175) and Chris Thompson (6-0, 170) should be featured in the slot. 

With Mike Gillislee running out of eligibility, this team also needed to find a workhorse. Gators' legacy prospect Kelvin Taylor should be the guy. He is the No. 2 running back in the nation and is the son of NFL great Fred Taylor. He has been a prep star in The Sunshine State since starting for Glades Central as a middle schooler and should compete for carries right away. He is already on campus working in the offense.

Helping to make all of these stars successful on offense are five offensive line signees. None are nationally ranked but depth shouldn't be an issue along the front line.

The defense is getting loads of help in this class. The defensive line class is one of the best in the nation as seven new faces show up along the defensive front. Caleb Brantley is the only nationally ranked player in this deep and versatile group. He can play inside or out along with early enrollee Joey Ivie and Antonio Riles. Darious Cummings, Jay-nard Bostwick and Jarran Reed will land at tackle while Jordan Sherit will come off of the edge. Muschamp and company will have to develop this haul, but the upside is remarkable.

The star power of this recruiting class resides in the back seven on defense, however. Six of the 11 nationally rated prospects will play either defensive back or linebacker. Four of the top five players in this class will play there are well. Vernon Hargreaves III is the top coverman in the nation and a pair of electric linebackers in Alex Anzalone and Daniel McMillian restock a position that lost Jelani Jenkins and Jon Bostic this winter. Both highly touted players enrolled early and both are listed at an impressive 6-3 and 220 pounds. Three of the top 20 linebackers in the nation signed with Florida.

Along with Hargreaves III, AC100 safety Marcel Harris, an jumbo prospect who could be special at 6-2, 220, and nationally rated Keanu Neal bolster the back end of the Gators defense with elite talent.

Related: National Signing Day 2013 Winners and Losers

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 1, RB: 2, WR: 5, TE: 0, OL: 5
Defense: DL: 7, LB: 4, DB: 4, ATH: 1, P: 1

AC100/National Recruits:

AC100 Name Pos. Pos. Rank Hometown Ht Wt
3. Vernon Hargreaves III DB No. 1 Tampa, Fla. 5-11 180
22. Kelvin Taylor RB No. 2 Belle Glade, Fla. 5-10 205
54. Alexander Anzalone LB No. 5 Wyomissing, Pa. 6-3 220
56. Daniel McMillian LB No. 6 Jacksonville, Fla. 6-3 220
78. Marcel Harris DB No. 15 Orlando, Fla. 6-2 220
81. Demarcus Robinson WR No. 11 Ft. Valley, Ga. 6-2 195
104. Keanu Neal DB No. 19 Bushnell, Fla. 6-0 205
106. Alvin Bailey WR No. 13 Seffner, Fla. 5-11 175
119. Caleb Brantley DL No. 22 Crescent City, Fla. 6-3 295
127. Ahmad Fulwood WR No. 14 Jacksonville, Fla. 6-4 200
153. Matt Rolin LB No. 20 Ashburn, Va. 6-4 205

Early Enrollees:

Name Pos. Hometown Ht. Wt. AC100
Alex Anzalone LB Wyomissing, Pa. 6-3 220 No. 54
Darious Cummings DL Scooba, Miss. 6-2 305 JUCO
Joey Ivie DL Dade City, Fla. 6-4 270 --
Daniel McMillian LB Jacksonville, Fla. 6-3 220 No. 56
Tyler Moore OL Clearwater, Fla. 6-5 312 --
Demarcus Robinson WR Ft. Valley, Ga. 6-2 195 No. 81
Matt Rolin LB Ashburn, Va. 6-4 205 No. 153
Kelvin Taylor RB Belle Glade, Fla. 5-10 205 No. 22

Athlon Sports 2013 Recruiting Classes:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
4. Florida Gators

Teaser:
<p> 2013 College Football Recruiting Rankings No. 4: Florida Gators</p>
Post date: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-recruiting-pac-12-team-consensus-rankings-2013
Body:

Recruiting in college football is downright nasty. It is a cutthroat, cannibalistic big business that is microscopically analyzed by fans, administrators and media members alike. The Pac-12 has watched its league and programs grow substantially in the past few years. Commissioner Larry Scott, the Pac-12 Network, a new media rights contract, six new coaches in the last two seasons and a variety of major facilities upgrades give Pac-12 schools plenty to sell to recruits.

Same Ol' Bruins
UCLA has never had an issue with recruiting. Under Rick Neuheisel, the Bruins were a national power on the trail, landing the No. 13- (2008), No. 14- (2009), No. 8- (2010) and No. 13-rated (2012) classes in the nation over the last five years. So a top-ten class following a Pac-12 South Division crown shouldn't come as a surprise. That said, USC has won the league's recruiting championship in every one of those cycles. So Jim Mora clearly capitalized on a Pac-12 South Division title and the Trojans' late struggles to claim the best class in the conference.

Don't be too concerned for USC
Yes, Lane Kiffin struggled on the field in 2012. Yes, he had to make coaching changes. Yes, he is entering a key season as the head coach in Los Angeles. Yes, USC limped to the finish on the recruiting trail and had the worst National Signing Day in the school's recent memory. However, in the face of 10 fewer scholarships than everyone else, Kiffin signed four more Athlon Consensus 100 prospects (9) than the rest of the Pac-12 combined (5). This group includes the nation's No. 1 QB, No. 1 safety and No. 2 defensive tackle. USC's nine AC100 signees trailed only Alabama (15) and Ohio State (10) nationally.

Mark Helfrich saved the day
When Chip Kelly pulled his own flip-flop and took the Eagles job, many were concerned with the continuity of the Ducks' 2013 signing class. Oregon did lose AC100 running back Dontre Wilson to Ohio State but the rest of the cycle ended well. Mark Helfrich kept twins Tyrell and Tyree Robinson in the fold and also lured Torrodney Prevot from a host of Pac-12 rivals. This group wasn't extremely deep but it could have been much worse than 20th nationally. The new head coach passed his first test as the head coach of the Nike Empire.

Best Supporting Cast
Steve Sarkisian has revamped his coaching staff significantly since taking over in Seattle. The moves he made on defense following the 2011 season (Justin Wilcox, Peter Sirmon, Tosh Lupoi) not only buoyed the Huskies' brand on the recruiting trail immediately but also worked wonders on the field during the 2012 campaign. This group once again excelled at landing elite talent by claiming the Pac-12's second-rated class. This was a top-15 group and features deep talent at wide receiver and defensive line — where Lupoi likely deserves a lot of credit.

What happened to Stanford?
This wasn't going to be a large class for David Shaw's bunch in Palo Alto, but barely cracking the top 50 has to be disappointing. Rivals and 247 both ranked the class 61st nationally while Scout had the Cardinal's class at 59th in the nation. Only ESPN's ranking (40th) kept this group inside the top 50 nationally. After four straight top 25 classes, including the fifth-ranked class last year, finishing 11th in the Pac-12 is not what fans expected. Next year's class will either return Stanford to recruiting relevance after what was simply a small class or could indicate a concerning developing trend.

Mike Leach turning things around?
In-fighting and one of the worst rushing offenses in the history of the sport wasn't exactly what Mike Leach planned in his first year at Washington State. Yet, there might be a hint of optimism in Pullman following signing day. The Cougars have averaged a 79.6 national recruiting ranking over the last five cycles, ranking ahead of only UConn and Temple among BCS teams (73rd). Therefore a national ranking of 47th should be something to be celebrated. One would think that Leach's high-flying offensive scheme will once again be attractive to West Coast prospects.

Related: Ranking the nation's most talented rosters

2013 Athlon Sports Pac-12 Team Recruiting Rankings:

Rk Team Nat'l Rk AC100 Signees Rivals 247 Scout ESPN
1. UCLA 9th 3 23 11th 11th 5th 12th
2. Washington 15th 1 22 18th 17th 14th 18th
3. USC 16th 9 13 13th 25th 18th 14th
4. Oregon 20th 1 19 21st 16th 17th 26th
5. Cal 32nd 0 25 29th 43rd 29th 30th
6. Arizona 37th 0 22 36th 58th 27th 39th
7. Arizona State 41st 0 27 32nd 38th 31st --
8. Oregon State 43rd 0 23 37th 41st 36th --
9. Utah 45th 0 23 42nd 42nd 47th --
10. Washington State 47th 0 24 54th 46th 39th --
11. Stanford 49th 0 12 61st 61st 59th 40th
12. Colorado 67th 0 20 68th 67th 66th --

Teaser:
<p> How did recruiting shake out for the Pac-12 in 2013.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 06:20
Path: /college-football/2013-college-football-recruiting-rankings-no-3-notre-dame-fighting-irish
Body:

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

Brian Kelly has always recruited well during his three seasons (four cycles) of recruiting in South Bend. But this season, he capitalized on an unbeaten regular season and BCS championship game bid by finishing extremely well on the trail. This group could be special for Notre Dame as many of the recruits have already bonded and have developed connections prior to even showing up on campus.

No. 3: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Athlon Consensus 100 Signees: 5
National Signees: 15
Total Signees: 24

Where They Got 'Em:

With a powerful national brand to sell, Brian Kelly went all over the country to land one of the best classes in the nation. He used 16 different states to land his 24 new players with no more than four players coming from any one state. He invested heavily in the talent-rich waters of the South with four signees from Florida and one nationally ranked prospect from Georgia, Kentucky and Virginia each. Out West, he landed the No. 2- and No. 3-rated players in the state of California and another nationally ranked star from Arizona. He went into the Northeast to pull talent from D.C., New Jersey and Massachusetts. Kelly also had a presence in Texas, the best state for talent in the nation, as he signed three players from The Lone Star State.

Otherwise, local recruiting yielded some rare players as well. Indiana sent one of the best players the state has ever seen to South Bend in Jaylon Smith. Michigan, Ohio (2), Pennsylvania (2), Illinois and Minnesota also are represented in this year's class.

Areas of Focus:

No one can accuse Kelly of not capitalizing on the recruiting trail after a run to the BCS National Championship game. The first thing that stands out about this class is the talent and the depth of the offensive line. Five elite, nationally ranked prospects signed with Notre Dame this cycle, including three of the top 13 blocking recruits in the nation. It might be the best O-line haul of any team in the nation. Kelly and the Irish got a wake-up call against Alabama's immovable linebacking corps and he addressed it with the Class of 2013.

The pass-catchers are the next area of the roster that appears to be set for the future. Four talented wide receivers and two quality tight ends join the roster this year. Torii Hunter Jr. leads a versatile group of wideouts. This group isn't as highly touted as the offensive linemen, but it still features some big-time upside (See early enrollee Corey Robinson).

The defensive front seven also got abused in the national title game and Kelly addressed this area as well. The No. 1 hybrid linebacker-defensive end Jaylon Smith is a special player who is a leader and a winner. He has a chance to be a taller version of Georgia's Jarvis Jones. He is joined by the No. 2 defensive lineman in the nation Eddie Vanderdoes. The No. 1 tackle prospect decommitted from USC and instead is headed to South Bend where he will continue what is developing into one of the better defensive line traditions in the nation. Versatile inside-outside defensive lineman Isaac Rochell and linebacker Doug Randolph were both nationally ranked as well. 

Future star safety Max Redfield is cut from the exact same cloth as current Minnesota Viking Harrison Smith. He is big, rangy and will bring physicality to the back end. He is an immediate contributor in nickel packages and can play near the line of scrimmage. Nationally ranked Cole Luke as well as two others make up this excellent secondary class.

The offensive backfield features only three names, but they were all nationally ranked. Greg Bryant was an AC100 prospect while both quarterback Malik Zaire and running back Tarean Folston landed in the top 200 nationally. Zaire is a similar player to current starter Everett Golson.

Related: National Signing Day 2013 Winners and Losers

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 1, RB: 2, WR: 4, TE: 2, OL: 5
Defense: DL: 3, LB: 3, DB: 4, ATH: 0 

AC100/National Recruits:

AC100 Name Pos. Pos. Rank Hometown Ht Wt
2. Jaylon Smith LB No. 1 Ft. Wayne, Ind. 6-3 230
6. Eddie Vanderdoes DL No. 2 Auburn, Calif. 6-3 285
29. Max Redfield DB No. 6 Mission Viejo, Calif. 6-2 195
46. Greg Bryant RB No. 8 Delray Beach, Fla. 5-11 200
97. Steve Elmer OL No. 11 Midland, Mich. 6-5 300
101. John Montelus OL No. 12 Everett, Mass. 6-5 305
102. Hunter Bivin OL No. 13 Owensboro, Ky. 6-6 290
112. Tarean Folston RB No. 17 Cocoa, Fla. 5-10 190
133. Cole Luke DB No. 23 Chandler, Ariz. 6-0 180
140. Mike McGlinchey OL No. 20 Philadelphia, Pa. 6-7 280
158. Isaac Rochell DL No. 28 McDonough, Ga. 6-5 265
168. Torii Hunter Jr WR No. 17 Prosper, Texas 6-0 180
181. Colin McGovern OL No. 26 New Lenox, Ill. 6-5 280
199. Malik Zaire QB No. 21 Kettering, Ohio 6-1 190
203. Doug Randolph LB No. 27 Richmond, Va. 6-3 230

Early Enrollees:

Name Pos. Hometown Ht. Wt. AC100
Steve Elmer OL Midland, Mich. 6-5 300 No. 97
Mike Heuerman TE Naples, Fla. 6-4 225 --
James Onwualu CB St. Paul, Minn. 6-1 210 --
Corey Robinson WR San Antonio, Texas 6-5 190 --
Malik Zaire QB Kettering, Ohio 6-1 190 No. 199

Athlon Sports 2013 Recruiting Classes:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Teaser:
<p> 2013 College Football Recruiting Rankings No. 2: Notre Dame Fighting Irish</p>
Post date: Monday, February 11, 2013 - 06:35
Path: /college-football/football-recruiting-2013s-consensus-team-big-12-rankings
Body:

Recruiting in college football is downright nasty. It is a cutthroat, cannibalistic big business that is microscopically analyzed by fans, administrators and media members alike. Recruiting in the Big 12 has its major advantages and major disadvantages. First, the state of Texas is a built in feeder system for all 10 teams in the league, even West Virginia.

With a couple of small exceptions, there is a reason Oklahoma and Texas have dominated the league for so long. They claim the top two classes in each of the last six seasons. That said, the last two conference winners have come from Stillwater and Manhattan, not Norman or Austin. But it all starts on the recruiting trail.

Across-the-board struggles
No Big 12 team ranked in the top ten nationally in the team rankings. No nationally rated recruit (approx. 240) announced on National Signing Day that he would be attending a Big 12 school. Only four players in the Athlon Consensus 100 signed with the Big 12 while the SEC signed 41 total AC100 prospects and Alabama inked 15 alone. Oklahoma had a solid 14th-ranked class but Texas had one of its worst classes in recent memory and only Baylor managed to land in the top 25 nationally. Sooners signee Keith Ford is the lone five-star prospect to sign with the entire conference. Needless to say, it has to be one of the worst years for the conference on the trail. 

Kansas State was last again
And that's just how Bill Snyder likes it. While they still signed a healthy number of junior college players (6), he went heavier on high school talent in 2013 than usual. The Wildcats signed 26 prep athletes in this class. This team has overachieved more than any other team in the nation so who is to argue with Snyder's judgment. He signed 13 defensive front seven players and should be able to rebuild his defense — with two- and three-star players — as quickly as anyone in the nation.

Pressure mounting in Austin
Mack Brown is 11-15 in Big 12 play over the last three seasons and has had plenty of coaching turnover on his staff. So with the doubters in Austin speaking out louder than ever before, 2013 was not the time for one of the worst classes in Brown's tenure at Texas. He signed 15 names this year, only two were ranked in the AC100, and didn't win any of the big battles down the stretch. He has long pointed to the '13 season as his national title chance, but it doesn't look like too many freshmen will contributing.

Waco is the place to be for offense
One of the four AC100 prospects to sign with the Big 12 was superstar wide receiver Robbie Rhodes. His tape is loaded with long touchdown catches, crazy weaves through traffic and explosiveness that even Randy Moss would be proud of. The talented wideout is just one of the names that makes Art Briles' 2013 haul one of the best in Bears' history. Baylor has an average national recruiting ranking of 47.1 over the last five cycles with a high-water mark of 39th back in 2010. He signed a top 25 class this season and the offensive talent, in particular, is very impressive. 

TCU acquitted itself nicely
Gary Patterson has elevated TCU recruiting over the last half-decade and after its first season in the Big 12, the program seems to be yielding nice returns in the transition. Ranking 44th nationally is nothing to write home about, but with major facility upgrades coming and a young team returning, this team could be poised for big things in the near future, both on and off the field. There are worse places to be than just behind Oklahoma State in the rankings midway through the Big 12 for a team one year removed from the Mountain West.

Which direction is Texas Tech heading?
Mike Leach left a mess in Lubbock but one thing he didn't do was lose. Tommy Tuberville had his fair share of issues but recruited very well while at Tech — 20th- and 26th-rated classes in the nation. So what about Kliff Kingsbury? He has the name, the flashy offensive resume both as a player and coach and should gain the trust of the fans and high school coaches quickly as a fellow alum. He picked up eight new recruits in the month of February to elevate the class to a 51st ranking. However, eighth in the Big 12 isn't getting it done if the Red Raiders want to compete like it did in 2008. Only time will tell if Kingsbury has what it takes to lure the top in-state athletes to West Texas.

2013 Athlon Sports Big 12 Team Recruiting Rankings:

Rk Team Nat' Rk AC100 Signees Rivals 247 Scout ESPN
1. Oklahoma 14th 1 24 15th 13th 15th 16th
2. Texas 19th 2 15 23rd 18th 23rd 15th
3. Baylor 24th 1 23 28th 24th 25th 28th
4. West Virginia 27th 0 25 24th 30th 26th 32nd
5. Oklahoma State 30th 0 23 34th 37th 24th 27th
6. TCU 44th 0 22 35th 36th 48th --
7. Kansas 50th 0 26 45th 48th 55th --
8. Texas Tech 51st 0 23 51st 44th 54th --
9. Iowa State 62nd 0 25 59th 64th 64th --
10. Kansas State 64th 0 32 64th 56th 68th --

Teaser:
<p> Football Recruiting: 2013's Consensus Team Big 12 Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, February 11, 2013 - 06:30
Path: /college-football/football-recruiting-2013s-consensus-team-sec-rankings
Body:

Recruiting in the SEC is downright nasty. It is a cutthroat, cannibalistic big business that is microscopically analyzed by fans, administrators and media members alike. Recruiting in the SEC is unlike recruiting in any other league. And the team rankings bare that out in painful clarity. Well, painful if you are coaching in any other major conference.

That said, one recruiting class does not define a new coaching staff or guarantee future success or failure on the field. But the rankings in the SEC hold truer than in any other league. The four best teams in recruiting the last five years — Alabama, Florida, LSU and Georgia — have the four best win-loss records.

In the toughest, back-stabbing-est conference in the nation, one man is standing above the rest:

Nick Saban’s reign isn’t ending anytime soon
Saban once again is the czar of the recruiting trail. He picked a handful of stars from the Northeast, got an elite QB from Utah, landed the top five players in the state of Alabama and dipped into border states in every direction to land 25 more athletes. He broke an Athlon Sports record with 15 Athlon Consensus 100 recruits and it landed him his third No. 1-rated class in the last six cycles. He has been no lower than fifth in the nation rankings since 2008 and all it has netted him is three BCS national titles. Sorry folks, the Crimson Tide “ain’t going nowhere”.

Related: Alabama Claims the Nation's No. 1 Class in 2013

Perception has changed in Oxford
Ole Miss has won four SEC games in the last three seasons. After landing a historic nationally ranked top 10 class — a group ranked ahead of LSU, Texas A&M and Auburn more importantly — Hugh Freeze now has the burden of expectations. All eyes will be focused on Oxford, Miss., for more reasons than one from now on. Fellow recruiting coordinators at rival schools now see a bullseye on the back of Colonel Reb. The media coverage will be heightened and fans will expect results on the field. It's an exciting time to be a Rebel but no doubt the pressure to win is now through the roof.

The Lone Star Sleeping Giant
Kevin Sumlin and that small patch on the Texas A&M Aggies' shoulder pads were the missing pieces. College Station, Texas has long been a sleeping giant of college football. Consistent underachieving has plagued the 12th Man for decades. But that all could be changing now as what appears to be a great leader is running the ship in Sumlin. The with added cachet of the SEC brand behind him, he is establishing a new TAMU image on the recruiting trail. He dominated in state while his rival Mack Brown at Texas struggled this year. The upside is immeasurable for this program. It does help to have a rock star Heisman Trophy winner playing quarterback as well.

Bittersweet Signing Day for new coaches
Kentucky’s Mark Stoops, Tennessee Butch Jones and Arkansas’ Bret Bielema all finished very well on National Signing Day. The Hogs landed a pair of elite stars, the Vols finished with a flurry and Kentucky had one of its best classes in recent memory. Optimism should be running high in Lexington, Knoxville and Fayetteville. So how depressing is it that Tennessee was 11th in the league, Arkansas was 12th in the league and Kentucky was 13th in the SEC rankings? Can you beat Saban, Miles, Sumlin, Spurrier, Richt and Muschamp with the 12th best class in the conference?

Has anything actually changed at Auburn?
Unlike his newbie counterparts, Gus Malzahn built an elite top-10 recruiting class nationally. He closed strong and rebuilt his roster —the defensive linemen in particular — with some super star talent. But so did Gene Chizik every season. So the question for fans on The Plains will be the same it has been asking itself for decades: How do we get all of these great athletes to live up to their potential? In the SEC West, the new head man at Auburn has his work cut out for him, but he is giving himself a great chance with some of the nation’s top prospects.

Missouri can’t survive like this
The Tigers’ class would have ranked sixth in the Big 12 at No. 35 nationally. However, they finished dead last in the SEC. After struggling in their first trip through SEC play, Gary Pinkel didn’t do that much to help his longterm case of success in the nation’s toughest conference. This team is much closer to Vanderbilt — well, the Vandy of old — in terms of upside and potential than Alabama or Texas A&M. This one class means very little to the direct success of Mizzou in the SEC, however, consistently finishing last in the league in recruiting will not be sustainable for the current coaching staff.

The marvelous James Franklin
Vanderbilt put together arguably the greatest recruiting class in school history this fall. Increased talent in the state of Tennessee and back-to-back bowl seasons for the first time is certainly an explanation for the Dores’ current recruiting success. However, the coaching staff led by Franklin is the main the reason. They have a built an exciting, fun and hard-working atmosphere on West End and it is permeating the recruiting trail.

2013 Athlon Sports SEC Team Recruiting Rankings:

Rk Team Nat'l Rk AC100 Signees Rivals 247 Scout ESPN
1. Alabama 1st 15 25 1st 1st 3rd 1st
2. Florida 4th 6 28 4th 4th 8th 2nd
3. Ole Miss 6th 4 28 7th 2nd 10th 5th
4. LSU 7th 5 27 6th 7th 6th 7th
5. Texas A&M 8th 3 32 10th 7th 7th 8th
6. Auburn 10th 3 23 8th 10th 13th 11th
7. Georgia 12th 2 32 12th 12th 9th 10th
8. South Carolina 18th 2 21 16th 20th 21st 17th
9. Mississippi State 22nd 1 20 25th 22nd 20th 25th
10. Vanderbilt 23rd 0 26 19th 35th 19th 22nd
11. Tennessee 25th 1 21 20th 27th 32nd 29th
12. Arkansas 29th 2 22 31st 23rd 34th 31st
13. Kentucky 34th 0 22 27th 39th 40th 36th
14. Missouri 35th 0 20 48th 33rd 37th 38th

Teaser:
<p> Football Recruiting: 2013's Consensus Team SEC Rankings</p>
Post date: Friday, February 8, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/10-greatest-accomplishments-sports
Body:

Sports are filled with statistics that uber-nerds and casual fans alike can enjoy. Numbers and records help fans define greatness and settle arguments on talk radio and at the local watering holes on a daily basis.

Who is the greatest quarterback of all-time? What about running back? How about Jordan vs. Kobe? Ruth vs. Aaron? Tiger vs. Jack?

The discussions are endless and many have no right or wrong answer. But arguing about sports’ greatest players, coaches or teams is part of why competitive athletics are so popular. And with decades of numbers to call upon, fans have more information at their fingertips than ever before.

Exclusivity is a huge part of measuring any elite athlete. Did he do something no one — or in this case, very few people — has ever accomplished? Some “sports clubs” are more obvious than others and can clearly define the game’s greatest players. Others are less obvious but no less intriguing.

Here are some of Athlon Sports' favorite sports clubs and rarest accomplishments:

2,000-yard Club (7 members):
This one is pretty obvious and pretty exclusive. There are only seven players in the history of the NFL to have rushed for 2,000 yards in a season. Adrian Peterson became the latest when he rushed for 2,097 yards last fall, all while returning from a torn-up knee. Eric Dickerson owns the all-time record with 2,105 while Jamal Lewis (2,066), Barry Sanders (2,053), Terrell Davis (2,008), Chris Johnson (2,006) and O.J. Simpson (2,003) are the only other members of the 2K Club. Interestingly enough, only one other player has ever topped 1,900 yards and that was Earl Campbell in 1980 (1,934). And with the proliferation of high-flying passing offenses, the 2,000-yard running back is that much more impressive.

30,000-point Club (6 members):
Scoring points is the only way to win basketball games and only six players in the history of either the NBA or ABA have ever topped 30,000 points in their career. And this club's membership might just also represent the six best players of all-time. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is basketball’s all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points and no one has ever really come close to catching him. Karl Malone (36,928), Michael Jordan (32,292), Wilt Chamberlain (31,419) and Kobe Bryant (30,834*) are the only other players to score at least 30,000 points in the NBA. Julius Erving reached the benchmark but needed 11,662 points in the ABA to reach the plateau.

* - number prior to Thur., Feb. 7 game against Boston

80-Goal Club (3 members):
Only eight players in the history of the NHL have ever scored 70 goals in a season much less 80. Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull and Mario Lemieux are arguably the three greatest goal scorers in the history of the sport and their membership in the 80-goal club only confirms this. Gretzky is the only member of the 90-goal club and is the only player to top 80 goals twice (he topped 70 four times). Hull is No. 2 with 86 goals in 1990-91 and he has topped 70 goals three times. Super Mario is fourth all-time with 85 goals in 1988-89 and he also has also topped 70 more than once (2).

Quarterbacks with four Super Bowl starts (6 members):
Names like Troy Aikman (3-0), Bart Starr (2-0) and Eli Manning (2-0) might take offense to this club, but leading your team to four Super Bowls is an extremely rare accomplishment. Tom Brady (3-2) and John Elway (2-3) are the only two NFL quarterbacks with five Super Bowl starts. Terry Bradshaw (4-0) and Joe Montana (4-0) are the only two with perfect records in four starts. And Roger Staubach (2-2) and Jim Kelly (0-4) are both in Canton after taking their teams to the big game four times. No one in the history of the sport other than Kelly has gone to four straight Super Bowls. Aikman, Montana, Bradshaw and Brady are the only four players to ever win three Super Bowl starts.

Reached base 5,000 times (7 members):
No Major League Baseball player has ever gotten on base 6,000 times in his career, but seven players reached first at least 5,000 times. And they are seven of the greatest names to ever step onto a diamond. Pete Rose (5,929), Barry Bonds (5,599), Ty Cobb (5,532), Rickey Henderson (5,343), Carl Yastrzemski (5,304), Stan Musial (5,282) and Hank Aaron (5,205) are the only such players in MLB history. All topped the 5,200 mark as well, setting themselves apart even further from Tris Speaker (8th) and Babe Ruth (9th). What makes this club so great is its simplicity. The first and foremost goal when one steps to the plate — certainly the sabermetrics guys would agree — is to not get out and no one reached base more than these seven men.

6,000 yards passing and 4,000 yards rushing (4 members):
The modern era of college football has watched electric athletes take control of the quarterback position. In fact, the pistol, zone read and option attacks are even starting to take hold of the NFL game as well. But the term dual-threat is reserved for the only four quarterbacks in NCAA history to pass for at least 6,000 yards through the air while gobbling up at least 4,000 yards on the ground. Missouri’s Brad Smith (8,799 passing, 4,289 rushing) was the first to join the club in the early 2000s. He would soon be joined by West Virginia’s Pat White (6,049 passing, 4,480 rushing), Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick (10,098 passing, 4,112 rushing) and Michigan’s Denard Robinson (6,250 passing, 4,495 rushing). They are the only four college quarterbacks to rush for 4,000 yards in their career and one look at Kaepernick’s numbers and fans should understand how he led San Francisco to the Super Bowl.

Five-time NASCAR Champion (3 members):
No one really argues that Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty aren’t the best two stock car drivers of all-time. So it is appropriate that the duo is tied for the most NASCAR championships with seven each. But they could be joined by another steely-eyed wheelman in Jimmie Johnson. Johnson is the only other driver with five points titles and he is the only driver to win five straight. Jeff Gordon is the only other driver with four championships, and should he win another title in the twilight of his career, he could join what many consider the three greatest drivers all-time with five trophies.

Golf’s Career Grand Slam (5 members):
Golf’s Mt. Rushmore has five names on it, not four. Only five players in the history of golf have won all four majors — aka the career Grand Slam — in their career. Jack Nicklaus leads the way with 18 major championships followed closely by Tiger Woods with 14, as each has won the career Grand Slam three times. Ben Hogan (9), Gary Player (8) and Gene Sarazen (7) are the only other pro golfers to accomplish the career foursome. In the pre-Masters Era which included The Amateur Open, Bobby Jones accomplished the career Grand Slam — and did it all in the same year (1930).

MLB’s Triple Crown (*5 members):
There are many lines of demarcation for one of America's oldest sports. Many begin counting at 1900 or consider the post-Black Sox (1919) era the “modern” era. Still others consider World War II or the expansion era (1962) as the best way to define baseball. However, the biggest and most influential time stamp came in 1947 when Jackie Robinson finally broke the color barrier. Since that time, only five men have won the Triple Crown of baseball — i.e., leading the league in batting average, home runs and runs batted in. Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera (.330, 44 HR, 139 RBI) broke a 45-year triple crown drought when he led the AL in all three categories last season. Prior to Cabrera's remarkable season, Carl Yastrzemski (.326, 44 HR, 121 RBI) in 1967 had been the last to capture the Triple Crown. Frank Robinson (.316, 49 HR, 122 RBI) did it in 1966, Mickey Mantle (.353, 52 HR, 130 RBI) in '56 and Ted Williams (.343, 32 HR, 114 RBI) pulled of the rare feat in '47.

* - since integration

2,000 points and 900 assists (2 members):
Oregon State’s Gary Payton and Syracuse’s Sherman Douglas are the only two players to score at least 2,000 points and dish out at least 900 assists in their college basketball careers. Douglas, nicknamed “The General,” left Syracuse with what was then the all-time NCAA lead in assists (960). When Payton, nicknamed “The Glove,” left school one year later, he was No. 2 all-time with 939 dimes. They are now sixth and 11th all-time. These two could soon be joined by another in this distinction, as current Ohio point guard D.J. Cooper is on pace to pass both benchmarks before this season is over. He has 1,905 career points and is averaging 13.5 per game this year, to go along with his 866 career assists and a 5.9 per game rate this season. He should easily become the third such player in NCAA hoops history to reach 2,000 points and 900 assists. If Cooper does reach these milestones he also will join Payton as the only two players with 2,000 points, 900 assists and 300 steals in their college careers.

Teaser:
<p> The 10 Greatest Accomplishments in Sports</p>
Post date: Friday, February 8, 2013 - 10:55
Path: /college-football/2013-college-football-recruiting-rankings-no-2-ohio-state-buckeyes
Body:

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

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

No. 2: Ohio State Buckeyes

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

Where They Got 'Em:

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

Areas of Focus:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Positional Breakdown:

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

AC100/National Recruits:

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

Early Enrollees:

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

Athlon Sports 2013 Recruiting Classes:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. Ohio State Buckeyes

Related: National Signing Day 2013 Winners and Losers

Teaser:
<p> 2013 College Football Recruiting Rankings No. 2: Ohio State Buckeyes</p>
Post date: Friday, February 8, 2013 - 06:45
Path: /college-football/footballs-2013-composite-team-recruiting-rankings
Body:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related: National Signing Day's 2013 Winners and Losers

Athlon Sports 2013 Composite Team Recruiting Rankings:

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

Best of the Rest:

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

Teaser:
<p> College Football's 2013 Team Recruiting Rankings</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 12:26
Path: /college-football/2013-recruiting-rankings-no-1-alabama-crimson-tide
Body:

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

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

No. 1: Alabama Crimson Tide

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

Where They Got 'Em:

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

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

Areas of Focus:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Positional Breakdown:

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

AC100/National Recruits:

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

Early Enrollees:

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

Teaser:
<p> 2013 Recruiting Rankings No. 1: Alabama Crimson Tide</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 08:20
Path: /college-football/national-signing-day-2013-winners-and-losers
Body:

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

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

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

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

Winners:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Losers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Georgia Bulldogs (13):

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

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

2. Alabama Crimson Tide (9):

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

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

 

 

3. Florida Gators (8):

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

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

4. LSU Tigers (6):

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

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

5. Texas A&M Aggies (8):

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

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

6. Tennessee Volunteers (5):

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

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

7. Arkansas Razorbacks (5):

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

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

8. Ole Miss Rebels (4):

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

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

9. South Carolina Gamecocks (3):

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

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

10. Auburn Tigers (3):

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

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

11. Vanderbilt Commodores (2):

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

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

12. Missouri Tigers (2):

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

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

13. Mississippi State Bulldogs (4):

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

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

14. Kentucky Wildcats (3):

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

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

Teaser:
<p> College Football Recruiting: 2013 SEC Early Enrollees</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/robert-nkemdiche-signs-ole-miss-rebels
Body:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

View the complete Athlon Consensus 100

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

View the complete 2013 Athlon Consensus 100

Recruiting Videos:

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

AC100 On Campus: Max Redfield

AC100 On Campus: Ethan Pocic

AC100 On Campus: Robbie Rhodes

AC100 On Campus: Jalin Marshall

AC100 On Campus: Jake Raulerson

AC100 On Campus: Cameron Burrows

AC100 On Campus: Dontre Wilson

AC100 On Campus: Taco Charlton

AC100 On Campus: Torii Hunter Jr., Part I

AC100 On Campus: Torii Hunter Jr., Part II

AC100 On Campus: Josh Banderas, Part I

AC100 On Campus: Josh Banderas, Part II

Teaser:
<p> National Signing Day 2013 Announcement Watch</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 06:20

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