Articles By Braden Gall

Path: /mlb/ncaa-baseball-2013-college-world-series-predictions
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The California Golden Bears announced in September of 2010 that their baseball program would be cut because the school couldn’t afford it any longer. After a change of heart eight months later — mostly stemming from a huge influx of cash from supporters — the program was reinstated and became the darlings of the 2011 College World Series. The Bears even won a game in Omaha, saving the program.

Last year, little Stony Brook went into the toughest environment in the nation and beat LSU to earn a trip to Omaha. Kent State took two out of three at No. 5 Oregon in the Super Regionals to join the Seawolves as fan favorites in Omaha.

Over the last two seasons, 10 of the 16 College World Series participants were national, or top eight, seeds. Over the last five seasons, 24 of the 40 College World Series teams were national seeds. This means that five of the eight teams heading to New Rosenblatt Stadium this June will be national seeds.

But it also means three of the eight will be unexpected underdog upsets. In fact, two of the last three champions — Arizona a year ago and South Carolina in 2010 — were not national seeds.

So who is going to make that historic trip to Omaha for the College World Series in 2013? Here are our predictions:
 

North Carolina (1) over South Carolina
I wasn’t going to take the Tar Heels after they lost their last two ACC series of the regular season, however, North Carolina got the weakest regional draw of the tourney and should skate through to the Super Regionals. In-state rivals Clemson and South Carolina will battle in the Columbia Regional for a second straight season. The Cocks won this battle last year and the Tigers have lost five straight games, so South Carolina is poised to battle North Carolina in the Supers. Look for ACC Player and Pitcher of the Year Colin Moran and Kent Emanuel to lead the Tar Heels to the College World Series for the fifth time in eight years.
 

Vanderbilt (2) over Louisville
Both host teams will face intriguing tests as Vandy faces Golden Spikes candidate Kerry Doane on Friday night and a talented but slumping Georgia Tech team potentially on Saturday. However, the Dores are the best team in SEC history by record and should get to the second weekend with relative ease. Louisville has a much tougher path to the Super Regional as it will have to face both Miami and Oklahoma State in the first weekend. The Cardinals won 16 straight to end the regular season and their pitching should advance the Redbirds into a showdown with the Commodores. Tim Corbin’s deep lineup and nasty 1-2 punch atop the rotation — Kevin Ziomek and Tyler Beede — will get Vanderbilt to Omaha for the second time in three years.
 

Arkansas over Oregon State (3)
This is the best Beavers team since Pat Casey won back-to-back CWS championships in 2006 and '07. But having to host either Kansas State or Arkansas in the Supers is a tough draw for the No. 3 overall seed. The Razorbacks have elite pitching both in the rotation and the bullpen as ace Ryne Stanek leads the way. Dave Van Horn’s team made it to the College World Series last year by winning on the road twice against Rice and Baylor and I expect the SEC-tested and second-seeded Hogs to do it again this year. Arkansas upsets the Wildcats in Manhattan, Kan., and then takes down Oregon State in Corvallis to reach the CWS for the second consecutive season.
 

LSU (4) over Oklahoma
The second-seeded Sooners have to go through Virginia Tech in Blacksburg to get to the Bayou Bengals but ace Jonathan Gray should be up to the task. This team has won five straight and clinched the automatic berth by winning the Big 12 tournament last weekend. That said, the surging Sooners won’t pull a Stony Brook this year as their run will end in Alex Box Stadium. LSU is on a mission this year led by three Golden Spikes semifinalists — starter Aaron Nola, slugger Mason Katz and star freshman shortstop Alex Bregman — and won’t be denied a trip to Omaha.

 

Cal State Fullerton (5) over UCLA
No team in the nation lost fewer games than the Titans' eight this year, but CSF will be pressed by upstart New Mexico and fellow West Coast power Arizona State in the first weekend. Fullerton has been knocked out of the last two tournaments by Pac-12 teams Oregon (2012) and Stanford (2011) and will likely have to get through two in Arizona State and UCLA to get to Omaha for the first time since 2009. Head coach and alum Rick Vanderhook, who played on the 1984 national championship team, is looking to put his stamp on the historic program after both George Horton and Dave Serrano led the Titans to Omaha. This team might be the pick to win the whole thing if they can make it through the first two weekends.
 

Virginia (6) over South Alabama
The Wahoos have a nice draw in the first weekend and should be a lock to make it to the second weekend. South Alabama was the best team in an extremely underrated Sun Belt conference (four bids) and gets to play against a surprise host in Mississippi State. The Jaguars, who won 42 games this year, will shock the Bulldogs faithful at famed Dudy Noble in Starkville, Miss. However, look for the superior talent of the Cavaliers to overpower the lack of postseason experience for South Alabama as Brian O’Connor gets his squad to Omaha for the third time in five seasons.
 

Indiana over Alabama
The Big Ten regular-season and tournament champions could be this year’s surprise team in Omaha but they will have to earn their way into the finals. Austin Peay won 45 games and Florida is extremely talented so the first weekend could be tougher than the second for Indiana. Meanwhile in Tallahassee, Alabama might be the team to beat after giving Vanderbilt all it could handle in the final weekend of the regular season. Host Florida State is the most vulnerable national seed and a should a No. 2 seed end up making its way to Omaha, it seems most likely that it would come from this “pod” of action.
 

NC State over Oregon (8)
Ole Miss and NC State are both poised to make deep runs on the backs of aces Bobby Wahl and Carlos Rodon respectively. However, they’ll meet this weekend in Raleigh and only one can advance to the Super Regionals. Both are toying with starting Wahl and Rodon head-to-head on Saturday instead of Friday in the opener. It means a trip to Omaha could be on the line on the second day of the regional. Rodon has been downright nasty of late and has the stuff — 8-2, 3.48 ERA, 151 K, .199 BAA in 101 IP — to carry his team to New Rosenblatt Stadium.

Teaser:
<p> NCAA Baseball: 2013 College World Series Predictions</p>
Post date: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - 15:40
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-30-tight-ends-bcs-era
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Greatness is defined in so many different ways. Statistical production, individual awards, team success, longevity, supporting cast, level of competition, raw talent and athletic ability all factor heavily in determining overall greatness. Sometimes, you simply know greatness when you see it.

So all factors were considered when trying to determine who the greatest tight ends of the BCS era have been. Here are the Top 30 tight ends since the BCS was implemented in 1998:

Agree or disagree with our ranking of College Football's Top 30 Tight Ends of the BCS Era? Let us know on Twitter at @AthlonSports, using the hashtag #AthlonTE30.

1. Chase Coffman, Missouri (2005-08)
Stats: 247 rec., 2,659 yds, 30 TDs

It didn’t take long for Tigers fans to see what they had in Coffman as he earned first-team Freshman All-American honors in 2005. He then broke Mizzou tight end receiving records with 58 receptions, 638 yards and nine touchdowns as just a sophomore. After two straight All-Big 12 seasons, Coffman claimed the John Mackey Award as a senior as the nation’s top tight end after posting 90 receptions, 987 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2008. Missouri went 22-6 over his final two seasons in what many believe to be the best two-year run in program history. And the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Coffman was a huge part of that success.

2. Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma (2006-09)
Stats: 111 rec., 1,629 yds, 26 TDs

Had the 6-foot-6, 260-pound star tight end stayed healthy and played his fourth season at Oklahoma, Gresham likely would have been the best player at his position during the BCS era. He scored 25 touchdowns in two seasons as the starter from 2007-08 — just eight shy of the NCAA tight end record (33). His All-American junior season features Sooners' tight end records for yards (950) and touchdowns (14) — one shy of Mark Clayton’s all-time single-season record regardless of position. He was arguably the top playmaker for a Big 12 champion and BCS National Championship runner-up that year as well. His season-ending knee injury prior to the start of his 2009 campaign left those in Norman wondering what could have been.

3. Heath Miller, Virginia (2002-04)
Stats: 144 rec., 1,703 yds, 20 TDs

Perhaps the greatest tight end in ACC history, Miller became the first player in league history to win the John Mackey Award in 2004. He wrote his name into the school and conference record books for receiving by a tight end, setting a new benchmark in all three major receiving categories despite only playing three seasons. However, it wasn’t just his elite receiving ability that made the 6-foot-5, 255-pounder one of the game’s best. Miller relished the blocking side of the game and his physicality and dependability is what has made the consensus All-American one of the NFL’s best tight ends for the last decade.

4. Dallas Clark, Iowa (2000-02)
Stats: 77 rec., 1,251 yds, 8 TDs

The walk-on began his career as a linebacker but quickly developed into a star at tight end. He earned All-Big Ten recognition as a sophomore and then became the nation’s top tight end as a junior in 2002. The John Mackey Award winner caught 43 passes for 742 yards and four touchdowns while helping Iowa (11-2) to a Big Ten co-championship and Orange Bowl berth. The dynamic in-state talent was a first-round pick and proved in the NFL that his college career was no fluke.

5. Aaron Hernandez, Florida (2007-09)
Stats: 111 rec., 1,382 yds, 12 TDs

The undersized but athletic playmaker came from Bristol (Conn.) Central originally, but proved quickly he had what it took to succeed in the deep South. All Hernandez did while at Florida is set school records for receptions in a season (68) and a career. And his elite 2009 campaign in which he posted 850 yards and five touchdowns made the 6-foot-2, 250-pounder the SEC’s first-ever John Mackey Award winner. He was a go-to target for Tim Tebow and was a big piece of the 2008 BCS National Championship squad. Florida went 26-2 over his last two years in Gainesville.

6. Marcedes Lewis, UCLA (2002-05)
Stats: 126 rec., 1,571 yds, 21 TDs

The red-zone touchdown machine improved his production each of his four seasons at UCLA, culminating with All-American and John Mackey honors as a senior in 2005. He set school records in all three major categories for a tight end that year and helped UCLA to its best record (10-2) since 1998. The 6-foot-6, 260-pound consensus All-American was a matchup nightmare for defenses and was the Pac-10’s best player at his position during the BCS era in a league known for its great tight ends.

7. Dennis Pitta, BYU (2004, '07-09)
Stats: 221 rec., 2,901 yds, 21 TDs

Few tight ends during the BCS era combine the statistical production, team success and overall NFL talent that Pitta did. He began his career as a freshman in 2004 before taking his Mormon mission and returning in 2007. His teams went 32-7 during his three-year starting career and few tight ends in the history of the sport have topped 200 catches, nearly 3,000 yards or 20 touchdowns — much less all three. He owns nearly every major receiving record at BYU for tight ends and is BYU’s all-time leading receiver with 221 receptions regardless of position. His 2,901 career receiving yards are an NCAA record for tight ends.

8. Travis Beckum, Wisconsin (2005-08)
Stats: 159 rec., 2,149 yds, 11 TDs

From a speed and agility standpoint, the 6-foot-3, 240-pound pass-catcher has few peers. One of the fastest and most dynamic tight ends in BCS history, Beckum switched to tight end as a sophomore and became a second-team All-American in just his first season playing the position. He posted back-to-back 900-yard seasons and saved his best games for the biggest competition (9 rec., 140 yds vs. Ohio State, 10 rec., 132 vs. Michigan State, for example). He was poised to set NCAA records for a tight end until a broken leg in Week 6 ended his college career. At a school known for elite All-American tight ends, Beckum was the most explosive, most talented and most productive.

9. D.J. Williams, Arkansas (2007-10)
Stats: 152 rec., 1,855 yds, 10 TDs

The star Razorback never had an 800-yard season, never caught more than 61 passes and never scored more than four times in a year, but Williams is one of the BCS’s best. His career numbers are excellent and he was extremely dependable for three full seasons for the Hogs. His career culminated in a John Mackey Award in 2010 and helped lead Arkansas to 10 wins and a Sugar Bowl berth.

10. James Casey, Rice (2007-08)
Stats: 157 rec., 1,914 yds, 17 TDs, 362 rush, 11 TDs, 2 TD passes

Affectionately known as “Thor,” no other tight end during the BCS era was as versatile and productive in two seasons as Casey. He didn’t face elite competition, obviously, but no tight end has ever put together a season like Thor did in 2008: 111 rec., 1,329 yards, 13 TDs, 241 yards rushing, 6 TDs, 14 punt returns for 112 yards and even two touchdown passes. He was the No. 1 overall college fantasy player in 2008 regardless of position (yes, that includes quarterbacks) and it has to be considered the best season for a tight end in NCAA history.

Related: The Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

11. Jeremy Shockey, Miami (2000-01)
Stats: 61 rec., 815 yds, 10 TDs

The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder was one of the most physically gifted players to ever play the position. He didn’t have the huge stats of other elite players but he was an All-American and helped Miami win the national title in 2001. He was one of three finalists for the Mackey Award before leaving school early to become a first-round NFL Draft pick.

12. Kellen Winslow, Miami (2001-03)
Stats: 119 rec., 1,365 yds, 9 TDs

Bizarre post-game interviews aside, Winslow was a monster on the field at Miami. He played a small role on the national championship team in 2001 and was a huge force — 57 rec., 726 yds, 8 TD — on the '02 team that was defeated by Ohio State in the title game. He was a consensus All-American and John Mackey Award winner despite just one touchdown catch in 2003.

13. Martin Rucker, Missouri (2004-07)
Stats: 203 rec., 2,175 yds, 18 TDs

The complementary piece to Coffman at Mizzou was Rucker, a star from St. Joseph’s (Mo.) Benton. Playing three years with Coffman, Rucker is one of the just five tight ends on this list who topped 200 receptions and one of just 10 names on this list with 2,000 yards. He was a consensus All-American and senior leader for a 12-2 Tigers team that finished fourth in the AP poll.

14. Jason Witten, Tennessee (2000-02)
Stats: 68 rec., 797 yds, 7 TDs

The numbers were never huge, but Witten is clearly one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the sport. He never missed a game during his three-year career at Tennessee and helped the Vols to a 27-11 record and an SEC East championship. From a dual-threat (blocking and receiving) perspective, Witten might be the best tight end to play the game during the BCS era.

15. Ron Gronkowski, Arizona (2007-08)
Stats: 75 rec., 1,197 yds, 16 TDs

The Gronk played just 20 career college games but was a touchdown machine in college well before setting NFL tight end touchdown records. Unfortunately, the 'Zona tight end missed all of the 2009 season after preseason back surgery after being named a preseason first-team All-American and the Mackey Award frontrunner.

16. Fred Davis, USC (2004-07)
Stats: 117 rec., 1,408 yds, 13 TDs

It took some time for Davis to develop, especially considering the wide receiver talent asking for the football at USC during his career. But when he made his mark as a senior in 2007 it was as the best tight end in the nation. He won the John Mackey Award that year and was an All-American. He played in two national title games, winning one as a freshman in 2004.

17. Zach Miller, Arizona State (2004-06)
Stats: 144 rec., 1,512 yds, 14 TDs

Miller gets a slight nod over fellow Sun Devil Todd Heap due to slightly better production and All-American recognition. He is the school’s all-time leading receiver at the tight end position and consistently made big plays for his offense. He was one of three Mackey finalists in 2006.

18. Todd Heap, Arizona State (1998-2000)
Stats: 112 rec., 1,658 yds, 10 TDs

Arguing between Miller and Heap is futile. Both were great players and Heap’s NFL career proved his school records were legitimate. The “Golden Retriever” was a two-time All-Pac-10 performer who was as dependable as any player at his position.

19. Dwayne Allen, Clemson (2009-11)
Stats: 93 rec., 1,079 yds, 12 TDs

A consensus All-American, Allen was one of the most clutch performers in the game during his time at Clemson. When the Tigers needed a big play on third down or in the red zone, Allen was the go-to target. He claimed the Mackey Award as a junior, was an All-American and helped Clemson win its first ACC title in two decades in 2010.

20. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington (2011-present)
Stats: 109 rec., 1,396 yds, 13 TDs

There is some projecting with ASJ, but he has already broken most school tight end records and will make a push this fall for the John Mackey Award. He was the No. 1 TE recruit in the nation two years ago and is poised for one of the greatest careers in Huskies history.

Related: The Top 50 Running Backs of the BCS Era

21. Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame (2008-10)
Stats: 90 rec., 1,032 yds, 8 TDs

22. Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame (2010-12)*
Stats: 140 rec., 1,840 yds, 11 TDs

23. Daniel Graham, Colorado (1998-2001)
Stats: 106 rec., 1,543 yds, 11 TDs

24. Matt Spaeth, Minnesota (2003-06)
Stats: 109 rec., 1,293 yds, 12 TDs

25. Vernon Davis, Maryland (2003-05)
Stats: 83 rec., 1,371 yds, 9 TDs

26. Tim Stratton, Purdue (1998-2001)
Stats: 190 rec., 1,976 yds, 15 TDs

27. Brandon Pettigrew, Oklahoma State (2005-08)
Stats: 112 rec., 1,450 yds, 9 TDs

28. Dustin Keller, Purdue (2004-07)
Stats: 142 rec., 1,882 yds, 16 TDs

29. Lance Kendricks, Wisconsin (2008-10)
Stats: 78 rec., 1,160 yds, 8 TDs

30. Garrett Graham, Wisconsin (2007-09)
Stats: 121 rec., 1,492 yds, 16 TD

Related: The Top 50 Wide Receivers of the BCS Era  

The Next 30:

31. Zach Ertz, Stanford (2010-12): 112 rec., 1,434 yds, 15 TDs
32. Coby Fleener, Stanford (2008-11): 96 rec., 1,543 yds, 18 TDs
33. Ben Troupe, Florida (2000-03): 64 rec., 958 yds, 7 TDs
34. Bubba Franks, Miami (1997-99): 77 rec., 1,038 yds, 12 TDs
35. Garrett Mills, Tulsa (2002-05): 201 rec., 2,389 yds, 23 TDs
36. David Thomas, Texas (2002-05): 97 rec., 1,354 yds, 15 TDs
37. Ed Dickson, Oregon (2006-09): 124 rec., 1,557 yds, 12 TDs
38. Darius Hill, Ball State (2005-08): 158 rec., 2,473 yds, 31 TDs
39. Jacob Tamme, Kentucky (2004-07): 133 rec., 1,417 yds, 11 TDs
40. Owen Daniels, Wisconsin (2002-05): 62 rec., 852 yds, 8 TDs

41. Jonny Harline, BYU (2005-06): 121 rec., 1,788 yds, 17 TDs
42. Ibn Green, Louisville (1996-99): 217 rec., 2,830 yds, 33 TDs
43. Michael Egnew, Missouri (2008-11): 147 rec., 1,332 yds, 8 TDs
44. Shawn Nelson, Southern Miss (2005-08): 157 rec., 2,054 yds, 16 TDs
45. Gavin Escobar, San Diego State (2010-12): 122 rec., 1,646 yds, 17 TDs
46. Ladarius Green, UL-Lafayette (2008-11): 148 rec., 2,202 yds, 22 TDs
47. James Whalen, Kentucky (1997-99): 120 rec., 1,324 yds, 13 TDs
48. Orson Charles, Georgia (2009-11): 94 rec., 1,370 yds, 10 TDs
49. Cody Slate, Marshall (2006-09): 199 rec., 2,619 yds, 23 TDs
50. Jared Cook, South Carolina (2006-08): 73 rec., 1,107 yds, 7 TDs

51. Leonard Pope, Georgia (2003-05): 65 rec., 1,044 yds, 10 TDs
52. Chris Cooley, Utah State (2001-03): 96 rec., 1,255 yds, 11 TDs
53. Gary Barnidge, Louisville (2004-07): 108 rec., 1,491 yds, 17 TDs
54. Drake Dunsmore, Northwestern (2007-11): 143 rec., 1,567 yds, 14 TDs
55. Dorin Dickerson, Pitt (2006-09): 63 rec., 708 yds, 12 TDs
56. George Bryan, NC State (2008-11): 126 rec, 1,323 yds, 17 TDs
57. Kory Sperry, Colorado State (2004-08): 141 rec., 1,763 yds, 20 TDs
58. Greg Olsen, Miami (2004-06): 87 rec., 1,215 yds, 6 TDs
59. Ben Watson, Georgia (2001-03): 65 rec., 852 yds, 6 TDs
60. Bennie Joppru, Michigan (1999-2002): 79 rec., 731 yds, 8 TDs

Top 50s of the BCS Era:

The Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era
The Top 50 Running Backs of the BCS Era

The Top 50 Wide Receivers of the BCS Era


Agree or disagree with our ranking of College Football's Top 30 Tight Ends of the BCS Era? Let us know on Twitter (@AthlonSports), using the hashtag #AthlonTE30

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 30 Tight Ends of the BCS Era</p>
Post date: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - 07:45
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/10-unlikely-stadiums-deserve-host-super-bowl
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Miami and New Orleans have hosted more Super Bowls than any place else, with 10 each. Los Angeles has snagged seven Super Bowls. So 27 of the 47 NFL championships have been decided in just three cities. No other city has hosted more than four Super Bowls. Certainly, NOLA, South Beach and SoCal all have plenty to offer the fans, celebrities, athletes and corporate fat cats who descend upon Super Sunder.

But today the NFL announced its historic and prestigious Super Bowl L — or Super Bowl 50 for those who stopped using Roman numerals the second they graduated from elementary school — will be hosted by…

Santa Clara?

The 50th Anniversary Super Bowl will be played in a suburb 40 miles away with no current football stadium?

Okay, technically, it’s San Francisco’s Super Bowl. And the main reason it won the bidding is the $1.2 billion state-of-the-art stadium the city is building that will be the new home of the San Francisco 49ers. Levi’s Stadium, along with heavy financial backing from Silicon Valley powerhouses like Apple and Google, promises to deliver an unforgettable experience.

This will be just the second time a Super Bowl was hosted in the San Francisco Bay Area. Super Bowl XIX (19) was played in Stanford Stadium in 1985 when Joe Montana and the Niners defeated the Dolphins 38-16. Stanford, one of the best teams in college football the last two years, was 57th in the nation in average attendance at 43,343 in 2012. 

So it got me thinking — which is always dangerous — about my dream scenario for the greatest game of football played each year.

If I were in complete control and could pick any place in the world to play the Super Bowl, where would it be?

Here is what I came up with—and yes, I know some aren't stadiums but this is my dream, so deal with it—in no particular order:

1. Bristol Motor Speedway
Location: Bristol, Tenn.
Capacity: 165,000
Host: NASCAR

It isn’t the biggest sports venue in the world — that honor belongs to the 400,000-seat Indianapolis Motorspeedway — but no other racing venue provides the sightlines and intimate atmosphere like Thunder Valley. There have long been rumors of college football powers Virginia Tech and Tennessee battling in Bristol, so why wouldn’t a Super Bowl work inside the massive half-mile track? There isn’t a bad seat in the house. Does the surrounding area lack in nightlife, places to eat, hotels and overall excitement? Yes. But the stadium itself would be a sight to behold.

2. Lambeau Field
Location: Green Bay, Wisc.
Capacity: 79,594
Host: Green Bay Packers

This will never happen because there aren’t enough front yards to park cars for an event like the Super Bowl. It might also be 12-degrees below zero during the month of February. But this cathedral of football is the most spectacular, most historic, most beloved stadium in the history of the NFL. The Frozen Tundra will never come close to hosting a game like the Super Bowl, but there is little argument that it’s not the best football stadium this country has ever constructed — and it would be bizarre to see Super Sunday invade the sleepy northern Wisconsin town.

3. Churchill Downs
Location: Louisville, Ky.
Capacity: 164,858
Host: The Kentucky Derby

There are few venues that combine to offer what the famed horse track can provide. Louisville is a centrally located city in the heart of the country with plenty to do and a blossoming downtown. Churchill Downs can seat nearly 165,000 people and is one of the most tradition-laden venues in all of sports. It has the infield for the common folk to party and Millionaire's Row for the glitz and glam of a Super Bowl.

4. Camp Nou
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Capacity: 100,001
Host: FC Barcelona

Wembley Stadium in London has history and already has hosted American football games, but Camp Nou is the largest European Stadium and is located in… well, Barcelona instead of London. Michael Jackson, U2, Bruce Springsteen and The Pope all played in front of 90,000-plus audiences at Camp Nou and the city is not only capable of hosting an event like the Super Bowl (see the 1992 Olympics) but it would blow fans away. One of the most beautiful, picturesque and oldest cities in the world would have something for all ages to enjoy. All of this on the Mediterranean coast? Sign me up please.

5. Tiger Stadium
Location: Baton Rouge, La.
Capacity: 92,542
Host: LSU Tigers

Neyland Stadium in Knoxville is the biggest. Sanford Stadium in Athens is the most picturesque. Bryant-Denny in Tuscaloosa is the most successful. But for gameday atmosphere, there is nothing quite like Death Valley at night in the SEC. The food, culture, fans, smells and Richter Scale inducing noise echoing from LSU’s Tigers Stadium is second to none. Among the nation’s best college football venue’s, this one might be the best.

6. Wrigley Field
Location: Chicago, Ill.
Capacity: 102,500
Host: Chicago Cubs

Fenway Park would be great but doesn't have the same football ability that Wrigley brings to the table. Football is already being played there and recently approved upgrades will make this an excellent confluence of history, timeliness and amenities. Located in the heart of one of America's greatest cities, there is no reason to think this wouldn't be an extremely memorable Super Bowl.

7. Estadio Do Maracana
Location: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Capacity: 78,838
Host: Brazilian National Team

There is a reason that Rio is one of the most popular vacation spots in the world and why the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics have been awarded to the city. In 1950, this building held a world record 199,854 people for the championship game of the 1950 FIFA World Cup. The beaches, bikinis and unbelievable geography of one of the world’s largest cities is about as attractive a place to play a game of any kind as there is on the globe. I’m pretty sure all of the pro athletes and Hollywood stars would vote yes for Rio De Janeiro.

8. Dubai Sports City Stadium
Location: Dubai, U.A.E.
Capacity: 30,000
Host: Various

Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dabi roughly an hour down the road might be a better fit (60,000 capacity) but no city in the world is developing a reputation like Dubai. The city is becoming one of the most luxurious and awe-inspiring in the world and an event like the Super Bowl would marry the posh lifestyle of most Super Bowl attendents with the world’s most amazing hotels, island communities and burgeoning nightlife. And if DSC Stadium isn’t big enough to host the game, the NFL could always play a game on top of a hotel.

9. Ohio Stadium
Location: Columbus, OH
Capacity: 102,329
Host: Ohio State Buckeyes

The Horseshoe has everything an NFL Super Bowl would need. A massive, gorgeous historic venue. The biggest city in the state of Ohio certainly has the infrastructure to host the big crowds and the local bar and restaurant scene is as enjoyable as any in the nation. Few places in the nation combine the logistics and size of a huge city with the personality of a college town like Columbus would. And who wouldn’t want to see the dotting of the “I” on a Super Sunday?

10. Rungrado May Day Stadium
Location: Pyongyang, North Korea
Capacity: 150,000
Host: DPRK National Team

Located in the capital city of North Korea, Rungrado May Day Stadium is the world’s largest stadium. It has hosted numerous soccer matches and is home to both the Men’s and Women’s national “football” teams. It also hosts the Guinness Book of Records largest sporting event in the world when the “mass games” take place each year. Plus, wouldn’t it be cool to play the most capitalistic sporting event in the history of the world in the heart of North Korea?

Other possibilities:

Wembley Stadium (London, England) 105,000
Historic Hyde Park or O-2 Arena won’t work, but this awesome venue would.

Kyle Field (College Station, Texas) 102,500
Recent plans to renovate/expand make this venue one of the future gems of college football.

Yankee Stadium (New York, N.Y.)
Football has been played there before and New York is New York.

Sanford Stadium (Athens, Ga.) 92,746
There may not be a more beautiful setting in all of college football.

Olympic Stadium (Berlin, Germany) 74,228
A stat of the art facility owns the world baseball attendance record with roughly 110,000.

Roman Colosseum (Rome, Italy) 50,000-70,000
Certainly some renovations would have to be made, but how cool would this be?

Michigan Stadium (Ann Arbor, Mich.) 109,901
The biggest stadium in the United States of any kind.

Melbourne Cricket Ground (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) 100,018
The rugby destination for Aussie football set a record with over 120,000 fans in 1970.

Daytona International Speedway (Daytona, Fla.) 167,785
Great weather, great seating, massive size, history, tradition, the beach.

Autzen Stadium (Eugene, Ore.) 54,000
Few stadiums pack as much punch than the Ducks home.

Teaser:
<p> 10 Unlikely Stadiums That Deserve To Host The Super Bowl</p>
Post date: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 15:10
Path: /mlb/fantasy-baseball-bests-busts-and-waiver-wire-may-20
Body:

Stay tuned each week to Athlon Sports for a 2013 Fantasy Baseball Weekend Waiver Wire report every Monday. Our fantasy junkies cover the hottest hitters, best waiver wire pick ups, top starting pitching spot starts and sift through bullpens from around the league each week.

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (May 13-19):

  Name Pos. Team R HR RBI SB BA OPS
1. Carlos Gonzalez OF COL 8 3 8 3 .375 1.364
2. Jason Kipnis 2B CLE 7 3 8 2 .417 1.398
3. David Ortiz 1B BOS 5 3 12 0 .458 1.352
4. Miguel Cabrera 3B DET 7 4 7 0 .429 1.448
5. Raul Ibanez* OF SEA 5 5 11 0 .308 1.193
6. Everth Cabrera 2B/SS SD 4 0 6 7 .357 .776
7. Daniel Murphy* 1B/2B NYM 7 2 5 1 .500 1.374
8. Joey Votto 1B CIN 7 2 5 0 .583 1.572
9. Elvis Andrus SS TEX 8 0 4 5 .345 .854
10. Adam Dunn* 1B/OF CWS 5 4 10 0 .320 1.273
11. Mitch Moreland* 1B TEX 5 4 10 0 .308 1.191
12. Paul Goldschmidt 1B ARI 6 3 5 0 .500 1.583
13. Jean Segura SS MIL 5 1 5 4 .387 .954
14. Alex Rios OF CWS 6 2 7 1 .407 1.282
15. Norichika Aoki OF MIL 7 0 3 2 .533 1.209
16. Adam LaRoche* 1B WAS 4 4 10 0 .308 1.148
17. Ryan Zimmerman 3B WAS 4 2 9 1 .385 1.102
18. Andrew McCutchen OF PIT 8 2 3 2 .308 1.033
19. Billy Butler 1B KC 4 1 10 0 .480 1.239
20. Howie Kendrick 2B LAA 6 1 6 1 .429 1.091
21. Matt Joyce* OF TB 5 2 8 1 .300 1.064
22. Dustin Pedroia 2B BOS 9 1 5 0 .375 1.089
23. David Wright 3B NYM 3 1 5 3 .393 .950
24. Adrian Beltre 3B TEX 6 1 5 0 .448 1.155
25. Mike Trout OF LAA 6 2 4 2 .238 1.004

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Weekly Waiver Wire:

Jurickson Profar, 2B, TEX (49% owned in Yahoo! Leagues)
No doubt you've heard that the elite prospect has been called up to the majors to take Ian Kinsler's place (DL, ribs) on the roster. He may not be up for long but he is worth stashing as a future commodity. And in keeper leagues, he is a must-add. He was hitting .278/.807 with four dingers and six stolen bases at Triple-A Round Rock this season.

Mitch Moreland, 1B, TEX (54%)
Moreland's career high in home runs was 16 two years ago in 464 at-bats. But it appears his power is rounding into form. He is on pace to blow past his career high and should provide solid production across the board in that lineup.

Daniel Murphy, 1B/2B, NYM (56%)
He won't ever be a huge producer in the power or speed categories, but he is a pro hitter. He hit .500 last week and Terry Collins is toying with the idea of hitting him fourth or fifth to give his bat more RBI chances. He won't help much at 1B but has plenty of value at 2B or MI.

Yonder Alonso, 1B, SD (19%)
Only 19 percent of Yahoo! leagues have rostered the talented second-year first baseman so I will continue to push the Padres slugger. He hit .381 last week and will blow past all of his career totals before the All-Star break. He won't be an elite player but has the pedigree to continue to develop into a dependable fantasy option who won't hurt your lineup in any category.

Last Week:

Justin Morneau, 1B, MIN: .370/.851, 2 R, 5 RBI

Jhonny Peralta, SS, DET: .350/1.058, 3 R, HR, RBI
James Loney, 1B, TB: .261/.637, 3 R, RBI
Chris Carter, 1B, HOU: .238/.571, 2 R, RBI

 

Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:

  Name Team IP W K ERA WHIP
1. Chris Sale CWS 24.0 2 24 0.38 0.54
2. Justin Masterson CLE 23.0 3 27 1.17 0.78
3. Shelby Miller STL 14.2 1 19 0.00 0.41
4. Matt Harvey NYM 23.1 1 22 1.54 0.56
5. Jon Lester BOS 16.0 2 10 1.13 0.56
6. Scott Feldman* CHC 19.2 2 15 0.46 0.97
7. Clayton Kershaw LAD 15.2 1 15 0.57 0.77
8. James Shields KC 24.0 0 23 1.50 0.79
9. Hiroki Kuroda NYY 22.2 2 9 1.59 0.79
10. Cliff Lee PHI 22.0 2 16 1.64 0.95
11. Jordan Zimmerman WAS 22.2 2 18 1.59 1.10
12. Brandon McCarthy ARI 23.1 1 13 1.16 0.90
13. Mike Minor ATL 19.2 2 20 1.83 1.12
14. Adam Wainwright STL 15.0 1 15 1.80 0.67
15. Andrew Cashner* SD 21.1 2 13 1.69 0.98
16. Travis Wood CHC 20.2 2 13 1.74 0.97
17. Ubaldo Jimenez* CLE 16.2 2 25 2.70 1.20
18. Patrick Corbin ARI 13.1 2 9 0.68 1.05
19. Hisashi Iwakuma SEA 14.0 2 13 2.57 0.86
20. Bronson Arroyo* CIN 19.1 2 18 1.86 1.19

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Top 5 Spot Starts for the Week (Mon. - Sun.):

1. Jose Fernandez, MIA: (Tues.) Philadelphia (49% owned)
Stop me when you've heard this before: the extremely talented rookie is owned in less than half of Yahoo! leagues and I have no idea why. He's 2-0 with five earned runs, 21 strikeouts and six walks over his last three starts.

2. Andrew Cashner, SD: (Sat.) at Arizona (38%)
The highly touted youngster is 2-0 with 13 strikeouts and just four earned runs allowed over his last three starts. He has the pedigree to be much more than just a spot starter so keep him on your watch list all season.

3. Bronson Arroyo, CIN: (Fri.) Chicago Cubs (26%)
Arroyo has been downright nasty the last two times out. He has tossed 14.1 scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts, just 13 base runners and two wins in his last two starts. And he gets the Cubs on Friday.

4. A.J. Griffin, OAK: (Sat.) at Houston (52%)
The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder has allowed just seven earned runs over his last four starts with 21 strikeouts and two wins. He has settled down and should be able to handle Houston — a team he posted this line against earlier in the year: 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 8 K.

5. Tommy Milone, OAK: (Fri.) at Houston (56%)
The soft-tossing lefty has had his ups and downs this year — four games with 4 ER or more and three with 1 ER or less — but has an excellent set of ratios. His 3.47 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 49:12 strikeout-to-walk ratio plays in any league. And especially against the Astros.
 

Closing Morsels:

The Dodgers' Kenley Jansen picked up a save on May 14. With Brandon League struggling, Jansen was on audition this week and didn't perform. He has allowed four earned runs in 2.1 innings with two losses. The big fella should be the closer but it may take some more time... The D-Backs' closer Heath Bell has finished off five of his last six chances without a blemish. He did blow one save in the middle of his recent run but that is to be expected with the aging reliever. Take the good with the bad for now... The Indians' Chris Perez has pitched twice since complaining of shoulder pain last week. He blew his second save of the year and still doesn't appear to be 100 percent... Junichi Tazawa didn't allow a run in 3.0 IP last week but he's allowed two hits per outing in his last four trips to the mound. That doesn't bode well long-term once Andrew Bailey returns — who is back throwing simulated innings... Keep an eye on Ryan Madson with the Angels as Ernesto Frieri is still allowing too many runs. He's still getting the job done and has tons of strikeouts but this a situation to watch.

Keep up to date all season long with Athlon Sports' Fantasy Baseball Closer Grid

Teaser:
<p> Fantasy Baseball Bests, Busts and Waiver Wire: May 20</p>
Post date: Monday, May 20, 2013 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-50-wide-receivers-bcs-era
Body:

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

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

Agree or disagree with our ranking of College Football's Top 50 Wide Receivers of the BCS Era? Let us know on Twitter at @AthlonSports, using the hashtag #AthlonWR50.

1. Larry Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh (2002-03)
Stats: 161 rec., 2,677 yds, 34 TD

Few players have ever been as impossible to cover as the star from Richfield (Minn.) Holy Angels. After redshirting, Fitz dominated college football for two full seasons. He became the first Pitt Panther to have back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, owns the school record with 34 touchdowns (in just 26 games) and owns the NCAA record for consecutive games with a touchdown reception (18). As a sophomore in his final season at Pitt, he caught 92 passes for 1,672 yards and 22 touchdowns, winning Big East Player of the Year honors and the Walter Camp and Biletnikoff awards. His second-place finish in the Heisman Trophy voting is the highest by any wide receiver during the BCS era and he is the only one in to finish in the top three.

2. Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech (2004-06)
Stats: 178 rec., 2,927 yds, 28 TD, 40 rush, TD

Appropriately nicknamed Megatron, no player has combined the size and speed Johnson brought to the Ramblin Wreck offense. The Tyrone (Ga.) Sandy Creek prospect was the ACC Rookie of the Year in 2004 before earning back-to-back All-American honors in 2005-06. He owns school records for receiving yards and touchdowns during his time at Tech and claimed the Biletnikoff Award as well as ACC Player of the Year honors in 2006. He is one of 13 wide receivers to finish in the top 10 in the Heisman Trophy voting during the BCS era (10th). He is simply a freak of nature.

3. Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech (2007-08)
Stats: 231 rec., 3,127 yds, 41 TD

No player has been as productive in two seasons as the Dallas, Texas native. As a redshirt freshman, Crabtree set NCAA records for receptions (134), yards (1,962) and touchdowns (22) and won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top wideout. He also won Big 12 Newcomer and Offensive Player of the Year honors. He became the first player in NCAA history to win a second Biletnikoff Award when he caught 97 passes for 1,165 yards and 19 touchdowns for the 11-2 Red Raiders the next year. He finished fifth in the Heisman balloting in ’08 — one of just four wide receivers to finish in the top five during the BCS era. Certainly, Mike Leach’s system inflated the two-time consensus All-American’s numbers, but the 6-foot-2, 215-pound wideout was — and still is — easily the most talented Texas Tech receiver in program history.

4. Peter Warrick, Florida State (1995-99)
Stats: 207 rec., 3,517 yds, 32 TD, 188 rush, 4 TD, 937 ret. yds (6)

The phrase all-purpose wasn’t en vogue when Warrick broke onto the scene so the Bradenton (Fla.) Southeast superstar might deserve credit for the invention. And if not for an incident at Dillard’s Department Store that resulted in a two-game suspension, Warrick likely would have won the Heisman Trophy. The two-time consensus All-American could do it all. His joystick, open-field moves made him dynamic in the passing game, special teams and he was one of the first wideouts used in the running game. His Sugar Bowl MVP performance — and touchdown catch — in the 1999 National Championship game (six rec., 163 yds, three total TDs) will go down as one of the greatest national title performances in NCAA history.

5. Percy Harvin, Florida (2006-08)
Stats: 133 rec., 1,929 yds, 13 TD, 1,852 rush, 19 TD

If Warrick invented the all-purpose position, Harvin glorified it. A true dual-threat offensive talent, Harvin burst onto the scene as the SEC Freshman of the Year. He played a key role in the 2006 BCS National Championship run, totaling 82 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown against Ohio State. He capped his college career with 14 touches for 171 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown in the 2008 BCS National Championship game against Oklahoma. Few have combined speed, strength, production and winning like Harvin did. He nearly topped 2,000 yards both rushing and receiving, and, if not for nagging injuries his entire career, the Virginia Beach prospect might have been more decorated nationally.

6. Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State (2009-11)
Stats: 252 rec., 3,564 yds, 40 TD, 136 rush, TD

Similarly to Crabtree, Blackmon’s numbers are inflated due to an elite offensive system. But make no mistake, he is the one of the greatest pass-catchers to ever play. He posted back-to-back seasons with at least 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns, earning consensus All-American honors twice. The Ardmore (Okla.) Plainview product also became just the second player in NCAA history to claim two Biletnikoff Awards. Blackmon won Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2010 and capped his illustrious career with a Big 12 championship and Fiesta Bowl MVP performance against Stanford. At a program with a long track record of elite wideouts, Blackmon has to be considered the best. He is one of just four wide receivers to finish in the top five for the Heisman Trophy (5th, 2010).

7. Braylon Edwards, Michigan (2001-04)
Stats: 252 rec., 3,541 yds, 39 TD

Not many players have three consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 yards and at least 10 touchdowns but that is what the Detroit native did at Michigan. He was uncoverable during his time at Ann Arbor, setting school records in every major receiving category. His 39 career touchdowns remain a Big Ten record. Edwards claimed Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors and claimed the Biletnikoff Award as a senior in 2004. The consensus All-American finished 10th in the Heisman voting that season as well.

8. Torry Holt, NC State (1995-98)
Stats: 191 rec., 3,379 yds, 31 TD, 119 rush

One of the greatest receivers to ever play the game on any level, Holt capped his outstanding Wolfpack career with an ACC Player of the Year award in the first year of the BCS. Over his final two seasons in Raleigh, the Gibsonville (N.C.) Eastern Guilford receiver caught 150 passes for 2,703 yards and 27 touchdowns (he also threw a 45-yard TD pass), finishing eighth in the Heisman voting in 1998. Holt set all types of NC State and ACC records during his college career and he went on to become one of the NFL’s greatest wide receivers.

9. Tavon Austin, West Virginia (2009-12)
Stats: 288 rec., 3,413 yds, 29 TD, 1,031 rush, 6 TD, 2,840 ret. yds, 5 TD

Be it through the air, on the ground or in the kicking game, Austin was downright unstoppable. The diminutive talent won’t ever be confused with prototypical physical outside receivers, but with the ball in his hands, few were as productive. The Baltimore prospect was a two-time All-American and two-time Big East Special Teamer of the Year. He posted back-to-back 100-catch/1,000-yard seasons and was a 1,000-yard rusher for his career. In fact, Austin’s signature performance came as a running back against Oklahoma as senior when he nearly set an NCAA record for all-purpose production with 572 yards (344 rushing, 82 receiving, 146 kick return). He scored four different ways during his unbelievable senior season and finished eighth in the Heisman voting.

10. Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma (2008-11)
Stats: 349 rec., 4,586 yds, 45 TD, 97 rush, TD, 1,307 ret. yds, 2 TD

No one in NCAA history caught more passes than the smallish local star from Norman, Okla. And it didn’t take long for him to become a star, catching seven passes for a freshman school record 141 yards in his first collegiate game. He posted three straight seasons of at least 80 catches, 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns. He led the nation in both receptions (131) and punt returns (34) as a junior and is the Big 12’s all-time leading receiver in all three major categories. Broyles was a two-time consensus All-American.

Related: The Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era 

11. Troy Edwards, Louisiana Tech (1996-98)
Stats: 280 rec., 4,352 yds, 50 TD, 447 rush, 6 TD

From a stats perspective, no player during the BCS era was as productive as Edwards — and he did it prior to the spread offense explosion. At one time, Edwards owned the NCAA record for receptions (140), yards (1,996) and touchdowns (27) in a single season to go with NCAA single-game records for receptions (21) and yards (405). His 27 scores and 405 yards against Nebraska in 1998 are both still NCAA records. He was a consensus All-American and won the Biletnikoff Award that season.

12. Michael Floyd, Notre Dame (2008-11)
Stats: 271 rec., 3,686 yds, 37 TD, 30 rush, TD

The physical monster from famed Cretin-Derham Hall is the all-time leading receiver in Notre Dame history. He owns every major freshman, single-season and career benchmark in the Irish’s record book. If not for nagging injuries and a small off-the-field issue, Floyd’s numbers might be on par with the likes of Edwards or Broyles.

13. Mike Williams, USC (2002-03)
Stats: 176 rec., 2,579 yds, 30 TD

Fans in Los Angeles may always wonder what could have been had Williams not pressed NFL Draft eligibility rules. In his two underclass seasons for USC, Williams was extraordinary. As a true freshman, the massive 6-foot-5, 240-pounder caught 81 passes for 1,265 yards and 14 TDs. He returned to top those numbers as a sophomore with 95 receptions, 1,314 yards and 16 scores in 2003. He was a consensus All-American and finished eighth in the Heisman voting. Had the NFL allowed sophomores to enter the draft, he would have been a top-ten pick.

14. Roy Williams, Texas (2000-03)
Stats: 241 rec., 3,866 yds, 36 TD, 243 rush, 3 TD

Right out of the gate, Texas knew they had a great one in the massive 6-foot-3, 218-pound star from Odessa, Texas. He was a three-time All-Big 12 selection and left school with the records for receptions, yards and touchdowns. “The Legend” never caught fewer than seven touchdowns or 800 yards in any of his four NCAA seasons.

15. Marqise Lee, USC (2011-present)
Stats: 191 rec., 2,864 yds, 25 TD, 139 rush, 1,141 ret. yds, 2 TD

With one more year in school and one more season left in the current BCS structure, Lee is poised to become one of the era’s best. As just a sophomore, Lee has already won the Biletnikoff Award, been given consensus All-American honors, won the Pac-12 Player of the Year Award and broke multiple USC and Pac-12 receiving records. He is one of just two wideouts in BCS history to finish in the top four of the Heisman voting and should easily move into the top 10 on this list with another solid season in L.A.

16. Charles Rogers, Michigan State (2001-02)
Stats: 125 rec., 2,551 yds, 25 TD, 110 rush, TD

The in-state product from Saginaw played just two seasons for the Spartans but was an All-Big Ten performer both years. He posted back-to-back seasons with at least 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns, earning consensus All-American and Biletnikoff honors in 2002. He set an NCAA record with 13 straight games with a TD catch (since broken) and owns just about every Michigan State receiving record.

17. AJ Green, Georgia (2008-10)
Stats: 166 rec., 2,619 yds, 23 TD, 105 rush

Based on raw talent alone, Green is the one of the greatest receivers to play the game. In a league not known for big passing numbers, Green led the SEC in yards and touchdowns as a true freshman. His rare blend of size, speed, vertical ability and red zone ball skills makes him one of the game’s most uncoverable targets.

18. Jeremy Maclin, Missouri (2007-08)
Stats: 182 rec., 2,315 yds, 22 TD, 668 rush, 6 TD, 2,626 ret. yds, 5 TD

He only played two seasons but was outstanding from the first time he stepped onto the college gridiron. He was a consensus All-American both years, topped 1,000 yards receiving in both years, scored at least 10 total touchdowns in both seasons and topped 1,000 return yards in both seasons. He set an NCAA freshman all-purpose yardage record with 2,776 total yards for a 12-2 Tigers team. He posted 5,609 all-purpose yards in just two seasons and might be the most underrated wideout of the BCS era.

19. Dwayne Jarrett, USC (2004-06)
Stats: 216 rec., 3,138 yds, 41 TD

A two-time consensus All-American, Jarrett was a touchdown machine. He scored 13, 16 and 12 receiving touchdowns respectively while helping USC reach  back-to-back BCS National Championship games. His 2005 campaign was his best — 91 rec., 1,274 yds, 16 TD — but he finished ninth in the Heisman voting as a junior in 2006 before turning pro. In the red zone, few players have ever been as dominant.

20. Golden Tate, Notre Dame (2007-09)
Stats: 157 rec., 2,707 yds, 26 TD, 227 rush, 3 TD, 1,196 ret. yds, TD

The all-purpose dynamo from Nashville, Tenn., was explosive all over the field for Notre Dame. After rarely playing as a freshman, Tate exploded onto the national scene as a junior. He won the Biletnikoff Award after 93 receptions, 1,496 yards, 15 touchdowns, 186 yards rushing, two more touchdowns and one punt return score. He finished 10th in the Heisman balloting in ’06 before leaving early for the NFL.

Related: The Top 50 Running Backs of the BCS Era

21. Troy Walters, Stanford (1996-99)
Stats: 245 rec., 3,995 yds, 26 TD

Walters had as complete a final season as any player on this list. He won Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year, was a consensus All-American and won the Biletnikoff Award in 1999. The same year he helped Stanford win the league championship and play in the Rose Bowl. He is still the Pac-12's all-time leading receiver.

22. Jordan Shipley, Texas (2006-09)
Stats: 248 rec., 3,191 yds, 33 TD, 162 rush, 843 ret. yds, 4 TD

Colt McCoy’s go-to target made big plays in big games and was as dependable as any receiver in Big 12 history. He was a consensus All-American in 2009 when he caught 116 passes for 1,485 yards and scored 15 total touchdowns for an unbeaten Texas team that lost to Alabama in the national championship game.

23. Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State (2007-09)
Stats: 147 rec., 2,425 yds, 29 TD, 574 ret. yds, 3 TD

He may not have Blackmon’s numbers, but Bryant might be the most talented Pokes wideout of all-time. He was named an All-American after 87 receptions, 1,480 yards and 21 total touchdowns as just a sophomore. Had he not been suspended for most of the 2009 season, his numbers would’ve rivaled anyone’s on this list.

24. Rashuan Woods, Oklahoma State (2000-03)
Stats: 293 rec., 4,414 yds, 42 TD

Oklahoma State has one of the best wide receiver traditions in the nation and Woods was one of the first high-profile stars. Three seasons with at least 77 catches, 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns makes him one of the most prolific receivers in BCS history. And his NCAA-record seven touchdowns against SMU still stands.

25. Josh Reed, LSU (1999-2001)
Stats: 167 rec., 3,001 yds, 17 TD, 63 rush, TD

The numbers weren’t huge for Reed, but he was the nation’s best in 2001. He was a consensus All-American and Biletnikoff Award winner after catching 94 passes for 1,740 yards and seven touchdowns. He is one of the SEC’s greatest wide receivers and is the conference’s only Biletnikoff winner.

26. Julio Jones, Alabama (2008-10)
Stats: 179 rec., 2,653 yds, 15 TD, 139 rush 2 TD

From a talent standpoint, there may not be a more gifted name on this list than the superstar from Alabama. The school’s most talented pass-catcher helped lead Alabama to a national championship in 2009 and played on three teams that went 36-5 overall.

27. Antonio Bryant, Pittsburgh (1999-2001)
Stats: 161 rec., 2,805 yds, 26 TD

Two average years sandwiched around one spectacular season made Bryant one of the best offensive weapons in the nation. He won the Biletnikoff Award and Big East Player of the Year honors in 2000 when caught 68 passes for 1,302 yards and 11 scores. At one point, he scored in 13 straight games.

28. Mike Hass, Oregon State (2003-05)
Stats: 220 rec., 3,924 yds, 20 TD

He may not be the most talented wideout to play during this era but Hass is one of the best. He was the first Pac-10 receiver in history to post three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and left school with the best single game in league history with 293 yards against Boise State in 2004. He won the Biletnikoff Award in 2005 as the nation’s best wide receiver.

29. Lee Evans, Wisconsin (1999-2003)
Stats: 172 rec., 3,382 yds, 26 TD

Despite missing extended time with a torn ACL, Evans is the best wide receiver to play at Wisconsin since Al Toon. His two-year run was as good as any in Big Ten history, posting a league record 1,545 yards in 2001. He came back after the knee injury and nearly duplicated his numbers with 1,213 yards and 13 TDs in 2003. His 10-catch, 258-yard, 5-TD game against Michigan State might have been the best single performance by any Badger.

30. Robert Woods, USC (2010-12)
Stats: 250 rec., 2,933 yds, 32 TD, 142 rush, 1,547 ret. yds, TD

Lee gets all the national hype as far as USC receivers go, but don't forget those school and conference records he set were mostly owned by Woods. His 111-catch, 1,292-yard campaign in 2011 is one of the best seasons for a Pac-12 receiver in history. He, also like Lee, was a dynamic return man as well.

31. Santana Moss, Miami (1997-2000)
Stats: 143 rec., 2,547 yds, 19 TD, 277 rush, 3 TD, 655 ret. yds, 4 TD (7)

Much like Warrick, Moss was an all-purpose dynamo well ahead of his time. He could do everything as his overall statistical production indicated. He was the ACC Offensive Player of the Year and a consensus All-American in 2000 with this versatile stat line: 45 rec., 748 yds, 5 TDs, 201 rush, 2 TDs, 655 punt return yards, 4 TDs. 

32. David Boston, Ohio State (1996-98)
Stats: 191 rec., 2,855 yds, 34 TD

Suspicions of performance enhancers will always hang around Boston's resume so it is difficult to evaluate where he ranks. While on the field at Ohio State, he was dominant. He caught 27 touchdowns over his last two seasons and was the superstar — 85 rec., 1,435 yds, 13 TD — for the '98 team that likely should have played Tennessee for a National Championship.

33. DeSean Jackson, Cal (2005-07)
Stats: 162 rec., 2,423 yds, 22 TD, 199 rush, TD, 671 ret. yds, 6 TD

Knucklehead behavior aside, Jackson was a big-play waiting to happen throughout his college career. It was his All-American sophomore season that wowed the nation, however. He caught 59 passes for 1,060 yards and nine scores but delivered on special teams in a big way. He scored on four of his 25 punt returns and averaged over 18 yards per return. He missed time with an injury and off-the-field issues as a junior or he might have been higher on this list.

34. Roddy White, UAB (2001-04)
Stats: 163 rec., 3,112 yds, 26 TD

The career numbers aren't huge and the level of competition was suspect, however, White was an elite big-play machine well before he got to Atlanta. He led the nation in receiving as a senior (1,452 yds) and averaged 19.1 yards per catch for his career. His overall NFL talent makes him arguably the most gifted "mid-major" receiver of the era.

35. Reggie Williams, Washington (2001-03)
Stats: 238 rec., 3,536 yds, 22 TD

Similar to his Williams counterpart at Texas, Reggie Williams was one of the first massive outside physical targets. He posted 183 catches, 2,563 yards and 19 touchdowns over his last two seasons, including a consensus All-American sophomore year in 2002.
 
36. Greg Jennings, Western Michigan (2002-05)
Stats: 238 rec., 3,539 yds, 39 TD, 1,462 ret. yds, 2 TD

White is the most talented "mid-major" wide receiver of this era but Jennings is a close No. 2. The 2005 MAC Offensive Player of the Year caught at least 11 touchdowns and topped 1,000 yards receiving for three consecutive seasons. He led the nation with 98 receptions in '05 and was also an explosive return man as well.

37. Mark Clayton, Oklahoma (2001-04)
Stats: 220 rec., 3,236 yds, 31 TD, 221 ret. yds, TD

Jason White's No. 1 target helped Oklahoma play in two national championship games. The Sooners had many elite wideouts but Clayton might have been the most dynamic (possibly, more so than Broyles even). His unstoppable junior season gets him onto this list alone: 83 rec., 1,425 yds, 15 TD.

38. Kendall Wright, Baylor (2008-11)
Stats: 308 rec., 4,004 yds, 30 TD, 425 rush, 2 TD

There are just 15 receivers with 4,000 yards in their college careers and there are just 10 wideouts with at least 300 catches. There are just three such players with both (Ryan Broyles, Jordan White). Wright's offensive system certainly helped but he was as versatile, dependable and explosive as any player during this era.

39. Reggie Wayne, Miami (1997-2000)
Stats: 173 rec., 2,510 yds, 20 TD

Based on sheer talent alone, Wayne is one of the greatest wide receivers to play the game. His college stats aren't gaudy — mostly because he shared the ball with Santana Moss, Clinton Portis and Edgerrin James — but consistent production at Miami was merely a glimpse of his elite overall ability.

40. Dwayne Bowe, LSU (2003-06)
Stats: 154 rec., 2,403 yds, 26 TD

Much like White or Wayne, Bowe's raw talent makes him one of the greatest of his generation. He played sparingly on the '03 championship team but was a scoring machine the rest of his career — catching all 26 touchdowns in three SEC seasons.

41. James Rodgers, Oregon State (2007-11) 
Stats: 222 rec., 2,578 yds, 19 TD, 1,410 rush, 9 TD, 2,385 ret. yds, 2 TD  

42. Terrence Edwards, Georgia (1999-2002)
Stats: 204 rec., 3,093 yds, 30 TD, 285 ret. yds

43. Wes Welker, Texas Tech (2000-03)
Stats: 259 rec., 3,069 yds, 21 TD, 562 rush, 2 TD, 2,102 ret. yds, 8 TD

44. Jarett Dillard, Rice (2005-08)
Stats: 292 rec., 4,138 yds, 60 TD

45. Plaxico Burress, Michigan State (1998-99)
Stats: 131 rec., 2,155 yds, 20 TD

46. Antonio Brown, Central Michigan (2007-09) 
Stats: 305 rec., 3,199 yds, 22 TD, 531 rush, 4 TD, 3,434 ret. yds, 5 TD

47. T.Y. Hilton, FIU (2008-11)
Stats: 229 rec., 3,531 yds, 24 TD, 498 rush, 7 TD, 3,469 ret. yds, 6 TD

48. Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati (2008-09)
Stats: 168 rec., 2,467 yds, 22 TD, 26 rush, TD, 2,477 ret. yds, 5 TD

49. Terrance Williams, Baylor (2009-12)
Stats: 201 rec., 3,294 yds, 27 TD, 979 ret. yds

50. Trevor Insley, Nevada (1996-99)
Stats: 298 rec., 5,005 yds, 35 TD

The Next 50:

51. Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers (2009-11): 210 rec., 2,263 yds, 12 TD, 653 rush, 9 TD, 207 pass, 4 TD
52. Jordy Nelson, Kansas State (2005-07): 206 rec., 2,822 yds, 20 TD, 267 ret. yds, 3 TD 
53. Eric Page, Toledo (2009-11): 306 rec., 3,446 yds, 25 TD, 52 rush, TD, 2,549 ret. yds, 5 TD
54. Sidney Rice, South Carolina (2005-06): 142 rec., 2,233 yds, 23 TD 
55. Jerricho Cotchery, NC State (2000-03): 200 rec., 3,119 yds, 21 TD, 102 rush, TD, 300 ret. yds, TD 
56. Michael Thomas, Arizona (2005-08): 259 rec., 3,231 yds, 22 TD, 395 rush, 3 TD, 1,354 yds, 2 TD
57. Derek Hagan, Arizona State (2002-05): 258 rec., 3,939 yds, 27 TD 
58. Jabar Gaffney, Florida (2000-01): 138 rec., 2,375 yds, 27 TD 
59. Jeff Samardzija, Notre Dame (2003-06): 179 rec., 2,593 yds, 27 TD, 19 rush, TD 
60. Andre Johnson, Miami (2000-02): 92 rec., 1,831 yds, 20 TD, 594 ret. yds

61. Davone Bess, Hawaii (2005-07): 293 rec., 3,610 yds, 41 TD
62. D’Wayne Bates, Northwestern (1995-98): 210 rec., 3,370 yds, 26 TD
63. Earl Bennett, Vanderbilt (2005-07): 236 rec., 2,852 yds, 20 TD, 586 ret. yds
64. Stedman Bailey, West Virginia (2010-12): 210 rec., 3,218 yds, 41 TD
65. Austin Collie, BYU (2004-08): 215 rec., 3,255 yds, 30 TD, 1,288 ret. yds
66. Vincent Marshall, Houston (2003-06): 272 rec., 3,770 yds, 26 TD, 299 rush, 2 TD, 693 ret. yds, TD
67. Sammy Watkins, Clemson (2011-present ): 139 rec., 1,927 yds, 15 TD, 331 rush, TD, 1,106 ret. yds, TD
68. Keenan Allen, Cal (2010-12): 205 rec., 2,570 yds, 17 TD, 230 rush, 2 TD, 658 ret. yds, TD
69. DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson (2010-12): 206 rec., 3,020 yds, 27 TD
70. Aaron Kelly, Clemson (2005-08): 232 rec., 2,733 yds, 20 TD, 417 ret. yds

71. Dwayne Harris, East Carolina (2007-10): 268 rec., 3,001 yds, 20 TD, 526 rush, 6 TD, 2,855 ret. yds, 3 TD
72. Eric Decker, Minnesota (2006-09): 227 rec., 3,119 yds, 24 TD, 114 rush, TD
73. Dennis Northcutt, Arizona (1996-99): 217 rec., 3,186 yds, 24 TD, 382 rush, 2 TD
74. Titus Young, Boise State (2007-10): 204 rec., 3,063 yds, 25 TD, 350 rush, 8 TD, 1,525 ret. yds, 2 TD
75. Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas (2007-09): 219 rec., 3,240 yds, 31 TD, 37 rush, TD, 651 ret. yds, TD
76. Robert Meachem, Tennessee (2004-06): 125 rec., 2,140 yds, 17 TD
77. Ron Johnson, Minnesota (1998-2001): 196 rec., 2,931 yds, 31 TD
78. Dorien Bryant, Purdue (2004-07): 292 rec., 3,548 yds, 21 TD, 421 rush, 6 TD, 2,250 ret. yds, 3 TD
79. D.J. Hall, Alabama (2004-07): 194 rec., 2,923 yds, 17 TD
80. Darius Watts, Marshall (2000-03): 272 rec., 4,031 yds, 47 TD, 188 rush, 254 ret. yds

81. Jason Hill, Washington State (2003-06): 148 rec., 2,704 yds, 32 TD
82. Geoff McArthur, Cal (2000-04): 202 rec., 3,188 yds, 20 TD
83. Freddie Mitchell, UCLA (1998-2000): 110 rec., 1,955 yds, 9 TD
84. Patrick Edwards, Houston (2008-11): 291 rec., 4,507 yds, 43 TD, 947 ret. yds, 2 TD 
85. Shaun McDonald, Arizona State (2000-02): 152 rec., 2,806 yds, 24 TD, 54 rush, TD, 389 ret. yds, TD 
86. James Hardy, Indiana (2005-07): 191 rec., 2,740 yds, 36 TD 
87. Michael Clayton, LSU (2001-03): 182 rec., 2,582 yds, 21 TD 
88. Kenny McKinley, South Carolina (2005-08): 207 rec., 2,781 yds, 19 TD
89. Taylor Stubblefield, Purdue (2001-04): 316 rec., 3,433 yds, 19 TD 
90. Marvin McNutt, Iowa (2008-11): 170 rec., 2,861 yds, 28 TD 

91. Craig Yeast, Kentucky (1995-98): 208 rec., 2,899 yds, 28 TD, 125 rush
92. John Standeford, Purdue (2000-03): 249 rec., 3,618 yds, 27 TD
93. Steve Smith, USC (2003-06): 190 rec., 3,019 yds, 22 TD
94. Todd Blythe, Iowa State (2004-07): 176 rec., 3,096 yds, 31 TD 
95. Conner Vernon, Duke (2009-12): 283 rec., 3,749 yds, 21 TD, 570 ret. yds 
96. Ryan Swope, Texas A&M (2009-12): 252 rec., 3,117 yds, 24 TD 
97. Kenny Britt, Rutgers (2006-08): 178 rec., 3,043 yds, 17 TD, 75 rush, TD
98. Arnold Jackson, Louisville (1997-2000): 300 rec., 3,670 yds, 31 TD 
99. Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt (2010-present ): 149 rec., 2,283 yds, 17 TD, 61 rush, TD 
100. Jordan White, Western Michigan (2007-11): 306  rec., 4,187 yds, 32 TD, 462 ret. yds

Top 50s of the BCS Era:

The Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era
The Top 50 Running Backs of the BCS Era


Agree or disagree with our ranking of College Football's Top 50 Wide Receivers of the BCS Era? Let us know on Twitter (@AthlonSports), using the hashtag #AthlonWR50

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 50 Wide Receivers of the BCS Era</p>
Post date: Monday, May 20, 2013 - 07:55
Path: /nfl/top-25-young-athletes-most-likely-be-hall-famers
Body:

To suggest that any player in any sport after just a few seasons is a lock to make the Hall of Fame is ridiculous. But it is always fun to look at athletes who have had instant success and try to extrapolate long-term potential.

Young star players give franchises hope of long-term success and, even greater still, young Olympians can give entire nation's reasons to cheer. How do you think Chinese fans felt about the remarkable performance of Tianlang Guan at Augusta National this spring? Or how proud Canadian fans are of Sydney Crosby's accomplishments in his first few seasons?

Needless to say, projecting future Hall of Famers are virtually impossible. But Athlon Sports has taken its best stab at which young professionals — ones who have debuted since 2010 — are the most likely to do so in their respective sports.

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis
The Colts were 2-14 in 2011 and it landed them Mr. Luck. All the rookie QB did was win 11 games and return the franchise to the postseason. And he shattered every important rookie passing record along the way. His 4,374 yards, 627 attempts and six 300-yard passing efforts were all NFL rookie records. His 339 completions and 23 touchdown passes are second all-time for an NFL rookie. His set the single-game rookie passing record with 433 yards against Miami. He is the first QB taken No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft to make the playoffs as a rookie and his 11 wins were the most ever by a No. 1 pick as a rookie. His 54 attempts were an NFL rookie playoff record and his 268 yards passing against the eventual Super Bowl champs was second-best ever by a rookie. He was an elite top-100 recruit when he signed with Stanford. He was second in the Heisman voting two years in a row. And he just posted one of the best rookie seasons by an NFL QB ever. Canton might as well get the bust ready now.

2. Brad Keselowski, Penske Racing
At age 29, Keselowski isn't a spring chicken, however, his rookie season was just three years ago in 2010 and his instant success is impossible to ignore. The driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Penske Ford Fusion finished 25th in the points standings in his first season, fifth in his second year and became the defending Sprint Cup Champion after edging Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson for the title in just his third full season. Keselowski posted 24 top-five finishes and nine wins in just three full seasons in Sprint Cup competition. His refreshing yet old-school attitude as a driver is magnetic to the fans, media and, at times, other cars on the track. However, his raw driving talent is painfully obvious and is the reason for such lofty expectations. He is one of just three drivers to win the points championship in the last eight years. The list of potential future HOFers in NASCAR begins and ends with Brad-K, and should he continue to achieve at his current rate, an induction into the newly created NASCAR Hall of Fame is well within reach.

3. Buster Posey, C, San Francisco
There are few players who have ever had a better start to a career than Mr. Posey. He claimed NL Rookie of Year honors in 2010 and led the Giants to their first World Series championship since 1954. Then, after missing all but 162 at-bats of 2011 with an injury, he led the Giants to a second World Series title and claimed the NL MVP trophy last season. He is a career .312 hitter with an .887 OPS and just 203 strikeouts in 1,122 at-bats. He is the consummate professional and the face of a franchise that is positioned to make another run at the World Series and he was recently rewarded with a 9-year, $164 million contract.

4. Bryce Harper, OF, Washington
The only reason Harper's own rookie season gets marginalized was Mike Trout's performance in the American League. Harper, who played all of last season at the age of 19, posted one of the best inaugural seasons in recent memory as well. He was an All-Star and earned NL Rookie of Year honors. He finished with 22 home runs, 18 stolen bases, 98 runs scored, 59 RBIs and a .270/.817 split at the plate. And to start his second season, Harper went deep twice on Opening Day. He is well on his way to destroying his rookie marks in 2013 and should play in his second All-Star game still at the age of 20 years old. Harper could easily lead the majors in home runs or OPS as just a second-year player. It's Hall of Fame or bust for a player who made his Sports Illustrated cover debut at 16 and made his second appearance before turning 21.

5. Missy Franklin, US Swimming
Mark Spitz set the world record when we won seven Gold medals at the 1972 Summer Olympics. A mark he held until Michael Phelps took home eight Gold medals in the 2008 summer games in Beijing. At age 17, Franklin won four Golds and five total medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. With those four Golds, she is already tied for 50th all-time in total Gold medals won in Olympic history and a repeat performance in 2016 would make her one of just 12 athletes all-time to land eight Golds. Phelps has set himself apart from the rest of his Olympic peers with his all-time world record of 18 Golds medals. Franklin could easily make a run at that record and would finish no worse than second all-time in Gold medals earned with two more productive summer games. She will have the opportunity to compete in three more Summer Olympics before she turns 30.

6. Mike Trout, OF, LA Angels
What else is there to be said of Trout's rookie season in the majors? He was an All-Star, he won the AL Rookie of the Year award, led the league in runs (129) and stolen bases (49), earned a Silver Slugger honor and finished second in MVP voting behind the first Triple Crown winner in more than 50 years. He finished with a .326 average, .963 OPS, hit 30 home runs and drove in 83. With a 10.0 WAR, it was the greatest rookie season in the history of the sport — right ahead of Joe Jackson's 9.7 WAR in 1911. And, oh by the way, he did all of this at age 20. Yeah, his ticket might already be punched for Cooperstown.

7. Anthony Davis, PF, New Orleans
The 6-foot-10, 220-pounder entered the NBA as the consensus can’t-miss No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. After posting the No. 3-rated freshman season in the history of college basketball, Davis and his trademarked unibrow debuted for the Hornets in style. He posted 21 points and seven rebounds in his first NBA game against Sacramento. He finished his first full season starting 60 of the 64 games he played, shooting 51.6-percent from the floor and 75.1-percent from the line. His per game rookie stat line is one of the best in recent memory: 13.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.0 apg, 1.8 bpg, 1.2 spg on 10.6 shots per game. Efficiency and defense is the name of game for this potential Hall of Famer.

8. J.J. Watt, DE, Houston
From pizza boy tight end to Big Ten Rose Bowl star to first-round NFL Draft pick to NFL rookie of the year candidate to NFL Defensive Player of the Year. That is the career trajectory for the massive defensive end. The former Wisconsin Badgers end has started all but one of 32 possible career NFL games and made history by returning an interception for a touchdown in his first postseason game (which helped produce Houston’s first-ever postseason win). He led the NFL in sacks with 20.5 a year ago and made his first Pro Bowl (where he caught a touchdown as a wide receiver). Through two seasons, he has 149 total tackles, 26.0 sacks, 20 passes defensed, four forced fumbles and been a part of two division championships.

9. Kyrie Irving, PG, Cleveland
Coming out of St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth, N.J., the 6-foot-3, 195-pounder was one of the nation’s top five prospects. He was electric in the first eight games of his Duke career, leading the team in scoring, before hurting his right foot. Irving returned for the NCAA Tournament, scoring 28 points in his final game against Arizona. He left Duke after 11 career games to be the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft on a LeBron-less Cavaliers team. After averaging 18.5 points on 46.8 percent shooting to go with 5.4 assists and 3.7 rebounds in 51 games, Irving claimed 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year honors. And after an equally impressive second year, Irving appears to only be getting better. He finished this season by averaging 22.5 points on 45.9 percent shooting to go with 5.9 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. And he just turned 21 in March.

10. Tianlang Guan, Golf
The 14-year old phenom captured the hearts of golf fans all over the world this spring at The Masters. Guan (14 years, five months) shattered Matteo Manassero's PGA Tour record (16 years, two months) for the youngest player to ever make a cut. And he did so at the world's toughest course in Augusta National. Tiger Woods and others have praised the young golfer's poise and calm demeanor. As long as he grows out of his slow style of play, there is no reason to think Guan won't be the next young superstar on the PGA Tour.

11. AJ Green, WR, Cincinnati
Few players have ever started their career like Green. The superstar talent from Georgia was one of the most coveted pass-catchers in the nation as both a recruit and draft pick. He was one of the SEC's all-time bests and all he has done in two NFL seasons is catch 162 passes for 2,407 yards and 18 touchdowns. The Bengals have reached the postseason in each of his two seasons and Green made the Pro Bowl both times. He is an elite red zone target, can stretch the field and has tremendous open field ability as well. He is the complete package at wide receiver.

12. Damian Lillard, PG, Portland
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound floor leader from Oakland, Calif., was a proven commodity the second he stepped on a college court. He led Weber State to a conference title as a freshman before earning Big Sky Player of the Year honors twice in his career. It led to the Trail Blazers selecting him with the sixth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. He promptly posted a double-double (23 pts, 11 asts) in his rookie debut and was excellent throughout his first NBA season. Lillard was Rookie of the Month six times and was a runaway Rookie of the Year winner in 2012-13. He started all 82 games and finished with this statline: 17.8 ppg, 6.0 apg, 2.9 rpg, 0.8 spg on 42.9 percent shooting.

13. Julio Jones, WR Atlanta
Forever linked with A.J. Green as fellow 2008 five-star recruits to sign in the SEC, Jones is just as athletic and talented as the Bengals pass-catcher. He helped lead Alabama to a national championship as a sophomore in 2009 and forced the Falcons to trade away multiple picks across two drafts to trade up and get Jones with the sixth overall pick. He has caught 133 passes for 2,157 yards and 18 touchdowns in his first two seasons earning his first Pro Bowl invite in 2012. At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Jones is a special talent and is poised for a long and productive career with Matt Ryan throwing him passes.

14. Matt Kalil, OT, Minnesota
The top tackle taken in the 2012 NFL Draft has played from Game 1 for the much-improved Vikings. The former USC All-American started all 16 games as a rookie and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl because of it. He paved the way for Adrian Peterson's run at Eric Dickerson's all-time rushing record and helped return the Vikings to the postseason. He was a coveted prospect in high school, had a great college career and appears to be a lockdown bookend tackle for Minnesota. Having an All-Pro older brother (Ryan) and professional football father (Frank) has certainly helped as well. According to Football Outsiders, Kalil allowed just two sacks in his first 721 NFL snaps.

15. Craig Kimbrel, RP, Atlanta
He is the most dominant major league reliever on the planet. The flame-throwing Braves closer won the NL Rookie of the Year award in 2011 and is the only player in MLB to have posted at least 40 saves in each of the last two seasons — a feat he should accomplish again in 2013. He allowed just 25 earned runs in his first two seasons as Atlanta's closer (139.2 IP, 1.61 ERA). The 25-year old (May 28) is a two-time All-Star who finished ninth and fifth respectively in the Cy Young voting the last two seasons and was eighth in the MVP race a year ago.

16. Blake Griffin, PF, LA Clippers
It took the Oklahoma Sooner an extra year to get to the NBA court after sitting out his first season with a knee injury, but he has quickly become one of the most dominant forces in the league. His athletic ability is second to none as massive dunks and demoralizing blocks are a part of his regular routine. He averaged a double-double in his first two seasons — 22.5 ppg, 12.1 rpg and 20.7 ppg, 10.9 rbg — and this season helped lead the Clippers to their first postseason berth since 2005 and only the franchise's second playoff run since 1996. His numbers dropped a touch in his third consecutive All-Star season — 18.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg — but his career stat line is still absurd. Through 228 career games Griffin is averaging 20.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists on 52.9 percent shooting.

17. Taylor Hall, LW, Edmonton
The can't-miss No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, Hall posted back-to-back 20-goal seasons in his first two years in the pros — at age 19 and 20. In his third season this year, Hall finished ninth in the league in points (50), seventh in assists (7), fifth in power play goals (15) and seventh in points per game (1.11). He has helped the Oilers improve their winning percentage in each of his three seasons (.378 to .451 to .469).

18. Stephen Strasburg, SP, Washington
Ever since Bob Costas called his memorable, nationally hyped debut with 14 strikeouts over seven innings against Pittsburgh, Strasburg has been a star. Despite missing all but five starts of his second season due to Tommy John surgery, Strasburg has been virtually perfect. His first three seasons featured only 45 starts but his numbers are electric: 21-10, 2.94/1.09, 251.1 IP, 313 K. He even won a Silver Slugger award during that span as well. The flame-thrower has done nothing but live up to his extremely lofty expectations as the No. 1 overall pick out of San Diego State in 2009.

19. Matt Harvey, SP, NY Mets
The only other pitcher creating as much buzz as Strasburg is the Mets' flame-throwing righty from the University of North Carolina. Through 18 career starts, Harvey has a career ERA of 2.10 and 132 strikeouts in 115.2 innings. He has an effortless motion, excellent mechanics, a great mound demeanor and a filthy four-pitch arsenal. He has 12 quality starts in 18 trips to the bump and has allowed more than three runs in a start just once in his career.

20. Gabby Douglas, Gymnastics
Much like Franklin, Douglas earned her way into the hearts and minds of the nation following her impressive performance in London's 2012 Summer Olympics. At age 16, she became the first American woman gymnast to win the Gold medal for individual all-around competition and the first woman of color from any nationality to win the all-around Gold. She also helped lead the US to a team Gold in London and has posted gold podium finishes in the 2011 Tokyo World Championships and 2012 Pacific Rim Championships as well. She is poised for two more US Olympic showings before she turns 25.

21. Tyler Seguin, C, Boston
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft (Taylor Hall), Seguin took little time developing into one of the game's best. The All-Star centerman helped lead the Bruins to a Stanley Cup title as just a rookie in 2010-11 and exploded for 67 points as a second-year player the following season. He played in all 48 games this season and has finished second (+34) and seventh (+23) in Plus/Minus rating the last two seasons. Seguin has never missed the playoffs in his brief three-year career.

22. Mike Iupati, OG, San Francisco
The Niners have seen a remarkable turnaround under head coach Jim Harbaugh. Much of that can be attributed to what might be the best offensive line in the league. Iupati, taken 17th overall in the 2010 draft, has started every single game of his NFL career and has watched the 49ers' rushing attack flourish. After averaging 103.6 yards per game in 2010, SanFran rushed for 127.8 yards per game in 2011 and finished No. 4 in the NFL in rushing in 2013 (155.7). The 6-foot-5, 330-pound mauler helped the 49ers return to the Super Bowl and should be a mainstay in the Bay Area for years to come.

23. Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington
The biggest issue with RG3 won’t be his accuracy, ability to protect the football, win games or produce big numbers. It will be his ability to stay healthy long enough to earn Hall of Fame status. He, like Luck, is a great leader who sets an example for all of those around him. Yet, his style of play has already proven to be a concern as he takes entirely too many hits. He has already missed time due to a concussion as well as a twisted knee. Despite these injuries, he led the Skins to a 10-6 mark and postseason berth last season, breaking Cam Newton's rookie QB rushing record in the process.

24. Kyle Larson, Earnhardt-Ganassi
The 20-year old phenom won the K&N Pro Series East in just his first full year racing stock cars in 2012 after growing up in the cockpit of all things open-wheel. The EGR developmental driver has quickly moved his way up the pro ranks, leap-frogging the Camping World Truck Series, and landing directly in the Nationwide Series in 2013 for Turner Scott Motorsports. In just eight races in the No. 32 Turner Chevrolet Camaro, Larson is 12th in the points — due mostly to two crashes — has posted three top 10s and finished runner-up at hallowed Bristol Motorspeedway. His meteoric rise through the sport could land him in a full-time ride at the highest level in a matter of months rather than years.

25. Mark McMorris, Snowboarding
Throwing some love to the alternative sports, McMorris has taken the snowboarding world by storm of late. The 19-year old Canadian is the two-time reigning Winter X Games Slopestyle Gold Medalist (2012-13) and also claimed the 2012 Big Air Gold at the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colo., last year. He has defeated Shaun White by executing unprecedented tricks and wowing fans around North America, garnering comparisons to the Hall of Fame American rider. He won the Slopestyle Silver at the 2013 FIS Snowboarding World Championships.

Best of the Rest (alphabetically):

Harrison Barnes, G, Golden State (NBA)
Starlin Castro, SS, Chicago Cubs (MLB)
Aroldis Chapman, RP, Cincinnati (MLB)
Austin Dillon, Richard Childress Racing (NASCAR)
Ty Dillon, Richard Childress Racing (NASCAR)
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England (NFL)
Jonathan Huberdeau, C, Florida (NHL)
Luke Kuechly, LB, Carolina (NFL)
Gabriel Landeskog, W, Colorado (NHL)
Manny Machado, 3B, Baltimore (MLB)
Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, NY Giants (NFL)
Aldon Smith, DE, San Francisco (NFL)
Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, St. Louis (NHL)

Related Content:

5 Young NASCAR Drivers Who Could be Hall of Famers
15 Young NFL Players Who Could be Hall of Famers

10 Young MLB Players Who Could be Hall of Famers

10 Young NBA Players Who Could be Hall of Famers

 

Teaser:
<p> Top 25 Young Athletes Most Likely to be Hall of Famers</p>
Post date: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 14:55
Path: /mlb/clone-fantasy-baseball-bests-busts-and-waiver-wire-may-13
Body:

Stay tuned each week to Athlon Sports for a 2013 Fantasy Baseball Weekend Waiver Wire report every Monday. Our fantasy junkies cover the hottest hitters, best waiver wire pick ups, top starting pitching spot starts and sift through bullpens from around the league each week.

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (May 6-12):

  Name Pos. Team R HR RBI SB BA OPS
1. Evan Longoria 3B TB 8 3 11 0 .464 1.495
2. Paul Goldschmidt 1B ARI 5 4 9 0 .348 1.293
3. Will Venable* OF SD 5 2 4 3 .368 1.113
4. Alex Gordon OF KC 5 3 8 0 .393 1.165
5. Joe Mauer C/1B MIN 10 0 4 0 .533 1.433
6. Vernon Wells* OF NYY 4 3 7 1 .360 1.080
7. Jean Segura SS MIL 5 2 2 2 .500 1.495
8. Chris Carter* 1B/OF HOU 4 3 8 0 .375 1.438
9. Ryan Doumit* C/OF MIN 7 3 7 0 .250 .977
10. Hunter Pence OF SF 7 2 3 2 .286 .904
11. Dustin Pedroia 2B BOS 5 1 3 1 .483 1.186
12. James Loney* 1B TB 5 2 5 1 .308 .994
13. Jhonny Peralta* SS DET 8 1 1 1 .438 1.300
14. Justin Morneau* 1B MIN 5 0 9 0 .407 .905
15. Jose Bautista OF TOR 4 2 7 0 .360 1.158
16. Marco Scutaro* 2/3/SS SF 4 1 5 0 .467 1.234
17. Ian Desmond SS WAS 4 2 6 0 .389 1.283
18. Jose Altuve 2B HOU 4 1 3 2 .364 .920
19. Dan Uggla* 2B ATL 9 2 3 0 .240 .905
20. Shane Victorino OF BOS 6 2 2 0 .393 1.076
21. Adrian Beltre 3B TEX 4 2 7 0 .308 .948
22. Matt Dominguez* 3B HOU 4 2 6 0 .333 1.000
23. Nick Swisher 1B/OF CLE 6 2 4 0 .308 1.071
24. Edwin Encarnacion 1B TOR 3 2 6 1 .269 .875
25. Manny Machado 3B BAL 5 0 3 1 .444 .983

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Weekly Waiver Wire:

Justin Morneau, 1B, MIN (57% owned in Yahoo! leagues)
I have been going to the Twins waiver wire well for a couple of weeks now and Morneau is the next name to add — as could Ryan Doumit and his "C" eligibility. The former MVP is on a eight-game hitting streak that raised his average from .250 to .285. He won't ever return to big-bopper, MVP form, but he is very serviceable in more than one category on a team that seems to be improving.

James Loney, 1B, TB (27%)
I told fantasy GMs to add the light-hitting first baseman two weeks ago and Loney has delivered in a big way. He has five three-hit games and eight multi-hit performances in his last 14 starts, raising his average to .376. He won't hit for power but he should hit for average and drive in runs. If you need help at the corner spot, there is plenty to like on the wire this week.

Chris Carter, 1B, HOU (21%)
Carter too is appearing for the second time on this list. He must always be mentioned with a warning label for a low average and no speed. But he simply keeps producing this year. He is a last-resort option but if you need power, Carter is worth a look after three dingers last week. That's 25 HRs in his last 104 games.

Jhonny Peralta, SS, DET (48%)
The aging middle infielder makes the list due to his position alone. He won't maintain his .315 average as a career .266 hitter with three of his four seasons producing sub-.255 rates. However, his .299 in 2011 was extremely useful. He will help most rosters at his position and plays for one of the best offenses in the league. Don't expect too much but Peralta can be a stopgap until, say, Jose Reyes or Hanley Ramirez return.

Last Week:

Yonder Alonso, 1B, SD: 5/20, R, 3 RBI, SB
Nolan Arenado, 3B, COL: 3/20, R, 2B
Ryan Raburn, 2B/OF, CLE: 4/16, 1 R, 2 2B, RBI
A.J. Pollock, OF, ARI: 6/19, 2 R, 4 2B, 2 RBI

 

Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:

  Name Team IP W K ERA WHIP
1. Chris Sale CWS 23.1 2 19 1.16 0.64
2. Scott Feldman* CHC 22.0 2 21 1.23 0.68
3. Max Scherzer DET 23.1 3 25 3.09 0.69
4. Ubaldo Jimanez* CLE 18.2 3 20 1.45 0.86
5. Shelby Miller STL 15.0 2 18 0.60 0.60
6. Jordan Zimmerman WAS 15.0 2 15 0.60 0.73
7. James Shields KC 23.0 1 21 1.57 0.78
8. Felix Hernandez SEA 16.0 2 21 0.56 0.75
9. Matt Harvey NYM 21.1 0 23 1.27 0.80
10. Justin Verlander DET 19.0 2 24 1.89 1.16
11. Derek Holland TEX 15.0 2 15 0.60 1.13
12. Hisashi Iwakuma SEA 14.0 2 14 1.93 0.86
13. Scott Kazmir* CLE 12.0 2 17 2.25 0.92
14. Hector Santiago* CWS 12.1 1 14 0.73 0.81
15. Jose Fernandez* MIA 17.0 2 20 2.65 1.06
16. A.J. Burnett PIT 14.0 1 18 1.93 0.86
17. Hiroki Kuroda NYY 21.2 2 12 1.66 1.06
18. Jeremy Guthrie* KC 15.0 2 6 0.60 1.00
19. Patrick Corbin ARI 13.1 2 11 1.35 1.05
20. Kyle Kendrick* PHI 21.0 2 15 2.57 1.00

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Top 5 Spot Starts for the Week (Mon. - Sun.):

1. Tony Cingrani, CIN: (Thur.) at Miami (73% owned)
He hasn't been elite in his last two starts, but he still boasts a pretty tasty line: 28.0 IP, 2-0, 2.89/1.00, 37 K, 7 BB. And the Miami Marlins should pose little to no threat for a surging team (7-2). Look for the rook to get back on track this week.

2. Wade Miley, ARI: (Sun.) at Miami (72%)
The young lefty had two rough starts in a row (9.1 IP, 0-1, 4 ER, 10 BB) before bouncing back last time out. He tossed 7.2 innings against the Dodgers, allowing two earned runs while striking out four with no walks. Against the Marlins, Miley is all systems go.

3. Jose Fernandez, MIA: (Thur.) Cincinnati (44%)
The extremely talented rookie is owned in less than half of Yahoo! leagues and I have no idea why. The elite prospect will have his rough outings but has way too much natural ability. Over his last two starts, The Cuban defector is 2-0 with three earned runs allowed and 16 strikeouts in 13.0 innings.

4. Travis Wood, CHC: (Sun.) NY Mets (52%)
Wood has been the Cubs team MVP to this point, posting awesome 2.33/0.93 ratios over 46.1 innings and is 7-for-7 in quality starts. Against the Mets this weekend, that streak should continue. 

5. Trevor Cahill, ARI: (Fri.) Philadelphia (59%)
The Reds and D-Backs — who each face Miami this week — are a good place to look for pitching. Cahill hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in four straight starts with two wins. He isn't great in K:BB leagues but should be on target against the lowly Marlins this weekend.
 

Closing Morsels:

Joel Hanrahan will soon undergo flexor tendon surgery, ending his 2013 season while Andrew Bailey is targeting a late-week return. In the mean time, stay away from Boston's pen. Koji Uehara has allowed four baserunners and two runs in his last three innings while Junichi Tazawa has given up at least two hits and one run in each of his last two outings. Bailey can't return fast enough ... Cleveland closer Chris Perez has been excellent in his few chances this year. However, he complained of shoulder soreness this weekend and was held out of the save chance in the ninth on Sunday. Monitor ... I don't like the idea, but Heath Bell might need to be added. If desperate, the current D-Backs closer is a worth a look. As expected, he has three saves and two blown saves in his eight outings. But he's got the ninth for now. Keep David Hernandez close by... Brandon League has allowed 10 ER in his last 11.1 IP. Is it time for Kenley Jansen in the ninth? It worked well last year ... The Royals went 1-6 last week and didn't have many chances but Greg Holland only pitched one inning after his blow-up last Monday. It was spotless and featured two Ks so it looks like owners will keep getting saves — but at what price? Aaron Crow's line: 9.1 IP, ER, SV, 6 HLD, 7 K, 0.96/0.86 ... Toronto's Sergio Santos and Los Angeles' Ryan Madson are scheduled to return in the next week. Keep an eye on both as they could be primary setup men and potential stopgap closers in case of injury.

Keep up to date all season long with Athlon Sports' Fantasy Baseball Closer Grid

Teaser:
<p> Fantasy Baseball Bests, Busts and Waiver Wire: May 13</p>
Post date: Monday, May 13, 2013 - 12:45
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-25-greatest-dynasties-ap-era
Body:

Dynasty is a word that gets tossed around all too liberally by fans and media members alike. However, there are periods of time in sports where the term is not only applicable but completely accurate. The NFL had the Packers of the '60s, the Steelers of the '70s, the 49ers of the '80s, the Cowboys of the '90s and the Patriots of the '00s. The NBA has the Celtics, Lakers, Bulls and soon-to-be Heat dynasties. Baseball has the Yankees and… the Yankees. And John Wooden and the UCLA Bruins basketball program might be the greatest sports dynasty of all-time.

Defining a "dynasty" can be done many different ways and, for the most part, lies in the eye of the beholder. Generally speaking, elite level dominance over a period of time — ideally, the longer the better with championships to show for it — is how "dynasty" is defined. Awards, NFL talent, championships and statistical records are all considered as well. 

College football fans around the nation are just a few months away from the final season of the BCS era. When the season kicks off August 28 in Nashville, Tenn., the University of Alabama will be attempting the first-ever three-peat in BCS history and is looking for its unprecedented fourth national championship in five years.

The 2013 season aside, Nick Saban’s recent run with the Crimson Tide must be considered one college football’s greatest dynasties. But it is No. 1?

Athlon Sports ranks the Top 25 greatest college football dynasties since the AP Poll debuted in 1934:

1. Oklahoma Sooners (1948-58): 107-8
Legendary head coach Charles “Bud” Wilkinson began a miraculous run in his second season at Norman. Over this 11-year span, Oklahoma had four undefeated seasons, six with just one loss and only one year (1951, 8-2) in which it lost more than one game. The Sooners claimed three national championship (1950, '55, '56), all 11 conference championships and one Heisman Trophy winner (Billy Vessels, 1952). The most impressive aspect of this dynasty? Two of the top 10 longest winning streaks in NCAA history, including the the all-time mark of 47 straight victories from 1953-57. Oklahoma also won 31 straight from 1948-50, which ranks 10th all-time in the record books. Oklahoma's historic run in the 1950s was the most dominant dynasty in college football history.

2. Nebraska Cornhuskers (1993-97): 60-3
Is winning more than 95 percent of your games a good thing? That is what Tom Osborne did at Nebraska over his final five seasons. Led by arguably the greatest college quarterback of all-time in Tommie Frazier, the Big Red posted four unbeaten regular seasons, all of which culminated in a trip to the national championship game. One loss to Florida State in the ’93 Orange Bowl is the only thing that kept the Huskers from four national championships in five seasons. A huge upset in the inaugural Big 12 title game to Texas was one of just three losses during this stretch. This Nebraska run produced the 19th longest winning streak in NCAA history with 26 straight wins from 1994-96.

3. Miami Hurricanes (1986-92): 78-6
On the heels of Howard Schnellenberger’s 1983 championship, Miami returned to the promised land under Jimmy Johnson in 1987 and Dennis Erickson in 1989 and '91. Over this seven-year span, the Canes lost less than one game per season, moved into the Big East and won two Heisman Trophies with Vinny Testaverde (1986) and Gino Torretta (1992). The 29-game winning streak that was snapped by Alabama in what was Miami’s fifth national title game appearance in seven years is the 13th longest streak in NCAA history. From 1983-92, Miami posted a record of 107-14.

4. Alabama Crimson Tide (2008-present): 61-7
There is more than one dynasty in Crimson Tide history, but it’s tough to argue that Saban’s run isn’t the most impressive. After nearly 20 years without a title and against the most ruthless conference ever built, Alabama claimed the national championship and the school’s first-ever Heisman Trophy in 2009. The undefeated ’09 team is arguably the most talented Alabama team ever constructed. Then, after a 10-3 year in 2010, the defense and quarterback A.J. McCarron have dominated college football’s biggest stage with a combined 63-14 drubbing of LSU and Notre Dame in the past two BCS National Championship Games. A narrow loss in the 2008 SEC title game to Tim Tebow and Florida after a 12-0 regular season is the only thing keeping Alabama from going for its fifth title in six years. The most interesting tidbit about this five-year dynasty? Alabama has won more national championships (3) than SEC titles (2).

5. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1941-49): 75-7-6
Led by the great Frank Leahy — who took a two-year leave to serve in the U.S. military — Notre Dame won four national championships (1943, '46, '47, '49) and posted five unbeaten seasons during this remarkable nine-year window. From 1946-49, Notre Dame didn’t lose a game and only tied twice — costing the Irish a fifth national title in 1948. Leahy coached three Heisman Trophy winners in Angelo Bertelli, Johnny Lujack and Leon Hart during this dynasty.

6. USC Trojans (2002-08): 82-9
Led by Pete Carroll, the USC Trojans won seven straight Pac-10 conference championships, won two national championships (2003, '04), claimed three Heisman Trophy winners (Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush), put countless players into the NFL Draft and tied Miami for the longest modern winning streak. The 34-game run from 2003-05 is sixth all-time and ended when Vince Young scampered around the right end in the greatest game ever played. The Men of Troy never won fewer than 11 games for seven straight years. Was this team tainted by an NFL agent wannabe scandal well after the fact? To some degree, however, it wasn't a recruiting violation that impacted a competitive advantage. No matter how you view the Reggie Bush issues, this USC dynasty was one of the best in college football history. 

7. Miami Hurricanes (2000-03): 46-4
Butch Davis built it and Larry Coker finished it off. On what many believe to be the best team ever assembled — as its 17 first-round picks indicate — Miami won four straight Big East championships and one unbeaten national title in 2000. This team came up one pass interference call against Ohio State from back-to-back national crowns, and, at one point, rattled-off 34 straight wins. The winning streak was the longest since Wilkinson’s 47-gamer in the late '50s and is still tied for the sixth-best in NCAA history.

8. Alabama Crimson Tide (1961-66): 60-5-1
In Bear Bryant’s fourth season (1961), the historic coach returned Alabama to the top of college football’s hierarchy with an 11-0 national title. He went on to lose just five games over the next five seasons, including two more national championships (1964, '65) and another unbeaten season (1966). Hall of Famer Joe Namath, the “greatest player [Bear Bryant] ever coach,” spearheaded this team for three years (1962-64) to a 29-4 record as a starter. This remarkable six-year run — with three national and four SEC crowns — built the foundation for legend that is Bear Bryant.

9. Army Black Knights (1944-49): 49-2-4
Under historic head coach Earl “Red” Blaik, the U.S. Army dominated college football for the better part of the decade. While the nation was captivated by the ongoing World War in Europe, the Knights steamrolled college football. This team won three consecutive national titles (1944-46) led by an All-Heisman backfield of Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis. Blaik posted five unbeaten seasons in six years.

10. Florida State Seminoles (1992-2000): 99-11-1
Few teams have ever dominated a conference like the Seminoles did in the ACC during the 1990s. Bobby Bowden’s team never finished outside of the AP top four and won all nine ACC championships during this span. His team played in five national titles games, winning the whole thing in 1993 and '99 behind eventual Heisman winners Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke respectively.

11. Oklahoma Sooners (1973-80): 73-7
The Sooners' second dynasty took place just a decade later when Barry Switzer took over in 1973 as head coach. He began his tenure with eight consecutive conference titles, two national championships (1974, '75) and a Billy Sims Heisman Trophy (1978). During this span, OU never lost more than two games in a season and posted a 28-game winning streak, which ranks 15th all-time in NCAA history.

12. Alabama Crimson Tide (1971-79): 97-11
Bear Bryant’s second dynasty began seven years after his last one ended. Alabama won eight SEC titles in nine years and claimed the 1973, '78 and '79 national championships. Alabama’s school-record 28-game winning streak began in ’78 and ended three seasons later in 1980 — most of which took place during this dynasty. The 1979 championship featured the best record in school history (at that time) at 12-0 and gave Bryant his third and final unblemished campaign.

13. USC Trojans (1967-79): 122-23-7
One of the longer dynasties on this list, these Trojans were led first by John McKay (1967-75) and then John Robinson (1976-79). The tandem won four national championships (1967, '72, '74, '78), nine conference crowns and two Heisman Trophies (O.J. Simpson, Charles White) over the 13-year period of time.

14. Florida Gators (2006-09): 48-7
Urban Meyer posted three 13-1 records in a four-year span and the only time he didn’t win 13 games, Tim Tebow won the Heisman Trophy (2007). This dynasty featured two national titles in 2006 and '08 and came up one game shy in 2009 of what would assuredly have been a third championship.

15. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1964-73): 69-15-4
The Ara Parseghian era got started with a bang when the first-year coach won the 1964 national championship as John Huarte won the Heisman. The Irish would go on to win two more titles (1966, '73) before the legendary coach would step down following the 1974 season.

16. Texas Longhorns (1961-70): 89-17-2
The Longhorns won three national championships and six conference titles under Darrell K. Royal during the '60s. This team also won 30 straight games, good for 12th all-time in NCAA history. Royal had seven seasons of one loss or less during this span.

17. Minnesota Golden Gophers (1934-41): 54-9-1
Starting right when the AP Poll debuted, the Golden Gophers were one of the first true dynasties in college football. Hallowed coach Bernie Bierman won five national championships and lost just nine games during the eight-year span. Minnesota won all but one Big Ten crown from 1934-41.

18. Oklahoma Sooners (2000-08): 102-19
Head coach Bob Stoops led the Sooners back to the promised land in just his second season by claiming the 2000 BCS national title. During this nine-year run, Oklahoma played in four national title games, won five conference championships and claimed two Heisman Trophies.

19. Ohio State Buckeyes (2002-10): 99-17
Jim Tressell returned Ohio State to the pinnacle of college football with an unbeaten 2002 team. He then won six more Big Ten titles and a Heisman Trophy (Troy Smith) over the next seven years while playing in two more BCS title games.

20. Michigan Wolverines (1940-48): 68-13-2
Coached mostly by Herbert “Fritz” Crisler, Michigan won four Big Ten championships and two national titles during the 1940s. This team rattled off 25 straight wins from 1946-49 and posted two unbeaten seasons — coached by Crisler and Beenie Oosterbaan (1948).

21. Texas Longhorns (2004-09): 69-9
Over this six-year span, Texas averaged more than 11 wins per year and played in two national championship games — including winning the greatest game ever played in 2005. Mack Brown lost one bowl game during this span.

22. Ohio State Buckeyes (1954-70): 118-34-5
Woody Hayes had two five-loss seasons during this span but few coaches can claim five national championships in any amount of time much less 17 seasons.

23. Nebraska Cornhuskers (1969-72): 42-4-2
Head coach Bob Devaney won two national titles, posted a 23-game winning streak and lost just four games in his last four years in Lincoln.

24. Georgia Bulldogs (1980-83): 43-4-1
Vince Dooley had one of the best four-year runs in SEC history when he lost just four games, won three SEC championships and claimed the 1980 national title.

25. BYU Cougars (1979-85): 77-12
LaVell Edward’s high-flying, revolutionary offense rolled through opponents until the pollsters finally awarded BYU with the 1984 national championship.

Best of the Rest:

Clemson Tigers (1981-91): 100-24-5
Danny Ford and Ken Hatfield combined for a national title and six ACC crowns.

Tennessee Volunteers (1949-52): 36-4-2
General Robert Neyland led the Vols to two national titles and just four losses in four years.

LSU Tigers (2003-07): 56-10
Nick Saban and Les Miles combined for two national championships, returning LSU to prominence.

Michigan State Spartans (1950-53): 35-2
Head man Biggie Munn led the Spartans to two titles and just two losses in four seasons.

Boise State Broncos (2006-11): 73-6
Constantly beat the big boys — Okla., Oregon (twice), Georgia, Virginia Tech, Utah (twice), Oregon St (twice) and TCU. Won four WAC titles with two unbeaten seasons.

Virginia Tech Hokies (1999-2011): 132-39
Posted 11 10-win seasons, won five conference titles and played in the BCS title game in '99.

TCU Horned Frogs (2008-11): 47-5
Claimed three MWC championships while also beating Stanford, Wisconsin and Boise State (twice).

 

RELATED LINKS:

Ranking All 125 College Football Head Coaches for 2013

Ranking the Top 50 Running Backs of the BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 25 Greatest Dynasties of the AP Era</p>
Post date: Monday, May 13, 2013 - 07:45
Path: /college-football/top-25-national-broadcasting-jobs-sports
Body:

If you could have any national sports broadcasting job in sports, what would it be? Do you want to be at the games and travel all over the country? Do you want to be a studio host with a more stable work schedule? Do you want to become extremely popular in one niche field or cover a wide range of all sports? Are ratings more important than content?

There are many different ways to value sports broadcasting jobs, but Athlon Sports has tried to rank the best national sports broadcasting jobs in the industry today.

1. Sunday Night Football (NBC)
Who: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya

Preceded by “Football Night in America” with Bob Costas and Dan Patrick, NBC is home to the best broadcast job in sports. The NFL is the biggest dog on the block and Sunday night is the biggest night in television viewing. Put them together and you get the best gig in sports broadcasting — both as a studio show and play-by-play booth.

2. PGA Tour on CBS
Who: Jim Nantz, Nick Faldo, David Feherty, Gary McCord, Peter Kostis

There are plenty more names who broadcast the PGA Tour for both CBS and others like ESPN. But CBS gets two of the four Majors — namely Sunday at The Masters — as well as more than a dozen other key tournaments. Doing play-by-play for one or two holes each year at Augusta alone makes this job one of the best in the business.

3. Monday Night Football (ESPN)
Who: Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters

“MNF” used to be the top job in the business. However, Sunday Night viewing has taken over and the inability of flex scheduling has taken the edge off of the final broadcast of any NFL weekend. It is still clearly one of the most highly sought after jobs in the business — just look at Gruden’s contract with ESPN.

4. ESPN’s College Gameday
Who: Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit

The best college football show in the business began as a small studio show in 1987 and has blossomed into the weekly traveling circus that it is today. There is no preview show for any sport that comes close to the pageantry, fan interaction, entertainment value and insightful commentary that "College Gameday" can deliver. And its why Corso (1987), Fowler (1990) and Herbstreit (1996) have been together for more than 15 years.

5. SEC Game of the Week (CBS)
Who: Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson, Holly Rowe

The biggest sport in this country outside of the NFL is college football. And the best conference in college football is clearly the best in the nation. So when CBS plucks the best game each weekend for its 3:30 PM ET Saturday afternoon game, the entire nation tunes in. This is arguably the most high-profile non-NFL booth in sports.

6. NFL on FOX
Who: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver

Generally speaking, the best non-primetime game in the NFC is reserved for FOX’s top broadcast trio. This normally involved the Dallas Cowboys. That said, even the second, third and fourth NFL on FOX games are elite broadcasting positions. Other greats like Thom Brennaman, Dick Stockton, Chris Myers and Gus Johnson are assigned to call lower-tier games.

7. NFL on CBS
Who: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Steve Tasker

This is identical to the NFL on FOX across the board with one possible exception. The NFC is loaded and FOX gets most of those games while the AFC is much weaker and CBS gets most of their games. The NFL TV ratings dwarf all other sports and even lower-tiered games from the weaker conference still pull huge audiences. Greg Gumbel, Marv Albert, Ian Eagle and Kevin Harlan join Nantz and Simms on CBS.

8. Saturday Night Football (ABC)
Who: Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit, Lisa Salters

The second-biggest non-NFL booth would be the ABC Saturday Night Football team. This spot on the TV dial was largely ignored due to low ratings but ABC/ESPN jumped in with two feet as the college game continued to grow and has been home to one of the top college games each Saturday evening since 2006.

9. Fox Sports Radio
Who: Dan Patrick, Jay Mohr, JT The Brick, etc

The first non-TV entry on the list begins with the international sports radio network from FOX and Premiere Radio Network. With over 400 affiliates and simulcasts on satellite radio and DirecTV (owned by FOX), few radio teams put as many resources into their product. Founded in 2000, huge industry names like Dan Patrick, JT The Brick, Petros & Money as well as comedian Jay Mohr have built FSR into a media goliath with coveted broadcasting positions.

10. NCAA Tournament (CBS)
Who: Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg, Steve Kerr

CBS purchased the NCAA Tournament in 1982 and has never relinquished control over the massive month-long ratings bonanza. And it’s why the great Jim Nantz has broadcast 23 straight Final Fours. The addition of extra channels from Turner Broadcasting System have only added to the viewership and profile of CBS’ March Madness.

11. ESPN Radio
Who: Mike Greenberg, Colin Cowherd, Scott Van Pelt

Launched back in 1992, ESPN realized the power of nationally syndicated sports talk radio quickly. Some of the industries biggest names have been discovered because of ESPN Radio — many of whom began on the TV screen. The list of powerhouse radio personalities that used the power of ESPN Radio to launch their careers is long and distinguished.

12. The Morning Drive (Golf Channel)
Who: Gary Williams, Damon Hack, Kelly Tilghman, Ahmad Rashad, Holly Sonders

Available in over 100 million households worldwide, anything on the Golf Channel has sneaky upside. Since launching in 1995, The NBC-owned Golf Channel has been home to a dedicated and extremely affluent audience. And the launch of the daily morning show has given this team of broadcasters an elite time slot. You've seen the women who work on this channel, right?

13. NASCAR on FOX
Who: Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds

Debuting at Daytona in 2001 — may he rest in peace — the Emmy-award winning NASCAR on FOX has been a staple for race fans. Roughly the first half of each season is on FOX and their deep and talented team of broadcasters has made it one of the best in programs in sports. The play-by-play booth, the Hollywood Hotel and the Pit Reporters offer a variety of great broadcasting jobs.

14. CBS Sports Radio
Who: Doug Gottleib, Jim Rome, John Feinstein

Along with ESPN Radio and FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio offers 24/7 nationally syndicated sports talk. Think the money isn’t good in this field? Jim Rome’s radio show alone nets him $30 million in earnings each year. Simply because it launched just a few months ago (Sept. 2012), CBS Sports radio checks in slightly behind ESPN and FSR among the radio entities.

15. Baseball on FOX
Who: Joe Buck, Tim McCarver, Ken Rosenthal

This team traditionally only has to work one game per week (Saturdays) before the postseason starts. For broadcasting purists, baseball calls are the some of the sports world’s best as historic names have filled the airwaves with ageless memories (Vin Scully, Jack Buck). When October rolls around, there are few places broadcasters would rather be than in the booth during the World Series.

16. WGN-TV Cubs
Who: Len Kasper, Jim Deshaies, Keith Moreland

There aren’t many local or regional teams who get national broadcasts but the Cubs are one of them. Do you think walking to Wrigley Field to broadcast baseball games from the friendly confines 81 times per year sounds like fun?

17. SportsCenter (ESPN)
Who: John Anderson, Lindsay Czarniak, John Buccigross, Steve Levy, et al

This program has lost most of its luster as over-produced, sponsor-heavy broadcasts have diminished the product since its heyday in the late '90s. Still, many a sports broadcasting career has begun on the primetime (6 PM ET, 11 PM ET) slot of nightly sports highlights.

18. YES Network Yankees
Who: Michael Kay, Bob Lorenz, Ken Singleton

Much like the Cubs on WGN or to a much lesser extent the Braves on TBS, the Yankees broadcast nationally on the YES Network. With supporting programming and the world’s biggest TV market part of the package, calling Yankee games 162 times a year has to be considered one of the industry’s best gigs.

19. Inside the NBA (TNT)
Who: Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal

Few studio shows outweigh the actual in-game broadcast but TNT’s Emmy Award-winning pre- and post-game show is just that. Airing since 1988, Inside the NBA is one of the longest running studio programs in all of sports. I would rather watch this show than the game itself any day.

20. Pardon The Interruption
Who: Michael Wilbon, Tony Kornheiser

The time slot isn’t elite and it lasts for just 30 minutes but the format is brilliant and the show has staying power. For any broadcaster who is opinionated, passionate and likes to argue, few jobs would be more fun and offer more breadth of subjects than PTI.

21. NFL Total Access
Who: Rich Eisen, Fran Charles, Andrew Siciliano

When the NFL Network launched in 2003, it hired the face of the brand by luring Rich Eisen from ESPN. He hasn’t given up the lead anchor job on the channel’s flagship program because it has extreme staying power and stability is valued in this business. Powered by huge NFL dollars, the NFL Network has little chance of ever being kicked off the air.

22. NHL on NBC
Who: Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, Pierre McGuire

If this was a ranking of the best broadcasters in sports, Mike “Doc” Emrick might be No. 1. Since partnering with NBC, the NHL has been making a slow and steady return to American living rooms. This is the top broadcasting position for anyone in the hockey realm and its why Emrick is the voice fans hear nearly every night of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

23. NFL Countdown (ESPN)
Who: Chris Berman, Tom Jackson, et al

A long standard in the industry, NFL Countdown has been a big part of Sunday morning since 1985. It has seen better days but still claims seven Sports Emmys and five CableACE Awards. It’s such a great gig, stalwart broadcast personality Chris Berman may never quit.

24. SiriusXM Radio
Who: Tim Brando, Pat Kirwen, Chris Russo, Pete Pistone, Casey Stern, et al

It’s a late bloomer and it has taken time to grow (and one massive merger) but national satellite radio is here to stay. Huge signings like Tim Brando prove the medium is viable and offers fans niche programming for every major sport. If you are an MLB expert there is no better place to work than MLB Radio. If you are a college sports expert, there is no better place to work in radio than College Sports Nation.

25. MLB Tonight
Who: Brian Kenny, Matt Vasgersian, et al

MLB Network’s nightly program is one of the more unique broadcasts in all of sports. It acts as a pre- and post-game studio show as well as a “Live Look-in” show that gives viewers the chance to listen in on local broadcasts they may not normally get to hear.

Best of the Rest:

26. FOX NFL Sunday: Curt Menefee
27. The NFL Today (CBS): James Brown
27. ProFootballTalk (NBC): Erik Kuselias, Mike Florio
28. NFL Redzone (DirecTV): Andew Siciliano
29. NFL/College Football Live (ESPN): Trey Wingo, Rece Davis
30. Sunday Night Baseball (ESPN): Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser, John Kruk, Buster Olney

Teaser:
<p> Top 25 National Broadcasting Jobs in Sports</p>
Post date: Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Clemson Tigers, College Football, News
Path: /college-football/top-10-clemson-tigers-football-teams-all-time
Body:

The Clemson Tigers are a proud program that has had some excellent decades — see the 1980s — as well as some times of struggle (1992-2010). But this is a program with loads of potential, committed fans, a great gameday atmosphere and has tasted the top of the mountain once upon a time. Unlike many programs the Tigers have one team that stands above the rest. However, Clemson has recruited elite athletes of late. So does the evolution of the modern athlete level the playing field? Or would the old guard still reign supreme?

Could Jeff Davis stop C.J. Spiller? Could Terry Kinard cover Sammy Watkins or DeAndre Hopkins? How would Danny Ford gameplan against Chad Morris and Tajh Boyd? Clemson has won 16 conference titles since the AP era began in 1934 but only one of those also produced a national championship. Trying to rank the best teams in Clemson history is virtually impossible, but the historic 1981 squad seems like the right place to begin.

1. 1981 (12-0, 6-0)
Head Coach: Danny Ford

There is little doubt which team is the greatest, most heralded group in Clemson history. The undefeated Tigers romped through the regular season, including three wins over top 10 opponents Georgia (4), at North Carolina (8) and Nebraska (4) in the Orange Bowl, for the school’s lone national championship. First-team All-ACC quarterback Homer Jordan and record-setting first-team All-American wideout Perry Tuttle led an offense that averaged nearly 30 points per game. ACC MVP and two-time All-American linebacker Jeff Davis and all-everything corner Terry Kinard spearheaded a defense that led the nation in scoring (8.8 ppg). Ford won National Coach of the Year honors and became the youngest coach (33) to ever win the national title. No other team in Tigers lore can compare to the ’81 champs.

2. 1978 (11-1, 6-0)
Head Coach: Charley Pell

Charley Pell didn’t coach very long at Clemson and his “influence” was felt for years following his departure, but his teams won a lot of games (18-4-1). His 1978 ACC championship team was the highest-scoring team in Clemson history until the 2001 squad came along. Dual-threat quarterback Steve Fuller and the running back tandem of Lester Brown and Marvin Sims spearheaded a dynamic rushing attack that helped the Tigers win the ACC. The only loss came in Week 2 against SEC power Georgia, and, after a Gator Bowl win over No. 20 Ohio State, Clemson posted its second-best final AP poll finish in school history with a No. 6 ranking. Pell left before the bowl game to take the Florida job and Clemson was eventually hit with NCAA sanctions stemming from his coaching tenure, but the ’78 squad was one of the program’s best.

3. 2012 (11-2, 7-1)
Head Coach: Dabo Swinney

From a talent perspective, few teams in program history can compare to the 2012 squad led by Tajh Boyd, Andre Ellington, DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins and Dalton Freeman on offense. This is the only team in school history to top 500 points (533) and its No. 11 final AP ranking was the best since 1990 (No. 9). This team lost just one game on the road against No. 4 Florida State, who won the ACC crown. The Tigers were one of the few ACC teams to hold its own against the vaunted SEC, by defeating LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl and Auburn in the Kickoff Classic. This team wasn’t decorated like other championship-winning teams, but this might be the most talented roster ever assembled in Death Valley and is why the Tigers are the 2013 frontrunner in the ACC.

4. 1950 (9-0-1, 3-0-1)
Head Coach: Frank Howard

One of just three Clemson teams of the AP era to go unbeaten, the Tigers played only four conference games and therefore didn’t win the Southern Conference title despite not losing a game and finishing as the highest rated SoCon team in the polls. This team outscored its opponents 344-76 and was the first team in history to top 300 points. The ’50 unbeaten team is one of just six Clemson groups to finish in the top 10 of the AP poll (No. 10).

5. 1948 (11-0, 5-0)
Head Coach: Frank Howard

Playing in the much weaker Southern Conference at the time, legendary coach Frank Howard posted one of just three perfect records during the AP era (1934). The defense allowed an astonishing 6.9 points per game, leading to a 274-76 scoring margin for the year. It topped just one ranked opponent (Wake Forest) as the schedule was dotted by Presbyterian, Duquesne, Alabama Polytechnic and conference foes Furman and The Citadel. This lack of competition is what led the unbeaten Tigers to just an 11th place finish in the polls. The Tigers did not play No. 3-ranked and unbeaten conference rival North Carolina that year.

6. 1982 (9-1-1, 6-0)
Head Coach: Danny Ford

Following Clemson’s first and only national championship, Clemson was not eligible to play in the postseason due to probation stemming from former head coach Charley Pell’s tenure. That didn’t keep the Tigers from defending their ACC championship with a perfect record in the league. The season began with a loss to No. 7 Georgia and a tie with Boston College but ended with nine straight wins and No. 8 postseason ranking — good for third-best in school history. Quarterback and national title winner Homer Jordan was flanked by Cliff Austin, Chuck McSwain and Jeff McCall in a loaded Tigers backfield.

7. 1988 (10-2, 6-1)
Head Coach: Danny Ford

No team in Clemson history started higher in the AP poll than the 1988 team beginning the year as the No. 4-ranked team in the nation. With a No. 9 final ranking following a Citrus Bowl win over Oklahoma, it is one of just six teams to finish in the top 10 as well. Rodney Williams paced the passing attack while Terry Allen rushed for 1,192 yards and 10 touchdowns for the ACC champions. This team played one of the school’s toughest schedules, beating three ranked opponents and losing to two others. In an age of offense, this team was fourth in the nation in scoring defense and is one of the best Clemson teams ever assembled. This was the second of four straight 10-2 Tigers teams.

8. 1959 (9-2, 6-1)
Head Coach: Frank Howard

In his 19th season, famed head coach Frank Howard won his fifth conference title and third in the ACC. He lost to a ranked SEC team in Georgia Tech as well as Maryland to give this team a final AP ranking of 11th. This team allowed just 9.4 points per game on defense while pitching five shutouts through the season. Wins over a ranked No. 12 North Carolina and No. 7 TCU in the Bluebonnet Bowl capped the ACC championship season. Six different players rushed at least 40 times while Harvey White led both the passing and rushing attack from under center.

9. 1987 (10-2, 6-1)
Head Coach: Danny Ford

Ford began a magical run of ACC championships in 1986 but started a four-year streak of 10-2 records in 1987. This team was ranked in the AP top 10 for all but three weeks of the season, as it capped the ACC championship season with a win over a ranked Joe Paterno Penn State team in the Citrus Bowl. Losses to NC State by two points and at No. 12 South Carolina kept the Tigers from competing for a second national title. The backfield tandem of Rodney Williams and Terry Allen gave fans a glimpse of what was to come the following year.

10. 2011 (10-4, 6-2)
Head Coach: Dabo Swinney

If the 2012 team is the most talented ever assembled in school history, the 2011 ACC championship team can’t be too far behind. Tajh Boyd and company were are all in the starting lineup except Sammy Watkins was the National Freshman of the Year instead of a No. 2 WR and Dwayne Allen starred at tight end. The defense wasn’t up to snuff, allowing nearly 30 points per game, but wins over four ranked opponents (Auburn, Florida State, Virginia Tech twice) and the school’s first ACC title in two decades make it one of the greatest Clemson Tigers teams.

Related: Top 10 Notre Dame Fighting Football Teams of All-Time
Related: Top 15 Alabama Crimson Tide Football Teams of All-Time

The best of the rest:

11. 1990 (10-2, 5-2) Ken Hatfield
12. 1989 (10-2, 5-2) Danny Ford
13. 1991 (9-2-1, 6-0-1) Ken Hatfield
14. 2009 (9-5, 6-2) Dabo Swinney
15. 1986 (8-2-2, 5-1-1) Danny Ford 

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Teaser:
<p> Top 10 Clemson Tigers Football Teams of All-Time</p>
Post date: Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 06:50
Path: /nascar/5-young-nascar-drivers-who-could-be-hall-famers
Body:

To suggest that any player, athlete, coach or driver in any sport after just a few seasons is a lock to make the Hall of Fame is ridiculous. But it is always fun to look at guys who have had instant success and try to extrapolate long-term potential. Limiting the scope to the last three rookie classes, here are the most likely future NASCAR Hall of Famers.

Related: Top 15 Young Future NFL Hall of Famers

1. Brad Keselowski
Team: Penske Racing

At age 29, Keselowski isn't a spring chicken, however, his rookie season was just three years ago in 2010 and his instant success is impossible to ignore. The driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Penske Ford Fusion finished 25th in his first season, fifth in the points in his second year and became the defending Sprint Cup Champion after edging Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson for the title in just his third full season. Keselowski has nine wins and 28 top-five finishes in just 135 starts. His refreshing yet old-school attitude as a driver is magnetic to the fans, media and, at times, other cars on the track. However, his raw driving talent is painfully obvious and is the reason for such lofty expectations. He is one of just three drivers to win the points championship in the last eight years. This list of potential HOFers begins and ends with Brad-K, and should he continue to achieve at his current rate, an induction into the newly created NASCAR Hall of Fame is well within reach.

2. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Team: Roush Fenway Racing

The 25-year-old is making his debut in the Sprint Cup series this year and already expectations are soaring for the driver of the historic No. 17 Roush Ford Fusion. The Olive Branch, Miss., native was a dominant force in the Nationwide Series, winning back-to-back championships the last two seasons before making the full-time jump to Cup racing. He posted eight wins and 35 top-five finishes in his last 67 races during his championship seasons and has proven in short order that he can compete on the next level. He finished no worse than 18th in his first four races of the 2013 season and currently sits 16th in the points, just outside of the Chase with only two finishes outside of the top 20. In fact, in 15 career Sprint Cup races, Stenhouse has finished worse than 20th only four times, including one engine failure. His high-profile relationship with Danica Patrick will only help raise his national awareness. He is the best young talent to enter the sport full-time since Keselowski.

3. Kyle Larson
Team: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing

The 20-year old phenom won the K&N Pro Series East in just his first full year racing stock cars in 2012 after growing up in the cockpit of all things open-wheel. The EGR developmental driver has quickly moved his way up the pro ranks, leap-frogging the Camping World Truck Series, and landing directly in the Nationwide Series in 2013 for Turner Scott Motorsports. In just eight races in the No. 32 Turner Chevrolet Camaro, Larson is 12th in the points — due mostly to two crashes — has posted three top 10s and finished runner-up at hallowed Bristol Motorspeedway. His meteoric rise through the sport could land him in a full-time ride at the highest level in a matter of months rather than years.

Related: Top 10 Young Future MLB Hall of Famers

4. Ty Dillon
Team: Richard Childress Racing

One of two star grandsons of famed NASCAR stallwart Richard Childress, the younger Dillon has all the talent to be an elite driver in the Sprint Cup Series. At 20 years of age, Dillon earned Rookie of the Year honors in the Camping World Truck Series in 2012 after finishing fourth in the points. He posted 17 top tens, seven top fives and got his first career win in a memorable battle with Kyle Busch at Atlanta. He made just three Nationwide starts a year ago and finished in the top 10 all three times. He will compete full-time in the No. 3 Childress Chevrolet Silverado while getting more than a few chances in a Nationwide ride. Expect Dillon to jump to the Nationwide series in 2014 with a Cup ride following close behind. Some believe that he might actually be more talented than his future-star older brother...

5. Austin Dillon
Team: Richard Childress Racing

The older grandson of Mr. Childress has flown through the NASCAR ranks much like his younger brother Ty. He earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2008 in the K&N Pro Series East before claiming a Camping World Truck Series championship in 2011. He moved up to the Nationwide series in 2012 and finished third in the points as a rookie. Dillon posted a ridiculous 27 top tens, 16 top fives and his first two victories during the 33-race schedule. The driver of the No. 3 Childress Chevrolet Camaro is one of the frontrunners for a championship this season. He has five Sprint Cup starts under his belt, including his Daytona 500 debut last month and is poised to drive in the Sprint Cup series full-time next season for his grandfather in the famed No. 3 Chevy Camaro. He is immensely talented and likely has the maturity and appreciation to revive the famous RCR car number.

Related: Top 10 Young Future NBA Hall of Famers

The Top Prospects to Watch:

Chase Elliott (Hendrick Motorsports)
Son of past champion Bill Elliott drives for the best team in the business.

Ryan Blaney (Penske Racing)
Son of Sprint Cup driver Dave Blaney is polished and mature beyond his 19 years.

Teaser:
<p> 5 Young NASCAR Drivers Who Could Be Hall of Famers</p>
Post date: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 13:30
Path: /mlb/fantasy-baseball-bests-busts-and-waiver-wire-may-6
Body:

Stay tuned each week to Athlon Sports for a 2013 Fantasy Baseball Weekend Waiver Wire report every Monday. Our fantasy junkies cover the hottest hitters, best waiver wire pick ups, top starting pitching spot starts and sift through bullpens from around the league each week.

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (Apr. 29-May 5):

  Name Pos. Team R HR RBI SB BA OPS
1. Carlos Gomez OF MIL 8 3 5 5 .462 1.495
2. Starling Marte OF PIT 7 4 8 3 .333 1.260
3. Ryan Raburn* 2B/OF CLE 5 4 9 0 .591 1.773
4. Miguel Cabrera 3B DET 8 3 10 0 .423 1.391
5. Mike Trout OF LAA 7 3 10 1 .313 1.121
6. Mark Trumbo 1B/3B/OF LAA 5 5 8 0 .286 1.286
7. Michael Saunders* OF SEA 8 3 6 1 .280 1.037
8. Prince Fielder 1B MIL 5 3 10 0 .333 1.122
9. Jason Kipnis 2B CLE 6 2 7 2 .308 1.049
10. Manny Machado 3B BAL 7 3 5 1 .333 1.108
11. Justin Ruggiano* OF MIA 8 3 5 1 .296 1.091
12. Carlos Gonzalez OF COL 6 2 4 1 .458 1.385
13. Nolan Arenado* 3B COL 5 3 8 0 .357 1.129
14. Matt Holliday OF STL 8 3 7 0 .259 .926
15. Jean Segura SS MIL 5 3 7 1 .286 1.043
16. Andy Dirks* OF DET 7 2 3 1 .385 1.140
17. Juan Pierre* OF MIA 6 0 1 5 .320 .734
18. Alfonso Soriano* OF CHC 5 2 7 0 .391 1.200
19. Allen Craig 1B/OF STL 6 1 7 0 .379 1.021
20. Adrian Beltre 3B TEX 5 2 7 0 .360 1.025
21. Mark Reynolds 1B/3B CLE 5 2 7 0 .348 .994
22. Yonder Alonso* 1B SD 4 2 8 1 .280 .841
23. David Wright 3B NYM 6 3 4 0 .333 1.257
24. Lorenzo Cain OF KC 5 0 5 2 .400 1.029
25. Michael Cuddyer 1B/OF COL 5 2 7 0 .333 1.060

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Weekly Waiver Wire:

Yonder Alonso, 1B, SD (20% owned in Yahoo! leagues)
Guys with big-time pedigrees generally find their way onto my roster and if you need first base or batting average help, Alonso is a good place to look. He won't hit 30 bombs but he should be the top RBI man in San Diego and is on pace to blow past his rookie numbers from a year ago.

Ryan Rayburn, 2B/OF, CLE (27%)
The versatile two-sacker has always had spurts of fantasy greatness — try 45 homers in just over 1,000 at-bats from 2009-11 — but has never gotten a full season of action. His 387 ABs in 2011 were a career high. While he is in the lineup he is worth owning, especially with second-base eligibility.

Nolen Arenado, 3B, COL (49%)
True fantasy baseball geeks have known about the star Rockies third base prospect for some time now. But after 10 hits and three home runs in his first seven games, the whole world should know about Arenado. He is a big-time talent and while he is likely to hit his slumps, he is worth adding blindly if you need help at the corner infield position.

A.J. Pollock, OF, ARI (32%)
Last week I suggested an Arizona outfielder and Gerrardo Parra has six hits, a triple, home run and three RBIs in his last five games. This week, I am going back to the Diamondbacks' well with Pollock, one of manager Kirk Gibson's fill-in options until Adam Eaton (elbow) is ready. Pollock is a viable play in standard mixed leagues until Eaton returns, which still appears to be about a month away. Pollock won't give you much help in power departments — roughly one minor league HR per 100 at-bats — but he has always hit (.303 MiLB career BA) and can run. Sitting atop the D-Backs batting order makes him one of the hottest waiver wire names.

Last Week:

Nate McLouth: 3/19, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB
Gerrardo Parra: 4/19, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB
Oswaldo Arcia: 6/16, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB
Yuniesky Betancourt: 6/24, 3 R, 3 HR, 5 RBI, BB

 

Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:

  Name Team IP W K ERA WHIP
1. Felix Hernandez SEA 22.0 3 23 0.41 0.77
2. Jordan Zimmerman WAS 17.0 2 12 0.00 0.24
3. Justin Verlander DET 21.0 2 21 0.86 0.95
4. Kevin Slowey* MIA 21.0 1 21 1.71 0.62
5. Clayton Kershaw LAD 20.0 1 22 1.35 0.85
6. Clay Buchholz BOS 14.2 2 18 1.23 0.89
7. Tony Cingrani CIN 19.0 1 25 2.84 0.63
8. Jaime Garcia* STL 21.2 3 9 1.25 0.97
9. Jeremy Guthrie* KC 15.2 2 8 0.00 0.89
10. Jeff Locke* PIT 18.0 2 13 1.50 0.83
11. Lance Lynn STL 14.0 2 14 1.29 0.86
12. Kyle Kendrick* PHI 16.0 2 10 1.13 0.81
13. Yu Darvish TEX 19.0 2 34 3.32 1.11
14. Anibal Sanchez DET 14.0 1 26 1.93 0.93
15. Chris Tillman* BAL 20.2 2 13 1.31 1.02
16. Phil Hughes* NYY 21.0 1 24 1.71 1.05
17. Scott Feldman* TEX 15.2 2 14 2.30 0.83
18. Cole Hamels PHI 22.0 1 20 2.05 0.91
19. Hisashi Iwakuma SEA 18.0 1 24 1.50 1.11
20. Max Scherzer DET 20.1 3 24 3.98 1.03

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Top 5 Spot Starts for the Week (Mon. - Sun.):

1. Hyin-Jin Ryu, LAD: Sat., Miami (75% owned)
Ryu at home in three starts this year: 18.2 IP, 2-1, 16 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 23 K. Additionally, he has 20 strikeouts, three earned runs and just six hits allowed in his last two starts prior to Sunday's trip to the Bay. With at least eight punch-outs in each of his four starts prior to pitching against the World Champs on Sunday, the Marlins should pose no threat to the Korean import.

2. Patrick Corbin, ARI: Thur., Philadelphia (59%)
I went to the Corbin well last week and it netted me this: 7.0, W, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K. Thursday's opponent will certainly be tougher than San Diego but Corbin has been lights out all year: 4-0, 1.80 ERA, 1.08 WHIP.

3. Jose Fernandez, MIA: Fri., at LA Dodgers (33%)
Wins won't be easy for the young Cuban star, but he should still be able to help any rotation when he has his best stuff. He just got his first win at Philadelphia — no easy park to pitch in — by retiring 21 of the 23 batters he faced (7.0, H, B, 0 ER, 9 K). He has nasty stuff and is scheduled to face a HanRam-less Dodgers lineup the end of this week.

4. Kyle Kendrick, PHI: Tues., at San Francisco, Sun., at Arizona (43%)
Getting two starts against two solid teams isn't an elite option but Kendrick has been consistent for most of the year. In six starts since his first, he hasn't allowed more than two earned runs and has posted between four and six strikeouts in each game. He is also 3-0 in those trips to the mound. Two-start pitchers are always worth a look, especially in weekly leagues.

5. Jhoulys Chacin, COL: (Sat.) at St. Louis (47%)
His return from the DL was acceptable with five earned allowed over seven innings against Tampa Bay on Sunday. The year-to-date numbers (2.56/1.04), however, have been excellent and the Rockies have provided their pitching staff with the most run support in the majors.

Closing Morsels:

The Dodgers could be facing a developing situation in their pen. Brandon League has been the designated closer for the season and his eight saves are near the league leaders. Yet, he has allowed a run in four of his five outings and isn't striking people out. Paging Kenley Jansen (frankly, I never liked the League move anyway)... Arizona also has an issue brewing in its pen. Kirk Gibson gave J.J. Putz the dreaded vote of confidence this week after Putz blew his fourth save of the season. Putz has allowed six runs in 12.2 innings and has allowed a home run in three of his last seven outings. David Hernandez and Matt Reynolds appear to be the watch list names... Former set-up man turned closer turned set-up man Kyuji Fujikawa began his rehab assignment on Sunday and is close to returning. He will come back as Kevin Gregg's eighth inning guy for the time being. Gregg has yet to allow a run and is 4-for-4 in save chances through 7.0 innings this year.

Keep up to date all season long with Athlon Sports' Fantasy Baseball Closer Grid

Teaser:
<p> Fantasy Baseball Bests, Busts and Waiver Wire: May 6</p>
Post date: Monday, May 6, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /nfl/ranking-fantasy-footballs-top-rookies-2013
Body:

Doug Martin (1,454) and Trent Richardson (950) were No. 2 and 3 among all rookie NFL running backs last year in rushing yards. They were both first-round picks and played as such in their first season.

Alfred Morris (1,613) led all rookies after being drafted in the sixth round. Vick Ballard (814) was a fifth-round pick and was No. 4 among all rookies. Bryce Brown (564) was fifth among all rookie runners and he was a seventh-round selection.

Justin Blackmon (865 yds, 5 TD), Kendall Wright (626 yds, 4 TD) and Michael Floyd (562 yds, 2 TD) were No. 1, No. 4 and No. 5 in receiving yards among rookies and all were first-round picks. But T.Y. Hilton (861 yds, 7 TD) and Chris Givens (698 yds, 3 TD) were No. 2 and 3 respectively as third- and fourth-round picks in the 2012 NFL Draft.

The point of this exercise is to prove that fantasy production doesn’t always come from first-round picks.

So who are the top 15 fantasy rookies from the 2013 NFL Draft?

1. Montee Ball, RB, Denver
The Wisconsin running back was the most productive college fantasy running back ever. No player in the history of the sport scored more touchdowns — 77 rushing and 83 total — than the Badgers back. And now Peyton Manning is his quarterback and he will be running behind, much like in college, one of the best O-lines in the game. Knowshon Moreno, Ronnie Hillman and/or Willis McGahee are not concerns as none have the workhorse skill set of Ball — and his 983 career NCAA touches. 

2. Tavon Austin, WR, St. Louis
The most dynamic weapon in the draft this year was easily the speedster from West Virginia. Is workload and durability a concern for the 5-foot-9, 175-pounder? Certainly, but his speed, big-play ability and chance to play right away are fantasy gold. He will run the ball and return kicks as well as catch passes, so his chances of starting right away are all but assured.

3. Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati
Bernard might be the most talented running back in the draft not named Marcus Lattimore. In just two college seasons — which means there is plenty of tread left on the tires — Bernard proved he could do it all. He rarely takes a big hit, is an excellent receiver, has elite open field speed and quickness, can return kicks and picks up the blitz. It means he should get upwards of 200 touches as the Bengals phase out the aging BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

4. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston
The Clemson product has a big frame and is in a perfect situation. Is he overly explosive with game-changing speed? No, but he is productive and will be learning from one of the game’s greatest in Andre Johnson. The “situation” is perfect as the running game and other receivers (namely, Johnson) will take most of the focus from the defense. Hopkins should be in the starting lineup in Week 1 and that should provide adequate low WR2, high WR3 numbers.

5. Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego
Few pure outside wide receivers are as polished and talented as the junior from Cal. An elite five-star prospect from North Carolina, Allen was an instant star as a freshman. He posted big numbers despite getting little support from quarterback and half brother Zach Maynard (58.2 percent completion rate, 37 career INT). He has elite ball skills, a natural understanding of the position, prototypical size and Philip Rivers throwing him passes instead of his sibling. Vincent Brown, Robert Meachem, Danario Alexander and Malcolm Floyd are nice players but Allen is the most gifted wideout on the roster the second he shows up to camp.

6. Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay
The Alabama running back steps into a great situation because he won’t be asked to carry the load. That is a good thing in that defenses will focus on No. 12 in Green Bay but it limits his fantasy upside because he is more likely to be in the 200-touch range as opposed to the 270-touch range. That said, he should get the first and second down carries as well as goal line looks. Had Johnathan Franklin not been added later in the draft, Lacy might have been No. 1 on this list.

7. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh
From a situational standpoint, few rookies step into a bigger workload than Bell. He appears to be the starter right away in Pittsburgh and will be playing behind a solid offensive line and quality quarterback. Yet, the issue that will keep Bell’s fantasy value down might be his overall lack of talent. He isn’t overly explosive or quick and will have to work for every yard he gets. A sub-4.0 yards per carry and 6-8 touchdowns feels about right. A quality RB3.

8. Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati
A shot was certainly fired across Jermaine Gresham's and Orson Charles' bow with this first-round pick. The clear-cut most talented and productive tight end in the draft lands in a great situation as Andy Dalton and his deep and talented supporting cast of receivers will take away focus. Look for plenty of two-tight end packages in Cincinnati making Eifert a fringe weekly starter in deeper leagues.

9. Stepfan Taylor, RB, Arizona
Taylor was wildly underrated on “draft day” and could be a sneaky good fantasy play in 2013. He has workhorse talents inside and out of the tackles, can catch passes, pick up the blitz and rarely makes mistakes. He won’t get the start right away but he will force his way onto the field with his overall dependability.

10. Johnathan Franklin, RB, Green Bay
Few “third down” backs have first and second down capabilities but that is what Franklin can do. The Mayor of L.A. has speed, toughness, hands, leadership, productivity and overall play-making skill. He will be a change-of-pace back for Lacy at first but could force Mike McCarthy to split the carries more evenly. UCLA’s all-time leading rusher should be a late-round target for everyone.

11. EJ Manuel, QB, Buffalo
Heady, hard-working dual-threat is the only QB with fantasy upside in 2013.

12. Robert Woods, WR, Buffalo
Undersized but elite talent with huge numbers in college and should play right away.

13. Terrance Williams, WR, Dallas
Polished player should finish the year as clear-cut No. 2 to Dez Bryant. Great situation.

14. Markus Wheaton, WR, Pittsburgh
Dynamic do-everything type who will be used all over the field right out of the gate.

15. Josh Boyce, WR, New England
Big-play threat can play inside or out. Is much more talented/dynamic than Aaron Dobson.

Honorable Mention: Marcus Lattimore, RB, San Francisco
For you keeper GMs, there will be no such thing as too early for Lattimore. He likely won’t play much in 2013 but could be activated to contribute late in the season. When healthy, he is easily the most talented runner in this class and the Niners were the perfect landing spot for him to rehab and, eventually, explode in 2014.

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Minnesota
Geno Smith, QB, NY Jets
Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia
Joseph Randle, RB, Dallas
Matt Barkley, QB, Philadelphia

Teaser:
<p> Ranking Fantasy Football's Top Rookies in 2013</p>
Post date: Friday, May 3, 2013 - 12:15
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-50-running-backs-bcs-era
Body:

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

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

Agree or disagree with our ranking of College Football's Top 50 Running Backs of the BCS Era? Let us know on Twitter at @AthlonSports, using the hashtag #AthlonRB50.

1. Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma (2004-06)
Stats: 747 att., 4,045 yds, 41 TD, 24 rec., 198 yds, TD

The BCS version of Herschel Walker or Bo Jackson was the three-year star from Palestine (Texas) High. A three-time first-team All-Big 12 runner finished No. 2 in the Heisman Trophy voting as a true freshman in 2004. His 1,925 yards was an NCAA record for a true freshman and it earned him unanimous All-American honors. Despite missing chunks of time with injuries in each of his next two seasons, “All Day” Peterson still topped 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns. His natural blend of power, speed, size and balance has never been duplicated during the BCS era. He rushed for 970 yards for the Vikings in 2011 in a season shortened by a torn ACL, the only time since high school that A.D. hasn’t rushed for at least 1,000 yards. He is the Sooners No. 3 all-time leading rusher.

2. Ricky Williams, Texas (1995-98)
Stats: 1,011 att., 6,279 yds, 72 TD, 85 rec., 927 yds, 3 TD

One of Williams’ spectacular seasons took place during the BCS era so he is eligible. The power back from San Diego gave fans in Austin a preview of things to come when he rushed for 990 yards as a true freshman fullback. His two-year run as an upperclassmen may never be matched as he posted back-to-back seasons with at least 1,800 yards and 25 rushing touchdowns. Williams was a two-time consensus All-American, a two-time Doak Walker Award winner, a two-time Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year and claimed the Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award and Heisman Trophy as a senior. He left school as the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher (since broken) and he is one of four players to ever score at least 70 rushing touchdowns.

3. Ron Dayne, Wisconsin (1996-99)
Stats: 1,220 att., 7,125 yds, 71 TD, 31 rec., 304 yds

Williams’ NCAA rushing record didn’t last for very long as the New Jersey native came along the next year to break the record held by Williams and, before that, by Pitt's Tony Dorsett and Ohio State's Archie Griffin. Dayne is the only player in history with 7,000 yards rushing and is one of four players to score at least 70 rushing touchdowns. He carried the ball more than any player in history (1,220) and he owns multiple BCS bowl rushing records with his two Rose Bowl MVP performances. He capped his illustrious career with a 2,000-yard Heisman Trophy and Big Ten championship season. The consensus All-American won Big Ten Player of the Year, Maxwell, Walter Camp and Doak Walker recognition in his final season in Madison.

4. Darren McFadden, Arkansas (2005-07)
Stats: 785 att., 4,590 yds, 41 TD, 46 rec., 365 yds, 2 TD (2, 2)

When it comes to pure breakaway speed and big play ability, few can match Run-DMC’s talent. The North Little Rock prospect finished second in Heisman balloting in back-to-back seasons, coming up just short to Troy Smith in 2006 and Tim Tebow in 2007. McFadden won the Doak Walker and SEC Offensive Player of the Year awards in both consensus All-American seasons. His 4,590 yards is No. 2 all-time in SEC history to only Herschel Walker. He helped lead Arkansas to the SEC Championship Game in 2006 but came up short against eventual national champion Florida.

5. LaDainian Tomlinson, TCU (1997-00)
Stats: 943 att., 5,387 yds, 43 TD, 43 rec., 267

Tomlinson might be the greatest NFL running back in history so some may feel he is getting slighted for being No. 5 on this list. The mid-level recruit from Rosebud (Texas) Waco had one of the greatest careers in NCAA history. After two solid but uneventful seasons, L.T. took over the national scene as a junior with 1,974 yards and 20 touchdowns, including the NCAA single-game rushing record of 406 yards against UTEP. He backed that up with another 2,158 yards and 22 scores, winning the Doak Walker, his second WAC Offensive Player of the Year award, consensus All-American honors and a fourth place finish in the Heisman voting. He scored 162 TDs in his NFL career.

6. Reggie Bush, USC (2003-05)
Stats: 433 att., 3,169 yds, 25 TD, 95 rec., 1,301 yds, 13 TD, 2,081 ret. yds, 3 TD

The superstar recruit from La Mesa (Calif.) Helix brought a unique skill set to the evolving running back position. Sort of a first of his kind, the all-purpose talent was unstoppable with the ball in his hands. He played a prominent role on the 2003 National Championship team before providing 908 yards rushing, 509 yards receiving, nearly 1,000 return yards and 15 total touchdowns during USC’s 2004 romp to a second national title. He exploded as a junior, rushing for 1,740 yards on a ridiculous 8.7 yards per carry and scoring 19 total touchdowns, coming up just short of his third national title. He earned his second consecutive Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year award as well as the Doak Walker, Walter Camp and Heisman Trophy. His career 7.3 per carry average is fourth all-time and his legacy is only vaguely tarnished by the scandal that put USC on probation and caused him to "return" his Heisman.

7. Darren Sproles, Kansas State (2001-04)
Stats: 815 att., 4,979 yds, 45 TD, 66 rec., 609 yds, 2 TD, 1,224 ret yds, TD

Few players have ever been as valuable to their school as the diminutive Sproles was to Kansas State. The all-purpose dynamo rushed for at least 1,300 yards in three straight seasons and he helped lead the Wildcats to an improbable Big 12 championship in 2003. His 323 yards from scrimmage and four total touchdowns against Oklahoma in the title game will go down in history as arguably the greatest single game performance by any Wildcat in history. The Sunflower State native finished fifth in the Heisman voting that year and has proven himself by carving out an extremely productive niche in the NFL as an all-purpose talent.

8. Ray Rice, Rutgers (2005-07)
Stats: 910 att., 4,926 yds, 49 TD, 37 rec., 334 yds, TD

Much like Sproles, Rice meant more to his team and university than most everyone else on this list. He rushed for nearly 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in three years after back-to-back seasons with at least 335 carries, 1,794 yards and 20 touchdowns. He is second all-time in rushing yards and carries in Big East history and has developed into one of the most talented running backs in the NFL. A stout lower body has allowed the smaller back from unlikely New Rochelle (N.Y.) High to withstand the punishment of being a true workhorse, making him one of the game’s most talented players.

9. Montee Ball, Wisconsin (2009-12)
Stats: 924 att., 5,140 yds, 77 TD, 59 rec., 598 yds, 6 TD

Ball won’t be confused with the most talented running backs of the BCS era but few have been as successful and productive. No one player in the history of the sport has scored as many touchdowns (77 rushing, 83 total) as the Missouri native. He also finished fourth in the Heisman balloting as a junior and won the Doak Walker as senior while leading the Badgers to three straight Big Ten championships. His 39 touchdowns in 2011 tied Barry Sanders for the all-time single-season record and Ball earned consensus All-American honors in both seasons.

10. DeAngelo Williams, Memphis (2002-05)
Stats: 969 att., 6,026 yds, 55 TD, 70 rec., 723 yds, 5 TD, 824 ret yds

Not many players have claimed three conference player of the year honors but the Wynne (Ark.) High prospect did so in Conference USA for Memphis. He finished seventh in Heisman Trophy voting in 2005 after his second straight 1,900-yard season. He is one of only three players with at least 6,000 yards rushing and he scored 60 total touchdowns during his career. Only once (2003) did Williams not average more than 6.0 yards per carry.

Related: The Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

11. Cedric Benson, Texas (2001-04)
Stats: 1,112 att., 5,540 yds, 64 TD, 69 rec., 621 yds, 3 TD (6, 6)

The Longhorns running back is one of the most productive running backs in history. He finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting two separate times and is one of only six players to score at least 60 rushing touchdowns. The Midland (Texas) Lee star posted four season of at least 1,050 yards and 12 touchdowns while in Austin.

12. Trent Richardson, Alabama (2009-11)
Stats: 540 att., 3,130 yds, 35 TD, 68 rec., 730 yds, 7 TD, 720 ret. yds, TD (3)

Richardson is one of the most physically imposing running backs to ever play the game. The Pensacola product only started for one season but became the only SEC running back to rush for 20 touchdowns in a season. He won two national titles and is one of the rarest combinations of size, speed and agility.

13. Mark Ingram, Alabama (2008-10)
Stats: 572 att., 3,261 yds, 42 TD, 60 rec., 670 yds, 4 TD

Ingram is the only Heisman winner in Alabama’s storied history, and he might not have been the best back on his own team. From Flint, Mich., Ingram led Bama to the national championship in 2009 with 1,658 yards and 17 scores. It was his only 1,000-yard season while in Tuscaloosa. No Bama player has scored more rushing touchdowns than Ingram.

14. C.J. Spiller, Clemson (2006-09)
Stats: 606 att., 3,547 yds, 32 TD, 123 rec., 1,420 yds, 11 TD, 2,621 ret. yds, 8 TD

Versatility and explosiveness are the words that come to mind when dealing with Spiller. With elite burst and big-play ability, Clemson used Spiller as a multi-faceted weapon. He is No. 2 in ACC history in yards from scrimmage and total touchdowns and is the NCAA’s all-time leader with seven kickoff return touchdowns.

15. LaMichael James, Oregon (2009-11)
Stats: 771 att., 5,082 yds, 53 TD, 51 rec., 586 yds, 4 TD

Few players accomplished more in three seasons than James. Three straight 1,500-yard campaigns, a Doak Walker Award, consensus All-American honors and a trip to the BCS title game make the speedy and allusive back one of the BCS era’s greatest tailbacks. The Texarkana, Texas, native finished third in the Heisman voting in 2010 and 10th in 2011.

16. Steven Jackson, Oregon State (2000-03)
Stats: 743 att., 3,625 yds, 39 TD, 66 rec., 680 yds, 6 TD

From a pure talent standpoint, Jackson is the best Oregon State player of all-time and is one of the most talented runners of the BCS era. The Las Vegas native led the nation in rushing two straight seasons and owns the OSU single-season rushing record. He has eight consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in the NFL for a team that rarely pressed for the postseason.

17. Larry Johnson, Penn State (1999-02)
Stats: 460 att., 2,953 yds, 26 TD, 65 rec., 681 yds, 7 TD, 1,181 ret. yds, 3 TD (3)

The State College  prospect only started for one season, but that one year was special. He rushed for 2,087 yards and 20 touchdowns on 7.7 yards per carry in '02, earning consensus All-American honors as well as winning the Doak Walker, Maxwell and Walter Camp Awards. He finished third in the Heisman Trophy race and brought elite size and speed to the backfield.

18. Toby Gerhart, Stanford (2006-09)
Stats: 671 att., 3,522 yds, 44 TD, 39 rec., 395 yds

The Norco (Calif.) High prospect had just 515 yards and one touchdown entering his junior year. In two years as the starter, Gerhart posted 43 rushing touchdowns and over 3,000 yards in his final two seasons. He won the Doak Walker and Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year awards and earned consensus All-American honors by leading the nation in rushing touchdowns (28), attempts (343) and yards (1,871).

19. Quentin Griffin, Oklahoma (1999-02)
Stats: 714 att., 3,842 yds, 43 TD, 154 rec., 1,282 yds, 7 TD

A steady performer in both the running and receiving game, Griffin blossomed as a superstar in his senior season. He rushed for 783 yards and 16 touchdowns while catching 45 passes for the unbeaten 2000 National Champions before exploding in his final season in 2002. He finished 10th in the Heisman voting after 1,884 yards rushing and 18 total touchdowns in 2002. 

20. Shaun Alexander, Alabama (1996-99)
Stats: 727 att., 3,565 yds, 41 TD, 62 rec., 798 yds, 8 TD

Alexander was a steady, four-year player at Alabama. The Florence, Ky., talent is the all-time leading rusher in Alabama history and he capped his career with an SEC Offensive Player of the Year season when he scored 23 total touchdowns and rushed for a career high 1,383 yards rushing in 1999.

21. Steve Slaton, West Virginia (2005-07)
Stats: 664 att., 3,923 yds, 50 TD, 65 rec., 805 yds, 5 TD (4)

The mid-level recruit from Pennsylvania showed college coaches around the nation what they missed on by rushing for at least 1,000 yards and 16 touchdowns in each of his three seasons. His speed and big-play potential fit perfectly in Rich Rodriguez’s zone read scheme, and had he not left early for the NFL, would have rewritten the WVU record books.

22. Kevin Jones, Virginia Tech (2001-03)
Stats: 616 att., 3,475 yds, 35 TD, 24 rec., 229 yds 

Jones was one of the most important signings of the Frank Beamer era out of Chester, Pa. His talent was obvious from day one as he nearly topped 1,000 yards in three straight seasons. His 1,647-yard, 21-TD junior year earned him consensus All-American honors and led him to depart early for the NFL. Jones was the first in a long line of elite Hokies running backs.

23. Avon Cobourne, West Virginia (1999-02)
Stats: 1,023 att., 5,039 yds, 42 TD, 57 rec., 459 yds

The Big East’s all-time leading rusher burst onto the scene with a 1,138-yard, 10-TD season as a true freshman in 1999. The Camden, N.J., prospect capped his stellar four-year starting career with a 1,710-yard, 17-TD season as a senior. The short but burly back was a true workhorse who still sits atop the Mountaineers all-time rushing list.

24. DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma (2007-10)
Stats: 759 att., 3,685 yds, 50 TD, 157 rec., 1,571 yds, 13 TD, 1,462 ret. yds, 2 TD

An underrated talent from Las Vegas, Murray was as productive across the board as any player in Sooners history. He is sixth in school history in rushing, first in total touchdowns, fixth in receptions and No. 1 in all-purpose yards.

25. Chris Perry, Michigan (2000-03)
Stats: 794 att., 3,657 yds, 39 TD, 64 rec., 569 yds, 2 TD

Perry capped a solid Michigan career with an elite Doak Walker-winning, Heisman finalist season in 2003. He claimed Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors and was a consensus All-American. Perry touched the ball 382 times on offense for 2,041 yards and 20 touchdowns in his final season.

26. Marshawn Lynch, Cal (2004-06)
Stats: 490 att., 3,230 yds, 29 TD, 68 rec., 600 yds, 6 TD, 744 ret yds 

Beast mode started back in Berkeley where Lynch averaged 6.6 yards per carry over a three-year college career. He never had one elite season but his 1,684-yards from scrimmage, 15-total touchdown season led to a Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year award in 2006. His power and speed was obvious ever since he signed with Cal out of Oakland (Calif.) Technical.

27. Cadillac Williams, Auburn (2001-04)
Stats: 741 att., 3,831 yds, 45 TD, 45 rec., 342 yds, TD, 911 ret. yds 

He never got the ball all to himself and that likely keeps him from being in the top 25. He topped out in 2003 with 1,307 yards and 17 touchdowns before his second 1,000-yard season during the unbeaten 2004 campaign. He has scored more rushing touchdowns than anyone in school history and is No. 2 to only Bo Jackson in rushing. 

28. Michael Turner, Northern Illinois (2000-03)
Stats: 940 att., 4,941 yds, 43 TD, 43 rec., 451 yds, 3 TD, 646 ret. yds, 2 TD

Turner the Burner was a star in DeKalb before blossoming as an NFL workhorse. He had three seasons with at least 1,000 yards from scrimmage and at least two with 1,900 yards from scrimmage. He isn’t the MAC’s all-time leading rusher, but he is the league’s most talented running back alum.

29. Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State (2008-10)
Stats: 788 att., 3,877 yds, 46 TD, 151 rec., 1,056 yds, 5 TD

Little “Quizz” defied logic by producing at workhorse levels despite his 5-foot-7 stature. He carried at least 250 times in all three seasons and never rushed for less than 1,184 yards. He also averaged over 50 receptions per season and won the 2008 Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year award.

30. Ken Simonton, Oregon State (1998-01)
Stats: 1,023 att., 4,959 yds, 58 TD, 58 rec., 472 yds, TD

A four-year starter who rushed for at least 1,000 yards in each season prior to his senior year. He set the school's single-season rushing record (since broken) and is the all-time leading rusher at a program known for its running backs.

Related: The Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

31. Maurice Jones-Drew, UCLA (2003-05)
Stats: 481 att., 2,503 yds, 26 TD, 64 rec., 819 yds, 7 TD, 1,366 ret. yds, 6 TD
Formerly Maurice Drew, the UCLA tailback was a consensus All-American in 2005, yet never rushed for more than 1,007 yards in any season. An all-around talent.

32. Anthony Thomas, Michigan (1997-00)
Stats: 867 att., 4,230 yds, 52 TD, 79 rec., 762 yds, TD
Michigan's No. 4 rusher with three straight seasons with at least 15 rushing TDs. Was a big part of the Wolverines unbeaten national title as a freshman.

33. Michael Hart, Michigan (2004-07)
Stats: 1,015 att., 5,040 yds, 41 TD, 67 rec., 566 yds, 2 TD
Michigan's all-time leading rusher was a consistent overachiever. The hard worker got the most of his ability led his team to two Rose Bowls.

34. Kevin Smith, UCF (2005-07)
Stats: 905 att., 4,679 yds, 45 TD, 55 rec., 444 yds, TD
Posted the NCAA's No. 2 season with 2,567 yards on an NCAA record 450 carries to go with 29 rushing touchdowns. Level of competition is only knock.

35. Thomas Jones, Virginia (1996-99)
Stats: 823 att., 4,065 yds, 37 TD, 72 rec., 578 yds, 4 TD
A consensus All-American who finished eighth in the Heisman voting ('99) and is Virginia's all-time leading rusher.

36. Willis McGahee, Miami (2001-02)
Stats: 349 att., 2,067 yds, 31 TD, 28 rec., 355 yds
One-year starter who was a consensus All-American, conference player of the year and finished fourth in the Heisman while leading Miami to a second BCS title game in a row.

37. Garrett Wolfe, Northern Illinois (2004-06)
Stats: 807 att., 5,164 yds, 52 TD, 58 rec., 588 yds, 5 TD
Explosive tailback who posted career LOWS of 242 carries, 1,580 yards and 16 TDs (all in 2005). Could have been an all-time great had he not left early.

38. Stepfan Taylor, Stanford (2009-12)
Stats: 843 att., 4,300 yds, 40 TD, 97 rec., 778 yds, 5 TD
Workhorse back who is Stanford's all-time leading rusher after three straight seasons with at least 250 touches. Is No. 1 all-time in total touchdowns scored (45) at Stanford.

39. Shonn Greene, Iowa (2005-08)
Stats: 376 att., 2,228 yds, 22 TD, 11 rec., 72 yds
Posted one elite Doak Walker-winning season after having to leave Iowa for community college for one year. A consensus All-American and Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.

40. LenDale White, USC (2003-05)
Stats: 541 att., 3,159 yds, 52 TD, 31 rec., 331 yds, 5 TD
Leads USC all-time in rushing touchdowns and was the perfect compliment to Reggie Bush for two national championship teams.

41. Travis Prentice, Miami (OH) (1996-99)
Stats: 1,138 att., 5,596 yds, 73 TD, 54 rec., 522 yds, 5 TD

42. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina (2010-12)
Stats: 555 att., 2,677 yds, 38 TD, 74 rec., 767 yds, 3 TD

43. Kevin Faulk, LSU (1995-98)
Stats: 856 att., 4,557 yds, 46 TD, 53 rec., 600 yds, 4 TD

44. Ian Johnson, Boise State (2005-08)
Stats: 752 att., 4,184 yds, 58 TD, 60 rec., 642 yds, 1 TD

45. Knowshon Moreno, Georgia (2007-08)
Stats: 498 att., 2,734 yds, 30 TD, 53 rec., 645 yds, 2 TD

46. J.J. Arrington, Cal (2003-04)
Stats: 396 att., 2,625 yds, 20 TD, 42 rec., 299 yds, 3 TD

47. Chris Brown, Colorado (2001-02)
Stats: 493 att., 2,787 yds, 35 TD, 11 rec., 76 yds

48. Doug Martin, Boise State (2007-11)
Stats: 617 att., 3,431 yds, 43 TD, 67 rec., 715 yds, 4 TD, 739 ret. yds, TD

49. Javon Ringer, Michigan State (2005-08)
Stats: 843 att., 4,398 yds, 34 TD, 96 rec., 719 yds, TD

50. Damien Anderson, Northwestern (1998-01)
Stats: 925 att., 4,336 yds, 37 TD, 54 rec., 490 yds

The Next 50:

51. Taurean Henderson, Texas Tech: 587 att., 3,241 yds, 50 TD, 303 rec., 2,058 yds, 19 TD
52. Luke Staley, BYU: 418 att., 2,493 yds, 41 TD, 86 rec., 1,000 yds, 7 TD
53. Matt Forte, Tulane: 833 att., 4,265 yds, 39 TD, 103 rec., 985 yds, 5 TD
54. Chris Johnson, East Carolina: 624 att., 2,982 yds, 32 TD, 125 rec., 1,296 yds, 10 TD, 2,715 ret. yds, TD
55. Giovani Bernard, North Carolina: 423 att., 2,481 yds, 25 TD, 92 rec., 852 yds, 6 TD
56. Johnathan Franklin, UCLA: 788 att., 4,403 yds, 31 TD, 58 rec., 517 yds, 3 TD
57. Laurence Maroney, Minnesota: 660 att., 3,933 yds, 32 TD, 21 rec., 197 yds, TD, 667 ret. yds, TD
58. Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona: 394 att., 2,354 yds, 29 TD, 51 rec., 506 yds, 3 TD, 565 ret. yds
59. Bobby Rainey, Western Kentucky: 895 att., 4,542 yds, 35 TD, 80 rec., 682 yds, 5 TD, 1,682 ret yds 
60. Lee Suggs, Virginia Tech: 535 att., 2,767 yds, 53 TD, 15 rec., 171 yds, 3 TD
61. Donald Brown, UConn: 698 att., 3,800 yds, 33 TD, 48 rec., 276 yds, 2 TD
62. Edgerrin James, Miami: 497 att., 2,960 yds, 32 TD, 42 rec., 595 yds, 3 TD
63. Jamaal Charles, Texas: 533 att., 3,328 yds, 36 TD, 49 rec., 539 yds, 3 TD
64. LeSean McCoy, Pitt: 584 att., 2,816 yds, 35 TD, 65 rec., 549 yds, TD
65. Ryan Mathews, Fresno State: 534 att., 3,280 yds, 39 TD, 19 rec., 268 yds, 2 TD
66. Anthony Dixon, Mississippi State: 910 att., 3,994 yds, 42 TD, 56 rec., 449 yds, 4 TD 
67. Chris Wells, Ohio State: 585 att., 3,382 yds, 30 TD, 15 rec., 84 yds
68. Bernard Pierce, Temple: 663 att., 3,570 yds, 53 TD, 19 rec., 178 yds, TD
69. Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech: 403 att., 2,132 yds, 30 TD, 26 rec., 289 yds, 2 TD
70. Jamal Lewis, Tennessee: 487 att., 2,677 yds, 17 TD, 39 rec., 475 yds, 4 TD
71. Ronnie Brown, Auburn: 513 att., 2,707 yds, 28 TD, 58 rec., 668 yds, 2 TD
72. Brock Forsey, Boise State: 813 att., 4,045 yds, 50 TD, 101 rec., 1,175 yds, 18 TD, 1,113 ret. yds
73. Travis Henry, Tennessee: 556 att., 3,078 yds, 26 TD, 20 rec., 99 yds 
74. Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State: 708 att., 4,181 yds, 37 TD, 63 rec., 519 yds, 2 TD
75. Kenjon Barner, Oregon: 582 att., 3,623 yds, 41 TD, 54 rec., 591 yds, 7 TD, 1,634 ret. yds, 2 TD
76. Chris Barclay, Wake Forest: 840 att., 4,032 yds, 40 TD, 62 rec., 381 yds, 517 ret. yds
77. Brian Calhoun, Colorado/Wisconsin: 619 att., 2,760 yds, 27 TD, 90 rec., 909 yds, 4 TD
78. Michael Bush, Louisville: 435 att., 2,508 yds, 39 TD, 50 rec., 651 yds, 2 TD
79. Maurice Clarett, Ohio State: 222 att., 1,237 yds, 16 TD, 12 rec., 104 yds, 2 TD
80. Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech: 517 att., 3,226 yds, 35 TD, 15 rec., 263 yds, TD 
81. David Wilson, Virginia Tech: 462 att., 2,662 yds, 18 TD, 37 rec., 363 yds, 5 TD, 1,324 ret. yds, 2 TD
82. Jonathan Stewart, Oregon: 516 att., 2,891 yds, 27 TD, 49 rec., 334 yds, 4 TD, 1,664 ret. yds, 2 TD
83. Felix Jones, Arkansas: 386 att., 2,956 yds, 20 TD, 39 rec., 383 yds, 3 TD, 1,760 ret. yds, 4 TD
84. James Davis, Clemson: 753 att., 3,881 yds, 47 TD, 51 rec., 441 yds, 2 TD
85. Zac Stacy, Vanderbilt: 581 att., 3,143 yds, 30 TD, 46 rec., 415 yds
86. Andre Ellington, Clemson: 621 att., 3,436 yds, 33 TD, 59 rec., 505 yds, 2 TD, 645 ret. yds, TD 
87. Robbie Rouse, Fresno State: 898 att., 4,647 yds, 37 TD, 110 rec., 794 yds, 5 TD
88. Damion Fletcher, Southern Miss: 1,009 att., 5,302 yds, 44 TD, 109 rec., 904 yds, 2 TD
89. Yvenson Bernard, Oregon State: 876 att., 3,862 yds, 38 TD, 118 rec., 790 yds, 3 TD
90. Rex Burkhead, Nebraska: 635 att., 3,329 yds, 30 TD, 60 rec., 507 yds, 5 TD
91. Anthony Davis, Wisconsin: 908 att., 4,676 yds, 42 TD, 22 rec., 198 yds
92. Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State: 564 att., 3,085 yds, 40 TD, 108 rec., 917 yds, 3 TD
93. Noel Devine, West Virginia: 729 att., 4,317 yds, 29 TD, 98 rec., 710 yds, 2 TD, 736 ret. yds
94. Marion Barber, Minnesota: 575 att., 3,276 yds, 35 TD, 21 rec., 190 yds, 1,029 ret. yds
95. William Green, Boston College: 501 att., 2,974 yds, 33 TD, 31 rec., 343 yds, 2 TD
96. Evan Royster, Penn State: 686 att., 3,932 yds, 29 TD, 61 rec., 562 yds, 3 TD
97. Daniel Thomas, Kansas State: 545 att., 2,850 yds, 30 TD, 52 rec., 428 yds
98. Chester Taylor, Toledo: 803 att., 4,646 yds, 55 TD, 61 rec., 554 yds, 5 TD
99. Lamont Jordan, Maryland: 807 att., 4,147 yds, 36 TD, 76 rec., 737 yds, TD
100. Dontrell Moore, New Mexico: 1,028 yds, 4,973 yds, 51 TD, 92 rec., 857 yds, 8 TD


Agree or disagree with our ranking of College Football's Top 50 Running Backs of the BCS Era? Let us know on Twitter (@AthlonSports), using the hashtag #AthlonRB50

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Post date: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 07:45
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Stay tuned each week to Athlon Sports for a 2013 Fantasy Baseball Weekend Waiver Wire report every Monday. Our fantasy junkies cover the hottest hitters, best waiver wire pick ups, top starting pitching spot starts and sift through bullpens from around the league each and every week.

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (Apr. 22-Apr. 28):

  Name Pos. Team R HR RBI SB BA OPS
1. Nate McLouth* OF BAL 10 1 6 4 .545 1.433
2. Edwin Encarnacion 1B TOR 8 5 8 0 .308 1.264
3. David Ortiz 1B BOS 7 2 9 0 .478 1.413
4. Omar Infante* 2B DET 7 2 5 1 .526 1.603
5. Giancarlo Stanton OF MIA 6 3 8 0 .364 1.280
6. Josh Donaldson* 3B OAK 4 0 10 1 .545 1.497
7. Russell Martin* C/1B PIT 5 4 6 0 .375 1.333
8. Ryan Howard 1B PHI 5 2 10 0 .308 .950
9. Manny Machado 3B BAL 5 0 5 2 .433 1.118
10. Alex Gordon OF KC 5 2 7 1 .318 1.011
11. Nelson Cruz OF TEX 4 2 9 0 .360 1.107
12. Justin Upton OF ATL 6 3 5 0 .333 1.250
13. Miguel Cabrera 3B DET 5 1 8 0 .450 1.228
14. Starling Marte OF PIT 5 0 0 5 .333 .829
15. Howie Kendrick 2B LAA 4 2 6 0 .375 1.131
16. Buster Posey C/1B SF 3 2 6 0 .429 1.310
17. Dustin Pedroia 2B BOS 5 0 4 2 .370 .971
18. Pedro Alvarez* 3B PIT 4 2 6 0 .360 .970
19. Evan Longoria 3B TB 5 2 5 0 .345 1.008
20. Carl Crawford OF LAD 5 3 4 1 .217 .889
21. Yuniesky Betancourt* 1/2/3B MIL 3 2 8 0 .333 .958
22. Alcides Escobar SS KC 4 1 3 2 .381 1.077
23. Kyle Seager 2B/3B SEA 5 2 5 0 .346 1.010
24. Robinson Cano 2B NYY 5 2 4 1 .296 .938
25. Carlos Gomez OF MIL 5 1 2 1 .450 1.292

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Weekly Waiver Wire:

Nate McLouth, OF, BAL (48% owned in Yahoo! leagues)
McLouth has been driving fantasy GMs nuts for years. This is a guy who is capable of huge fantasy success — try 113 R, 26 HR, 94 RBI and 23 SB in 2008 — but has been a huge disappointment ever since — 38 homers in four seasons. He showed signs of life last season, smacking seven bombs and stealing 12 bases in just 209 at-bats. Now, with 17 games in the leadoff spot for the Orioles, McLouth is hitting .382 with 21 runs scored and eight stolen bases. His power is well behind him but he should produce as long as he remains in the one-hole. He is worth a shot at this point if you are desperate for runs and stolen bases.

Gerardo Parra, OF, ARI (32%)
Parra always teases fantasy owners, and while GMs will have to deal with noticeable swoons, the gritty outfielder has the talent to explode from time to time. He hit .417 last week and has a tidy roto line thus far in 2013: 18 R, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 3 SB, .320/.864. No, it's not overwhelming but it's very helpful in more than one category. As long as Adam Eaton is on the DL, Parra will get playing time atop the D-Backs order.

Oswaldo Arcia, OF, MIN (1%)
Not many Twins are worthy of regular playing time in mixed leagues but Arcia might be worth a look in deeper situations. He hit .316 over 1,449 minor league at-bats with 56 home runs. The 6-foot, 220-pounder has the ability to hit for power — he hit two dingers and drove in six runs last week — and should he work his way up the order (six games batting seventh, two batting sixth and one batting third), he could provide some value. Arcia is also a great keeper option. Aaron Hicks, by the way, has a modest five-game hitting streak going. 

Yuniesky Betancourt, 1B/2B/3B, MIL (37%)
I love guys who can play multiple positions and Betancourt can help at three different positions. That said, I am staying away from the pesky Brewer. He won't slug enough to be a play at first and he isn't going to help in the speed category at all. Would his .274 average and .788 OPS help at second base or middle infield? Possibly. But that is all fantasy owners can expect from the career journeyman.

Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:

  Name Team IP W K ERA WHIP
1. Felix Hernandez SEA 22.0 2 28 0.82 0.77
2. Matt Moore TB 20.2 3 25 1.74 0.82
3. Tony Cingrani* CIN 18.0 2 28 1.50 0.89
4. Yu Darvish TEX 13.0 2 21 0.00 0.85
5. Jordan Zimmerman WAS 23.0 2 14 1.96 0.61
6. Kyle Kendrick* PHI 22.0 1 15 0.82 0.77
7. Lance Lynn STL 19.0 3 21 2.37 1.00
8. Kevin Correia* MIN 22.0 3 12 1.64 1.00
9. Doug Fister DET 21.0 2 18 2.14 0.86
10. A.J. Burnett PIT 18.0 2 21 2.00 0.94
11. Homer Bailey CIN 21.0 0 24 1.29 0.81
12. Justin Grimm* TEX 13.0 2 13 0.69 0.92
13. Wei-Yin Chen* BAL 14.0 2 7 0.64 0.79
14. Ervin Santana* KC 14.0 2 12 1.29 0.86
15. Roy Halladay PHI 13.0 1 14 2.08 0.54
16. Mat Latos CIN 14.0 1 14 0.64 0.86
17. Adam Wainwright STL 15.1 2 13 1.76 0.98
18. Hisashi Iwakuma SEA 17.0 0 21 1.06 0.94
19. Alex Cobb TB 15.2 2 10 1.72 0.96
20. Jeremy Hellickson* TB 20.0 1 23 3.15 0.85

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Top 5 Spot Starts for the Week (Mon. - Sun.):

1. Tony Cingrani, CIN: at Chicago Cubs (Sat.) 60% owned
The fill-in for Johnny Cueto has been electric since being called up. Last week he tossed seven innings with nine strikeouts, no walks and just two earned in a no-decision against the Cubs. Cingrani followed that up with a win on the road against the Nationals with 11 Ks and no earned runs. With 28 whiffs in 18.0 innings and a 1.50 ERA, there is no reason not to take a chance against the lowly Cubbies this week.

2. Tim Hudson, ATL: NY Mets (Sun.) 76% owned
The savvy veteran has allowed more than three earned runs in just one start so far this season and posted a quality start (at least 6 IP, 3 ER or less) in three of his first five outings. On Sunday, he's scheduled to take the mound at home against the Mets. In his career, Hudson is a 15-10 with a respectable 3.60 ERA in 27 career starts against the Braves' division rival.

3. Ervin Santana, KC: Tampa Bay (Thur.) 60% owned
I have never been a big supporter of Santana and his overrated career 4.27/1.29 rate. But he does have his moments of brilliance. In 2013 so far, the righty is sporting a 31:5 strikeout-to-walk ratio and has allowed just four earned runs over his last four starts. He won three of those and pitched at least seven innings in each one. Tampa Bay isn't a great matchup but it's at home and he is too hot to ignore.

4. Wade Miley, ARI: at San Diego (Fri.) 75% owned
He was a bit wild over the weekend — seven walks in 4.1 against the Rockies — but the Padres should pose much less of a threat this week. Miley didn't allow a run in that shortened start and still boasts a 2.37 ERA with nearly one strikeout per inning. Look for a bounce back start from the young D-Back.

5. Patrick Corbin, ARI: at San Diego (Sat.) 45% owned
I added the young lefty for his start against the Rockies and ended up with a win and five strikeouts with two earned runs. In fact, Corbin has 12 strikeouts and no walks over his last two starts (14.0 IP) while allowing just four earned runs. His 1.91/1.06 ratio plays in any park, but especially PETCO.

Closing Morsels:

Kevin Gregg is the Cubs closer, for now. He is 3-for-3 in save chances and hasn't allowed a run in five appearances this year. Which means he is likely to blow up in your face shortly but there are few other options on the waiver wire if you are desperate... Jose Valverde could be a God-send for the Tigers. He has yet to allow a base runner in three innings and has worked two perfect saves. Add, plug and play... No, Matt Reynolds isn't going to close many games for the Diamondbacks. J.J. Putz was unavailable and David Hernandez blew his chance in the ninth last week. Yet, he may be worth owning in holds leagues. He hasn't allowed a run, has two saves and one hold. There could be some value there... Huston Street has pitched three straight scoreless innings and picked up three saves last week. All is well with the aging veteran. Get him back in your lineup. (But keep Luke Gregerson and Dale Thayer on your watch list though)... Edward Mujica, Jim Henderson and Andrew Bailey all had great weeks and appear to locking themselves into the ninth inning for their respective clubs.

Keep up to date all season long with Athlon Sports' Fantasy Baseball Closer Grid

Teaser:
<p> Fantasy Baseball Bests, Busts and Waiver Wire: April 29</p>
Post date: Monday, April 29, 2013 - 12:30
Path: /college-football/early-2014-nfl-draft-rankings
Body:

The 2013 NFL Draft is in the books.

Some fans, in Minnesota and St. Louis for example, should be ecstatic about their new toys (Sharrif Floyd, Tavon Austin) while others, in Cleveland, Dallas or Oakland perhaps, might be wondering what just happened in New York. So while more than 250 bright-eyed and bushy-tailed prospects prepare for the long summer trek from being a draft pick to making an NFL roster, the next wave of college stars are already preparing themselves for the 2014 NFL Draft.

And so is Athlon Sports.

With a solid 2013 season on the field and, ideally, an uneventful year off of it, another crop of prospects will hear their name called in Radio City Music Hall in April 2014.

Here are the top 75 prospects to watch on the college gridiron this fall:

* - underclassmen with eligibility remaining

1. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina (6-6, 272)*
Many believe that if the freakish Gamecocks defensive end would have come out this year, he would have been the top pick in the draft. His size, speed and ability to dominate makes him all but a sure-thing on the next level. He was the unanimous No. 1 recruit in the nation who was named SEC Freshman of the Year in 2011 before earning the Hendricks Award as the nation’s top pass-rusher in 2012. He enters his third and, all but certain, final season in college with 86 career tackles, 33.5 tackles for loss, 21.0 sacks and seven forced fumbles — and one earth-shattering hit on that poor Michigan Wolverine.

2. Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama (6-6, 310)*
The only player who might be able to push Clowney for top billing is AJ McCarron’s bookend left tackle. The only player considered more important and more valuable than an elite pass-rusher is the guy who can neutralize him — as the top two picks of the 2013 draft indicated. The star left tackle trailed only Clowney in the recruiting rankings two years ago as incoming freshman and both have clearly lived up to the hype. This prototype blocker could play three years at Alabama and walk away with three national championships.

3. Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame (6-6, 303)*
Few defensive ends can match the size and power of those prototypical left tackles — like Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher — but Tuitt has the goods. The Monroe (Ga.) High prospect was an elite recruit and has proven that his freakish size was the real deal by playing most of his freshman season and blossoming into a star as just a sophomore last fall. He led an unbeaten team in sacks (12.0) while posting 47 tackles, 13.0 for loss and forcing three fumbles. And just pop in the tape of the 300-pounder returning a fumble 77 yards for a touchdown against Navy to see how well the big fella moves in space. The scouts will fall in love with the talented Golden Domer.

4. Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M (6-5, 305)
He isn’t as big or as talented as Joeckel, his former teammate, but he isn’t far behind. He has the pedigree as the son of NFL O-line legend Bruce Matthews and it didn’t take long for the star recruit to make an impact. He was named to the Big 12's all-freshman team in 2010 before leading the way in the SEC for Texas A&M’s prolific offense last season. He possesses the toughness, killer instinct and polished technique most players his age lack, undoubtedly from being coached by an NFL Hall of Famer since he first put on a helmet.

5. Marqise Lee, WR, USC (6-0, 195)*
He is undersized but doesn’t lack for big-play ability. The speedster likely would have been the first wide receiver taken had he been able to come out early this spring. He broke all kinds of school and conference records as a sophomore when he led the nation in receptions (118), was second in yards (1,721) and third in all-purpose yards (2,683). He has scored 27 times in just two seasons. Yes, he is undersized but Tavon Austin just proved a smallish all-purpose dynamo can land in the top 10 of the draft.

6. C.J. Mosley, OLB, Alabama (6-2, 232)
He doesn’t have the ideal frame for a linebacker taken this high in the draft but no player in this class can come close to matching the production, leadership and overall athletic ability of the Theodore (Ala.) High prospect. He is looking for his third national championship in 2013 after a breakout junior season last fall where he tallied 107 tackles, 8.0 for loss, 4.0 sacks, two interceptions and one touchdown. He is the leading tackler and heartbeat at a leadership position on the best team in the nation coached by Nick Saban. Enough said.

7. Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan (6-7, 308)
The eccentric blocker from Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral has elite size and athleticism to go with loads of experience. He enters his final season with 35 starts under his belt and a chance to land in the top 10 of the 2014 draft with another solid season this fall. Under Brady Hoke, Michigan has gone pure pro-style on offense and Lewan has benefited. Now with Devin Gardner under center, Hoke’s offense should flourish with the All-American protecting the blindside.

8. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville (6-3, 215)*
The elite recruit from South Florida powerhouse Miami (Fla.) Northwestern is poised for a run at a national championship this fall. The versatile quarterback earned Big East Rookie of the Year honors as a freshman before leading the Cardinals to an 11-2 record, a co-Big East title and high-profile win over Florida in the Sugar Bowl. He is efficient — career 66.9 percent completion rate and 27:8 TD:INT rate last year — and has shown the necessary growth as a passer in two year to warrant a top 10 selection. His offensive system won’t allow him to throw for huge numbers but no quarterback in next year’s class combines leadership, efficiency, football IQ, toughness and upside like Bridgewater.

9. Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU (6-3, 304)*
The consensus No. 1 defensive tackle prospect in 2011, Johnson earned Freshman All-American honors by multiple media outlets after providing support on that excellent LSU defense. Last year, the New Orleans native produced solid numbers backing up four NFL Draft picks along the D-line. His stats — 30 tackles, 10.0 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks — could triple now that he is a starter and the unquestioned leader of the Bayou Bengals defense.

10. Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA (6-4, 245)
DeMarcus Ware comes to mind when watching Barr except the San Pedro (Calif.) Loyola product might be quicker and more athletic. Barr was a five-star recruit who had no position when he got to campus, but in 2012 under Jim Mora, he developed into a freakish edge rusher with an elite combo of size and burst. The All-American posted 21.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks to go with 83 stops. There is no replacement for big-time production at a coveted position against big-time competition. Look for Barr to have a second All-American campaign in 2013.

Related: Grading every pick of the 2013 NFL Draft first round

11. Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame (6-3, 340)
Nix has uncoachable size and power. He is the heart and soul of the interior defensive line for a team that was undefeated in the regular season a year ago. He got very little help from his back seven against Alabama and he will have a year to erase the memory of what took place in the Orange Bowl. He is an active nose guard who fits into multiple defensive schemes and has an excellent understanding of the game. He posted 50 tackles, 7.5 for loss and 2.0 sacks from his tackle position last year. The interior defensive line class looks especially deep in 2014 and this massive Floridian is a big reason why.

12. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State (6-3, 210)*
If fans are looking for the next Robert Griffin III, look no further than the Ohio State quarterback. While he isn’t as polished a passer as the Redskins quarterback, he exudes toughness, leadership and freaky athletic ability like RG3. He takes care of the football — 10 interceptions in 411 attempts — and is just now entering his junior season. He willed his team to an unbeaten record last year and has the Buckeyes poised for a national championship run in 2013. He has the frame, toughness and athletic ability to start in the NFL, and should he refine his in-pocket passing skills, he could press Bridgewater as the top quarterback available.

13. Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama (6-1, 210)*
Do the Crimson Tide and former defensive back Nick Saban produce quality NFL prospects in the secondary? Mark Barron, Dee Milliner, Dre Kirkpatrick, Javier Arenas and Kareem Jackson would say so. Like Barron, Milliner and Kirkpatrick, Clinton-Dix was a five-star Southern-bred prospect who has developed into one of the nation’s best during his time at Alabama. He has the speed and quickness to play in the slot and over the top and the size and toughness to fill against the run and play around the line when needed. “Ha-Ha” will give Saban yet another first-round defensive back on his resume.

14. Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State (5-11, 195)*
The Suwanee (Ga.) Peachtree Ridge prospect doesn’t have elite height like recent first-rounders Dee Milliner or Xavier Rhodes, but Roby will more than hold his own in man coverage. He enters his third year as a starter after 110 tackles, 6.0 for loss, five interceptions and 23 passes broken up over the last two seasons. He has great football instincts, excellent quickness and an uncanny knack for making big plays around the football. At the new glamour position, Roby could easily be the top option in next year’s draft.

15. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington (6-6, 266)*
The junior from Fox Island (Wash.) Gig Harbor is as good a tight end prospect as the draft has seen in years. He broke all kinds of freshman receiving records for the Huskies before posting an All-Pac-12 season (69 rec., 850 yards, 7 TDs) a year ago. He has elite size, great hands, excellent athletic ability and will be used in the running game as a blocker. He is a complete tight end prospect in the mold of Tony Gonzalez.

16. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama (6-3, 195)
Hideous chest tattoo aside, there is little to not like about McCarron’s resume. He has size, accuracy, poise, footwork, toughness, leadership and is arguably the most successful quarterback in NCAA history when it comes to winning. Yes, he has played on loaded rosters but he also led the nation in passing efficiency and has three national championship rings — two as a starter — and is targeting a fourth. In the modern age of dual-threat athletes under center, McCarron is as traditional as they come.

17. David Yankey, OL, Stanford (6-5, 311)
Where scouts project Yankey on the next level will determine if he is a early or late first-round pick. If the NFL thinks he will stick at tackle, his toughness, leadership and overall size will push him up draft boards. Otherwise, his consensus All-American talents for a team known for producing elite blockers could make him the top interior lineman in the ’14 class. He was voted as the Pac-12's best O-lineman by his defensive line peers a year ago — which includes ’13 first-round names like Star Lotulelei and Datone Jones.

18. Tim Jernigan, DT, Florida State (6-2, 298)*
Just behind Johnson in the recruiting rankings was this Lake City (Fla.) Columbia prospect. Cut from the Sharrif Floyd mold in terms of size and skill, Jernigan was an elite performer for the ACC champs a year ago despite only starting twice. He posted 45 tackles, 8.0 for loss and 1.5 sacks behind 2013 draft picks Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine, and he should explode on to the national scene as a full-time starter and leader of the Seminoles' defensive line.

19. Aaron Lynch, DE, USF (6-6, 275)*
Lynch, from Cape Coral (Fla.) Island Coast was never a fit off the field at Notre Dame and it led to a transfer closer to home at South Florida during the 2012 season. On the field, however, Lynch led the Irish in sacks (5.5) as just a true freshman. He finished the year with 33 tackles, 14 QB hurries and 7.0 tackles for loss. He is an absolute monster and should dominate the American Athletic Conference as a third-year player this fall. He may not be running with the Bulls too long.

20. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson (6-1, 205)*
Few true freshmen have ever had a season like Watkins had two years ago in 2011. The National Freshman of the Year was unstoppable as a receiver, return man and occasional running back, posting 1,219 yards receiving, 826 return yards and 231 rushing yards to go with 14 total touchdowns. His burst and explosiveness makes him a much bigger and stronger version of Tavon Austin. That said, he has dealt with off-the-field hurdles that aren’t too worrisome when taken individually but create a track record of poor decision-making. He is an elite big-play machine when focused and healthy, and ideally, 2013 will be a bounce-back campaign.

21. Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State (6-2, 225)*
Few players in the nation are as explosive around the football and hit as hard as the Ohio State tackler. He is undersized and will need to prove he can play against linemen more than 100 pounds heavier, but he has speed to burn and plays extremely well in space. After 115 tackles, 19.0 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks, three forced fumbles and 11 passes deflected as just a sophomore last year, the Plantation (Fla.) High prospect is eyeing a national title run in 2013.

22. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson (6-1, 227)
Boyd could have been a first-rounder had he come out after his 46-touchdown junior season. He is a pocket passer with some added mobility and fits the ideal dual-threat mold the NFL is looking for (think Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers, not Cam Newton or Michael Vick). He has a big arm, plays in a complex scheme, has posted huge numbers and will be looking for a championship in 2013. A run at an ACC — or national — title will push Boyd up draft boards.

23. Iko Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon (5-10, 190)*
Much like Roby, Ekpre-Olomu isn’t overly tall or lengthy, but he has elite speed, better than advertised toughness and bulk and an instinctual nose for the football. He consistently makes big plays in a league stacked with elite passing attacks. The Chino Hills (Calif.) High product finished his sophomore season with 63 tackles, four interceptions (one touchdown) and 16 pass break ups.

24. Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford (6-2, 205)
The Floridian who went across the nation for college is a well-coached and savvy competitor who brings excellent size and instincts to the back end of the secondary. In his first full season as the starter, Reynolds posted 47 tackles and six interceptions that he returned for 301 yards. He is a leader of a defense that is one of the stingiest and most disciplined in the nation.

25. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia (6-1, 210)*
The undersized gunslinger has been compared to Drew Brees ever since he overcame a broken leg in high school to lead his powerhouse prep team at Tampa (Fla.) Plant to the state title. When it is all over at Georgia, Murray will be the most prolific passer in SEC history (yards, TDs). If he can eliminate the eight quarters of bizarro atrocious play each season and finish the year with a win in Atlanta, he could hear his name called in the top 20. The numbers, intangibles, winning and passing ability equates to NFL starter but the Dawgs signal caller will have to overcome his lack of size.

26. Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas (6-5, 245)
Had the star defensive end not been injured for the year against Oklahoma a year ago, he might have entered the draft as a junior. Few players are refined and polished with prototypical NFL size as the son of former NFL star Jim Jeffcoat. He earned a starting spot as just a true freshman three years ago and has been a starter for the Longhorns ever since. He has 117 total tackles, 38.0 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks entering his final season.

27. Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU (6-3, 235)
A second outside linebacker from BYU could find his way into the first round in 2014. Van Noy is a much more polished, albeit smaller and slightly less athletic version of former teammate Ezekiel Ansah. He had an all-everything junior season in which he posted 53 tackles, 22.0 tackles for loss, 13.0 sacks, six forced fumbles, two interceptions and two blocked kicks. He is undersized to play along the line (think Jarvis Jones) but few players are as productive as the star from Reno, Nevada.

28. Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida (6-1, 190)*
The star coverman from Pensacola (Fla.) Pine Forest has never missed a game in his two-year Gators career. In a scheme designed to put the corners on an island, Purifoy uses his elite length, size and quickness to lockdown receivers. He has 78 tackles through two seasons and rarely gets tested by anything but the best of quarterbacks. Look for Purifoy to blossom into an All-American in 2013.

29. Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee (6-6, 332)*
Size and athleticism is unteachable and Richardson has the goods in that department. He has developed into a leader on one of the best offensive lines in the nation and will have a chance to improve his stock significantly with a great season in 2013. He has good feet, prototypical size and has flashed the ability to compete with the games best (pop in the South Carolina tape last year). "Tiny" Richardson could easily work his way into the top 10 with a stellar '13.

30. Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona (5-10, 199)*
He may not look like a workhorse but he plays like one. Carey, as just a sophomore, led the nation in rushing (1,929), set a Pac-12 single game rushing record (366) and scored 24 total touchdowns — all in his first season as the starter. He can play on all three downs and is right at home between the tackles. Packaged with great hands, excellent speed and huge production, Carey is a can't-miss prospect. However, he has dealt with some off-the-field issues (domestic abuse, campus police) and will need to prove he can be a professional to be drafted in the first round.

31. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon (6-4, 211)*
Quiet feet, poised, athletic and leadership are the most common words used to describe the redshirt sophomore to be. Mariota plays the game like a fifth-year senior and has exactly what new NFL schemes are looking for — say, Chip Kelly, perhaps. He led the nation in road passing efficiency, proving his unflappable demeanor. Mariota scored 37 total touchdowns in just his first year on a college gridiron and will be one of the reasons fans in Eugene won't miss Kelly in 2013.

32. De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon  (5-9, 176)*
He won't ever be a full-time running back in the NFL so landing in the first round might be a reach, but no player in the nation is more of a big-play threat than The Black Mamba. Although, St. Louis just used the No. 8 overall pick to draft someone with virtually identical skills. In two seasons, Thomas has scored 18 rushing touchdowns on 147 carries, 14 touchdowns on 91 receptions and four total return touchdowns. Used in the right role — think Darren Sproles — his home run ability will play on Sundays for years.

The Second Round:

33. Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama (6-6, 252)*
34. Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State (6-3, 260)*
35. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M (6-0, 200)*
36. Quandre Diggs, CB, Texas (5-10, 200)*
37. Aaron Colvin, DB, Oklahoma (6-0, 185)
38. Will Sutton, DL, Arizona State (6-1, 290)
39. Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor (6-5, 335)
40. Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State (6-3, 210)
41. Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt (6-3, 205)
42. Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor (5-10, 210)
43. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA (6-3, 225)*
44. Morgan Breslin, DE, USC (6-2, 250)
45. Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State (6-4, 320)
46. Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford (6-6, 260)
47. James Hurst, OT, North Carolina (6-7, 305)
48. Josh Shirley, OLB, Washington (6-3, 230)*
40. Blake Bell, QB, Oklahoma (6-6, 260)*
50. Lemarcus Joyner, DB, Florida State (5-9, 195)
51. A.J. Johnson, LB, Tennessee (6-2, 240)*
52. Chaz Green, OT, Florida (6-5, 310)*
53. Dion Bailey, OLB/S, USC (6-1, 210)
54. Gabe Ikard, C, Oklahoma (6-3, 298)
55. Christian Jones, OLB, Florida State (6-4, 232)
56. Dominique Easley, DT, Florida (6-2, 285)
57. Malcolm Mitchell, WR, Georgia (6-1, 195)*
58. Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida (6-0, 180)*
59. David Fales, QB, San Jose State (6-3, 220)
60. Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State (6-3, 245)*
61. Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon (6-5, 250)*
62. Kelcy Quarles, DT, South Carolina (6-4, 295)*
63. Deshazor Everett, CB, Texas A&M (6-0, 185)*
64. Craig Loston, S, LSU (6-2, 205)

The Next 11:

65. Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, UCLA (6-3, 305)*
66. Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State (6-0, 200)
67. Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech (6-6, 260)
68. Cassius Marsh, DL, UCLA (6-4, 270)
69. Trey DePriest, OLB, Alabama (6-2, 245)*
70. Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford (6-3, 245)
71. Bryan Stork, C, Florida State (6-4, 312)
72. Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota (6-6, 310)
73. Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia (6-5, 260)
74. Anthony Steen, OG, Alabama (6-3, 310)
75. Zach Martin, OT, Notre Dame (6-4, 280)

Teaser:
<p> Athlon takes a very early look at who could have their name called in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.</p>
Post date: Monday, April 29, 2013 - 11:30
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-draft-day-twos-best-prospects
Body:

The beauty of the NFL Draft lies in its unpredictability.

Teams move up in the draft to nab a player they particularly covet. Others move back in the process because the guy they have targeted can be selected later. Some teams reach on a player who didn’t expect to hear his name called in the first round. The result can be excellent prospects — who felt great about going in the first round — actually drop into the middle rounds for one reason or another.

Last year’s second round featured linebackers Lavonte David, Bobby Wagner and Mychal Kendricks. The trio combined for 353 total tackles in 2012 as rookies for Tampa Bay, Seattle and Philadelphia respectively. Others like Janoris Jenkins (64 tackles), Zach Brown (5.5 sacks) or defensive tackles Jerel Worthy and Kendall Reyes also made instant impacts for their teams.

The dust has settled on another wild first round and it’s time for NFL front offices to reevaluate their draft boards and get back to work. The second round starts at 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Here are Athlon’s Best Available Players on Day Two:

1. Larry Warford, OG, Kentucky
There are very few sure-things in any NFL Draft much less after the first 32 picks. Warford is a plug-and-play stud at guard who isn't far behind both first-round studs Chance Warmack (TEN) and Jonathan Cooper (ARI). He was widely considered by opposing coaches as clearly the best player on a team with little to no support. And he still produced at an All-SEC level despite the struggle of his team. He is productive, powerful, game-ready and a steal in Round 2.

2. Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
Matt Taibbi said it best, "take the weed guy." Allen is a superstar in the making. He has elite ball skills, plays physical football, understands the game and is ready to play right away (unlike one first round "athlete" headed to Minnesota). He was extremely productive and led a wide receiver-rich Pac-12 in yards two years ago with little to no support from his half-brother, Golden Bears quarterback Zach Maynard. Think a slightly smaller Larry Fitzgerald. Watch.

3. Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
Both Brown and Manti Te'o were considered the best linebackers in the nation in 2008 and '09 as five-star recruits. Brown took much longer to realize his potential after making a poor decision to sign with Miami. After returning home to Kansas, he blossomed into a consistent superstar and Big 12 champion with the Wildcats. He is a bit undersized but has more than enough speed, physicality and instincts to start right away on the next level. The second round last year featured more than one undersized stat-stuffing tackler — Lavonte David, Bobby Wagner, Mychal Kendricks — and those selections worked out pretty well.

4. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
The physical measurables at the combine have never been and will never be an accurate depiction of NFL potential. Never does a linebacker run in a straight line for 40 yards in shorts. Te'o is a leader, an incredibly productive player, a tremendous member of the community and will be a starter in the NFL. His work ethic is unquestioned and his off the field story is one of naiveté rather than evil genius — which is both positive and negative.

5. Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
The Tar Heels star can do it all. He has speed to burn, great vision, burst, explosiveness and versatility. He will be a big part of the passing game and, unlike most rookies, is excellent against the blitz. At his best, Bernard isn't as talented as fellow back Marcus Lattimore, but Bernard has loads of tread left on the tires as he departed Chapel Hill as a redshirt sophomore. In a very talented, very deep running back class, Bernard is the most complete and most game-ready of the bunch and fantasy players should take note. He is a more mature LeSean McCoy — which is a scary thought.

6. Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Few corners bring as much length and experience at an elite level like Banks. He is tall and long and matches up with the bigger, more physical modern NFL wide receivers. He can play in any scheme and will be a physical player around the line of scrimmage. Against the best competition in the nation, Banks was a highly respected and decorated player at a premium position. Sign me up.

7. Robert Woods, WR, USC
Few players have the combination of big-play talent, toughness and football IQ like Woods. Despite his smaller stature, he shouldn't be considered a finesse player. This, actually, is probably the only thing that kept him from being taken in the first round. If he was two inches taller and 15 pounds heavier, his durability wouldn't be an issue and he would have pressed Tavon Austin for top wide receiver status. He produced at an elite level and has been a proven commodity for years since being named the National High School Player of the Year as a prep senior.

8. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Thursday night was an obviously painful experience for the West Virginia gunslinger. Whether one particularly scathing pre-draft scouting report was accurate or not, the bottom line is Smith isn't a first-round quarterback. That said, he posted too many numbers, won too many games and has too many physical skills not be worth a risk at the beginning of the second round. Look for someone to jump up and snag the Mountaineers signal caller early in Day Two.

9. Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
Big, physical, handsy and versatile. Few programs coach the tight end position as well as Stanford. Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw develop true tight ends with the ability to be inline blockers as well as flexed out wide receivers. Ertz is a slightly less athletic, more physical version of Coby Fleener from a year ago. There is a chance he is the better of the two.

10. Jonathan Cyprien, S, FIU
He didn't play against elite competition in the Sun Belt but he makes highlight-reel plays. A big hitter with great speed and range, Cyprien has all the tools to excel at the next level. He may take some time to refine and polish his game but there is loads of upside with this heavy-hitting safety. He is a slightly smaller version of Bernard Pollard.

Related: Sharrif Floyd's amazing journey to the NFL

11. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
A steal once he returns to full health. Durability a concern, talent isn't.

12. Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Position and scheme changes stunted overall production but gets to the quarterback.

13. Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
Likely the top tackle left on the board after a deep run in the first round.

14. Kawaan Short, DL, Purdue
Heart and soul leader of the defense in West Lafayette. Very productive.

15. Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
A complete player on and off the field who is game-ready and talented enough to start.

16. Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
If he can prove he will be aggressive and dependable like he was pre-knee injury, he will be a star.

17. Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State
Aggressive player who consistently made big plays for a team that expected to win every Saturday.

18. Kevin Minter, LB, LSU
Stop me if you have heard this: undersized, productive, physical, instinctual second-round middle linebacker.

19. Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
Isn't flashy or overly explosive but is extremely dependable, well-coached and physical.

20. Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
Big, burly physical runner who dealt with constant injury concerns. Riskier pick with big-time upside.

Related: Grading the First Round of the 2013 NFL Draft

21. Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
22. Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
23. Brian Winters, OG, Kent State
24. Sio Moore, LB, UConn
25. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
26. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin
27. Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
28. Jonathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
29. Phillip Thomas, S, Fresno State
31. John Simon, OLB/DE, Ohio State
32. Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee

Teaser:
<p> 2013 NFL Draft: Day Two's Best Prospects</p>
Post date: Friday, April 26, 2013 - 10:30
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-draft-grading-first-round
Body:

The first round of the 2013 NFL Draft is complete and 32 new faces have joined the ranks of professional football. Some will play right away and become instant Pro Bowlers like first-rounders Matt Kalil, Andrew Luck, Doug Martin and Robert Griffin III did a year ago as rookies. Others rarely played like A.J. Jenkins (just three games played) or dealt with major injuries like Nick Perry (six games), David DeCastro (four games) or Dre Kirkpatrick (five games). Others like Detroit's Riley Reiff played, but simply didn't live up to the expectations.

In all, 24 of last year’s 32 first-round picks played in either 15 or 16 games last year. Needless to say, your first-round pick must be able to contribute quickly to justify the lofty draft status.

Last year’s grades included six “A’s” for Luck, Griffin, Trent Richardson, Morris Claiborne, Michael Brockers and Dont’a Hightower. San Francisco, for example, got a “C” for Jenkins, who reported to camp out of shape and rode the bench for the first 12 weeks. And the only “D” was for the Chiefs' selection of Memphis’ Dontari Poe. He played all 16 games without registering a sack, tackle for loss, forced fumble or fumble recovery. It wasn’t all Poe’s fault obviously, but Kansas City was the league’s worst team, fired its coach and still needs defensive line help.

But 2013 is a new season and the 2013 NFL Draft is a new opportunity to rebuild.

So how did your favorite team do in the first round?

1. Kansas City: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan (6-7, 306)
Team Needs: OL, DL, ILB, S
The Chiefs needed a lot of help and have gone defense in the first round in four of the last five years. With a new quarterback and Jamaal Charles in the backfield, protecting his skill players was a priority for Andy Reid. In a draft with no elite quarterback, the Chiefs did an excellent job filling the second most important position on the field. Fisher has great feet, a mean streak, a huge frame and little downside whatsoever. That said, there is a reason he is the first MAC player to be ever be taken No. 1 overall and only time will tell if Reid took the right left tackle.
First Round Grade: A-

I sat down with Central Michigan head coach Dan Enos last night just minutes after Fisher got selected:

2. Jacksonville: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M (6-6, 306)
Team Needs: DE, QB, DT, CB, OL
For my money, the massive left tackle from College Station is the best player in the draft. He has every possible box checked with elite ability, track record of success and upside. There is less downside with Joeckel than Fisher and the Jaguars should be applauded for taking the best available when he dropped into their laps. Blaine Gabbert hasn't gotten a real shot at competing at a high level and whether he is the answer or not, Jacksonville has a body guard for its quarterback for the next decade-plus. He will also help extend the career span of Maurice Jones-Drew.
First Round Grade: A+

3. Miami (from OAK): Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon (6-6, 248)
Team Needs: OL, CB, DE, TE
There is plenty of risk here for a team with a lot of needs. That includes the price to move up in the draft but also some risk involved in a player who needs to develop consistency. Jordan has Aldon Smith skills, size and upside but also disappeared at times early in his career. Was this simply the maturation process or was it a lack of focus and drive? Odds are his measurables and raw skill will remind people of Smith — or, perhaps, Jason Taylor.
First Round Grade: B-

4. Philadelphia: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma (6-6, 303)
Team Needs: OL, CB, QB, WR
Chip Kelly loves athletic linemen who can move in space and have great feet. The former quarterback is exactly that. He is a tremendous athlete who has excellent footwork, balance and quickness. He should develop the overall bulk and sheer power needed to play left tackle in the NFL but his type of upside athletically isn't coachable, it's innate. There is plenty of risk involved with a guy who hasn't played the position for as long as his peers, but there is elite upside here as well.
First Round Grade: B

5. Detroit: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU (6-5, 271)
Team Needs: OT, DE, WR, LB
The scouting report on Ansah is pretty straight forward. He is a raw prospect who hasn't played a lot of football at an elite level. He doesn't practice well and lacks overall fundamentals. Yet, every time the tape is running, he is making plays all over the field. He has tremendous physical talents and should refine his technique and overall discipline. With a need for a pass-rusher, the Lions tabbed the former Cougars hybrid backer/end.
First Round Grade: B

6. Cleveland: Barkevious Mingo, OLB/DE, LSU (6-4, 241)
Team Needs: OG, QB, WR, ILB
Defensive line is always a need for almost every team at all times. But the Browns could have used big-time help at a number of other positions. And underachieving, unproductive prospects who don't have great work ethic isn't the answer this high in the draft. On the positive side, Mingo has an elite frame with elite athletic ability and tons of upside. He also failed to produce at a high level — 4.5 sacks as a senior — for a team loaded with underachievers.
First Round Grade: C-

7. Arizona: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina (6-2, 311)
Team Needs: OL, OLB, TE, S
There is something to be said about downside and Cooper has none of it. The ceiling might not be as high as most traditional first-round picks as few guards can justify a pick this high, but the floor is about as high as any player at any position in the draft. He has great feet, a nasty streak and has produced at an elite level throughout his career. Is he better than Chance Warmack? That remains to be seen but Arizona — who's running game has struggled since... ever — got a player who can be plugged into the starting lineup on day one and likely won't leave for years to come.
First Round Grade: A-

8. St. Louis (from BUF): Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia (5-8, 174)
Team Needs: S, WR, OL, OLB
The Rams gave up plenty of value to move up to get Austin, but Jeff Fisher got his guy. Austin might be the only truly game-changing offensive skill position player in this draft and Fisher will have fun figuring out how to use his new toy. Some much-needed big-play ability is now at Sam Bradford's disposal. Fans can figure to see the small speedster in the backfield, on trick plays and on special teams. There is little downside to Austin other than his lack of overall size.
First Round Grade: B+

9. NY Jets: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama (6-0, 201)
Team Needs: OLB/DE, QB, OT, DB
There is some injury concern with Milliner but there should be no question about his ability to play cornerback. He should recover from off-season shoulder surgery and be ready to play early in 2013. He is a better all-around player at the position than fellow teammate and 2012 first-round pick Dre Kirkpatrick. The former No. 1-rated cornerback prospect in the nation in high school consistently made bigger plays, is a better tackler and is the best pure lockdown cover corner in the draft. He is a great player but does he fill a pressing need for a coaching staff facing a pivotal season?
First Round Grade: B+

10. Tennessee: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama (6-2, 317)
Team Needs: DE, S, OG, WR
The Titans running game has no excuses now that Chance Warmack and free agent signings Andy Levitre and Shonn Greene are coming to town. Warmack is a war-daddy of an offensive lineman who has little to no downside whatsoever. He is big, physical, nasty and has done nothing but win, and win big. The road grader will be in the starting lineup in Week 1. Titans running back Chris Johnson said it best on Twitter immediately following Warmack's selection: "THANK GOD."
First Round Grade: A+

Related: 2013's Best Day Two Prospects

11. San Diego: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama (6-5, 339)
Team Needs: OL, DB, WR, RB
Fluker has always been a big-time NFL prospect ever since he was the No. 1-rated offensive line recruit in the nation. He worked his way quickly into the starting lineup and eventually locked down the right tackle spot for a two-time national champion. However, he was beat out for left tackle by potential 2014 first-round sophomore Cyrus Koundjio. He has elite size but may not be suited for left tackle — and thus justifying this selection. A great right tackle for years to come isn't a bad consolation prize, but is it worth the No. 11 pick? He has little downside and fills a need, so the Bolts could have done much worse.
First Round Grade: B

12. Oakland (from MIA): D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston (5-11, 191)
Team Needs: CB, OL, DT, LB, QB
The ghost of Al Davis must be floating around the facilities in Oakland because this was a definite reach. Hayden has speed and made plenty of plays while at Houston — facing C-USA quarterbacks, offensive schemes and wide receivers. This pick feels emotional and rushed — much like most of Davis' draft picks — which the is worst thing any front office can do on draft day (see every good team's draft day strategy). Hayden will play early but there is way too much risk at No. 12. Trading down to get extra picks, however, and filling a need was extremely commendable.
First Round Grade: C+

13. NY Jets (from TB): Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri (6-2, 294)
Team Needs: DL, QB, OT, DB
As usual, the J-E-T-S fans faces were priceless in Radio City Music Hall. And while the Mizzou D-lineman wasn't the top defensive tackle on the board, this wasn't a reach. Richardson has been a elite prospect since his five-star days as a recruit and he provided excellent support up the gut for the Tigers. He is a big, powerful, athletic defensive lineman who should help the Jets' front immediately. Did they need a pass-rusher more? Maybe so. But Richardson is no reach and he was one of the few players for Missouri who belonged in the SEC after changing leagues.
First Round Grade: B

14. Carolina: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah (6-2, 311)
Team Needs: DT, DB, WR, OT
Despite the bizarre health issue that appears to be resolved (or contained), there is little downside with the big Utes defensive tackle. Few players produced at a more difficult position the way Lotulelei did for Utah the last two seasons. A former junior college prospect, he took time to find his stride, but his power, excellent fundamentals, toughness and motor make him an impact player at a rare position. To top it off, the Panthers did a great job filling one of its most pressing needs with what could be the best player at his position.
First Round Grade: B+

15. New Orleans: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas (6-0, 214)
Team Needs: OT, CB, DL, S
There is a lot to like about the Longhorns safety, but there is a lot to question about him as well. He is a gifted athlete with great speed and size for a player at his position. He is versatile and will be capable of dropping into the box against the run. However, he isn't as fluid in space as he needed to be to match up with many of his more talented peers in the Big 12 — like fellow 2013 NFL draftees Tavon Austin, Terrance Williams and Kenny Stills, for example. Additionally, his Texas defenses dramatically underachieved and were, by in large, extremely disappointing. The upside seems limited here but he has the talent to be serviceable.
First Round Grade: C

16. Buffalo (from STL): EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State (6-5, 237)
Team Needs: QB, WR, LB, G/C
This is likely to be the most controversial pick in the first round but its far from the worst. Manuel has every single physical tool an NFL offensive coordinator is looking for from both a physical and mental standpoint. He is a tremendously intelligent student of the game who leads by example and is focused on doing what it takes to be a winner. He has elite level size, athletic ability and was efficient throwing the football. He is one of just two players in NCAA history to start and win four bowl games. Consistency is a concern, but he is the most physically gifted and mentally grounded quarterback in the draft so it shouldn't be a surprise he is the first and only quarterback off the board in the first round. Does he need to refine his consistency in the pocket? Yes, but he is a gym-rat type who do what it takes to be successful.
First Round Grade: B-

17. Pittsburgh: Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia (6-2, 245)
Team Needs: RB, OT, LB, WR, DL
He doesn't posses ideal size for his hybrid position and he has dealt with a bizarre neck injury in the past, but Jones is an excellent player. If he stays focused on every play — the Steelers organization generally makes sure of work ethic — Jones has a chance to be a disruptive force. He showed the ability in the best league in America to dominate games on the attack off the edge. Once he gets rolling he was impossible to stop. His skills are a perfect fit in a system that knows a thing or two about undersized outside linebacker-pass rusher-types.
First Round Grade: B+

18. San Francisco (from DAL): Eric Reid, S, LSU (6-1, 213)
Team Needs: DL, S, OLB, TE
The 49ers had few needs and were already a Super Bowl frontrunner, but moving up to grab what could be the best safety in the draft is a power move that should force the NFC to take note. Eric Reid has the speed, size, toughness, quickness and smarts to be an elite player right out of the gate. He was the most consistent performer in a secondary loaded with talent... and turmoil. Reid was one of the few hard workers on this roster in 2012 and his ability to play in the box against the run as well as center field against the pass is invaluable on the next level. He is a future star and now he plays for Jim Harbaugh.
First Round Grade: A

19. NY Giants: Justin Pugh, OL, Syracuse (6-4, 307)
Team Needs: OL, LB, DB, RB
There is little downside with this pick. The Orange bookend tackle has loads of experience and has been widely recognized among his peers as one of the best in the game the last few seasons. He doesn't have the elite-level size or athleticism that a Joeckel or Fisher has, but he isn't few steps behind in any one category. Pugh is a polished passer who has a low(er) ceiling and high(er) floor that fills arguably the most pressing needs in the Giants locker room.
First Round Grade: B

20. Chicago: Kyle Long, OG, Oregon (6-6, 313)
Team Needs: LB, OL, CB, QB
The pick is the right position and the right upside, but it has tons of risk. The younger brother of former first-round pick Chris Long and NFL Hall of Famer Howie Long, Kyle brings excellent footwork and quickness to the offensive line. He has tackle size and athleticism but questions remain about his bookend talent skills. Guard is possible but right tackle feels like the right fit. This could be a sneaky good pick but also could come back to bite the Bears. Getting help at a key position of need was critical for Chicago and Long definitely helps the line of scrimmage no matter where he plays.
First Round Grade: C+

21. Cincinnati: Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati (6-6, 251)
Team Needs: S, LB, RB, OL
The Irish tight end is an excellent player who is a sure-fire NFL starter as soon as he gets to camp. He has great size, speed, hands, awareness and plenty of potential as an inline blocker. The issue, however, is the depth chart. Former first-round pick Jermaine Gresham and undersized athlete Orson Charles already gives Andy Dalton two excellent receiving options at tight end. It's commendable picking who was likely the best available player on the board as Eifert likely was, but did the Bengals really need another pass-catcher?
First Round Grade: C+ (B+ player)

22. Atlanta (from STL/WAS): Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington (6-1, 190)
Team Needs: CB, DE, WR, DL
Fans in Atlanta should be cautiously optimistic with their new lockdown corner. Trufant has a great pedigree as an NFL legacy at defensive back to go with an interesting career trajectory. He broke into the Pac-12 in a big way with an excellent freshman season before plateauing for sometime before an improved final campaign. Under the tutelage of a rebuilt coaching staff at Washington, he blossomed in 2012 once again. Odds are he is a dependable starter for many years without ever really developing into one of the elite stars.
First Round Grade: B

23. Minnesota: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida (6-3, 297)
Team Needs: WR, MLB, CB, S
This might be the best pick in the first round, bar none. No team got more value and more talent with any one pick than the Vikings got with Floyd. Warren Sapp could not be a more perfect comparison as work ethic, burst or "get-off," size and power define the young nose guard. He can play in either technique as his disruptive abilities will play anywhere along the defensive front. Floyd never takes a play off and has the ambition and drive that made Sapp special for so many years in the NFL. The rest of the NFC North be warned, Floyd wouldn't be the first statement made by the Vikings on Thursday night.
First Round Grade: A+

Related: Sharrif Floyd's amazing journey to the NFL

24. Indianapolis: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State (6-3, 266)
Team Needs: OG, CB, OLB, RB
Werner is a hard-working, football junkie who will give it his all and provide dependable play at a key position of need. That said, questions arise as to where his true position lies and what his strengths will be on the next level. He is a fundamentally sound and refined young player but does he have the size for defensive end or the quickness for outside linebacker?
First Round Grade: C

25. Minnesota (from SEA): Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State (6-1, 210)
Team Needs: WR, MLB, CB, S
Few corners come packaged quite like Rhodes does. He has elite level, Patrick Peterson-type size and length for a cornerback, but he isn't the same raw athlete with the same quickness and agility of the No. 5 overall pick of the 2011 draft. He will definitely shift at some point in his career to a hybrid safety-corner role like Charles Woodson did and will be extremely effective. Rhodes is more than athletic enough to match up in man coverages in a division that features the largest and most physical wide receivers in the league — Calvin Johnson, Jordy Nelson and Brandon Marshall.
First Round Grade: B+

26. Green Bay: Datone Jones, DL, UCLA (6-4, 283)
Team Needs: S, OL, RB, DL
The similarities with the selection of Jones and the team's first-round pick last year should be a major case of deja vu for Packers fans. Jones was an elite recruit who blossomed into a playmaker during his junior season under a new coach for a Los Angeles Pac-12 school. Exactly like Nick Perry. There is some serious upside with Jones all along the defensive line as he brings elite size and athleticism to the table for Green Bay. However, he took a long time to develop and the risk is huge with a late bloomer who underachieved most of his career.
First Round Grade: C+

27. Houston: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson (6-1, 214)
Team Needs: WR, OLB, ILB, OT
Some players are perfect fits at perfect times for perfect teams. Landing on a great team with an established running game and Hall of Fame veteran to learn from at wideout is about as perfect a situation as "Nuke" Hopkins could have hoped for. He isn't as talented as former teammate and potential 2014 NFL Draft prospect Sammy Watkins but has great size, hands and toughness to make plays opposite Andre Johnson. He may be more of an elite No. 2 but few players in the first round will step into a more favorable situation to succeed than Hopkins.
First Round Grade: B+

28. Denver: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina (6-3, 313)
Team Needs: MLB, S, DE, RB
The Broncos needed to fill some gaps along its defensive line Williams should do that quickly. While he may not be as productive or disruptive as Floyd or Lotelelei, he has good footwork and get-off. His quickness should allow him to rotate inside and out depending on game scenario and should give the Broncos continued flexibility along a reworked defensive line. It doesn't feel like a sexy pick for the Broncos, but building from the interior on a team loaded with offense is the right move.
First Round Grade: B-

29. Minnesota (from NE): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee (6-2, 216)
Team Needs: WR, MLB, CB, S
Patterson is a big-time athlete who is dripping with talent and will contribute on special teams right away. However, he is a long way from being a productive No. 1 wide receiver, especially with a young quarterback who isn't overly talented. His size, burst and athleticism are elite for his position but his understanding of the position and its subtle nuances are far from NFL-ready, which is indicative of his junior college background. Look for him to be used in trick plays, short passes, on special teams and a few deep go routes for the first few seasons.
First Round Grade: B-

30. St. Louis (from ATL): Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia (6-2, 242)
Team Needs: S, WR, OL, OLB
Another sound decision from one of the best CEOs in the NFL. Fisher once again got his guy with this talented tackler from Georgia. Ogletree plays at one pace: fast. He needs to refine his game and pack on some bulk but he has the instincts, explosiveness and range to be an elite player for years to come. His physicality and burst is uncoachable.
First Round Grade: B+

31. Dallas (from SF): Travis Frederick, G/C, Wisconsin (6-4, 312)
Team Needs:
OL, S, DT, OLB
Frederick is a quality player who would be a starting member of most NFL offensive lines. In that sense, Jerry Jones might have finally made a quality first-round offensive line choice. But in typical Jones fashion, he likely misjudged the value of this player. If it difficult to fault someone for taking "their guy" but some had the Badgers versatile blocker going in the third round, not the first. Use of the second-rounder — pick 47 overall — would have been dramatically more prudent for the Cowboys.
First Round Grade: D+

32. Baltimore: Matt Elam, S, Baltimore (5-10, 208)
Team Needs: WR, OT, ILB, S
Replacing Ed Reed won't just happen with one first-round draft pick but Elam has some rare ability. He might be the hardest-hitting player in the entire draft as he patrols the secondary with reckless abandon. He is shorter than desirable but played with great speed and range for one of the best defenses in the best league in college football. That said, his out-of-control style of play occasionally caused him problems with over-reactions and penalties. There are some kinks to iron out but Elam goes a long way as the Ravens attempt to replace Reed, a surefire future Hall of Famer.
First Round Grade: B-

Player Pos. NCAA NFL Pick Grade
Luke Joeckel OT Texas A&M Jacksonville #2 A+
Chance Warmack OG Alabama Tennessee #10 A+
Sharrif Floyd DT Florida Minnesota #23 A+
Eric Reid S LSU San Francisco #18 A
Eric Fisher OT Central Michigan Kansas City #1 A-
Jonathan Cooper OG North Carolina Arizona #7 A-
Tavon Austin WR West Virginia St. Louis #8 B+
Dee Milliner CB Alabama NY Jets #9 B+
Star Lotulelei DT Utah Carolina #14 B+
Jarvis Jones LB Georgia Pittsburgh #17 B+
Xavier Rhodes CB Florida State Minnesota #25 B+
DeAndre Hopkins WR Clemson Houston #27 B+
Alec Ogletree LB Georgia St. Louis #30 B+
Lane Johnson OT Oklahoma Philadelphia #4 B
Ezekiel Ansah DE BYU Detroit #5 B
D.J. Fluker OL Alabama San Diego #11 B
Sheldon Richardson DT Missouri NY Jets #13 B
Justin Pugh OL Syracuse NY Giants #19 B
Desmond Trufant CB Washington Atlanta #22 B
Dion Jordan DE Oregon Miami #3 B-
EJ Manuel QB Florida State Buffalo #16 B-
Sylverster Williams DT North Carolina Denver #28 B-
Cordarrelle Patterson WR Tennessee Minnesota #29 B-
Matt Elam S Florida Baltimore #32 B-
D.J. Hayden CB Houston Oakland #12 C+
Kyle Long OL Oregon Chicago #20 C+
Tyler Eifert TE Notre Dame Cincinnati #21 C+
Datone Jones DL UCLA Green Bay #25 C+
Kenny Vaccaro S Texas New Orleans #15 C
Bjoern Werner DE Florida State Indianapolis #24 C
Barkevious Mingo DE/LB LSU Cleveland #6 C-
Travis Frederick G/C Wisconsin Dallas #31 D+

Teaser:
<p> Grading Every First-Round Pick of the 2013 NFL Draft</p>
Post date: Friday, April 26, 2013 - 09:30
Path: /mlb/fantasy-baseball-bests-busts-and-waiver-wire-april-22
Body:

Stay tuned each week to Athlon Sports for a 2013 Fantasy Baseball Weekend Waiver Wire report every Monday. Our fantasy junkies cover the hottest hitters, best waiver wire pick ups, top starting pitching spot starts and sift through bullpens from around the league each and every week.

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (Apr. 8-Apr. 14):

  Name Pos. Team R HR RBI SB BA OPS
1. Carlos Gonzalez OF COL 7 1 6 2 .417 1.214
2. Mike Trout OF LAA 4 1 9 2 .391 1.052
3. David Wright 3B NYM 5 2 5 2 ..350 1.369
4. Evan Longoria 3B TB 6 4 6 0 .250 1.026
5. Carlos Gomez OF MIL 5 2 3 1 .500 1.470
6. Mike Napoli C/1B BOS 5 1 10 0 .354 1.096
7. Lorenzo Cain* OF KC 4 1 3 2 .556 1.508
8. Troy Tulowitzki SS COL 5 3 6 0 .333 1.242
9. Jacoby Ellsbury OF BOS 8 0 1 3 .355 .859
10. J.P. Arencibia* C TOR 5 4 5 0 .250 .964
11. Joe Mauer C/1B MIN 3 1 6 0 .588 1.491
12. Carlos Beltran OF STL 4 3 4 0 .375 1.192
13. Ryan Braun OF MIL 4 3 8 0 .200 1.010
14. Joey Votto 1B CIN 5 2 4 0 .385 1.100
15. Anthony Rizzo 1B CHC 4 3 5 0 .316 1.170
16. Desmond Jennings OF TB 6 2 3 2 .233 .706
17. Peter Bourjos* OF LAA 5 1 6 0 .318 1.010
18. Jose Altuve 2B HOU 4 0 3 2 .455 1.111
19. Todd Frazier 1/3/OF CIN 5 2 7 0 .238 .891
20. Bryce Harper OF WAS 4 2 4 0 .421 1.342
21. Mark Reynolds 1B/3B CLE 4 2 5 0 .368 1.053
22. Jonathan Lucroy* C MIL 4 2 6 0 .316 1.053
23. Robinson Cano 2B NYY 4 2 5 0 .346 1.068
24. Brandon Crawford* SS SF 6 2 2 0 .381 1.123
25. James Loney* 1B TB 4 1 5 0 .471 1.350

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Weekly Waiver Wire:

Jonathan Lucroy, C, MIL (57% owned in Yahoo! leagues)
On April 12, Lucroy was hitting .167 with no home runs and a pathetic OPS of .424. A six-game hitting streak later and Lucroy is sitting at .259/.768 with three homers and 10 RBIs. He has moved up to the No. 10-rated fantasy catcher — meaning he is a starter in a 10-team league — and will only continue to hit. Playing in the World Baseball Classic is likely what caused his slow start and owners can't expect the .320 average he posted a year ago, but Lucroy can hit. 

Brandon Crawford, SS, SF (40%)
The Giants took the UCLA shortstop in the fourth round of the 2008 MLB Draft and he is beginning to pay dividends. He has a great glove and has always been a solid fielder but his fantasy bat has come to life. And at a scarce position (one that's missing Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Derek Jeter), you cannot afford to ignore Crawford. Don't buy the power numbers — he has 10 HR in 694 career at-bats — but there is no reason he can't deliver solid counting stats. Think Alexi Ramirez-type production.

Yankee Free Agents
Travis Hafner is only eligible at UTL and is owned by only 34 percent of Y! leagues. Vernon Wells is owned in only 39 percent of Y! leagues. Neither should be considered long-term starters in your fantasy lineup, but while Jeter, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira are out, these two will get at-bats. Hafner should capitalize on the short porch in right at Yankee Stadium and Wells appears to have plenty left in the tank. Both are worth the risk and both are ranked in the top 60 overall hitters thus far in 2013.

James Loney, 1B, TB (1%)
Only one-percent of Y! owners have use for a career .283 hitter? No, he will never deliver the power numbers — 74 homers in 3,213 career at-bats — but has always hit for average, driven in runs and been a solid fantasy backup at 1B or UTL. The Rays offense has taken off of late, winning four of five, and could still easily be the team to beat in the AL East. I am not using a waiver priority on Loney, but if I am desperate at corner infielder, he could be your guy.

Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:

  Name Team IP W K ERA WHIP
1. Matt Harvey NYM 22.0 3 22 1.23 0.73
2. Clay Buchholz BOS 23.0 3 25 0.78 0.96
3. Paul Maholm ATL 20.2 2 19 1.31 0.77
4. Hiroki Kuroda NYY 21.2 2 18 1.66 0.83
5. Jose Quintana* CHW 13.2 1 14 0.00 0.59
6. Lance Lynn STL 18.0 3 22 2.50 1.06
7. Adam Wainwright STL 16.0 2 16 1.69 0.81
8. Jorge De La Rosa* COL 18.0 2 14 1.50 0.83
9. Wade Davis* KC 12.0 2 13 0.00 1.00
10. R.A. Dickey TOR 12.1 2 11 0.73 0.81
11. Shleby Miller STL 13.0 1 14 1.38 0.62
12. Ervin Santana* KC 23.0 2 18 1.57 1.09
13. Derek Holland TEX 15.0 1 10 1.20 0.67
14. Yu Darvish TEX 13.0 1 18 2.08 0.77
15. Hisashi Iwakuma SEA 12.2 1 8 0.71 0.63
16. Carlos Villanueva* CHC 14.1 1 9 1.26 0.63
17. CC Sabathia NYY 16.0 2 15 2.25 0.94
18. Doug Fister DET 22.0 2 15 2.05 1.00
19. Max Scherzer DET 14.0 0 23 1.29 0.93
20. A.J. Burnett PIT 13.0 1 16 2.08 0.77

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Top 5 Spot Starts for the Week (Mon. - Sun.):

1. Shelby Miller, STL: Pittsburgh (Sun.) 73% owned
Miller will pitch against the Nationals on Monday (if you can add him day of) and will get the Pirates on Sunday. Both offenses are adequate but Miller has been nasty of late. The former first-round pick is showing fans why he was so highly touted by allowing four earned runs, striking out 18 and winning twice in his first three starts this season.

2. Travis Wood, CHC: at Miami (Sat.) 22% owned
The former Reds starter is rounding into form for the lowly Cubs. He won't get great run support (11 runs in three starts) but has been strong in all three of his starts thus far. He has allowed no more than two earned runs in a start and will get the anemic Marlins next weekend. He will face his former team on Monday in Cincinnati.

3. Wade Miley, ARI: Colorado (Sat.) 75% owned
Other than one inning in his last outing, Miley has been downright unhittable. Outside of a three-run seventh inning against the Yankees last Wednesday, Miley had allowed three earned runs in over 18 innings pitched. He won't post huge strikeout totals but will help ratios and get wins. He also gets the Giants on Monday if you can add day-of starters.

4. Ryan Dempster, BOS: Houston (Fri.) 70% owned
The strikeout totals have been unreal for Dempster — he has 33 Ks in 24.0 innings thus far — but has yet to notch a win. He will get the Astros on Friday and should be able to provide solid ratios and big strikeout numbers against this lowly AL West lineup.

5. Ryan Vogelsong, SF: at San Diego (Sun.) 78% owned
Vogelsong is owned in four out of five leagues but owners may have given up on the young hurler after a slow start to the season (5.89 ERA/1.47 WHIP through Sunday). He gets the Diamondbacks on Monday (if you can add and start same day) but more importantly will get the Padres on Sunday. Look for Vogelsong's numbers to improve over the next few weeks.

Closing Morsels:

The Brewers' closing job might be Jim Henderson's for good. He has four successful saves and one win in six appearances since taking over for John Axford. He has allowed one run and struck out eight over that span... The Cardinals went with Edward Mujica last Thursday and it worked as he struck out two in a 1.1-inning save. St. Louis hasn't had a save chance since so keep an eye on this one but Mujica is the one to own currently... In Detroit, Drew Smyly is pitching in an interesting role — he threw 5.2 scoreless innings on Saturday. He has a win, a save and two holds over 15.0 bullpen innings (1.80, 1.00, 17 K). In leagues with holds, a guy with "SP" eligibility is invaluable. And don't be shocked if the tall lefty gets some more save chances for the Tigers... Greg Holland had the rare two-save day on Sunday, and, with Kelvin Herrera working through some struggles of late, he appears to have regained favor in the ninth for the Royals... Keep a close eye on Boston and add Andrew Bailey immediately if you are desperate. He converted three straight saves last week after blowing a lead on Monday while Joel Hanrahan is on the DL. Bailey has been lights out: 9.1 IP, 1.93 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 3 SV, 15 K and is a must add.

Keep up to date all season long with Athlon Sports' Fantasy Baseball Closer Grid

Teaser:
<p> Fantasy Baseball Bests, Busts and Waiver Wire: April 22</p>
Post date: Monday, April 22, 2013 - 12:30
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-draft-sleepers-and-steals
Body:

The first round of the NFL Draft monopolizes coverage in the media and fan’s minds alike. While the first 32 picks are important and generally feature the most elite talents, the best organizations in football are competitive year after year because of quality middle round work.

Alfred Morris rushed for 1,613 yards and was a sixth-round pick. Russell Wilson posted one of the greatest rookie seasons in NFL history as a third-round pick. Lavonte David, Bobby Wagner and Mychal Kendricks were all second-rounders and the trio of linebackers totaled 353 total tackles last season. Round three was also kind to wide receivers, as T.Y. Hilton (50), Chris Givens (42) and T.J. Graham (31) were fourth, sixth and seventh among rookie wideouts in receptions in 2012.

The point is most NFL championships are built mostly between rounds two and five. Consistent winners in Green Bay, New England, Indianapolis and the New York Giants are perfect examples of how to win the draft each year.

So who should NFL teams be targeting in the middle rounds in 2013?

Here are 15 sleepers guaranteed to outperform their draft stock this fall:

Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State (6-2, 185)
There is a chance that this lengthy corner goes late in the first round, but assuming he drops past the first day, he will be a steal. He has tremendous length and physicality and is a perfect fit in a Tampa-2 cover scheme. He plays the run well and once he adds some weight to his frame, should be capable of battling with the bigger, more physical NFL wide receivers. He was a three-year starter at Mississippi State and a leader of a team that went to three straight bowl games.

Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina (5-8, 202)
NFL.com has 12 mock drafts posted in its Mock Draft Central and not one has Bernard listed in the first round. He isn’t a workhorse back, but that type of player has gone the way of the Dodo bird in the pass-happy NFL. Bernard brings a complete skill set to any offense, as he is an elite receiver and return man as well as running back. He has great quickness, burst and toughness to go with a compact frame that is difficult to hit. He also is a solid pass protector, giving him the chance to start right away. Other than Marcus Lattimore, Bernard might be the most talented runner in this draft.

Khaseem Greene, LB, Rutgers (6-1, 241)
Pitt running back Ray Graham’s half brother is a full-fledged NFL sleeper. One of the Big East’s top playmakers on defense the last three seasons, Greene posted nearly 400 tackles (387) in his decorated college career at Rutgers. He led what was one of the league’s best defenses and earned Big East Defensive Player of the Year honors as both a junior and senior. His tremendous speed and athletic ability make him a prototype 4-3 weak-side backer — a position that always delivers value in the middle rounds.

Zavier Gooden, LB, Missouri (6-1, 234)
Playing a lot of hybrid safety/linebacker at Missouri has given Gooden a unique skill set. He has excellent speed to cover loads of ground, both in run pursuit and pass coverage. He will have to battle the ‘undersized’ moniker as he lacks elite size for a linebacker, but more than makes up for it with toughness and athletic ability. His agility and speed should allow him to stick around for some time on the NFL level. Gooden isn’t a second-round pick but could be a steal in Rounds 3-5.

Travis Frederick, C, Wisconsin (6-4, 312)
In a weak interior offensive line class, Frederick has a chance to be the best center in the draft. He has a thick body and versatility, excelling as both a guard and center at OL-friendly Wisconsin. He has been extremely well-coached, uses excellent technique and provides leadership and toughness up front. The Badgers have produced some big-time blockers under Bret Bielema of late and Frederick should be the next one as a potential second- or third-round pick.

Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama (6-4, 306)
Few players have ever been as decorated and successful as Jones. He won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s top offensive lineman in 2011 and has been an All-SEC performer at tackle, guard and center against the nation’s best defensive linemen. He was a huge part of three national championships at Alabama and there is no reason to think he won’t stick in the NFL. He is a little undersized and has dealt with plenty of small injuries, however, his work ethic, leadership, versatility, intelligence and toughness should keep him in the NFL for years.

Corey Lemonier, DE/LB, Auburn (6-3, 255)
There was only one bright spot for the Tigers the last two seasons and his last name was Lemonier. He has tremendous athleticism for his size and will fit into any scheme on the next level. He proved himself as an undersized down lineman who wreaked havoc in opposing backfields — try 24.0 tackles for a loss and 17.0 sacks in just two years of starting. He will need to add bulk and power if he wants to play with his hand in the dirt, but could also stand up as a hybrid 3-4 OLB/DE type. He was an elite recruit who starred in college and there is no reason to think he won’t be a capable defender on Sundays.

Sio Moore, LB, UConn (6-1, 245)
Normally, top combine performers don’t impress me. But Moore’s numbers stand out considering how productive he was in college. He led most linebackers in 40-time (4.65), bench reps (29), vertical jump (38.0”) and broad jump (127.0”). He led a defense that was the Big East’s best a year ago while consistently battling against teams with dramatically more talent. When he left Storrs, Moore had 274 total tackles, an absurd 43.0 tackles for loss and 16.0 sacks. Sign me up.

Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State (6-0, 190)
The Oregon State Beavers cornerback might be the best defensive player in the history of the program. He has more than adequate size, dynamic return ability and a knack for making big plays on defense. He has an excellent football IQ and will lead by example on any roster. He isn’t an elite overall athlete but that shouldn't take away from the fact that he is a great football player. Look for Poyer to be a steal in the Round 3-5 range.

John Simon, DE, Ohio State (6-1, 257)
The book on Simon is pretty straight forward. He is undersized and lacks the elite explosiveness to be considered a first-round talent. However, he owns every major weight lifting record at Ohio State and was the unquestioned leader of an unbeaten Buckeyes team in 2012. He has one of the best motors in the draft, plays fundamentally sound football and maximizes his talent on every play. His toughness will allow him to play on the next level, ideally in a multiple front scheme. He wouldn’t be the first sawed-off defensive lineman to outperform his draft stock (see LaMarr Woodley or Robert Mathis).

Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M (6-0, 205)
Swope never stood out as a game-changer at any point in his career, but when he left College Station he was the most productive receiver in Texas A&M history. He is a gritty, tough-nosed, handsy receiver who isn’t scared of contact and will lead by example. He has plenty of speed and can make plays down the field. Swope is a guy whose sum of the parts is better than the whole. Think Marvin Harrison (NOT Wes Welker!)

Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford (5-9, 215)
This is a loaded running back class with as many as a dozen quality sleeper candidates and Taylor is one of them. He isn’t flashy or explosive, but he is extremely productive and rarely misses assignments. He posted three straight 1,000-yards seasons and touched the ball 881 times over the last three seasons. His durability isn’t in question either as he never missed a game over that span. He is a true workhorse back who picks up the blitz, catches the ball well and wins a ton of games.

Larry Warford, OG, Kentucky (6-3, 332)
The best player on the Kentucky roster the last two years has been Warford. On a team that provided him zero support on either side of the ball, this big blocker was consistently honored as one of the SEC’s best. He is a mauler and will physically control the point of attack on the next level just like he did against the best defensive lines in the nation. Guards don’t normally go in the first round, but 2013 could see two in Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper, however, Warford isn’t too far behind.

Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor (6-2, 208)
Great speed. Tremendous body control and ball skills. Excellent size and strength. Ridiculous levels of production. Leadership and intelligence. What’s not to like about Williams? In fact, it almost seems odd that Williams doesn’t get mentioned with names like De Andre Hopkins, Cordarrelle Patterson or Tavon Austin. He is much bigger and stronger than Austin and more polished and game-ready than Patterson. Expect a big first year from this likely second-round pick.

Robert Woods, WR, USC (6-1, 201)
Had Woods been allowed to come out as a sophomore, he would have easily been a first-round pick. All those records teammate Marqise Lee broke in 2012 were set the year before by Woods. The star wideout plays with a toughness that few receivers possess and has been extremely productive. He has adequate size, great hands, a tremendous feel for the game and speed to burn. If he falls out of the first round, fans can bet Woods will be a steal.

Other names we like:

Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin (5-10, 214)
Matt Barkley, QB, USC (6-2, 227)
Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee (6-6, 230)
Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State (5-11, 190)
Kawann Short, DT, Purdue (6-3, 299)
William Gholston, DE, Michigan State (6-6, 280)
Kyle Long, OG, Oregon (6-6, 313)
Tony Jefferson, S, Oklahoma (5-11, 213)
Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA (5-10, 205)
Phillip Lutzenkirchen, TE, Auburn (6-3, 260)

Teaser:
<p> 2013 NFL Draft Sleepers and Steals</p>
Post date: Monday, April 22, 2013 - 10:45
Path: /nfl/ranking-nfls-toughest-schedules-2013
Body:

2013 NFL ScheduleThe NFL has got it all figured out. The most powerful, popular and lucrative sport in the history of sports has turned its annual schedule release into saliva-inducing, must-see TV for football-starved fans across the country.

And for the most part, all but two games have already been decided for every team. NFL schedules are fairly set in stone in terms of opponents. Each team rotates playing each division from the opposite conference every four years, each division in its own conference every three years and, of course, has its six division showdowns.

That leaves two open dates the NFL must fill for each team. Two games is all the NFL can manipulate in an effort to make a perceived playoff contender’s schedule more difficult and a perceived lower tier team’s schedule more favorable. Because of parity, scheduling isn’t the end-all, be-all determining factor for postseason success, but playing Jacksonville instead of New England sure does help.

Having said all of that, there are still many other subtleties the NFL must decide when it releases its schedule. Where to place bye weeks? Who plays on Thursdays and Mondays? What about home-road decisions? And the important back-loaded divisional schedules?

It's all part of the annual schedule party the NFL has created each spring. So with team and fan travel plans being feverishly orchestrated now that dates have been set, which teams appear poised to take advantage of a weaker slate (see Indianapolis last year)? And which will be facing the most daunting slate in 2013?

Related: 10 Things Every Fan Should Know about the 2013 NFL Schedule


1. Atlanta Falcons (2012: 13-3)
AFC/NFC Crossover: NFC West, AFC East
Swing Games: at Green Bay, Washington
Opposing '12 Record: .504 (15th)

A nasty crossover slate with the NFC West, two tough swing games against Green Bay and Washington, the New England Patriots and a division that has no easy games gives the Falcons what could be the toughest schedule in the NFL. A tricky road trip to New Orleans starts the year but Atlanta's schedule is front-loaded with home games (four of the first six). It means the two marquee late-season showdowns with NFC contenders San Francisco and Green Bay will come on the road. The only comfort comes in the form of AFC East games with Miami, Buffalo and the New York Jets. 

2. Minnesota Vikings (2012: 10-6)
AFC/NFC Crossover: NFC East, AFC North
Swing Games: Carolina, at Seattle
Opposing '12 Record: .516 (10th)

The NFC North teams will face arguably the toughest crossover schedules in the league, having to play what should be the deepest divisions in each conference. Add to it a road trip to Seattle and two games with the Packers and making the playoffs again feels like a tall order. The season begins with back-to-back road trips to Detroit and Chicago before a deadly eight-week mid-season stretch: at NY Giants, Packers, at Dallas, Washington, at Seattle, at Green Bay, Chicago and at Baltimore. The Vikes will play seven straight opponents who didn't having a losing record. No worries, Minnesota.

3. St. Louis Rams (2012: 7-8-1)
AFC/NFC Crossover: NFC South, AFC South
Swing Games: at Dallas, Chicago
Opposing '12 Record: .539 (4th)

The NFC West is likely the toughest division in football and having to face San Francisco and Seattle a combined four times is just unfair. Road trips to Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis and Carolina don't make matters any better. This schedule appears to match the gaudy .539 opponent's winning percentage and should be one of the toughest in the league. Anything above .500 might automatically make Jeff Fisher the Coach of the Year.

4. Cincinnati Bengals (2012: 11-5)
AFC/NFC Crossover: AFC East, NFC North
Swing Games: at San Diego, Indianapolis
Opposing '12 Record: .508 (12th)

The Bengals got no favors with their home schedule but fans in the Queen City will get their money's worth in 2013. The home slate features the Steelers, Packers, Patriots, Colts, Vikings and Ravens, five of which made the playoffs a year ago. The start and finish to the Bengals' season will be extremely tough, with two difficult five-game stretches bookending a softer heart of the slate. Other than an obviously difficult road trip to Baltimore, the middle six games provide a chance for Cincy to pick up some ground on its AFC competitors. If the Bengals are over .500 heading into the bye in Week 12, it would be considered a big success.

5. Green Bay Packers (2012: 11-5)
AFC/NFC Crossover: NFC East, AFC North
Swing Games: at San Francisco, Atlanta
Opposing '12 Record: .533 (6th)

The Packers have been an elite team for the better part of two decades so rarely does the franchise get scheduling breaks. This fall will be no different as Green Bay will face two of the top three teams — San Francisco and Atlanta — in the NFC as swing games. Four games with the NFC East and AFC North provide few breaks and six always cut-throat NFC North games will be challenging as usual. However, it all gets started outside of the division with an extremely trying three-game set against San Francisco in the Bay, Washington at home and at Cincinnati. With the bye week falling so early in Week 4, Green Bay will be faced with playing 13 straight games to end the year. And only two of the last 10 are against teams that posted losing records last season. 

6. Washington Redskins (2012: 10-6)
AFC/NFC Crossover: NFC North, AFC West
Swing Games: San Francisco, at Atlanta
Opposing '12 Record: .498 (18th)

Only the Packers will play a tougher set of swing games as the Redskins face both the Niners and Falcons in the final six weeks. Add to it battles with Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler as well as six always territorial divisional games and the 'Skins are facing one of the league's toughest schedules. That is to say nothing of the road trip to Minnesota. With Robert Griffin III's return still a guessing game, Washington needed some good news with the scheduling and it got absolutely no favors — other than the max five primetime games, of course.

7. Philadelphia Eagles (2012: 4-12)
AFC/NFC Crossover: NFC North, AFC West 
Swing Games: at Tampa Bay, Arizona
Opposing '12 Record: .496 (20th)

The good news is two relatively winnable swing games with the Cardinals and Bucs, home games with the Bears and Lions and meetings with the Raiders and Andy Reid-led Chiefs. However, the Eagles may not be favored in any other game it plays the rest of the season. The six games in the NFC East might be the toughest division schedule of any team in the NFL. No one in the league will play a tougher October: at Denver, at NY Giants, at Tampa Bay, Dallas, NY Giants. 

8. San Francisco 49ers (2012: 11-4-1)
AFC/NFC Crossover: NFC South, AFC South
Swing Games: Green Bay, at Washington
Opposing '12 Record: .520 (9th)

No one starts the season like the 49ers do. Green Bay, at Seattle, Indianapolis, at St. Louis and Houston at home gives the San Francisco the toughest but most exciting first month of anyone in the league. The Redskins and Robert Griffin III join the Packers in swing matches with the defending NFC Champions as well. The heart of this schedule eases up significantly (Arizona, Tennessee, Jacksonville, bye week, Carolina in order), but will get rough again in the final month and a half. Three key showdowns with the NFC North, including a primetime Week 16 battle with Atlanta, combine with three divisional games to create a daunting finish to the season for the Niners.

9. New England Patriots (2012: 12-4)
AFC/NFC Crossover: AFC North, NFC South
Swing Games: Denver, at Houston
Opposing '12 Record: .508 (14th)

The Patriots are in the easiest division in the easier conference but their schedule is balanced out by a nasty rotation of conference games. The Pats will play the toughest two possible swings games in their conference while also playing what could be the deepest division in the AFC North. Additionally, there is no easy out in the NFC South but at least the Saints must visit Foxborough — strangely, one week prior to the game Tom Brady COULD break Drew Brees' consecutive games with a touchdown streak. That said, the first month is a breeze and New England is all but guaranteed a 3-0 start.

10. Chicago Bears (2012: 10-6)
AFC/NFC Crossover: NFC East, AFC North
Swing Games: New Orleans, at St. Louis
Opposing '12 Record: .502 (16th)

There are much tougher sets of swing games than Chicago's games with the Saints and Rams, but there are also much easier ones too. An entire slate with the AFC North will be daunting as well for a reworked defense and offensive line that consistently struggles. The easiest two-game stretch on the schedule this fall for the Bears is a two-game road trip to Cleveland and Philadelphia in Weeks 15 and 16. And both of those could be nail-biters. This team should be excellent on offense but is slipping on defense and it will be tested by a host of elite quarterbacks: Aaron Rodgers (twice), Joe Flacco, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Tony Romo, Robert Griffin III, Matthew Stafford (twice) and Andy Dalton. 

11. New Orleans Saints (2012: 7-9)
AFC/NFC Crossover: NFC West, AFC East
Swing Games: at Chicago, Dallas
Opposing '12 Record: .539 (3rd)

The Saints need to get off to a hot start and take advantage of the home-road splits early on. Three of the first four and six of the first 10 are at home, however, Atlanta, San Francisco and Dallas are three of the home opponents. That leaves a pair of two-game road trips in the final six weeks. Where to? At Atlanta and Seattle in Weeks 12 and 13 and at St. Louis and Carolina in Weeks 15 and 16. The defense better have made significant strides in the first half if it expects to compete in the second. Road trips include visits to Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson and Jay Cutler.

12. Jacksonville Jaguars (2012: 2-14)
AFC/NFC Crossover: AFC West, NFC West
Swing Games: at Cleveland, Buffalo
Opposing '12 Record: .508 (13th)

Two soft swing games won't ease the pain of having to face one of the toughest divisional schedules in the NFL as six with the Texans, Colts and Titans is no easy task. Crossover play features the brutal NFC West along with Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers from the AFC West. The Jaguars begin soft with Kansas City and Oakland and may not get another win until after the bye week in Week 9. This team might have to face one of the top five teams in the NFL five different times (Houston twice, no New England). Don't expect the Jaguars to be favored in more than two or three games.

13. Carolina Panthers (2012: 7-9)
AFC/NFC Crossover: NFC West, AFC East
Swing Games: NY Giants, at Minnesota
Opposing '12 Record: .543 (1st)

According to last year's records, the Panthers have the toughest schedule in the NFL. While the schedule isn't as daunting as those numbers might indicate, the team trying to scrap and claw its way above .500 got no favors from the league. Both swing games are tough and the foursome of NFC West tilts figures to be downright nasty. There is no break in the division for the Panthers either with all four teams sitting at 7-9 or better a year ago. Cam Newton will have to make headway early in the year despite facing the Seahawks in Week 1, the Giants in Week 3 and the Vikings on the road in Week 6. The second half of the season features two with Atlanta and New Orleans each, as well as New England and San Francisco. 

14. Seattle Seahawks (2012: 11-5)
AFC/NFC Crossover: NFC South, AFC South
Swing Games: Minnesota, at NY Giants
Opposing '12 Record: .516 (11th)

The start of the season looks to be plenty daunting with a huge matchup with San Francisco in Week 2. Road trips to face Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and the Houston Texans in the first five weeks sandwich the home game with the 49ers. There isn't much time to breathe as road trips to St. Louis and Atlanta and a visit from Adrian Peterson and the Vikings dot the middle of the schedule. The bye week comes late in the year and will be a welcome sight for a team that faces a nasty final month. Seattle will face the Saints at home, and the Niners and Giants on the road in back-to-back-back weekends to start December. The Seahawks should be able to exhale, however, as the final two are winnable division games at home.

15. Baltimore Ravens (2012: 11-5)
AFC/NFC Crossover: AFC East, NFC North
Swing Games: at Denver, Houston 
Opponents '12 Record: .535 (5th)

Just like the AFC rival New England, Baltimore will face a nasty pair of swing games in the conference as the season begins on the road against Peyton Manning. The Super Bowl champs also might have to defend their title playing in the deepest division in the AFC. But there is plenty of good news, however, as both the AFC East and NFC North crossover play are not all that daunting. Yes, Green Bay and New England are on the schedule, but so are the Lions, Bills, Jets, Bears, Dolphins and Vikings. There are clear tests for the Ravens but a repeat as the division champs is well within reach. The opponent's winning percentage looks stiff, but a few of Baltimore's opponents (Chicago, for example) appear to be trending in the wrong direction.

16. Detroit Lions (2012: 4-12)
AFC/NFC Crossover: NFC East, AFC North
Swing Games: at Arizona, Tampa Bay
Opposing '12 Record: .539 (2nd)

This is a crucial year for the powers that be in Detroit, and as one of the league's worst teams a year ago, the schedule in 2013 should be more manageable than in 2012. The Lions have the worst division schedule in the North as they don't get to face... themselves twice. But with a soft pair of swing games and an intriguing road schedule — five of the eight road games will be against teams that didn't make the playoffs a year ago — the Lions may have some chances at pull an upset or two. Atlanta, San Francisco and Seattle are obvious NFC omissions, giving Matthew Stafford a shot to improve on the four wins from a year ago. 

17. Arizona Cardinals (2012: 5-11)
AFC/NFC Crossover: NFC South, AFC South
Swing Games: Detroit, at Philadelphia
Opposing '12 Record: .520 (7th)

The Cardinals got a break with the Lions and Eagles in crossover play in what will be two of the few chances for wins in 2013. Arizona needs to get out of the gate fast once again and take advantage of three potential chances for wins in the first five (DET, TB, CAR) before a four-game stretch that includes the 49ers, Seahawks, Falcons and Texans. The schedule then lightens up again in late November and early December, however, the year will end with arguably the top two teams in the NFL: at Seattle and San Francisco at home.

18. Denver Broncos (2012: 13-3)
AFC/NFC Crossover: AFC South, NFC East
Swing Games: Baltimore, at New England
Opposing '12 Record: .430 (32nd)

The Broncos posted the best record in the NFL last year and Denver looks like an early frontrunner to win the AFC. According to last year's win-loss record — which is always a dangerous endeavor — the Broncos will play the easiest schedule in the league. However, a four-pack with the NFC East is extremely dangerous and both swing games are nasty. Marquee showdowns with the Super Bowl champions and Tom Brady highlight a strong AFC schedule that also features the Colts and Texans as well. Additionally, the division will be much improved with the changes that have taken place in San Diego and Kansas City. Based on numbers this schedule doesn't appear to be all that daunting, but make no mistake, there is some serious juice to more than half of the Broncos schedule.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012: 7-9)
AFC/NFC Crossover: NFC West, AFC East
Swing Games: Eagles, at Detroit
Opposing '12 Record:  .500 (17th)

There are some brutal early season road trips and playing the entire NFC West is going to be rough, but there are some chances for wins in 2013 in Tampa. Both swing games are ones the Bucs should expect to win if they want to compete in the South — a division that featured three 7-9 teams a year ago. The AFC East also could serve up some victories for the Buccaneers. It might be a blessing facing New England and Seattle on the road since those would have been likely home losses. Tampa Bay has some tricky patches but there are few back-to-back surefire losses on this schedule and the Bucs could easily work their way back to seven wins.

20. Tennessee Titans (2012: 6-10)
AFC/NFC Crossover: AFC West, NFC West
Swing Games: at Pittsburgh, NY Jets
Opposing '12 Record: .488 (23rd)

The Titans have one of the more difficult AFC schedules in 2013. Four games with Houston and Indianapolis inside of the division are uphill battles as is a four-game set with the NFC West. Toss in road trips to Pittsburgh and Denver and a home visit from San Diego and Tennessee is looking at barely competing for .500. It has to defeat the Jaguars twice and win clutch home games with beatable opponents — Kansas City, NY Jets, Arizona — if the Titans want to improve on their six wins from last season.

21. Miami Dolphins (2012: 7-9)
AFC/NFC Crossover: AFC North, NFC South
Swing Games: at Indianapolis, San Diego
Opposing '12 Record: .520 (8th)

Traveling to the Colts and hosting the Chargers makes for two interesting swing games for a team bubbling just below the .500 surface. Eight tough crossover games with the NFC South and the AFC North give the Fish plenty of marquee home games — Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati — but also some brutal road trips — New Orleans, Pittsburgh. In the division is where Miami can make ground on a potential playoff bid. A 4--0 record against lowly New York and Buffalo is a must if the Dolphins want to compete for a Wild Card spot. 

22. New York Giants (2012: 9-7)
AFC/NFC Crossover: NFC North, AFC West
Swing Games: at Carolina, Seattle
Opposing '12 Record: .480 (24th)

The Giants' schedule is chalked full of juicy primetime matchups but doesn't seem to particularly overbearing. Three of the first four come on the road but are winnable, giving the Giants a favorable home-road split over the course of the second half. Also, playing the AFC West gives fans The Manning Bowl, but it also gives the Giants chances for wins. Battling with the NFC North is normally tough but the Giants have had Green Bay's number and it's hard seeing the rest of division improving. Once again, a balanced and tough but not elite division schedule will decide the Giants postseason fate.

23. New York Jets (2012: 6-10)
AFC/NFC Crossover: AFC North, NFC South
Swing Games: at Tennessee, Oakland
Opposing '12 Record: .496 (19th)

In a key year for Rex Ryan, the Jets got some help in the scheduling department. A pair of easy swing games, packaged with four games against Buffalo and Miami, gives New York a chance to flirt with seven or eight wins should all things fall into place. Five or six victories is a more likely target, as the slate features a long list of home games with non-playoff teams like Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Oakland and Cleveland. 

24. Cleveland Browns (2012: 5-11)
AFC/NFC Crossover: AFC East, NFC North
Swing Games: Jacksonville, Kansas City 
Opposing '12 record: .492 (21st)

Is it time for the Browns to begin to build in a positive direction? With easy crossover games with what could be each conference's worst division — the AFC East and NFC North — and two very winnable swing games, the answer appears to be yes. The Browns likely play the toughest intra-divisional schedule with six games against Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati, but all signs point to an improvement on the five-win 2012 season. The Browns will play six teams that lost 10 or more games a season ago.

25. Dallas Cowboys (2012: 8-8)
AFC/NFC Crossover: NFC North, AFC West
Swing Games: St. Louis, at New Orleans
Opposing '12 Record: .480 (25th)

Crossover play should be kind to the 'Boys this fall as both the NFC North and AFC West appear to be one-bid divisions. And both the Packers and Broncos must play in Dallas. Additionally, neither swing game will come against a playoff team from last year despite both being quality opponents. Toss in two games against the lowly Eagles and home games against the arch-rival Washington Redskins and New York Giants and the Cowboys have to be thinking postseason. Noticeably absent from the NFC slate are the best three teams in the league: San Francisco, Seattle and Atlanta.

26. Oakland Raiders (2012: 4-12)
AFC/NFC Crossover: AFC South, NFC East
Swing Games: Pittsburgh, at NY Jets
Opposing '12 Record: .469 (29th)

There are some rough battles ahead for the Raiders in 2013 but the schedule makers did what they could to ease The Black Hole's pain. Two with Denver and one each with Indianapolis, Houston and the NFC East couldn't be helped. But the other half of the schedule isn't all that daunting, with Jacksonville, Tennessee, the Jets and two each with Kansas City and San Diego on tap, giving fans in Oakland some sliver of hope for this fall.

27. Buffalo Bills (2012: 6-10)
AFC/NFC Crossover: AFC North, NFC South
Swing Games: Kansas City, at Jacksonville
Opposing '12 Record: .496 (19th)

Few teams will get to play both 2-14 teams from a year ago but Buffalo does as it faces both Kansas City and Jacksonville in swing games. Four with the Jets and the Dolphins should give Doug Marrone and his new staff plenty of hope as well. They will need to make headway in those six as the other 10 are likely penciled in as loses. The NFC South round robin is brutal and the AFC North might be the deepest division in the AFC. And Buffalo gets to play New England to open and close the season. Winless in those ten is very possible.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers (2012: 8-8)
AFC/NFC Crossover: AFC East, NFC North
Swing Games: Tennessee, at Oakland
Opposing '12 Record: .496 (22nd)

The Steelers missed the postseason a year ago and enter a season with more questions marks than the Steel City has seen in over a decade. However, the schedule sets up nicely for Pittsburgh to make another run at the playoffs in 2013. Both crossover game are likely to be with one-bid divisions in the AFC East and NFC North, each of which could be their respective conference's worst. Both swings games are extremely winnable against the Titans at home and against what potentially could be the worst team in the league in Oakland. The six division games will be tough and a trip to Lambeau Field in Week 16 is poorly timed, but a home win over Cleveland in the season finale could easily put the Steelers into the playoffs. Back-to-back divisional road games to Baltimore and Cleveland late in November will be monumental. A trip to London in Week 4 is always difficult to predict and quantify.

29. Houston Texans (2012: 12-4)
AFC/NFC Crossover: AFC West, NFC West
Swing Games: at Baltimore, Patriots
Opposing '12 Record: .473 (27th)

There are some elite showdowns for the Texans in 2013 but there are also a lot of games in which they will be heavy favorites. Seattle, Denver, Indianapolis and New England at home are marquee matchups as are road trips to Baltimore, San Francisco and Indianapolis. Otherwise, the rest of schedule sets up nicely for Houston. Four with the Titans and Jaguars as well as the soft underbelly of the AFC West gives the Texans an easy path to another AFC South title. 

30. Kansas City Chiefs (2012: 2-14)
AFC/NFC Crossover: AFC South, NFC East
Swing Games: Cleveland, at Buffalo
Opposing '12 Record: .473 (28th)

Andy Reid should find things to his liking in Kansas City this fall. On a team with sneaky-good talent, the schedule sets up nicely for some upward movement. There are fewer guaranteed losses on this schedule than one would imagine for a team that lost 14 games a year ago. The swing games are about as easy as the schedule makers could have made it on the Chiefs and there are worse things than battling with Jacksonville and Tennessee from the South. An intriguing slate of tough home games — Dallas, San Diego and the Giants — could feature an upset and should have fans in KC riled up.

31. Indianapolis Colts (2012: 11-5)
AFC/NFC Crossover: AFC West, NFC West
Swing Games: Miami, at Cincinnati
Opposing '12 Record: .461 (30th)

The Colts once again have a very favorable path to the postseason. A 3-1 record to start appears to be all but certain with Oakland, Miami and Jacksonville in the first month. The Colts have a nasty October capped by a trip to Houston in the first week of November as the schedule opens up into one of the easiest second-half slates in the league. Both the swing games and the AFC West crossover offers plenty of chances for key wins in the conference and should allow for Andrew Luck to lead his young Colts back to the playoffs.

32. San Diego Chargers (2012: 7-9)
AFC/NFC Crossover: AFC South, NFC East
Swing Games: at Miami, Cincinnati
Opposing '12 Record: .457 (31st)

The new regime in San Diego is set up for early success with a favorable schedule and capable quarterback. The Bolts should be favored in both swing games with Miami on the road and Cincinnati at home. Six games with Kansas City (2), Oakland (2), Tennessee and Jacksonville should net nothing worse than a 4-2 mark. Even the tougher games with Indianapolis, Houston, Dallas and the New York Giants will happen way out on the West Coast. This slate sets up very nicely for a quick rebuilding process for the Chargers.

VIEW A COMPLETE LIST OF 2013 NFL SCHEDULES. 

Teaser:
<p> Ranking the NFL's Toughest Schedules of 2013</p>
Post date: Friday, April 19, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/top-10-notre-dame-football-teams-all-time
Body:

Notre Dame has experienced a sustained stretch of "lean" years since claiming its last national title in 1988, failing to compete on a national level for elite bowls or championships (at least until the 2012 season). That still doesn't take away from the one of the most storied histories in all of college football. National championships, high-profile traditions, decades of winning, hundreds of NFL players, elite coaches and a picturesque campus have made the Fighting Irish one of the most powerful brands in the nation.

Even the College Football Hall of Fame is located in South Bend, Ind.

But how would Manti Te'o match up against The Gipper? Could Tim Brown make Ara Parseghian's disciplined teams pull their hair out? The Irish claim 11 consensus national championships and eight of those took place during the AP era (1934-present), so which one is the best? The fact of the matter is no one will ever know for sure, so trying to rank the best teams in Notre Dame history is virtually impossible. But we're going to try anyway.

1. 1988 (12-0)
Head Coach: Lou Holtz
Holtz and a star-studded coaching staff led the last Notre Dame team to win the National Championship and he did it in style. The only 12-0 team in Irish history rolled through the regular season, defeating four top 10 opponents, including No. 1 Miami, No. 2 USC and No. 3 West Virginia (in the Fiesta Bowl). Holtz was aided by Wisconsin legend Barry Alvarez on the defense and Jim Strong on offense for a team that defeated 10 of 12 opponents by double figures. The '88 group featured 29 future NFL players and 11 first- or second-round draft picks. The offense was led by two Heisman finalists in quarterback Tony Rice and Raghib Ismail, Tony Brooks, Anthony Johnson and Ricky Waters in the backfield and Andy Heck and Tim Grunhard paving the way. Defensively, all three layers of the defense had star power. Todd Lyght led the secondary while Mike Stonebreaker and Chris Zorich starred in the front seven. This was one of the most complete and utterly talented teams ever assembled.

2. 1947 (9-0)
Head Coach: Frank Leahy
Johnny Lujack is considered by some to be the greatest player in Notre Dame history and he led his '47 Irish squad to an unbeaten National Championship. Lujack claimed the Heisman Trophy on a team that featured five All-Americans, seven NCAA Hall of Famers and an astonishing 41 future NFL players. The defense pitched three shutouts and allowed more than seven points only once all season (19 at Northwestern). The season was capped by a dominating 38-7 win over rival and No. 3-ranked USC. Strangely enough, ND only played four of its nine games at home in South Bend that year. Yes, an unbeaten Michigan claims the National Championship in 1947 as well, but that doesn't have any relevance on how great this team ranks in Irish lore.

3. 1949 (10-0)
Head Coach: Frank Leahy
Two years after Lujack won the national title and Heisman, Leon Hart followed suit by claiming the stiff-armed trophy when he led the Irish to an unbeaten National Championship. Unbelievably, Hart was one of three Heisman finalists on this team (Bob Williams, Emil Stiko). And rightly so, this team didn't just beat opponents, it crushed them. This group outscored its opposition 360-86, with wins over No. 4 Tulane, No. 10 Michigan State and No. 17 USC. Six players were selected in the following NFL Draft (1950) and five players off of this powerhouse went on to become NCAA Hall of Famers.

4. 1966 (9-0-1)
Head Coach: Ara Parseghian
Arguably the best team coached by Ara Parseghian, the '66 squad boasted a ridiculous 12 All-Americans including Heisman finalists Terry Hanratty and Nick Eddy as well as Maxwell Award winner Jim Lynch. Historic Irish great Alan Page led a defense that was simply impenetrable, pitching six shutouts and only twice allowing more than seven points. The controversial tie, a 10-10 decision against No. 2 Michigan State in East Lansing, was highlighted by an extremely conservative game plan due to injuries to the star backfield of Hanratty and Eddy. The team returned to full strength following the tie and proceeded to destroy No. 10 USC 51-0 in Los Angeles to clinch the National Championship. Eight seniors off of this title team got drafted the following spring by the NFL.

5. 1973 (11-0)
Head Coach: Ara Parseghian
A deep, talented and speedy backfield helped propel the Irish to an unbeaten 10-0 regular-season mark and meeting with No. 1 undefeated Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Tom Clements quarterbacked this historic group by finishing his season with a national title-clinching, game-winning drive trailing by two in the final minutes of the game. When Bob Thomas' field goal sailed through the uprights, ND took the 24-23 lead and claimed the AP National Title. Dave Casper and Mike Townshend led an eight-man draft class the following spring.

6. 1977 (11-1)
Head Coach: Dan Devine
The best team of the fairly short Dan Devine era was long on NFL talent. Joe Montana led the offense while Ross Browner, Willie Fry and Bob Golic spearheaded a salty defensive side of the ball. A Week 2 loss to Ole Miss in Jackson, Miss., didn't stop the Irish from eventually matching-up with No. 1 Texas in the Cotton Bowl. Despite entering the game No. 5 in the polls, a 38-10 beatdown of the Burnt Orange allowed the Irish to jump to No. 1 in the standings and gave Devine his only championship. Browner claimed the Lombardi and Maxwell Awards after his 1976 Outland Trophy while Ken MacAfee earned the Walter Camp Award. Both finished in the top five of the Heisman voting. The '77 team featured seven All-American and eight 1978 NFL Draft picks — none of which was the one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of football.

7. 1993 (11-1)
Head Coach: Lou Holtz
The best Notre Dame team not to win a national title came so close to capturing what would have been Holtz' second championship. After rolling through the first ten weeks of the regular season, No. 2 Notre Dame defeated No. 1 Florida State 31-24 to put the Irish squarely in the National Championship driver's seat. However, a painful 41-39 home loss to No. 12 Boston College derailed the Irish's title hopes. A Cotton Bowl win over No. 6 Texas A&M did little to ease the pain of the season finale loss to the Eagles. Lombardi winner and NFL All-Pro Aaron Taylor and Derrick Mayes starred on offense while stud nose tackle Bryant Young paced the defense. This is easily one of the most talented teams Notre Dame has ever assembled and it came two points shy of being ranked much higher on this list.

8. 1946 (8-0-1)
Head Coach: Frank Leahy
Not only did the 1946 squad go undefeated and claim a national title but it began a 37-0-2 dynasty that led to three championships for head coach Frank Leahy. The only non-victory on the season was a famous 0-0 tie with No. 1 Army in a game played in Yankee Stadium. This team posted five shutouts and didn't allow more than six points in any game. This team outscored its opponents 271 to 24, George Connor won the Outland Trophy, four players were All-Americans and seven players went on to the NCAA Hall of Fame.

9. 1989 (12-1)
Head Coach: Lou Holtz
The year after claiming an unbeaten title, Unitas Award winner Tony Rice returned to lead a loaded Irish backfield. With wins over nationally ranked Michigan (No. 2), USC (No. 9), Air Force (No. 17) and Penn State (No. 17), the Irish were cruising to a second straight national title before a trip to Miami ended any and all hope of a repeat. The No. 7 Hurricanes toppled ND 27-10 and dropped the Irish to No. 4 in the polls. Holtz' squad went on to manhandle No. 1 Colorado 21-6 in the Orange Bowl, leaving Irish fans to wonder what could have been.

10. 1943 (9-1)
Head Coach: Frank Leahy
Angelo Bertelli won the Irish's first Heisman Trophy by spearheading a national championship run in just Leahy's third season in South Bend. Bertelli was one of six All-Americans who defeated No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Navy, No. 3 Army, No. 8 Northwestern and No. 2 Iowa en route to an unblemished 9-0 record. The season finale loss against Great Lakes in Chicago, Ill., didn't stop the Associated Press from awarding Notre Dame with its first AP title.

The best of the rest:

11. 2012 (12-1)
Brian Kelly shocked the world by returning the Irish to the title game. It marked one of two 12-0 regular seasons in the history of Notre Dame football.

12. 1964 (9-1)
Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte earned a share of the national championship under first-year head coach Ara Parseghian.

13. 1992 (10-1-1)
A loaded backfield featuring Rick Mirer, Reggie Brooks and Jerome Bettis only lost to No. 18 Stanford.

14. 1948 (9-0-1)
A team in the heart of the Leahy Dynasty didn't get beat but a season-ending 14-14 tie with USC allowed Michigan to finish No. 1 in the polls.

15. 1941 (8-0-1)
Yet another 0-0 tie with No. 14 Army kept the Irish from topping Minnesota or Alabama for the title.

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Ranking All 125 College Football Coaching Jobs for 2013

Teaser:
<p> Top 10 Notre Dame Football Teams of All-Time</p>
Post date: Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 07:25
Path: /mlb/fantasy-baseball-bests-busts-and-waiver-wire-april-15
Body:

Stay tuned each week to Athlon Sports for a 2013 Fantasy Baseball Weekend Waiver Wire report every Monday. Our fantasy junkies cover the hottest hitters, best waiver wire pick-ups, top starting pitching spot starts and sift through bellpens from around the league each and every week.

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (Apr. 8-Apr. 14):

  Name Pos. Team R HR RBI SB BA OPS
1. Prince Fielder 1B DET 5 2 11 0 .632 1.891
2. Chris Carter* 1B/OF HOU 7 4 7 0 .440 1.420
3. Robinson Cano 2B NYY 6 3 8 0 .500 1.633
4. Starling Marte* OF PIT 7 1 6 2 .423 1.156
5. John Buck* C NYM 5 4 10 0 .238 1.048
6. Austin Jackson OF DET 10 1 5 0 .394 .909
7. Will Venable* OF SD 5 2 8 1 .368 1.297
8. Hunter Pence OF SF 6 2 6 2 .290 .797
9. Justin Upton OF ATL 5 2 4 2 .375 1.214
10. Coco Crisp OF OAK 5 1 2 4 .333 .929
11. Miguel Cabrera 3B DET 7 1 7 1 .333 .956
12. Brandon Phillips 2B CIN 4 3 9 0 .318 1.106
13. Evan Gattis* C ATL 4 3 9 0 .304 1.153
14. Torii Hunter OF DET 7 1 6 0 .423 1.175
15. Matt Adams* 1B STL 3 3 6 0 .625 2.542
16. Alejandro De Aza* OF CHW 6 2 4 1 .333 1.093
17. A.J. Pollock* OF ARI 5 2 5 1 .316 1.105
18. Bryce Harper OF WAS 4 2 5 1 .333 1.059
19. Andrew McCutchen OF PIT 6 1 6 1 .286 .884
20. Josh Donaldson* 3B OAK 5 2 4 0 .400 1.184
21. Chris Johnson* 1B/3B ATL 4 1 4 0 .481 1.074
22. Adrian Gonzalez 1B/OF LAD 3 2 5 0 .417 1.189
23. Nate Schierholtz* OF CHC 5 1 3 1 .400 1.129
24. Jayson Werth OF WAS 4 1 4 2 .304 .795
25. Brandon Moss* 1B/OF OAK 3 2 9 0 .280 .957

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Weekly Waiver Wire:

Starling Marte, OF, PIT (54% owned in Yahoo! leagues)
If this kid is around in your league, stop reading and go pick him up this instant. He has a ton of speed and more pop than your average National League leadoff hitter. He should help you in all five categories and won't hurt you in the power numbers. He has some dangerous hitters around him — especially if Travis Snider and Pedro Alvarez can start hitting — and should be a useful fantasy play all season. He also is a solid keeper option.

Chris Carter (36%) or Brandon Moss (46%)?
These two AL West sluggers are similar talents with the potential to hit 25-30 homers. They both offer first base and outfield positional help and both play in tough situations. However, both will hurt your team's batting average. Carter is off to a hotter start, but is a career .222 hitter while Moss is only slightly better at .252. Not only is Moss a slightly better overall hitter but his team's offense figures to be much more dependable all season. If you have to, I'd go Moss over Carter.

Matt Adams, 1B, STL (12%)
If you can afford to stash this guy, do so now. He won't get regular at-bats unless the Cardinals are playing in an American League park or when someone needs a rest. But his 250 at-bats this year could be very helpful. He has raked at every level for both power and average, so if you can handle only using a player twice a week, then jump on this slugger.

Outfield Help
Now is the time to snag some surging outfielders. Seven of the top 10 and 16 of the top 25 hitters last week were outfielders and only nine were owned by more than 70-percent of Yahoo! leagues. That means there is plenty to pick through on the waiver wire. Marte is easily my top choice with Alejandro De Aza a close second. A.J. Pollock is an intruiging choice out in the desert while Adam Eaton is on the DL.

Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:

  Name Team IP W K ERA WHIP
1. Matt Harvey NYM 22.0 3 25 0.82 0.55
2. Paul Maholm ATL 20.1 3 20 0.00 0.79
3. Justin Masterson CLE 22.0 3 20 0.41 0.82
4. Clayton Kershaw LAD 23.1 2 25 1.16 0.69
5. Clay Buchholz BOS 22.0 3 23 0.41 0.95
6. Hisashi Iwakuma SEA 20.2 2 16 2.18 0.48
7. Cliff Lee PHI 16.2 2 14 1.08 0.60
8. Yu Darvish TEX 19.2 2 28 2.75 0.76
9. Anibal Sanchez DET 19.0 2 21 1.42 0.95
10. Madison Bumgarner SF 20.1 3 17 1.77 0.98
11. Jon Lester BOS 19.0 2 18 1.42 0.95
12. Adam Wainwright STL 22.0 2 24 2.05 1.00
13. Matt Moore TB 11.1 2 13 0.00 0.97
14. Alexi Ogando TEX 16.2 2 17 1.08 1.02
15. Mike Minor ATL 13.0 2 11 0.69 0.85
16. Barry Zito* SF 14.0 2 8 0.00 1.00
17. Jeff Samardzjia CHC 19.2 1 27 2.75 0.97
18. Jhoulys Chacin* COL 18.1 2 11 1.96 0.98
19. Justin Verlander DET 18.1 2 17 1.96 1.15
20. Zack Greinke (DL)* LAD 11.1 1 10 1.59 0.71

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Top 5 Spot Starts for the Week (Mon. - Sun.):

1. Derek Holland, TEX: at Chicago Cubs (Tues.) 72% owned
Holland is finally delivering on his big potential. At least, thus far in two 2013 starts. He has hasn't picked up a win yet, but has allowed just two earned runs in each of his two starts. Look for him to continue his roll against the Cubs.

2. Jamie Garcia, STL: at Philadelphia (Fri.) 65% owned
Garcia tossed a shutout over seven innings on Sunday but his bullpen (ahem, Mr. Boggs) let him down. He will always allow baserunners but has 19 strikeouts in 19 innings and should win plenty of games.

3. Barry Zito, SF: at Milwaukee and San Diego (Tues., Sun.) 63% owned
Zito has yet to allow a run and should continue his excellent start this week with two solid matchups. He won't offer big swing-and-miss totals but should provide plenty of wins and ratio help all season long.

4. Andy Pettitte, NYY: at Baltimore (Fri.) 66% owned
The aging star keeps seeing his starts pushed back and will now go on Friday against the Orioles instead of against Arizona. He may not be a dependable full-time rosterable player, but he can still help your ratios from time to time.

5. Hisashi Iwakuma, SEA: Detroit (Thur.) 73% owned
Iwakuma has been stellar to start the season (the numbers above prove that out) and he has done so against some solid competition — Texas, Oakland and Chicago (AL). He won't be phased by the vaunted Tigers' lineup and he may be much more than a spot starter for your rotation.

Closing Morsels:

Boston went with Andrew Bailey in the ninth inning on Monday instead of Joel Hanrahan. After entering the game with a one-run lead, Bailey promptly blew the save before Mike Napoli drove in the game-winner in the bottom of the frame. Bailey has loads of experience and is worth rostering if you are desperate, but he won't be closing unless Hanrahan's sore hamstring becomes a bigger issue... Edward Mujica looks like he might be the next option to get a shot at closing for the Cardinals after Mitchell Boggs blew Jamie Garcia's gem on Sunday. Mujica's line thus far in 2013: 5.0 IP, 5 K, 4 Holds, 1.80 ERA, 0.80. It's worth a shot at this point... Kevin Herrera is still ahead of Aaron Crow should Kansas City make a move in the ninth. Greg Holland has allowed four earned runs and 11 base runners in 3.0 innings... James Russell and Shawn Camp appear to be in the lead for the Cubs' ninth-inning duty with Kyuji Fujikawa on the 15-day disabled list. No, don't add Carlos Marmol (for the love of God).

Keep up to date all season long with Athlon Sports' Fantasy Baseball Closer Grid

Teaser:
<p> Fantasy Baseball Bests, Busts and Waiver Wire: April 15</p>
Post date: Monday, April 15, 2013 - 15:32
Path: /mlb/10-young-mlb-players-who-will-be-hall-famers
Body:

To suggest that any player in any sport after just a few seasons is a lock to make the Hall of Fame is ridiculous. But it is always fun to look at athletes who have had instant success and try to extrapolate long-term potential. Limiting the scope to the last three rookie classes, here are the most likely future MLB Hall of Famers:

Class of 2012:

Mike Trout, OF, LA Angels
What else is there to be said of Trout's rookie season in the majors? He was an All-Star, he won the AL Rookie of the Year award, led the league in runs (129) and stolen bases (49), earned a Silver Slugger honor and finished second in MVP voting behind the first Triple Crown winner in more than 50 years. He finished with a .326 average, .963 OPS, hit 30 home runs and drove in 83. With a 10.0 WAR, it was the greatest rookie season in the history of the sport — right ahead of Joe Jackson's 9.7 WAR in 1911. And, oh by the way, he did all of this at age 20? Yeah, his ticket might already be punched for Cooperstown.

Bryce Harper, OF, Washington
The only reason Harper's own rookie season gets marginalized is Mr. Trout's performance in the American League. Harper, who played all of the season at the age of 19, posted one of the best inaugural seasons in recent memory as well. He was an All-Star and earned NL Rookie of Year honors. He finished with 22 home runs, 18 stolen bases, 98 runs scored, 59 RBIs and a .270/.817 split at the plate. And to start his second season, Harper went deep twice on Opening Day. It's Hall of Fame or bust for a player who made his Sports Illustrated cover debut at 16 and made his second appearance before turning 21.

Class of 2011:

Aroldis Chapman, P, Cincinnati
The Cuban defector debuted in 2010 but pitched only 13 1/3 innings, so his 50.0-inning, 71-strikeout middle relief effort of '11 was his rookie season. The Reds have toyed with moving him to the rotation the last two springs, but his other-worldly strikeout rate last season kept him in the closer's role. He tossed 71 2/3 innings with a 1.51 ERA and 122 strikeouts (15.3 per nine) while saving 38 games for the Reds last season. He was eighth in the Cy Young voting and 12th in the MVP balloting. Look for the (supposedly) 25-year-old's effortless 100-mph fastball to dominate hitters for the next decade — be it from the rotation or the bullpen.

Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta
There is a large group of 2011 rookie first baseman that could make the case for being on this list, namely Eric Hosmer and Anthony Rizzo. Freeman, however, at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds is a monster from the left side of the plate. He finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting to only his teammate (more on him in a second) and has hit 44 bombs and driven in 170 in two full seasons. He plays a terrific first base on defense and should develop even more power as he gets more comfortable at the plate. He enters his third full season as just a 23-year-old with loads of big-time potential — and will likely never leave the Braves right side of the infield.

Craig Kimbrel, RP, Atlanta
The only player to finish ahead of Freeman in the NL ROY voting in 2011 was the flame-throwing closer from the Braves. He turns 25 in May and is arguably the most dominant relief pitcher on the planet. He is the only player in the majors to post at least 40 saves in each of the last two seasons, as he finished tied for second in 2011 (46) and tied for third last season (42). He has allowed just 26 career earned runs in 161.1 career innings and has struck out 284 batters (for a sick 15.8 per nine rate). He is a two-time All-Star who finished ninth and fifth respectively in the Cy Young voting the last two seasons and was eighth in the MVP race a year ago.

Class of 2010:

Stephen Strasburg, SP, Washington
Ever since Bob Costas called his memorable, nationally hyped debut with 14 strikeouts over seven innings against Pittsburgh, Strasburg has been a star. Despite missing all but five starts of his second season due to Tommy John surgery, Strasburg has been virtually perfect. He has a career 2.86 ERA and 316 strikeouts over 258 1/3 innings. He finished 15-6 in 28 starts last year in what was his first full season (159 1/3 IP) and even earned a Silver Slugger award in the process. The flame-thrower has done nothing but live up to his extremely lofty expectations as the No. 1 overall pick out of San Diego State in 2009.

Buster Posey, C, San Francisco
There are few players who have ever had a better start to a career than Mr. Posey. He claimed NL Rookie of Year honors in 2010 and led the Giants to their first World Series championship since 1954. Then, after missing all but 162 at-bats of his second year with an injury, he led the Giants to a second World Series title and claimed the NL MVP trophy in 2012. He is a career .313 hitter with an .880 OPS and just 187 career strikeouts in 1,122 at-bats. He is the consummate professional and the face of a franchise that is positioned to make another run at the World Series and he was recently rewarded with a 9-year, $164 million contract.

Starlin Castro, SS, Chicago Cubs
The Dominican shortstop debuted as just a 20-year-old on the North Side and sustained a .300 average over 125 games. He was fifth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. He has made back-to-back All-Star teams at age 21 and 22 and has a career .297 average. He led the NL in at-bats in each of the last two years and led the league in hits (207) in 2011. He was one of just five players to play in all 162 games last season. He has improved his defense and power in each of the last two seasons and is a integral part of the rebuilding project with the Cubs.

Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Miami
Few players have as much raw power as the slugger formerly known as Mike Stanton. After 91 homers in 328 career minor league games, Stanton already has 93 career homers in just three seasons, improving his power numbers in each of his professional seasons. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound outfielder hit .290 last season and made his first All-Star game appearance. Stanton has a sterling career OPS of .902. There is no doubt he will be among the league leaders in home runs each season, so the only question is how long will he be doing it for the Marlins?

Jason Heyward, OF, Atlanta
The 2007 first-round pick finished second only to Posey in the NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2010. He played 142 games in his first season and slugged 18 home runs. After a disappointing 2011 campaign, Heyward bounced back impressively last season by posting the following: 158 G, 93 R, 27 HR, 82 RBI, 21 SB, .269/.814. The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder is still just 23 years old and has all the physical talent to be an elite player for years to come.

The Top Prospects to Watch:

Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis
Vlad Guerrero-type of hitter has uncanny plate approach and natural hitting ability.

Jurickson Profar, 2B/SS, Texas
Smooth middle infielder could stick at either second or short. An elite all-around prospect.

Gerrit Cole, SP, Pittsburgh
No. 1 overall pick with a huge power arm who excelled at UCLA.

Mike Zunino, C, Seattle
Former Florida Gators slugger crushed the ball (.360) in his first season in the minors.

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Post date: Monday, April 8, 2013 - 10:45
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Oregon just finished a historic run in Pac-12 play, going 33-3 in conference games over the last four years, including a trip to the BCS National Championship game. Those four years are better known as the Chip Kelly era in Eugene. However, Kelly is coaching in the NFL and former assistant Mark Helfrich is now leading the program and has elite expectations swirling around his first season as the head coach.

Oregon Ducks 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 12-1 (8-1)

Spring practice dates: April 2-April 27

Returning Starters: Offense – 9, Defense – 7

Returning Leaders:

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

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

Early Enrollees to watch: LB Joe Walker

2013 Schedule

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

Related: Pac-12 Football 2013 Spring Preview and Storylines

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

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

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

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

Spring Storylines Facing the Ducks

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

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

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

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

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Teaser:
<p> Oregon Ducks 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - 09:45

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