Articles By Braden Gall

Path: /college-football/notre-dame-2013-spring-football-preview

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

Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 12-1

Spring practice dates: March 20-April 20

Returning Starters: Offense – 5, Defense – 8

Returning Leaders:

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

Redshirts to Watch: DL Jarron Jones, RB Will Mahone

2013 Schedule

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

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

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

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

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

Spring Storylines Facing the Fighting Irish:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michigan State Spartans 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 7-6 (3-5)

Spring practice dates: March 19-April 20

Returning Starters: Offense – 8, Defense – 6

Returning Leaders:

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

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

2013 Schedule

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

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

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

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

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

Spring Storylines Facing the Spartans:

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

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


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

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

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

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

Penn State 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 8-4 (6-2)

Spring practice dates: March 18-April 20

Returning Starters: Offense – 6, Defense – 6

Returning Leaders:

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

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

JUCO Transfers to Watch: QB Tyler Ferguson

2013 Schedule

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

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

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

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

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

Spring Storylines Facing Penn State:

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

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


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

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

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

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

Michigan Wolverines 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 8-5 (6-2)

Spring practice dates: March 16-April 13

Returning Starters: Offense – 5, Defense – 6

Returning Leaders:

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

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

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

2013 Schedule

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

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

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

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

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

Spring Storylines Facing Michigan:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The best of the rest:

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


Related College Football Content

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

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

Missouri Tigers 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 5-7 (2-6)

Spring practice dates: March 12-April 20

Returning Starters: Offense – 7, Defense – 6

Returning Leaders:

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

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

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

JUCO Transfer to Watch: DB Duron Singleton 

2013 Schedule

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

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

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

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

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

Spring Storylines Facing Mizzou:

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

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

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

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

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

Related College Football Content

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

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

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

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

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

Fantasy Baseball Positional Rankings: | | | | | | | | |

2013 Consensus Fantasy Baseball Big Board:

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

Note: Positional eligibility is accoring to Yahoo! leagues.

Related Content:

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

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

Boise State Broncos 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 11-2 (7-1)

Spring practice dates: March 11-April 15

Returning Starters: Offense – 4, Defense – 5

Returning Leaders:

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

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

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

2013 Schedule

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spring Storylines Facing the Broncos:

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

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

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

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

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

Related College Football Content

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

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

Arkansas Razorbacks 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 4-8 (2-6)

Spring practice dates: March 10-April 20

Returning Starters: Offense – 3, Defense – 8

Returning Leaders:

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

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

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

2013 Schedule

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

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

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

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

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

Spring Storylines Facing the Hogs:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related College Football Content

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

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

Wisconsin Badgers 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 8-6 (4-4)

Spring practice dates: March 9-April 20

Returning Starters: Offense – 6, Defense – 6

Returning Leaders:

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

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

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

2013 Schedule

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

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

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

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

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

Spring Storylines Facing the Badgers

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

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

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

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

Related College Football Content

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

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

Tennessee Volunteers 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 5-7 (1-7)

Spring practice dates: March 9-April 20

Returning Starters: Offense – 5, Defense – 7

Returning Leaders:

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

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

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

2013 Schedule

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

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

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

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

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

Spring Storylines Facing the Vols:

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

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

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

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

Related College Football Content

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

2013 NFL Draft Positional Rankings:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

2013 NFL Draft Positional Rankings:

<p> 2013 NFL Draft Rankings: Middle Linebackers</p>
Post date: Friday, March 8, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /nfl/nfl-draft-rankings-2013-defensive-tackles

Each year a unique set of prospects enters the professional ranks with a chance to make an immediate impact on the country's most powerful sport. The 2013 NFL Draft, held April 25-27, won’t be any different. The nose tackle position is a rare commodity that is highly coveted by every NFL franchise. And the 2013 class features a deep collection of elite prospects at the top of the rankings. However, after the top ten names are called, there could be a severe drop off in talent. Look for teams to go early on defensive tackles.

1. Star Lotulelei, Utah (6-2, 311)
The big fella from Utah was voted as the best defensive lineman in the Pac-12 by his peers last season. If the offensive linemen who try to block him each Saturday say he is the best in the league, scouts tend to believe them. He is a three-down tackle who can be used against the pass and run equally. He has great size, was extremely productive in college and is stout at the point of attack. There are questions swirling around a potential heart condition that may or may not influence his draft stock. Many scouts are in wait-and-see mode with this Star, but if deemed healthy, he is downright unblockable.

2. Sharrif Floyd, Florida (6-3, 297)
The Gators' active lineman is lighter than his elite-level counterparts and is generously listed at 6-foot-3. But he is extremely active, disruptive and will make plenty of plays on the next level. This nose tackle was an elite recruit back in 2010 and made an immediate impact as a freshman in Gainesville. As his career went on, he continued to show marked improvement in both production and technique. He has excellent upside and should be compared favorably to Warren Sapp.

3. Sheldon Richardson, Missouri (6-2, 294)
Despite his wordy taunts, Richardson is one of the most talented tackles in the nation. Every SEC coach to have scouted the Tigers pointed to the defensive line as the area to focus on, and most of that was due to the play of this big guy. He has had some injury issues in the past (shoulder), but the upside is obvious for the one of the highest-rated recruits to ever sign with Mizzou. He is an incredible overall athlete.

4. Jonathan Hankins, Ohio State (6-3, 320)
The big Buckeye lineman has just a touch less upside than Lotulelei, but Hankins possesses a similar skill set. He has a massive frame that is excellent at clogging space in order to stop the run. If he can prove he is a three-down tackle who can get penetration and disrupt the passer from the interior he will be a franchise player for years to come. In what should be a very deep and talented defensive tackle class, Hankins could be one of the best.

5. Kawann Short, Purdue (6-3, 299, Sr.)
Purdue's heart and soul on defense has tons of ability. He is roughly the same size as Floyd but is slightly less explosive. He has demonstrated his ability to play in opposing backfields with four years of consistent play in the middle of a defense that rarely gave him the help he deserved. He is a Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year-type athlete who was a two-time team captain.

6. Jesse Williams, Alabama (6-3, 323)
There isn't anything flashy or freakish about this young Australian, but he absolutely gets the job done with tremendous strength and technique. He has been coached by the best, been extremely productive against the best and should be viewed as one of the best. He doesn't wow scouts with any one talent, but should be a major contributor on the next level for years to come.

7. John Jenkins, Georgia (6-4, 346)
Few players in this class are bigger than Jenkins. While he will need to prove his stamina, flexibility and commitment to physical conditioning, he doesn't have to prove much in the form of on-field production. He has experience in a pro-style 3-4 defense that was one of the best in the vaunted SEC. He has the skills and size to develop into one of the better players at his position in this class, but needs to refine his fitness, size and consistency.

8. Sylvester Williams, North Carolina (6-3, 313)
The big Tar Heel has been a fast riser throughout the draft process. He has the needed size and power to play at the next level but needed to prove himself after quitting the game following high school. He was surrounded by elite talent and was a junior college transfer, yet has continued to improve and held his own without names like Coples, Quinn or Powell there to support him this past fall. He has upside but may not be athletic or explosive enough to warrant a first-round pick.

9. Bennie Logan, LSU (6-2, 309)
Only one player on the Tigers' roster gets to wear No. 18 each season as the unquestioned leader of the program and Logan got that distinguished honor in 2012. He is as tough a leader as there is at the position, but doesn't have one talent that makes him a sure-fire early draft pick. He is a dependable performer that will give scouts exactly what they expect. Logan has limited upside but extremely low downside.

10. Josh Boyd, Mississippi State (6-3, 310)
The motor and effort are what makes Boyd an intriguing prospect. He works hard to track down tacklers and never takes a play off. The question is whether or not he has enough raw natural physical talents to start in the NFL?

Other names to watch:

11. Everett Dawkins, Florida State (6-2, 292)
12. Akeem Spence, Illinois (6-1, 307)
13. Jordan Hill, Penn State (6-1, 303)
14. Brandon Williams, Missouri Southern State (6-1, 335)
15. Cory Grissom, USF (6-1, 306)
16. Montori Hughes, Tennessee-Martin (6-4, 329)
17. Kwame Geathers, Georgia (6-5, 342)
18. Stacy McGee, Oklahoma (6-3, 308)
19. Chris Jones, Bowling Green (6-2, 302)
20. T.J. Barnes, Georgia Tech (6-6, 369)

2013 NFL Draft Positional Rankings:

<p> NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Defensive Tackles</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 7, 2013 - 09:00
Path: /nfl/nfl-draft-rankings-2013-defensive-ends

Each year a unique set of prospects enters the professional ranks with a chance to make an immediate impact on the country's most powerful sport. The 2013 NFL Draft, held April 25-27, won’t be any different. If the quarterback is the most important player on the field and the guy who protects the quarterback — the left tackle — is the second-most valuable position on the field, then the player who can neutralize both must be No. 3, right? The defensive end position varies from scheme to scheme, but the goal is the same: get pressure on the quarterback. The 2013 class is loaded with different types of players that have one thing in common — they all can rush the passer.

Measurables: Height, Weight, 40-time (if available)

1. Bjoern Werner, Florida State
Measurables: 6-3, 266, 4.83
A small recruit from a small school in Connecticut, Werner developed into one of the best defensive players on a great defense. He posted 40 tackles, 18.0 tackles for a loss and led the ACC in sacks with 13.0 — three of which came against the Florida Gators. Once counterpart and fellow draft prospect Brandon Jenkins was injured (Week 1), offenses began to focus on him more often, causing his production to slow a bit throughout the season. However, his size, strength and work ethic gives him very little downside when it comes to the next level.

2. Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
Measurables: 6-4, 250, 4.95
Versatility is the name of the game for Moore. He can play outside linebacker like a Jarvis Jones in a 3-4 scheme, can play either weakside or strongside end in a traditional 4-3 and could even slide inside on passing downs to get more pressure on the quarterback. He was moved from outside backer to true end for the 2012 season and his burst off of the edge helped him become a disruptive force. He finished with 80 total tackles, 12.5 sacks, 20.0 tackles for a loss, two blocked kicks and a forced fumble. And he did it against the SEC instead of the Big 12 this fall. He will need to overcome a poor showing in the Combine to work his way back into the top ten but Moore could easily end up the best pass rusher in this class.

3. Dion Jordan, Oregon
Measurables: 6-6, 248, 4.60
Jordan is a very similar prospect to Aldon Smith. Jordan offers the long, rangy frame and versatility, at times standing up in more of an outside linebacker position. And like Smith, he is more of a project than some of the other players at his position. Jordan never really fully utilized his talents to his fullest potential. That said, 2012 was his best season as he posted 44 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks for what many believe was Oregon's best defense since the Haloti Ngata era. His numbers at the Combine were predictably gaudy and if he stays focused and committed to his craft, he will be a star in the NFL.

4. Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
Measurables: 6-5, 271, 4.63
The Cougars' defensive lineman boasts a unique combination of size and speed that has scouts excited. He is a raw prospect with much to learn about the end, tackle or outside backer position but he could play in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme at a variety of positions. Kyle Van Noy was the BYU defensive lineman who got most of the opposing offensive line's attention but Ansah showed loads of growth in 2012, which was his first season of full-time football. He has admitted to conditioning issues and his Senior Bowl week of practice was subpar. However, his performance in the Senior Bowl itself was dominant, while his Combine showing was eye-opening for a player with so much potential for growth.

5. Barkevious Mingo, LSU
Measurables: 6-4, 241, 4.58
Comparing him to teammate Sam Montgomery is extremely difficult. Mingo is rangier, lankier and a bit more explosive — as his Combine numbers indicate. But he isn't as fundamentally sound or as strong at the point of attack. He may be a better fit as a rush outside backer in a 3-4 whereas Montgomery could play in either scheme. His 2012 season was quieter than expected for LSU as he finished with 33 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss and just 4.0 sacks. He did pressure the QB 12 times last season and scouts have fallen in love with his upside. However, his production simply hasn't matched his measurables... yet.

6. Sam Montgomery, LSU
Measurables: 6-3, 262, 4.81
He hasn't been as flashy as some of the other names on this list but his upside is solid. He has a good frame and pedigree to be a consistent NFL starter. He can play both a pure defensive end position as well as the hybrid outside rush backer. He plays much tougher at the point of attack than some of his smaller counterparts at this position as well as his teammate Mingo. He led the Tigers in sacks (7.0) and also finished this past season with 12.0 tackles for a loss for one of the SEC's best defenses. A head-to-head struggle against potential top-ten pick Luke Joeckel is a concern, as is the confirmed rumors of concerns with his effort.

7. Margus Hunt, SMU
Measurables: 6-8, 277, 4.60
The Combine was Hunt's show. He is arguably the biggest player in the draft and posted well above average quickness, speed and agility numbers. He has dominated the line of scrimmage at times while at SMU and will be compared to Aldon Smith much like Dion Jordan. Originally from Estonia, the 25-year old is an elite kick blocker (17 in four years) and will excel on special teams. Hunt should fly up draft boards late in the process.

8. Corey Lemonier, Auburn
Measurables: 6-3, 255, 4.60
The talented edge rusher might be the only bright spot on an otherwise worthless 2012 Auburn squad. This is partly why he failed to build on a huge sophomore season in 2011 (47 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 9.5 sacks). He finished with just 34 tackles, 5.5 TFL and 5.5 sacks in 2012. Yet, he has 25 quarterback hurries over the last two seasons and his raw potential is still elite. He has great size and athletic ability and everyone agrees that he possesses massive upside. His motor, size and speed should push him up draft boards as the the process moves along.

9. William Gholston, Michigan State
Measurables: 6-6, 281, 4.96
This is the definition of risk versus reward. Gholston has elite raw talent, size, potential and upside. He is big, long, powerful and productive against both the run and the pass. He can play the true end position or slide inside to tackle. However, he also has been suspended multiple times and has displayed the occasional lack of focus. He posted 50 tackles, 12.0 for a loss along with 3.5 sacks in 2012. He could play anywhere along the line and in any scheme — if scouts can figure out a way to keep him focused, out of trouble and how to maximize his potential.

10. Datone Jones, UCLA
Measurables: 6-4, 283, 4.80
Jones has a great frame and a long pedigree of potential. He was an elite recruit who never developed into the star scouts thought he would be... until 2012. He was a part of a horrendous defense at UCLA until Jim Mora showed up on campus. He has all the physical tools and looks the part of an NFL defensive lineman, but his production was below average prior to last fall. Of his career 36.0 tackles for loss, 19.0 came last season while 5.5 of his 12.5 sacks came in 2012 as well. He was fourth on the team in sacks last year behind three other potential future NFL prospects Anthony Barr, Cassius Marsh and Damien Holmes.

11. Tank Carradine, Florida State
6-4, 276
Prior to a major knee injury late in the year, Cornellius "Tank" Carradine had first round written all over him. But his injury has hurt his stock and some team could get a steal should he fall too far past the first day. He posted 80 tackles, 13.0 tackles for a loss and 11.0 sacks in 11 games this fall before the injury. Health and overall experience are the main concerns for Carradine.

12. Alex Okafor, Texas
Measurables: 6-4, 264
Okafor is a prototypical end prospect. He posted 46 tackles, 11.5 for a loss, 8.0 sacks and three forced fumbles as a senior and appears best suited for a traditional end position. He isn't overly explosive but plays the game the right way and should be an NFL contributor.

13. John Simon, Ohio State
Measurables: 6-1, 257
One of the strongest, hardest workers in this class will have to overcome his obvious lack of size and speed. He registered 44 tackles, 14.5 tackles for a loss and led the Big Ten in sacks with 9.0. He is an unquestioned leader and will be one of the strongest players in the league the second he steps on an NFL field. He will be worth the reach.

14. Brandon Jenkins, Florida State
Measurables: 6-2, 251
He is one of the smaller prospects at his position and has a glaring injury to overcome, but Jenkins has plenty of NFL upside. His major foot injury robbed the Noles' rush end of a season to display his skills and talents, but he fits the new hybrid 3-4 scheme too well to be ignored early in this draft.

15. Quanterus Smith, Western Kentucky
Measurables: 6-5, 250
He missed two games but still led the nation in sacks per game (1.25). He had 38 tackles, 18.5 tackles for a loss and 12.5 sacks as well as a 75-yard INT returned for a TD. The level of competition he faced as a Hilltopper and learning the subtle nuances of the game are his big question marks.

16. Michael Buchanan, Illinois (6-5, 240)
17. Joe Kruger, Utah (6-6, 269, 4.8)
18. Malliciah Goodman, Clemson (6-4, 276, 4.87)
19. Stansly Maponga, TCU (6-2, 256)
20. Trevardo Williams, UConn (6-1, 241, 4.57)
21. Devin Taylor, South Carolina (6-7, 266, 4.72)
22. Lavar Edwards, LSU (6-4, 277, 4.80)
23. Nathan Williams, Ohio State (6-3, 241, 4.88)
24. Ty Powell, Harding (6-2, 249, 4.64)
25. Kapron Lewis-Moore, Notre Dame (6-4, 298)
26. Abry Jones, Georgia (6-3, 313)
27. Quinton Dial, Alabama (6-5, 318)
28. Walter Stewart, Cincinnati (6-4, 246)
29. Armonty Bryant, East Central (6-4, 263, 4.86)
30. Tourek Williams, FIU (6-3, 260, 4.92)

2013 NFL Draft Positional Rankings:

<p> NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Defensive Ends</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 7, 2013 - 09:00
Path: /nfl/nfl-draft-rankings-2013-offensive-tackles

Each year a unique set of prospects enters the professional ranks with a chance to make an immediate impact on the country's most powerful sport. The 2013 NFL Draft, held April 25-27, won’t be any different. Left tackle is the second most important position on the field, as salaries and a history of early draft picks have indicated. It's fairly simple, actually. If the quarterback is the most important player on the field then he who protects the quarterback is No. 2. And the No. 1 overall pick in 2013 could be a bookend tackle.

1. Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M (6-6, 306)
The big blocker from Arlington, Texas, saw his level of competition increase significantly last season when his Aggies joined the SEC. He faced LSU, Florida and Alabama and gave his team a chance to win each of these games. He has perfect size, power and fundamentals to play the prototypical left tackle position. He was the cornerstone of the line for an offense that was one of, if not the, best in the SEC led by a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback.

2. D.J. Fluker, Alabama (6-5, 339)
Coming out of high school in Foley, Ala., Fluker was considered one of the biggest prospects in Alabama history, both literally and figuratively. He was a surefire can’t-miss superstar. It took him some time to adapt to the SEC, but he blossomed into one of the better tackles in the nation. He has a huge, powerful frame, has the best coaching in the country, has a national championship ring and has plenty of experience facing the nation’s best defensive linemen. The only thing keeping him from top-five status is the belief that he will stick at right tackle instead of left.

3. Eric Fisher, Central Michigan (6-7, 306)
The scouting report should be fairly easy to pinpoint for the big guy from Rochester, Mich. He has great size and was a steady force on the edge for the Chippewas. His MAC ties do raise a few questions about the level of competition he faced in college, however. While there has been some NFL-ready talent developed by CMU taken in recent drafts, dominating opposing linemen in the MAC doesn’t mean you can block in the NFL. Still, Fisher has one of the best frames in the draft at his position, has demonstrated an ability to hold the edge in pass protection consistently and shows excellent overall athleticism. There is little downside to Mr. Fisher.

4. Lane Johnson, Oklahoma (6-6, 303)
Few players have the resume that Johnson possesses. He converted to left tackle from quarterback and has the foot speed, quickness and agility to match. He has a long, rangy frame that will need to carry more weight and strength. His raw athletic ability packaged with his adept understanding of the game gives him as much upside as any player at any position in this draft. He proved during his Sooners career, protecting Landry Jones for years, that he is capable of playing tackle at the highest level.

5. Oday Aboushi, Virginia (6-5, 308)
The Cavs have a sneaky good tradition of offensive linemen and Aboushi is the next one on this list. He won’t be considered elite until he proves he can consistently be a dominant force. At times, he has shown himself to be the prototypical blocker with great size, solid quickness and a killer instinct. Other times, his play was rough around the edges, resulting in him getting beat. Added strength would go a long way towards locking in a starting spot on the next level. He was well-coached and prepared for the next level at a school known for its solid offensive line play.

6. Dallas Thomas, Tennessee (6-5, 306)
He isn’t the most talented prospect in the class so he may not stick at tackle, but he is one of the more versatile. The Volunteers' offensive line as a whole showed marked improvement over the past few seasons thanks in large part to Thomas’ leadership. He played relatively well against elite-level competition in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State, Alabama and South Carolina during his career. Where scouts evaluate his long-term future will largely determine if he lands in the first round at tackle or slips into the second round as a guard. Either way, he has little downside.

7. Justin Pugh, Syracuse (6-4, 307)
He doesn't have the biggest frame for the tackle position, but exhibits all the needed tools and skills to be successful on the next level. He has loads of experience, excellent fundamentals, solid athleticism and versatility. His smallish frame — e.g., short arms — limits his raw upside, but he should be a dependable part of any NFL team.

8. Brennan Williams, North Carolina (6-6, 318)
The steady road grader has watched his stock steadily climb over the last two seasons after finally earning a starting spot as a junior. A tremendous commodity in the running game, he still needs to prove to teams that he can hold his own against elite pass-rushers. He is one of the bigger players at his position, but scouts need to figure out if the Tar Heels' O-line was greater than the sum of its parts. Williams teamed with elite guard Jonathan Cooper to form one of the better units in the ACC. Quickness and fundamentals will be key to what side of the line he plays on.

9. Ricky Wagner, Wisconsin (6-6, 308)
The Bagders have been churning out excellent linemen for the better part of two decades and this offense has been amongst the nation’s best over the last few seasons. Wagner has a solid frame and is an excellent athlete for his size but questions remain about his overall upside. Players like Whitney Mercilus and William Gholston were able to play effectively against him. He might be more of a right tackle as his overall toughness and consistency needs to improve.

10. Reid Fragel, Ohio State (6-8, 308)
Long, rangy prospect who has elite upside, plenty of room to grow and solid athleticism. He also played at an elite program against Big Ten defensive lines. He is still learning the position after a late move to offensive line, so bulking up and studying the finer points of blocking are sure to come early in his NFL career. There is plenty of intrigue with Fragel, but there is plenty of risk involved as well.


11. David Quessenberry, San Jose State (6-5, 302)
He owns an impressive all-around set of skills but will need to prove he can get bigger and stronger to stick at left tackle. His versatility, however, makes him a sure-fire contributor somewhere along the line.

12. Menelik Watson, Florida State (6-5, 310)
He is as physically gifted as any player in this class but is extremely raw and will need plenty of work in order to land as a starting left tackle. Learning the position will be paramount for Watson early on.

13. Terron Armstead, Arkansas-Pine Bluff (6-5, 306)
A late riser through the draft process, Armstead shows excellent athletic ability. He moves well in space and is quick in pass protection. He will need to get stronger and prove he can play with elite athletes.

14. David Bakhtiari, Colorado (6-4, 299)
He lacks the ideal size, length and strength to excel on the NFL level right out of the gate. But he has an NFL pedigree and proved to be dependable on a bad team.

15. Xavier Nixon, Florida (6-6, 321, Sr.)
Formerly the nation’s No. 1 OL prospect as a recruit, Nixon started the better part of four seasons in Gainesville. He has a huge frame and excellent build but needs to refine the subtle parts of his game to start at left tackle.

16. Chris Faulk, LSU (6-5, 331)
17. Nick Becton, Virginia Tech (6-5, 323)
18. Jordan Milles, Louisiana Tech (6-5, 315)
19. Luke Marquardt, Azusa Pacific (6-8, 315)
20. J.C. Tretter, Cornell (6-4, 307)
21. Braden Brown, BYU (6-5, 310)
22. Mark Jackson, Glenville State (6-5, 328)
23. Manase Foketi, West Texas A&M (6-5, 318)
24. Rogers Gaines, Tennessee State (6-6, 334)
25. John Wetzel, Boston College (6-7, 315)
26. Emmett Clearly, Boston College (6-7, 316)
27. Tanner Hawkinson, Kansas (6-5, 298)
28. Vinston Painter, Virginia Tech (6-4, 306)
29. Jordan Devey, Memphis (6-7, 317)
30. Jamaal Johnson-Webb, Alabama A&M (6-5, 313)

2013 NFL Draft Positional Rankings:

<p> NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Offensive Tackles</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /nfl/nfl-draft-rankings-2013-guards-and-centers

Each year a unique set of prospects enters the professional ranks with a chance to make an immediate impact on the country's most powerful sport. The 2013 NFL Draft, held April 25-27, won’t be any different. Guards and centers generally don't go very high in the draft as good ones can be found in the mid-to-late rounds. Two guards were taken a year ago in the first round — No. 24 and No. 27 overall — and no centers. The 2013 interior linemen class features one of the best guards scouts have seen in years and it means more than two inside blockers could go in the first round.


1. Chance Warmack, Alabama (6-2, 317)
War-Daddy is the phrase most used when dealing with Warmack. He isn’t the biggest blocker in the nation, but he might be the most physical and most consistent. Like teammate Barrett Jones (see below), he plays for the best coach in the land and has won multiple national championships. He has paved the way for a host of elite running offenses and there are no weaknesses in his game. In fact, he might be the safest pick in the draft, but his position most likely will prevent him from being taken anywhere near No. 1 overall.

2. Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina (6-2, 311)
The big Tar Heel blocker has long been considered one of the top players in the nation at his position. He is an extraordinary run blocker and has the size and makeup to contribute at an early stage of his NFL career. He is the only other guard prospect with a shot at landing in the first round along with Warmack and his “luxury” of facing elite NFL prospects every day in practice has to have helped his stock. He is a complete player who is developing nicely as a pass blocker.

3. Larry Warford, Kentucky (6-3, 332)
Kentucky was not good in 2012 but it wasn’t Warford’s fault. He has elite size and has long been considered one of the top blockers in the SEC. He faced elite defenses each and every weekend, including a few potential first-rounders like Sheldon Richardson, Sharrif Floyd and John Jenkins, and more than held his own. His teams were generally overmatched, making his efforts even more impressive, which were a result of his work ethic and toughness.

4. Kyle Long, Oregon (6-6, 313)
Long has dealt with injuries but there is a lot to like about the big blocker from Oregon. He is one of the taller, longer guard prospects in this class and showed excellent athleticism with a 4.94 40-time at the Combine. He also has the pedigree to be a solid NFL player as he is the younger brother of Rams defensive end Chris Long and the son of Hall of Famer Howie Long. He tried his hand at baseball first at Florida State before landing with the Ducks and demonstrating his raw upside.

5. Brian Winters, Kent State (6-4, 320)
The experienced blocker from the MAC has few weaknesses. He started at tackle as just a freshman and was a long-time starter for the Flashes ever since. He finished plays with gusto and worked extremely hard to engage and finish blocks. He was a wrestler growing up and those skills have translated extremely well to the interior of the line.

6. Earl Watford, James Madison (6-3, 300)
7. Alvin Bailey, Arkansas (6-3, 312)
8. Hugh Thornton, Illinois (6-3, 320)
9. Chris Barker, Nevada (6-3, 305)
10. Oscar Johnson, Louisiana Tech (6-5, 331)
11. Jeff Baca, UCLA (6-3, 302)
12. Travis Bond, North Carolina (6-6, 329)



1. Travis Frederick, Wisconsin (6-4, 312)
The burly Badger blocker shifted to center for the 2012 season, but he may end up playing guard for the team that drafts him. He has a huge frame, great power and strength and was productive against top-notch competition. He may not have the overt quickness and athleticism the NFL demands at center but makes up for it with smarts, size and power. He is an excellent run-blocker who has upside at the position because he is still learning how to play at the pivot.

2. Barrett Jones, Alabama (6-4, 306)
Jones' resume is remarkable. He is a three-time national champion, as well as an Outland Trophy winner as the nation’s top offensive lineman, and did it while playing three different positions. He was an All-SEC performer at tackle, then guard, and finally, at center. He still could end up at either guard or center, but his skills will play on the next level regardless. He is extremely intelligent, hard working, versatile and physical. He will need to prove he can handle the massive nose guards to stick at center, but no matter where he ends up, Jones should make an early impact on Sundays.

3. Khaled Holmes, USC (6-3, 302)
If nothing else, scouts should realize how important and talented Holmes is considering he didn’t play against Stanford. The Cardinal abused the interior of the USC line while Holmes watched from the sideline. He returned, despite a bum ankle, and battled with potential first-round pick Star Lotulelei — winning some and losing some against the Utes' powerhouse. Overall, Holmes has tremendous athletic ability, is a natural fit at center and has a large frame that could carry additional weight. He is a complete player who started since he was a sophomore and his absence was noticeable along USC's line when he wasn't on the field last season.

4. Brian Schwenke, Cal (6-3-324)
The Cal pivot is a lightning quick, experienced blocker who knows how to play the game at a high level — both at guard and center. He uses excellent technique and fundamentals to create leverage and win one-on-one battles. However, his overall power and strength will need work at the next level and he also will need to continue to develop as a pass blocker.

5. Braxton Cave, Notre Dame (6-3, 303)
When it comes to experience against elite-level competition, few have the resume that Cave boasts. He was a big-time recruit and proved himself against the likes of Kawann Short, Mike Martin, Jerel Worthy, Stanford’s front seven, USC's and many more. Notre Dame’s schedule is typically one of the toughest each season and this factor alone has given scouts loads of film on the slightly undersized center.

6. T.J. Johnson, South Carolina (6-4, 310)
7. P.J. Lonergan, LSU (6-3, 304)
8. Joe Madsen, West Virginia (6-3, 310)
9. Matt Stankiewitch, Penn State (6-3, 302)
10. Mario Benavides, Louisville (6-3, 280)

2013 NFL Draft Positional Rankings:

<p> NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Guards and Centers</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/ohio-state-2013-spring-football-preview

Ohio State fans will forever wonder "what if" about their undefeated 2012 football team. Urban Meyer led the Buckeyes to an unbeaten 12-0 record in his first season in Columbus and Braxton Miller blossomed into a Heisman Trophy-contending quarterback. There are holes to plug on defense, but with two elite recruiting classes waiting in the wings and the entire offense returning, expectations are as high as possible in C-Bus this spring. The Buckeyes also won't waste any time getting things started. Spring practice will be more halfway over by March 28, which is when Ohio State first hit the practice field a year ago.

Ohio State Buckeyes 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 12-0 (8-0)

Spring practice dates: March 5-April 13

Returning Starters: Offense – 9, Defense – 4

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Braxton Miller, 148-of-254, 2,039 yds., 15 TDs, 6 INTs
Rushing: Braxton Miller, 227 car., 1,271 yds., 13 TDs
Receiving: Corey Brown, 60 rec., 669 yds, 3 TDs
Tackles: Ryan Shazier, 115
Sacks: Ryan Shazier, 5.0
Interceptions: 3 tied at 2

Redshirts to watch: RB Warren Ball, OL Kyle Dodson, DB Najee Murray, DB Tyvis Powell

2013 Schedule

Aug. 31 Buffalo
Sept. 7 San Diego State
Sept. 14 at Cal
Sept. 21 Florida A&M
Sept. 28 Wisconsin
Oct. 5 at Northwestern
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 19 Iowa
Oct. 26 Penn State
Nov. 2 at Purdue
Nov. 9 Bye Week
Nov. 16 at Illinois
Nov. 23 Indiana
Nov. 30 at Michigan

Offensive Strength: Up the middle. Both guards, an All-Big Ten center, star quarterback Braxton Miller and four experienced running backs give OSU one of the best offensive foundations in the nation.

Offensive Weakness: Big-play pass-catchers. Corey Brown is a solid player but Miller has no elite, No. 1-type wideout and Meyer needs to find one on an offense that really has no other weaknesses.

Defensive Strength: Secondary. Bradley Roby and two honorable mention All- safeties return to one of the best defensive backfields in the nation.

Defensive Weakness: Defensive line. All four starting defensive linemen — three seniors and one junior — have departed. The good news is that Meyer has plenty of bodies to compete for these openings.

Spring Storylines Facing the Buckeyes:

1. Rebuild the defensive line. Johnathan Hankins, John Simon, Nathan Williams and Garrett Goebel have all departed the defensive line leaving four open starting sports up front for Meyer. But fans can expect the '12 recruiting class to be featured prominently along the front this spring. Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington and Tommy Schutt are all second-year players who could star in new starting positions. Joel Hale, Steve Miller and Michael Bennett are in the mix heavily as well. Frankly, this is an embarrassment of riches for one team losing all four starting linemen.

2. Supply Ryan Shazier with some support. Shazier is an All-American-caliber linebacker who might be the hardest hitter in the nation. He makes overzealous mistakes, at times, but has elite upside and will be the leader of the defense in 2013. He is a proven commodity but will need support alongside him. Jamal Marcus, Curtis Grant, David Perkins and Josh Perry will be the first names to get a crack at filling the voids left by Etienne Sabino, Zach Boren and Storm Klein.

3. Find a star on the outside. Corey Brown had a nice season last year, but he leads a non-descript collection of wide receivers and tight ends. Miller has no go-to star on the outside catching passes for him and this offense could use a down-the-field playmaker. Does Brown take another step? Will Devin Smith, Michael Thomas, Evan Spencer or Chris Fields develop into a legitimate No. 1? Who will fill the tight end void left by Jake Stoneburner's graduation?

4. Establish a pecking order in the backfield. The offensive line returns four starters and the backfield returns the top five leading rushers so the running game should be elite. Carlos Hyde scored 16 times last season and nearly rushed for 1,000 yards. However, Bri'onte Dunn or Rod Smith, two bigger workhorse backs, might be more talented and will certainly press for time. Organizing the deep backfield and slotting players into specific roles in the offense will be important this spring.

5. Keep Braxton Miller grounded... and healthy. Miller plays the game with reckless abandon, and many times, had to play through injuries to lead Ohio State to victory last year. He knows he is a remarkable player with the highest of upsides, in both team and personal expectations. A trip to the BCS national title game and a potential first-round slot in the 2014 NFL Draft are undoubtedly in his sights, so keeping him focused, grounded, healthy and out of trouble will be important throughout the offseason. No news is good news with Miller.

Related College Football Content

<p> Ohio State 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 06:40
Path: /nfl/nfl-draft-rankings-2013-wide-receivers

Each year a unique set of wide receiver prospects enters the professional ranks with a chance to make an immediate impact on the country's most powerful sport. The 2013 NFL Draft, held April 25-27, won’t be any different. This group will feature freaks of nature who need to polish their game. It has lightning quick jitter-bugs who will dominate the open field from the slot position. And it has elite, big-framed, down-the-field vertical threats as well. Whatever offense your favorite team runs, there is a wide receiver in this draft for you.

Measurables: Height, Weight, 40-time, vertical

1. Keenan Allen, Cal (Jr.)
Measurables: 6-2, 206, N/A
Final Stats: 205 rec., 2,570 yds, 17 TD, 30 att., 258 yds, 2 TD, 658 ret. yds, TD
The Greensboro, N.C., native is a freak athlete. He has elite size, elite speed, elite jumping ability and elite after-the-catch skills. He is good on the outside stretching the field vertically. He is good over the middle in traffic. And he can be used in the return game as well as in the running game. He is a complete player who produced big numbers at Cal despite the wildly inconsistent and sub-par quarterback play. He is a superior athlete who stood out in a conference loaded with big-time playmakers at wide receiver. He has dealt with smaller ankle and knee issues, the later keeping him from working out at the combine. 

2. Robert Woods, USC (Jr.)
Measurables: 6-0, 201, 4.51, 33.5"
Final Stats: 252 rec., 2,930 yds, 32 TD, 14 att., 142 yds, 1,547 ret. yds, TD
Woods was the Athlon Sports High School Senior of the Year at Junipero Serra High School in SoCal. All he did in his first two seasons at USC was set the single-season Pac-12 record for receptions with 111 in 2011. He then went on to pass Dwayne Jarrett as the school's all-time leader in catches and also set a school record with four TD catches against Colorado. He is an electric athlete with elite burst who can be used in all phases of the passing game and could be a major contributor on special teams as well (1,364 kick return yards in 2010-11). He has tremendous hands, fluid route-running skills and is dynamic with the ball in his hands after the catch.

3. Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee (Jr.)
Measurables: 6-2, 216, 4.42, 37.0"
Final Stats: 46 rec., 778 yds, 5 TD, 25 att., 308 yds, 3 TD, 772 ret. yds, 2 TD
The fast riser demonstrated quickly at Tennessee that he is a freakish athlete with loads of big-play potential. He was used in the rushing game with great effectiveness and was a special teams dynamo as well. He has prototypical size and speed for the next level and has wowed scouts with his raw athleticism. However, he had to go the junior college route for a reason and still has a long ways to go to refine his overall skills as a wide receiver. He only has one major season of college football under his belt, but his athletic ability was painfully obvious on Saturdays. He is a project but will pay dividends quick enough.

4. Tavon Austin, West Virginia (Sr.)
Measurables: 5-8, 174, 4.34, 32.0"
Final Stats: 288 rec., 3,413 yds, 29 TD, 109 att., 1,031 yds, 6 TD, 2,840 ret. yds, 5 TD
Speedy, fluid, explosive, versatile, agile. These are the things a team will get in the massively productive WVU wideout. He is very undersized but makes up for it with toughness and the ability to contribute to all aspects of an offense. He can run the ball, is right at home in the slot, will return kicks and punts and does it as one of the better leaders in the huddle. He will get knocked for his size come draft day, but in the modern NFL era where speed in space kills, Austin is the best in this class.

5. Justin Hunter, Tennessee (Jr.)
Measurables: 6-4, 196, 4.44, 39.5"
Final Stats: 106 rec., 1,812 yds, 18 TD
The bio on Hunter is well known. He was a big-time recruit out of the talent-rich Virginia Beach area. He posted a big freshman year and was dominating opponents until a torn ACL in Week 3 against Florida ruined his sophomore year. He has an NFL-ready frame (think A.J. Green) that is long and rangy. He has tremendous straight-line speed and overall athleticism (as his 40 and vertical numbers indicate) but scouts will wonder if his explosiveness in the short spaces has returned after the injury. He posted adequate numbers as a senior but, at times, appeared to be playing conservatively and with his injury in mind. Proving his toughness and dependability will be his biggest hurdles.


6. Terrance Williams, Baylor (Sr.)
Measurables: 6-2, 208, 4.52, 32.5"
Final Stats: 201 rec., 3,294 yds, 27 TD, 979 ret. yds
This Waco product has had the benefit of playing with elite quarterbacks and fellow wide receivers, but has been productive on his own as well. Williams proved his worth after both Robert Griffin III and Kendall Wright departed and he still produced his best season (97 rec., 1,832 yds, 12 TD). He has a great frame with excellent size and strength. He has excellent straight-line speed that makes him a tremendous deep threat. When it comes to short space agility or burst, however, he will not be as rated as highly as some of the more dynamic players in this class. He is a well-rounded, quality football player who will be a factor on Sundays for years to come.

7. DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson (Jr.)
Measurables: 6-1, 214, 4.57, 36.0"
Final Stats: 206 rec., 3,020 yds, 27 TD
Teammate Sammy Watkins is the better overall player but Hopkins was remarkable while Watkins missed a fair number of games over the last two seasons. He broke multiple Clemson and ACC receiving records in 2012 and has the overall size and talent to be a big-time producer on Sundays. He may not be elite at any one thing, but he does everything an NFL wideout needs to do well. He is not a special teams return man and won't be used in the slot or on trick plays in the backfield. He might be the purest outside wide receiver in the class.

8. Stedman Bailey, West Virginia (Jr.)
Measurables: 5-10, 193, 4.52, 34.5"
Final Stats: 210 rec., 3,218 yds, 41 TD, 2 att., 13 yds, 213 ret. yds
This Mountaineer doesn't do any one thing in elite fashion, however, his production cannot be ignored. He is undersized and produced decent numbers at the combine but nothing stands out. Except, of course, his 37 receiving touchdowns over the last two seasons. His final season in Morgantown was epic — 114 rec., 1,622 yards, 25 TDs — but he will need to prove those numbers weren't a product of the system and/or playing alongside the more gifted Austin.

9. Markus Wheaton, Oregon State (Sr.)
Measurables: 5-11, 189, 4.45, 37.0
Final Stats: 227 rec., 2,994 yds, 16 TD, 83 att., 631 yds, 5 TD
There is a lot to like about the former Beavers wideout. He is small but compact and extremely strong — he posted 20 reps at 225 pounds at the combine. He is extremely versatile as well, as he could be used in the running game or on special teams if needed. He is a prototypical slot receiver and has the toughness to survive in the close quarters of the NFL. Wheaton was a very underrated player nationally in college due to playing in Corvallis.

10. Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech (Sr.)
Measurables: 6-0, 204, 4.53, 33.0"
Final Stats: 183 rec., 2,594 yds, 24 TD
Potential first-round pick Johnathan Banks from Mississippi State had to cover Patton in 2011 and has stated he was the best receiver he ever faced. The former junior college transfer put together two massive seasons for the Bulldogs. He has adequate size, tremendous heart and excellent quickness. Certainly, his level of competition wasn't ideal in the WAC, but Patton proved he belongs on the next level with huge games against top teams — try 21 receptions for 233 yards and four touchdowns against Johnny Heisman and Texas A&M back in October.

11. Da’Rick Rogers, Tennessee Tech (Jr.)
Measurables: 6-2, 217, 4.52, 39.5"
Final Stats: 139 rec., 2,100 yds, 21 TD, 20 att., 120  yds, TD,  411 ret. yds, TD (Tennessee 2010-11, Tennessee Tech 2012)
This prospect has elite physical skills and upside. He is big, physical, strong, explosive and difficult to cover in any offensive scheme. However, he held the Tennessee locker room hostage multiple times with selfish play, immature decisions off of the field and an overall lack of commitment to the game. If he matures, he will last a while in the NFL, otherwise, he is a total head case that screams Charles Rogers or Braylon Edwards.

12. Ryan Swope, Texas A&M (Sr.)
Measurables: 6-0, 205, 4.34, 37.0"
Final Stats: 252 rec., 3,117 yds, 24 TD
There are no weaknesses in Swope's game. He posted elite speed and athletic numbers at the combine. He was productive with three separate quarterbacks in three consecutive seasons. And he had a tendency to make huge plays in key moments — just pop in the tape of last season's Texas A&M-Alabama game. He opened eyes at the combine and he won't be a sleeper in the draft process any longer. He is gritty, tough-nosed and dependable.

13. Kenny Stills, Oklahoma (Jr.)
Measurables: 6-0, 194, 4.38, 33.5"
Final Stats: 204 rec., 2,594 yds, 24 TD
He never really seemed to realize his full potential on the college gridiron but his talent is obvious. He doesn't have a large frame but is well-built for his size and plays bigger. He played in a wideout-friendly system with a tenured and experienced quarterback. He posted elite speed numbers at the combine and could develop into a much better NFL player than he was in college. Stills, a football legacy, has tons of upside.

14. Josh Boyce, TCU (Jr.)
Measurables: 5-11, 206, 4.38, 34.0"
Final Stats: 161 rec., 2,535 yds, 22 TD
When it comes to deep, vertical threats in this class, few players have as much upside as Boyce. He made big plays in key situations, even though his overall numbers took a hit following starting quarterback Casey Pachall;s dimissal from the team last season. His raw speed and strength will play in the NFL. 

15. Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas (Sr.)
Measurables: 6-2, 212, 4.56, 29.5"
Final Stats: 175 rec., 2,854 yds, 18 TD
The Hogs wideout has prototypical NFL size and strength. Two seasons ago, he was overshadowed by a trio of NFL wideouts who got drafted in the 2012 draft but a 303-yard performance against Rutgers this fall proved he is deserving of a Sunday roster spot. He has all the tools needed to be a solid No. 2 wideout on the next level but might lack the overall physical talents to be a No. 1.

16. Denard Robinson, Michigan (Sr.)
Measurables: 5-10, 199, 4.43, 36.5"
Final Stats: 6,250 pass yds, 49 TD, 39 INT, 723 att., 4,495 yds, 42 TD
Dynamic converted QB with elite speed, agility and versatility.

17. Marquess Wilson, Washington State (Jr.)
Measurables: 6-3, 194, 4.51, 34.5"
Final Stats: 189 rec., 3,207 yds, 23 TD
Great size and huge production. Needs to prove he can stay focused and committed.

18. Aaron Dobson, Marshall (Sr.)
Measurables: 6-3, 210, N/A
Final Stats: 165 rec., 2,398 yds, 24 TD
Brings excellent size and red zone ability. Overall production, level of competition aren’t elite.

19. Marquise Goodwin, Texas (Sr.)
Measurables: 5-9, 183, 4.27
Final Stats: 120 rec., 1,364 yds, 7 TD, 46 att., 405 yds, 3 TD, 1,007 ret. yds, TD
Track-star, Olympic speed and versatility. Very unpolished football player.

20. Marcus Davis, Virginia Tech (Sr.)
Measurables: 6-3, 233, 4.56, 39.5"
Final Stats: 105 rec., 1,827 yds, 13 TD
Freakish size and speed combination, but never really delivered on potential in Blacksburg.

Other names to watch:

21. Ace Sanders, South Carolina (5-7, 173)
22. Tavarres King, Georgia (6-1, 200)
23. Rodney Smith, Florida State (6-5, 215)
24. Dan Buckner, Arizona (6-4, 215)
25. Chris Harper, Kansas State (6-1, 230)
26. Brandon Kauffman, Eastern Washington (6-5, 215)
27. Aaron Mellette, Elon (6-2, 217)
28. Mark Harrison, Rutgers (6-3, 231)
29. Darius Johnson, SMU (5-9, 180)
30. Conner Vernon, Duke (6-2, 195)

2013 NFL Draft Positional Rankings:

<p> NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Wide Receivers</p>
Post date: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 - 12:00
Path: /nfl/nfl-draft-rankings-2013-tight-ends

Each year a unique set of prospects enters the professional ranks with a chance to make an immediate impact on the country’s most powerful sport. The 2013 NFL Draft, held April 25-27, won’t be any different. The evolution of the tight end position has been interesting to track over the last few seasons. Smaller, quicker players are being lined up in the slot while bigger, more physical options are getting time in the backfield. Even the Colts drafted two tight ends last year, one to catch passes and stretch the field and the other to block and be a red-zone target. Just ask Bill Belichick how valuable a good tight end can be — he uses his like no other coach in history. Be it pure pass-catchers or complete three-down options, this should be another solid collection of rookie tight ends.

Measurables: Height, Weight, 40-time, 225-lb reps

1. Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame (Jr.)
Measurables: 6-5, 250, 4.68, 22
Final Stats: 140 rec., 1,840 yds, 11 TD
The big Fighting Irish tight end is easily the top prospect at his position for this upcoming draft. But poor quarterback play has limited his statistical production throughout his career. He entered his final season as more of a pass-catcher, but has gotten stronger at the point of attack as ND looked to pound the football more in 2012. He projects as an excellent receiver on the next level and, should he continue to develop as an in-line blocker, he should hear his name called somewhere in the first round.

2. Zach Ertz, Stanford (Jr.)
Measurables: 6-5, 249, 4.76, 24
Final Stats: 112 rec., 1,434 yds, 15 TD
Ertz is a slightly less talented version of Coby Fleener. He isn’t quite as fast and isn’t quite as a explosive, but he doubled Fleener's production from the year before. He is a very similar player with similar skills and might be the better all-around prospect. He has played in a pro-style attack that focuses on NFL skills at the tight end position and has excelled all over the formation. Few programs have prepared this position for the next level like Stanford.

3. Jordan Reed, Florida (Jr.)
Measurables: 6-3, 236, 4.72, 16
Final Stats: 79 rec., 945 yds, 6 TD, 77 att., 328 yds, 5 TD, 252 pass yds, 3 TD, INT
He will likely function more as an H-Back due to his overall lack of size and elite speed, but there are no weaknesses to his overall game. He is strong, physical and solid in a blocking role. He has quickness on the outside in the passing game and will stretch the middle of the defense. And he showed loads of versatility as a runner and quarterback prior to the Gators switching to a pro-style attack in 2012. He dealt with three different coordinators in three seasons in Gainesville, so he is only scratching the surface of his overall potential.

4. Dion Sims, Michigan State (Jr.)
Measurables: 6-5, 262, 4.75, 22
Final Stats: 59 rec., 707 yds, 8 TD
Sims entered his final season with no help at quarterback or wide receiver and was arguably the top target in a one-dimensional offense. He is a powerful blocker with a huge frame and solid athleticism. He won’t wow scouts with his overall speed or quickness, but he has enough talent to stay on an NFL field due to his physicality and overall size for years to come. He should be a solid first- and second-down option with red zone potential.

5. Vance McDonald, Rice (Sr.)
Measurables: 6-4, 267, 4.69, 31
Final Stats: 119 rec., 1,504 yds, 15 TD
Rice has produced solid tight ends of late and McDonald is the next one. He is extremely versatile and can be used all over the offense. He is a smooth pass-catcher with excellent athletic ability and will be a matchup nightmare in the open field. He also showed excellent strength with 31 reps on the bench at the combine. However, he needs to develop as a blocker and could refine his ball skills. He has some of the biggest upside in the draft at this position.

6. Philip Lutzenkirchen, Auburn (Sr.)
Measurables: 6-3, 258, 4.94, 21
Final Stats: 59 rec., 628 yds, 14 TD
Without being elite at any one thing, Lutz could be the complete package at tight end. He has suffered through horrendous quarterback play, multiple offensive systems and complete coaching turmoil. Yet, back in 2010 with Cam Newton as his quarterback, he produced in key situations and was a big part of the championship run as only a sophomore. He delivers big plays in clutch situations — short yardage third downs and in the red zone. While not overly athletic, he can be a difficult matchup. As an H-back he also has proved to be a solid blocker and his ability to move around in the formation gives him some upside.


7. Michael Williams, Alabama (Sr.)
Measurables: 6-5, 268
Final Stats: 51 rec., 503 yds, 7 TD
The pros for Williams: A huge frame. A nasty, powerful run blocker. He played in a pro-style system coached by football czar Nick Saban. He was a huge part of three BCS national championship runs and he is as dependable as any prospect in the draft. His pass-catching skills are limited, particularly down the field, but there is plenty of room in the NFL for a guy with his in-line blocking talents and overall skill set.

8. Gavin Escobar, San Diego State (Sr.)
Measurables: 6-6, 254, 4.84
Final Stats: 122 rec., 1,646 yds, 17 TD
He is a very natural pass-catcher with good ball skills and great awareness in the passing game. He isn't overtly athletic and won't make people miss in the open field or run away from defenders. He also isn't a developed run blocker yet either. He is a great third-down, passing game option but lacks the complete skill set needed to play all three downs.

9. Travis Kelce, Cincinnati (Sr.)
Measurables: 6-5, 255, N/A
Final Stats: 59 rec., 875 yds, 10 TD
The Bearcats prospect might have the best overall frame for an NFL tight end of anyone in the class. He has excellent strength and power and uses his frame well in the passing game. There is a major red flag as he was suspended for an entire season for violating team rules. He also doesn't have elite speed or burst. He was an excellent blocker and has an excellent frame, but with only one season of production, Kelce has some question marks.

10. Levine Toilolo, Stanford (Jr.)
Measurables: 6-8, 260, 4.86, 17
Final Stats: 50 rec., 763 yds, 10 TD
No player at this position will bring a bigger, better frame to the next level than Toilolo. His is massive. He can be used equally as a pass-catcher and in-line blocker, but needs to refine his talents at both. He is a more of a long-term project than some of his peers, but few can match his raw upside. When it comes to working vertically down the seam or in the red zone, few have the potential to be as dangerous as the 6-8 monster from out west. He has experience in a pro-style attack that has developed a number of NFL tight ends of late.

11. Joseph Fauria, UCLA (Sr.)
Measurables: 6-7, 259, 17 reps
Final Stats: 88 rec., 1,139 yds, 20 TD
From a pure athletic stand point, few players in the nation will match the size and speed combination Fauria brings to the table. He has more upside as a receiver than a blocker but is adequate at both. He needs to polish his overall game and prove his dedication and commitment to being a great player. Developing a killer instinct might be his only weakness.

12. D.C. Jefferson, Rutgers (Sr.)
Measurables: 6-6, 255
Final Stats: 47 rec., 560 yds, 2 TD
Unfortunately, Jefferson's combine was cut short due to a pectoral injury sustained during his bench press. However, he has intriguing athleticism and upside. He has drawn comparisons to Martellus Bennett — physically, not mentally. He was talented enough to enter college as a quarterback and will have to prove his skills across the board to make an impact on the NFL level. But size, speed and work ethic are all solid aspects of his game.

Other Names to Watch:

13. Ryan Otten, San Jose State (6-6, 245, Sr.)
14. Ryan Griffin, UConn (6-6, 245, Sr.)
15. Jake Stoneburner, Ohio State (6-5, 245, Sr.)
16. Justice Cunningham, South Carolina (6-3, 258, Sr.)
17. Chris Gragg, Arkansas (6-3, 236, Sr.)
18. Mychal Rivera, Tennessee (6-3, 245, Sr.)
19. Nick Kasa, Colorado (6-6, 260, Sr.)
20. Matt Furstenburg, Maryland (6-4, 245, Sr.)

2013 NFL Draft Positional Rankings:

<p> NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Tight Ends</p>
Post date: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 - 12:00
Path: /mlb/fantasy-baseball-studs-avoid-2013

Fantasy Baseball Season 2013 edition is underway!

There is no better time of the year for sabermetric nerds and fans of the middle reliever. Athlon Sports has constructed its , the 26th annual preseason preview and drafts have begun in earnest.

Veteran fantasy baseballers know that a championship cannot be won in the first three or four rounds, but it can definitely be lost with one or two blown picks early in the draft. Just ask Roy Halladay owners who likely used an early pick on the aging Phillies ace. Or those who reached on Carlos Santana? What about Tim Lincecum? Owners who leaped in the first four rounds for Jimmy Rollins, Jacoby Ellsbury, Hunter Pence, Alex Rodriguez and/or Adrian Gonzalez were likely disappointed GMs a year ago as well.

Fantasy Baseball Positional Rankings: | | | | | | | | |

Each year, there are players who are universally highly touted but fail to produce in relation to where they end up getting drafted. Using Athlon Sports' own fantasy rankings from this year's baseball preview magazine, here are the most likely candidates to disappoint in 2013 (in order of Athlon's ranking):

Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado
Athlon Rank: 13th
When healthy, Tulo (28) is the best all-around shortstop in the game. He can hit for average and power and will produce in each counting stat. But owners would likely appreciate more dependability from a first- or second-round pick. He missed 115 games a year ago and hasn’t topped 150 games in any one season since 2009. In fact, in his six full seasons in the majors, Tulo averages just 119.8 games and has topped 140 games only three times. Draft with caution.

Jason Heyward, OF, Atlanta
Athlon Rank: 14th
The Braves outfielder is a classic case of risk and reward. He had a growth season last year in which he set career highs in runs, home runs, RBIs and stolen bases. There is a certainly a chance he continues to develop and establishes himself as a reliable early-round pick. However, he is a career .261 hitter with a career OPS of .799 and he posted his worst strikeout-to-walk rate of his young career last fall (152 K, 58 BB). He is a young, blossoming star in this game, but he would have to improve on career numbers once again to justify his ranking as an early second-round pick.

Josh Hamilton, OF, Angels
Athlon Rank: 17th
The star outfielder turns 32 in May and is now hitting in Anaheim rather than Texas. Enough said? Hamilton goes from one of the best hitter's parks to one of the worst and has yet to prove he can play a full season at full strength. He has missed 157 games over the last four years and had an off-the-field “relapse” in February 2012. He is easy to root for and has elite skills, but has some red flags that make him a riskier choice than other guys selected in the first half of the second round.

Gio Gonzalez, SP, Nationals
Athlon Rank: 21st
Gonzalez has been in the news for all the wrong reasons this winter as his name is linked prominently to the Biogenesis fiasco in South Florida. After being traded across the country from Oakland to Washington, Gonzalez had easily his best year. He somehow figured out how not to put people on base as his 1.13 WHIP last year is dwarfed by his career 1.33 mark. And this improvement netted him career-best numbers in ERA (2.89), wins (21) and strikeouts (207). The obvious and ominous question looms about his breakout season and his connection with PEDs, so using a second-round pick on Gio seems foolish.


Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners
Athlon Rank: 23rd
This may be the most “gut instinct” red flag of all the dangerous high draft picks. He is a stud and has been so good that he is now worth $175 million to Seattle. Yet, someone floated the idea of elbow issues (perhaps as a negotiating ploy) and few players have pitched as much as King Felix the last four seasons. Hernandez has thrown 954.0 innings over that span with no fewer than 232.0 in any one season. In 2009-10, he went 32-17 with a 2.38 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 449 strikeouts in 488.1 innings. In two years since winning the AL Cy Young, he is 27-23 with a 3.27 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 445 strikeouts in 465.2 innings. Those are extremely useful fantasy numbers, but aren’t worth a second-round pick.

Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers
Athlon Rank: 24th
The case for Beltre is simple: 261 runs, 96 homers, 309 RBIs and sterling .314/.912 ratios. The case against Beltre is three-fold and raises concerns about being the slugging third baseman being a borderline second-round pick. He turns 34 on April 7 and has played more than 150 games only twice since 2006. He also won’t have Michael Young in front of him or Josh Hamilton behind him in the Rangers' lineup as both have moved on. He is a career .280 hitter with a career .807 OPS, so a repeat of his remarkable .321/.921 seems unlikely.

Joe Mauer, C, Twins
Athlon Rank: 26th
Mauer will never hit 28 home runs ever again. He has averaged 8.6 homers per season in his other seven full seasons in the big leagues. In fact, his 2012 season might be what fans can expect from the former MVP from now on. His 81 runs scored led all catchers, his eight stolen bases were second, his 85 RBIs were third and his .319 average was fourth. But his 10 dingers were 25th among backstops and his overall line wasn’t any better than names drafted dramatically later last year (e.g., Yadier Molina, Miguel Montero or Carlos Ruiz). Mauer is a stud but with a long track record of injuries, there is no reason to overpay for a small impact in the counting stats.

Jered Weaver, SP, Angles
Athlon Rank: 28th
Most of the concern about Weaver’s upside as a high pick stems from his decrease in velocity in September last year. His fastball averaged 87.8 MPH in the final month of the season a year ago and it hurt his numbers in a big way. His first half was sick: 96.2 IP, 10-1, 1.96 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 73 K. His second half was not: 92.0 IP, 10-4, 3.72 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 69 K. Names like Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Matt Cain and Adam Wainwright might be safer selections.

Chase Headley, 3B, Padres
Athlon Rank: 49th
So Headley isn’t ranked in the top two rounds, but many have him lumped in with the elite three-sackers (Miguel Cabrera, David Wright, Evan Longoria, Beltre, Ryan Zimmerman). He doesn’t belong in that group and no one should consider drafting the Padres' third baseman in the first four rounds. Through four full seasons, Headley never hit more than 12 home runs and never drove in 70 — both of which took place back in 2009. Yet, he pounded 31 bombs last year and led the league in RBIs with 115. He is a career .273 hitter and has a career OPS of .769 so don’t expect another .286/.875 season. Especially, from a guy in one of the worst hitting parks in the National League who tolls in one of the weakest lineups in the Senior Circuit.

Related Content:

<p> Fantasy Baseball Studs to Avoid in 2013</p>
Post date: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 - 09:20
Path: /college-football/south-carolina-2013-spring-football-preview

Was 2012 the best disappointment in school history? South Carolina won a school-record 11 games with wins over Michigan, Georgia, Clemson, Tennessee and Arkansas. It finished seventh in the final polls, the best final ranking in school history. But two crucial losses to LSU and Florida gave the Gamecocks a third-place finish in the SEC East and relegated them to the Outback Bowl. There are some specific holes to fill and new faces will need to step into more prominent roles, but all the pieces are in place for Steve Spurrier to make yet another run at the SEC Championship Game.

South Carolina Gamecocks 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 11-2 (6-2)

Spring practice dates: March 5-April 13

Returning Starters: Offense – 6, Defense – 5

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Connor Shaw, 154-of-228, 1,956 yds., 17 TDs, 7 INTs
Rushing: Connor Shaw, 131 car., 435 yds., 3 TDs
Receiving: Bruce Ellington, 40 rec., 600 yds, 7 TDs
Tackles: Jadeveon Clowney, 54
Sacks: Jadeveon Clowney, 13.0
Interceptions: Jimmy Legree, 3

Redshirts to watch: CB Chaz Elder, OT Brock Stadnik, WR Jody Fuller, LB T.J. Holloman, LB/S Jordan Diggs, DE Darius English

2013 Schedule

Aug. 29 North Carolina (Thur.)
Sept. 7 at Georgia
Sept. 14 Vanderbilt
Sept. 21 Bye Week
Sept. 28 at UCF
Oct. 5 Kentucky
Oct. 12 at Arkansas
Oct. 19 at Tennessee
Oct. 26 at Missouri
Nov. 2 Mississippi State
Nov. 9 Bye Week
Nov. 16 Florida
Nov. 23 Coastal Carolina
Nov. 30 Clemson

Offensive Strength: The offensive line. Four of five starters return to the line and welcome loads of depth and new talent from the 2012 and '13 recruiting classes. Only center T.J. Johnson is gone from this battery of blockers.

Offensive Weakness: Playmakers. The team's top two leading rushers are gone, as is dynamic wideout Ace Sanders and leading tight end Justice Cunningham. Finding a tailback, a big vertical threat on the outside and developing a tight end would all help this offense.

Defensive Strength: Defensive line. The best player in the nation leads what could be one of the best defensive lines in the SEC. Replacing Devin Taylor and Byron Jerideau will be easier than expected.

Defensive Weakness: Linebackers. The top five players in the linebacking corps have moved on and no one player returns to the position with more than five total tackles from a year ago.

Spring Storylines Facing the Gamecocks:

1. Fill gaps at linebacker. The top five linebackers are gone from this roster and Spurrier will have his hands full trying to fill the gaps. Four of the five posted at least 47 tackles and no one player returns to the position with more than five tackles. Seven of the 10 returning linebackers will be freshmen, so this position has loads of talent but very little experience. Kaiwan Lewis and T.J. Holloman played as freshmen while a talented trio of redshirts in Edward Muldrow, Mason Harris and Cedrick Cooper will be intriguing to watch. Jordan Diggs could be in line to take over for DeVonte Holloman at the hybrid Spur position. This is an extremely young group but has upside, so the coaching staff needs to iron out this rotation sooner rather than later.

2. Find some playmakers on offense. The line of scrimmage is stacked on both sides of the ball and Spurrier has two talented options returning at quarterback. But he needs to see playmakers develop this spring on offense. The top two rushers from a year ago, Marcus Lattimore and Kenny Miles, are both gone while dynamic receiver Ace Sanders unexpectedly left early for the NFL. Sophomore Mike Davis heads a trio of unproven backs with Brandon Wilds and Kendric Salley all vying for carries in the backfield. Speedy wideouts Damiere Byrd and Bruce Ellington are both back but neither is a go-to target on the outside. Look for Nick Jones and Shaq Roland to get plenty of reps this spring.

3. Settle on a quarterback. It may be hard to believe that anyone other than Connor Shaw would begin the season under center. However, Dylan Thompson got tons of reps due to Shaw's lingering injuries. Thompson and early enrollee Connor Mitch both have tons of talent and will push Shaw for time. Gamecocks fans should be rooting for Shaw to put a stranglehold on the starting job this spring and make this position battle an afterthought heading into the summer.

4. Organize the secondary on defense. It's not as dire a situation as the linebackers, but there are some voids to fill in the defensive backfield as well. Akeem Auguste and D.J. Swearinger were the key departures. Victor Hampton and Jimmy Legree should lock down the cornerback spots while Brison Williams should start at safety. Look for Spurrier to find some supporting actors for this portion of his defense. Ahmad Christian, T.J. Gurley, Kadetrix Marcus and the hybrid Diggs should all get long looks with the starters this spring.

Related College Football Content

<p> South Carolina 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 - 08:55
Path: /nfl/nfl-draft-rankings-2013-quarterbacks

Each year a unique set of prospects enters the professional ranks with a chance to make an immediate impact on the country's most powerful sport. The 2013 NFL Draft, held April 25-27, won’t be any different.

Following the combine, experts now have an even playing field to compare prospect's measurables. Heights, weights, 40-yard dash times and bench reps are all official NFL Combine stats. Today, we rank college football's best quarterbacks prospects — and do so with the help of Chris Leak, 2006 BCS National Championship Game MVP for the Florida Gators. You can follow or hear him on SiriusXM College Sports Nation's Coast-to-Coast nightly radio show from 7-10 PM ET with Chris Childers. 

Measurables: Height, Weight, 40-yard dash

1. Geno Smith, West Virginia (Sr.)
Measurables: 6-2, 218, 4.59
Final Stats: 44 GP, 11,662 yds, 98 TD, 21 INT, 67.4%, 245 att., 342 yds, 4 TD
Smith may have the biggest arm of any prospect in the class with the possible exception of Tyler Bray. He is poised, lightning quick in his release and decision-making and has posted some huge numbers. He threw over 1,000 passes in his final two seasons with only 13 interceptions to go with 73 scoring strikes. He wasn't asked to run the ball much but was the fastest quarterback at the combine. He will be knocked for his bad second half of 2012 and that his numbers have been inflated by the shotgun, no-huddle spread attack at West Virginia. If he can prove he can play from under center and in a pro-style attack, Smith possesses all the elite tools to be an excellent quarterback on Sundays. Comparison: A more athletic Matthew Stafford

Chris Leak's Scouting Report: Elite passer at CFB level. Student of the game with high football I.Q. Field general that can have immediate impact on an NFL franchise.

2. EJ Manuel, Florida State (Sr.)
Measurables: 6-5, 237, 4.65
Final Stats: 43 GP, 7,741 yds, 47 TD, 28 INT, 66.9%, 298 att., 827 yds, 11 TD 
Manuel might be the most intriguing prospect on this entire list. He entered college as an elite prospect and took three full seasons to develop into the star he is today. He has a huge frame and big arm to make all of the throws. He is an excellent member of the community who will work extremely hard in the pros. He also has above average athletic ability to keep plays alive and move the chains with his legs as his time in the 40 indicates. However, he is unrefined as a true pocket passer and will need work developing his motion and release. He was an efficient passer (66.9-percent) but scouts will wonder if that translates given the much smaller passing windows in the NFL. He also has dealt with some injury issues in his past, especially in big games like against Oklahoma in 2011 and the second half of the Florida game this fall. The upside is massive with Manuel, who led his team to a conference and BCS bowl championship for the first time in nearly a decade, but he has some major question marks. Comparison: A less efficient Carson Palmer

Leak's Scouting Report: Ideal height with the arm strength to push the ball downfield. Has ability to extend and make plays with his legs. Intriguing NFL prospect because of his raw physical tools and athletic ability.

3. Matt Barkley, USC (Sr.)
Measurables: 6-2, 227, N/A
Final Stats: 47 GP, 12,327 yds, 116 TD, 48 INT, 64.1%, 132 att., minus-113 yds, 6 TD 
It was important that Barkley checked in at 6-foot-2 as some doubted his overall size. But he has more than adequate build and bulk to be a starter on the next level. His numbers have been huge —12,327 yards and 116 TD passes — and he is an upstanding member of any locker room. He wasn't overtly efficient (64.1 completion rate, 48 INT) but produced at a high level in the face of severe NCAA sanctions. He has a big arm and plays in a pro-style offense, but overcoming his late-season shoulder injury this fall will take some effort. There is little downside to Barkley as a professional as there are no questions about his work ethic, commitment, dedication to winning and leadership. The injury and team struggles in '12 have overshadowed a record-setting and admirable career for a prospect who is used to living in a fish bowl. Comparison: A slower Andy Dalton

Leak's Scouting Report: Intelligent QB who does so many of the little things well. Fundamentally sound and solid mechanics will allow immediate success at next level.

4. Tyler Bray, Tennessee (Jr.)
Measurables: 6-6, 232, 5.05
Final Stats: 28 GP, 7,444 yds, 69 TD, 28 INT, 58.6%, 61 att., minus-207 yds, TD
There is no middle ground with this prospect as his ceiling is as high as his floor is low. Bray has a first-round arm, a first-round frame and has played against first-round competition in the SEC. But the pure pocket passer currently has a seventh-round head on his shoulders and a terrible record against that elite competition. He can make every throw in the book, but he hasn't proven he can protect the football, stay healthy or lead an offensive huddle. He has a terrific 2.5 touchdowns-per-game career ratio but that's tempered by an ominous 1.0 interception-per-game career rate. Scouts will love his raw skills but will have major doubts about his mental makeup, maturity and dedication. Comparison: A taller Philip Rivers

Leak's Scouting Report: Gunslinger with great height to scan entire field. Great feel on downfield throws. Needs to improve accuracy on intermediate throws.

5. Tyler Wilson, Arkansas (Sr.)
Measurables: 6-2, 215, 4.95
Final Stats: 37 GP, 7,765 yds, 52 TD, 26 INT, 62.8%, 110 att., minus-44 yds, 4 TD 
Wilson was highly thought of by college and pro personnel alike until this fall. His offensive production was clearly not the same without Bobby Petrino and it will raise questions about Wilson's long-term upside. He is one of the smallest quarterbacks in the top 10 and that is a concern as a pro-style pocket passer. He has a solid arm, displays toughness (just ask his OL), yet he does not possess one elite discernable talent . However, he has no glaring weakness either, making his floor higher than many others on this list. His team went from 11 wins to four in one year and his numbers plummeted in his senior season (3,638 yards, 24 TD, 6 INT in 2011 and 3,387 yards, 21 TD, 13 INT in 2012). His touchdown-interception ratio is one of the worst among other highly ranked quarterback prospects (2:1). Comparison: A better Mark Sanchez

Leak's Scouting Report: Possesses a strong arm, and has ability to fit passes through tight windows. Didn't progress as a senior however.


6. Mike Glennon, NC State (Sr.)
Measurables: 6-7, 225, 4.94
Final Stats: 36 GP, 7,411 yds, 63 TD, 31 INT, 60.4%, 112 att., minus-292 yds, 3 TD 
There isn't much left to learn about Glennon other than one key attribute. He has a massive frame that is perfect for an NFL pocket passer and could even carry 10-15 more pounds if needed. He is not an elite athlete but has some sneaky mobility so his big frame and big arm are well-suited for the pass-happy NFL. He has played with an underwhelming offensive supporting cast and his running game has been non-existent over the last two seasons. His biggest red flag is his penchant for being inaccurate, as he barely completed 60 percent of his passes, and his tendency to turn the ball over a bit too much (29 INTs in last two seasons). But he also was the reason Russell Wilson transferred to Wisconsin and he threw for over 7,000 yards and 62 TDs in the two seasons he was the starter. Comparison: A less accurate Joe Flacco

Leak's Scouting Report: Has ideal size and arm strength for the next level, but needs to continue and improve his technique. Unpolished with his footwork and needs to refine the details of the position.

7. Zac Dysert, Miami-Ohio (Sr.)
Measurables: 6-3, 231, N/A
Final Stats: 46 GP, 12,013 yds, 73 TD, 51 INT, 63.8%, 461 att., 1,086 yds, 12 TDs
Surprisingly athletic for a player of his size. It gives him good feet in the pocket and the ability to turn nothing into something. His frame could actually carry more muscle and he could play bigger and stronger. He can, at times, give up on the play too quickly, often looking to maneuver in the pocket quicker than needed. Dysert has loads of experience and looks the part of an NFL signal caller. Does he have elite accuracy and patience in the pocket to be successful on the next level? Comparison: Ryan Fitzpatrick

Leak's Scouting Report: Displays an obvious understanding of the game of football, with great size and height with the arm strength to stretch defenses from sideline to sideline. Shows confidence in arm and throwing with accuracy.

8. Landry Jones, Oklahoma (Sr.)
Measurables: 6-4, 225, 5.11
Final Stats: 52 GP, 16,646 yds, 123 TD, 52 INT, 63.6%, 132 att., minus-375 yds, 3 TD
Few players have ever been as productive as Jones in college. He finished third all-time in history in yards behind only Case Keenum and Timmy Chang and is fifth all-time in passing touchdowns. Yet, he has struggled with turnovers (52 INTs) and has struggled to win big games — on the road or at home. He has good size and a good arm as a potential pocket-passer, but will have to overcome the dreaded "system" mantra. Oklahoma quarterbacks haven't been successful in the pro game with the possible exception of Sam Bradford, while elite wideouts, a big-time OL and mediocre defenses have inflated his numbers. Comparison: A less-talented Matt Schaub

Leak's Scouting Report: Very accurate passer in the pocket but not as much on the move. Can lead receivers down the field and on crossing routes, places throws where only his man can make a play. Ideal size and athletic ability for the next level.

9.Ryan Nassib, Syracuse (Sr.)
: 6-2, 227, 5.06
Final Stats: 48 GP, 9,190 yds, 70 TD, 28 INT, 60.1%, 242 att., 168 yds, 5 TD
There is little that stands out about the former Syracuse quarterback. His overall arm strength might be his most intriguing feature. He has a solid release and can power the football to all levels. He is a smart player who led a underdog roster of two-star prospects to multiple bowl games. He will force the ball at times, is smaller than most in this draft class and overall lacks quickness and speed. He will also need to adjust to playing under center as an exclusive shotgun player in college. There is some intrigue with Nassib but more than Comparison: A much-less athletic Jake Locker

Leak's Scouting Report: Has good arm strength and is very accurate throwing on the run. Shows toughness and is a gamer with a lot of potential.

10. Sean Renfree, Duke (Sr.)
6-3, 219, N/A
Final Stats: 42 GP, 9,465 yds, 50 TD, 41 INT, 64.7%, 153 att., minus-167 yds, 9 TD
All of the physical tools are there for Renfree. He has a solid arm, quick release, quick feet and a good sized frame. He also led lowly Duke back to the postseason as a senior. However, he turned the ball over a bunch and lost a lot of games. It remains to be seen if that is more of a function of his situation and surrounding cast of lower than capable NFL talent. Comparison: A more physically gifted Matt Moore

The Best of the Rest:

11. Colby Cameron, Louisiana Tech (6-2, 212)
12. Matt Scott, Arizona (6-2, 213)
13. Jordan Rodgers, Vanderbilt (6-0, 205)
14. Alex Carder, Western Michigan (6-2, 225)
15. Brad Sorensen, Southern Utah (6-4, 229)
16. Ryan Griffin, Tulane
17. Collin Klein, Kansas State (6-5, 226)
18. James Vandenberg, Iowa
19. Mitchell Gale, Abeline Christian
20. Tino Sunseri, Pitt


2013 NFL Draft Positional Rankings:

<p> NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Quarterbacks</p>
Post date: Monday, March 4, 2013 - 12:00
Path: /nfl/nfl-draft-rankings-2013-running-backs

Each year a unique set of prospects enters the professional ranks with a chance to make an immediate impact on the country’s most powerful sport. The 2013 NFL Draft, held April 25-27, won’t be any different. The running back position has become one of the easiest to find in the middle and late rounds each year. For every Adrian Peterson taken in the first round, there has been a Ray Rice, LeSean McCoy, Arian Foster, Maurice Jones-Drew and Frank Gore. Running backs can be found deep in the draft, and in that sense, this is an excellent running back class. 

Measurables: Height, Weight, 40-time, 225 reps, shuttle

1. Giovani Bernard, North Carolina (rSo.)
Measurables: 5-8, 202, 4.53, 19, 4.32
Final Stats: 23 GP, 423 att., 2,481 yds, 25 TD, 92 rec., 852 yds, 6 TD, 1,115 ret. yds, 8 TD
This tough little runner came to UNC from St. Thomas Aquinas H.S., a storied South Florida program that prepares football talents for the next level. And as a redshirt freshman, Bernard exploded onto the scene with 239 carries for 1,253 yards, along with 45 receptions for another 362 yards and a total of 14 touchdowns. He missed some time in 2012, but delivered another huge year, including marquee performances against Virginia Tech and NC State. He is a bit smaller than a prototypical back but has speed to burn and the talent to play all three downs. In addition, as just a redshirt sophomore, Bernard will have the most “tread left on the tires” of any back in the class and his eight (6 kick, 2 punt) return touchdowns make him a dynamic return option as well.

2. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina (Jr.)
Measurables: 5-11, 221, N/A
Final Stats: 29 GP, 555 att., 2,677 yds, 38 TD, 74 rec., 767 yds, 3 TD
Just as he was beginning to appear fully recovered from a torn ACL sustained mid-2011, the most talented back in the class suffered another horrific knee injury. When healthy, he is big, physical runner who never goes down on first contact, a tremendous receiver and a guy who works hard off the field. His 41 touchdowns in 29 career games prove his production is no fluke. He is extremely driven and is working hard to be ready to play at the start of 2013 season. He is a risky selection anywhere in the draft but he has the talent to be another Willis McGahee.

3. Stepfan Taylor, Stanford (Sr.)
Measurables: 5-9, 214, 4.76, 17, 4.50
Final Stats: 53 GP, 843 att., 4,300 yds, 40 TD, 97 rec., 778 yds, 5 TD
Few players have as complete a game as the former Cardinal ball carrier. He was the workhorse back for a program that used a physical, pro-style attack based around Taylor’s ability. He is thickly built, has a tremendous work ethic, plays smart football, can catch passes and runs hard every game. His workload in college could be his only negative, as he touched the ball 940 times in his college career. He isn't overtly fast either, but his toughness and intelligence make him a sure-fire contributor on the next level.

4. Eddie Lacy, Alabama (Jr.)
Measurables: 5-11, 231, N/A
Final Stats: 37, 355 att., 2,465 yds, 30 TD, 35 rec., 338 yds, 2 TD
Lacy has all the physical ability of any back in the class minus possibly a healthy Lattimore. And like the South Carolina back, his biggest issue is his health. He has proven to be a physical, dominant presence on the field and, frankly, didn't receive a heavy workload of carries during his time at Alabama. He played possessed football against Notre Dame in January's national title game and won the MVP honors because of it. Then he promptly got hurt again. With multiple health issues in every college season, Lacy comes with a large red flag. When healthy, he might be the best back in the class.

5. Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State (Jr.)
Measurables: 6-1, 230, 4.60, 24, 4.24
Final Stats: 40 GP, 671 att., 3,346 yds, 33 TD, 78 rec., 531 yds, TD
Bell has some negatives — average shiftiness and work ethic — but also has the biggest, most powerful frame of anyone in the class. He is accustomed to power-I formations and can carry the load if needed (see games of 44, 36 and 37 carries in 2012). He is right at home in a play-action style offense and will be a huge asset around the goal line. He also showed better than expected speed at the combine which will likely push him up draft boards. If he can stay focused on keeping his weight down and works hard, he could be a future feature back in the NFL.


6. Joseph Randle, Oklahoma St (Jr.)
Measurables: 6-0, 204, 4.63, N/A
Final Stats: 39 GP, 564 att., 3,085 yds, 40 TD, 108 rec., 917 yds, 3 TD
Production hasn’t been an issue for Randle after a school-record 26 touchdowns in 2011. He was outstanding as the leader of the revamped Pokes offense this fall and brings breakaway speed to the edge, power up the middle and will play a big role in the passing game. Randle is taller than most ideal backs who aren’t 230 pounds, but he has plenty of big-play ability. 

7. Montee Ball, Wisconsin (Sr.)
Measurables: 5-10, 214, 4.66, 15, 4.40
Final Stats: 49 GP, 924 att., 5,140 yds, 77 TD, 59 rec., 598 yds, 6 TD
Scouts cannot argue the production of a guy who scored more touchdowns than any player in the history of college football — both rushing and total. He dropped weight before his junior season and it helped with quickness and burst. Yet, he lacks the top-end skills of the NFL’s elite. However, he is a tough player who consistently produced and fumbled once in his entire collegiate career. His heavy workload will be a small concern.

8. Andre Ellington, Clemson (Sr.)
Measurables: 5-9, 199, 4.61, N/A
Final Stats: 49 GP, 621 att., 3,535 yds, 33 TD, 59 rec., 505 yds, 2 TD, 642 ret. yds, TD
The only real knock on Ellington is his durability, which stems from his overall lack of size. His frame isn’t ideal and he was banged up throughout his Tigers career. That said, he finished with over 4,000 yards from scrimmage and more than 30 touchdowns while at Clemson. He has the raw ability to do everything an NFL back is asked to do, but can he be a true workhorse on Sundays?

9. Zac Stacy, Vanderbilt (Sr.)
Measurables: 5-8, 216, 4.55, 27, 4.17
Final Stats: 45 GP, 581 att., 3,143 yds, 30 TD, 46 rec., 415 yds
Stacy is Vanderbilt's all-time leading rusher and arguably the most talented runner in school history. He is extremely compact, posted more than adequate speed and quickness numbers at the combine and has a powerful running style. He is similar to Ray Rice or Maurice Jones-Drew in his thick lower body. The only issue is he was slightly prone to injury during his collegiate years. He will undoubtedly be a contributor on the next level.

10. Mike Gillislee, Florida (Sr.)
Measurables: 5-11, 208, 4.56, 15, 4.40
Final Stats: 49 GP, 389 att., 2,072 yds, 20 TD, 23 rec., 182 yds, 2 TD
This Gator tailback was a late bloomer — 920 yards and 10 TDs in his first three seasons — but developed into an SEC Player of the Year-type runner as a senior. He was miscast in Urban Meyer’s scheme and fit much better into the pro-style attack Will Muschamp brought to Gainesville. He is physical and is at his best deep into games and between the tackles. He isn't flashy or explosive but has a good chance to find work on first and second downs on the next level.

11. Jonathan Franklin, UCLA (Sr.)
Measurables: 5-10, 205, 4.49, 18, 4.31
Final Stats: 53 GP, 788 att., 4,403 yds, 31 TD, 58 rec., 517 yds, 3 TD
The UCLA runner showed extremely well at the combine in terms of speed and quickness. He is a smart prospect who looks to lead by example. He has a solid frame and would be best served by adding some bulk to handle the rigors of the NFL. He was extremely productive in his time as the starter for the Bruins.

12. Kenjon Barner, Oregon (Sr.)
Measurables: 5-9, 196, 4.52, 20, 4.20
Final Stats: 49 GP, 582 att., 3,623 yds, 41 TD, 54 rec., 591 yds, 7 TD, 1,371 ret. yds, TD
He is much bigger than his former backfield mate LaMichael James and could be more of an every down back if that is the case. He tossed up 20 reps at 225 as one of the stronger backs in this class and his speed and quickness ranks near the top of this board. His durability is really the only concern because the spread scheme he played in at Oregon is much less of hindrance than it once was in the NFL.

13. Knile Davis, Arkansas (Sr.)
Measurables: 5-10, 227, 4.37, 31, 4.38
Final Stats: 36 GP, 349 att., 1,972 yds, 19 TD, 32 rec., 297 yds, 2 TD
Few players were more disappointing in 2012 than Davis. However, he only matched the rest of the Arkansas Razorbacks once Bobby Petrino left town. He showed elite talents at the combine and should have plenty of tread left on the tires. However, he has experienced major injuries and was effective for just an eight-game stretch two seasons ago. He was elite during that span but has done little else before or after SEC play in 2011. 

14. Christine Michael, Texas A&M (Sr.)
Measurables: 5-10, 220, 4.54, 27, 4.02
Final Stats: 40 GP, 529 att., 2,883 yds, 34 TD, 44 rec., 323 yds, TD
Much like Davis and Lacy, he has the talent and the long track record of injuries. He posted elite shuttle times and more than adequate straight-line speed to be considered a future star on the next level. Michael was an elite recruit who blossomed early and then dealt with some bad injuries. However, if healthy, he has elite upside and the ability to contribute on all three downs  —between the tackles, on the edge, in the passing game and as a blocker.

15. Rex Burkhead, Nebraska (Sr.)
Measurables: 5-10, 214, 4.73, 21, 4.09
Final Stats: 44 GP, 635 att., 3,329 yds, 30 TD, 60 rec., 507 yds, 5 TD
He didn’t wow scouts at the combine with his average measurables, but he makes up for it with things that simply cannot be tracked with a stopwatch: intangibles, leadership, blitz pickups, toughness and heart. He is one of the most complete players in the nation and will be a welcome addition to any NFL locker room. He will be a late-round steal and could be very productive for many years — even if he is never a star.

16. Juwan Jamison, Rutgers (Jr.)
Measurables: 5-7, 203, 4.68, 20
Final Stats: 26 GP, 486 att., 1,972 yds, 13 TD, 36 rec., 385 yds, 2 TD
Has a workhorse mentality and good size-strength combination. Lacks elite speed and burst.

17. Ray Graham, Pitt (Sr.)
Measurables: 5-9, 199, 4.80, 19, 4.32
Final Stats: 46 GP, 595 att., 3,271 yds, 32 TD, 98 rec., 799 yds, 4 TD, 873 ret. yds
Has NFL ability but is still regaining form after torn ACL. Size could be an issue as well.

18. Cierre Wood, Notre Dame (Jr.)
Measurables: 5-11, 213, 4.56, 16
Final Stats: 37 GP, 450 att., 2,447 yds, 16 TD, 52 rec., 384 yds, 2 TD
Off-the-field focus issues have knocked him down a peg, but coming on strong.

19. DJ Harper, Boise State (Sr.)
Measurables: 5-9, 211, 4.52, 23, 4.35
Final Stats: 54 GP, 547 att., 2,792 yds, 39 TD, 54 rec., 559 yds, 2 TD
He should be a sneaky draft day value for someone. Can do a little bit of everything.

20. Zach Line, SMU (Sr.)
Measurables: 6-0, 232, 4.77, 26
Final Stats: 50 GP, 778 att., 4,185 yds, 47 TD, 75 rec., 599 yds
He should be a sneaky draft day value for someone. Can do a little bit of everything.

Third-Down Speedsters 

Curtis McNeal, USC (5-7, 190, Sr.)
Chris Thompson, Florida State (5-8, 190, Sr.)
Onterio McCalebb, Auburn (5-11, 175, Sr.)
Perry Jones, Virginia (5-8, 187, Sr.)
Dennis Johnson, Arkansas (5-8, 212, Sr.)

Other Names to Watch:

Stephon Jefferson, Nevada (5-10, 213, Jr.)
Zach Boren, Ohio State (5-11, 238, Sr.)
Robbie Rouse, Fresno State (5-6, 190, Sr.)
Spencer Ware/Michael Ford, LSU
Michael Dyer, Ark. Baptist (5-8, 210, Sr.)
Orwin Smith, Georgia Tech (6-0, 205, Sr.)
Cameron Marshall, Arizona St (5-11, 220, Sr.)
Miguel Maysonet, Stony Brook (5-9, 205, Sr.)
John White, Utah (5-8, 190, Sr.)
Matthew Tucker, TCU (6-0, 225, Sr.)
Dominique Whaley, Oklahoma (5-11, 205, Sr.)
Mike James, Miami (5-11, 220, Sr.)
Ronnie Wingo, Arkansas (6-2, 230, Sr.)


2013 NFL Draft Positional Rankings:

<p> NFL Draft Rankings 2013: Running Backs</p>
Post date: Monday, March 4, 2013 - 11:59
Path: /college-football/georgia-bulldogs-2013-spring-football-preview

For the second year in a row, Mark Richt's Bulldogs came up just shy of an SEC championship. This time, Georgia missed a chance at the national title game by just five yards. Yet, the 2013 team will look dramatically different than the last two SEC East champs. Massive defensive turnover, a huge influx of early enrollees and the return of arguably the most talented offense in the conference should make spring practice in Athens extremely entertaining.

Georgia Bulldogs 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 12-2 (7-1)

Spring practice dates: March 2-April 6

Returning Starters: Offense – 8, Defense – 3

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Aaron Murray, 249-of-386, 3,893 yds., 36 TDs, 10 INTs
Rushing: Todd Gurley, 222 car., 1,385 yds., 17 TDs
Receiving: Malcolm Mitchell, 40 rec., 572 yds, 4 TDs
Tackles: Amarlo Herrera, 70
Sacks: Jordan Jenkins, 5
Interceptions: Damian Swann, 4

Redshirts to watch: DL Jonathan Taylor, LB Leonard Floyd

JUCO Transfers to Watch: DB Shaquille Fluker, DB Kennar Johnson, DL Chris Mayes, WR Jonathon Rumph, DL Toby Johnson

2013 Schedule

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

Offensive Strength: The backfield. Few teams in the nation will return a backfield combination like Georgia. Aaron Murray at quarterback and Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall at running back gives Richt possibly the best passing-running options in the nation.

Offensive Weakness: Pass catchers. Frankly, there is no weakness on this UGA offense although there is no established star pass-catcher at either wideout or tight end. There is loads of upside with guys like Malcolm Mitchell and Arthur Lynch, but having to replace the likes of Tavarres King and Marlon Brown might be the only concern on offense (if there is one).

Defensive Strength: Depth. This team has loads of talent all over the depth chart. Young names like Ray Drew at end, Damian Swann and Josh Harvey-Clemons in the secondary and Jordan Jenkins at linebacker give this team plenty of elite options.

Defensive Weakness: Experience. Giving the Dawgs three official returning starters might be generous. Twelve contributors departed this defense in the offseason, including 10 of the top 14 tacklers from a year ago. That includes the top four stoppers. Finding dependable bodies and leadership will be paramount this spring.

Spring Storylines Facing the Bulldogs:

1. Find a pass rush on defense. Jarvis Jones, despite some injuries, has been one of the nation's most productive pass rushers over the last two years. Alec Ogletree, Cornelius Washington, Abry Jones and a pair of massive nose tackles must also be replaced in the front seven. Getting the right bodies into the right positions in Todd Grantham's 3-4 scheme has to be the primary focus this spring. Will Ray Drew take the next step on the edge of the line? Can Jordan Jenkins become the next Jones in just his second season? There is plenty of talent but Grantham and new line coach Chris Wilson need to get their rotation in order this spring.

2. What will the secondary look like? The front will have a lot of new faces but so will the defensive backfield. Bacarri Rambo and Shawn Williams are gone from the safety position while Branden Smith and Sanders Commings depart on the outside. Damian Swann could become a star and guys like Harvey-Clemons could develop into All-SEC-type talents. However, there is little experience on the backend and this spring should help develop the next line of defense.

3. Stay healthy along the line of scrimmage. This offensive line could be the best Richt has had in his long tenure in Athens. That is, if it can stay healthy. Chris Burnette (shoulder) and John Theus (foot) will both miss spring practice, giving some of the young bodies a chance to get reps. Getting them healthy and keeping the rest of the starting five — Kenarious Gates, Dallas Lee and David Andrews — at full steam will be important this offseason.

4. Allow the newcomers to compete. Richt welcomes 13 early enrollees in what might one of the biggest such classes in the history of college football. Two junior college prospects, one prep schooler and 10 true freshman will take part in spring practice one semester earlier than . Tray Matthews, Brice Ramsey and Tramel Terry were all nationally ranked prospects in this haul.

5. Finalize the pass-catching rotation. Malcolm Mitchell will be a superstar if given the chance to shine on one side of the ball. He should be Murray's top target this fall — and spring — and will be backed up by a host of talented weapons. Arthur Lynch and Jay Rome need to take the next steps in their development at tight end and someone else needs to step up in place of the injured Michael Bennett. Chris Conley, Rantavious Wooten, Justin Scott-Wesley and Rhett McGowan will all get plenty of reps.

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Post date: Monday, March 4, 2013 - 08:45