Articles By Braden Gall

Path: /college-football/recruiting-ranking-secs-best-football-rosters

Preseason prognosticators like Athlon Sports — the on newsstands — use many things to attempt to predict what the coming football season will look like. Returning starters, scheduling, historic trends, coaching, pending off-the-field issues and, of course, recruiting rankings all help Athlon editors predict the future of .

Recruiting rankings have their detractors. Yes, evaluating 16- and 17-year-old kids is an inexact science. No, star rankings aren’t the only thing that matters. Yes, leadership (e.g., Nick Saban) is more important than national recruiting rankings (See Auburn).

But using national team recruiting rankings to attempt to pinpoint how “talented” any given roster is can be an interesting and illuminating practice.

For the sake of this discussion, the 2013 conference alignment was used to calculate, rank and organize teams and leagues. national team rankings over a five-year span (2008-12) were used for the sake of consistency. And the 72 “BCS” conference teams as well as Notre Dame, Boise State and BYU were used to form the 75-team ranking.

Therefore, in the SEC rankings below, fans will find where Texas A&M and Missouri have been ranked in the team rankings.

So what do the team recruiting rankings teach us about the SEC:

He who has the best players, wins the game
In the Big 12, Kansas State overachieves while Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech do the same in the ACC. But in the SEC, the champions have the best players. Alabama tops the recruiting rankings (1.8) and has the most SEC wins (35-5). Florida is No. 2 in SEC recruiting (6.2) and is No. 2 in wins (29-11). LSU is third on the recruiting trail (8.6) and third in the SEC in wins (28-12). Finally, Georgia is fourth in recruiting rankings (9.0) and fourth in wins (27-13). In the nation’s toughest league, it couldn’t be clearer that he who has the best players wins the most games.

What happened to Auburn and Tennessee?
Since the 2008 football season, the Tigers and Vols have had a combined seven different coaches. They are two of the SEC’s biggest underachievers and one of the obvious reasons has been coaching, because both programs recruit at an elite level. Auburn has the 10th best roster in the nation just behind Ohio State and Oklahoma and just ahead of Michigan and Notre Dame. Tennessee is 14th nationally, just ahead of Oregon and Clemson and just behind Miami since 2008. Needless to say, the coaching has been the issue. Auburn is just 17-23 in league play over that span — including an 8-0 national championship season — and the Vols are even worse at 12-28. Fans have been moaning that both programs haven’t been recruiting at a level required to win in the SEC (especially in Knoxville). The facts indicate this couldn’t be further from the truth. Top 20 classes, most of which were ranked in the top half of the SEC, were not the problem, the coaching was. According to the rankings, both rosters roster are more talented than South Carolina, Texas A&M, Arkansas and Missouri.

Rich Get Richer-er
The SEC is the best conference. There is no arguing that. Commitment from boosters, fans and administrations is a big reason why. But having the best players helps, too. Of the best 25 rosters in the nation over the last five seasons, nine of them hail from the SEC. And that doesn’t include consistent bowl teams like Arkansas, Missouri and Mississippi State. Ole Miss, which has won four SEC games in the last three years, is ranked 23rd among power conference teams in terms of recruiting. This makes it all the more difficult for the lower-tier programs to develop into contenders.

Bobby Petrino is THAT good
From 2009 to 2011, Arkansas was 29-10 overall and 15-9 in the SEC under Bobby Petrino. His recruiting classes in Fayetteville ranked no higher than seventh (2009) in the SEC recruiting rankings and cracked the top 20 nationally just once. Otherwise, Arkansas finished ninth or tenth in the SEC rankings every cycle. It proves that not only can a team win big in the SEC (10-11 wins) with a recruiting class ranked outside of the top 20 but that Petrino (aka, elite leadership) was the great equalizer. As soon as he stepped away, the 10th-best roster in the league played like it, finishing 4-8 after back-to-back 10-win seasons. Beware Sun Belt, beware.

Dan Mullen is Petrino-lite
Mississippi State ranks 12th in the SEC and last in the West in terms of talent over the last five years. Yet, the Mullen-led Bulldogs have won 24 games in the last three seasons including three bowl appearances. Hail State has also had nine players selected in the last three NFL Drafts including a first-rounder in each of the last two seasons. Breaking through against LSU or Alabama (and now Texas A&M) is a tall order, but for a team ranked last in the SEC West in terms of talent to win eight games per season is incredibly impressive.

James Franklin isn’t done yet
Vanderbilt has the “worst” roster in the SEC according to the rankings as it has had one class inside of the top 60 over the last five seasons (29th in 2012). Yet, somehow Franklin and his band of merry men got the Commodores to back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history. His 2013 class could be the best in the history of the program, so the sky is the limit for this coaching staff once it gets its hands on elite prospects.

Missouri is in for a tough time
The Tigers were 19-14 in Big 12 play over the four years prior to joining the SEC. That is slightly better than average in a league that is perceived to be vastly inferior. Gary Pinkel might be the Tigers' best coach ever, but his current roster ranks 11th in the SEC and it showed with a 2-6 debut performance. This coaching staff will have to consistently overachieve on the field if it expects to compete, because it doesn’t appear Mizzou will be able to attract equivalent talent — despite the once-in-a-while prospects along the lines of a Blaine Gabbert, Sheldon Richardson or Dorial Green-Beckham.

Sleeping giant awakes
Unlike Mizzou, the Texas A&M Aggies are built for long-term, big-time success in the SEC. They have a better natural recruiting base, a richer tradition of winning and dramatically better fan support. This team has recruited at an SEC level (19th nationally over the last five years) and appears to be poised to continue to blossom into a recruiting powerhouse in the Lone Star State. Of course, it takes the right coach leading the way, and in Kevin Sumlin, Aggieland feels like they have found their guy. Winning double-digit games and a Heisman Trophy right out of the gate doesn't hurt either.

What makes Hugh Freeze any different?
Ole Miss has recruited at a surprisingly high level for a team that has been the laughing stock of the league. The Rebels' average class ranked 24.8 nationally, including three straight top 20 classes from 2009-11. Yet, the Rebs went 31-32 overall and just 13-27 in the league over that span. New coach Freeze got fans excited in Oxford with the most surprising 7-6 season in recent SEC memory. And his 2013 signing class is pushing for top 10 status. The pressure will be on the new staff to prove 2012 was no fluke and that they will have a different fate than Ed Orgeron or Houston Nutt — two guys who recruited extremely well but didn’t win many games. 


SEC's National Team Recruiting Rankings Breakdown:

Rank Team Avg Nat'l Rank "BCS" Rank 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Record (Conf.)
1. Alabama 1.8 1st 1st 1st 5th 1st 1st 61-8 (35-5)
2. Florida 6.2 4th 3rd 11th 2nd 12th 3rd 52-15 (29-11)
3. LSU 8.6 6th 11th 2nd 6th 6th 18th 51-15 (28-12)
4. Georgia 9.0 7th 7th 6th 15th 5th 12th 46-21 (27-13)
5. Auburn 12.0 10th 20th 19th 4th 7th 10th 38-26 (17-23)
6. Tennessee 16.8 14th 35th 10th 9th 13th 17th 28-34 (12-28)
7. South Carolina 19.0 18th 22nd 12th 24th 18th 19th 45-21 (24-16)
8. Texas A&M 19.4 19th 16th 22nd 17th 27th 15th 37-27 (21-20)
9. Ole Miss 24.8 23rd 29th 18th 18th 19th 40th 31-32 (13-27)
10. Arkansas 31.8 27th 36th 16th 49th 24th 34th 38-25 (19-21)
11. Missouri 33.0 31st 25th 40th 21st 48th 31st 41-23 (21-20)
12. Mississippi St 36.2 34th 44th 25th 38th 44th 30th 31-28 (15-25)
13. Kentucky 54.2 56th 57th 41st 50th 61st 62nd 27-36 (9-31)
14. Vanderbilt 64.2 63rd 90th 71st 61st 70th 29th 26-37 (12-28)

<p> Recruiting: Ranking the SEC's Best Football Rosters</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - 09:05
Path: /college-football/recruiting-ranking-big-12s-best-football-rosters

Preseason prognosticators like Athlon Sports — the on newsstands — use many things to attempt to predict what the coming football season will look like. Returning starters, scheduling, historic trends, coaching, pending off-the-field issues and, of course, recruiting rankings all help Athlon editors predict the future of .

Recruiting rankings have their detractors. Yes, evaluating 16- and 17-year-old kids is an inexact science. No, star rankings aren’t the only thing that matters. Yes, leadership (e.g., Nick Saban) is more important than national recruiting rankings (See Auburn).

But using national team recruiting rankings to attempt to pinpoint how “talented” any given roster is an interesting and illuminating practice.

For the sake of this discussion, the 2013 conference alignment was used to calculate, rank and organize teams and leagues. national team rankings over a five-year span (2008-12) were used for the sake of consistency. And the 72 “BCS” conference teams as well as Notre Dame, Boise State and BYU were used to form the 75-team ranking.

Therefore, in the Big 12 rankings below fans will find where TCU and West Virginia have been ranked in the team rankings while Nebraska, Texas A&M and Missouri are not included.

So what do the team recruiting rankings teach us about the Big 12:

Mack Brown is doing something wrong
There are two rosters in the nation that are better than Mack Brown’s according to the team composite recruiting rankings. Alabama and USC are the only two teams to have recruited better than Texas since 2008. Yet, the Longhorns are 26-16 in the last five years in Big 12 play, and what’s worse, are just 11-15 in the last three years (Texas went 15-1 in 2008-09). Yes, he took Texas to two BCS title games in a four-year span, but after multiple changes on his staff, Brown’s teams have massively underachieved for three straight seasons. Once again, Brown will enter this season with new coaches on his sideline, and once again, the pressure will be on his team to achieve. Especially, considering what Art Briles, Bill Snyder and Mike Gundy have done with much lesser talent.

Bill Snyder is the greatest coach on the planet
Of the 75 teams ranked in this study, the Wildcats claim the 60th best roster in the nation. Iowa State is the only team with a “worse” roster in the Big 12. Kansas State ranks well behind a number of struggling programs like Maryland (33rd) and Colorado (49th) nationally and is looking up at in-state rival Kansas (44th) in terms of overall talent. Yet, the Jayhawks have won just two of their last 32 Big 12 games while Snyder’s squad is 22-12 over that span. The ageless wonder hasn’t had a losing season in his second stint in Manhattan and is proving in remarkable — and championship — fashion why his name is atop the stadium in the Little Apple. No coach has done more with less nationally than Bill Snyder.

Oklahoma State better keep Mike Gundy happy
After Gundy flirted with the SEC this offseason, the powers that be in Stillwater locked him up for the long term. And rightly so. His team is 49-16 overall and 30-12 in the Big 12 over the last five years and Gundy has done it without one Top 25 recruiting class. His best class was 26th in 2008 and the Cowboys sit at an average national ranking of 30.6 over the last five years. Yet, he continues to produce huge numbers — Okie State had three 1,000-yard passers in 2012 — and win games. Only the Sooners (32-10) and Bob Stoops have a better Big 12 record over the last five years than Oklahoma State. There is no reason for Gundy to leave his alma mater, so imagine what he could do if he has enough time to build his brand to a point where he is landing top 10 classes?

This isn’t the Mountain West… or Big East
West Virginia was 20-8 and never lost more than two games in conference play the four years prior to joining the Big 12. TCU was 30-1 in the Mountain West over that same span. But in year one of Big 12 play, these two combined for 10 league losses in 2012 and will be facing the Big 12 big boys from now on. There is good news, however, as Gary Patterson appears to be growing the Horned Frogs’ brand on the recruiting trail, going from 96th to 26th in the recruiting rankings from 2008 to 2011. West Virginia is currently ranked fifth in the Big 12 in terms of talent, meaning, they were recruiting at a comparable level to most of the Big 12 prior to entering the league. Good things will come, but clearly an adjustment period is to be expected.

Underachieve doesn’t even begin to describe Kansas
Want some perspective on how poorly Kansas has played the last five seasons? The Jayhawks rank ahead of Wisconsin, Louisville, Boise State, Oregon State, Georgia Tech, TCU and, most importantly, Kansas State in terms of talent. But they have won a total of six league games — four of which came in 2008 — over the last five years. The Jayhawks are 2-32 in their last four Big 12 seasons and have out-recruited the likes of Baylor, TCU and Kansas State. These rankings don’t even include landing two of the best QB prospects in the nation the last few seasons in transfers Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps. Where is Mark Mangino’s tough love now?


Big 12's National Team Recruiting Rankings Breakdown:

  Team Avg Nat'l Rank "BCS" Rank 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Record (Conf.)
1. Texas 5.4 3rd 14th 5th 3rd 3rd 2nd 47-19 (26-16)
2. Oklahoma 10.2 9th 6th 13th 7th 14th 11th 52-15 (32-10)
3. Oklahoma St 30.6 26th 26th 36th 31st 28th 32nd 49-16 (30-12)
4. Texas Tech 33.0 29th 45th 33rd 41st 20th 26th 41-23 (21-21)
5. West Virginia 38.2 36th 42nd 27th 27th 47th 48th 44-21 (24-13)
6. Kansas 46.8 44th 40th 31st 55th 34th 74th 19-42 (6-36)
7. Baylor 47.2 46th 51st 55th 39th 46th 45th 33-30 (17-25)
8. TCU 50.2 51st 96th 46th 46th 26th 37th 54-11 (34-6)
9. Kansas St 61.6 60th 27th 92nd 63rd 68th 58th 39-24 (24-18)
10. Iowa St 66.6 65th 62nd 73rd 60th 51st 87th 26-37 (12-30)

<p> Recruiting: Ranking the Big 12's Best Football Rosters</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - 09:00
Path: /nfl/nfls-all-time-super-bowl-team

In selecting an all-time Super Bowl team, it is important to establish clear criteria. While there is nothing more subjective than all-time teams, the criteria certainly includes individual performance, but performance that leads to team success carries more weight. Multiple game appearances help, so longevity counts too.

All-time Super Bowl Team:

Joe Montana, QB, San Francisco
This is one of a couple of positions where there is no argument. With four Super Bowl wins, Montana has a career passer rating of 127.8, the best ever. Joe Cool tossed 11 touchdown passes to six different receivers with no interceptions. During his Super Bowl career, he threw 28 passes on third down, completing 19 of them for 14 first downs and one touchdown. There has been no one better in the big game.

Notables: John Elway, Denver; Tom Brady, New England; Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh; Kurt Warner, St. Louis and Arizona

Franco Harris, RB, Pittsburgh
There is no shortage of candidates at running back. Harris rushed for 354 yards in Pittsburgh’s four Super wins in the 1970s and had another 114 yards receiving. In the four games, Harris had 18 touches on third down resulting in 10 first downs and three touchdowns. And Harris is the only runner with more than 100 carries in history.

Roger Craig, RB, San Francisco
In three Super Bowls for San Francisco, all wins, Craig amassed 413 yards from scrimmage with four touchdowns, including 101 yards receiving in Super Bowl XXIII.

Notables: Larry Csonka, Miami; Emmitt Smith, Dallas; Terrell Davis, Denver; John Riggins, Washington; Marcus Allen, LA Raiders

Jerry Rice, WR, San Francisco 
Rice is another no-brainer. Let’s see: most Super Bowl receptions in a career (33), most yards receiving in a career (589) and game (215), most yards from scrimmage in a career (604), the only player to score three TDs in a game twice. Oh, and he earned an MVP. And 77 of his receiving yards and a touchdown came at age 40 for Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Lynn Swann, WR, Pittsburgh
Fans who saw him in the Super Bowl probably remember flying, acrobatic catches. But Swann meant more to the Steelers than just a couple of circus catches. He is second all-time with 364 receiving yards, all coming in three Super Bowls. In his first Super Bowl appearance with the Steelers, Swann was limited to punt return duty.

Notables: Deion Branch, New England; John Stallworth, Pittsburgh; Andre Reed, Buffalo; Isaac Bruce, St. Louis; Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona

Jay Novacek, TE, Dallas
One of quarterback Troy Aikman’s favorite clutch targets, Novacek scored the first Dallas touchdown in Super Bowls XXVII and XXX. In three wins he totaled 148 yards and two scores on 17 catches.

Notables: Shannon Sharpe, Denver and Baltimore; Marv Fleming, Green Bay and Miami

Jon Kolb, LT, Pittsburgh
The only constant along the Pittsburgh offensive line during their run of four Super Bowls in the 1970s, Kolb led the way for Franco Harris’ running and protected Terry Bradshaw in the passing game.

Notables: Mark Tuinei, Dallas; Matt Light, New England

Nate Newton, LG, Dallas
Emmitt Smith became the all-time leading NFL rusher thanks in large — and we do mean large — part to Newton. In Newton’s three Super Bowls, the Cowboys scored 52, 30 and 27 points.

Notable: Bob Kuechenberg, Miami; Russ Grimm, Washington

Jim Langer, C, Miami
Langer anchored the line during Miami’s back-to-back titles in the 1970s. In Super Bowl VIII, Miami rushed 53 times for 196 yards, most of it straight up the middle with bruiser Larry Csonka.

Notables: Ray Mansfield, Pittsburgh; Mike Webster, Pittsburgh

Joe Andruzzi, RG, New England
In three New England wins, the Patriots rushed for 372 yards, and Andruzzi helped protect MVP Tom Brady allowing him to stay comfortable in the pocket.

Notables: Jerry Kramer, Green Bay; Gerry Mullins, Pittsburgh; Larry Little, Miami

Erik Williams, RT, Dallas
The heart and soul of the Cowboys’ offensive machine was the offensive line. Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin were the beneficiaries.

Notables: Forrest Gregg, Green Bay; Norm Evans, Miami

Charles Haley, DE,  Dallas/San Francisco
Haley was more of an outside linebacker in the 3-4 with San Francisco. He is the only player to win five Super Bowls.

L.C. Greenwood, DE, Pittsburgh
An integral part of the Steel Curtain, Greenwood made gold shoes famous, and made life miserable for quarterbacks Roger Staubach, Fran Tarkenton and Vince Ferragamo.

Notables: Richard Seymour, New England; Reggie White, Green Bay; Dwight White, Pittsburgh, Willie Davis, Green Bay

Joe Greene, DT, Pittsburgh
As the heart of the front of the Steel Curtain, Greene intimidated quarterbacks, running backs and offensive linemen. In four Super wins, opponents averaged less than 100 yards rushing against Pittsburgh.

Russell Maryland, DT, Dallas
The offense received much of the credit, but Dallas recorded eight interceptions and held teams to less than four yards a carry in their three Super Bowl wins in the 1990s. Maryland was a load up front in all three games.

Notables: Jethro Pugh, Dallas; Manny Fernandez, Miami, Alan Page, Minnesota

Jack Lambert, MLB, Pittsburgh
Lambert was in the middle of all things defensively for the Steelers. Pittsburgh would not have been 4-0 without him.

Notables: Ray Nitschke, Green Bay; Nick Buoniconti, Miami

Jack Ham, OLB, Pittsburgh
Equally adept at covering the pass as playing the run, Ham excelled as Lambert’s wing man.

Keena Turner, OLB, San Francisco
Turner joins the Steelers’ pair as the only linebacker to claim a 4-0 record. In those four games teams rushed for less than 67 yards a game against the Niners. That made life easier for Joe Montana and company.

Notables: Tedy Bruschi, New England; Mike Vrabel, New England; Rod Martin, Oakland; James Harrison, Pittsburgh

Herb Adderley, CB, Green Bay/Dallas
Adderley was a member of Green Bay’s first two title teams, returning an interception 60 yards for a score in Super Bowl II. He played in two more for Dallas, winning one and losing one.

Mel Blount, CB, Pittsburgh
Blount played for four winners, and contributed with interceptions in both IX and XIII.

Notables: Ty Law, New England; Larry Brown, Dallas; Deion Sanders, San Francisco/Dallas; Tracy Porter, New Orleans

Jake Scott, SS, Miami
Scott intercepted Billy Kilmer twice in the Miami’s hard-fought 14-7 win in Super Bowl VII, earning MVP honors.

Notables: Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh; Charlie Waters, Dallas; Willie Wood, Green Bay; Mike Wagner, Pittsburgh

Ronnie Lott, FS, San Francisco
Instrumental in the Niners’ four Super Bowl wins, Lott played corner in the first two wins before moving to safety. None of his nine postseason interceptions came in the Super Bowl, probably because quarterbacks avoided him.

Notables: Cliff Harris, Dallas; Dick Anderson, Miami

Desmond Howard, KR/PR, Green Bay
Earned MVP honors in Super Bowl XXXI with a kick return for a touchdown, but also had two punt returns of more than 30 yards.

Devin Hester, KR/PR, Chicago
His 92-yard kick return set the tone for the Bears, but the offense couldn’t deliver a win.

Adam Vinatieri, K, New England/Indianapolis
Never has there been a more clutch kicker in the Super Bowl.

Larry Seiple, P, Miami
Always a threat to take off and run (also played some tight end), Seiple kept the Redskins and Vikings bottled up in VII and VIII.

Chuck Noll, Head Coach, Pittsburgh
An easy choice, Noll is the only coach to win four. He won with defense, running and passing. His Pittsburgh teams were complete and dominant.

Notables: Vince Lombardi, Green Bay; Bill Belichick, New England; Bill Walsh, San Francisco, Tom Coughlin, NY Giants; Jimmy Johnson, Dallas

<p> Athlon picks the best that have ever stepped foot on the big stage.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - 07:20
Path: /college-football/11-biggest-five-star-busts-last-five-years

The top 10 players in the 2008 included Julio Jones (No. 2), Da’Quan Bowers (No. 4), A.J. Green (No. 6), Arthur Brown (No. 7), Patrick Peterson (No. 9) and Terrelle Pryor (No. 1). Others like Matt Kalil, Tyron Smith, EJ Manuel, Michael Floyd, Kyle Rudolph and Michael Brewster were also “five-star” talents.

“Five-Star” is defined many different ways. use to automatically give the top 50 players in every class a fifth star until it changed that approach this cycle (there are 42 for the 2013 class). Rivals and 247 Sports give roughly 30 per year — give or take a few each year based on merit. For example, Rivals’ 2013 class includes 33 five-stars, the 2012 class had 32 and the 2011 class had just 26. ESPN has recently added stars to its ranking process and is far more prudent with its five-star rankings. The 2012 and 2013 classes feature just 11 five-stars each.

That doesn't mean, however, that these five-star prospects are guaranteed success on the college level. Players transfer, are kicked out of school, can't stay eligible or simply aren't as good as anticipated. A big-time recruit can earn the "bust" label for a number of reasons. For the sake of this discussion, Athlon Sports considers the Top 30 players in the as five-star talents and only players in the last five classes (2008-12) are considered.

So who are the biggest five-star busts of the last five years?

1. Dayne Crist, QB, Notre Dame (2008)
Canoga Park (Calif.) Notre Dame
AC100 No. 20, No. 2 QB

Injuries certainly played a large role in Crist being labeled a bust, but he has had his chances and failed to even come close to his lofty recruiting status. He played in 13 games for Notre Dame in three years (2,163 yards, 16 TD, 8 INT) before transferring to Kansas to reunite with Charlie Weis. At KU, he had yet another shot at being the star, but managed to throw just four touchdowns and nine interceptions this fall (1,313 yards). He trailed only Terrelle Pryor in the '08 quarterback rankings.

2. Bryce Brown, RB, Tennessee (2009)
Wichita (Kan.) East
AC100 No. 4, No. 1 RB

The recruiting process for the top running back of the 2009 class was a circus. He eventually signed with the Vols nearly two months following National Signing Day. He showed ability, rushing for 460 yards and three scores as a freshman. But in the offseason, he left Knoxville to return home to play at Kansas State. He played two games for the Wildcats, rushing for a total of 16 yards on three carries. Regardless of what Brown does in the NFL, his college career must be considered a bust for not one but two college programs.

3. Jermie Calhoun, RB, Oklahoma (2008)
Van (Texas) High
AC100 No. 10, No. 2 RB

The Van High School running back was the highest rated running back recruit to sign with Oklahoma since Adrian Peterson. He never lived up to his lofty top ten status. He played 16 career games, rushing for 242 yards and one career touchdown. He injured his knee and missed all of 2011 before transferring to Angelo State in December 2011.

4. Blake Ayles, TE, USC (2008)
Orange (Calif.) Lutheran
AC100 No. 15, No. 1 TE

Ayles played for two seasons at USC, catching just 14 passes for 182 yards and one touchdown. He then transferred to Miami and was set to contribute in 2011 before a preseason concussion ended his college career. He never played another down and went undrafted in the 2012 NFL Draft. It was an unfortunate end for what appeared to be a very promising career for what was considered the best player at his position in the nation.

5. Dorian Bell, LB, Ohio State (2008)
Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway
AC100 No. 11, No. 2 LB

A freakish athlete, Bell could never get his head screwed on straight off the field. Behavior and focus were concerns long before he signed with Ohio State and they continued after he showed up in Columbus. After redshirting in 2009 and playing on special teams in 2010, he was suspended for the 2011 season as one of the 12 involved in Tatoo-Gate. He transferred to Duquesne as a result. He has posted 129 tackles in 15 games for the Dukes.

6. Tyler Love, OL, Alabama (2008)
Mountain Brook (Ala.) High
AC100 No. 23, No. 3 OL

Nick Saban has rarely missed on five-star talent but Love will end his Tide career as an afterthought on some of the most talented teams in program history. He played a total of 12 games in his four-year career (one in 2011 and six in 2009) and will earn two national championship rings. He decided to step away from football after the 2011 season with one year of eligibility remaining.

7. Russell Shepard, WR, LSU (2009)
Houston (Texas) Cypress Ridge
AC100 No. 2, No. 2 QB

Shepard did play 48 games in his LSU career and he did technically play in a national championship game (1 solo tackle). But he finished his career without making any major impact at any one position despite being ranked behind only Matt Barkley in the '09 AC100. He posted 570 yards receiving and rushed for 716 yards over the course of his career, but he never threw a pass at QB and never became a focal point of the offense. His career high in offensive touches for a single-season was 65 in 2010. To be ranked the No. 2 player in the nation, Shepard must be considered a bust.

8. B.J. Scott, ATH, Alabama (2008)
Prichard (Ala.) Vigor
AC100 No. 22, No. 2 ATH

Scott projected as an “athlete” because he had potential at both defensive back and wide receiver. It turns out that he wasn’t good enough at either. He saw time as a freshman at wide receiver catching two passes before redshirting in 2009. He then played six games as a sophomore at defensive back making six total tackles. He transferred to South Alabama and eventually landed back in FBS football when USA joined the Sun Belt in 2012. He had 84 tackles in 2012.

9. Randall Carroll, WR, UCLA (2009)
Inglewood (Calif.) Cathedral
AC100 No. 29, No. 4 WR

The speed demon had loads of ability but couldn’t ever get his game together. He played 34 games in three years before being dismissed from the team in January 2012. Carroll was involved in Twitter wars with his coaching staff, a bench-clearing brawl with Arizona and academic ineptitude during his time in Westwood. You have to produce more than 21 catches, 297 yards and two touchdowns for a program to put up with that much poor behavior.

10. Chris Martin, DL, Cal (2010)
Aurora (Colo.) Grandview
AC100 No. 19, No. 4 DE

After playing high school football for more than one program, Martin is set to play for his fourth college in 2013. He committed to Notre Dame, signed with Cal, transferred to Florida before playing a down and ultimately left Gainesville for City College of San Francisco. He then signed with Kansas in December and it turns out he actually will play for Charlie Weis — but at Kansas instead of Notre Dame. Martin could still alter his legacy, but great players don’t normally play for four different teams in four years.

Others receiving votes:

There are plenty of other names who could eventually land on the above list as well. It is simply too early to evaluate all of the 2010, '11 and '12 classes. Kyle Prater and Darius White, for example, were complete busts for USC and Texas respectively but both have second chances coming in 2013 for Northwestern and Missouri. The same could be said for Jeff Luc at Florida State, Arthur Lynch at Notre Dame or Lache Seastrunk at Oregon. The stud athletes are certainly considered busts by the fans in Tallahassee, South Bend and Eugene no matter what they do at Cincinnati, Florida or Baylor.


Darius Winston, DB, Arkansas (2009)
West Helena (Ark.) Central
AC100 No. 22, No. 2 CB

Winston wasn’t kicked out of school and didn’t transfer, but he also did very little of consequence while in Fayetteville. He played in 37 games and made a total of 52 tackles in four years. He had one career interception and set a career high with 23 tackles in 2010. For a school like the Hogs who don't land five-star talent very often, it hurts that much more to "miss" on a five-star.

Darrell Scott, RB, Colorado (2008)
AC100 No. 3, No. 1 RB

Garrett Gilbert, QB, Texas (2008)
AC100 No. 9, No. 3 QB

T.J. Bryant, CB, USC (2008)
AC100 No. 28, No. 2 DB

Patrick Hall, ATH, USC (2009)
AC100 No. 30, No. 1 ATH

Kyle Prater, WR, USC (2010)
AC100 No. 6, No. 2 WR

Darius White, WR, Texas (2010)
AC100 No. 12, No. 3 WR

Malcolm Jones, RB, UCLA (2010)
AC100 No. 29, No. 6 RB

Isaiah Crowell, RB, Georgia (2011)
AC100 No. 9, No. 2 RB

<p> 10 Biggest Five-Star Busts of the Last Five Years</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - 06:10
Path: /college-football/2013-football-recruiting-rankings-running-backs

National Signing Day 2013 is right around the corner and Athlon Sports is releasing its position-by-position rankings for the Class of 2013 based on the . Who is left on the board? Who has the best class at one position? Who had positional needs to fill? And, obviously, who are the stars of tomorrow fans can look forward to at every position?

It's no wonder Nick Saban and Alabama can claim the best class of running backs in the nation for 2013. Saban currently has three AC100 runners committed as the nation's No. 1 (Derrick Henry), No. 10 (Altee Tenpenny) and No. 13 (Tyren Jones) are all headed to Tuscaloosa. Henry and his massive 6-3, 240-pound frame could easily end up on defense or as an H-Back, but this group ensures that the Crimson Tide's recent run of elite running backs (Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy, T.J. Yeldon) will continue.

Notre Dame, Oregon, Michigan and USC all landed a pair of elite prospects at the position as well. Ty Isaac and Justin Davis have big frames and offer Lane Kiffin some versatility in the backfield while Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston are smaller, speedier options that Brian Kelly can count on.

Brady Hoke has two excellent options that give his offense exactly what he has been missing in Ann Arbor: A burly, workhorse, three-down power back. Derrick Green is a superstar in the making and can carry the ball 25 times a game while DeVeon Smith brings his own 210-pound frame to the offense. With these two names, Hoke has Michigan poised to return to its I-Form roots in 2013.

Mark Helfrich will already have a loaded backfield in 2013 as he takes over for Chip Kelly with De'Anthony Thomas and Byron Marshall returning. But the record-setting Thomas Tyner and speedy Dontre Wilson gives the Ducks one of the deepest and most talented backfields in the nation.

Oklahoma, Florida State, Virginia, Ohio State, Clemson, Nebraska, South Carolina, Clemson and Wisconsin all are poised to add their future workhorse in this class. Florida also landed its workhorse to replace Mike Gillislee and Gators fans know all about Kelvin Taylor. The son of Fred Taylor is an immediate impact player and has been a prep star in The Sunshine State since his eighth grade season — when he played on the high school varsity squad.

Of the top 25 running backs, all but two are committed, but those names left on the board are elite. Alex Collins and Alvin Kamara are each capable of competing for carries early in 2013. Collins is's No. 1 running back and Kamara will pick between Alabama and Georgia. 

An interesting thing to note: Five of the top nine running back prospects are from the state of Florida and 16 of the top 88 players in the nation project as running backs. This appears to be a very deep and talented class of ball carriers.

2013 Positional Rankings: QB | | WR | TE | | DL | | DB | ATH

  Name AC100 Hometown Ht Wt Verbal
1. Derrick Henry No. 12 Yulee, FL 6-3 240 Alabama
2. Thomas Tyner No. 20 Beaverton, OR 6-0 205 Oregon
3. Kelvin Taylor No. 22 Belle Glade, FL 5-10 215 Florida
4. Keith Ford No. 24 Cypress, TX 5-11 203 Oklahoma
5. Derrick Green No. 26 Richmond, VA 6-0 225 Michigan
6. Alex Collins No. 41 Ft. Lauderdale, FL 5-11 205 --
7. Alvin Kamara No. 42 Norcross, GA 5-10 195 --
8. Greg Bryant No. 46 Delray Beach, FL 5-11 195 Notre Dame
9. Ryan Green No. 50 St. Petersburg, FL 5-10 195 Florida St
10. Altee Tenpenny No. 54 North Little Rock, AR 5-11 215 Alabama
11. Ty Isaac No. 55 Joliet, IL 6-1 215 USC
12. Taquan Mizell No. 60 Virginia Beach, VA 5-10 180 Virginia
13. Tyren Jones No. 66 Marietta, GA 5-8 200 Alabama
14. Ezekiel Elliot No. 69 St. Louis, MO 6-0 195 Ohio St
15. Dontre Wilson No. 71 DeSoto, TX 5-10 170 Oregon
16. Justin Davis No. 88 Stockton, CA 6-1 195 USC
17. Tarean Folston No. 112 Cocoa, FL 5-9 185 Notre Dame
18. Terrell Newby No. 123 West Hills, CA 5-10 185 Nebraska
19. DeVeon Smith No. 134 Warren, OH 5-11 210 Michigan
20. Kailo Moore No. 138 Rosedale, MS 5-10 190 Ole Miss
21. Corey Clement No. 139 Glassboro, NJ 5-11 205 Wisconsin
22. TJ Logan No. 157 Greensboro, NC 5-11 175 North Carolina
23. Tyshon Dye No. 201 Elberton, GA 6-0 210 Clemson
24. David Williams No. 205 Philadelphia, PA 6-0 195 South Carolina
25. Mark Dodson Jr. No. 217 Memphis, TN 5-10 185 Ole Miss
26. Kyle Hicks No. 226 Arlington, TX 5-10 195 TCU

View the complete 

Recruiting Videos:

<p> 2013 Football Recruiting Rankings: Running Backs</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/greatest-non-bcs-offenses-bcs-era

The BCS recently wrapped up its 15th season of action and Athlon Sports is continuing its series of BCS rankings. We ranked the best performances of each BCS bowl game and we ranked the best teams of each BCS conference. Now, we break down the top offensive units of the BCS era (1998-present).

Statistics, awards, championships and NFL talent were all considered and evaluated in order to label the Top 12 offenses of the BCS era. Only teams from "non-BCS" conferences were considered. For BCS conference offenses, check out

1. Houston Cougars, 2011 (13-1)
Rushing Offense: 149.0 ypg (68th)
Passing Offense: 450.1 ypg (1st)
Total Offense: 599.1 ypg (1st)
Scoring Offense: 49.3 ppg (1st)

In 2011, Case Keenum led the nation in total offense (404.7 ypg) and finished fourth nationally in passing efficiency. This team topped 50 points six times and topped 70 twice en route to a 12-0 regular season. This team was fourth nationally in turnover margin due in large part to only 15 turnovers by the offense (7th nationally). Receivers Patrick Edwards and Justin Johnson finished 1-2 in receiving yards per game in C-USA and three of the top five C-USA pass-catchers (by receptions) came from Houston. Edwards also led the league in all-purpose running (140.6 ypg). Only a conference title game loss to Southern Miss cost Houston a perfect season and potential BCS bowl berth. This squad posted non-conference wins over UCLA, Penn State and Louisiana Tech.

2. Houston Cougars, 2009 (10-4)
Rushing Offense: 129.6 ypg (83rd)
Passing Offense: 433.7 ypg (1st)
Total Offense: 563.4 ypg (1st)
Scoring Offense: 42.2 ppg (1st)

In 2009, Case Keenum led the nation in total offense (416.4 ypg) and finished sixth nationally in passing efficiency. Three receivers finished in the top six in receptions in C-USA, and three of the top eight yardage totals in C-USA came from James Cleveland, Tyron Carrier and Patrick Edwards. Sprinkle in talented and versatile backs Bryce Beall and Charles Sims — who combined for 373 touches, 2,438 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns — and you have the second-best non-BCS offense in college football. This unit was surpassed only by another Keenum-led offense, the one that would come two seasons after these Cougars.

3. Louisville Cardinals, 2004 (11-1)
Rushing Offense: 250.4 ypg (8th)
Passing Offense: 288.6 ypg (9th)
Total Offense: 539.0 ypg (1st)
Scoring Offense: 49.8 ppg (1st)

Stefan Lefors led the nation in passing efficiency at 181.74 after completing an astonishing 73.5 percent of his passes with 20 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Eric Shelton (146 att., 938 yards, 20 TD), Michael Bush (132 att., 734 yards, 7 TD) and Lionel Gates (76 att., 373 yards, 7 TD) led one of the most powerful rushing attacks in C-USA history. This team crushed North Carolina in Chapel Hill (34-0), topped a top 10 Boise State in the Liberty Bowl 44-40 and its only loss came against No. 3 Miami 41-38 on the road.

4. BYU Cougars, 2001 (12-2)
Rushing Offense: 217.9 ypg (13th)
Passing Offense: 325.0 ypg (1st)
Total Offense: 542.9 ypg (1st)
Scoring Offense: 46.8 ppg (1st)

This was the first team to go unbeaten in Mountain West play, led by quarterback Brandon Doman (3,542 yards, 33 TD, 8 INT, 456 rush yards, 8 TD) and running back Luke Staley (1,582 yards, 28 TD). Staley finished third in the nation in rushing and led the country in scoring. The Cougars' only two losses came after Staley broke his leg against Mississippi State.

5. Nevada Wolfpack, 2010 (13-1)
Rushing Offense: 292.2 ypg (3rd)
Passing Offense: 226.9 ypg (1st)
Total Offense: 519.1 ypg (1st)
Scoring Offense: 41.0 ppg (1st)

One of the most powerful rushing attacks ever seen featured dynamic quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who rushed for 1,206 yards (6.9 ypc) and 20 touchdowns, and tailback Vai Taua, who rushed for 1,610 yards (5.7 ypc) and 19 touchdowns. This team tied the 1986 13-1 team as the winningest Wolfpack team in program history and scored more points (574) than any other Nevada team. It also topped the 2010 Boise State Broncos (ranked No. 6 on this list) by three points in overtime.


6. Boise State Broncos, 2010 (12-1)
Rushing Offense: 200.2 ypg (21st)
Passing Offense: 321.1 ypg (6th)
Total Offense: 521.3 ypg (2nd)
Scoring Offense: 45.1 ppg (2nd)

The team with the most NFL talent on this list is undoubtedly the 2010 Broncos. Kellen Moore led the nation in passing efficiency (182.63) while using a plethora of future NFL players: Titus Young, Austin Pettis, Tyler Shoemaker, Doug Martin and Jeremy Avery. And if it wasn't for one missed field goal against Nevada, this team might have played for the national championship.

7. Tulsa Golden Hurricane, 2007 (10-4)
Rushing Offense: 172.9 ypg (41st)
Passing Offense: 371.0 ypg (1st)
Total Offense: 543.9 ypg (1st)
Scoring Offense: 41.1 ppg (1st)

Paul Smith put together one of the greatest statistical seasons in NCAA history — and fantasy owners will never forget it. He threw for 5,065 yards and 47 touchdowns in the air, while rushing for 13 more touchdowns and 119 yards on the ground. Tarrion Adams, Trae Johnson, Charles Clay, Jamad Williams and Jesse Meyer join Smith to make this one of the great offenses in history.

8. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, 2012 (9-3)
Rushing Offense: 227.2 (17th)
Passing Offense: 350.8 ypg (1st)
Total Offense: 577.9 ypg (1st)
Scoring Offense: 51.5 ppg (1st)

Quarterback Colby Cameron set the NCAA record for consecutive passes (444) without an interception while leading one of the best offenses in NCAA history. Wins over Illinois and Virginia weren't as impressive as the Big Ten and ACC conference affiliations attached to them but the Bulldogs took Texas A&M to the wire, losing 59-57. If not for two late losses — in which they scored 84 points — this team could be ranked higher. Wideout Quinton Patton led the league in receptions per game (8.7 pg) and yards (116 ypg) while Cameron led the league in total offense (360.3 ypg).

9. Hawaii Warriors, 2006 (11-3)
Rushing Offense: 117.9 ypg (82nd)
Passing Offense: 441.3 ypg (1st)
Total Offense: 559.2 ypg (1st)
Scoring Offense: 46.9 ppg (1st)

One of two fantastic Hawaii teams featured the most efficient season by a quarterback in NCAA history. Colt Brennan (186.00) led the nation in total offense (422.5 ypg), throwing for 5,549 yards and an NCAA-record 58 touchdown passes. He rushed for another five scores and 366 yards. Davone Bess, Nate Ilaoa, Jason Rivers, Ryan Grice-Mullen, Ian Sample and Ross Dickerson gave him plenty of weapons — all of whom caught at least 46 passes and produced at least 690 yards receiving.

10. Boise State Broncos, 2006 (13-0)
Rushing Offense: 214.2 ypg (6th)
Passing Offense: 206.5 ypg (1st)
Total Offense: 420.6 ypg (1st)
Scoring Offense: 39.7 ppg (1st)

You could make a case for both the 2002 and '04 teams for this list as well, but the undefeated '06 Broncos will easily be the most memorable. Quarterback Jared Zabransky finished sixth nationally in passing efficiency (162.57), while tailback Ian Johnson finished second nationally in rushing (142.8 ypg), and his 12.7 points per game led the nation. Of course, the 43-42 overtime win over Oklahoma — complete with Statue of Liberty and marriage proposal — make this offense one of the greats of all-time.


11. Miami (Ohio) Redhawks, 2003 (13-1)
Rushing Offense: 160.3 ypg (51st)
Passing Offense: 340.9 ypg (4th)
Total Offense: 501.1 ypg (2nd)
Scoring Offense: 43.0 ppg (1st)

Ben Roethlisberger's final year in Oxford, Ohio, was a magical one for Redhawks fans. Big Ben threw for 4,486 yards and 37 touchdowns (111 rush yards, 3 TDs) en route to the winningest season in program history. The 602 points the '03 outfit scored shattered the previous mark of 412 (1997).

12. Utah Utes, 2004 (12-0)
Rushing Offense: 236.1 ypg (13th)
Passing Offense: 263.7 ypg (1st)
Total Offense: 499.8 ypg (1st)
Scoring Offense: 45.3 ppg (1st)

The 2010 Ute team was a better all-around football team that defeated better competition. But the Alex Smith-led 2004 bunch was the highest-scoring team in Utah history. Smith finished No. 2 nationally in passing efficiency (176.52) and No. 5 in total offense (298.6 ypg). He was taken first overall by San Francisco and led the 49ers to a 13-3 record and the NFC Championship game in 2011. This season, he was off to a 6-2-1 start before sustaining a concussion and giving way to Colin Kaepernick.

<p> What are the nation's greatest non-BCS offenses of the modern era?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/recruiting-ranking-accs-best-football-rosters

Preseason prognosticators like Athlon Sports — the on the stand — use many things to attempt to predict what the coming football season will look like. Returning starters, scheduling, historic trends, coaching, pending off the field issues and, of course, recruiting rankings all help Athlon editors predict the future of .

Recruiting rankings have their detractors. Yes, evaluating 16- and 17-year-old kids is an inexact science. No, star rankings aren’t the only thing that matters. Yes, leadership (e.g., Nick Saban) is more important than national recruiting rankings (See Auburn).

But using national team recruiting rankings to attempt to pinpoint how “talented” any given roster is can be an interesting and illuminating practice.

For the sake of this discussion, the 2013 conference alignment was used to calculate, rank and organize teams and leagues. national team rankings over a five-year span (2008-12) were used for the sake of consistency. And the 72 “BCS” conference teams as well as Notre Dame, Boise State and BYU were used to form the 75-team ranking.

Therefore, in the ACC rankings below, fans will find where Pitt and Syracuse have been ranked in the team rankings.

So what do the team recruiting rankings teach us about the ACC:

Has Florida State underachieved?
There is little doubt which team in the ACC has the best rosters. The Florida State Seminoles have “won” the ACC recruiting crown four straight years and were No. 2 in 2008. Their national average of 6.8 is good for fifth nationally behind only Alabama, USC, Texas and Florida. Yet FSU has just one conference title in the last seven years to show for it. Yes, this team built up to a national title run in 2012 that never came to fruition and it ended up with an Orange Bowl victory. But if this is the fifth best roster in the nation, shouldn’t the Noles be better than 27-13 in the ACC?

Frank Beamer’s system works
The Hokies have finished no higher than fourth in the ACC in recruiting and no lower than fifth since 2008. Yet, until 2012, Virginia Tech had won at least 10 games in eight straight seasons and multiple ACC titles. Their highest national class was 18th (2008) and it was the only group to be ranked in the top 20. Stability on the sidelines and in the locker room clearly indicates that the ACC can be won with slightly inferior talent. Tech has the best overall (49-19) and ACC (30-10) record in the league over the last five years. However, it remains to be seen if finishing 23.8 in the national rankings can win a national title.

Miami and just needed coaches
Because athletes aren’t the issue. Both programs have always had great athletes and plenty of success on the recruiting trail. Over the last five years, Miami is second in the ACC with an average national ranking of 16.2, which is good for 13th among power conference teams. Yet, the Canes have lost 27 games over the last five years. Al Golden appears to have righted the ship and will no longer allow all that talent to go to waste. Dabo Swinney is in a similar situation. Clemson has always had elite players but somehow underachieves consistently. From 2008 to 2010, the Tigers lost 18 games but Swinney’s squad has lost only six times in the last two seasons. Both programs appear to be headed in the right direction.

Pitt will be competitive right away
According to the national rankings, the Panthers, amidst four coaching changes, still have a solid brand on the recruiting trail. Especially, as far as the ACC goes. Pitt has done a better job recruiting over the last five years than Georgia Tech, NC State, Duke, Boston College and Wake Forest. No, it hasn’t been elite—one top-30 class over that span—but it is tied with Virginia for seventh in the ACC and sits at 40th in the national rankings overall. It means that with just a little bit of coaching from Paul Chryst, the Panthers should be contending for bowl games or more right out of the gate in the ACC.

Jim Grobe is one helluva coach
His best class over the last five years was ranked 58th nationally (2008) and he has three straight classes ranked 69th in the nation. Over that span his roster is the 13th best collection of talent in the ACC and is 64th in the overall national rankings. Yet, Grobe has led the Demon Deacons to the postseason in four of the last seven years. A 16-27 ACC record may not seem like much, but with this level of athlete, he should be given a trophy for what he has accomplished in Winston-Salem.

Maryland will be back
Many people don’t understand why a founding member of the ACC would be leaving for the Big Ten or why the Big Ten would want the Terps. Maryland wants the money of the B1G and the Big Ten wants a program with upward mobility. The Terps offer an underrated recruiting base as a team that has finished 33rd among power teams over the last five years despite a 25-37 overall record during that same span. They rank sixth in the ACC in terms of talent and with some coaching stability, the Terps have much to be excited about moving forward.

North Carolina needs to stay out of trouble
Because if they do, there is no reason they can’t win big in the ACC. They are fifth in the conference in terms of roster talent and are a top 25 (25th) team nationally in terms of recruiting ability. If this team can stay out of trouble academically, on Twitter, with the NFL and the NCAA, Larry Fedora should be able to bring in enough athletes to compete for conference crowns.

The triple option doesn't need elite recruits
Only Virginia Tech (30-10), Clemson (27-13) and Florida State (27-13) have won more ACC games over the last five years than Tech's 26-14 record. Yet, the Yellow Jackets claim the ninth-best roster in the league and are barely cracking the top 50 nationally. Paul Johnson's system has had some ups and down, but the doubts about the triple options working at a higher level haven't impacted the recruiting rankings.

The Orange are in for a rough ride
In the Big East, the 76.6-ranked national recruiting ranking could create a contender — as Doug Marrone proved. But in the ACC, it means the Orange have the worst collection of players in the league. Now, with a new coach in a new league, the Orange could be facing an uphill battle to return to the postseason. The only “BCS” teams with worse rosters than Syracuse are SMU, Washington State, UConn and Temple.

ACC's National Team Recruiting Rankings Breakdown:

Rank Team Avg Nat'l Rank "BCS" Rank 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Record (Conf.)
1. Florida St 6.8 5th 9th 7th 10th 2nd 6th 49-20 (27-13)
2. Miami 16.2 13th 5th 15th 16th 36th 9th 36-27 (22-18)
3. Clemson 18.0 16th 12th 37th 19th 8th 14th 43-24 (27-13)
4. Virginia Tech 23.8 20th 18th 23rd 23rd 33rd 22nd 49-19 (30-10)
5. North Carolina 26.0 25th 32nd 9th 29th 16th 44th 39-25 (20-20)
6. Maryland 35.6 33rd 38th 26th 36th 43rd 35th 25-37 (13-27)
7t. Virginia 42.6 39th 61st 33rd 67th 25th 27th 24-37 (13-27)
7t. Pitt 42.6 39th 28th 47th 33rd 58th 47th 39-26 (22-13)
9. Georgia Tech 47.6 47th 49th 49th 43rd 41st 56th 41-26 (26-14)
10. Boston College 50.2 52nd 33rd 70th 47th 38th 63rd 30-34 (18-22)
11. NC State 51.2 53rd 31st 52nd 34th 86th 53rd 29-22 (19-21)
12. Duke 63.2 61st 65th 51st 72nd 76th 52nd 21-40 (9-31)
13. Wake Forest 65.8 64th 58th 64th 69th 69th 69th 27-35 (16-24)
14. Syracuse 76.6 71st 48th 117th 78th 75th 65th 27-34 (12-23)

<p> Recruiting: Ranking the ACC's Best Football Rosters</p>
Post date: Monday, January 28, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-football/top-12-best-big-ten-teams-bcs-era

The BCS just put a bow on its 15th season of action and Athlon has dissected the numbers and reviewed the tapes of all six BCS conferences in order to rank the best each league has had to offer. Which Oklahoma team was the best of the decade? Which Florida team was the toughest to stop? How do you rank the Florida State teams of the late '90s? Which Miami team was the best? How about those loaded USC teams? Alabama vs. Auburn?

The debates will rage on for decades, but here is Athlon's two cents. Here are the Top 12 Big Ten teams of the BCS Era (1998-present):

Note: "First Day" indicates 1st and 2nd round NFL Draft picks

1. , 2002 (14-0, 8-0)
Head Coach: Jim Tressel
Championships: Big Ten Co-Champs, Fiesta Bowl, National Championship
Key Stats: Ranked No. 2 in the nation in scoring defense (13.1 ppg) and No. 3 nationally in rushing defense (77.7 ypg), this was the first team in NCAA history to finish 14-0
Award Winners: Maurice Clarett (Big Ten Freshman of the Year), Mike Doss (Big Ten Co-Def. Player of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Mike Doss (2nd, 2003), Will Smith (1st, 2004), Chris Gamble (1st, 2004), Michael Jenkins (1st, 2004), Mike Nugent (2nd, 2005)

The team that never gave up began the season ranked No. 13 in the nation and slowly grinded their way to the No. 1 spot in the final standings. The Buckeyes beat five ranked teams, including , en route to the 2002 National Championship. Behind gritty play from quarterback Craig Krenzel and a freshman school rushing record from Maurice Clarett (1,237 yards), the Bucks found themselves as heavy underdogs to defending national champs Miami in the Fiesta Bowl. Yet, the staunch Buckeye defense and two key touchdowns (and one great forced fumble/recovery) from Clarett gave Ohio State its sixth consensus national championship. The much-debated passing interference penalty also will go down in history as one of the more controversial plays — even if it was the right call. This Ohio State team sent an NFL-record 14 players to the league in the 2004 draft (five were selected in 2003 and three in 2005). This is the only Big Ten team to have claimed a BCS National Championship making them the top Big Ten team of the BCS Era.

2. , 1998 (11-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: John Cooper
Championships: Big Ten Co-Champs, Sugar Bowl
Key Stats: The Buckeyes lost five total turnovers (four fumbles) and surrendered 19 unanswered points in home loss to Michigan State.
Award Winners: David Boston (Sugar Bowl MVP), Joe Germaine (Big Ten Co-Off. Player of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: David Boston (1st, 1999), Antoine Winfield (1st, 1999), Andy Katzenmoyer (1st, 1999), Joe Montgomery (2nd, 1999), Ahmad Plummer (2nd, 2000), Nate Clements (1st, 2001), Ryan Pickett (1st, 2001),

The most talented team to play under John Cooper had the National Championship rings already sized in the preseason. Ohio State began the year atop the polls and rolled to an 8-0 start before giving away a late 15-point lead to Michigan State — and a chance at the national title. Despite crushing Iowa and Michigan to finish the year with one loss, Ohio State just missed a chance to face Tennessee in the BCS National Championship game. After handling Texas A&M in the Sugar Bowl, the Buckeyes finished No. 2 in the polls.

3. Penn State Nittany Lions, 2005 (11-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: Joe Paterno
Championships: Big Ten, Orange Bowl
Key Stats: Tamba Hali led the Big Ten in sacks (0.92 pg), PSU finished seventh nationally against the run (93.0 ypg) and never allowed a team to reach 30 points all season.
Award Winners: Michael Robinson (Big Ten Off. Player of the Year), Paul Posluszny (Bednarik Award, Butkus Award), Tamba Hali (Big Ten Def. Lineman of the Year), Joe Paterno (AP, Home Depot, Walter Camp, AFCA National Coach of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Tamba Hali (1st, 2006), Levi Brown (1st, 2007), Paul Posluszny (2nd, 2007)

Led by star quarterback Michael Robinson and stellar defensive tandem Tamba Hali and Paul Posluszny, the Penn State Nittany Lions were one play from making quite a ruckus in the BCS standings with an undefeated season. After starting 6-0 with convincing wins over ranked Minnesota and Ohio State, the Nittany Lions allowed Chad Henne to connect with Mario Manningham on the final play of the game in Ann Arbor - costing PSU a chance to challenge USC and Texas for title game rights. Penn State rolled through the rest of its schedule, including an impressive 35-14 win over top-15 Wisconsin. The Orange Bowl win over Florida State was the school's first BCS bowl win.

4. , 2006 (12-1, 8-0)
Head Coach: Jim Tressel
Championships: Big Ten
Key Stats: The fourth highest scoring team in program history (450 pts), Troy Smith led the Big Ten in passer efficiency (161.91). Finished in top three in the league in 15 of 17 tracked NCAA team stats.
Award Winners: Troy Smith (Heisman Trophy, Davey O'Brien, Big Ten Off. Player of the Year), James Laurinaitis (Nagurski Trophy)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Ted Ginn Jr. (1st, 2007), Anthony Gonzalez (1st, 2007), Vernon Gholston (1st, 2008), Beanie Wells (1st, 2009), Malcolm Jenkins (1st, 2009), James Laurinaitis (2nd, 2009), Brian Robiskie (2nd, 2009)

The Ohio State Buckeyes began the 2006 season as the team to beat — and proved it by going wire-to-wire as the nation's No. 1 ranked team. Troy Smith became only the third quarterback in league history to throw for at least 30 touchdowns (Drew Brees, Kyle Orton) and claimed the Heisman Trophy as he led the Buckeyes to an undefeated regular season that was capped by a thrilling 42-39 win over No. 2 Michigan. In its third game against the No. 2-ranked team, the Buckeyes offense never knew what hit them as the Florida Gators pressured Smith all game long. Poor coaching, poor preparation and poor execution in one game cost the Buckeyes the national championship.

5. , 2012 (12-0, 8-0)
Head Coach: Urban Meyer
Championships: Big Ten Leaders
Key Stats: Led the Big Ten in scoring at 37.2 points per game, Braxton Miller was second in total offense and fifth in rushing in the Big Ten. Carlos Hyde led the league in scoring at 10.2 points per game.
Award Winners: Braxton Miller (Big Ten Off. Player of the Year), John Simon (Big Ten Def. Player of the Year)
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: N/A

In Urban Meyer's first season, the Buckeyes were left to wonder "what if" after a perfect season. One year after going 6-7 and losing in the Gator Bowl to a mediocre Florida team, the Buckeyes, led by super star Heisman candidate Braxton Miller, won every game they played including road wins over Michigan State, Wisconsin and Penn State, and home victories over Michigan and Nebraska. Was this team an elite OSU roster that would have been able to compete against either Notre Dame or Alabama? Odds are no, however, the current BCS system is set up to put No. 1 and No. 2 into the BCS title game and if Ohio State had been eligible, there is little doubt it would have faced the Fighting Irish in Miami instead of the

6. Wisconsin Badgers, 1998 (11-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: Barry Alvarez
Championships: Big Ten Co-Champs, Rose Bowl
Key Stats: Dayne rushed for a current BCS bowl record 246 yards and four touchdowns against UCLA.
Award Winners: Ron Dayne (Rose Bowl MVP), Barry Alvarez (Big Ten Coach of the Year), Tom Burke (Big Ten Def. Player of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Ron Dayne (1st, 2000), Chris McIntosh (1st, 2000), Jamar Fletcher (1st, 2001), Michael Bennett (1st, 2001), Chris Chambers (2nd, 2001), Wendell Bryant (1st, 2002)

Craig James began bowl season by claiming this was "the worst team to ever play in the Rose Bowl." With five first-round picks, an extraordinary offensive line, the conference's top defensive player, an eventual Thorpe Award winner and the NCAA's all-time leading rusher/Heisman Trophy winner, it is safe to say he was sorely mistaken. Ron Dayne set BCS bowl records for yards (246) and touchdowns (4) and carries (27 - which he broke himself the next year) in the 38-31 Rose Bowl win over the favored UCLA Bruins. Wisconsin's only loss came in Ann Arbor to the 10-3 (7-1) Wolverines.

7. , 2007 (11-2, 7-1)
Head Coach: Jim Tressel
Championships: Big Ten
Key Stats: Led the nation in scoring defense at 12.8 ppg. Led the nation in pass defense at 150.2 ypg. Led the Big Ten in seven of 17 tracked NCAA team stats.
Award Winners: James Laurinaitis (Butkus, Big Ten Def. Player of the Year), Vernon Gholston (Big Ten Def. Lineman of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Vernon Gholston (1st, 2008), Beanie Wells (1st, 2009), Malcolm Jenkins (1st, 2009), James Laurinaitis (2nd, 2009), Brian Robiskie (2nd, 2009)

With road wins over ranked opponents Michigan, Penn State and Purdue to go with a home win over ranked Wisconsin, Ohio State found itself in its second straight BCS national title game. A late home loss to eventual Rose Bowl rep Illinois and to LSU in the championship game were the only blemishes on a season that started 10-0.

8. Wisconsin Badgers, 2011 (11-3, 6-2)
Head Coach: Bret Bielema
Championships: Big Ten
Key Stats: Russell Wilson set NCAA record for single-season passing efficiency (191.78) and NCAA record for consecutive games with a TD pass. Led the Big Ten in rushing offense, scoring offense, total offense and turnover margin. Montee Ball tied Barry Sanders' all-time single-season TD record with 39.
Award Winners: Russell Wilson (Big Ten QB of the Year), Montee Ball (Big Ten Off. Player of the Year, RB of the Year), 
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: Kevin Zeitler (1st, 2012), Peter Konz (2nd, 2012)

This team was literally inches away from a 12-0 regular season as the Michigan State Hail Mary barely crossed the goal line and Braxton Miller's last-minute heave was this colse to being an illegal forward pass. That said, this team still went on to win the Big Ten in dramatic fashion in the conference title game and played tooth and nail with the high-flying Oregon Ducks. Russell Wilson posted the greatest single season by a Badgers quarterback in history and was a third-round pick who led the Seahawks to the playoffs as a rookie. The records, the overall talent, the statistical production and the entertainment value makes this team one of the best Wisconsin squads of all time. 

9. Michigan Wolverines, 2006 (11-2, 7-1)
Head Coach: Lloyd Carr
Championships: None
Key Stats: Led the nation in rushing defense at an astonishing 43.4 ypg, LaMarr Woodley (0.92 spg) and team (3.23 spg) led the Big Ten in sacks.
Award Winners: LaMarr Woodley (Ted Hendricks, Lombardi, Big Ten Def. Player of the Year/Lineman of the Year), Jake Long (Big Ten Off. Lineman of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Leon Hall (1st, 2007), David Harris (2nd, 2007), LaMarr Woodley (2nd, 2007), Alan Branch (2nd, 2007), Jake Long (1st, 2008), Chad Henne (2nd, 2008)

This Maize and Blue team started 11-0, including a 41-17 thumping of No. 2 Notre Dame, before losing by three on the road against the nation's No. 1 team,  Ohio State, on the final weekend of play. With three consensus first-team All-Americans (Hall, Long, Woodley), this team went as high as No. 2 in the polls before losing out on a title chance to Florida. Thirteen players from this team were selected in the 2007 and 2008 NFL Drafts including the '08 No. 1 overall pick, Jake Long.

10. Iowa Hawkeyes, 2002 (11-2, 8-0)
Head Coach: Kirk Ferentz
Championships: Big Ten Co-Champs
Key Stats: Marked first time in school history Iowa won 11 games. Highest scoring team in Iowa history (484 points). Brad Banks led the nation in passing efficiency (157.12).
Award Winners: Kirk Ferentz (Walter Camp Coach of the Year), Brad Banks (Davey O'Brien), Nate Kaeding (Lou Groza), Dallas Clark (John Mackey)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Dallas Clark (1st, 2003), Eric Steinbach (2nd, 2003), Bruce Nelson (2nd, 2003), Robert Gallery (1st, 2004), Bob Sanders (2nd, 2004)

Stacked with NFL talent, the Hawkeyes posted the best record in school history — including tying eventual national champ Ohio State at 8-0 for the Big Ten co-championship (they didn't play each other that year). An offense led by Heisman Trophy runner-up Brad Banks (and Fred Russell) scored more points than any team in Iowa history. Road wins at Penn State and Michigan highlighted a season that ended in defeat at the hands of Heisman winner Carson Palmer and USC in the program's first-ever BCS bowl (Orange).

11. Wisconsin Badgers, 1999 (10-2, 7-1)
Head Coach: Barry Alvarez
Championships: Big Ten, Rose Bowl
Key Stats: Ron Dayne became the NCAA's all-time leading rusher at 6,397 yards (7,125 counting bowls), finished No. 3 in the nation in rushing as a team (279.5 ypg), led the league in scoring at 35.6 ppg.
Award Winners: Ron Dayne (Heisman Trophy, Doak Walker, Maxwell, Walter Camp, Rose Bowl MVP), Brooks Bollinger (Big Ten Freshman of the Year), Chris McIntosh (Big Ten Off. Lineman of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Aaron Gibson (1st, 1999), Ron Dayne (1st, 2000), Chris McIntosh (1st, 2000), Jamar Fletcher (1st, 2001), Michael Bennett (1st, 2001), Chris Chambers (2nd, 2001), Wendell Bryant (1st, 2002)

Following its Rose Bowl championship the previous season, the Badgers started 2-2 thanks to a shocking loss to Cincinnati on the road and five-point home defeat to Michigan. Wisconsin never lost again, beating five ranked teams to finish as Rose Bowl champs, including a road destruction of No. 12 Ohio State and home beat down of No. 11 Michigan State. Ron Dayne became the NCAA's all-time leading rusher in late October against Iowa, and claimed the Badgers' second Heisman Trophy. Dayne set the current BCS bowl record for rushing attempts with 34 (for 200 yards) in the Rose Bowl win over Stanford.

12. , 2010 (12-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: Jim Tressel
Championships: Big Ten Co-Champs, Sugar Bowl
Key Stats: The highest scoring team in OSU history (504 pts), Led the Big Ten in rushing (96.7 ypg), passing (165.5), total (262.2) and scoring (14.3 ppg) defense while leading the conference in turnover margin (+1.15).
Award Winners: Terrelle Pryor (Sugar Bowl MVP)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Cameron Heyward (1st, 2011), Mike Adams (2nd, 2012)

The only loss the Buckeyes experienced in 2010 was a 31-18 defeat in Camp Randall to the 11-1 co-Big Ten champion Wisconsin Badgers. This team was loaded with NFL talent all over the offense and topped a ranked Miami and Iowa teams along with crushing rival Michigan. Ohio State also defeated an SEC team for the first time in school history with a Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas. Obviously, this season carries with it a large asterisk, as the entire season was later vacated. (The 2009 Buckeyes just missed making this list).

<p> Top 10 Best Big Ten Teams of the BCS Era</p>
Post date: Monday, January 28, 2013 - 06:50
Path: /college-football/2013-football-recruiting-rankings-offensive-lineman

National Signing Day 2013 is right around the corner and Athlon Sports is releasing its position-by-position rankings for the Class of 2013 based on the . Who is left on the board? Who has the best class at one position? Who had positional needs to fill? And, obviously, who are the stars of tomorrow fans can look forward to at every position?

The offensive line is where championships are won. Just look at the last few seasons. The Texas Longhorns, which have always recruited extremely well along the line, need some of those five-star names to pan out. Mack Brown is poised to land two of the top three players in the nation along the line, including what many believe is the top center in the nation—Darius James. The No. 24 offensive lineman, , is a two-way star from Celina, Texas, who could end up on either side of the ball.

Notre Dame and Michigan each have five offensive linemen in the top 30 committed. Brady Hoke wants to build his program around the running game and landing the nation's No. 1 O-Line class will go a long way towards having success in the Big Ten. Brian Kelly, meanwhile, got a quick education about SEC defensive lines and is set to land the No. 2 O-Line class this cycle

Additionally, Pitt, Maryland and LSU all kept the top blockers from their home bases in the fold with key verbal pledges

The big prize, however, is still left on the board as the nation's top lineman and No. 4-rated overall prospect Laremy Tunsil is still uncommitted. The Lake City (Fla.) Columbia blocker has Alabama, Ole Miss, Florida State and Georgia listed as his finalists.

2013 Positional Rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE |  | DL |  | DB | ATH

  Name AC100 Hometown Ht Wt Verbal
1. Laremy Tunsil No. 4 Lake City, FL 6-6 295 --
2. Darius James No. 34 Harker Heights, TX 6-5 320 Texas
3. Kent Perkins No. 38 Dallas, TX 6-6 285 Texas
4. Dorian Johnson No. 43 Belle Vernon, PA 6-6 270 Pitt
5. Ethan Pocic No. 57 Lemont, IL 6-7 280 LSU
6. Grant Hill No. 62 Hunstville, AL 6-6 300 Alabama
7. Patrick Kugler No. 68 Wexford, PA 6-4 270 Michigan
8. Evan Lisle No. 80 Centreville, OH 6-6 265 Ohio St
9. Kyle Bosch No. 92 Wheaton, IL 6-5 305 Michigan
10. Derwin Gray No. 95 Washington, DC 6-5 295 Maryland
11. Steve Elmer No. 97 Midland, MI 6-6 305 Notre Dame
12. John Montelus No. 101 Everett, MA 6-5 305 Notre Dame
13. Hunter Bivin No. 102 Owensboro, KY 6-7 290 Notre Dame
14. Khaliel Rodgers No. 105 Elkton, MD 6-3 300 USC
15. Austin Golson No. 107 Prattville, AL 6-6 285 Florida St
16. David Dawson No. 110 Detroit, MI 6-4 280 Michigan
17. Ira Denson No. 120 Madison, FL 6-4 320 Florida St
18. Brandon Mahon No. 132 Randolph, NJ 6-5 315 Penn St
19. Tyrone Crowder No. 135 Rockingham, NC 6-1 330 --
20. Mike McGlinchey No. 140 Philadelphia, PA 6-8 280 Notre Dame
21. Josh Boutte No. 144 New Iberia, LA 6-5 305 LSU
22. Chris Fox No. 147 Parker, CO 6-6 300 Michigan
23. Logan Tuley-Tillman No. 155 Peoria, IL 6-7 305 Michigan
24. Jake Raulerson No. 161 Celina, TX 6-5 260 Texas
25. Colin McGovern No. 181 New Lenox, IL 6-5 285 Notre Dame
26. Denver Kirkland No. 183 Miami, FL 6-5 330 --
27. Christian Morris No. 207 Memphis, TN 6-6 295 UCLA
28. Shamire DeVine No. 215 Atlanta, GA 6-6 350 Georgia Tech
29. Brandon Kublanow No. 229 Marietta, GA 6-3 290 Georgia


View the complete 

Recruiting Videos:

<p> 2013 Football Recruiting Rankings: Offensive Lineman</p>
Post date: Monday, January 28, 2013 - 06:05
Path: /college-football/2013-football-recruiting-rankings-linebackers

National Signing Day 2013 is right around the corner and Athlon Sports is releasing its position-by-position rankings for the Class of 2013 based on the . Who is left on the board? Who has the best class at one position? Who had positional needs to fill? And, obviously, who are the stars of tomorrow fans can look forward to at every position?

The linebacker position has become one of the most difficult to pinpoint in the recruiting process. A prospect could range from 5-foot-10 to 6-foot-4 and from 200 to 260 pounds, depending on what type of scheme he will be used in. The proliferation of the hybrid 3-4 outside linebacker/defensive end has created what could be considered an entirely new position. Nick Saban calls it the "Jack Back" and has won three national titles with elite players like Dont'a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw and Xzavier Dickson (who is 6-3, 265) playing the position. Still other more traditional schemes feature smaller, speedy outside linebackers who can excel at 6-foot and 210 pounds. The definition of "linebacker" has been stretched mightily in the last decade.

And Saban has the next great one in end/backer hybrid Jonathan Allen (pictured). He is a massive prospect who could easily grow into a true end, but his frame and skill set seems perfectly suited for the Jack Back. The Tide also is still in on two top 10 players nationally in Reuben Foster and Matthew Thomas. Foster, who is a true middle linebacker, has been committed to both Auburn and and will have Washington and Georgia in the mix as well when all the dust settles. Thomas is a freak athlete who will pick between Miami, Florida State, Georgia, Alabama and USC.

Should Bama land both, they would easily claim the top class in the nation — to go with four returning starters at the linebacker position. Otherwise, the Florida Gators likely can claim the best collection of tacklers with the No. 5 (Alex Anzalone), No. 6 (Daniel McMillian) and No. 19 (Matt Rolin) overall linebackers in the nation heading to Gainesville. Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers deserve a tip of the cap as well, landing three of the top 23 (No. 13, No. 18, No. 23) LBs in the nation. 

The No. 1 linebacking prospect is headed to Notre Dame, though, as Jaylon Smith showcased in the U.S. Army Bowl how talented the four-time state champion will be on the next level. He is a freakish athlete who can rush the passer, drop into coverage and block kicks on special teams. Look for Brian Kelly to have fun finding ways of getting Smith involved early in his career.

As a side note, the state of Virginia is loaded at the position in 2013 as five of the top 30 linebackers in the nation hail from The Commonwealth. However, only one is slated to stay close to home — Holland Fisher at Virginia Tech.

2013 Positional Rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE |  | DL |  | DB | ATH

  Name AC100 Hometown Ht Wt Verbal
1. Jaylon Smith No. 2 Fort Wayne, IN 6-3 220 Notre Dame
2. Reuben Foster No. 6 Auburn, AL 6-1 240 --
3. Matthew Thomas No. 8 Miami, FL 6-3 210 --
4. Jonathan Allen No. 17 Ashburn, VA 6-3 250 Alabama
5. Alex Anzalone No. 53 Reading, PA 6-3 230 Florida
6. Daniel McMillian No. 56 Jacksonville, FL 6-2 220 Florida
7. Mike Mitchell No. 58 Plano, TX 6-3 220 Ohio St
8. Holland Fisher No. 59 Midlothian, VA 6-1 210 Virginia Tech
9. Isaac Savaiinaea No. 93 Honolulu, HI 6-3 230 --
10. Larenz Bryant No. 96 Charlotte, NC 6-1 210 South Carolina
11. Michael Hutchings No. 100 Concord, CA 6-2 215 USC
12. Trey Johnson No. 111 Lawrenceville, GA 6-1 220 Ohio St
13. Dorian O'Daniel No. 121 Olney, MD 6-1 205 Clemson
14. Deoundrei Davis No. 130 Cypress, TX 6-3 215 Texas
15. Myles Jack No. 137 Bellevue, WA 6-2 215 UCLA
16. Peter Kalambayi No. 145 Matthews, NC 6-3 235 Stanford
17. Mike McCray No. 147 Trotwood, OH 6-4 230 Michigan
18. Ben Boulware No. 148 Anderson, SC 6-0 220 Clemson
19. Matt Rolin No. 152 Ashburn, VA 6-3 210 Florida
20. Yannick Ngakoue No. 159 Washington, DC 6-3 235 --
21. Tim Kimbrough No. 165 Indianapolis, IN 6-1 225 Georgia
22. Quinton Powell No. 172 Daytona Beach, FL 6-2 195 --
23. Jayron Kearse No. 174 Fort Myers, FL 6-3 200 Clemson
24. Deon Hollins Jr. No. 178 Missouri City, TX 6-2 225 UCLA
25. E.J. Levenberry Jr. No. 183 Woodbridge, VA 6-3 225 Florida St
26. Doug Randolph No. 203 Richmond, VA 6-3 235 Notre Dame
27. Jermaine Grace No. 220 Miramar, FL 6-1 200 --
28. Jon Reschke No. 223 Bloomfield, MI 6-2 225 Michigan St
29. Marcus Newby No. 228 New Potomac, MD 6-1 210 Nebraska
30. Chans Cox No. 236 Lakeside, AZ 6-3 230 Arizona St

View the complete 

Recruiting Videos:

<p> 2013 Football Recruiting Rankings: Linebackers</p>
Post date: Monday, January 28, 2013 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-biggest-recruiting-surprises-2013-class

National Signing Day is just a few weeks away and six of the top 10 players in the are still left uncommitted. In fact, 14 of the top 100 still have yet to make the most important decision in their life. The team, conference and national rankings will be shifting and moving all the way through National Signing Day 2013.

So needless to say, there is still much left to be determined. So teams with disappointing classes could still surge up the rankings while teams in the top 10 could find themselves dropping. But here are a few teams that have been the biggest surprises on the recruiting trail — on both sides of the ledger.

2013's Biggest Surprises: Three Up

Ole Miss Rebels
Team Ranks: Rivals: 11th, 247Sports: 14th, Scout: 13th

The biggest surprise on the recruiting trail in 2013 has to be the Ole Miss Rebels because whatever Huge Freeze has put in the water in Oxford is working. The Rebels are on a furious run after landing the No. 1 wide receiver in the nation Laquon Treadwell (No. 14) as well as AC100 defensive end Elijah Daniel (No. 51). The recruiting coup for Freeze, however, would be landing the nation’s No. 1 player Robert Nkemdiche. The big defensive end will pick between LSU and Ole Miss. To finish in the top 10 nationally after winning four total SEC games the last three seasons is absolutely remarkable.

Penn State Nittany Lions
Team Ranks: Rivals: 35th, 247Sports: 22nd, Scout: 35th

No head coach has more to overcome on the recruiting trail nationally than Bill O’Brien. With Christian Hackenberg, the No. 2-rated quarterback prospect in the nation, leading the way, the Nittany Lions have to be ecstatic about landing the Big Ten’s No. 3 class. Ohio State and Michigan will land first and second in the rankings this year, but the Nits have a chance finish third in the Big Ten and possibly in the Top 25 nationally. In the face of heavy-handed NCAA sanctions and the worst scandal in the history of college sports, the job O’Brien has done has been masterful.

Vanderbilt Commodores
Team Ranks: Rivals: 18th, 247Sports: 28th, Scout: 18th 

It’s one thing to get fans excited about football in Nashville with some smooth talking and entertaining personalities. It’s an entirely different thing to take the Dores to back-to-back bowl games and land a top 20 recruiting class. But that is what James Franklin is poised to do after two seasons on West End. The 2013 haul is a deep class (23 commitments) that is headlined by elite four-star skill talents like quarterback Johnathon McCrary, running back Johnathan Ford and tight end Mitchell Parsons. To finish ahead of Tennessee, Auburn, Arkansas or South Carolina in recruiting is nothing short of miracle at Vanderbilt.

Others that have been impressive:

UCLA Bruins
This class could be the No. 1 class in the Pac-12 and easily end up in the top 10 nationally.

Indiana Hoosiers
A top 50 class in Bloomington has to be considered a mild upset.

Cal Golden Bears
To land a top 25 class following a coaching change and a 3-9 season is impressive.

More: View the complete


2013's Biggest Surprises: Three Down

Texas Tech Red Raiders
Team Rank: Rivals: 85th, 247Sports: 91st, Scout: 74th

The Red Raiders are ranked dead last in the Big 12 team recruiting rankings by all three recruiting websites. This is a team with one losing record since 1992 and the state of Texas to pull talent from. No, fans can’t expect Texas Tech to land Top 25 classes each year or press the Longhorns, Sooners or Aggies for talent, but it should be able to out-recruit Iowa State and Kansas with ease. Bowling Green, UAB and Tulane should not have better classes — especially, with an influx of energy surging through the program with new coach Kliff Kingsbury now leading the way.

Louisville Cardinals
Team Rank: Rivals: 62nd, 247Sports: 54th, Scout: 54th

Landing James Quick at the US Army Bowl was a big get for Charlie Strong, but this team needs to capitalize more on its 11-win season and BCS bowl victory over Florida. The Cardinals are a young team and don’t have extra room for a huge class. But Strong has only two four-star prospects in the fold thus far. Ranking fourth or fifth in the Big East means making the top 50 nationally will be virtually impossible. Strong's first two classes were ranked 34th (2011) and 38th (2012), so anything in the 60s would be a major disappointment considering the upward trajectory of the program.

Miami Hurricanes
Team Rank: Rivals: 57, 247Sports: 27, Scout: 39

Al Golden did a miraculous job landing the No. 8 class in the nation last year in the face of swirling NCAA issues. It was one of the biggest hauls in the nation. One year later, he is bringing in one of the smallest groups in the nation. Much like Louisville, the overall lack of size will have an impact on where this group will be ranked. Miami, a young team, does not have a ton of scholarships to offer. The Canes are still in the mix with some high-level prospects (Matthew Thomas, for example) so they could still move up, however, finishing ninth in the ACC or outside of the top 50 nationally would have to be considered a disappointment.

Others that have been disappointing:

USC Trojans
A great class but half a dozen defections is a concerning trend for Lane Kiffin.

Arkansas Razorbacks
Could finish strong but two coaching changes and a 4-8 season have hurt the brand.

Stanford Cardinal
After signing elite classes the last two seasons, David Shaw’s group won’t crack top 50

<p> College Football's Biggest Recruiting Surprises of the 2013 Class</p>
Post date: Friday, January 25, 2013 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-best-quarterback-recruiting-classes-last-10-years

Recruiting is reaching a fever pitch as the college football machine churns toward National Signing Day 2013. The first Wednesday in February is the NCAA’s version of Christmas morning for fans and coaches alike. Great coaching is the key to winning, but so are great players. If your team has better athletes, generally speaking, it will win the game more often than not.

That doesn’t mean that every five-star is an All-American or every two-star is a Sun Belt third stringer.

Athlon Sports continues its analysis of recruiting over the last 10 years by evaluating the most important player on the field. The quarterback position has evolved dramatically over the last decade and it has made scouting the game’s most intricate position that much more difficult.

Every year isn’t created equally and the proves this quite obviously. Since its inception in 2008, two quarterbacks have been ranked as the top player in the nation — Terrelle Pryor (2008) and Matt Barkley (2009). In 2010, however, Jake Heaps was considered the nation’s best quarterback, but was ranked No. 42 overall. Jeff Driskel was the top signal caller in 2011 and was No. 17 overall. Some quarterback classes are deeper and more talented than others.

Here is how Athlon Sports ranks the quarterback classes over the last 10 years:

1. Class of 2006
The Super Stars: Tim Tebow, Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford, Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick, Jake Locker, Case Keenum

The Best of the Rest: Christian Ponder, Josh Freeman, Greg McElroy, Todd Reesing, Nate Davis, Juice Williams, TJ Yates, Ricky Stanzi, Thaddeus Lewis, John Skelton, Scott Tolzien, Nathan Enderle

This group features six first-round picks, including two No. 1 overall selections, and two second rounders. It registered two Heisman Trophies, three BCS National Championships and featured the most prolific passer in NCAA history. And Colin Kaepernick, who was a statistical juggernaut at Nevada, has led the 49ers to . Additionally, Yates, Stafford and Dalton have all started NFL playoff games while Ponder led the Vikings to an improbable playoff berth this fall. This class has long been considered the best of the modern era and it appears nothing has changed.

2. Class of 2008
The Super Stars: Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Collin Klein, Landry Jones, Blaine Gabbert

The Best of the Rest: EJ Manuel, Terrelle Pryor, Darron Thomas, Mike Glennon, Seth Doege, Tyler Wilson, Colby Cameron, Sean Renfree, Ryan Nassib, Matt Scott, Nick Florence, Zac Dysert, Alex Carder, Jacory Harris

When all is said and done, Luck and Griffin III might be better than anyone in the 2006 class, but the depth at the top isn’t as elite. Jones is one of the most prolific passers in history, but his legacy might be more disappointment than Hall of Fame. Klein, Thomas, and Pryor are electric athletes who used their legs but have issues with accuracy. What makes this class great is its depth in the middle as names like Nick Florence, Matt Scott, Ryan Nassib and Seth Doege are underrated nationally in terms of production. In all, this group claims three first-round picks (with a chance at a couple more), one Heisman Trophy, a handful of conference championships and one BCS title game appearance.

3. Class of 2009
The Super Stars: AJ McCarron, Aaron Murray, Matt Barkley, Geno Smith, Tajh Boyd, Taylor Martinez, Denard Robinson, Jordan Lynch

The Best of the Rest: Derek Carr, Logan Thomas, Keith Price, Bryn Renner, Tyler Russell, Brock Osweiler

There is no elite, No. 1 overall type of talent in this class but there are some huge numbers. And athletes. Martinez, Robinson, Lynch and Thomas have combined for 118 career rushing touchdowns and over 10,000 yards rushing. Boyd, Smith, Carr and Barkley have all been elite passers with huge numbers through the air. Aaron Murray has two SEC East titles and could rewrite the SEC passing record books next fall and could potentially make a run at the first round in 2014. And then there are two BCS national championship rings courtesy of McCarron (three if you count his redshirt season). The upside of this group gives it a slight nod over the established stars of the 2007 class as should be excited that most of the names in this class decided to return to school instead of going pro (Murray, McCarron, Boyd, Carr, Thomas, Renner).

4. Class of 2007
The Super Stars: Cam Newton, Brandon Weeden, Russell Wilson, Kellen Moore, Kirk Cousins, Ryan Mallett

The Best of the Rest: Ryan Tannehill, Chandler Harnish, Tyrod Taylor, Josh Nesbitt, Jimmy Clausen, Ryan Lindley, Dan Persa, GJ Kinne

One guy gives this class a Heisman Trophy, a BCS national title and a No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. But the rest of the group is underrated as well. Wilson and Weeden are NFL starters who broke all kinds of NCAA records while Kellen Moore is the winningest QB in history. Cousins is an extremely underrated leader and is the best QB in Michigan State history while Mallett, Lindley and Tannehill are all NFL players. Taylor and Nesbitt give this group plenty of athleticism as well.

5. Class of 2003
The Super Stars: Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Chris Leak, Paul Smith, Kevin Kolb, Dennis Dixon, Brady Quinn, Andre Woodson

The Best of the Rest: John Beck, John David Booty, Kevin O'Connell, Tom Brandstater, Matt Flynn, JaMarcus Russell, Drew Tate

Ryan and Flacco are elite NFL passers but both were mid-level recruits and Flacco had to transfer to get to the first round. In all, there are four first-round picks, two BCS National Championships and a host of players who would be among their school's greatest of all-time — Woodson, Smith, Kolb and Dixon won a lot of games with big numbers. If JaMarcus Russell wasn't arguably the biggest bust (literally and figuratively) in NFL Draft history, this class could make a case for being higher on the list. 

6. Class of 2011
The Super Stars: Johnny Manziel, Braxton Miller, Marcus Mariota, Teddy Bridgewater, Brett Hundley

The Best of the Rest: Everett Golson, Jeff Driskel, Chuckie Keeton, Gary Nova, Trevone Boykin, David Ash, Max Wittek

In just two short seasons, it is hard to argue the upside of the 2011 group. Manziel has a Heisman Trophy while the top five names in this class will feature prominently in the chase for the 2013 stiff-armed trophy. And all five could have their teams in the BCS National Championship hunt as well. Toss in Golson, Driskel and Keeton as well as a host of other names who have yet to be discovered and this group is already well established. This might be the only class that could make a run at the 2006 class for top billing.

7. Class of 2002
The Super Stars: Vince Young, Troy Smith, Colt Brennan

The Best of the Rest: Drew Stanton, Omar Jacobs, Phil Horvath, Trent Edwards, John Stocco, Marcus Vick, Jordan Palmer, Drew Olson, Tyler Palko

At the top, this class had an elite trio. Young is the most unstoppable player I’ve ever seen on a college gridiron and he won the ultimate prize. Smith also led his team to the national title game and claimed Ohio State’s seventh Heisman Trophy. Brennan posted huge numbers at Hawaii in getting the Warriors to their one and only BCS bowl game.

8. Class of 2004
The Super Stars: Brian Brohm, Pat White, Brian Johnson, Graham Harrell, Daryll Clark

The Best of the Rest: Max Hall, Chad Henne, Curtis Painter, Stephen McGee, Brian Hoyer, John Parker Wilson, Erik Ainge, CJ Bacher, Mike Teel, Rudy Carpenter

None of these names will ever be NFL stars but there are some elite college players in this class. Clark, Brohm, White and Johnson all led their teams to historic seasons, conference crowns and BCS bowl wins. Harrell posted elite passing statistics while Hall, Henne, Painter and Parker Wilson all started for at least three seasons at four of the most historic quarterback programs in the nation (BYU, Michigan, Purdue, Alabama). The depth of this class gives it a slight edge on the 2005 group.

9. Class of 2005
The Super Stars: Colt McCoy, Chase Daniel, Mark Sanchez, Zac Robinson, Dan LeFevour

The Best of the Rest: Riley Skinner, Tony Pike, Joe Webb, Sean Canfield, Mike Kafka, Levi Brown, Matt Grothe, Tim Hiller, Jarrett Brown

The top five were great players for their schools but that is about all this class has to offer. Yes, Canfield, Kafka, Webb and Pike were NFL Draft picks but all are bench players. McCoy is the real star, finishing his career with more wins than anyone in history (until Kellen Moore) and leading Texas into the championship game. Sanchez had a great team at USC and was a top pick but has very little experience. Robinson and Daniel were, at the time of graduation, likely the top quarterbacks in program history. LeFevour is a big reason why Brian Kelly and Butch Jones are coaching at Notre Dame and Tennessee respectively.

10. Class of 2010
The Super Stars: Taylor Kelly, James Franklin, Tyler Bray

The Best of the Rest: Blake Bell, Tanner Price, Cody Fajardo, Devin Gardner, Stephen Morris, Sean Mannion, David Piland, Connor Shaw, Jake Heaps, Phillip Sims

The top two recruits in this class (Heaps, Sims) have both transferred but have new opportunities to be successful. Kelly, Franklin and Bray are the only established players in this group while some others have high expectations for 2013 (Fajardo, Morris, Bell, Shaw, Gardner). This group has to be ranked last due to the lack of established super stars. However, this class should move up over the next few seasons as more names emerge and the guys above continue to develop.

<p> Ranking the Best Quarterback Recruiting Classes of the last 10 Years</p>
Post date: Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 06:20
Path: /college-football/top-15-sec-football-teams-bcs-era

The BCS just put a bow on its 15th season of action and Athlon has dissected the numbers and reviewed the tapes of all six BCS conferences in order to rank the best each league has had to offer. Which Oklahoma team was the best of the decade? Which Florida team was the toughest to stop? How do you rank the Florida State teams of the late '90s? Which Miami team was the best? How about those loaded USC teams? Alabama vs. Auburn?

The debates will rage on for decades, but here is Athlon's two cents. Here are the Top 15 SEC teams of the BCS Era (1998-present):

Note: "First Day" indicates 1st and 2nd round NFL Draft picks

1. , 2009 (14-0, 8-0)
Head Coach: Nick Saban
Championships: SEC, BCS National Championship
Key Stats: Finished second in the nation in total (244.1 ypg), rushing (78.1 ypg) and scoring defense (11.7 ppg).
Award Winners: Mark Ingram (Heisman Trophy), Rolando McClain (Butkus, SEC Def. Player of the Year), Javier Arenas (SEC Special Teamer of the Year), Nick Saban (SEC Coach of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Rolando McClain (1st, 2010), Kareem Jackson (1st, 2010), Javier Arenas (2nd, 2010), Terrence Cody (2nd, 2010), Mark Ingram (1st, 2011), James Carpenter (1st, 2011), Marcell Dareus (1st, 2011), Julio Jones (1st, 2011), Trent Richardson (1st, 2012), Mark Barron (1st, 2012), Dont'a Hightower (1st, 2012), Dre Kirkpatrick (1st, 2012), Courtney Upshaw (2nd, 2012)

Led by boy genius quarterback Greg McElroy and a host of national award-winning first-round NFL Draft picks, the Alabama Crimson Tide won their first national title since 1992. Nick Saban defeated five ranked opponents before taking down No. 2 Texas in the BCS National Championship game 37-21. This was the best defense in the nation, finishing second nationally in three of the four major statistical categories. In a rematch of the 2008 SEC title game, McElroy did his best Tebow impression by completing 12-of-18 passes for 239 yards without a turnover while picking up key yards on the ground. Heisman winner Mark Ingram rushed 28 times for 113 yards and three scores in the tear-inducing 32-13 win over Florida in Atlanta. Thus far, 10 first-round picks have entered the NFL from the 2009 roster. That number could grow this April should Barrett Jones get his name called early.

2. , 1998 (13-0, 8-0)
Head Coach: Phillip Fulmer
Championships: SEC, BCS National Championship
Key Stats: This team put 11 players into the first or second round of the NFL Draft; Peerless Price is second all-time in BCS bowls with 242 all-purpose yards in the Fiesta Bowl, his 49.8 yards per catch is a BCS title game record.
Award Winners: Phillip Fulmer (AP National Coach of the Year), Peerless Price (Fiesta Bowl MVP), David Cutcliffe (Broyles)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Al Wilson (1st, 1999), Peerless Price (2nd, 1999), Jamal Lewis (1st, 2000), Shaun Ellis (1st, 2000), Raynoch Thompson (2nd, 2000), Chad Clifton (2nd, 2000), Dwayne Goodrich (2nd, 2000), Casey Coleman (2nd, 2000), Deon Grant (2nd, 2000), Travis Henry (2nd, 2001), John Henderson (1st, 2002)

In Year 1 A.P. (after Peyton), the Vols put together their greatest season in nearly five decades. Tee Martin stepped in at quarterback, and aided by a monster backfield that included Travis Henry, Jamal Lewis, Travis Stephens and Shawn Bryson, led the Vols past six ranked opponents for Tennessee’s sixth national championship. The defense held nine of its 13 opponents to 18 points or less. Despite a BCS record 199 yards receiving (242 all-purpose yards) and the game-winning 79-yard touchdown for game MVP Peerless Price, the most important and memorable moment from the 1998 title run involved a stumbling Razorback. Late in the Arkansas game, Tennessee was all but beaten until Billy Ratliff forced guard Brandon Burlsworth into quarterback Clint Stoerner, who gently and inexplicably “placed” the football on the ground. The Vols used a Henry touchdown run in the final seconds to seal the comeback from a 21-3 deficit and the eventual national championship.

3. Florida Gators, 2008 (13-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: Urban Meyer
Championships: SEC, BCS National Championship
Key Stats: Led the SEC in rushing (231.1 ypg), total offense (445.1 ypg), scoring (43.6 ppg), pass efficiency defense (96.76), scoring defense (12.9 ppg), punting (38.1 ypp), turnover margin (+1.57) and passing efficiency (170.6). Percy Harvin led the SEC in scoring at 10.2 ppg.
Award Winners: Tim Tebow (Maxwell, SEC Off. Player of the Year), Brandon James (SEC Special Teamer of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Percy Harvin (1st, 2009), Tim Tebow (1st, 2010), Joe Haden (1st, 2010), Maurkice Pouncey (1st, 2010), Carlos Dunlap (2nd, 2010), Jermaine Cunningham (2nd, 2010), Brandon Spikes (2nd, 2010), Mike Pouncey (1st, 2011), Marcus Gilbert (2nd, 2011)

Tim Tebow had his Heisman Trophy (2007) and a national championship ring (2006). But when the Florida Gators lost to the Ole Miss Rebels in The Swamp on a final drive fourth-down stop, Tebow took his legendary legacy to new heights. After fumbling, taking sacks and missing open receivers, the Gainesville idol gave one of the most famous speeches in college football history: “You will never see a team play harder than we will the rest of the season.” The Gators then went on to crush quality opponents Arkansas, LSU, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida State and Alabama by an average of 31.8 points per game. The win over No. 1 and unbeaten Alabama pushed the Gators into the national title game against another No. 1. The Chosen One then delivered on his promise (and halftime speech) by throwing for 231 yards and two scores while rushing for 109 yards on 22 carries to outlast Oklahoma 24-14. He claimed his second national championship in three years before announcing he would return for his senior year. The 2008 Gators tied the 1996 national champs as the highest-scoring team in school history (611 points).

4. Alabama Crimson Tide, 2011 (12-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: Nick Saban
Championships: BCS National Championship
Key Stats: Set a BCS era record with 8.2 points allowed per game, led the nation in total defense (183.6 ypg), rushing defense (72.2 ypg) and passing defense (111.5 ypg). Held LSU to zero points, five first downs and 92 yards of offense in the BCS title game.
Award Winners: Trent Richardson (Doak Walker Award, SEC Off. Player of the Year), Barrett Jones (Outland Trophy, Wuerffel Trophy)
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: Trent Richardson (1st, 2012), Mark Barron (1st, 2012) Dre Kirkpatrick (1st, 2012), Dont'a Hightower (1st, 2012), Courtney Upshaw (2nd, 2012)

As Athlon Sports' preseason pick as the National Champion, Alabama rolled through its schedule — which included easy victories over three ranked opponents — until the "Game of the Century" on November 5 against LSU. The Tide outplayed the Tigers on offense and defense in that game, but was destroyed on special teams and it cost Saban a perfect season. After crushing rival Auburn, the Tide headed to New Orleans for a rematch with LSU. In a performance that would make the Bear weep openly, the Tide held Jordan Jefferson and the Bayou Bengals to five first downs, 92 yards of offense and no points. Alabama led the nation in every major defensive team NCAA statistic and it showed in the title game. This Crimson Tide team is the only BCS National Champion who failed to win its conference championship and the offense did not possess the same level of explosive talent on offense (and it lost a game) to be ranked ahead of the 2009 Alabama title squad.

5. , 2003 (13-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: Nick Saban
Championships: SEC, BCS National Championship
Key Stats: Only one time did a team score more than 14 points against LSU (Arkansas, 24). Led the nation in total defense (252.0 ypg) and scoring defense (11.0 ppg), held Heisman winner Jason White to 13-of-37 passing in title game.
Award Winners: Chad Lavalais (SEC Def. Player of the Year), Nick Saban (AP National Coach of the Year), Justin Vincent (Sugar Bowl MVP)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Michael Clayton (1st, 2004), Devery Henderson (2nd, 2004), Marquise Hill (2nd, 2004), Marcus Spears (1st, 2005), Corey Webster (2nd, 2005), Joseph Addai (1st, 2006), Andrew Whitworth (2nd, 2006), LaRon Landry (1st, 2007), Dwayne Bowe (1st, 2007), Chris Davis (1st, 2007)

Armed with the nation’s nastiest defense, Nick Saban restored the LSU name to prominence in only his fourth year at the helm. His team led the nation in total defense at 252 yards per game and scoring defense at exactly 11.0 points per game. Arkansas was the only team to score more than 14 points against the Bayou Bengals in 2003. Quarterback Matt Mauck steered the ship, freshman Justin Vincent and sophomore Joseph Addai powered the offense and one of the deepest receiving corps in history gave LSU tremendous balance. With three one-loss teams sitting atop the standings — and USC ranked No. 1 in both the AP and Coaches Poll — the computers controversially placed the Sooners in the National Championship game against the Tigers. After the 21-14 win over an Oklahoma team boasting the Heisman, Thorpe, Lombardi and Bednarik winners, LSU claimed the BCS national title — splitting the votes with USC. It was their first national championship since 1958.

6. Alabama Crimson Tide, 2012 (13-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: Nick Saban
Championship: SEC, BCS National Championship
Key Stats: Led the nation in rushing and total defense for the second straight year and was second nationally in scoring defense, AJ McCarron was second nationally in passing efficiency. 
Award Winners: Barrett Jones (Rimington)
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: N/A

The 2012 Crimson Tide championship team isn't as strong defensively as the unit that dominated the college football landscape the year before, but defending a title is almost always more difficult than winning the first one. AJ McCarron had spotlight moments all season long, including 264 yards and four touchdowns against Notre Dame in the title game. Had McCarron not thrown the goal-line interception against Texas A&M, this team would have easily landed in the top five. This team rolled up 529 yards of offense in one of the more impressive title game performances in the 15-year history of the BCS. And did it against one of the best defenses in the nation.

7. , 2004 (13-0, 8-0)
Head Coach: Tommy Tuberville
Championships: SEC, Sugar Bowl
Key Stats: The Tigers finished the regular season No. 3 in the BCS standings, led the nation in scoring defense (11.3 ppg), led the SEC in scoring offense (32.1 ppg); Jason Campbell led the league in passing efficiency (172.89).
Award Winners: Carlos Rogers (Thorpe), Jason Campbell (SEC Off. Player of the Year), Carnell Williams (SEC Special Teamer of the Year), Tommy Tuberville (AP National, SEC Coach of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Ronnie Brown (1st, 2005), Carnell Williams (1st, 2005), Carlos Rogers (1st, 2005), Jason Campbell (1st, 2005), Marcus McNeill (2nd, 2006), Ben Grubbs (1st, 2007)

The 2004 Auburn Tigers backfield might be one of the most talented in college football history. Ronnie Brown, Carnell Williams (Kenny Irons was redshirting) and Jason Campbell led the Tigers to an unblemished record. Only two teams stayed within 10 points of Auburn during the regular season (LSU 10-9, Alabama 21-13) while the three-headed backfield pounded opposing defenses. While Auburn beat four ranked teams, it missed out on the BCS national title game to an undefeated Oklahoma team. The Sooners got crushed by USC while Auburn snuck past Virginia Tech to win the Sugar Bowl. To this day, Tigers fan rue the missed opportunity of 2004. Auburn would have been a heavy underdog to USC and was defeated by what was largely the same team at home the year before 23-0. But it would have been fun to watch the two teams square off.

8. Florida Gators, 2009 (13-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: Urban Meyer
Championships: SEC East, Sugar Bowl
Key Stats: Tim Tebow led the nation in passing efficiency (164.17), set the SEC all-time total offense record (12,232 yards), and the SEC’s all-time touchdowns responsible for record (145).
Award Winners: Aaron Hernandez (John Mackey), Maurkice Pouncey (Rimington), Tim Tebow (SEC Off. Player of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Tim Tebow (1st, 2010), Joe Haden (1st, 2010), Maurkice Pouncey (1st, 2010), Carlos Dunlap (2nd, 2010), Jermaine Cunningham (2nd, 2010), Brandon Spikes (2nd, 2010), Mike Pouncey (1st, 2011), Marcus Gilbert (2nd, 2011)

After the Gators claimed the 2008 BCS National Championship, Tim Tebow decided to return to Gainesville for his senior season. He led the Gators to an undefeated regular season mark and berth in the SEC Championship game against No. 2 Alabama. The rematch of the 2008 SEC title game went the way of the Tide 32-13, as Greg McElroy outplayed Tebow. While it was not the third national title he wanted, Tebow finished his career by setting a BCS bowl record for total yards with 533 and passing yards with 482 in the 51-24 win over Cincinnati. It was only the Gators' second win over a ranked opponent all season.

9. Auburn Tigers, 2010 (14-0, 8-0)
Head Coach: Gene Chizik
Championships: SEC, BCS National Championship
Key Stats: Cam Newton's 4,327 yards of total offense set a single-season SEC record; Tigers set a school record with 41.2 points per game, led the nation in passing efficiency 180.52, won seven games by one score or less.
Award Winners: Cam Newton (Heisman Trophy, Maxwell, Davey O’Brien, SEC Off. Player of Year), Nick Fairley (Lombardi), Lee Ziemba (SEC Top Blocker)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Cam Newton (1st, 2011), Nick Fairley (1st, 2011)

One-year wonders Cam Newton and Nick Fairley gave Auburn arguably its most important recruiting haul in history when they both chose the Loveliest Village on the Plains. The Heisman Trophy winner willed his team to victory against Mississippi State, Clemson, Kentucky, Alabama, Oregon and defined his legacy with an incredible 49-yard touchdown run in the third quarter of a tied game with LSU. His 217 rushing yards in the 24-17 win over the Tigers broke a single-game SEC rushing record for a quarterback. Newton finished with 2,854 yards passing, 1,473 yards rushing and an SEC second-best 51 total touchdowns. This is the only 14-win team in school history and was the highest-scoring Tigers team in program history by a wide margin — their 577 points topped Terry Bowden’s 1995 team by 139 points (41.2 ppg against 36.5 ppg).

10. Florida Gators, 2006 (13-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: Urban Meyer
Championships: SEC, BCS National Championship
Key Stats: Florida held Heisman winner Troy Smith to four completions in the title game and the Buckeyes to 82 total yards.
Award Winners: Percy Harvin (SEC Freshman of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Reggie Nelson (1st, 2007), Jarvis Moss (1st, 2007), Derrick Harvey (1st, 2008), Percy Harvin (1st, 2009), Tim Tebow (1st, 2010), Jermaine Cunningham (2nd, 2010), Brandon Spikes (2nd, 2010)

After defeating a ranked Tennessee, LSU, Georgia and Arkansas, the Florida Gators entered the 2006 BCS national title game as a big underdog to Ohio State. But an NFL-heavy defense delivered one of the greatest defensive performances in championship game history. Jarvis Moss, Reggie Nelson, Derrick Harvey and company harassed Heisman winner Troy Smith all day. Smith threw for 35 yards, no touchdowns, one interception and was sacked five times. They held the OSU rushing attack to 47 yards on 23 carries. Ohio State totaled 82 yards of offense in the 41-14 beatdown. Cult hero Tim Tebow touched the ball 11 times and scored twice to begin his eternal legacy at Florida. This team produced nine 2007 NFL Draft picks alone. The only loss came at the hands of No. 11 Auburn 27-17 in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

11. LSU Tigers, 2007 (12-2, 6-2)
Head Coach: Les Miles
Championships: SEC, BCS National Championship
Key Stats: LSU beat seven ranked teams; the only BCS champion with two losses.
Award Winners: Glenn Dorsey (Outland, Lombardi, Nagurski, Lott, SEC Def. Player of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Glenn Dorsey (1st, 2008), Tyson Jackson (1st, 2009)

By definition only, this is the “worst” BCS national champion due to its two losses. However, wins over ranked Virginia Tech, South Carolina, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee (with back-up quarterback Ryan Perrilloux) and Ohio State gave the Bayou Bengals the crystal football nonetheless. The Tigers were undefeated in regulation, however, as both Kentucky and Arkansas needed overtime to top them. Despite the two losses and the 83 combined points allowed, the LSU Tigers defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes in relatively easy fashion 38-24. Matt Flynn threw four touchdown passes, and the defense, led by an 8-tackle, 1.5-sack, forced fumble performance by Ali Highsmith, kept the Bucks at arm’s length the entire game. It was the Tigers' second national title in five years.

12. Alabama Crimson Tide, 2008 (12-2, 7-1)
Head Coach: Nick Saban
Championships: SEC West
Key Stats: Finished No. 2 nationally against the run (74.1 ypg) and third nationally in total defense (263.5 ypg); John Parker Wilson’s 7,924 yards are an all-time Alabama record.
Award Winners: Andre Smith (Outland), Nick Saban (SEC Coach of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Andre Smith (1st, 2009), Rolando McClain (1st, 2010), Kareem Jackson (1st, 2010), Mark Ingram (1st, 2011), James Carpenter (1st, 2011), Marcell Dareus (1st, 2011), Julio Jones (1st, 2011)

In Nick Saban’s second season at The Capstone, the Tide was quickly back in the national title picture. The Tide boasted a senior-laden offense, beat three ranked teams for an 8-0 SEC record and were the No. 1 team in the land when they headed to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game with the No. 2-ranked Florida Gators. The Gators' defense foiled the Tide’s hopes for a national title by holding quarterback John Parker Wilson to 12-of-25 passing, no touchdowns and one key interception. The loss to Florida sent Alabama to the Sugar Bowl against an unbeaten Utah team. Without Andre Smith — or a chance at the crystal football — the Tide failed to play motivated football and fell 31-17 to what might be considered the best Ute team in program history.

13. LSU Tigers, 2011 (13-1, 8-0)
Head Coach: Les Miles
Championships: SEC
Key Stats: No. 2 nationally in total and scoring defense, No. 2 nationally in turnover margin
Award Winners: Morris Claiborne (Thorpe Award)
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: Morris Claiborne (1st, 2012), Michael Brockers (1st, 2012), Reuben Randle (2nd, 2012)

This team was nearly as dominant on defense as the eventual national champion Crimson Tide, but its offense paled in comparison. A perfect regular season was tainted with arguably the worst performance in the BCS National Championship in the 15-year history of the game. Certainly, Alabama deserves credit for why LSU struggled so mightily in New Orleans last year. But 92 total yards of offense and five first downs indicated the 13-0 record was not nearly as pretty as previously assumed. This is the only team to be shutout in the BCS title game and is the only SEC team to ever lose the BCS title game.

14. Georgia Bulldogs, 2002 (13-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: Mark Richt
Championships: SEC, Sugar Bowl
Key Stats: Finished fourth in the nation in scoring defense (15.1 ppg) and led the SEC in scoring (32.1); no Georgia team has scored more than 2002’s 450 points.
Award Winners: David Pollack (SEC Player of the Year), Mark Richt (SEC Coach of the Year), Musa Smith (Sugar Bowl MVP)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Jonathan Sullivan (1st, 2003), George Foster (1st, 2003), Boss Bailey (2nd, 2003), Jon Stinchcomb (2nd, 2003), Ben Watson (1st, 2004), Sean Jones (2nd, 2004), David Pollack (1st, 2005), Thomas Davis (1st, 2005), Reggie Brown (2nd, 2005), Tim Jennings (2nd, 2006)

No Georgia team has ever won more games or scored more points in a single season than the 2002 edition. And other than the 1980 Vince Dooley team and the 1945 Wallace Butts team, no Dawgs squad has had a better record than the 13-1 mark. Led by David Greene at quarterback and a stacked defense (Pollack, Davis, Jones, Jennings), Georgia rolled to an 8-0 mark before losing in the Cocktail Party 20-13 to Florida. After being knocked out of the national title hunt, Georgia crushed Ole Miss, topped Auburn, pummeled rival Georgia Tech before destroying Arkansas in the SEC title game. They capped the season with a Sugar Bowl title over Florida State.

15. Georgia Bulldogs, 2007 (11-2, 6-2)
Head Coach: Mark Richt
Championships: Sugar Bowl
Key Stats: This team led the SEC in sacks (3.23 pg) and was eighth nationally; Georgia’s 42-30 win over Florida was only the second win over the Gators in 10 tries; this was the second-highest scoring team in school history at 32.6 points per game.
Award Winners: Knowshon Moreno (SEC Freshman of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Matthew Stafford (1st, 2009), Knowshon Moreno (1st, 2009), Mohamed Massaquoi (2nd, 2009)

The most talented quarterback in school history, Matthew Stafford came close to leading Georgia back to the national title game. An early loss to South Carolina did not end the Dawgs' title hopes, however, an inexplicable 35-14 road loss to underdog Tennessee did cost Mark Richt a chance at playing a two-loss LSU in the SEC title game. The Tigers defeated the Volunteers, who won the SEC East crown via a tie-breaker, and went on to beat Ohio State in the BCS national championship game, while Georgia was left to face an undefeated Hawaii team in the Sugar Bowl — in the same building as LSU. Georgia forced six turnovers and held the Warriors to minus-5 yards rushing in the 41-10 victory. Stafford was the first overall pick in the draft one year later.

<p> Top 15 SEC Football Teams of the BCS Era</p>
Post date: Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 06:10
Path: /nfl/15-greatest-plays-super-bowl-history

What defines a great play?

Degree of difficulty? Gravity of the moment? The greatness of the players involved and their place in NFL history? Entertainment factor? How about all of the above.

Game-winning touchdowns, heroic out-of-body experiences, historic moments and even some hilarious gaffes — looking at you Garo Yepremian — all make the Super Bowl the greatest sporting event of the calendar year. Hall of Fame careers are made and broken in the final football game of the season and trying to narrow down half-a-century of action to the 10 best individual plays is virtually impossible.

1. Super Bowl XXXIV: One Yard Short
The Titans and Rams put on a second-half show for the fans in Atlanta. Kurt Warner hit Isaac Bruce on a 73-yard touchdown pass with just over two minutes to go in a tie game to take the lead. Steve McNair then whirled his way down the field to the St. Louis 10-yard line to set up the final play of the game. Mike Jones then made the play of his career by tackling Kevin Dyson of the game-tying touchdown. It would have been the first and only overtime game in Super Bowl history.

2. Super Bowl XXXII: John Elway’s helicopter run
It was the defining moment of what many believe is the best Super Bowl ever played. It was third-and-six from the Packers 12-yard line with the game tied 17-17 in the second half. One of the game’s greatest players drops back to pass, scrambles right and then dives into the air in the face of three Green Bay defenders. . Terrell Davis scored the go-ahead touchdown two plays later and Elway wins his first Super Bowl.

3. Super Bowl XXV: Scott Norwood’s wide right
There have been many game-winning field goals in Super Bowl history — but none on the final snap with one team trailing and the chance to win the game. Adam Vinatieri’s kicks were clutch but those games would have gone into overtime had he missed. No, Scott Norwood became the only true goat of a Super Bowl when his 47-yard field goal sailed just inches wide right. The miss capped an extraordinary drive that capped an extraordinary game stacked with Hall of Fame players and coaches.

4. Super Bowl XXIII: Joe Montana to John Taylor
The 10-yard pass to John Taylor with 39 seconds left wasn’t in and of itself a miraculous play. It wasn’t all that difficult and it wasn’t all that remarkable. But it represents all that Joe Montana was as an NFL Hall of Famer. He got the ball with 3:10 left on the clock down 16-13 on his own eight-yard line and all he can think about is John Candy. It is the latest game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl history.

5. Super Bowl XLII: Eli Manning to David Tyree (and Plaxico Burress)
In terms of degree of difficulty, few plays in any game much less the Super Bowl can match this one. Eli Manning's Houdini act in the pocket to avoid getting sacked is nearly as impressive as David Tyree’s duct tape and chicken wire helmet catch in traffic 32 yards down the field. Four plays later, Manning floated a 13-yard game-winning touchdown to a wide open Plaxico Burress to give the Patriots their one and only loss of the season. After three extremely slow quarters, Super Bowl XLII ended in extraordinary fashion.

6. Super Bowl XLIII: Big Ben to Santonio Holmes
The Cardinals entered the fourth quarter trailing the Steelers 20-7. Kurt Warner then proceeded to score 16 straight points to take a three-point lead over Pittsburgh with just over two minutes to play. Ben Roethlisberger then marched his team to the Arizona six-yard line where, with unbelievable accuracy and some magic toes at his disposal, he somehow connects with Santonio Holmes with 35 seconds left to play.

7. Super Bowl XVIII: Marcus Allen 74-yard run
It is likely the most impressive run in Super Bowl history. After twisting and changing directions in the backfield, Marcus Allen split the heart of the Washington Redskins defense for the longest run in Super Bowl history (later broken by Willie Parker). The play capped the third quarter and put a fork in the ‘Skins hopes. Allen finished with 191 yards rushing and was named the MVP.

8. Super Bowl XVII: The Diesel’s fourth-and-one gallop
The Redskins were trailing 17-13 with 10 minutes to go in the game facing a fourth-and-one on the Miami 43-yard line. Joe Gibbs leaves his offense on the field and calls ’70 chip’ for his star running back John Riggins. The burly runner, nicknamed The Diesel, breaks a tackle, bounces the play off tackle and races 43 yards for the game-winning touchdown. The play epitomized who Riggins was as a ball carrier.

9. Super Bowl X: Lynn Swann’s Magical Reception
When it comes to acrobatic, spectacular catches, Tyree might not even be able top the grace of Lynn Swann. From deep in his own territory, the eventual game MVP reeled in a 53-yard touchdown pass from Terry Bradshaw that changed the game. Mark Washington is in perfect position to make a play on the ball for the Cowboys, but somehow Swann out leaps the defender, bobbles the ball and hauls in the pass as he is falling to the ground. Swann finished with four receptions for 161 yards and the game-winning 64-yard touchdown catch as well. This clash of the titans was won with style and grace.

10. Super Bowl III: Joe Namath’s Called Shot/Finger Wag
It wasn’t technically one play, but Joe Namath’s guarantee and subsequent history finger wag will go down in Super Bowl lore. It was likely the most important Super Bowl ever played. It was the biggest upset in Super Bowl history. And the moment could have only been made possible by a brash personality like Namath.

11. Super Bowl XLIV: Saints onside kick to start second half
Possibly the ballsiest call in Super Bowl history, Sean Payton converts on an onside kick to start the second half and it sets the tone for the Saints' storied Super Bowl championship.

12. Super Bowl XXXVI: Adam Vinatieri Part I
Vinatieri Part I capped Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s coming out party as they upset the heavily favored Rams with a 48-yard game winner.

13. Super Bowl XXXVIII: Adam Vinatieri Part II
An underrated Super Bowl ended with Vinatieri Part II when he broke the 29-29 tie as time expired against the Panthers.

14. Super Bowl XXVII: Leon Lett chased down by Don Beebe
The game wasn’t close and the play didn’t really matter, but no one will ever forget little Don Beebe embarrassing big Leon Lett at the goalline.

15. Super Bowl I: Max McGee one-hander
A hungover, second-string Max McGee makes a spectacular one-handed catch to score the first touchdown in Super Bowl history.

Best of the Rest:

16. Super Bowl XIV: Bradshaw to Stallworth for 73-yard game winner
17. Super Bowl XX: William Perry steals Sweetness’ touchdown
18. Super Bowl XLVI: Manning to Manningham Sideline Fade
19. Super Bowl XIII: Jackie Smith is sickest man in America
20. Super Bowl XXXI: Desmond Howard’s 99-yard kickoff return TD

Check out Athlon Sports' special for more coverage on the Ravens vs. 49ers and the history of the big game.

<p> Top 15 Greatest Plays in Super Bowl History</p>
Post date: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/ac100-finalized-top-25-recruits-2013

After over a year of evaluation that includes underclassman combines, spring and summer camps, the fall high school season and winter All-Star events, the is finalized.

Names like Mississippi State’s Chris Jones, Alabama’s Derrick Henry and Oregon’s Thomas Tyner saw their stock sky-rocket in the final rankings while others like Michigan’s Shane Morris watched their names fall precipitously in the AC100.

Every prospect in the is an elite talent who is highly coveted by essentially every program in the nation. But only the best of the best earn “five-star” status by landing in the Top 25.

1. Robert Nkemdiche, DE (6-4, 285)
Loganville (Ga.) Grayson
Finalists: LSU, Ole Miss

From start to finish, the big defensive end from Georgia was the consensus No. 1 overall player in the nation by all four recruiting websites — Rivals, Scout, ESPN and 247Sports. He has an elite combination of size and speed to go with a motor that rarely slows down. He has offers from every major school in the nation and had previously been committed to Clemson. However, his older brother, Denzel, was a redshirt freshman at Ole Miss in 2012 and the Rebels have been arguably the hottest team in recruiting the last few months. It should come down to LSU and Ole Miss for Nkemdiche (pronounced Kem-dee-chee).

2. Jaylon Smith, LB (6-3, 220)
Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Luers
Committed: Notre Dame

After a great showing in the US Army Bowl, Smith jumped to the No. 2 slot in the nation. He has an elite hybrid frame to play outside linebacker and defensive end on the next level. He led his team to four consecutive state championships for Luers High School playing both offense (150 yards rushing and 3 TDs in the title game) and defense. He is a hard worker, an excellent leader and a perfect fit at Notre Dame.

3. Vernon Hargreaves III, DB (5-11, 185)
Tampa (Fla.) Wharton
Committed: Florida

Much like Smith, Hargreaves III performed at an elite level in a national all-star event this winter. He posted five tackles, two pass breakups and an interception to earn MVP honors of the Under Armour All-America Game. He is the top coverman in the nation and is headed to Florida to continue the recent trend of outstanding young cornerbacks (Joe Haden, Janoris Jenkins, etc.). He is strong, fast, savvy and a near lock to contribute right away in 2013.

4. Laremy Tunsil, OL (6-6, 295)
Lake City (Fla.) Columbia
Finalists: Alabama, Ole Miss, Georgia, Florida State

The No. 1 offensive lineman in the nation is a highly coveted youngster from The Sunshine State. The massive Tunsil has all the necessary tools — size, power, strength, agility, killer instinct — to be a bookend left tackle at the next level. He will spend the final two months of the recruiting process visiting his finalists: Alabama, Ole Miss, Georgia and Florida State.

5. Su’a Cravens, DB (6-1, 205)
Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrieta
Committed: USC

If fans are looking for the next great USC safety, Cravens is the guy. In the T.J. McDonald-Taylor Mays mold, Cravens has a big frame and speed to match. He can play all over the secondary giving him the chance to contribute early in nickel and dime situations. He is a hard worker and has been well coached by Vista head man and former star Trojans linebacker Chris Claiborne.


6. Eddie Vanderdoes, DT (6-3, 300)
Placer (Calif.) High
Finalists: USC, Notre Dame, Washington, UCLA, Alabama

A long-time USC commitment, Vanderdoes reopened his recruitment late in December. The massive defensive tackle is the best player at his position nationally and has the ability to be a three-down interior lineman. He wanted to revisit some of his other options and it appears Notre Dame, Alabama, Washington and UCLA are now all in the mix for the D-lineman. Rumors are swirling that USC is still the team to beat when Vanderdoes makes his official announcement on National Signing Day (Feb. 6) at Placer High School.

7. Reuben Foster, LB (6-1, 250)
Auburn (Ala.) High
Finalists: Alabama, Auburn, Washington, Georgia

A burly linebacker, Foster is physically prepared to contribute right away on the college level. There is no doubting his rare athletic talents as a true interior thumper at middle linebacker. And following his recruitment has been equally as compelling as his tackling ability. He first committed to Alabama before switching to Auburn (and getting an AU tattoo to prove it). He then decommitted a second time from the Tigers and the race to the finish should be exciting. Both the Tide and the Tigers are still in the mix as Washington and Georgia will figure prominently as well. Stay tuned!

8. Matthew Thomas, LB (6-3, 210)
Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington
Finalists: Miami, Florida State, Georgia, Alabama, USC

A Miami area Defensive Player of the Year as a junior, Thomas developed into one of the best tacklers in the nation this fall. With added bulk and power, he should be a versatile weapon in any defensive front. It appears five schools will be in the mix for Thomas’ services: Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Miami and USC. It may be hard to beat the state of Florida in this one.

9. Kenny Bigelow, DT (6-3, 300)
Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian
Committed: USC

Despite his excellent frame and overall size, Bigelow was athletic enough to excel at linebacker and tight end at Eastern Christian. This gives him the feet and quickness to be a disruptive force against the heart of the offensive line. He should be able to play all three downs at tackle and will be joined at USC by high school teammate and fellow AC100 prospect Khaliel Rodgers.

10. Montravius Adams, DT (6-4, 300)
Vienna (Ga.) Dooly County
Finalists: Georgia, Clemson, Alabama, Florida, Auburn

The No. 2 Peach State prospect is the third defensive tackle in the 2013 Top 10 making this a deep class at the nose guard position. Adams appears like an intense battle between Georgia and Clemson that will go down to the wire but Alabama, Auburn and Florida might be in the mix as well. He is an explosive player who posted 25 sacks over a two-year span at Dooly County (2010-11).

11. Max Browne, QB (6-5, 210)
Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline
Committed: USC

The No. 1 quarterback in the nation hails from the same high school as the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the 2010 class, Jake Heaps. USC fans are hoping Browne pans out better than Heaps did for BYU. Browne is a poised, polished, mature leader and appears ready to challenge for early playing time in SoCal. He capped his high school career with an unbeaten 4A state championship by throwing for 4,526 yards, 49 touchdowns and just five interceptions on 73.5-percent passing. He finished with an Evergreen State record 12,947 yards passing and 882 completions. His performance earned him the Gatorade National Football Player of the Year award.

12. Derrick Henry, RB (6-3, 245)
Yulee (Fla.) High
Committed: Alabama

A late riser in the recruiting rankings, Henry jumped Kelvin Taylor as the No. 1 running back recruit in the nation. The massive talent might not end his Alabama Crimson Tide career at running back, but he will go down as one of the best prep runners in history. He set the 59-year-old national high school rushing record with 11,610 yards in his YHS career (Ken Hall, 11,232 yards). Henry excelled in San Antonio at the US Army Bowl as a running back, but as his size, Nick Saban has to consider him an option at a variety of positions.

13. Christian Hackenberg, QB (6-4, 210)
Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy
Committed: Penn State

The race to be recognized as the nation’s No. 1 quarterback prospect ended up being much closer than anticipated. Hackenberg was clearly the best passer at the Under Armour Game and might have more upside than Browne. He has a big frame with room to grow, a powerful arm and is accurate with the football. His skill set is exactly what head coach Bill O’Brien is looking for at Penn State and having a talent like Hackenberg poised to step on campus had to be a big part of why the head coach stayed in Happy Valley.

14. Laquon Treadwell, WR (6-3, 195)
Crete (Ill.) Crete-Monee
Committed: Ole Miss

The No. 1 wide receiver in the nation is heading into the deep South to play his college football. The Chicago area talent recently committed to Ole Miss over Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The surging Rebels are getting an electric prospect who is widely considered one of the most physically advanced and college-ready players in the class. Many also believe Treadwell is the best receiver to come out of the Chicagoland area in the modern recruiting era — which includes Kyle Prater, the No. 1 WR in the 2010 class.

15. Jalen Ramsey, DB (6-0, 190)
Nashville (Tenn.) Brentwood Academy
Committed: USC

A unique and interesting personality, Ramsey has the size, speed, intelligence and work ethic to play all over the field in college. He projects as a cornerback currently but has the length and frame to grow into an elite safety should his coaching staff decide that is where he fits best. He is committed to USC but the Trojans will have to fight Vanderbilt, Alabama, Florida and others to keep the talented defensive back in the fold down the stretch.


16. Kendall Fuller, DB (6-0, 175)
Olney (Md.) Good Counsel
Committed: Virginia Tech

There was little doubt where this elite talent would be playing his college football. With three older brothers, Kyle, Corey and Vincent, making names for themselves in Blacksburg, Va., it came as no surprise that Kendall picked Virginia Tech over Clemson. The youngest Fuller is similar to current Hokie star Kyle in his ability to lock down receivers and play a physical brand of football.

17. Jonathan Allen, LB (6-3, 255)
Ashburn (Va.) Stone Bridge
Committed: Alabama

If SEC fans are looking for the next Jarvis Jones, Allen might be the guy. He is an explosive up the field player who will terrorize opposing quarterbacks as well as ball carriers. He is one of the most decorated players in Virginia prep football and will undoubtedly be a star in Nick Saban’s linebacker-friendly system in Tuscaloosa.

18. Chris Jones, DE (6-5, 250)
Houston (Miss.) High
Committed: Mississippi State

The fastest riser in the nation this cycle is the big defensive end from The Magnolia State. He committed to Mississippi State back in the summer when he was listed as a three-star recruit by most services. After a stellar senior year and strong showing in the Under Armour Game, he has sky-rocketed to five-star status. He posted 160 tackles, 45 tackles for loss and 14 sacks as a senior and made it all the way to No. 2 in the nation by Either way, the talent evaluators are smitten with Mr. Jones.

19. O.J. Howard, TE (6-5, 220)
Prattville (Ala.) Autauga
Committed: Alabama

The No. 1 tight end in the nation is headed to Alabama with an impressive resume. He was named AISA Lineman of the Year in The Yellowhammer State this fall after finishing with 12 touchdowns on offense and 57 tackles on defense. All of this while missing four games. He is already enrolled in classes at Alabama, and, with his impressive athletic frame, should provide instant help for Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron.

20. Thomas Tyner, RB (6-0, 205)
Beaverton (Ore.) Aloha
Committed: Oregon

The big-time running back is a two-time 6A Offensive Player of the Year in the state of Oregon and set the single-season state rushing record with 3,415 yards this fall. He set two other state records by rushing for 643 yards and 10 scores in one game this season as well. To top it all off, Tyner holds the state 100m track record as well. He is currently committed to Oregon where he would have a chance to play in arguably the best offensive system in the nation — with or without Chip Kelly. His skills are a perfect fit for Mark Helfrich’s speed-based rushing attack.


21. Carl Lawson, DE (6-3, 245)
Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton
Committed: Auburn

The big-time defensive lineman is currently committed to Auburn, although the coaching change on the Plains has created rumors that a host of other programs are making a charge. Ole Miss, Tennessee, North Carolina and Clemson could find themselves in the mix for Lawson should he look elsewhere. No matter where he signs, he brings prototypical size and skills to the defensive end position and should help a defense right away.

22. Kelvin Taylor, RB (5-10, 215)
Bell Glade (Fla.) Glades Day
Committed: Florida

If the last name is familiar for Gators fans, it should be. The son of Florida legend Fred Taylor, Kelvin has been a Sunshine State prep star for years. He rushed for 103 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries in his first high school game — as an 8th grader. He has prototypical running back size, power and speed and will try to follow in his father’s footsteps in Gainesville. He finished his career with 10,688 yards and won two 2A state championships.

23. Robert Foster, WR (6-3, 190)
Monaca (Pa.) Central Valley
Committed: Alabama

Nick Saban continues to recruit the Northeast heavily and with success. Foster is the No. 2 wide receiver in the nation and the No. 1 player in the state of Pennsylvania and he is headed to the two-time defending champs. A mature athlete, academics and competing for championships were atop Foster’s wish list. He has a big frame, can play inside or outside on offense and will be an option in the return game as well.

24. Keith Ford, RB (5-11, 203)
Cypress (Texas) Cypress Ranch
Committed: Oklahoma

In a game filled with miscues and defensive dominance, Ford might have been the most productive offensive player in the Under Armour game. An electric kickoff return provided one of the few big plays of the game. It displayed all that Ford will be for the Oklahoma Sooners. He has wiggle in the open field, the speed to get to the edge and will develop plenty of power and strength to move the chains inside. The top player in the state of Texas totaled 2,368 yards from scrimmage and scored 28 total touchdowns as a senior.

25. Ricky Seals-Jean, ATH (6-5, 230)
Sealy (Texas) High
Committed: Texas A&M

Versatility is the name of the game for RSJ. The jumbo athlete projects as a wide receiver, tight end or at a variety of spots on defense. That said, his recent verbal commitment to Texas A&M has to indicate his desire to play offense. The former Texas Longhorn commitment tore up his knee early in his senior season, resulting in Mack Brown backing off. However, Seals-Jean recovered nicely to play well in the US Army Bowl and will now be a dangerous down the field target for reigning Heisman Trophy recipient Johnny Manziel.

View the complete

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<p> AC100 Finalized: The Top 25 Recruits of 2013</p>
Post date: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - 06:50
Path: /college-football/top-10-pac-12-teams-bcs-era

The BCS just put a bow on its 15th season of action and Athlon has dissected the numbers and reviewed the tapes of all six BCS conferences in order to rank the best each league has had to offer. Which Oklahoma team was the best of the decade? Which Florida team was the toughest to stop? How do you rank the Florida State teams of the late '90s? Which Miami team was the best? How about those loaded USC teams? Alabama vs. Auburn?

The debates will rage on for decades, but here is Athlon's two cents. Here are the Top 10 Pac-12 teams of the BCS Era (1998-present):

Note: "First Day" indicates 1st and 2nd round NFL Draft picks

1. USC Trojans, 2004 (13-0, 8-0)
Head Coach: Pete Carroll
Championships: Pac-12, Orange Bowl, National Championship
Key Stats: Led the nation in rushing defense (79.4 ypg) and turnover margin (+1.46), led the Pac-10 in scoring (38.2 ppg) and finished No. 3 nationally in scoring defense (13.0 ppg), USC did not rank below third in the Pac-10 in any of the 14 tracked team stats.
Award Winners: Matt Leinart (Heisman Trophy, Walter Camp, Pac-10 Co-Off. Player of the Year), Reggie Bush (Pac-10 Co-Off. Player of the Year), Shaun Cody (Pac-10 Co-Def. Player of the Year),
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Shaun Cody (2nd, 2005), Lofa Tatupu (2nd, 2005), Matt Leinart (1st, 2006), Reggie Bush (1st, 2006), LenDale White (2nd, 2006), Winston Justice (2nd, 2006), Deuce Lutui (2nd, 2006), Steve Smith (2nd, 2007), Ryan Kalil (2nd, 2007), Lawrence Jackson (1st, 2008), Sam Baker (1st, 2008), Sedrick Ellis (1st, 2008), Keith Rivers (1st, 2008), Fred Davis (2nd, 2008), Chilo Rachal (2nd, 2008), Terrell Thomas (2nd, 2008), Clay Matthews (1st, 2009), Fili Moala (2nd, 2009)

The best team in the Pac-10 since the BCS began might have been the best team in any league during the BCS era. After a split national title in 2003 with LSU, the Trojans entered 2004 as the No. 1 team in the nation. An opening weekend win over ACC champ Virginia Tech in Landover started what would become a magical ride to a BCS National Championship. The Trojans went wire to wire as the No. 1 team in the nation, claimed the Heisman Trophy and put together the most impressive national championship game in the brief history of the BCS. Quarterback Matt Leinart, in his second year under center and armed with an NFL roster full of skill players, led the Pac-10 in passing efficiency (156.54) and finished with 3,322 yards and 36 total touchdowns (against only six interceptions). He capped his Heisman campaign with 332 yards and a BCS bowl record five touchdown passes in the destruction of unbeaten No. 2 Oklahoma. The two-headed rushing attack of LenDale White (1,108 yards, 15 TDs) and Reggie Bush (1,416 yards from scrimmage, 15 TDs) made it virtually impossible for anyone to stop the 2004 Trojans. Eighteen different Trojans from the 2004 BCS National Championship team were selected in the first or second rounds of the NFL Draft. This team had the stats, the resume, the undefeated title season, the NFL talent, a superstar coach and is the best Pac-10 team of the BCS era because of it.

2. USC Trojans, 2005 (12-1, 8-0)
Head Coach: Pete Carroll
Championships: Pac-10
Key Stats: Led the nation in total offense (579.8 ypg) and second in the country in scoring (49.1 ppg), Reggie Bush led the nation in all-purpose yards (222.3), allowed 467 yards of total offense to Vince Young in the BCS NCG
Award Winners: Reggie Bush (Heisman Trophy, Doak Walker, Walter Camp, Pac-10 Player of the Year), Pete Carroll (Pac-10 Co-Coach of the Year), Matt Leinart (Johnny Unitas)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Matt Leinart (1st, 2006), Reggie Bush (1st, 2006), LenDale White (2nd, 2006), Winston Justice (2nd, 2006), Deuce Lutui (2nd, 2006), Steve Smith (2nd, 2007), Ryan Kalil (2nd, 2007), Lawrence Jackson (1st, 2008), Sam Baker (1st, 2008), Sedrick Ellis (1st, 2008), Keith Rivers (1st, 2008), Fred Davis (2nd, 2008), Chilo Rachal (2nd, 2008), Terrell Thomas (2nd, 2008), Clay Matthews (1st, 2009), Mark Sanchez (1st, 2009), Brian Cushing (1st, 2009), Rey Maualuga (2nd, 2009), Fili Moala (2nd, 2009), Charles Brown (2nd, 2010)

The defending BCS National Champs returned largely intact for 2005 and began the season ranked No. 1 in the nation. After beating five ranked teams — three of which came on the road — the Men of Troy claimed their fourth straight Pac-10 championship. Do-everything tailback Reggie Bush led the nation in all-purpose yards at 222.3 yards per game and claimed the Heisman Trophy — the second straight for USC (Leinart, 2004). A 513-yard performance and  in a shootout win over a ranked Fresno State team likely clinched the stiff-arm trophy for the dynamic running back. After crushing rival UCLA, the Trojans finished the 2005 season having never left the No. 1 line in the polls. They carried a 34-game winning streak into the BCS National Championship game against Texas in what became the first time two Heisman winners ever played in the same backfield. Leinart threw for a title game record 365 yards, but the Trojans defense could not stop Vince Young in what is the greatest game ever played according to this college football writer. This team had 20 first or second round draft picks on the roster and were 19 seconds away from claiming their third straight national title.

3. USC Trojans, 2003 (12-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: Pete Carroll
Championships: Pac-10, Rose Bowl, AP National Championship
Key Stats: Led the nation in rushing defense (60.2 ypg) and punting (43.7 ypp) and finished second nationally in turnover margin (+1.54), finished first or second in the league in 10 of 14 tracked team stats
Award Winners: Matt Leinart (Pac-10 Off. Player of the Year), Pete Carroll (Home Depot Coach of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Kenechi Udeze (1st, 2004), Jacob Rogers (2nd, 2004), Keary Colbert (2nd, 2004), Mike Williams (1st, 2005), Shaun Cody (2nd, 2005), Lofa Tatupu (2nd, 2005), Matt Leinart (1st, 2006), Reggie Bush (1st, 2006), LenDale White (2nd, 2006), Winston Justice (2nd, 2006), Steve Smith (2nd, 2007), Ryan Kalil (2nd, 2007), Lawrence Jackson (1st, 2008), Sam Baker (1st, 2007), Sedrick Ellis (1st, 2007), Terrell Thomas (2nd, 2007)

After starting the year by crushing No. 6 Auburn in Jordan-Hare Stadium, USC reached No. 3 in the polls before a thrilling triple-overtime loss to Cal 34-31. USC dropped to 10th in the polls and never lost again. Led by first-year starter Matt Leinart, USC crushed Arizona State, Notre Dame, Washington and Arizona on the road and destroyed No. 6 Washington State at home by 27 points. The Trojans finished No. 1 in both the AP and Coaches' Poll at the end of the regular season, but was left out of the BCS championship game for Oklahoma (who got crushed by Kansas State 35-7 in the Big 12 title game). LSU went on to beat the Sooners and USC handled Michigan in the Rose Bowl with relative ease. The AP awarded the Men of Troy the National Championship while the BCS title went to the Bayou Bengals. It was the last split National Championship in college football. This team featured two Heisman Trophy winners and 16 "First Day" draft picks.

4. Oregon Ducks, 2010 (12-1, 9-0)
Head Coach: Chip Kelly
Championships: Pac-10
Key Stats: LaMichael James led the nation in yards rushing per game (144.3) and scoring (12.0 ppg); team led the nation in scoring offense (47.0 ppg) and total offense (530.7 ypg), Darron Thomas threw two key interceptions and the Ducks rushed for 75 yards in the BCS NCG.
Award Winners: LaMichael James (Doak Walker), Chip Kelly (Eddie Robinson, Pac-10 Coach of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: N/A

One of the most powerful, explosive and fast-paced offenses in league history led the nation in scoring and total offense at 530.7 yards per game and 47.0 points per game. The Ducks' run at their first BCS title game began with a 35-point second half in Neyland Stadium against the Tennessee Vols. They scored at least 50 points in the next seven games until Chip Kelly led his team into Berkeley. The only test of the regular season came in the form of a sloppy 15-13 win over Cal that featured a defensive and special teams touchdown. After easy wins over Arizona and Oregon State, the Ducks squared off with Cam Newton and the Auburn Tigers. The highest-scoring, most powerful team in school history (school-record 611 points) was held to 75 yards rushing on 32 carries while Auburn rolled up 254 yards on 50 attempts. Kelly came up three points short as the Tigers kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired.

5. USC Trojans, 2008 (12-1, 8-1)
Head Coach: Pete Carroll
Championships: Pac-10, Rose Bowl
Key Stats: Led the nation in scoring defense at 9.0 points allowed per game, also led the nation in pass defense (134.4 ypg) and pass efficiency defense as well. Finished No. 2 in total defense nationally (221.7 ypg).
Award Winners: Rey Maualuga (Bednarik, Pac-10 Def. Player of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Clay Matthews (1st, 2009), Mark Sanchez (1st, 2009), Brian Cushing (1st, 2009), Rey Maualuga (2nd, 2009), Fili Moala (2nd, 2009), Charles Brown (2nd, 2010), Taylor Mays (2nd, 2010), Tyron Smith (1st, 2011)

After starting the season 2-0 and reaching No. 1 status, first-year starter Mark Sanchez and the Men of Troy got upset on a Thursday night in primetime by true freshman dynamo Jacquizz Rodgers and the Oregon State Beaver. Rodgers ran for 186 yards and the Trojans dropped to No. 9 in the polls. They wouldn't lose again. USC punished ranked opponents Oregon and Cal and crushed rivals Notre Dame and UCLA en route to yet another Rose Bowl appearance. Penn State was no match for USC, losing 38-24. The offense was outstanding with Sanchez utilizing names like Damian Williams, Ronald Johnson, Joe McKnight and Patrick Turner. But the defense was downright unbeatable. One of the greatest linebacking corps in NCAA history — Rey Maualuga, Clay Matthews, Brian Cushing — helped USC lead the nation in scoring defense. Eight teams failed to score more than seven points on the trio in 2008.

6. Oregon Ducks, 2012 (12-1, 8-1)
Head Coach: Chip Kelly
Championships: Fiesta Bowl
Key Stats: Marcus Mariota led the nation in road passing efficiency
Award Winners: Marcus Mariota (Pac-12 Off. Freshman of the Year), 
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: N/A

Like many teams of late — Oklahoma State in 2011 or Boise State in 2010 — the 2012 Ducks were one field goal away from playing for the BCS National Championship. One overtime home loss to an elite Stanford team cost Chip Kelly another shot at the Crystal Ball. This was likely the best defense in Eugene since at least Haloti Ngata's tenure and the backfield was downright unstoppable. Marcus Mariota was the best road passer in the nation, Kenjon Barner shredded defenses and De'Anthony Thomas continues to prove he may be the most explosive player in the country. This team's resume is better than many think as it posted blowout wins over bowls teams Kansas State, Oregon State, Arizona, Washington, Arizona State and USC. 

7. Washington Huskies, 2000 (11-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: Rick Neuheisel
Championships: Pac-10, Rose Bowl
Key Stats: Led the Pac-10 in rushing (211.7 ypg), topped an 11-1 Miami team 34-29
Award Winners: Marques Tuiasosopo (Pac-10 Off. Player of the Year, Rose Bowl MVP)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Marques Tuiasosopo (2nd, 2001), Jerramy Stevens (1st, 2002), Larry Tripplett (2nd, 2002), Tank Johnson (2nd, 2004)

In what might have been the most exciting and competitive season in modern Pac-10 football, a three way round robin tie between a 7-1 Oregon (who beat Washington 23-16 in Autzen Stadium) and a 7-1 Oregon State led to the Huskies earning the trip to Pasadena. Marques Tuiasosopo led Washington past a brutal non-conference slate that included one-loss Miami and head coach Rick Neuheisel's former employer Colorado. A 33-30 win over Oregon State — and an Oregon loss to the Beavers in the Civil War due to five Joey Harrington interceptions — helped U of W return to its first Rose Bowl since 1993. This embattled team and program was  — and win it did. Capped by a 34-24 win over Drew Brees' Purdue in the Rose Bowl, the Huskies won 11 games for the first time since Don James' national title team of 1991, and they haven't come close to touching 10 wins ever since.

8. Oregon State Beavers, 2000 (11-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: Dennis Erickson
Championships: Pac-10, Fiesta Bowl
Key Stats: Ken Simonton led the Pac-10 in rushing (134.0 ypg), OSU led the conference in total defense (314.4 ypg) and scoring defense (18.5 ppg).
Award Winners: Dennis Erickson (Pac-10 Coach of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Chad Johnson (2nd, 2001), Nick Barnett (1st, 2003), Dwan Edwards (2nd, 2004)

In what has to be considered the best Beavers team in program history, Dennis Erickson used a plethora of junior college talent to lead Oregon State to its first 10+ win season ever. The 11 wins are still a school record, and the conference co-championship was the first league title for the school since 1964. While the defense, led by NFL future star Nick Barnett, was the Pac-10's best, it was the offense that impressed the most. Quarterback Jonathan Smith was the league's No. 2 passer. Running back Ken Simonton led the league in rushing at 134 yards per game. And a pair of future NFL stars, Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, keep defenses honest on the outside. The team's only loss came at the hands of eventual Rose Bowl champion Washington in Husky Stadium 33-30. Erickson's bunch wrapped up the magical year by crushing Notre Dame 41-9 in the Fiesta Bowl.

9. Stanford Cardinal, 2011 (11-2, 8-1)
Head Coach: David Shaw
Championships: None
Key Stats: Led the Pac-12 and was third nationally in rushing defense, Andrew Luck led the Pac-12 in passing efficiency
Award Winners: Andrew Luck (Pac-12 Off. Player of the Year), David Shaw (Pac-12 Coach of the Year)
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: Andrew Luck (1st, 2012), David DeCastro (1st, 2012), Coby Fleener (2nd, 2011), Jonathan Martin (2011)

It is extremely difficult to separate the last three Cardinal teams and decide which one was the best. All three played in BCS bowls with two wins in the Orange Bowl (2010) and Rose Bowl (2012). The 2011 team lost to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl and it didn't win the Pac-12 crown, however, it was likely the most talented and complete roster of the group. The foursome that was drafted in the first two rounds are as talented a group as any school ever has watched depart in one offseason. Add to the entire collection of defensive stars that made the 2012 team so talented and Cardinal fans will likely look back on their 2011 team as the best of the BCS era.

10. USC Trojans, 2002 (11-2, 7-1) 
Head Coach: Pete Carroll
Championships: Pac-10, Orange Bowl
Key Stats: Led the Pac-10 in total offense (449.2 ypg), scoring offense (35.7 ppg), rushing defense (83.2 ypg), total defense (284.9 ypg), scoring defense (18.5 ppg) and passing efficiency (149.21).
Award Winners: Carson Palmer (Heisman Trophy, Johnny Unitas), Mike Williams (Pac-10 Freshman of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Carson Palmer (1st, 2003), Troy Polamalu (1st, 2003), Kenechi Udeze (1st, 2004), Jacob Rogers (2nd, 2004), Keary Colbert (2nd, 2004), Mike Williams (1st, 2005), Shaun Cody (2nd, 2005), Matt Leinart (1st, 2006), Winston Justice (2nd, 2006)

The beginning of the Trojan-Pete Carroll reign over the West Coast could be marked by the 2002 Men of Troy. Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer finally lived up to his recruiting hype with 3,942 yards and 37 total touchdowns. And he did it against nine different ranked opponents. Early season losses on the road against a ranked Kansas State team by seven and a ranked Washington State team by three cost the Trojans a shot at the national title game. The Cougars actually played in the Rose Bowl (a 34-14 loss to Oklahoma), but USC finished as the highest-rated team in the league (#5) after a convincing 38-17 win over No. 3 Iowa in the Orange Bowl. This team sent 46 different players into the NFL and was obviously led on defense by huge names like Polamalu, Cody, Patterson and Udeze. Carroll won a share of his first national title the following season, but this '02 edition of Fight On started it all.

Best of the Rest:

Stanford Cardinal, 2012 (12-2, 9-0) Pac-12 Champions
Stanford Cardinal, 2010 (12-1, 8-1)
Oregon Ducks, 2001 (11-1, 7-1) Pac-10 Champions
UCLA Bruins, 1998 (10-2, 8-0) Pac-10 Champions
Oregon Ducks, 2011 (12-2, 9-1) Pac-12 Champions
USC Trojans, 2006 (11-2, 7-2) Pac-10 Champions
Oregon Ducks, 2009 (10-3, 8-1) Pac-10 Champions
USC Trojans, 2007 (11-2, 7-2) Pac-10 Champions
Cal Golden Bears, 2006 (10-3, 7-2) Pac-10 Champions

<p> Top 10 Pac-12 Teams of the BCS Era</p>
Post date: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - 06:40
Path: /college-football/recruiting-top-15-two-star-recruits-modern-era

Recruiting rankings are an inexact science, and even the experts will admit that. It is virtually impossible to measure heart, work ethic, mental focus and self-awareness in 17- and 18-year-old kids. Especially, in the face of the most important decision they will ever make.

Athlon Sports will finalize the  for the Class of 2013 this week. It's the sixth annual conglomerate recruiting top 100 for Athlon Sports, and even as the truest, most accurate recruiting ranking, there are still plenty of names that fall through the cracks.

The "modern recruiting era," aka the internet recruiting service era, dates back just more than a decade of time. There have been countless contributors who have blossomed into All-Americans despite being much-lesser known commodities than the likes of Matt Barkley.

Here are the best two-star prospects of the modern recruiting era (signing class):

1. Case Keenum, QB, Houston
Abilene (Texas) Wylie (2006)

The NCAA’s all-time record-holder for passing yards (19,217), total offense (20,114), 300-yard games (38), 4,000-yard seasons (3), completions (1,546), passing touchdowns (155) and touchdown responsibility (178) had a single offer coming out of high school. After Keenum had won the state title as a junior at Wylie, Art Briles was the only head coach to offer the slender passer a chance to play FBS football. Over 20,000 yards later, Keenum has not only reinvigorated Cougars football but has also helped elevate his program to the Big East Conference.

2. Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State
Rialto (Calif.) Eisenhower (2004)

The big offensive tackle was passed over by local schools USC and UCLA, but Dan Hawkins at Boise State saw something he loved right away. Clady redshirted in his first season in Idaho but started every game for the next three seasons. He was a major part of the 2006 Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma before landing on several All-America teams in 2007. After his redshirt junior season, Clady left for the NFL and was selected with the 12th overall pick by the Denver Broncos. He has blossomed into one of the NFL’s top left tackles.

3. B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
Washington Township (N.J.) Westwood (2004)

The big nose guard had three offers coming out of high school: Boston College, Rutgers and Wisconsin. While the offer sheet was certainly more prestigious than the average two-star prospect’s, it took until October of his final prep season to land the BC scholarship ( During his final season at Chestnut Hill, Raji helped lead a unit that ranked No. 1 in the ACC in rushing defense, total defense and pass efficiency defense. The big nose guard was taken with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft and played a major role in the Green Bay Packers Super Bowl Championship in 2010.

4. J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
Pewaukee (Wisc.) High (2007)

Originally committed to Minnesota and signed with Central Michigan, Watt needed two schools and multiple positions to finally land with the Houston Texans. Watt played tight end upon entering college before transferring and walking-on at Wisconsin, where he earned a scholarship with his work ethic and intensity. His switch to the defensive line paid off in droves as he racked up 106 tackles, 36.5 tackles for a loss and 11.5 sacks in two seasons. He was the No. 11 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft and became the first rookie defensive lineman in NFL history to record a sack and an interception for a touchdown in a playoff game. Watt started all 16 games as a rookie, led Houston in tackles for a loss (13) and helped the Texans to their first postseason berth in franchise history.

5. Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho
Anaheim (Calif.) Western (2005)

Hailing from American Samoa originally, Iupati moved to Southern California and excelled as a defensive tackle at Western High School. He was shown interest from other larger programs — Colorado, Oregon State, Arizona — but due to insufficient academic performance, Iupati was not eligibile to receive a scholarship. So the family of this powerful blocker took out a loan to pay for tuition, room and board at Idaho. Under Robb Akey and behind the leadership of Iupati, Idaho went to only its second bowl in school history in 2009 when the Vandals defeated Bowling Green in the Humanitarian Bowl. Iupati was selected with the No. 17 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft by the 49ers and was a huge part of the NFC Championship run by San Francisco in 2011.

6. Eric Weddle, SS, Utah
Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) Alta Loma (2003)

The California native’s offer sheet included New Mexico State, Wyoming, UNLV and Utah back in 2003. It didn’t take long to realize that the Utes had found a great player in Weddle, as the versatile defensive back started the last nine games as a freshman, garning freshman All-America honors. He was a standout strong safety and return man his second year in Salt Lake City. He was named Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year in 2005 and claimed Emerald Bowl MVP honors. In 2006, he claimed his second straight MWC Defensive POY award. He started 45 of his 48 career games (21 at corner, 18 at safety and six at nickelback) while finishing with 277 tackles, 10 sacks and an MWC-record 18 interceptions. He also ran the ball 52 times for 259 yards and six touchdowns on offense, completed 2-of-6 passes, punted twice and was a holder on field goals. The do-everything athlete was selected by the San Diego Chargers with the 62nd (second round) pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.

7. Jerry Hughes, DE, TCU
Sugar Land (Texas) Austin (2006)

TCU, Iowa State and North Texas were the offers Hughes had to choose from coming out of high school. Gary Patterson knew he had a special player as Hughes was one of only four freshman to see the field in 2006. As a senior in 2009, Hughes led the Mountain West with 11.5 sacks and helped lead a defense that ranked No. 1 in the nation in total yards allowed (239.7 ypg). He was a two-time All-America selection and finished with 142 career tackles, 40.5 tackles for a loss and 28.5 sacks. The Frogs went 42-10 during Hughes’ time, and the defensive end was selected in the first round by the Colts in the 2010 NFL Draft.

8. Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri
Jasper (Texas) High (2006)

Coming out of high school, Weatherspoon was listed at 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds. He is now a star 6-foot-2, 244-pound outside linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons. His offer sheet included Missouri, Houston, Iowa State, TCU and Tulane. He claimed Special Teamer of the Year honors as a freshman for the Tigers and in only two full seasons as a starter, Westherspoon registered 266 total tackles, nine sacks, four interceptions and 33.5 tackles for a loss. He was a part of the winningest two-year span in Mizzou history (2006-2007) and was drafted by the Falcons with the 19th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.

9. Owen Marecic, LB/FB, Stanford
Portland (Ore.) Jesuit (2007)

The Marecic family moved all over the country — from New Jersey to Boston to Los Angeles to Oregon — before Owen was recruited by Yale, Army and Stanford. Only the Cardinal and Portland State officially offered the two-way star. In his junior season, Marecic was the lead blocker for the Heisman runner-up Toby Gerhart. He was also used in short yardage situations on defense as an inside linebacker. Jim Harbaugh then made him a true two-way star as a senior as Marecic was the only FBS player to start on both offense and defense. In a game against Notre Dame, he scored two touchdowns and intercepted a pass in a 26-second span. Marecic was a fourth-round pick by the Cleveland Browns in the 2011 NFL Draft.

10. Jordan Todman, RB, UConn 
Dartmouth (Mass.) High (2008)

With offers from only UConn, Purdue and Northeastern, Todman quickly overachieved in Storrs, Conn. As a freshman, Todman rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown in his first career game. As a sophomore, his first season as the starter, he rushed for 1,188 yards and 14 touchdowns. In Todman’s final season as a Husky he finished second in the nation in rushing at 141.3 yards per game. His 1,695 yards led the Big East and he scored another 14 times as a junior. He skipped his final season in college to test the NFL waters and landed with the San Diego Chargers in the sixth round of the 2011 Draft.

11. Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy (2007)

Castonzo was the first true freshman to start along the offensive line at BC since 1998, blocked for Matt Ryan and claimed freshman All-America honors in 2007. Became a two-time All-ACC performer and was the 22nd overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Colts.

12. Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
Fayetteville (N.C.) E.E. Smith (2004)

A freshman All-American, Curry eventually earned the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker. He was drafted with the fourth overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks.

13. Amobi Okoye, DT, Louisville
Huntsville (Ala.) Lee (2003)

How many 15-year-olds decide to play football at Louisville instead of Harvard? But a year later Okoye, at 16 years old, became the youngest player in the NCAA. He finished his college career with 55 tackles and eight sacks as a senior. The All-Big East and All-America selection was the youngest senior in the nation (19) before being selected by the Texans with the 10th overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.

14. Alex Mack, OC, Cal
Santa Barbara (Calif.) San Marcos (2004)

Mack made 39 consecutive starts for the Golden Bears and was a Rimington Trophy finalist for the nation’s top center. He is now a Pro Bowl center for the Cleveland Browns after getting drafted with the 21st overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.

15. Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas
Richardson (Texas) Berkner (2004)

Offered by Arizona, Kansas, Baylor, Tulsa and Kansas State. Talib’s risky play paid off in college as his highlight reel play at corner earned him the Jack Tatum Trophy and the Orange Bowl MVP in his final season. He was a consensus All-American and the 20th overall pick by the Tampa Bay Bucs in the 2008 NFL Draft.

Other Top Two-Stars To Consider:

Danario Alexander, WR, Missouri (2006) Martin (Texas) High
Dennis Pitta, TE, BYU (2003) Moorpark (Calif.) High
Tank Carder, LB, TCU (2007) Sweeney (Texas) High
Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State (2005) Piscataway (N.J.) High
Mardy Gilyard, RS, Cincinnati (2005) Palm Coast (Fla.) Flagler Palm Coast
Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State (2009) Astoria (Ore.) High

<p> Top 15 Two-Star Recruits of the Modern Recruiting Era</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 06:16
Path: /college-football/top-10-acc-teams-bcs-era

The BCS just put a bow on its 15th season of action and Athlon has dissected the numbers and reviewed the tapes of all six BCS conferences in order to rank the best each league has had to offer. Which Oklahoma team was the best of the decade? Which Florida team was the toughest to stop? How do you rank the Florida State teams of the late '90s? Which Miami team was the best? How about those loaded USC teams? Alabama vs. Auburn?

The debates will rage on for decades, but here is Athlon's two cents. Here are the Top 10 ACC teams of the BCS Era (1998-present):

Note: "First Day" indicates 1st and 2nd round NFL Draft picks

1. Florida State Seminoles, 1999 (12-0, 8-0)
Head Coach: Bobby Bowden
Championships: ACC, Sugar Bowl, National
Key Stats: Sebastian Janikowski led NCAA in FGM/Game (23 FGM). Led the ACC in passing 302.9 ypg and fourth in the nation in scoring at 37.5 ppg. Led the ACC in total defense (302.6 ypg).
Award Winners: Sebastian Janikowski (Lou Groza), Peter Warrick (Sugar Bowl MVP)
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: Peter Warrick (1st, 2000), Corey Simon (1st, 2000), Sebastian Janikowski (1st, 2000), Jamal Reynolds (1st, 2001), Derrick Gibson (1st, 2001), Tommy Polley (2nd, 2001), Anquan Boldin (2nd, 2003)

The best team of the BCS era in the ACC claimed nine first-team All-ACC performers (AP) and six second-team selections. Florida State became the first team in history to go wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in all three polls after beating five ranked opponents. It was the second-highest scoring Noles team of the BCS era and No. 7 highest-scoring team in FSU history. Chris Weinke and Peter Warrick outlasted Michael Vick and the Hokies in the memorable 1999 championship game. Warrick, after surviving some off-the-field incidents, claimed MVP honors after catching six passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns and returning a punt for a score. His 220 all-purpose yards are fourth all-time in a title game and his 20 points (3 TDs, 2-pt) are a BCS title game record. () The win gave Bobby Bowden his second national championship.

2. Florida State Seminoles, 2000 (11-2, 8-0)
Head Coach: Bobby Bowden
Championships: ACC
Key Stats: Led the nation in passing (384 ypg) and total offense (549 ypg). Finished No. 2 in the nation in rushing defense (73.9 ypg) and scoring defense (10.3 ppg).
Award Winners: Chris Weinke (Heisman, Davey O'Brien, Johnny Unitas, ACC Player of the Year), Jamal Reynolds (Lombardi)
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: Jamal Reynolds (1st, 2001), Derrick Gibson (1st, 2001), Tommy Polley (2nd, 2001), Javon Walker (1st, 2002), Anquan Boldin (2nd, 2003), Alonzo Jackson (2nd, 2003)

After starting 5-0 — for their 17th straight win — the Noles fell to rival Miami by three points in Week 6. Florida State won six straight to land in their third straight BCS national title game. Chris Weinke won the Heisman Trophy by leading the nation in passing with 4,167 yards and finished his career as the school's all-time leading passer. This team featured three first-team All-Americans with Weinke, wideout Snoop Minnis (63 rec., 1,340 yards, 11 TD) and Lombardi winner Jamal Reynolds. Unfortunately, the third-highest scoring team in school history (511 points) was held to zero points in the BCS title game loss to Oklahoma — scoring their only two points on a safety. This defense held the opponent to less than 10 points in seven games of 13 games.

3. Virginia Tech Hokies, 2004 (10-3, 7-1)
Head Coach: Frank Beamer
Championships: ACC
Key Stats: No. 2 in the nation in scoring defense (12.8 ppg) and No. 4 in total defense (268 ypg)
Award Winners: Bryan Randall (ACC Player of the Year), Frank Beamer (ACC Coach of the Year)
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: Jimmy Williams (2nd, 2006), Darryl Tapp (2nd, 2006)

The Hokies played four top ten teams and won twice. Those two losses came against the two best teams in the nation — USC and Auburn — by a total of 14 points. Quarterback Bryan Randall took over full-time for Marcus Vick and threw for 2,264 yards while rushing for 511 with 24 total touchdowns en route to his ACC POY Award. This team sent 15 players over three years into the NFL Draft, despite none being selected in the first round.

4. Florida State Seminoles, 1998 (11-2, 7-1)
Head Coach: Bobby Bowden
Championships: ACC Co-Champs
Key Stats: Beat five ranked teams.
Award Winners: N/A
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: Tony Bryant (2nd, 1999), Larry Smith (2nd, 1999), Peter Warrick (1st, 2000), Corey Simon (1st, 2000), Sebastian Janikowski (1st, 2000), Jamal Reynolds (1st, 2001), Derrick Gibson (1st, 2001), Tommy Polley (2nd, 2001)

The first year of the BCS began with a Florida State win over a ranked Texas A&M team before the Noles got shocked by NC State 24-7 in Week 2. The Noles then rattled off 10 straight wins, including victories over ranked USC, Georgia Tech, Virginia and Florida teams, to clinch a trip to the first-ever BCS title game. The Noles actually were co-champs with Georgia Tech, but won the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Tennessee Vols claimed the first BCS National Championship by way of a 23-16 Fiesta Bowl win over Florida State.

5. Virginia Tech Hokies, 2010 (11-3, 8-0)
Head Coach: Frank Beamer
Championships: ACC
Key Stats: Taylor set single-season school passing TD record (24) and all-time career passing yards school record (7,017 yards). Jayron Hosley led the nation in INT (0.69 pg). Tech led the nation in turnover margin (+1.36).
Award Winners: Tyrod Taylor (ACC Player of the Year, Off. POY, ACCCG MVP)
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: Ryan Williams (2nd, 2011)

Virginia Tech lost in heartbreaking fashion to Boise State on a final minute touchdown in Week 1, and clearly the hangover effect was out in full force the next weekend against James Madison. However, the Hokies never lost again in the regular season and became the first undefeated ACC team since 2000 Florida State. This team featured the program's all-time leading passer and receiver (Jarrett Boykin, 180 rec.) with a three-headed backfield of Ryan Williams, David Wilson and Darren Evans. Taylor led the ACC in passing efficiency as the Hokies led the league in scoring (35.5 ppg).

6. Florida State Seminoles, 2003 (10-3, 7-1)
Head Coach: Bobby Bowden
Championships: ACC Co-Champs
Key Stats: No. 10 nationally in scoring defense (16.7 ppg). Went 0-2 against Miami.
Award Winners: Darnell Dockett (ACC Def. Player of the Year)
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: Michael Boulware (2nd, 2004), Greg Jones (2nd, 2004), Alex Barron (1st, 2005), Travis Johnson (1st, 2005), Braynt McFadden (2nd, 2005), Ernie Sims (1st, 2006), Antonio Cromartie (1st, 2006), Kamerion Wimbley (1st, 2006), Brodrick Bunkley (1st, 2006)

7. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 2009 (11-3, 7-1)
Head Coach: Paul Johnson
Championships: ACC
Key Stats: Led the ACC in rushing, total offense and scoring. No. 2 nationally in rushing at 295.4 yards per game. Went 2-0 against Clemson.
Award Winners: Derrick Morgan (ACC Def. Player of the Year), Paul Johnson (ACC Coach of the Year)
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: Derrick Morgan (1st, 2010), Demaryius Thomas (1st, 2010)

8. Florida State Seminoles, 2012 (12-2, 7-1)
Head Coach: Jimbo Fisher
Championships: ACC, Orange Bowl
Key Stats: Led the nation in pass and pass efficiency defense. Finished No. 2 nationally in total defense. Scored 39.3 points per game on offense (10th nationally)
Award Winners: Bjoern Werner (ACC Defensive Player of the Year), Ronald Darby (ACC Def. Rookie of the Year), Chris Thompson (Co-Brian Piccolo Award)
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: N/A

9. Virginia Tech Hokies, 2007 (11-3, 7-1)
Head Coach: Frank Beamer
Championships: ACC
Key Stats: Finished No. 3 nationally in scoring defense (16.1 ppg) and No. 4 in total defense (296.9). Both led the ACC.
Award Winners: N/A
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: Duane Brown (1st, 2008), Eddie Royal (2nd, 2008), Brandon Flowers (2nd, 2008), Jason Worilds (2nd, 2010)

10. Maryland Terrapins, 2001 (10-2, 7-1)
Head Coach: Ralph Freidgen
Championships: ACC
Key Stats: Led the ACC in scoring offense (35.5 ppg) and scoring defense (19.1 ppg). Led ACC in total offense (439.7 ypg) and rushing defense (90.6 ypg). Was the first ACC team to win outright conference title other than Florida State since 1991.
Award Winners: Ralph Friedgen (Home Depot National Coach of the Year, ACC COY), EJ Henderson (ACC Player of the Year, Def. POY), Bruce Perry (ACC Off. Player of the Year)
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: EJ Henderson (2nd, 2003), Madieu Williams (2nd, 2004)


Best of the Rest:

Clemson Tigers, 2012 (11-2, 7-1)
Wake Forest Demon Deacons, 2006 (11-3, 6-2) ACC Champions
Clemson Tigers, 2011 (10-4, 6-2) ACC Champions
Virginia Tech Hokies, 2011 (11-3, 7-1)
Virginia Tech Hokies, 2009 (10-3, 6-2)

<p> Top 10 ACC Teams of the BCS Era</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 06:11
Path: /college-football/top-10-big-12-teams-bcs-era

The BCS just put a bow on its 15th season of action and Athlon has dissected the numbers and reviewed the tapes of all six BCS conferences in order to rank the best each league has had to offer. Which Oklahoma team was the best of the decade? Which Florida team was the toughest to stop? How do you rank the Florida State teams of the late 90s? Which Miami team was the best? How about those loaded USC teams? Alabama vs. Auburn?

The debates will most assuredly rage on for decades, but here is Athlon's two cents. Here are the Top 10 Big 12 teams of the BCS Era (1998-present):

Note: "First Day" indicates 1st and 2nd round NFL Draft picks

1. Texas Longhorns, 2005 (13-0, 8-0)
Head Coach: Mack Brown
Championships: Big 12 South, Big 12, Rose Bowl, National
Key Stats: School record 50.2 points per game, school single-season record for total yards (6,657), touchdowns (55), total yards per game (512.1) and yards per rushing attempt (5.9), Vince Young no. 6 in total offense (314.3 ypg) and no. 3 in passing efficiency
Award Winners: Mack Brown (Paul “Bear” Bryant Award, Big 12 Coach of the Year), Michael Huff (Jim Thorpe Award, Rose Bowl Defensive MVP), Vince Young (Big 12 Male Athlete of the Year, Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, Davey O’Brien Award, Manning Award, Maxwell Award, Rose Bowl Offensive MVP)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Michael Griffin (1st, 2007), Michael Huff (1st, 2006), Brian Orakpo (1st, 2009), Aaron Ross (1st, 2007), Vince Young (1st, 2006), Justin Blalock (2nd, 2007), Tim Crowder (2nd, 2007), Cedric Griffin (2nd, 2006), Limas Sweed (2nd, 2008)

Texas entered the season ranked No. 2 behind defending national champion USC, and that’s where the two found themselves when they met in the Rose Bowl in January 2006. To get to Pasadena, Texas steamrolled the competition, averaging more than 50 points a game and scoring 60 or more four times. In the second week of the season, Texas became the first non-conference opponent in 15 years to defeat Ohio State at home, and followed that win up about a month later by dominating Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry. The Longhorns destroyed Colorado 70-3 in the Big 12 Championship to set up the showdown with No. 1 USC. The Rose Bowl title tilt lived up to every bit of its billing as Vince Young put on the , accounting for 84 percent of Texas’ total offense (467 out of 556) yards, and scored the game-winning touchdown with 19 seconds left to capture the Longhorns’ fourth national championship in thrilling fashion. Young was one of four consensus All-Americans on this Longhorns team, which also produced a total of 24 NFL Draft picks.

2. Oklahoma Sooners, 2000 (13-0, 8-0)
Head Coach: Bob Stoops
Championships: Big 12 South, Big 12, Orange Bowl, National
Key Stats: No. 7 in nation in both scoring offense (39 ppg) and scoring defense (16 ppg), no. 8 in total defense (278.9 ypg), no. 9 in pass defense (170.5 ypg) and no. 2 in pass efficiency defense, Josh Heupel no. 6 in nation in total offense (294.7 ypg)
Award Winners: Josh Heupel (AP Player of the Year, Big 12 Player of the Year, Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, Walter Camp Award), Bob Stoops (AP National Coach of the Year, Big 12 Coach of the Year, Eddie Robinson/FWAA Coach of the Year, Paul “Bear” Bryant Award, Walter Camp National Coach of the Year, Woody Hayes National Coach of the Year), J.T. Thatcher (Mosi Tatupu Award — national Special Teams Player of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Roy Williams (1st, 2002), Andre Woolfolk (1st, 2003), Teddy Lehman (2nd, 2004)

This Sooners team entered the season ranked No. 19 in the country, but fueled by an impressive three-game stretch in October, it ended the season ranked considerably higher. Behind quarterback and Heisman Trophy runner-up Josh Heupel and a stingy defense, the Sooners started October by destroying No. 11 Texas in the Red River Rivalry and then out-scored No. 2 Kansas State on the road and two weeks later dominated No. 3 Nebraska at home to vault to the top of the rankings. The Sooners would defeat Kansas State a second time in the Big 12 Championship to set up a showdown with No. 3 Florida State (No. 2 in the BCS standings) in the Orange Bowl. Even though they were playing in their home state, the Seminoles’ potent offense, led by quarterback and Heisman winner Chris Weinke, was held in check and scoreless by the Sooners defense in the lowest scoring Orange Bowl in 30 years. Fittingly enough, linebacker Torrance Marshall, who had six tackles and an interception (which ranks as the ), took home MVP honors as Oklahoma defeated Florida State 13-2 to capture its seventh national championship and first since 1985.

3. Oklahoma Sooners, 2004 (12-1, 8-0)
Head Coach: Bob Stoops
Championships: Big 12 South, Big 12
Key Stats: No. 8 in nation in total offense (462.1 ypg), no. 6 in rushing defense (94.6 ypg), Adrian Peterson no. 6 in nation in rushing (148.1 ypg) and no. 15 in all-purpose yards (149 ypg) as a freshman
Award Winners: Jammal Brown (Outland Trophy), Jason White (Davey O’Brien Award, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Maxwell Award)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Jammal Brown (1st, 2005), Mark Clayton (1st, 2005), Davin Joseph (1st, 2006), Adrian Peterson (1st, 2007), Mark Bradley (2nd, 2005), Dan Cody (2nd, 2005), Brodney Pool (2nd, 2005)

This Oklahoma team lived up to its preseason ranking of No. 2, rolling through the regular season undefeated. The Sooners were led on offense by reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jason White, freshman running back Adrian Peterson and an offensive line headlined by Outland winner Jammal Brown. All told, the Sooners’ roster featured five All-Americans and 10 All Big 12 selections. Oklahoma matched up with No. 1 USC in the Orange Bowl in a game that featured two Heisman Trophy winners in White and Trojans quarterback Matt Leinart, and two of the best running backs in the nation in Peterson and USC’s Reggie Bush. Unfortunately for the Sooners, the match up on paper didn’t play out on the field, as the Trojans dominated from start to finish, easily beating Oklahoma 55-19. Six years after the game, in June 2010, USC was forced to vacate two wins from its 2004 season, including the Orange Bowl game, after the NCAA ruled that it had used an ineligible player (Bush) among other violations.

4. Oklahoma Sooners, 2008 (12-2, 7-1)
Head Coach: Bob Stoops
Championships: Big 12 South (shared), Big 12
Key Stats: NCAA record 716 points scored, no. 3 in nation in both total offense (349.4 ypg) and passing offense (349.4 ypg), no. 1 in passing efficiency, no. 1 in turnover margin (+1.64), Sam Bradford no. 1 in passing efficiency and no. 4 in total offense (340.5 ypg), Bradford also set school single-season records for yards (4,720), touchdown passes (50) and passing efficiency, DeMarco Murray no. 8 in all-purpose yards (167 ypg)
Award Winners: Sam Bradford (AP Player of the Year, Sammy Baugh Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Heisman Trophy), Bob Stoops (Big 12 Coach of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Sam Bradford (1st, 2010), Jermaine Gresham (1st, 2010), Phil Loadholt (1st, 2009), Gerald McCoy (1st, 2010), Trent Williams (1st, 2010)

The highest-scoring team in NCAA history, this Oklahoma team scored no less than 35 points prior to the BCS National Championship game against Florida. Quarterback Sam Bradford rewrote the Oklahoma record books on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy. Oklahoma fell to No. 5 Texas, 45-35, in the Red River Rivalry, and ended up tied for first in the Big 12 South with the Longhorns and Texas Tech at 7-1. The Sooners ended up representing the Big 12 South in the Big 12 Championship thanks to a higher BCS ranking over the Longhorns and Red Raiders. After destroying Missouri in the Big 12 Championship, the No. 1 Sooners faced off against No. 2 Florida in the BCS title game. Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, who finished third to Bradford in the Heisman voting, threw two touchdown passes and the Gators’ defense held the potent Sooners offense to just two touchdowns to deny Oklahoma its eighth national title, defeating the Sooners 24-14.

5. Texas Longhorns, 2009 (13-1, 8-0)
Head Coach: Mack Brown
Championships: Big 12 South, Big 12
Key Stats: No. 3 in the nation in scoring offense (39.3 ppg), no. 3 in total defense (251.9 ypg) and rushing defense (72.4 ypg), tied for second in sacks (3.1 pg),
Award Winners: Mack Brown (Big 12 Coach of the Year), Colt McCoy (Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, Davey O’Brien Award, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Manning Award, Maxwell Award, Sporting News College Athlete of the Year, Walter Camp Award)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Earl Thomas (1st, 2010), Lamarr Houston (2nd, 2010), Sergio Kindle (2nd, 2010), Aaron Williams (2nd, 2011)

This Texas team started the season ranked No. 2 and finished it there as the Longhorns rolled through the regular season and Big 12 undefeated. The offense, led by quarterback Colt McCoy and wide receiver Jordan Shipley, put plenty of points on the board, while the defense, led by defensive lineman Lamarr Houston, linebacker Sergio Kindle and defensive back Earl Thomas, kept the opposing team out of the end zone. Texas’ championship dreams were almost dashed by Ndamukong Suh and Nebraska as the Cornhuskers put up a fight in the Big 12 Championship game. The Longhorns escaped, 13-12, thanks to a last-second field goal and went on to face No.1 Alabama in the BCS title game. Unfortunately, for the Longhorns, McCoy went down early with an injury, forcing them to play with an inexperienced quarterback. That and the Crimson Tide’s punishing running game were too much to overcome as Texas fell to Alabama 37-21.

6. Oklahoma State Cowboys, 2011 (12-1, 8-1)
Head Coach: Mike Gundy
Championships: Big 12, Fiesta Bowl
Key Stats: Brandon Weeden set single-season Cowboys yards and TD passing records, Finished second in the nation in passing (387.2 ypg) and scoring offense (48.7 ppg), Joseph Randle was fourth in the nation in scoring (12.0 ppg), Justin Blackmon was third in the nation in receptions (9.3/game)
Award Winners: Justin Blackmon (Biletnikoff Award, Fiesta Bowl MVP), Grant Garner (Big 12 Off. Lineman of the Year), Quinn Sharp (Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year), 
"First Day" NFL Draft Picks: Justin Blackmon (1st, 2012), Brandon Weeden (1st, 2012)

The Cowboys never experienced a season like it did in 2011 behind the leadership of quarterback Brandon Weeden. The star quarterback broke his own single-season school records for passing yards (4,727) and touchdowns (37) en route to the program's first Big 12 Championship. The remarkable Fiesta Bowl win over Stanford was the first Pokes first BCS bowl win in its first BCS bowl appearance. Blackmon set all types of records with an 8-catch, 186-yard, 3-TD performance in the Fiesta Bowl. A loss to Iowa State late in the year was the only thing that kept Mike Gundy from taking his alma mater to the promised land.

7. Oklahoma Sooners, 2003 (12-2, 8-0)
Head Coach: Bob Stoops
Championships: Big 12 South
Key Stats: No. 3 in the nation in scoring offense (42.9 ppg), no. 5 in scoring defense (15.3 ppg), no. 3 in total defense (259.6 ypg), no. 2 in pass defense (146.4 ypg)
Award Winners: Tommie Harris (Lombardi Award), Teddy Lehman (Bednarik Award, Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Butkus Award), Derrick Strait (Thorpe Award), Bob Stoops (Big 12 Coach of the Year, Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year, Walter Camp National Coach of the Year, Woody Hayes National Coach of the Year), Jason White (AP Player of the Year, Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, Davey O’Brien Award, Heisman Trophy)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Jammal Brown (1st, 2005), Mark Clayton (1st, 2005), Tommie Harris (1st, 2004), Davin Joseph (1st, 2006), Mark Bradley (2nd, 2005), Dan Cody (2nd, 2005), Teddy Lehman (2nd, 2004), Brodney Pool (2nd, 2005)

Outside of a seven-point win against Alabama on the road, this Oklahoma team, which featured seven All-Americans and 11 first team All Big 12 members, was not challenged in its first 12 games of the season, winning by an average of more than 35 points per game. The offense, led by Heisman Trophy winner Jason White, scored 34 or more points in all but two games, including seven games with 52 or more points. The defense headlined by defensive lineman Tommie Harris, linebacker Teddy Lehman and defensive back Derrick Strait held every opponent to 28 points or less and gave up three or less three times. The Sooners’ train almost completely went off of the tracks after getting pummeled by No. 10 Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship 35-7. Even though the Sooners dropped to No. 3 in both of the human polls, they kept their No. 1 BCS ranking putting them in the Sugar Bowl against No. 2 LSU. For the second straight game, however, Oklahoma’s offense could not get on track as White had one of the worst games of his career. LSU’s defense held White to just 102 yards passing and picked him off twice, returning one of them for a touchdown as the Tigers defeated the Sooners 21-14 and won the national title, or at least according to the coaches’ poll.

8. Texas Longhorns, 2004 (11-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: Mack Brown
Championships: Rose Bowl
Key Stats: No. 2 in nation in rushing offense (299.2 ypg), no. 7 in total offense (464.4 ypg), Cedric Benson no. 4 in nation in rushing (152.8 ypg), no. 7 in all-purpose yards (167.8 ypg) and scoring (20 TDs, 10.0 ppg)
Award Winners: Cedric Benson (Doak Walker Award), Derrick Johnson (Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Butkus Award, Nagurski Trophy), Vince Young (Rose Bowl Offensive MVP)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks: Cedric Benson (1st, 2005), Michael Griffin (1st, 2007), Michael Huff (1st, 2006), Derrick Johnson (1st, 2005), Aaron Ross (1st, 2007), Vince Young (1st, 2006), Justin Blalock (2nd, 2007), Tim Crowder (2nd, 2007), Cedric Griffin (2nd, 2006),

Led by All-American running back Cedric Benson and young quarterback Vince Young, this Texas team dominated the ground game, rushing for almost 300 yards per game. Texas’ lone loss of the season was a big one, as the Longhorns fell to No. 2 Oklahoma 12-0 in the Red River Rivalry, which kept Texas out of the Big 12 title game. Texas still received a spot in a BCS bowl as they were sent to the Rose Bowl to face No. 12 Michigan. Down by 10 at the start of the fourth quarter, Young scored twice and then led his team down the field to set up the game-winning field goal as time expired in the Longhorns’ 38-37 victory over the Wolverines. For the game, Young rushed for 192 yards and was responsible for all five (four rushing, one passing) of Texas’ touchdowns, earning what would be the first of his consecutive Rose Bowl Offensive MVP awards.

9. Texas Longhorns, 2008 (12-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: Mack Brown
Championships: Fiesta Bowl
Key Stats: No. 5 in nation in scoring offense (42.4 ppg), no. 2 in passing efficiency, no. 3 in rushing defense (83.5 ypg), no. 1 in sacks (3.6 pg), Colt McCoy no. 5 in total offense (340 ypg), no. 3 in passing efficiency, Brian Orakpo no. 6 in sacks
Award Winners: Colt McCoy (Archie Griffin Award, Big 12 Offensive MVP, Fiesta Bowl Offensive MVP, Walter Camp Award), Roy Miller (Fiesta Bowl Defensive MVP), Brian Orakpo (Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks (5): Earl Thomas (1st, 2010), Lamarr Houston (2nd, 2010), Brian Orakpo (1st, 2009), Sergio Kindle (2nd, 2010), Aaron Williams (2nd, 2011)

This Texas team was firing on all cylinders out of the gate. Led by quarterback Colt McCoy, who would end up finishing second in the Heisman Trophy voting to Sam Bradford, his counterpart from Oklahoma, the Longhorns scored 38 or more points in their first seven games. Included in this streak was a 45-35 win over No. 1 Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry that not only put Texas atop the polls, but also in the driver’s seat for a spot in the Big 12 Championship and potentially, the national championship. However, Texas Tech would have something to say about that as the Red Raiders knocked off the Longhorns 39-33 in Lubbock just three weeks after the Oklahoma game. That resulted in a three-way tie atop the Big 12 South. Oklahoma got to play in the Big 12 Championship by virtue of a higher BCS ranking, while Texas was left out and had to settle for a spot in the Fiesta Bowl. While the Fiesta Bowl may not have been the postseason spot it had initially hoped for, Texas didn’t let that get in the way of its performance on the field, defeating No. 10 Ohio State 24-21 and setting the stage for its national title run the following season.

10. Nebraska Cornhuskers, 1999 (12-1, 7-1) 
Head Coach: Frank Solich
Championships: Big 12 North, Big 12, Fiesta Bowl
Key Stats: No. 3 in nation in scoring defense (12.5 ppg), no. 4 in total defense (252.3 ypg), no. 2 in passing defense (175.2 ypg), no. 6 in rushing defense (77.1 ypg), no. 4 in rushing offense (265.9 ypg),
Award Winners: Eric Crouch (Big 12 Co-Offensive Player of the Year, Fiesta Bowl MVP), Frank Solich (Big 12 Coach of the Year)
“First Day” NFL Draft Picks (4): Mike Brown (2nd, 2000), Toniu Fonoti (2nd, 2002), Dominic Raiola (2nd, 2001), Kyle Vanden Bosch (2nd, 2001)

Nebraska’s Blackshirts were in fine form to start the 1999 season as the Cornhuskers’ defense gave up 14 or fewer points the first six games. Texas put 24 on the board against them in Austin as the No. 18 Longhorns upset the third-ranked Cornhuskers on Oct. 23. Nebraska would rebound from that loss to win its next four by a combined score of 135-62, setting up a rematch against No. 12 Texas in the Big 12 Championship. This time the Cornhuskers won 22-6 and then ended the season with a 31-21 victory over No. 6 Tennessee in the Fiesta Bowl.

Best of the Rest:

Kansas Wildcats, 2012 (11-2, 8-1) Big 12 Champions
Nebraska Cornhuskers, 2001 (11-2, 7-1)
Texas Tech Red Raiders, 2008 (11-2, 7-1)
Kansas State Wildcats, 2003 (11-4, 6-2) Big 12 Champions
Oklahoma Sooners, 2007 (11-3, 6-2) Big 12 Champions
Missouri Tigers, 2007 (12-2, 7-1)
Kansas Jayhawks, 2007 (12-1, 7-1)
Oklahoma Sooners, 2010 (12-2, 6-2) Big 12 Champions
Oklahoma Sooners, 2006 (11-3, 7-1) Big 12 Champions
Colorado Buffaloes, 2001 (10-3, 7-1) Big 12 Champions

<p> Top 10 Big 12 Teams of the BCS Era</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 06:10
Path: /nfl/amazing-stats-nfl-championship-weekend

NFL football is the greatest reality TV program of all time. The Giants and Colts made sure of that back in 1958. Each NFL fall weekend is a completely new and original experience for every player, fan and coach alike. New stories, new personalities, new winners and new losers. And new statistics.

Here are the most important, most intriguing and most bizarre statistics from NFL's Championship Weekend:

17: Largest NFC Championship game comeback in history for the 49ers
The Atlanta Falcons, ironically, held the previous record for largest comeback in an NFC Championship game at 13 points when they came from behind to beat the Minnesota Vikings in 1998. The 49ers watched Matt Ryan and Julio Jones rip through their Pro Bowl-laden defense in the first half to take a 17-0 lead seconds into the second quarter. But both sides of the ball made major adjustments and San Francisco outscored Atlanta 28-7 over the final three quarters to earn its sixth (5-0) trip to the Super Bowl.

27.6: Vernon Davis career playoff yards per catch
His touchdown totals have dropped for four consecutive years. His yardage totals have gone down four straight seasons as well. And he posted his lowest catch total (41) since 2008. But when the bright lights of the NFL playoffs have clicked on the last two years, Vernon Davis has been virtually unstoppable. He caught five passes for 106 yards and Colin Kaepernick's lone touchdown pass in the win over Atlanta to help lead the Niners back to Super Sunday. It gives the former Maryland Terrapins star 16 receptions, 398 yards and five touchdowns in four career playoff games. It was Davis' third 100-yard receiving effort and the third game he has caught at least one touchdown in four career starts.

39-9-1: Jim Harbaugh's coaching record the last three seasons
Stanford was 1-11 the year before Jim Harbaugh took over and in just four seasons, he led Stanford to a 12-1 year and the school's first-ever BCS bowl win in the Orange Bowl over Virginia Tech. This after back-to-back 11-1 seasons and Pioneer League titles at the University of San Diego. Since moving up to the NFL, he has coached in 36 games, including four playoff games, and has won 27 times. His has won at least 12 games in each of last three seasons (12-1 at Stanford, 14-4 and 13-4-1 at San Francisco) and is making his Super Bowl debut in just his second professional campaign.

0: Combined points scored in the second half by Atlanta and New England
Baltimore and San Francisco have their defenses to thank for making it to the Super Bowl, but the last two rounds of the playoffs definitely featured the offenses. The average combined score of the last six playoff games was 61.5 points per game — or over 30 points per game per team. Only the Patriots, ironically the top scoring offense in the league (34.8 ppg), and the Falcons failed to score at least 28 points over the last two weekends. Denver and Green Bay both scored over 30 points and lost while Houston put up 28 and was sent packing as well. It puts into perspective what both the Ravens and 49ers accomplished on the road this weekend by both pitching second-half shutouts against Tom Brady and Matt Ryan with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.

67-1: Bill Belichick and Tom Brady's home record when leading at halftime
Bill Belichick and Tom Brady had never lost a home game together after leading at halftime when they took a 13-7 lead into halftime over Baltimore this weekend. The Ravens, behind a huge third quarter (and one play) from Joe Flacco, outscored the Patriots 21-0 in the second half. The Pats were stymied three times in the red zone (1-for-4) while Flacco produced four scores in four trips into the money zone. Flacco is now 8-4 in 12 career postseason starts.

5,949: NFL record postseason passing yards for Tom Brady
Brett Favre had thrown for more yards in the playoffs than any quarterback in history with 5,855 yards passing after an amazing 20-year career. Tom Brady didn't end his 13th NFL campaign the way he wanted to, but after throwing for 320 yards in the loss to Baltimore, he passed Favre as the most prolific postseason passer in league history. He has thrown for 5,949 yards in 24 career postseason games. More importantly, however, he fell to 5-2 as the starter in the AFC Championship game.

249: Total career games Ray Lewis will play in the NFL
When Lewis gyrates his way onto the field in Super Bowl XLVII he will be doing so for the 249th time in his illustrious 17-year career. It will be the last time football fans will have a chance to watch what could be the greatest middle linebacker to ever play the game. It will be his 21st career playoff game and there is little doubt that his emotional leadership has been and will be a huge factor in the Ravens' 2012 playoff fate.

2: Head coaches in the Super Bowl born in Toledo, Ohio
Only once have two brothers ever coached against one another in a regular season game. When Jim and John Harbaugh got together in 2011 on Thanksgiving it marked the first and only such occasion. Now, the same two brothers born 15 months apart from each other in Toledo, Ohio, to Jack and Jackie Harbaugh will stand on opposite sidelines in the biggest sporting event in the world. Odds are it will be simultaneously the most joyous and painful evening for Mom and Dad.

<p> Amazing Stats from NFL Championship Weekend</p>
Post date: Monday, January 21, 2013 - 06:45
Path: /college-football/looking-back-top-recruits-2007

The top prospects of the 2007 signing class was a cautionary tale of sorts.

USC was the big winner on National Signing Day that year as the Trojans claiming four of the top 10 prospects in one of the final classes of Pete Carroll’s tenure. The top prospects, though, didn’t pan out. Of Everson Griffen, Joe McKnight, Chris Galippo and Marc Tyler, none of USC’s top four prospects made first-team all-conference.

But USC wasn’t alone. Defensive tackle Marvin Austin played a role in North Carolina landing on probation. Quarterback Jimmy Clausen was not the all-world quarterback he was expected to be for Notre Dame.

The best two prospects in the top 10 even came with caveats. Quarterback Ryan Mallett didn’t become a starter until he transferred from Michigan to Arkansas, where he flourished. And safety Eric Berry was an All-American safety, but he did it for Tennessee teams that struggled during his time in the spotlight.

1. Everson Griffen, DE, Avondale, Ariz. (USC)
Griffen came out of Agua Fria High School as one of the most physically gifted athletes ever to enter the collegiate ranks. Nicknamed “The Freak” after Jevon Kearse, Griffen posted 77 tackles, 16 sacks and 1,251 yards rushing with 22 touchdowns as a senior — at 6-4 and 266 pounds. In 2007, Griffen earned Freshman All-America honors. As a junior, the defensive end earned second-team All-Pac-10 selection. Following a bowl win over Boston College, Griffen announced he would skip his final season at USC. He was selected in the fourth round in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings.

2. Joe McKnight, RB, River Ridge, La. (USC)
This talented tailback was no stranger to the spotlight, as he led John Curtis High School to three consecutive state titles and an unbeaten 14–0 campaign as a senior. McKnight shunned the home state LSU Tigers for the bright lights of Los Angeles. He produced his only 1,000-yard season in 2009, as a junior, before leaving early for the NFL. The No. 1 running back recruit in the nation finished his USC career with 2,213 yards rushing, ranking him 14th all-time in school history. However, his average of 6.4 yards per carry is second best at USC behind only Reggie Bush. McKnight was a fourth-round of the New York Jets in 2010.

3. Marvin Austin, DT, Washington, D.C. (North Carolina)
The Tar Heels won the National Signing Day battle for Austin over Florida State, USC and Tennessee. As a true freshman, Austin justified his lofty ranking by playing in all 12 games, starting three, and registering 26 tackles and 4.0 sacks. After a second-team All-ACC performance as a junior in 2009 (42 tackles, 4.0 sacks), Austin was poised for a huge senior season. Yet, he and 12 other Tar Heels were suspended for the start of the ’10 while under investigation for receiving improper benefits. Austin was eventually dismissed from the team in October. He was selected by the Giants in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

4. Jimmy Clausen, QB, Westlake Village, Calif. (Notre Dame)
The younger brother of two SEC quarterbacks, Casey and Rick, Jimmy entered college as the highest-profile signal-caller in the '07 class. Hailing from “Celebrity High,” Clausen did little to dispel his reputation as a showman. His polarizing commitment, in which he picked Notre Dame at the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, featured an infamous stretch Hummer limo and a vow to win multiple national championships. After struggling as a freshman, Clausen began to prove the doubters wrong as he finished his collegiate career with back-to-back 3,000-yard seasons and an outstanding 28-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2009. Unfortunately for Clausen and head coach Charlie Weis, the only stat that mattered was his 13–12 starting record over his final two years. Weis was fired, and Clausen fell to Carolina in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

5. Ryan Mallett, QB, Texarkana, Texas (Michigan)
Possessing one of the strongest arms in recent history, Mallett signed with the Lloyd Carr-led Michigan Wolverines out of high school. Once spread guru Rich Rodriguez took over for the retiring Carr, Mallett was out the door. He transferred closer to home to play for Arkansas. He sat out the 2008 season before posting two of the best passing seasons in Razorback history. Mallett topped 3,600 yards and 30 touchdowns in both campaigns, finishing his two-year stint in Fayetteville with most of Arkansas’ major passing records, including most yards in a season (3,869) and most yards in a career (7,493). He set 16 school records in 2009 and capped his career with a seventh-place finish in the Heisman voting in 2010. He left Arkansas early and was drafted in the third round in 2011 by the New England Patriots.

6. Marc Tyler, RB, Yorba Linda, Calif. (USC)
From the same program as Jimmy Clausen — Oaks Christian — Tyler redshirted in 2007 after breaking his before the CIF playoffs as a senior. He played in eight games in 2008 before missing all but one game of the 2009 season with a toe injury. Tyler rebounded in 2010, starting eight games and leading the team in rushing with 913 yards. He missed two more games as a senior and regressed statistically in 2011. Tyler finished his USC career with 1,751 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns.

7. Eric Berry, ATH, Fairburn, Ga. (Tennessee)
Berry made an immediate impact, starting every game in 2006 and earning SEC Defensive Freshman of the Year honors. He set the SEC’s all-time record for interception return yards (487) after only two seasons. A two-time consensus All-American, Berry racked up the awards as a junior, being named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and earning the Jim Thorpe Award. He was the fifth overall pick by the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

8. Tray Allen, OL, Grand Prairie, Texas (Texas)
The top prep lineman in the nation finished with 44 games played in his collegiate career but made only six career starts. He appeared in nine games at tackle as a freshman and 11 games at the same position as a sophomore. He played in 11 games at guard in 2009, helping the Horns to an undefeated regular season record and BCS Championship Game berth. After missing the entire 2010 campaign with a foot injury, Allen returned to the field for the final time in 2011. He played in all 13 games last fall, including the only six starts of his career.

9. Chris Galippo, LB, Corona, Calif. (USC)
Galippo’s career got off to a rocky start when he suffered a herniated disk that abruptly ended his freshman season. He was able to redshirt and returned to the field in 2008, playing in 10 games before earning the starting middle linebacker position in 2009. Galippo lost the starting job in ‘10, finishing with only 29 tackles in seven starts. He played in all 12 games as a senior in 2011, racking up 47 total tackles.

10. Terrence Toliver, WR, Hempstead, Texas (LSU)
Toliver earned SEC All-Freshman honors in 2007 after catching 10 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns. He played but did not catch a pass in the Tigers' National Championship win over Ohio State. He broke through two years later with his best statistical season — 53 receptions, 735 yards and three touchdowns. Toliver ended his four-year career with 126 catches, 1,820 yards and 12 total touchdowns. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the Houston Texans following the 2011 NFL Draft.

11. Chad Jones, S, Baton Rouge, La. (LSU)
Jones was a 13th-round pick of the Houston Astros out of high school but opted to attend LSU. While in Baton Rouge, Jones played on the 2007 LSU football national championship team and the 2009 LSU baseball national championship team, becoming one of only two college athletes to accomplish the feat (with teammate Jared Mitchell). Jones, who started 19 games in three seasons, skipped his senior year and was picked by the New York Giants in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft and the Milwaukee Brewers in the 50th round of the ’10 MLB Draft

12. Arrelious Benn, WR, Washington, D.C. (Illinois)
Benn’s freakish athletic ability was on full display from Game 1 in his Illinois career. He caught five passes for 74 yards and carried the ball three times in his first game against Missouri. He went on to earn Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors in 2007 and finished with an Illinois freshman-record 54 catches and 676 yards. As a sophomore, he earned team MVP honors. One year later, Benn ended his three-year career fourth all-time in all-purpose yards (3,613), fifth all-time in receptions (159), sixth all-time in receiving yards (2,221) and sixth in kick return yards (996). Benn was the 39th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
13. Ronald Johnson, ATH, Muskegon, Mich. (USC)
Johnson was listed by some recruiting services as a cornerback but he shined at USC as a wide receiver. His best season came as a senior, when he caught 64 passes for 692 yards and eight scores. He finished his career with 138 catches, 1,750 yards and 20 touchdowns. The San Francisco 49ers selected him in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

14. Curtis Brown, CB, Gilmer, Texas (Texas)
Brown was a four-year contributor down for Mack Brown. He played in all 13 games as a true freshman and finished his career by starting 24 of his last 26 games — including all 14 games in the 2009 unbeaten regular season. He finished his career with 52 games played, 28 starts, 120 total tackles and was second-team All-Big 12 as a senior. He was selected in the third round of the 2011 Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

15. Noel Devine, RB, North Fort Myers, Fla. (West Virginia)
The tiny speedster made an immediate impact at West Virginia, rushing for 627 yards and six touchdowns as a true freshman. He then posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, and entered his senior campaign as a Heisman candidate. Injuries, however, derailed his final year, and he finished 64 yards shy of his third straight 1,000-yard season. Devine finished his career with 4,317 yards rushing and 29 touchdowns on the ground to go with 98 receptions and 710 yards receiving. He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft before being signed by the Eagles in July 2011. A month later he signed with the Omaha Nighthawks in the UFL before landing in the CFL on the Montreal Alouettes in February 2012.

16. Torrey Davis, DT, Seffner, Fla. (Florida)
The peak of Davis’ Florida career came in the 2009 BCS Championship Game when he made two goal line tackles against Oklahoma. However, his two-year stint in Gainesville was plagued with academic and disciplinary suspensions. He was on probation for knowingly driving on a suspended license when he left the Florida football team, only to be arrested shortly thereafter for the same transgression. He transferred to Jacksonville State and played one season, earning a spot on the OVC All-Newcomer team.

17. Josh Oglesby, OL, Milwaukee, Wisc. (Wisconsin)
Oglesby, one of the highest-rated recruits ever to sign with the Badgers, battled injuries throughout his career. Still, he played in 41 games, starting 28, while paving the way for record-setting tailback Montee Ball. He played a full season in 2011, starting 13 games for the Big Ten champions and earning consensus first-team All-Big Ten honors.

18. Aaron Corp, QB, Villa Park, Calif. (USC)
Corp backed up Mark Sanchez during his first two seasons at USC. Then, after Matt Barkley grabbed the reins of the USC offense as a true freshman in 2009, Corp opted to transfer to Richmond in January 2010. He started the first five games of the 2010 season before suffering a season-ending knee injury. As a senior in 2011, he started 11 games and threw for 2,682 yards, 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

19. Caleb King, RB, Norcross, Ga. (Georgia)
King posted a Georgia state record 2,768 yards rushing as a junior and built a legendary prep name for himself in the process. However, he failed to live up to the hype in Athens. He never reached the 20-carry plateau in a game and rushed for at least 100 yards only twice in his career. He was academically ineligible as a senior in 2011 and ended his disappointing career with 1,271 yards and 10 touchdowns.

20. Anthony Davis, OL, Piscataway, N.J. (Rutgers)
Davis, one of the highest-rated recruits ever to sign with Rutgers, enjoyed an outstanding three-year career with the Scarlet Knights. He was a two-time first-team All-Big East, and he earned second-team All-America honors as a junior in 2009. Davis skipped his final season of eligibility and was selected by the San Francisco 49ers with the 11th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the highest ever for a Scarlet Knight.

21. Ben Martin, DE, Cincinnati (Tennessee)
Martin played in 20 games in his first two seasons as a reserve before breaking into the starting lineup as a junior in 2009. He set career highs that season with 38 tackles, five sacks and six tackles for a loss. He missed the entire 2010 season due to a torn Achilles before returning for his final campaign in 2011, when he started eight games. Martin finished his career with 81 total tackles, six sacks and a pair of forced fumbles.

22. Deonte Thompson, WR, Belle Glade, Fla. (Florida)
The in-state speedster redshirted his first season in Gainesville before playing in 52 of his possible 54 career games, making 34 starts along the way. Thompson caught 18 passes for 269 yards and three scores during the Gators’ 2008 National Championship run, but his best season came in 2010 when he posted career bests in receptions (38) and yards (570). He ended his career with 101 receptions for 1,446 and nine touchdowns.

23. Kristofer O’Dowd, OL, Tucson, Ariz. (USC)
O’Dowd became the first true freshman at USC to start at center. The following season, in 2008, he was named first-team All-Pac-10. He missed five games due to a kneecap injury in 2009 before starting all 13 games as a senior in 2010. He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Arizona Cardinals but was cut just before the start of the season.

24. Donovan Warren, CB, Long Beach, Calif. (Michigan)
The godson of former USC great Mark Carrier, Warren surprised fans when he picked Michigan over the Trojans. He started 11 of 13 games in 2007 and was named Big Ten Defensive Freshman of the Year. He posted 52 total tackles in 2008 and then led the team in interceptions (four) in 2009 while recording a career-high 66 total tackles. Warren left college early for the NFL but went undrafted in 2010.

25. Eugene Clifford, S, Cincinnati (Ohio State)
Clifford played in four games as a true freshman in Columbus but was suspended prior to the BCS National Championship Game. He was charged six months later with assault for allegedly punching two men at a bar. This incident led to his departure from the team and a transfer to Tennessee State, where he was a three-year starter and a two-time All-OVC pick. Clifford went undrafted in 2011.

26. Ryan Miller, OL, Littleton, Colo. (Colorado)
The Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year picked the home-state Buffaloes over Miami, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, USC and Nebraska. His impact in Boulder was felt immediately as he started seven games as a true freshman, earning first-team Freshman All-America honors. He broke his fibula early in 2008 but was granted a medical redshirt and returned to the starting lineup in 2009. He played in all but one of Colorado’s offensive snaps that season and went on to start his final two seasons with the Buffs, as well. Miller was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

27. Tyrod Taylor, Hampton, Va. (Virginia Tech)
It took only two games for Frank Beamer to realize what he had in Taylor, who got his first start in Game 3 of his true freshman season. After earning extended playing time in 2007, Taylor was set to redshirt in 2008, but the decision was quickly reversed, and Taylor played in 12 games, claiming his first of two ACC Championship Game MVP trophies. He continued his development as a junior when he showed marked improvement in his efficiency as a passer, setting career highs in passing yards and touchdowns while leading the Hokies to a 10-win season. Taylor took his game to a championship level as a senior. He claimed ACC Player of the Year honors en route to an unbeaten ACC regular season and title game win. Taylor left campus as Virginia Tech’s career record-setter for total offense (9,213), passing yards (7,017), rushing yards by a quarterback (2,196), wins by a starting quarterback (34) and rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (23).

28. Martez Wilson, DE, Chicago (Illinois)
As a true freshman, Wilson played in all 13 games at linebacker and was a Freshman All-American by several outlets. He finished 14th in the Big Ten in tackles (6.6 per game) as a sophomore before suffering a herniated disc in his neck in the 2009 season opener. He redshirted and returned to become a first-team All-Big Ten performer in 2010. The team captain finished his career with 223 total tackles and nine sacks. Wilson was selected in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints after forgoing his senior season at Illinois.

29. J’Courtney Williams, LB, Danville, Va. (Virginia)
Williams’ career at Virginia ended prematurely. He was redshirted as a freshman and underwent multiple shoulder surgeries. In February 2008, he was placed on probation on a misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession and later charged with credit card theft and fraud. Virginia announced in early April 2008 that Williams would not return to the team. He intended to transfer to Hampton but never played a game for the Pirates, instead landing at El Camino (Calif.) Community College. He eventually signed with Liberty in 2010 but never played a game for the Flames.

30. Dre Jones, DT, El Paso, Texas (Texas)
Jones was a U.S. Army All-American before he ran into some legal trouble. After he was charged with aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon — he and a teammate were accused of holding up two victims at an Austin apartment complex — Jones was considered a fugitive for a short period of time. He was apprehended and spent his 18th birthday in a Travis County Jail cell. Texas coach Mack Brown suspended Jones immediately, and he never played for the Horns. He pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony, before returning home in an effort to join UTEP for the 2009 season. But a car accident forced Jones to have knee surgery in October 2008, and the Miners decided not to admit the troubled defensive tackle.

31. John Chiles, WR, Dallas (Texas)
This do-everything dual-threat dynamo began his career under center for the Longhorns. He made his debut as true freshman, carrying 36 times for 191 yards. He played one more season as the backup, change-of-pace quarterback before officially landing at wide receiver in 2009. He made 15 starts over his last two seasons, catching 63 passes for 737 yards and four touchdowns over that span. Chiles finished his Texas career with one 100-yard receiving game. He played in 41 games, 19 at quarterback and 22 at wide receiver, and totaled 543 yards of total offense with eight total touchdowns.
32. James Wilson, OL, St. Augustine, Fla. (Florida)
Wilson has played in 38 games as a Gator, but has managed only six starts due to a rash of injuries. He started one game in 2011, the Gator Bowl win vs. Ohio State. Wilson was granted a sixth season of eligibility and is projected to be a starter at guard in 2012.  

33. Justin Trattou, DE, Ramsey, N.J. (Florida)
Trattou broke into the rotation as a reserve defensive linemen in 2007. He made 13 starts as a sophomore on the one-loss 2008 BCS National Championship squad that beat Oklahoma in the title game. He played in every game over the final two seasons of his college career, finishing with 31 career starts, 121 total tackles (26 for a loss) and 8.5 sacks. Trattou went undrafted in 2011 but signed with the New York Giants and appeared in six regular-season games for the eventual Super Bowl champions.

34. Carlos Dunlap, DE, North Charleston, S.C. (Florida)
One of the freakiest athletes ever to play high school football — the 6-6, 290-pounder returned kickoffs at Fort Dorchester — Dunlap was an immediate contributor for the Gators. He played in all 13 games as a freshman before earning his first career start in 2008. Dunlap recorded a team-leading 13.5 tackles for a loss and 9.5 sacks on the 2008 National Championship team, and he was named Defensive MVP of the title game. The next season, the talented end helped Florida to an undefeated regular season and berth in the SEC Championship Game with eyes on a second-straight BCS title. But Dunlap was arrested on a DUI charge just days before the SEC title game and missed only the second game of his career. Dunlap finished his career with 14 starts in 40 games played, 84 total tackles, 19.5 sacks and 26 tackles for a loss. He was selected in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals.

35. Aaron Hernandez, TE, Bristol, Conn. (Florida)
The talented tight end saw action in all 13 games as a true freshman, starting three times and catching nine passes. He vaulted into the Gators' starting lineup as a sophomore and became one of Tim Tebow’s top targets en route to the BCS National Championship. As a junior, he developed into the best tight end in the nation. After leading the team in receptions (68) and finishing second in yards (850), Hernandez became the first SEC player to win the John Mackey Award, given annually to the nation’s top tight end. He was an AP first-team All-American and finished his career with 111 catches for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns. Reports of failed tests for marijuana pushed Hernandez down draft boards and into the fourth round, where the New England Patriots got one of the steals of the 2010 NFL Draft.

36. Joseph Barksdale, DT, Detroit (LSU)
The transplant from Michigan contributed early for the 2007 BCS National Champions by playing in all 14 games as a true freshman. The following year, Barksdale took a starting spot at offensive tackle as a sophomore and never looked back, finishing with 39 consecutive starts to end his LSU career. He played in all 53 possible games and earned All-SEC second-team honors as a senior. He was a third-round pick of the Oakland Raiders in the 2011 NFL Draft.

37. Marshall Jones, S, Agoura Hills, Calif. (USC)
Jones saw limited action in his first two seasons at USC, playing in 17 games. After being moved from safety to corner in the spring of 2009, Jones lasted four games before suffering a neck injury that ended his season. He retuned to the field for his final two seasons but never became more than a special teamer. He finished his career with 54 total tackles — 35 of which came in 2010 — and only one career interception.

38. John Brown, DT, Lakeland, Fla. (Florida)
One of the nation’s most highly touted defensive tackles never played a down for Florida. He earned a medical redshirt as a freshman due to knee and back injuries and then missed the 2008 season following wrist surgery. He left Florida after one season and enrolled at Northeast Mississippi Community College. He then signed to play at Tennessee but never got his academics in order. Brown landed at Valdosta (Ga.) State in 2010 having never played a down in the SEC.

39. Chris Jacobson, OL, Pittsburgh, Pa (Pittsburgh)
After redshirting in 2007, Jacobson played in three games in 2008 and all 13 in 2009 for the Panthers. By 2010, he had earned a starting spot at left guard, leading the way for standout tailback Dion Lewis. He transitioned to center prior to his senior season in 2011 and was a big part of Ray Graham’s outstanding start to the year. However, against Iowa in the third game of the season, Jacobson injured his left knee and missed the rest of the year. He was granted a medical hardship waiver and will return in 2012 to the Panthers offensive line.

40. Lorenzo Edwards, LB, Orlando, Fla. (Florida)
This Edgewater High School prospect played four undistinguished seasons for the Gators. He played in 45 career games and was a member of the 2008 BCS National Championship squad. Edwards finished with 57 career total tackles — or just over one tackle per game — and was not selected in the 2011 NFL Draft.

<p> Looking back at the top recruits of 2007</p>
Post date: Friday, January 18, 2013 - 06:40
Path: /college-football/recruiting-ranking-most-talented-states-country

The phrase “SEC Speed” instantly conjures images of glory, victory and pride for one region in the country and thoughts of depression, agony and exasperation for every other part of the nation. But after claiming their seventh national championship in a row, the SEC has a right to claim the best programs, players and coaches.

But why is that?

Yes, the SEC fanbases, power boosters and administrations are more dedicated and committed to winning — from top (Alabama) to bottom (Kentucky) — than any other conference in America. It also means they will do whatever it takes to win, at times, pushing more envelopes than anywhere else as well.

Simply put, the Southeast cares more about college football than any other region of the country. However, it helps that most of the country’s best high school athletes hail from one area of the nation as well.

Over the last five seasons, the has compiled the most accurate and truest representation of the best high school football players in the nation. It averages out each of the expert online scouting services — Rivals, Scout, 247 Sports and ESPN to name a few — in an effort to create a composite ranking that is the best on the web.

With the exception of the first year (2008) of the in which Athlon Sports only ranked 100 prospects, Athlon Sports has ranked over 200 players per year by combining this variety of expert rankings. With that in mind, I have counted, dissected and analyzed where all 900 of those prospects have come from and have learned the following:

The Big 3 Dominates
As expected, Texas, Florida and California are the biggest and most powerful states for high school talent. It has always been this way and I can’t see that changing anytime soon. Of the 900 counted players, more than a third (379) came from just those three states with Florida topping all states in the rankings with 153 Top 200 players. The Sunshine State might produce the rawest talent, but Texas high school football is easily the most important. The state is more committed to big-time prep football (See "Varsity Blues" or "Friday Night Lights") than anywhere else in the nation and the athletes are better prepared for college ball at the highest level. California trails both Texas and Florida in both categories.

The Peach State Has Emerged
This also is no secret, but the state of Georgia has elevated itself as the clear-cut No. 4 in the rankings. With 67 elite prospects over the last five years, The Peach State is well ahead of other solid states (Ohio, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Virginia) in terms of total numbers of top prospects. It is no wonder why so many SEC and ACC programs make a living within the state of Georgia.

The Southeast Rules the Roost
Outside of Texas and California, the Southeastern region dominates the state rankings. The traditional Southeastern states claim three of the top six, four of the top 8, five of the top 10 and seven of the top 14 nationally in terms of talent production. If you consider the new footprint states of the SEC, Texas and Missouri, the SEC now has a major program in nine of the top 20 states for talent in the nation. Only Arkansas (ranked No. 26) and Kentucky (ranked No. 29) are SEC states not ranked in the top 20 over the last five cycles.

The Big Ten Is Smarter Than We Think
Many thought adding Maryland and Rutgers to the Big Ten was an odd move for all parties. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Maryland/D.C. and New Jersey were Nos. 15 and 16 in terms of talent production over the last five seasons and both have historically been underrated in terms of delivering elite athletes. Those two recruiting territories would rank No. 5 and No. 6 respectively in the Big Ten footprint behind Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Illinois in terms of prospects, and ahead of current Big Ten states Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Nebraska. For the record, 16 prospects hail from Maryland and two come from D.C. but for all intents and purposes, these two are considered one.

Completely Shutout
West Virginia, Idaho and Hawaii were the only three states that claimed just a single top 200 prospect over the last five years. Ten others were completely shutout. Alaska, Delaware, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming produced not a single top 200 player over the last five seasons. Quick, name the biggest, most successful FBS program in any of those states? Bueller? Bueller?

Here is the statistical breakdown of exactly where the best high school football players have come from over the last five years:

  State 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Total
1. Florida 17 33 29 41 33 153
2. Texas 16 27 27 25 27 122
3. California 9 21 29 22 23 104
4. Georgia 6 13 17 17 14 67
5. Ohio 5 9 10 8 11 43
6. Alabama 8 7 4 6 9 34
7. Pennsylvania 6 7 8 4 7 32
8. Louisiana 1 9 5 10 4 29
9. Virginia 4 9 5 4 6 28
10. North Carolina 1 5 4 9 7 26
11t. Michigan 4 5 6 5 4 24
11t. South Carolina 3 7 7 4 3 24
13t. Illinois 3 4 4 5 4 20
13t. Mississippi 1 5 4 5 5 20
15. Maryland/DC 1 4 4 4 5 18
16. New Jersey 1 4 3 5 4 17
17. Arizona 1 3 2 4 4 14
18t. Tennessee 0 2 3 2 5 12
18t. Oklahoma 1 4 3 1 3 12
20. Missouri 1 3 2 1 4 11
21. Washington 1 1 3 2 3 10
22t. Oregon 1 0 3 2 2 8
22t. New York 0 2 2 1 3 8
22t. Kansas 1 1 3 2 1 8
25. Indiana 0 1 3 1 2 7
26t. Colorado 1 1 2 0 2 6
26t. Arkansas 1 1 1 3 0 6
26t. Nevada 0 3 1 1 1 6
29t. Utah 1 2 2 0 0 5
29t. Kentucky 0 2 0 2 1 5
31t. Nebraska 2 0 1 0 0 3
31t. Minnesota 1 1 1 0 0 3
31t. Massachusetts 0 1 0 1 1 3
31t. Iowa 0 2 0 1 0 3
35t. Wisconsin 0 0 0 1 1 2
35t. New Mexico 1 0 0 1 0 2
35t. Connecticut 0 0 2 0 0 2
38t. West Virginia 1 0 0 0 0 1
38t. Idaho 0 0 0 0 1 1
38t. Hawaii 0 1 0 0 0 1
  Total: 100 200 200 200 200 900

* - Alaska, Delaware, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming produced no Top 200 prospects in the last five years.

<p> Recruiting: Rankings the Most Talented States in the Country</p>
Post date: Thursday, January 17, 2013 - 06:20
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, Big East, News
Path: /college-football/recruiting-where-do-college-quarterbacks-come

Where do starting quarterbacks come from? What makes them great? How are they constructed?

All important questions college coaches must ask themselves when trying to evaluate the most important position on the field. A truly great field general can make or break a head coach’s career, so accurately evaluating high school prospects become one of the most valuable skills any college coach can master. Finding the hidden gem is virtually impossible in the modern age of Internet recruiting web sites and third-party film companies, but that doesn’t mean some still don’t slip through the cracks. Just ask every other school in Texas if they offered Johnny Manziel a scholarship? Because they didn’t — only Texas A&M, Oregon and Tulsa offered Manziel a chance at quarterback.

To understand better where elite signal callers come from and how they become starters at the highest level, Athlon Sports has analyzed the 68 power conference starters as well as BYU and Notre Dame. Common sense discretion was used to determine which quarterback should be deemed the “starter.” For example, Kain Colter gets the nod over Trevor Siemian at Northwestern, Clint Chelf is the starter at Oklahoma State, Travis Wilson gets the nod at Utah and Brendon Kay counted as the guy at Cincinnati.

Here is what Athlon learned:

Begin Your Search Out of State
Interestingly enough, only 24 of the 70 major-conference quarterbacks played college football in the same state they played high school football. The Big Ten (six) leads the nation with half of its league signing in-state passers. However, these names were not elite recruits as Joel Stave (Wisconsin) and Matt McGloin (Pennsylvania) were walk-ons, Philip Nelson had one offer (Minnesota) and James Vanderberg (Iowa) was a two-star. The SEC and Big 12 were second with five in-state signal callers each, however, seven of those 10 hail from Texas or Florida — where there are more prospects than anywhere else.

The ACC and Big East feature three in-state quarterbacks each while the Pac-12 has just one (Matt Barkley) who played college football in the same state as his high school career. Yes, most of the Pac-12 uses California for talent, including six starting quarterbacks, but the best ones in the league — Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley, Taylor Kelly, Kevin Hogan — come from Hawaii, Arizona, Idaho and Virginia respectively.

Finally, of next year's Heisman Trophy front-runners, almost all are out-of-state talents with the exception of Manziel and Ohio State's Braxton Miller. Aaron Murray, Tajh Boyd, Teddy Bridgewater, Taylor Martinez, Mariota and Hundley all crossed state lines to play in college. 

The Commonwealth of Virginia
Looking for a sneaky place to find an elite passer? Look no further than Virginia. Plenty of elite talent sign big-time football scholarships from Virginia each recruiting cycle, but in 2012, half of the ACC — the better half — had a starting quarterback from The Mother of States. Tajh Boyd, EJ Manuel, Mike Glennon, Bryn Renner, Logan Thomas and Phillip Sims all played high school football in Virginia. Add Chris Coyer at Temple and Hogan at Stanford and the case could be made that The Commonwealth is the most underrated state for quarterback talent in the nation. This is likely why Bill O'Brien and Penn State wanted Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy signal caller Christian Hackenberg so badly.

South Beach, Baby
Four power conference quarterbacks hail from South Florida, and these are four of the best in the country. Bridgewater, Geno Smith, Denard Robinson and Stephen Morris all played prep ball in the talent-rich waters of Dade and Broward counties. Robinson and Smith are two of the most prolific players in their school’s history and Bridgewater is poised to make a Heisman run for Louisville. Morris led his team to the division championship and also returns with a conference crown in his sights. Strangely enough, however, the Hurricanes have actually been better off when it builds the rest of its roster around local talent but goes long distances to find a quarterback. Gino Torretta and Ken Dorsey were from California, Jim Kelly was from Pittsburgh and Vinny Testaverde was from Brooklyn. Jacory Harris, a Miami product, never lived up to the lofty expectations. Apparently, the locally bred Morris is facing an uphill battle as a senior.

S-E-C. S-E-C. S-E-C.
With 14 teams, the SEC is the biggest league in the nation. It also has seven straight national titles and is the best league in the nation. So it should come as no surprise that 31 of the 70 power conference quarterbacks hail from states in the SEC footprint, including both quarterbacks who played in the BCS National Championship game. Twelve of the 14 starting SEC signal callers are from the region — Tyler Bray and Jordan Rodgers are from California — and 19 other major conference programs feature a prospect from an SEC state. Certainly, Florida and Texas provide much of the talent, but so too does Georgia, Missouri and Alabama. It's not rocket science: The Southeast has more athletes than anywhere else in the country.

Quarterback Revolving Door
No other position is more transient than the quarterback. Once a big-time recruit realizes he isn’t going to get starting time, he will be the first to look elsewhere. There is only one football after all. Ten of the 70 quarterbacks began their careers at a different program. Phillip Sims was at Alabama before landing at Virginia. Robert Marve signed with Miami before heading north to Purdue. Zach Maynard (Buffalo to Cal), Chandler Whitmer (Illinois to UConn) and Jordan Webb (Kansas to Colorado) also transferred. Bo Wallace, Cameron Coffman, Riley Nelson and Jordan Rodgers were all junior college transfers before excelling at Ole Miss, Indiana, BYU and Vanderbilt respectively. The lesson? Don't be afraid to look at your direct competition to find a starter.

Don't Be Afraid of the Small School
There are elite high school programs all over the country that send dozens of prospects to the FBS ranks each year. The 70 different quarterbacks in this study played at 68 different high schools. Small programs in Idaho, Iowa, Wisconsin, New Mexico and Minnesota all sent a staring quarterback to a major conference. However, two high school programs featured a pair of signal callers. Powerhouse West Coast program Corona (Calif.) Centennial sent Taylor Martinez to Nebraska and Matt Scott to Arizona while famed Tampa (Fla.) Plant delivered Murray to Georgia and Marve to Purdue (by way of Miami). Otherwise, it appears there are no limitations as to where a coach will look to find talent under center.

State-by-state ranking of the 70 power conference starting quarterbacks:

  State No. Quarterbacks
1. California 10 Chase Rettig, Taylor Martinez, Matt Barkley, Sean Mannion, Keith Price, Matt Scott, Jeff Tuel, Travis Wilson, Tyler Bray, Jordan Rodgers
2. Florida 9 Stephen Morris, Sam Richardson, Geno Smith, Teddy Bridgewater, BJ Daniels, Robert Marve, Denard Robinson, Jeff Driskel, Aaron Murray
3. Virginia 8 Tajh Boyd, Mike Glennon, EJ Manuel, Bryn Renner, Phillip Sims, Logan Thomas, Chris Coyer, Kevin Hogan
4. Texas 8 Tanner Price, David Ash, Trevone Boykin, Michael Cummings, Seth Doege, Nick Florence, James Franklin, Johnny Manziel
5. Pennsylvania 4 CJ Brown, Ryan Nassib, Tino Sunseri, Matt McGloin
6t. Georgia 3 Chandler Whitmer, Zach Mettenberger, Connor Shaw
6t. Alabama 3 Tevin Washington, AJ McCarron, Jalen Whitlow
6t. Missouri 3 Cameron Coffman, Nathan Scheelhaase, Jordan Webb
9t. Colorado 2 Collin Klein, Kain Colter
9t. Arizona 2 Sean Renfree, Brett Hundley
9t. Arkansas 2 Tyler Wilson, Kiehl Frazier
9t. Michigan 2 Andrew Maxwell, Brendon Kay
13t. Hawaii 1 Marcus Mariota
13t. Idaho 1 Taylor Kelly
13t. Iowa 1 James Vandenberg
13t. Minnesota 1 Philip Nelson
13t. Mississippi 1 Tyler Russell
13t. New Jersey 1 Gary Nova
13t. New Mexico 1 Landry Jones
13t. N. Carolina 1 Zach Maynard
13t. Ohio 1 Braxton Miller
13t. Oklahoma 1 Clint Chelf
13t. S. Carolina 1 Everett Golson
13t. Tennessee 1 Bo Wallace
13t. Utah 1 Riley Nelson
13t. Wisconsin 1 Joel Stave

<p> Recruiting: Where do college quarterbacks come from?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/top-20-sportscenter-anchors-all-time

ESPN catches a lot of heat for a lot of things — forced apologies, inconsistent treatment of talent, controlling the sports broadcasting market and, of course, its coverage of Tim Tebow. But much like the SEC is the best football conference because it has won seven straight national titles, there’s a reason ESPN has become the goliath that it is today.

They were the first and best in the business to do what they do. And it all started on Sept. 6, 1979 with the original run of their signature nightly sportscast that kept fans informed about what was happening in sports. This well before the eruption of the Internet, blog-o-sphere, social media or niche television networks.

For kids born in the early '80s (like myself), SportsCenter was as big a part of childhood as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. Fans could follow teams, stories and personalities from all over the nation in one place. But what took SportsCenter from also-ran cable network newscast to broadcasting behemoth was the creative, funny and unique personalities that delivered the sports news. To quote one truly epic newscaster, “I don’t know how to put this, but, I’m kind of a big deal.”

With that in mind, from the viewer's perspective, here are the Top 20 SportsCenter anchors of all-time:

1. Dan Patrick (1989-2006)
Not many jobs in any broadcasting field last for nearly 20 years and Patrick was the one of the best. Signature phrases "en fuego"(which actually started as "el fuego") and "The Whiff" helped grow the idea that SportsCenter was as much entertainment as it was news. He is also credited with the advent of the phrase “This is SportsCenter” which has been used in cross-promotion and advertising for nearly two decades. Not many sportscasters have 16 motion pictures and two national radio shows on their resume. Patrick has set the bar in the sports broadcasting industry.

2. Bob Ley (1979-present)
The classy stalwart has been with the network since its inception in 1979, making him one of (if not the) longest tenured ESPN employees in the building. Over the course of his prestigious career, Ley has claimed eight sports Emmys (Sports Journalism) and three Cable ACE awards (Sports Information Series) and has been the long-time host of the acclaimed investigative program Outside the Lines. He is credited with breaking the story of Pete Rose being banned from baseball.

3. Kenny Mayne (1994-present)
Few television personalities have ever had a dryer sense of humor than Mayne. The Washington native and junior college quarterback debuted on SportSmash in 1994 before moving over to the big network and developing into one of the funnier broadcasters in sports. His extensive and creative home runs calls in particular have withstood the test of time. He then developed “The Mayne Event” for NFL Sunday mornings and is still currently involved with his own feature “Wider World of Sports” as well as horse racing.

4. Keith Olbermann (1992-1997)
After a decade with CNN, Olbermann joined ESPN’s SportsCenter in 1992 quickly becoming a marquee personality. By 1995, he had won the Cable ACE award for Best Sportscaster. After things had soured internally at ESPN, and with an eye always toward the political spectrum, Olbermann left SportsCenter for MSNBC in 1997. He also worked for Fox Sports Net and NBC Nightly News. The cult-hit sitcom Sports Night, written by Aaron Sorkin, is based on Olbermann’s time spent with Patrick on the set of SportsCenter. Despite his bizarre and eccentric personality, ESPN likely isn’t what it is today without the impact of the combination of Patrick and Olbermann.

5. Greg Gumbel (1979-1988)
There is little Mr. Gumbel has yet to accomplish in his illustrious broadcasting career. He has done play-by-play for the NCAA Tournament, NBA, MLB, Winter Olympics, college baseball and NFL. He has hosted shows about every sport on NBC and CBS as well as ABC. But it all started back in 1979 when he started his career at ESPN. He was a reporter, anchor and play-by-play man at a time when many doubted the future of SportsCenter. Gumbel’s no-nonsense approach has made him a model and iconic broadcaster who influenced generations of rising journalists and TV personalities.

6. Scott Van Pelt (2001-present)
The signature bald head of Van Pelt has become a staple of the ESPN television and radio broadcasts. He began working at the Golf Channel and has continued his work as one of the top host/analysts at all the major tournaments each season. Much like Patrick, Mayne and Olbermann, SVP’s comedic talents on SportsCenter helped him land an ESPN Radio gig as well as a variety of video game jobs (EA Sports).

7. Linda Cohn (1992-present)
In 1987, Cohn made her first big mark in the business by becoming the first full-time national female sports anchor in U.S. radio history. She has withstood the test of time, hosting SportsCenter for over 20 years. Along the way, she was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and given the Women’s Sports Journalism Award. She also authored her own biography and has paved the way for women everywhere to break into the sports broadcasting business — or, as she puts it, “The Boys’ Club.”

8. Rece Davis (1995-present)
Laurece “Rece” Davis graduated from Alabama in 1968 and worked his way to ESPN2 by 1995. The consummate professional, Davis can play both host and analyst roles as well as anyone in the business. His work on College Football Live, Gameday Final and College Gameday make him one of the best in the business. He is always gracious with his time and is one of the few who genuinely loves the sports he covers.

9. Robin Roberts (1990-2004)
The smooth-talking Roberts has been a staple of national television for over two decades. With quality catch-phrases and her up-tempo personality, Roberts developed into one of the best SportsCenter anchors of all-time. She won three Emmys for her work at ESPN and was given the Mel Greenberg Media Award in 2001. It eventually landed her on ABC’s signature morning program Good Morning America. Her very public bout (and victory) with cancer is just one reason millions have grown to love the Mississippi native.

10. Chris Berman (1979-present)
When he was good, few have ever been as entertaining and likable as Berman. Signature catch phrases and nicknames made him one of the preeminent SportsCenter anchors during the time of biggest growth for ESPN. His work on NFL Primetime and the Home Run Derby makes him one of the most distinctive personalities in ESPN history. However, his longevity might be his biggest weakness as 30 years in the business has left his shtick a bit stale. At his best (the '90s), he was one of the greats. And at his worst (the '00s), he can be nails on a chalkboard.

11. Brian Kenny (1997-2011)
A baseball and boxing junkie, Kenny won an Emmy at ESPN and was named the network’s Volunteer of the Year in 2007. He also was named SI’s Media Personality of the Year in 2004 and Boxing Broadcaster of the Year in 2005.

12. John Anderson (1999-present)
Hailing from one of the most prestigious journalism departments in the nation at Missouri, Anderson has been one of the best new generation anchors at ESPN. He won the Oklahoma Sportscaster of the Year in 2012 and has crossed over into mainstream as the co-host of ABC's Wipeout.

13. Craig Kilborn (1993-1996)
Many give credit to Kilborn, Patrick and Olbermann for bringing comedy to the SportsCenter set. He went on to host The Daily Show on Comedy Central and The Late, Late Show on CBS. He also famously appeared in Old School.

14. John Buccigross (1996-present)
The hockey aficionado has won Emmys for his work on SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight as well as NHL Tonight. He has written for the Web site (as well as a book) and hosted for ESPN for nearly 20 years. 

15. Dave Revsine (1999-2007)
An even-keel broadcaster is as professional as they come. A Northwestern grad, Revsine hosted a variety of shows for ESPN and did play-by-play. In 2007, he left ESPN to become the lead studio host for the Big Ten Network when the channel launched.

16. Charley Steiner (1987-2001)
The jolly, bearded anchor always seemed to have a good time on the air and always seemed to be involved in the funnier SC moments (Carl Lewis?). He eventually worked his way onto ESPN’s national baseball radio broadcasts as well before moving on to the Yankees' radio team in 2002.

17. Steve Levy (1993-present)
A quality and likable broadcaster, Levy has been around the SportsCenter desk for two decades. His famous “bulging disk” slip-up is one of the all-time great moments in ESPN history. He also earned the nickname “Mr. Overtime” for his work as a hockey broadcaster.

18. Neil Everett (2000-present)
The West Coaster worked at Hawaii Pacific University for 15 years before getting back into broadcasting. His signature deep, gravelly voice and Island vocabulary makes him one of the better “new” anchors.

19. Rich Eisen (1996-2003)
The affable NFL Network lead host began his broadcasting career at KRCR-TV in Redding, Calif. He landed at ESPN in 1996 and built a name for himself with baseball impersonations and quality reporting. His podcast (The Rich Eisen Podcast) is one of the most listened to on the Web (over 7 mill. downloads).

20. Kevin Frazier (2002-2004)
His time was brief at ESPN, but “K-Fray” has long been one of the business’ most respected personalities. He is now the host of The Insider as well as college football coverage on FX and Fox.

Best of the Rest:

Steve Berthiaume (2000-2006, 2007-2012)
Trey Wingo (1997-present)
Lindsay Czarniak (2011-present)
Mike Tirico (1991-1997)
Tim Brando (1986-1994)
Suzy Kolber (1993-1996, 1999-present)
Bill Pidto (1993-2008)
Hannah Storm (2008-present)
Chris Fowler (1989-1993)
Sage Steele (2007-present)

<p> Top 20 Sportscenter Anchors of All-Time</p>
Post date: Monday, January 14, 2013 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/top-30-non-conference-games-watch-2013

It is never too early to start looking ahead to next season. Especially now that Alabama is college football’s 2012 National Champion. This season featured huge showdowns between the ACC and SEC at the end of the year, Notre Dame battling with the Big Ten or Pac-12 all season long and a host of other important non-conference showdowns. Each and every year, a variety of intersectional matchups mold the national championship landscape or add a chapter to long and storied rivalries.

Athlon Sports starts marking up the 2013 calendar with key non-conference games to watch:

1. Georgia at Clemson (Aug. 31)
The Dawgs are a preseason Top 10 team now that Aaron Murray returns, but the defense will be replacing upwards of 10 starters. They will have to face a Tajh Boyd-Chad Morris offense that is one of the best in the nation. The Tigers will likely be the pick in the ACC and could also be a top 10 team, making the home game against the SEC power essentially a national title elimination game.

2. Oklahoma at Notre Dame (Sept. 28)
The Sooners could be the pick in the Big 12 but will need to break in a bunch of new pieces on both sides of the ball. Notre Dame will once again be a national title contender with an elite defensive line and improved offense. With revenge, historic brands and elite talent all involved in this showdown, it could easily be another national title elimination game.

3. UCLA at Nebraska (Sept. 14)
This was an epic showdown early in 2012 when the Bruins defeated the Huskers 36-30 in Week 2 of the season. It was Brett Hundley’s coming out party as the savior at quarterback for UCLA. The pressure might now be on Jim Mora’s team as the potential preseason favorite in the Pac-12 South. Nebraska could be the pick in the Big Ten's Legends Division as this early season game will feature both losers in their respective conference championship games from this fall.

4. Clemson at South Carolina (Nov. 30)
The big three SEC-ACC showdowns each year carry in-state bragging rights and historic implications. But in 2012, Florida-Florida State was the only one carrying national title importance. The best of the bunch next fall, however, could be the Palmetto State battle. Both could be picked to win their respective divisions and both could be unbeaten heading into one of the most intense rivalries in the nation.

5. Notre Dame at Stanford (Nov. 30)
Stanford has big holes to fill along its defensive front and on the offense, but has to still be considered one of the frontrunners in the Pac-12. The Irish will once again be a top 10 team, and this time, must travel to Palo Alto to deal with a team that will likely never forget how the 2012 version ended.

6. Alabama vs. Virginia Tech (Aug. 31, Atlanta)
With Logan Thomas coming back and some tweaks on the coaching staff, the Hokies almost have be better on offense in 2012. Defensively, Bud Foster’s team will always be good, but to compete with the Tide in the Kickoff Classic, Thomas will have to be the difference maker. Otherwise, Bama will make yet another statement in its season opener en route to yet another title run.

7. Notre Dame at Michigan (Sept. 7)
Brady Hoke and Brian Kelly have completely overhauled their historic programs in short order. Both are still improving and both have title hopes (National and Big Ten, respectively). This is one of the most historic battles each season and generally is one of the best games of the year.

8. TCU vs. LSU (Aug. 31, Arlington)
Gary Patterson did one of his better coaching jobs with some impressive wins without his starting quarterback in year one in a new league. The defensive line will be nasty for the Horned Frogs and they will be playing very close to home. This is what should give them a chance against the mighty Bayou Bengals. LSU is losing nearly a dozen elite players early to the NFL Draft and will be very young along the offensive line and on defense.

9. USC at Notre Dame (Oct. 19)
The Trojans have some holes to fill at quarterback and defensive coordinator, but they also have loads of young talent and yet another elite recruiting class stepping onto campus. The Irish are a preseason top 10 team and anytime these two college football bluebloods get together, fireworks tend to fly.

10. Florida State at Florida (Nov. 30)
Much like South Carolina-Clemson, this one could carry national import at season’s end once again. Both programs have big holes to fill on defense while the Noles must replace EJ Manuel at quarterback. If the Gators' offense can develop in the offseason, they will be right in the heart of the SEC East race.


11. Florida at Miami (Sept. 7)
This will be a big prove-it game for the rising Hurricanes. Al Golden has done an excellent job with a roster that started 10 freshmen and technically won the division in 2012. Miami could validate its growth and put itself on the national scene with an early home win of the mighty in-state rivals.

12. Mississippi State vs. Oklahoma State (Aug. 31, Houston)
The Bulldogs and Cowboys are both achieving at unprecedented levels and both could be sneaky good once again in 2013. The Pokes could actually be the preseason pick to win the Big 12 and will have a chance to prove it against an always solid Dan Mullen-coached team — in a fertile recruiting territory for both.

13. Boise State at Washington (Aug. 31)
This was a great bowl game in Las Vegas to end the season. Now, these two West Coast powers will do battle right out of the gate in 2013. The Huskies' defense should continue to improve while the offense has the pieces to excel. And Chris Peterson will always have the Broncos ready to go early in the year.

14. Wisconsin at Arizona State (Sept. 14)
This was a great game in Madison a few years ago and should again be a stellar non-conference tilt next year. Todd Graham has loads of weapons returning on offense and should be the favorite to win this intriguing intersectional game.

15. Notre Dame vs. Arizona State (Oct. 5, Arlington)
This should be a great test for the Irish defensive line and the Taylor Kelly-led Sun Devils offense. The strengths of both teams will go head-to-head and a win for ASU would validate them as a serious South Division contender.

16. North Carolina at South Carolina (Aug. 31)
Yet another SEC-ACC battle — but this one will have interstate bragging rights on the line. The two programs are the State-U’s in their respective Carolina, but the North version will have to play over their heads to compete with the potential SEC East frontrunner.

17. Texas at BYU (Sept. 7)
Both defenses have a chance to be the strength of their respective teams — if Texas’ athletes can finally play up to their potential. And anytime a team has to visit Provo, it must be worried about escaping with a victory.

18. Michigan State at Notre Dame (Sept. 21)
The Spartans will once again be excellent on defense and one has to believe the offense will be more two-dimensional in 2013. The Irish are what they are and have been crushing the Spartans of late.

19. Rutgers at Fresno State (Aug. 29)
The Knights will feature yet another solid defensive unit and they will have their work cut out for them in a long, cross-country trip to face an elite offense. Derek Carr has only a few national spotlight moments and this will be one of them.

20. Georgia at Georgia Tech (Nov. 30)
Tech finally got Paul Johnson a bowl win and, ideally, that will catapult the team into the offseason. The Dawgs are a big-time national title contender. Finally, it is still arguably the best named rivalry in the nation: “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate.”

21. BYU at Wisconsin (Nov. 9)
Defense will rule the day in a rare late-season non-conference game for a Big Ten power.

22. Oregon at Nevada (Sept. 7)
Sans legend Chris Ault, Nevada will host one of its most high-profile opponents in Reno history.

23. Penn State at Syracuse (Aug. 31, East Rutherford)
Cuse has a new coach but has been much better of late. PSU needs to start things right.

24. Tennessee at Oregon (Sept. 14)
This won’t be a close game, but two major powers get together in Eugene early in the year.

25. Arkansas at Rutgers (Sept. 21)
Revenge factor is heavy for the Hogs, but the Knights have a national spotlight game here.

26. West Virginia at Maryland (Sept. 21, Baltimore)
The Terps are improving and WVU is replacing a ton of offensive weapons.

27. Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky (Aug. 31, Nashville)
Bobby Petrino vs. the SEC. Need I say more?

28. Western Kentucky at Tennessee (Sept. 7)
Bobby Petrino vs. an SEC team that should have hired him. Need I say more?

29. Ole Miss at Texas (Sept. 7)
Was a high-scoring showdown in Oxford in 2012, could be even better in 2013.

30. Ohio State at Cal (Sept. 14)
Tricky road game for national title contender against new coaching staff in Berkeley.

Best of the Rest:

Utah at BYU (Sept. 21)
Washington State at Auburn (Aug. 31)
Iowa at Iowa State (Sept. 14)
Northwestern at Cal (Aug. 31)
Iowa at Iowa State (Sept. 14)
Washington vs. Illinois (Sept. 14, Chicago)
Notre Dame at Purdue (Sept. 14)
Louisville at Kentucky (Sept. 14)
Northwestern at Cal (Aug. 31)
Nevada at UCLA (Aug. 31)
Syracuse at Northwestern (Sept. 7)
Nevada at Florida State (Sept. 21)
Miami at USF (Sept. 28)
Georgia Tech at BYU (Oct. 12)
Notre Dame at Pitt (Nov. 9)
Purdue at Cincinnati (Aug. 31)

<p> The Top 30 Non-Conference Games to Watch in 2013</p>
Post date: Friday, January 11, 2013 - 06:00