Articles By Steven Lassan

Path: /college-football/vanderbilt-commodores-vs-wku-hilltoppers-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

WKU and Vanderbilt might not be at the top of the list for the best game in Week 1 of the college football season, but there’s no shortage of intrigue for the opener in Nashville. Led by prolific senior quarterback Brandon Doughty, the Hilltoppers are picked by some to win Conference USA in 2015 and could enter the conversation for the best team from the Group of 5 ranks. And according to the good folks in Vegas, WKU is a slight favorite in this matchup. 

 

The Commodores are coming off a disappointing 3-9 season, and the pressure is already building on coach Derek Mason. After struggling mightily last year, Mason made significant staff changes. Four new assistants roam the Vanderbilt sideline, including veteran play-caller Andy Ludwig.

 

Less than 75 miles separate these two programs. However, this is only the fourth meeting between Vanderbilt and WKU. The Commodores own a 3-0 edge over the Hilltoppers, with the last matchup in 1938. 

 

WKU at Vanderbilt

 

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Thursday)

TV Channel: SEC Network

Spread: WKU – 2.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. WKU’s Rush Defense

Opponents certainly had their way against WKU’s front seven in 2014. The Hilltoppers allowed 220.8 rushing yards per game last season and gave up 33 rushing scores in 13 games. While last year’s totals weren’t pretty, there’s reason for optimism. Three starters are back, and UAB transfer Jontavious Morris (305 pounds) adds beef to the line of scrimmage. Quarterback play was an issue for the Commodores last season and remains a concern in 2015. Sophomore Johnny McCrary is considered the favorite over Wade Freebeck to take the first snap. However, Vanderbilt’s mission on offense is simple: Get the ball to running back Ralph Webb. The sophomore was one of the few bright spots for the offense last season, recording 912 yards and four scores. Considering the firepower on WKU’s sideline, along with the quarterback question marks, Webb should see a heavy workload on Thursday night. The Hilltoppers need to stop Webb and force Vanderbilt into obvious passing situations.

 

2. WKU QB Brandon Doughty

In three previous matchups against Power 5 opponents, Doughty completed 72 of 116 passes for 790 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions. Those numbers are solid, especially when you consider five of those picks came in one game (Tennessee, 2013). Doughty will have to be at his best on Thursday night, as Vanderbilt’s defense has had all offseason to prep for the opener with Mason calling the plays and any mistakes in a close game will be magnified. Doughty’s supporting cast is among the best in the Group of 5 ranks, with running back Leon Allen returning after rushing for 1,542 yards last season, along with a receiving corps that returns three of its top four options. Tempo and getting out to an early lead could be a huge advantage for WKU. Vanderbilt isn’t build to rally from behind, and the Hilltoppers have the firepower to overwhelm an opponent if they can jump to an early lead.

 

3. Uncertainty on Both Sides of the Ball for Vanderbilt

As mentioned above, Vanderbilt made significant changes after a 3-9 record last season. This game is the first opportunity for Mason to show the changes have the program trending in the right direction. Mason plans on calling the defensive signals, which should help a unit that allowed 33.3 points per game last year. The Commodores return nine starters on defense, including rising star linebacker Stephen Weatherly. How will this group slow Doughty and the WKU offense? Can Mason’s defense get enough pressure on Doughty to eliminate the big plays? On the other side of the ball, Vanderbilt has to get better quarterback play in 2015. McCrary and Freebeck are locked into a tight battle to take the first snap. Regardless of which player starts, eliminating turnovers is a priority. With a favorable matchup against WKU’s defense (allowed 39.9 points a game last season), McCrary or Freebeck has a chance to build some confidence. Will the Commodores find a few answers to some of their preseason question marks on Thursday night? Or will this team end its opener with more uncertainty?

 

Final Analysis

 

Style of play will be important on Thursday night. Vanderbilt would prefer to keep this matchup from becoming a high-scoring affair. If the Commodores establish the line of scrimmage and Webb has a huge game, WKU’s offense won’t have a chance to jump out to an early lead. The Hilltoppers want to score in a hurry and make Vanderbilt play from behind. Doughty will make his share of plays, but the Commodores get just enough from Webb to win their first opener since 2011.

 

Prediction: Vanderbilt 34, WKU 31
Teaser:
Vanderbilt Commodores vs. WKU Hilltoppers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Wednesday, September 2, 2015 - 14:00
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Path: /college-football/620-twitter-accounts-every-college-football-fan-should-follow-2015
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The 2015 college football season starts on Thursday, Sept. 3 and concludes in early January with the national championship in Glendale, Ariz. With kickoff right around the corner, it’s time to fill up your Twitter timelines with information on all of the teams, players, coaches and latest news.

 

To help you prepare for the 2015 season, Athlon Sports has compiled the best Twitter guide on the web. Here’s 620 (plus a few more that came in after we posted this) Twitter accounts you need to follow to get the best information this year. We hope we covered it all here, but if we missed anyone that needs to be on this list, let us know via Twitter: @AthlonSteven and @AthlonSports

 

 

Podcast: Week 1 Preview w/ Rece Davis



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

620 Twitter Accounts Every CFB Should Follow in 2015

 

National Media
AffiliationWritersAccount

Athlon Sports

(@AthlonSports)

 

 

Mitch Light

Steven Lassan

Jasmine Watkins

Braden Gall

Rich McVey

David Fox

Mark Ross

John Gworek

@AthlonMitch

@AthlonSteven

@JasmineLWatkins

@BradenGall

@RichMcVey

@DavidFox615

@AthlonMarkR

@JohnGworek

Athlon Contributors

ESPN

(@ESPNCFB)

(@CollegeGameDay)

Joe Schad

Brett McMurphy

Heather Dinich

Adam Rittenberg

Paul Finebaum

Kirk Herbstreit

Chris Fowler

Rece Davis

Ivan Maisel

Travis Haney

Mark Schlabach

Geno Wojciechowski

Brad Edwards

Danny Kanell

Chris Low

@SchadJoe

@McMurphyESPN

@CFBHeather

@ESPNRittenberg

@Finebaum

@KirkHerbstreit

@CBFowler

@ESPN_ReceDavis

@Ivan_Maisel

@TravHaneyESPN

@Mark_Schlabach

@GenoESPN

@JBradEdwards

@DannyKanell

@ClowESPN

Yahoo Sports

Dr. Saturday Blog

Graham Watson

Nick Bromberg

Sam Cooper

Dan Wetzel

Pat Forde

Charles Robinson

@YahooDrSaturday

@Yahoo_Graham

@NickBromberg

@SamDCooper

@DanWetzel

@YahooForde

@CharlesRobinson

Sports Illustrated

(@SI_NCAAFB)

Zac Ellis

Campus Rush

Pete Thamel

Andy Staples

Lindsay Schnell

Brian Hamilton

@ZacEllis

@SI_CampusRush

@SIPeteThamel

@Andy_Staples

@LindsayRaeSI

@BrianHamiltonSI

SB Nation

(@SBNationCFB)

Bill Connelly

Steven Godfrey

Jason Kirk

Spencer Hall

Dan Rubenstein

 

Ryan Nanni

Brian Floyd

Ian Boyd

@SBN_BillC

@38Godfrey

@JasonKirkSBN

@EDSBS

@DanRubenstein

@SolidVerbal

@celebrityhottub

@BrianMFloyd

@Ian_A_Boyd

USA Today

Dan Wolken

Nicole Auerbach

George Schroeder

Paul Myerberg

 

@DanWolken

@NicoleAuerbach

@GeorgeSchroeder

@PaulMyerberg

Sports On EarthMatt Brown@MattBrownCFB

Fox Sports

(@CFBonFox)

Bruce Feldman

Stewart Mandel

Clay Travis

@BruceFeldmanCFB

@SlMandel

@ClayTravisBGID

@TMitrosilis

CBS Sports

(@CBSSportsCFB)

Dennis Dodd

Jon Solomon

Tom Fornelli

Jerry Hinnen

Chip Patterson

@DennisDoddCBS

@JonSolomonCBS

@TomFornelli

@JerryHinnen

@Chip_Patterson

NBC Sports

College Football Talk

Kevin McGuire

@CFTalk

@KevinonCFB

Bleacher Report

(@BleacherReport)

Barrett Sallee

Bryan D. Fischer

Michael Felder

Adam Kramer

Ben Kercheval

@BarrettSallee

@BryanDFischer

@InTheBleachers

@KegsNEggs

@BenKercheval

College Football Playoff @CFBPlayoff
Associated PressRalph D. Russo@RalphDRussoAP
Grantland

Chris B. Brown

Matt Hinton

Holly Anderson

@smartfootball

@MattRHinton

@HollyAnderson

CFB MatrixDave Bartoo@CFBMatrix
Coaching News

Football Scoop

Coaching Search

Coaches Almanac

@FootballScoop

@CoachingSearch

@CoachesAlmanac

Orlando SentinelMatt Murschel@OSMattMurschel

NFL.com

(@NFL_CFB)

ChaseGoodbread

Gil Brandt

@ChaseGoodbread

@Gil_Brandt

Sporting News

(@SN_NCAAF)

 

Matt Hayes

Bill Bender

Ken Bradley

@MattHayes_SN

@BillBender92

@KenBradleySN

CFB HuddleKyle Kensing@CFBHuddle
The Student Section

 

Matt Zemek

@TheStudentSect

@SectionMZ

College Football News

(@ColFootballNews)

Rich Cirminiello

Russ Mitchell

Pete Fiutak

@RichCirminiello

@RussMitchellCFB

@PeteFiutak

NewsweekJohn Walters@Jdubs88
UproxxMartin Rickman@MartinRickman
Los Angeles TimesChris Dufresne@DufresneLATimes
Lost LettermenJim Weber@LostLettermen
Today's UTyler Waddell@Tyler_Waddell
Reddit @RedditCFB
CFB Stats

Sport Source Analytics

ESPN Stats

College FB Reference

Pro Football Focus

@SportSourceA

@ESPNStatsInfo

@CollegeFB_Ref

@PFF

CFB SchedulesFBSchedules.com@FBSchedules
Recruiting

ESPN - Jeremy Crabtree

ESPN - Tom Luginbill

247Sports - Keith Niebuhr

247Sports - Barton Simmons

247Sports - JC Shurburtt

Rivals - MIke Farrell

Scout - Brandon Huffman

@JeremyCrabtree

@TomLuginbill

@Keith247Sports

@BartonSimmons

@JCShurburtt

@RivalsMike

@BrandonHuffman

Uniform Info 

@UniWatch

@UniSwag

College Fantasy

Joe DiSalvo

Todd DeVries

Mike Bainbridge

@theCFFsite

@CFFGeek

@MikeBainbridge2

 

 

ACC: @theACCfootball

AffiliationWritersAccount

ESPN ACC Blog

(@ESPN_ACC)

Andrea Adelson

David Hale

Jared Shanker

Matt Fortuna

@aadelsonESPN

@DavidHaleESPN

@JaredShankerESPN

@Matt_Fortuna

ACC Sports Journal 

@ACCSports

@DavidGlennShow

Daily Press

David Teel

Norm Wood

@DavidTeelatDP

@NormWood

ACC Football News @ACCFootballNews
D1scourse.comPatrick Stevens@D1scourse
ACC Freelance WriterLauren Brownlow@lebrownlow
WRALSportsFan.comJoe Ovies@JoeOvies

 

TeamOfficial AccountMedia Follows

Boston College

@BCFootballNews

@BCInterruption

@BCHysteria

@MBVega

Clemson

@ClemsonFB

 

 

@ClemsonTigerNet

@Aaron_Brenner

@OrangeandWhite

@STSouthland

Duke

@Duke_FB

@LauraKeeley

@BlueDevilLair

@TheBenSwain

@BlueDevilNation

@SteveWisemanNC

Florida State

@FSU_Football

@TomahawkNation

@IraSchoffel

@Corey_Clark

@OSFSU

@TomDAngelo44

@Tim_Linafelt

@Safid_Deen

@Warchant

@AriyaMassoudi

Georgia Tech

@GeorgiaTechFB

@Ksugiuraajc

@KellyQuinlan

@FTRSBlog

Louisville

@UofLFootball

@MarkEnnis

@CardChronicle

@JeffGreer_CJ

@SteveJones_CJ

@RickBozich

@HowieLindsey

@LvilleSprtsLive

Miami

@MiamiHurricanes

@Mattyports

@ByTimReynolds

@TheStateOfTheU

@SMillerDegnan

@ChristyChirinos

@InsidetheU

North Carolina

@TarHeelFootball

@_AndrewCarter

@InsideCarolina

@TarHeelTimes

NC State

@PackFootball

@JWGiglio

@PackPride

@TheWolfpacker

Pittsburgh

@GoPittFootball

@SWernerPG

@JDiPaola_Trib

@PantherLair

@AnsonWhaley

Syracuse

@CuseFootball

@StephenBailey1

@MinkNate

@CCarlsononSU

@NunesMagician

@BrentAxeMedia

Virginia

@UVa_Football

@ARamspacher

@CavsJournal

@Ikhurshudyan

@TheUVAFool

Virginia Tech

@VT_Football

@HokiesJournal

@TheKeyPlay

@AndyBitterVT

@RTD_MikeBarber

@TechSideline

Wake Forest

@WakeFB

@BloggerSoDear

@WakeRivals

 

Big 12: @Big12Conference

AffiliationWritersAccount

ESPN Big 12 Blog

(@ESPN_Big12)

Jake Trotter

Max Olson

Brandon Chatmon

@Jake_Trotter

@Max_Olson

@BChatmon

Sports on Earth/

Freelance Writer

David Ubben@davidubben
Dallas Morning NewsChuck Carlton@ChuckCarltonDMN
The OklahomanBerry Tramel

@BerryTramel

@JenniCarlson_OK

San Antonio Express-NewsTim Griffin@TimGriffinBig12
LandGrant Gauntlet @the_LGG
TeamOfficial AccountMedia Follows

Baylor

@BUFootball

@JohnWernerTrib

@OurDailyBears

@ShehanJeyarajah

@TruthorBear247

Iowa State

 

@CycloneFB

@ChrisMWilliams

@AlexHalsted

@BobbyLaGesse

@DylanMontz

@WideRtNattyLt

Kansas

@KUAthletics

@JesseNewell

@MCTait

@KFlaherty247

@RustinDodd

@JayhawkSlant

Kansas State

@KState_Football

@KellisRobinett

@KenCorbitt

@DScottFritchen

@JonfMorse

@BringOnTheCats

Oklahoma

@OU_Football

@BlatantHomerism

@TheFBBrainiacs

@JasonKersey

@RyAber

@EricBaileyTW

@GuerinEmig

@JLMcCuistion

@CCMachine

Oklahoma State

@OSUAthletics

@jjhelsley

@BillHaisten

@Mark_CooperJr

@KyleFredrickson

@pistolsguy

TCU

@TCUFootball

@CAlexMendez

@RyanGerbosi

@JClarkHFB

@FrogsOWar

Texas

@Longhorn_FB

@ChipBrownHD

@BDavisAAS

@KBohls

@MikeFinger

@CedGolden

@AnwarRichardson

@SBN_Wescott

@AutulloAAS

Texas Tech

@TechAthletics

@AaronDickens

@ChrisLevel

@AJ_DonWilliams

@DanielPaulling

West Virginia

@WVUFootball

@TonyCaridi

@CMAnderson247

@CraigMeyerPG

@MikeCasazza

@SmokingMusket

@GFCoyle

@AllanTaylorWVU

@MitchVingle

 

Big Ten: (@B1GFootball)

AffiliationWritersAccount

ESPN Big Ten Blog

(@ESPN_BigTen)

Brian Bennett

Mitch Sherman

Austin Ward

Josh Moyer

Dan Murphy

Jesse Temple

@BennettESPN

@MitchSherman

@AWardESPN

@ESPNJoshMoyer

@DanMurphyESPN

@JesseTemple

Big Ten Network

(@BigTenNetwork)

Brent Yarina

Tom Dienhart

Gerry DiNardo

Sean Merriman

Dave Revsine

Howard Griffith

Mike Hall

@BTNBrentYarina

@BTNTomDienhart

@GerryDiNardo

@BTNSean

@BTNDaveRevsine

@HowardGriffith

@BTNMikeHall

Chicago TribuneTeddy Greenstein@TeddyGreenstein
Chicago Sun-TimesSteve Greenberg@SLGreenberg
Saturday Tradition @Tradition

KnowItAllFootball/

Athlon Contributor

J.P. Scott@TheJPScott
TeamOfficial AccountMedia Follows

Indiana

@HoosierFootball

@Hoosier_Huddle

@MikeMillerHT

@ZachOsterman

@BrodyMillerIDS

@MB_Weaver

@CrimsonQuarry

Illinois

@IlliniFootball

@IllinoisRivals

@SRyanTribune

@MDaniels_NG

@BobAsmussen

@Champaign_Room

Iowa

@HawkeyeFootball

@PatHarty

@MarcMorehouse

@ScottDochterman

@ChadLeistikow

@HawkeyeNation

@HawkeyeReport

@BHGP

Maryland

@MarylandPride

@Pete_Volk

@TestudoTimes

@RomanStubbs

@Jeff_Ermann

Michigan

@UMichFootball

@NickBaumgardner

@HenschkeScout

@Mark__Snyder

@Chengelis

@SamWebb77

@MaizenBrew

@Spath_Wolverine

@MGoBlog

Michigan State

@MSU_Football

@MikeGriffith32

@JoeRexrode

@Graham_Couch

@MattCharboneau

@HondoCarpenter

@ChrisVannini

Minnesota

@GopherFootball

@JoeCSTrib

@GophersNow

@AndyGreder

@TheDailyGopher

@GopherHole

Nebraska

@HuskerFBNation

@HuskerMax

@eightlaces

@HuskerExtraBC

@HuskerExtraSip

@SWMcKewonOWH

@Sean_Callahan

@ErinSorensen

@Leebeeowh

Northwestern

@NUFBFamily

@kicker34

@InsideNU

@K_trahan

@WildcatReport

Ohio State

@OhioStAthletics

@DougLesmerises

@11W

@Tim_MaySports

@BRDispatch

@DaveBiddle

@Kevin_Noon

@GerdOZone

@EricSeger33

@RappUp

@MattSBN

@ChipMinnich

@Ramzy

Penn State

@PennStateFball

@Ben_Jones88

@AudSnyder4

@GregPickel

@PSUPoorman

@DJonesHoop

@CoryGiger

@NittanyRich

@DHockensmith

Purdue

@BoilerFootball

@BrianNeubert

@HammerandRails

@CarminJC

@JeffWashburnJC

@BoiledSports

Rutgers

@RFootball

@DanDuggan21

@KSargeantNJ

@TomLuicci

@RyDunleavy

Wisconsin

@BadgerFootball

@JayPo1961

@Jason_Galloway

@TomOatesWSJ

@LucasAtLarge

@B5Q

 

Pac-12: (@Pac12)

AffiliationWritersAccount

ESPN Pac-12 Blog

(@ESPN_Pac12blog)

Kevin Gemmell

Ted Miller

Chantel Jennings

Kyle Bonagura

David Lombardi

@Kevin_Gemmell

@TedMillerRK

@ChantelJennings

@BonaguraESPN

@LombardiESPN

Pac-12 Network

(@Pac-12Networks)

Yogi Roth

Michael Yam

Ashley Adamson

Matt Leinart

@YogiRoth

@Mike_Yam

@AdamsonAshley

@MattLeinartQB

San Jose Mercury NewsJon Wilner@WilnerHotline

Pacific Takes

(@PacificTakes)

Avinash Kunnath

Jack Follman

@AvinashKunnath

@JackFollman

TeamOfficial AccountMedia Follows

Arizona

@ArizonaFBall

@DSBerk

@GHansen711

@AZDesertSwarm

@WildcatSports

Arizona State

@TheSunDevils

@DougHaller

@SunDevilSource

@DevilsDigest

@HouseofSparky

California

@CalFootball

@JeffFaraudo

@GoldenBlogs

@RGBearTerritory

@Con_Chron

Colorado

@CUBuffs

@KyleRingo

@AdamCM777

@RyanKoenigsberg

@BrianHowell33

@RalphieReport

Oregon

@WinTheDay

@AndrewGreif

@DuckFootball

@JHopkins247

@AaronJFentress

@RGDuckFootball

@AddictedtoQuack

@FishDuckDotCom

@JohnCanzanoBFT

Oregon State

@OSUBeaversFB

@GinaMizell

@BeaverBlitz

@DannyMoran

@BuildingtheDam

Stanford

@StanfordFBall

@StanfordRivals

@RuleofTree

@TomFitzGerald

@TheBootleg

UCLA

@UCLAFootball

@JoeyRKaufman

@CFosterLaTimes

@TheJackWang

@BruinReport

USC

@USC_Athletics

@InsideUSC

@LATimesKlein

@InsideTroy

@MichaelJLev

@FightonTwist

Utah

@UtahAthletics

@Matthew_Piper

@KyleGoon

@TribKurt

@BlockU

@ESPN700Bill

Washington

@UW_Football

@A_Jude

@ChristianCaple

@UWSBN

Washington State

@WSUCougFB

@JacobThorpeSR

@StefanieLoh

@WazzuFBBlog

@CougCenter

@CougFancom

 

SEC: (@SEC)

Affiliation Account
SEC CommissionerGreg Sankey@GregSankey

ESPN SEC Blog

(@ESPN_SEC)

Alex Scarborough

Edward Aschoff

David Ching

Greg Ostendorf

Sam Khan

@AlexS_ESPN

@AschoffESPN

@ESPNChing

@GregO_ESPN

@SKhanjr

SEC Network

 

Tony Barnhart

@SECNetwork

@MrCFB

SEC Logo @SEC_Logo
SB NationBrandon Larrabee@TeamSpeedKills
 David Wunderlich@Year2

Saturday Down South

(@SDS)

Brad Crawford

Christopher Smith

Jon Cooper

Murf Baldwin

@BCrawfordSDS

@CSmithSDS

@JonSDS

@MurfBaldwin

AL.comMatt Scalici@MattScalici
Southern PigskinMatt Smith@MattSmithCFB
Sports Radio WNMLJosh Ward@Josh_Ward
Saturday BlitzChad Neipling@SEC_Chad
TeamOfficial AccountMedia Follows

Alabama

@AlabamaFTBL

@CecilHurt

@AaronSuttles

@ByCasagrande

@MZenitz

@JTalty

Arkansas

@RazorbackFB

@TomMurphyADG

@BobHoltADG

@EricWBolin

@SportsTalkwBo

@Wess_Moore

@WholeHogSports

@RazNation

@RazorbackRT

Auburn

@AuburnTigers

@BMarcello

@JamesCrepea

@AUBlog

@CollegeAndMag

@PMarshonAU

@JayGTate

Florida

@FloridaGators

@OnlyGators

@RobbieAndreu

@OSGators

@Anthony_Chiang

@ThomasGoldkamp

Georgia

@FootballUGA

@SethEmersonAJC

@Dawgs247

@MarcWeiszer

@JasonHButt

@ECDawg_BI

@KippLAdams

Kentucky

@UKFootball

@KyleTucker_CJ

@JenHeraldLeader

@JonHaleTCP

@JDrumUK

@KySportsRadio

@NextCats

LSU

@LSUfball

@JimKleinpeter

@DellengerAdv

@LSUBeatTweet

@RandyRosetta

@RabalaisAdv

@ValleyShook

Missouri

@MizzouFootball

@Dave_Matter

@DavidCMorrison

@TodPalmer

@GabeDeArmond

@RockMNation

@JackPeglow

Mississippi State

@HailStateFB

@MaroonWyatt

@MikeBBonner

@LoganLowery

@JoelTColeman

@MStateSports

Ole Miss

@OleMissFB

@ParrishAlford

@HKellenbergerCL

@NealMcCready

@RedCupRebellion

South Carolina

@GamecockFB

@JoshAtTheState

@DCaraviello

@JohnMWhittle

@TheBigSpur247

@GamecockCentral

@DCTheState

Tennessee

@Vol_Football

@DustinDopirak

@WesRucker247

@Volquest_Rivals

@PatrickBrownTFP

@RockyTopInsider

Texas A&M

@12thMan

@GabeBock

@AubreyRBloom

@BrentZwerneman

@OlinBuchanan

@BillyLiucci

@GBHunting

@TexAgs

Vanderbilt

@VandyFootball

@AdamSparks

@JWJohnsonVU247

@VandySportscom

 

Independents/Group of 5 Follows

TeamOfficial AccountMedia Follows
Notre Dame@NDFootball

@EricHansenNDI

@MikeVorel

@PeteSampson_

@BGINews

@ISDUpdate

BYU@BYUCougars

@JaredRLloyd

@DrewJay

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Teaser:
620 Twitter Accounts Every College Football Fan Should Follow (2015 Edition)
Post date: Wednesday, September 2, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/ranking-all-128-starting-quarterbacks-2015
Body:

Quarterback play is always under the microscope for every college football team. Finding and developing a reliable starter isn’t easy for some programs, but for other schools, the next quarterback steps in and the offense doesn’t miss a beat.

 

With the 2015 season just days away, who has the best quarterback situations in college football? And which teams should be concerned? We ranked all 128 quarterbacks – with a few stipulations. This is not a list of career achievements or NFL Draft stock. Both of those elements were considered, but we also weighed value to the team, scheme, projection for 2015, recruiting background, talent and production so far. Anything you can think of to evaluate quarterbacks was used in this ranking. 

 

Best Units in CFB: RBWROLDLLBDB

 

Ranking All 128 College Football's Starting QBs for 2015

 

1. J.T. Barrett/Cardale Jones, Ohio State

Urban Meyer isn’t going to name a starter for the opener against Virginia Tech, and both players are likely to see snaps against the Hokies. Regardless of who starts or finishes a game, this is the best quarterback situation in college football.

 

2. Trevone Boykin, TCU

Boykin was arguably the most improved quarterback in the nation last season. He’s a Heisman frontrunner in 2015.

 

Related: Ranking the Top 15 Players in the Big Ten for 2015

 

3. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State

Prescott guided Mississippi State to just its third season of double-digit wins in program history in 2014 and earned first-team All-SEC honors. Prescott’s return for his senior year is a big reason why Mississippi State will remain a factor in the SEC West.

 

4. Connor Cook, Michigan State

Cook is 23-3 as a starter at Michigan State and will keep the Spartans in the mix for a playoff spot this fall. Cook is also regarded as one of the top quarterback prospects in next season’s draft.

 

5. Deshaun Watson, Clemson

Watson could rank among the top three quarterbacks on this list by the end of 2015. Injuries limited Watson to just eight games last season, but he finished with 1,466 yards and 14 passing scores.  

 

Related: College Football's Top 50 Breakout Players for 2015

 

6. Cody Kessler, USC

Kessler closed 2014 on a high note by recording nine touchdown passes over the final two games and at least 300 yards through the air in four out of the last five contests. Additionally, Kessler’s 69.7 completion percentage ranked third nationally. 

 

7. Jared Goff, California

Sonny Dykes’ Bear Raid offense is in good hands with Goff at the controls. The junior is rising on NFL boards for next year’s draft after throwing for 3,973 yards and 35 scores last season.

 

Podcast: Week 1 Preview w/ Rece Davis



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8. Jeremy Johnson, Auburn

High expectations surround Johnson. All signs point to a breakout year from the junior in coach Gus Malzahn’s high-powered offense.

 

9. Christian Hackenberg, Penn State

Didn’t have the best sophomore season, but there’s no question about talent. Hackenberg needs more help from his supporting cast. 

 

Related: Ranking the Top 15 Big Ten Players for 2015

 

10. Taysom Hill, BYU

A leg injury sidelined Hill for the second half of 2014, but the senior is back at full strength this fall. While he’s always garnered attention for his rushing ability, Hill quietly showed marked improvement as a passer last year, completing 66.7 percent of his passes through five games.

 

11. Brad Kaaya, Miami

Kaaya was among the nation’s most impressive freshman quarterbacks in 2014, throwing for 26 scores and 3,198 yards. Expectations are even higher for the sophomore in 2015.

 

12. Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech

Thomas was nearly flawless in his first season as the starter in coach Paul Johnson’s option attack. He led the team with 1,086 rushing yards and connected on 14 passing plays of 30 yards or more.

 

13. Marquise Williams, North Carolina

North Carolina’s defense has been an issue in recent years, but the offense should be among the best in the ACC once again. Williams slightly averaged under 300 total yards (296.6) a game in 2014 and recorded 34 overall scores.

 

14. Gunner Kiel, Cincinnati

Kiel had a prolific debut as Cincinnati’s starter, throwing 14 scores in his first three games and finishing the season with for 3,254 yards and 31 touchdown tosses. With a loaded receiving corps, Kiel is poised for another huge year in 2015.

 

15. Jacoby Brissett, NC State

Brissett sparked a turnaround at NC State last season, guiding the Wolfpack to a five-win improvement in the win column. The Florida transfer tossed 23 scores to only five picks in 2014.

 

Related: Ranking the ACC's Top 15 Players for 2015

 

16. Keenan Reynolds, Navy

Reynolds is the perfect match for Navy’s option attack and has the Midshipmen among the favorites to win the American Athletic Conference this season. The Tennessee native has recorded back-to-back seasons of 1,000 yards on the ground and has 54 rushing scores in that span.

 

17. Vernon Adams, Oregon

Adams could be the most intriguing quarterback in college football this season. Replacing Marcus Mariota won’t be easy, but the senior had a prolific career at Eastern Washington and should be a good fit in Eugene.

 

18. Brandon Doughty, WKU

Doughty shattered the WKU single-season passing record by throwing for 4,830 yards and 49 scores last year. The senior enters 2015 as the nation’s leading passer among active quarterbacks (7,800 yards).

 

19. Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State

Rudolph had the redshirt removed in late November and started the final three games of 2014. A rising star in the Big 12 ranks.

 

20. Seth Russell, Baylor

Russell has only one career start, but coach Art Briles has a strong track record with quarterbacks and the supporting cast is among the nation’s best. The junior will try to become the fourth Baylor quarterback to throw for at least 4,000 yards in five years.

 

Related: College Football's Top 50 Breakout Players for 2015

 

21. Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee

Dobbs’ late-season emergence is a big reason why Tennessee is on the rise in the SEC East. 

 

22. Kyle Allen, Texas A&M

Allen faced a challenge for the starting job from talented freshman Kyler Murray, but the sophomore was named the No. 1 quarterback and should build off a promising end to the 2014 season (four touchdowns in the Liberty Bowl).

 

23. Anu Solomon, Arizona

Solomon was steady in his first year as Arizona’s starter and recorded 4,084 total yards and 30 scores. A leg injury slowed Solomon at the end of 2014. He should benefit from another year under coach Rich Rodriguez.

 

24. Mike Bercovici, Arizona State

Led Arizona State to a 2-1 record in three starts last season. Strong-armed senior should thrive in his first full year as a starter. 

 

25. Everett Golson, Florida State

Golson left Notre Dame after spring practice and will spend the final year of his eligibility at Florida State. After guiding the Fighting Irish to an appearance in the national championship in 2012, Golson was ineligible in 2013 and threw for 3,445 yards and 29 scores last season. Coach Jimbo Fisher picked Golson as Florida State's No. 1 quarterback on Monday. 

 

Related: College Football's Bowl Projections for 2015

 

26. Kevin Hogan, Stanford

Will Hogan pick up where he left off at the end of 2014? Over the last three games of last season, Hogan tossed only one interception and completed at least 70 percent of his passes in each contest. Here’s the most important stat for Hogan and coach David Shaw: Stanford went 3-0 in that stretch.

 

27. Malik Zaire, Notre Dame

With Everett Golson off to Florida State, Zaire is the unquestioned starter in South Bend. The sample size is limited, but all signs point to a huge year for the sophomore. 

 

28. Chuckie Keeton, Utah State

Knee injuries have sidelined Keeton for significant chunks of time in each of the last two seasons. Will the senior return to full strength and regain his form from 2012 (3,992 yards, 35 scores)?

 

29. Paxton Lynch, Memphis

Lynch was one of the nation’s most improved passers in 2014. After throwing for 2,056 yards and nine touchdowns as a freshman, Lynch threw for 22 scores and 3,031 yards last season.

 

30. Blake Frohnapfel, UMass

Graduate transfer provided an instant boost for UMass’ offense last season. Frohnapfel’s season was cut short by a leg injury, but he threw for 3,345 yards and 23 scores and earned first-team All-MAC honors. 

 

31. Maty Mauk, Missouri

Mauk had his share of ups and downs in his first full year as a starter but guided Missouri to the SEC East title. Needs to improve completion percentage in conference games (48.9 last year).

 

32. Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech

The next star quarterback at Texas Tech? Mahomes tossed 14 scores over the final three contests last season.

 

33. Fredi Knighten, Arkansas State

Dynamic dual-threat quarterback led the Sun Belt by averaging 312 total yards per game last season.

 

34. Kevin Ellison, Georgia Southern

Ellison is sidelined for the first two games due to suspension this year. Led all Sun Belt quarterbacks with 1,082 rushing yards last season and averaged 6.3 yards per carry.

 

Related: Sun Belt Predictions for 2015

 

35. Matt Johnson, Bowling Green

Johnson’s 2014 season was cut short after a hip injury in the opener. Expect a huge statistical season at the controls of coach Dino Babers’ “Falcon Fast” offense.

 

36. Zach Terrell, Western Michigan

Terrell led the MAC by completing 67.9 percent of his passes last season and should have a huge 2015 with one of the conference’s top receiving corps at his disposal.

 

37. Tommy Armstrong, Nebraska

How quickly Armstrong adapts to new coach Mike Riley and coordinator Danny Langsdorf will play a huge role in how high Nebraska climbs in the Big Ten West.

 

Related: College Football's Top 35 Running Back Units for 2015

 

38. Sefo Liufau, Colorado

Rising star for coach Mike MacIntyre after throwing 28 touchdowns and completing 65.3 percent of his passes in his first full year as Colorado’s starter.

 

39. Chad Voytik, Pittsburgh

Quietly closed 2014 on a high note, finishing with seven touchdowns to just one interception over final five games.

 

40. Brandon Allen, Arkansas

Won’t post huge numbers in Arkansas’ run-first offense but poised for his best overall season.

 

41. Patrick Towles, Kentucky

Towles was steady as a passer last season (2,718 yards, 14 passing scores) and added 303 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. New coordinator Shannon Dawson is tasked with taking Towles’ game to the next level.

 

42. Drew Hare, Northern Illinois

Hare is poised to emerge as the next star quarterback at Northern Illinois. Threw for 18 scores and added 900 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in 14 games last year.

 

43. Wes Lunt, Illinois

Talented passer but has yet to start for a full season. Missed nearly half of 2014 due to a leg injury but passed for 1,763 yards and 14 scores in eight games.

 

44. Nate Sudfeld, Indiana

Missed half of 2014 due to a shoulder injury. Sudfeld’s return should be a huge boost for Indiana’s bowl hopes in 2015.

 

45. Joe Licata, Buffalo

Licata is one of the nation’s underrated quarterbacks, passing for 53 touchdowns over the last two years. Should thrive under new coach Lance Leipold.

 

Related: College Football's 10 Most Underrated Quarterbacks for 2015

 

46. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

From walk-on at Texas Tech to earning the starting job at Oklahoma after leaving Lubbock, Mayfield has one of the most interesting backstories for a starter at the FBS level. Should be a good fit in new Oklahoma’s new offense under coordinator Lincoln Riley.

 

47. Travis Wilson, Utah

Returned from injury-shortened 2013 campaign to post career high in touchdown passes (18) last season. Working under new co-coordinators Jim Harding and Aaron Roderick this year.

 

48. Justin Holman, UCF

Emerged as a solid replacement for Blake Bortles last season and should take another step forward in 2015.

 

49. Skyler Howard, West Virginia

Junior college recruit showed promise as West Virginia’s starter at the end of 2014. Howard passed for 346 yards and three scores in the Liberty Bowl but needs to improve completion percentage (50.9 in 2014).

 

50. Reggie Bonnafon, Louisville

Bonnafon has yet to be named the starter, but the sophomore is the favorite to take the first snap of Louisville’s opener against Auburn.

 

51. Michael Brewer, Virginia Tech

Guided Virginia Tech to an upset win over Ohio State in early September but had an up and down debut. Should be better in his second season as the starter.

 

52. Josh Rosen, UCLA

There’s plenty of pressure on Rosen as a true freshman starter, but the five-star recruit isn’t lacking for confidence or talent.

 

Related: Pac-12's Top Freshmen to Watch in 2015

 

53. Greg Ward, Houston

Started the final eight games of 2014 at quarterback and should thrive under new coach Tom Herman - if he wins the job over Adam Schulz.

 

54. Jake Rudock, Michigan

Rudock is making the rare intra-conference transfer from Iowa to Michigan. Expected to beat Shane Morris for the starting job.

 

55. Sam Richardson, Iowa State

Richardson should benefit from another offseason under coordinator Mark Mangino. Quietly threw for 2,669 yards and 18 scores last year.

 

56. Tyler Jones, Texas State

Jones nearly led Texas State to its first bowl appearance last season, recording 3,209 total yards and 28 overall scores.

 

57. Taylor Lamb, Appalachian State

Emerging star in the Sun Belt helped Appalachian State close 2014 on a six-game winning streak.

 

58. Thomas Sirk, Duke

Sirk is coach David Cutcliffe’s next star quarterback. 

 

59. Phillip Ely, Toledo

Alabama transfer was off to a solid start (4 TDs, 541 yards) but suffered a season-ending leg injury in Week 2.

 

60. Driphus Jackson, Rice

Jackson accumulated 3,243 total yards last season en route to leading Rice to its third consecutive bowl.

 

Related: College Football's 10 Most Underrated Quarterbacks for 2015

 

61. Mitch Leidner, Minnesota

Leidner is a good runner, but he has to progress as a passer for Minnesota to win the Big Ten West.

 

62 Cooper Rush, Central Michigan

Rush turned in a solid sophomore campaign and finished the season with seven touchdown tosses in the 49-48 loss to WKU in the Bahamas Bowl.

 

63. C.J. Beathard, Iowa

Iowa coaches hope the switch to Beathard gives the offense more big-play ability.

 

64. P.J. Walker, Temple

Walker had a solid freshman season (20 TDs, 8 INTs) but regressed in 2014 (13 TDs, 15 INTs). A better supporting cast in 2015 should help.

 

65. Nick Arbuckle, Georgia State

Solid junior college pickup for coach Trent Miles in 2014. Arbuckle recorded three games of at least four touchdowns for the Panthers last season.

 

66. Cody Clements, South Alabama

UAB transfer should have a seamless transition to South Alabama with Bryant Vincent (last year’s coordinator at UAB) calling the plays.

 

67. Ryan Finley, Boise State

New starter at quarterback? That's usually no problem for the Broncos. Finley completed 12 of 27 passes for 161 yards and two scores last year and will be tested right away with matchups against Washington and BYU to start the season.

 

Related: College Football Bowl Projections for 2015

 

68. Jaquez Johnson, FAU

Johnson was a bright spot for FAU’s offense last year, recording 2,728 total yards and 17 passing scores in 11 games.

 

69. Jeff Driskel, Louisiana Tech

Driskel’s career didn’t pan out at Florida, but he’s got one more opportunity after transferring to Louisiana Tech.

 

70. Jake Coker, Alabama

Alabama’s Week 1 starter is a mystery. However, Coker seems to hold a slight edge over Alec Morris and Cooper Bateman.

 

71. Chad Kelly, Ole Miss

Kelly was named the starter by coach Hugh Freeze on Monday. The former Clemson passer and junior college product is an intriguing talent. Can he put it all together in 2015?

 

72. Will Grier, Florida

While Grier – a redshirt freshman and four-star recruit – is considered the favorite to start, Treon Harris will also see time in the opener. New coach Jim McElwain should help the offense take a step forward after managing only 24.9 points in SEC games last year.

 

73. Brandon Harris, LSU

LSU’s passing attack is in desperate need of a spark. Talent certainly isn’t the issue for Harris, and he showed improvement throughout the offseason.

 

Related: Ranking the SEC's Top 15 Players for 2015

 

74. Luke Falk, Washington State

Should post huge numbers in coach Mike Leach’s offense. However, Falk also needs to take better care of the ball (seven picks in last four games of 2014).

 

75. Matt Davis, SMU

Breakout candidate to watch in new coach Chad Morris’ high-powered offense.

 

76. Clayton Thorson, Northwestern

Thorson was a huge catch on the recruiting trail for coach Pat Fitzgerald, ranking as a four-star recruit and the No. 188 overall player in the 2014 247Sports Composite. The redshirt freshman is an intriguing player to watch this fall.

 

77. Dane Evans, Tulsa

Evans had a nice statistical season last year (3,102 yards and 23 scores) and should thrive under new coach Philip Montgomery.

 

78. Tyrone Swoopes, Texas

Quarterback play will be under the microscope for Texas in 2015. Will Swoopes improve enough to hold off Jerrod Heard?

 

79. Terrel Hunt, Syracuse

Hunt never had a chance to build off a promising end to the 2013 season. A leg injury limited Hunt to just six games, while the rest of the Syracuse offense also had its share of issues. Despite playing in just six contests, Hunt finished 2014 as the leading passer for the Orange (983 yards).

 

80. Joel Stave, Wisconsin

Which Stave will Wisconsin get in 2015? The version that threw for 22 touchdowns and 2,494 yards in 2013? Or the one that struggled last year?

 

81. Perry Hills, Maryland

Hills started seven games for the Terrapins in 2012 but suffered a torn ACL and used 2013 as a redshirt. Edged Caleb Rowe and Daxx Garman for the job this fall.

 

82. Matt Johns, Virginia

Johns made three starts last season and edged Greyson Lambert for the starting job in spring ball. Willing to take chances downfield (seven passing plays of 30 yards or more) but also needs to raise completion percentage (54.9).

 

83. Nick Stevens, Colorado State

New coach Mike Bobo and coordinator Will Friend should keep Colorado State’s offense among the best in the Mountain West. Stevens only has 25 career pass attempts, but he has one of the best receivers in the nation at his disposal in junior Rashard Higgins.

 

84. Jack Milas, Ball State

Milas is a rising star to watch in the MAC this year. Threw for 1,302 yards and nine scores in six appearances in 2014.

 

85. John Wolford, Wake Forest

Wolford was placed into a no-win situation last season with a lackluster rushing attack and struggling offensive line. Threw for 2,037 yards and 12 scores in 12 games.

 

86. Darius Wade, Boston College

Promising sophomore with all of the necessary physical tools to thrive under coach Steve Addazio.

 

87. Jake Browning, Washington

Browning isn’t guaranteed to start the opener against Boise State. However, he’s the most talented quarterback on the roster.

 

88. Hayden Rettig, Rutgers

LSU transfer is slated to start the opener after Chris Laviano was suspended. Rettig ranked as a four-star recruit in the 2013 signing class.

 

89. Seth Collins, Oregon State

Collins and fellow freshman Marcus McMaryion will play in the opener against Weber State.

 

90. Greyson Lambert, Georgia

In a mild surprise, Lambert was picked as Georgia’s starter over Brice Ramsey. The Virginia transfer struggled with the Cavaliers last year (10 TDs, 11 INTs). 

 

Related: College Football's Top 10 Dark Horse Playoff Contenders for 2015

 

91. Nate Romine, Air Force

Air Force doesn’t have much trouble replacing starting quarterbacks under coach Troy Calhoun. Romine is an interesting player to watch, as he is regarded as a better passer than runner.

 

92. Max Wittek, Hawaii

Big-time pickup for Hawaii coach Norm Chow. Will Wittek live up to his recruiting hype this season? Could be much higher on this list by the end of 2015.

 

93. Maxwell Smith, San Diego State

Kentucky transfer returns home for last season of eligibility. Started 11 games with the Wildcats and should be an impact addition for coach Rocky Long.

 

94. Cameron Coffman, Wyoming

Indiana transfer should be an upgrade for Wyoming’s quarterback spot in 2015.

 

Related: Mountain West Predictions for 2015

 

95. Brooks Haack, UL Lafayette

Breakout candidate? Haack was solid in limited action last year (20 of 23 for 179 yards).

 

96. Michael Birdsong, Marshall

James Madison transfer has the tough task of replacing Rakeem Cato.

 

97. Connor Mitch, South Carolina

Mitch steps into the starting lineup under the watchful eye of coach Steve Spurrier. Keep an eye on true freshman Lorenzo Nunez

 

98. Lamar Jordan, New Mexico

Regarded as an excellent runner (612 yards last season), but Lobos hoping for more from passing attack. Junior college transfer Austin Apodaca – a better passer – is expected to see snaps in the opener.

 

99. Reginald Bell, Eastern Michigan

Promising sophomore emerged as playmaker for Eastern Michigan last season. Bell led the team with 562 rushing yards and threw for 409 yards in a loss to Ball State. Could be much higher on this list by the end of 2015.

 

100. Austin Appleby, Purdue

Purdue hopes to take a step forward in coach Darrell Hazell’s third season. The Boilermakers need better quarterback play to escape the Big Ten West cellar.

 

101. Brandon Silvers, Troy

New coach Neal Brown should help Silvers’ development. Threw for 1,836 yards and 11 scores last season.

 

102. Jesse Ertz, Kansas State

Mystery in Manhattan. Will Ertz, Joe Hubener, Jonathan Banks or Alex Delton start at quarterback? Ertz is the favorite to take the first snap and has yet to throw a pass on the FBS level.

 

103. Tanner Lee, Tulane

Lee had an up and down season as a freshman and did not throw a touchdown pass in the final three games after tossing eight in the first three weeks.

 

104. Nick Mullens, Southern Miss

Southern Miss is trending in the right direction under third-year coach Todd Monken. Mullens is also on the hot seat with TCU transfer Tyler Matthews also expected to play.

 

105. Brent Stockstill, MTSU

Son of the head coach (Rick Stockstill) edged Austin Grammer for the starting job this fall.

 

Related: Conference USA Predictions for 2015

 

106. Kyle Pohl, Akron

Will Pohl hold onto the starting job? Former Pittsburgh signal-caller Tra’von Chapman is making a push for snaps.

 

107. Derrius Vick, Ohio

Ohio’s passing attack needs a spark after managing only 11 passing scores last season.

 

108. Shuler Bentley, Old Dominion

Taylor Heinicke won’t be easy to replace, but Shuler – the two-time Gatorade Player of the Year in South Carolina – is an intriguing replacement.

 

109. Alex McGough, FIU

McGough showed promise as a true freshman last season, throwing for 1,680 yards and 14 scores in 12 games. Should be better as a sophomore.

 

110. Tyler Stewart, Nevada

Inherits big shoes to fill in replacing Cody Fajardo.

 

111. Johnny McCrary, Vanderbilt

New play-caller Andy Ludwig should help a Vanderbilt offense that managed only 12.8 points in SEC games last year. McCrary is competing with Wade Freebeck for the No. 1 spot.

 

112. Quinton Flowers, USF

Beat Penn State transfer Steven Bench for the starting job this fall, only completed 8 of 20 passes for 111 yards last year.

 

Related: American Athletic Conference Predictions for 2015

 

113. Joe Gray, San Jose State

Gray finished 2014 as the starter, but junior college recruit Kenny Potter is making a push for the job this offseason.

 

114. Tyler Rogers, New Mexico State

Should have plenty of opportunities to throw the ball in 2015 (436 attempts last year) but needs to cut the interceptions (23).

 

115. Montell Cozart, Kansas

Pressed into starting role after Michael Cummings was lost for the year in the spring game. Has eight career starts.

 

116. Zack Greenlee, Fresno State

Greenlee started one game in 2014 and finished the year with 213 yards after completing 18 of 41 passes. Former West Virginia quarterback Ford Childress is also expected to see time for the Bulldogs this season.

 

117. Bryant Shirreffs, UConn

NC State transfer needs to spark a UConn offense that averaged only 15.5 points per game in 2014.

 

118. Colin Reardon, Kent State

Reardon has passed for 26 scores over the last two seasons and should benefit from the addition of Don Treadwell at coordinator and the return of Trayion Durham at running back.

 

119. Blake Decker, UNLV

Junior college transfer passed for 2,886 yards in his first season in Las Vegas.

 

120. Matt Linehan, Idaho

Getting receiver Dezmon Epps back, as well as another year of experience should help Linehan after he tossed 18 picks in 2014.

 

121. Andrew McNulty, North Texas

Three quarterbacks received snaps for the Mean Green last season. McNulty is expected to start over DaMarcus Smith this fall.

 

122. Blake Kemp, East Carolina

Projected starter Kurt Benkert suffered a torn ACL in fall practice. Kemp – a junior college transfer from Mesa Community College – is the new projected No. 1. He’s yet to throw a pass on the FBS level.

 

123. Mack Leftwich, UTEP

Started four games for the Miners in 2013 and used a redshirt year last season. Miners plan to lean heavily on one of C-USA’s best offensive lines and running back Aaron Jones.

 

124. Matt Johnson, Charlotte

49ers join the FBS ranks in 2015. Johnson threw for 1,941 yards and 13 scores before a season-ending knee injury.

 

125. Blake Bogenshutz, UTSA

Bogenshutz played in four games last season before taking a medical redshirt. Completed 8 of 14 passes for 82 yards against Oklahoma State in 2014.

 

126. Garrett Smith, ULM

Promising redshirt freshman topped senior Brayle Brown for the No. 1 spot this offseason.

 

127. Gus Ragland, Miami, Ohio

Redshirt freshman is locked into battle with Drew Kummer for the starting job.

 

128. Ahmad Bradshaw, Army West Point

Bradshaw did not play last season and passed A.J. Schurr for the top spot this offseason.

Teaser:
Ranking All 128 College Football Starting Quarterbacks for 2015
Post date: Tuesday, September 1, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/nebraskas-defense-was-very-excited-receive-blackshirts-jerseys
Body:

Nebraska’s defense received big news on Monday. With the season just around the corner, the defensive staff handed out the “Blackshirts” practice jerseys to 11 players.

 

This annual tradition of handing out black practice jerseys is a big deal for the defense, and this video captured the reactions as they walked into the locker room.

 

Needless to say, the Cornhuskers’ defenders were excited about this moment with the 2015 season inching closer:

 

Teaser:
Nebraska's Starting Defense Is Really Excited to Receive Blackshirts
Post date: Tuesday, September 1, 2015 - 08:30
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Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-50-breakout-players-2015
Body:

Projecting college football’s breakout players for any given season is no easy assignment. After all, each person has a different take on what a “breakout player” is, and college football is always home to several new faces throughout the season. While it’s difficult to label breakout players, the new stars of any season can have a huge impact on conference championship or national title races.

 

With kickoff for the 2015 season just a few days away, Athlon Sports is taking a look at 50 players who could be poised for a breakout year from the Power 5 conferences and Notre Dame. Players from every position were included, and a few true freshmen cracked the list. 

 

Best Units in CFB: RBWROLDLLBDB

 

College Football's Top 50 Breakout Players for 2015

 

50. Mike Freeze, LB, TCU

The back seven of TCU’s defense must be retooled this offseason. The Horned Frogs lost standout linebackers Paul Dawson and Marcus Mallet, and the secondary lost three all-conference performers. The linebacker position was a work in progress for coach Gary Patterson in the spring, but Freeze made a push for a starting job after enrolling early in spring practice. The three-star recruit is penciled in as one of TCU’s starting linebackers. 

 

Related: Big 12 Predictions for 2015

 

49. Andrew Brown, DT, Virginia

After battling injuries in his freshman campaign, the Virginia coaching staff hopes for bigger and better things from Brown in 2015. As a five-star recruit, Brown was pegged as an impact newcomer in the ACC last year. But Brown never got on track, finishing with four tackles in six games. He needs to be a difference maker for the Cavaliers in 2015.

 

48. Nazair Jones, DT, North Carolina

Jones is a key cog in new coordinator Gene Chizik’s efforts to improve North Carolina’s defense in 2015. As a redshirt freshman last season, Jones recorded 35 stops (7.5 for a loss), 2.5 sacks and one forced fumble. With another offseason to develop in the weight room, as well an offseason to learn under Chizik and new line coach Tray Scott, look for Jones to make an even bigger impact this fall.

 

47. ​Steven Parker, S, Oklahoma

The Sooners certainly have room to improve in the defensive secondary after giving up 24 plays of 30 yards or more last season. Cornerback Zack Sanchez is one of the best in the nation, but new secondary coach Kerry Cooks is looking for players to step up at the other positions. Parker is expected to take on a bigger role this season after playing in 13 games in 2014. The sophomore recorded 31 tackles, one sack and six pass breakups in limited action. 

 

Related: College Football 2015 All-Freshman Team

 

46. Connor Williams, OT, Texas

Joe Wickline is one of the best offensive line coaches in the nation, and the Longhorns will be looking for improvement up front after inconsistent play in 2014. Four starters are back, but the lineup and starters may change with added competition through the recruiting ranks. Williams enrolled in time to compete in spring practice, and the true freshman is pushing for the starting job at left tackle.

 

45. ​Derwin Gray/Damian Prince, OT, Maryland

Gray and Prince are two reasons to be optimistic about improvement for Maryland’s offensive line in 2015. This duo was a key pickup on the recruiting trail for the Terrapins in 2014 and redshirted in their first season on campus. Gray suffered a shoulder injury in the spring, but he should return in September. Prince also battled injuries late in fall camp. This redshirt freshman duo should anchor the Maryland offensive line for the next few seasons.

 

44. Thomas Sirk, QB, Duke

Duke coach David Cutcliffe is one of the best quarterback/offensive minds in college football. Expect Cutcliffe to work his magic once again in 2015, as Sirk replaces Anthony Boone as the Blue Devils’ starter. The junior was sharp in limited action last season, throwing for 67 yards and three touchdowns on 10 completions. He also added 238 rushing yards and eight scores. 

 

43. Robert Foster/ArDarius Stewart, WR, Alabama

Alabama’s passing attack has to be retooled this offseason. Quarterback Blake Sims has expired his eligibility, and the Crimson Tide must replace the top three receivers from last year, including No. 1 target Amari Cooper (124 catches in 2014). Foster and Stewart are the leading candidates to replace Cooper as the go-to option in the passing attack. This duo combined for 18 catches last season.

 

42. ​Jeb Blazevich, TE, Georgia

Georgia’s receiving corps is a question mark, but the concerns over this unit could be eased if Blazevich is more involved in the passing attack in 2014. As a true freshman last year, Blazevich caught 18 passes for 269 yards and two scores. The North Carolina native should be in the mix for All-SEC honors in 2015.

 

Related: Ranking the SEC Offensive Lines for 2015

 

41. Michael Dieter, OL, Wisconsin

It’s safe to assume Wisconsin will field a strong offensive line once again in 2015. However, the Badgers are dealing with a few injuries and overall uncertainty about the position battles in the trenches this fall. There’s work to be done up front, but the coaching staff should feel secure in three positions (left tackle Tyler Marz, center Dan Voltz and Dieter at right guard). After a redshirt season in 2014, Dieter is poised to be a key cog in Wisconsin’s revamped line.

 

Related: College Football's Top 30 Offensive Lines for 2015

 

40. Grant Haley, CB, Penn State

Penn State’s secondary should be among the best in the Big Ten this season. Coordinator Bob Shoop is making a couple of tweaks to this unit, as Jordan Lucas shifts from corner to safety, opening the door for Haley to start. He played in 13 games for the Nittany Lions as a true freshman last season, recording 18 tackles, one interception and two pass breakups.

 

39. ​Marquavius Lewis, DE, South Carolina

Improving the performance of the defensive line is a huge priority for new co-defensive coordinator Jon Hoke this offseason. The Gamecocks registered only 14 sacks last year and surrendered 212.2 rushing yards per game. Lewis is expected to be an impact junior college recruit for Hoke after two standout years at Hutchinson Community College. The South Carolina native was the Jayhawk Conference Defensive Player of the Year and registered 11 sacks in 2014.

 

38. Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

Texas A&M’s receiving corps was already one of the best in the nation, and the rich are about to get a little richer in 2015. True freshman Christian Kirk is expected to push for a starting job at one of the inside spots in Texas A&M’s receiver lineup. The Arizona native ranked as the No. 25 recruit in the 2015 247Sports and is expected to be one of the SEC’s top freshman performers in 2015.

 

Related: SEC Football Predictions for 2015

 

37. ​Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee

Jalen Hurd returns after leading Tennessee with 899 rushing yards in 2014, but the Volunteers’ backfield will be even deeper with the addition of Kamara from the junior college ranks. Kamara started his career at Alabama and transferred after one year in Tuscaloosa. In nine games in 2014, Kamara rushed for 1,211 yards and 18 scores with Hutchinson Community College. Expect Kamara and Hurd to share the workload in Tennessee’s backfield, which has the potential to emerge as one of the best in the SEC this season.

 

36. Elijah Lee, LB, Kansas State

With the departures of quarterback Jake Waters and receiver Tyler Lockett, Kansas State has to lean on its defense in 2015. With six starters back, there’s plenty of talent for coordinator Tom Hayes to rely on. Lee is another impact defender to watch for Hayes, as he impressed in 13 games as a freshman last season. Lee recorded 19 tackles and 4.5 sacks in limited action and should push for all-conference honors in his first full year as a starter.

 

35. ​Deon Hollins, LB, UCLA

UCLA’s pass rush needs a spark after recording only 29 sacks in 13 games last season. Could Hollins be the answer for new coordinator Tom Bradley? The Texas native led the team with nine sacks, with six of those coming over the final four games of 2014. Hollins recorded three sacks against Kansas State and one in the 38-20 win over rival USC. The junior’s ability to get to the quarterback should help UCLA create a lot of havoc at the line of scrimmage. 

 

Related: College Football Bowl Projections for 2015

 

34. Boom Williams, RB, Kentucky

If last season’s finale against Louisville was any indication of what to expect from Williams in 2015, the sophomore is in for a huge year. On 18 carries against the Cardinals, Williams recorded 126 rushing yards and two scores and caught three passes for 13 yards. Williams only received 74 carries, but he averaged a healthy 6.6 yards per carry and accumulated 115.9 all-purpose yards a game in 2014. 

 

33. Dravon Henry, S, West Virginia

High expectations followed Henry in 2014, and the true freshman turned in a solid debut for coordinator Tony Gibson. In 13 games, Henry recorded 45 tackles (one for a loss), two interceptions and two pass breakups. With cornerback Daryl Worley and safety Karl Joseph established as stars, combined with Henry’s development, the Mountaineers should have one of the nation’s top defensive backfields. 

 

Related: College Football 2015 All-America Team

 

32. Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

It wasn't unexpected, but coach Jim Mora officially appointed Rosen as UCLA's starter for Week 1 last week. The California native was a five-star recruit in the 2015 signing class and the No. 1 ranked quarterback by the 247Sports Composite. If Rosen is as good as advertised, the concerns about the quarterback spot after losing Brett Hundley will dissipate.

 

31. De’Mornay Pierson-El, WR, Nebraska

Pierson-El is expected to miss at least the first month of the season due to a foot injury. However, the sophomore is expected to be a key cog in Nebraska’s offense when he returns, as new coach Mike Riley and coordinator Danny Langsdorf planned to take full advantage of his ability to generate big plays. Pierson-El will see touches in a variety of ways, including quick passes or fly sweeps. He is also one of the nation’s top punt returners.

 

30 Josh Harvey-Clemons, S, Louisville

Even though Louisville is breaking in four new starters in the secondary, don’t expect much of a drop-off in terms of performance in the pass defense. Harvey-Clemons is a big reason why the Cardinals should have one of the top defensive backfields in the ACC this season, as the Georgia transfer is eligible after sitting out 2014 due to NCAA rules. The Georgia native started 11 games with the Bulldogs in 2013 and recorded 66 tackles. At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Harvey-Clemons is a physically imposing figure in the secondary for coordinator Todd Grantham.

 

29. ​Ranthony Texada, CB, TCU

The secondary is usually a strength under Gary Patterson’s watch at TCU, but this unit will be a work in progress in 2015. The Horned Frogs must replace standout cornerback Kevin White, as well as All-Big 12 safeties Sam Carter and Chris Hackett. Texada joins Derrick Kindred as the returning starters for Patterson, and both players will have to anchor the unit early in the year. Texada started all 13 games as a redshirt freshman in 2014 and recorded seven pass breakups and 31 tackles. Texada should be even better as a sophomore.

 

Related: Ranking the Big 12's Top 15 Players for 2015

 

28. Wyatt Teller, OG, Virginia Tech

The emergence of Teller in the second half of 2014 is a reason for optimism on Virginia Tech’s offensive line this year. Teller started the last six games for the Hokies last season and enters 2015 as one of the top guards in the ACC. After struggling to find consistency up front over the last few years, Virginia Tech’s line could be poised to turn a corner with Jonathan McLaughlin and Teller anchoring the left side.  
 

27. Trey Marshall/Derwin James, DB, Florida State

Jalen Ramsey is the unquestioned star of Florida State’s secondary, but the junior could have some company on the All-ACC team in December. Marshall (a sophomore) and James (a freshman) are expected to be impact defenders for the Seminoles. Marshall recorded 12 tackles in limited action last season, while James – a five-star recruit – is a physical freak poised for an impact debut in 2015.

 

26. ​Charles Harris, DE, Missouri

Even though Shane Ray and Markus Golden have departed, there’s not a ton of concern at defensive end for Missouri. After all, the Tigers continue to produce standout ends under line coach Craig Kuligowski. All signs point to Harris as the next star off the edge. The sophomore played in all 14 games as a reserve last season and recorded 19 tackles and two sacks.

 

25. ​Demario Richard, RB, Arizona State

Just how high is Arizona State on Richard and fellow sophomore Kalen Ballage at running back? The coaching staff moved senior D.J. Foster out to receiver for the 2015 season. There was a huge need at receiver with the loss of Jaelen Strong, but there’s plenty of confidence in the available options at running back for coach Todd Graham. Richard averaged 5.7 yards per carry on 84 attempts last year, finishing 2014 with 478 rushing yards and four scores.

 

Related: College Football's Top Cornerback Tandems for 2015

 

24. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

Stanford’s string of six consecutive seasons with a 1,000-yard rusher was snapped in 2014. But the Cardinal could reverse that trend with McCaffrey a bigger part of the offense in 2015. As a true freshman last season, McCaffrey rushed for 300 yards on 42 carries and caught 17 passes for 251 yards and two scores. McCaffrey is poised to emerge as one of the nation’s top all-purpose players.

 

23. Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson

Hyatt is the first of two Clemson players to make the breakout list for 2015. The Tigers’ offensive line will be under the microscope early in the season, as quarterback Deshaun Watson is recovering from a torn ACL, and there’s only one returning starter up front. But Hyatt’s emergence could go a long way in solidifying this group before a critical showdown against Louisville in a few weeks. The true freshman was a five-star recruit in the 2015 signing class and is expected to protect Watson’s blindside this fall.  

 

22. ​Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech

Mahomes isn’t guaranteed the starting job yet, as he will compete with Davis Webb for the No. 1 spot. However, Mahomes showcased his upside as a true freshman and his case for the starting spot in seven games last season. He completed 105 of 185 passes for 1,547 yards and 16 scores and tossed only four picks. In the season finale against Baylor, Mahomes threw for 598 yards.

 

Related: College Football Bowl Projections for 2015

 

21. Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State

Johnson is the lone returning starter in the offensive trenches for coach Jimbo Fisher. While breaking in four new starters is never ideal on the line, having Johnson back after a promising stint last season is a good place for Fisher and line coach Rick Trickett to start the rebuilding effort. The Missouri native started the final five games in 2014 and was a major reason why Florida State’s line played better down the stretch. Expect the 6-foot-7 sophomore to push for first-team All-ACC honors.  

 

20. ​Montae Nicholson, S, Michigan State

Michigan State’s “No Fly Zone” has a few holes to fill this offseason. The Spartans lost standouts in safety Kurtis Drummond and cornerback Trae Waynes, and Pat Narduzzi is now the head coach at Pittsburgh. Nicholson should be one of the new stars for Michigan State’s secondary after recording 31 tackles in 13 appearances as a redshirt freshman. The sophomore should push for All-Big Ten honors.

 

19. ​Otaro Alaka, LB, Texas A&M

New coordinator John Chavis inherits a defense that allowed 28.1 points per game last season but has promising young talent to build around. Alaka is one of the players for Texas A&M’s core on defense, as the Houston native had an underrated debut with the Aggies in 2014. As a true freshman, Alaka recorded 33 tackles in 12 games and also forced two fumbles. After earning Defensive MVP honors in the Liberty Bowl, Alaka is poised to push for All-SEC accolades this year.

 

Related: College Football Bowl Projections for 2015

 

18. Peter Kalambayi, LB, Stanford

Kalambayi should be the next star linebacker for coach David Shaw. After a redshirt year in 2013, the North Carolina native played in all 13 games last season and finished with 32 tackles and 6.5 sacks. With A.J. Tarpley and James Vaughters departing, there should be more snaps available for Kalambayi in 2015.

 

Related: Pac-12 Predictions for 2015

 

17. Charles Nelson, DB/WR, Oregon

Nelson looked like a potential two-way threat in the spring, but after a brief stint on defense, all signs point to the sophomore having a breakout year on offense. Nelson caught 23 passes for 327 yards and five touchdowns last season and scored twice on punt return touchdowns. Look for Nelson to make his share of big plays for the Ducks offense this fall. 

 

Related: College Football's Top 50 Players for 2015

 

16. ​Malachi Dupre, WR, LSU

LSU isn’t hurting for talent at receiver, but the success of the passing attack heavily depends on the development of quarterbacks Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris. Dupre was a five-star recruit in the 2014 signing class and played in 12 contests last year. The New Orleans native caught 14 passes for 318 yards and five scores in his first season on campus and could easily double those totals in 2015.

 

15. ​Joshua Dobbs, QB, Tennessee

If Dobbs picks up where he left off in 2014, Tennessee should be in the race to win the SEC East. Over the final six games of last season, Dobbs threw for 1,206 yards and nine scores and rushed for 469 yards and eight touchdowns. After posting big numbers against South Carolina and Kentucky in 2014, Dobbs is tasked with increasing his production against some of the SEC’s top defenses this year.

 

14. Malik Zaire, QB, Notre Dame

With Everett Golson transferring to Florida State, Zaire has a clear path to the starting job. The dual-threat quarterback is a great fit for coach Brian Kelly’s offense, and the expectations are high after showing promise in a limited stint last season. In seven appearances (and one start), Zaire threw for 266 yards and one touchdown and added 187 yards and two scores on the ground. The arrow is clearly pointing up on Zaire and the Fighting Irish offense.

 

13. ​Jalin Marshall, WR, Ohio State

Marshall is suspended for the opener against Virginia Tech, but a one-game hiatus shouldn’t stop the sophomore from becoming an even bigger part of Ohio State’s offense this season. In 15 games last year, Marshall caught 38 passes for 499 yards and six scores. Additionally, he rushed for 145 yards and one touchdown and averaged 11.8 yards per punt return. Marshall could finish 2015 as one of the Big Ten’s top receivers.

 

Related: Ranking the Big Ten's Starting Quarterbacks for 2015

 

12. Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State

The Spartans’ defensive line is one of the best in the nation, and this unit will only get better with McDowell’s emergence in 2015. As a true freshman last season, McDowell chipped in 15 tackles (4.5 for a loss) and 1.5 sacks. The Detroit native was a big-time catch for coach Mark Dantonio on the recruiting trail and is poised to claim a starting spot at tackle this fall. 

 

11. ​Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State

The Buckeyes already have two of the nation’s top linebackers in Joshua Perry and Darron Lee. Add in McMillan’s potential as a sophomore and it’s easy to see why this trio is among the nation’s best linebacker units. McMillan recorded 54 tackles and 2.5 sacks as a reserve last season and could push for All-Big Ten honors in his first year as a starter.

 

10. ​Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

Jefferson is only a true freshman, but high expectations surround the Mesquite, Texas native in 2015. Jefferson ranked as the No. 10 overall player in the 247Sports Composite and enrolled in time to compete in spring ball. Jefferson recorded five stops (one for a loss) in the Orange-White scrimmage and is expected to start at linebacker this season.

 

9. Kyle Allen, QB, Texas A&M

Talented true freshman Kyler Murray is going to see some snaps this season, but Allen was named the starter for the opener against Arizona State and should handle the bulk of the snaps for coach Kevin Sumlin. Allen was one of the top quarterbacks in last year’s signing class and eventually replaced Kenny Hill as the Aggies’ starter. The Arizona native played in nine games and finished the year with 1,322 yards and 16 scores. Allen’s best performance came against West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl, tossing four scores in a 45-37 win by the Aggies.

 

8. ​Seth Russell, QB, Baylor

Robert Griffin III, Nick Florence and Bryce Petty each produced big seasons in coach Art Briles’ offense at Baylor. And Russell has been handed the keys to the high-powered attack after completing 48 of 85 passes for 804 yards and eight touchdowns in 2014. In each of the last four years, Baylor’s starting quarterback has surpassed 3,850 passing yards and 29 scores. Expect Russell to easily eclipse those marks in 2015.

 

Related: College Football's Top 50 Players for 2015

 

7. ​Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

Rudolph’s emergence in the final three games of 2014 is one of the biggest reasons for optimism in Stillwater this season. Rudolph closed out last season by passing for 853 yards and six passing scores on 49 completions and guided Oklahoma State to a 2-1 mark in the final three games of the year. In the bowl win over Washington, Rudolph passed for 299 yards and two touchdowns. With an improving offensive line and a deep corps of receivers at his disposal, Rudolph should be able to build off a solid finish to 2014 and emerge as one of the Big 12’s top quarterbacks.

 

6. ​Mike Bercovici, QB, Arizona State

Bercovici is no secret in the Pac-12 after a solid stint as Arizona State’s starting quarterback last season. After Taylor Kelly suffered a foot injury against Colorado, Bercovici threw for 488 yards against UCLA in a 62-27 loss and passed for 510 yards and five scores in a thrilling 38-34 win over USC. Bercovici has a strong arm and isn’t afraid to take chances downfield. He won’t have top receiver Jaelen Strong, but Bercovici could push for a spot among the Pac-12’s best at quarterback.

 

Related: Pac-12 Predictions for 2015

 

5. JuJu Smith, WR, USC

It’s a bit of a stretch to consider Smith a breakout player since he grabbed 54 receptions for 724 yards and five touchdowns last year. However, expect Smith to go from all-conference contender to a potential All-American receiver in 2015. The sophomore should be quarterback Cody Kessler’s No. 1 target this fall.

 

4. Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson

Coordinator Brent Venables guided Clemson's defense to a No. 1 rank in fewest yards per game last season, but there's no shortage of question marks going into 2015. The Tigers return only two starters on defense, and the hits for this group continued in the fall. Linebacker Korrin Wiggins was lost for the year with a torn ACL, and tackle D.J. Reader’s status for 2015 is uncertain. While there are concerns, the Tigers aren't hurting for talent. Lawson is the next star defender in Death Valley after thriving as a reserve for Venables over the last two seasons and recording 11 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks in 2014. He’s expected to join the starting lineup, and the junior should provide plenty of headaches to opposing offensive linemen this fall. 

 

3. Jabrill Peppers, DB, Michigan

Peppers was poised for a significant role in Michigan’s defense last year, but a season-ending leg injury ended his 2014 campaign after the third game. In limited snaps in 2014, Peppers recorded eight tackles and returned one punt for six yards. Peppers was a five-star recruit in the 2014 signing class and should be an impact defender for new coordinator D.J. Durkin.

 

Related: Bowl Projections for 2015

 

2. Jamal Adams, S, LSU

Adams was an impact freshman for coach Les Miles in 2014, and the expectations are even higher for the Texas native in 2015. In 13 games last season, Adams recorded 66 tackles, one sack and five pass breakups. The sophomore's emergence is critical with Jalen Mills out indefinitely with an ankle injury. Adams will help anchor a secondary that is among the best in college football.

 

1. Jeremy Johnson, QB, Auburn

Johnson’s mention in this column should come as no surprise. The junior has received plenty of offseason hype, and all signs point to Johnson emerging as an All-SEC quarterback in 2015. In limited action over the last two seasons, Johnson has passed for 858 yards and nine scores.

Teaser:
College Football's Top 50 Breakout Players for 2015
Post date: Monday, August 31, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/south-carolina-honor-emanuel-9-victims-helmet-sticker-2015
Body:

South Carolina plans to honor the nine victims from June 17 shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church with a helmet sticker this season.

 

“The tragedy that happened in Charleston doesn’t just affect people in Charleston; it affects the entire state,” athletic director Ray Tanner said in a release from the school. We feel very much a part of that at the university. Coach Steve Spurrier and University President Harris Pastides felt very strongly that the ‘Emanuel 9’ should be recognized.”

 

The sticker features the Palmetto tree, with nine doves representing each of the victims.

 

Here’s a closer look at the sticker on the helmets:  

Teaser:
South Carolina Honor ‘Emanuel 9’ Victims With Helmet Sticker in 2015
Post date: Sunday, August 30, 2015 - 14:27
Path: /college-football/20-coaching-candidates-replace-tim-beckman-illinois
Body:

Illinois fired coach Tim Beckman a week before the 2015 season started after the program received the preliminary results into an investigation surrounding allegations about the program. The Fighting Illini will proceed with offensive coordinator Bill Cubit as the interim coach for the upcoming season.

 

Cubit will have an opportunity to earn the full-time position, but a decision on the coach in 2016 is still a ways away. While athletic director Mike Thomas likely won’t hire a coach until late November or early December, it’s never too early to look ahead.

 

Here’s 20 candidates to watch in 2015 as Illinois’ looks to find its next head coach:

 

20 Candidates to Watch in 2015 for Illinois' Coaching Search

 

Dave Aranda, defensive coordinator, Wisconsin – Aranda has emerged as one of college football’s top defensive minds. He joined Gary Andersen’s staff in Madison in 2013 and guided the Badgers’ defense to a No. 2 rank in the Big Ten (20.8 points allowed last season).

 

Chris Ash, Co-Defensive Coordinator, Ohio State – Ash was hired by coach Urban Meyer to work as the co-defensive coordinator with Luke Fickell last season. And the hire paid dividends for the Buckeyes’ defense, as this unit allowed only 22 points per game en route to a national championship. Ash also coordinated defenses at Arkansas and Wisconsin and is known for his work with defensive backs.

 

Dino Babers, head coach, Bowling Green – Babers’ first season at Bowling Green was slightly derailed by an injury to starting quarterback Matt Johnson. However, Babers finished 2014 with an 8-6 mark and a MAC East title. Prior to last season, Babers was the head coach at Eastern Illinois (19-7) and made stops as an assistant at Baylor, UCLA, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M and Arizona.

 

Jeff Brohm, head coach, WKU – Brohm entered 2014 as an unknown commodity in his first opportunity as a head coach on the FBS level. But the former Louisville quarterback had a solid debut (8-5 in 2014) and has the Hilltoppers among the favorites to win Conference USA in 2015. Brohm is a rising star in the coaching ranks.

 

Matt Canada, offensive coordinator, NC State – Canada has worked since 2007 as an offensive play-caller at four different stops (Indiana, Northern Illinois, Wisconsin and NC State). A longshot but ready for a chance to run a program.

 

Rod Carey, head coach, Northern Illinois – The Northern Illinois program hasn’t missed a beat with Carey at the controls. The Wisconsin native was promoted to head coach after Dave Doeren left for NC State. Under Carey’s watch, the Huskies are 23-6 since the 2013 Orange Bowl. Additionally, he guided Northern Illinois to the 2014 MAC Championship. 

 

Bill Cubit, interim head coach, Illinois – Cubit is a proven coach (51-47 at Western Michigan) and has an opportunity to earn the permanent position with a good season in 2015. Although Cubit is a solid coach and good play-caller, he’s probably a longshot to get the full-time job.

 

P.J. Fleck, head coach, Western Michigan – Fleck is known as an ace recruiter, and his work on the recruiting trail is starting to pay off at Western Michigan. After a 1-11 record in his debut, Fleck rebounded with an 8-5 mark in 2014. The Broncos are among the favorites to win the MAC West in 2015.

 

Willie Fritz, head coach, Georgia Southern – Fritz has a proven track record of success at three different jobs. After a 97-47 mark at Central Missouri and a 40-15 record at Sam Houston State, Fritz replaced Jeff Monken at Georgia Southern and guided the Eagles to a 9-3 mark in its first season at the FBS level.

 

Justin Fuente, head coach, Memphis – Fuente can probably aim a little higher than Illinois. In three years with the Tigers, Fuente is 17-20 and guided the program to a 10-3 record in 2014. He should be a hot commodity at the end of the 2015 season.

 

Doc Holliday, head coach, Marshall – Holliday was known for his recruiting ability when he was hired at Marshall prior to the 2010 season. And after five seasons with the Thundering Herd, it’s safe to say Holliday is one of Conference USA’s top coaches. The West Virginia native is 40-25 since 2010 and has won 23 games over the last two years.

 

Lane Kiffin, offensive coordinator, Alabama – Kiffin will get another opportunity as a head coach after he was fired at USC during the 2013 season. But he’s got a good job as Alabama’s play-caller and can take his time finding the right position.

 

Lance Leipold, head coach, Buffalo – Leipold is one of the rising stars in the coaching ranks and enters his first season at Buffalo after a successful stint at Wisconsin-Whitewater. From 2007-14, Leipold went 109-6 with the Warhawks and won six Division III titles.

 

Pete Lembo, head coach, Ball State – It’s only a matter of time before Lembo gets a promotion to a Power 5 program. The New York native is a proven winner at three different programs and guided Ball State to back-to-back bowls in 2012-13. Lembo went 35-22 at Elon from 2006-10 and 44-14 at Lehigh from 2001-05. In 14 seasons as a head coach, Lembo only has one year with a losing record.

 

Doug Meacham, co-offensive coordinator, TCU – Meacham has never been a head coach on the FCS or FBS level, but he made a significant impact as TCU’s play-caller last season. The Horned Frogs were one of the nation’s most improved offenses, averaging 46.5 points per game. He also coached as an assistant at Houston and Oklahoma State.

 

Mike Norvell, offensive coordinator, Arizona State – Norvell is one of college football’s brightest offensive minds and a rising star in the assistant ranks. After a playing career at Central Arkansas, Norvell went into coaching in 2006 and joined Todd Graham’s staff at Tulsa in 2007. He followed Graham to Pittsburgh and Arizona State, where he coordinated a Sun Devil offense that averaged 36.9 points per game in 2014.

 

Barry Odom, defensive coordinator, Missouri – Odom is in his first year at Missouri after a successful three-year stint as Memphis’ defensive coordinator. The former Missouri linebacker will be a FBS head coach in the near future.

 

Lincoln Riley, offensive coordinator, Oklahoma – Rising star in the coordinator ranks was hired away from East Carolina to call the plays for the Sooners in 2015.

 

Brock Spack, head coach, Illinois State – Spack is a longshot, but Illinois State is 46-26 under his watch and is among the favorites to win the FCS title in 2015. The former Purdue defensive coordinator guided the Redbirds to the FCS Championship game last season.

 

Bobby Wilder, head coach, Old Dominion – Wilder built the Old Dominion football program from scratch and transformed it into a FBS team ready to push for bowl appearances – all in just seven seasons. Wilder is 52-20 in seven years with the Monarchs and guided the program to a 6-6 record in its first year at the FBS level.

Teaser:
20 Coaching Candidates to Replace Tim Beckman at Illinois
Post date: Friday, August 28, 2015 - 16:12
Path: /college-football/illinois-fires-coach-tim-beckman
Body:

Illinois has fired coach Tim Beckman following the results from an external investigation into the football program. According to an official release from the school, athletic director Mike Thomas indicated this move “was in the best interests of student-athletes.”

 

Offensive coordinator Bill Cubit will serve as the interim coach. Cubit was Western Michigan’s head coach from 2005-12 and went 51-47 with the Broncos.

 

While Beckman’s firing comes as no surprise, the timing - a week before the season starts) – is odd. The fourth-year coach was slated to begin 2015 squarely on the hot seat after a tumultuous offseason. However, the timetable for his firing was expedited after Thomas received the preliminary results into a review of the program.

 

The release from the school provides insight as to why the program decided to make the switch:

 

“Thomas learned of efforts to deter injury reporting and influence medical decisions that pressured players to avoid or postpone medical treatment and continue playing despite injuries. He also said in some instances student-athletes were treated inappropriately with respect to whether they could remain on scholarship during the spring semester of their senior year if they weren't on the team.”

 

Beckman will not receive the remaining amount left on his contract ($3.1 million) or the buyout ($743,000).

 

Teaser:
Illinois Fires Coach Tim Beckman
Post date: Friday, August 28, 2015 - 14:44
Path: /college-football/minnesota-creates-frogger-inspired-game-its-opener-against-tcu
Body:

Minnesota’s Thursday night opener against TCU is one of Week 1’s most anticipated games. And what better way to prepare for the opener than with a Frogger-inspired video game?

 

Thanks to Minnesota’s official Twitter account (@GopherSports), college football fans can have a little fun in the video game form. On Friday, the school released “Go Gopher Go,” a game where Minnesota's mascot (Goldy) tries to dodge TCU defenders, as well as a few other objects to reach the endzone.

 

No, this won’t fill the void of the annual college football game from EA Sports that’s currently on hiatus. However, it’s a good way to pass the time until the offseason officially ends.

 

Teaser:
Minnesota Creates Frogger-Inspired Game for its Opener Against TCU
Post date: Friday, August 28, 2015 - 12:48
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Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-35-running-back-units-2015
Body:

While every college football team would prefer to have an established, superstar No. 1 running back, using a committee of options is the preferred approach to save wear and tear on the starter. Some teams prefer to split the carry workload close to a 50-50 split or use certain players in situational roles. Regardless of the usage, more teams are looking to a committee of players to establish a rushing attack. And with that in mind, it's not easy to rank the best backfields in college football. Weighing a team with a clear superstar but little depth, as opposed to a team with three proven options and no standout No. 1 option is a tough assignment.

 

Related: College Football's Top 50 Players for 2015

 

How did we come up with these rankings? A couple of factors were considered. Depth, overall talent, production, level of competition and projected output in 2015 all factored into the rankings for the backfield. While some teams may have experienced a down year last season, having a different quarterback or a change of scheme can make a huge difference. These rankings reflect projection for 2015, not solely what teams have accomplished in 2014.

 

College Football's Top 35 Running Back Units for 2015

 

1. Georgia 

The Bulldogs got an early preview of their 2015 backfield after Todd Gurley’s 2014 season ended following a suspension and torn ACL. Nick Chubb rushed for only 224 yards through the first five games but emerged as one of the SEC’s top running backs in the second half of last year. The five-star recruit from Georgia finished 2014 with 1,547 yards and 14 rushing scores. Chubb averaged at least 8.0 yards per carry in three of his last five games. Sony Michel also impressed as a true freshman last year, averaging 6.4 yards per carry. Michel and Keith Marshall will compete for the No. 2 spot behind Chubb.

 

Related: College Football's Top 30 Linebacker Units for 2015

 

2. Oklahoma 

A freshman was supposed to make an impact at running back for Oklahoma last season, but most believed it would be Joe Mixon. However, Mixon was suspended for the entire year, allowing Samaje Perine to emerge as the Big 12’s top running back. Perine set the single-game rushing record with 427 yards against Kansas, led all freshman running backs with 1,713 yards and added 21 scores. Mixon is slated to return in 2015, giving Oklahoma a dynamic one-two combination at running back. Alex Ross is another weapon for new offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley after averaging 6.8 yards per carry in 2014.

 

3. Ohio State 

With an offensive line that was struggling to find its footing early in the year, Ezekiel Elliott got off to a slow start in 2014. However, no running back was performing at a higher level by the end of last season. Elliott finished with three consecutive 200-yard efforts, including 246 yards and four scores in the national championship game against Oregon. Elliott is one of the favorites to win the Heisman, but he won’t have to shoulder all of the workload. Curtis Samuel is ready for a bigger role after averaging 6.6 yards per carry last year. True freshman Mike Weber may end up as Elliott's top backup at running back by the end of 2015.

 

Related: College Football's Top 35 Defensive Lines for 2015

 

4. Alabama

T.J. Yeldon left Tuscaloosa for the NFL, but there’s no shortage of talent at running back in Tuscaloosa. Junior Derrick Henry – one of college football’s most physically impressive running backs – is set to take the lead role in the backfield after recording 990 yards and 11 scores last season. Kenyan Drake is back from a serious leg injury to assume the No. 2 role. He will also see his share of receptions as a weapon on passing downs. Bo Scarbrough’s status is uncertain for the 2015 season after suffering a torn ACL in spring practice. Talented true freshman Damien Harris could be the No. 3 back for coordinator Lane Kiffin. 

 

5. Florida State

With Jameis Winston off to the NFL, the rushing attack should be a bigger part of Florida State’s offense in 2015. Dalvin Cook was one of the top running back recruits in the 2014 signing class and averaged 141.3 rushing yards per game over the final three contests of 2014. After accumulating only 170 carries last season, Cook is poised for an uptick in touches and an opportunity to push for All-America honors in 2015. Mario Pender (206 yards last year) is also due for a bigger workload, while true freshman Jacques Patrick will also factor into the mix.

 

6. LSU

With uncertainty surrounding LSU’s passing attack once again, it’s Leonard Fournette’s show on offense. The sophomore is arguably the most talented running back in college football and should be one of the preseason favorites to win the Heisman Trophy in 2015. In 13 games as a true freshman last year, Fournette rushed for 1,034 yards and 10 scores. While Fournette is locked into the starting job, the backup situation is unsettled. Sophomore Darrel Williams is the frontrunner, but freshmen Derrius Guice and Nick Brossette are expected to see carries.

 

Related: College Football's Top 30 Defensive Backfields for 2015

 

7. Pittsburgh

There’s a new coaching staff, but the gameplan for the Panthers won't change on offense. Running back James Conner is one of the best in the nation and is the reigning ACC Player of the Year. In 13 games last season, Conner recorded 1,765 yards and 26 scores. Rachid Ibrahim was lost with an Achilles injury, leaving Chris James (437 yards) and true freshman Darrin Hall as the top backup options. 

 

Related: College Football's Top 30 Offensive Lines for 2015

 

8. Arkansas 

Behind a massive offensive line and two of the SEC’s top running backs, the Razorbacks have averaged 200 rushing yards per game in back-to-back seasons. Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams finished 2014 as the only running back duo in college football to both reach the 1,000-yard mark. However, the backfield suffered a huge loss when Williams was lost for the season due to a foot injury suffered in fall practice. Collins will step into the No. 1 role after recording 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. True freshman Rawleigh Williams III and fullback Kody Walker provide depth and will help to fill the void left by Jonathan Williams.

 

9. Oregon 

The Ducks have produced a 1,000-yard rusher in eight consecutive seasons, and that streak should extend to nine in 2015. Royce Freeman led the team with 1,365 yards and 18 scores as a true freshman in 2014. Freeman is Oregon’s go-to back, but the No. 2 spot is up for grabs after Thomas Tyner was ruled out for the year due to shoulder surgery. Touted freshmen Taj Griffin and Tony Brooks-James will be needed to fill Tyner’s shoes in 2015.

 

10. Baylor 

While most of the attention on Baylor’s offense usually focuses on the quarterbacks and receivers, the Bears have averaged at least 200 rushing yards a game in four consecutive seasons. This year’s stable of running backs might be the most underrated group nationally. Shock Linwood returns after leading the team with 1,252 yards and 16 scores last season. Johnny Jefferson (5.2 ypc in 2014), Devin Chafin (383 yards) and redshirt freshman Terence Williams will compete for carries behind Linwood.

 

Related: College Football’s Top 35 Receiving Groups for 2015

 

11. UCLA  

12. Tennessee  

13. Auburn

14. Wisconsin  

15. Miami (Fla.)  

16. Michigan State  

17. Utah  

18. Arizona  

19. California

20. West Virginia 

21. TCU  

22. USC

23. Boston College  

24. Toledo 

25. Marshall

26. WKU

27. Rutgers

28. San Diego State

29. Georgia Southern

30. Appalachian State

31. Michigan

32. NC State

33. Northwestern

34. Texas Tech

35. North Carolina

Teaser:
College Football's Top 35 Running Back Units for 2015
Post date: Friday, August 28, 2015 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-2015-conference-and-national-championship-predictions
Body:

The start of college football’s 2015 season is less than 10 days away. The 2015 season officially begins on Thursday, Sept. 3 and ends on Jan. 11 with the national championship in Glendale, Ariz. The first season of the College Football Playoff was a huge success and the second year should have just as much intrigue.

 

Athlon’s editors met before the preseason magazine was released to iron out the predictions for the upcoming year, but there wasn’t a consensus on every conference title race, playoff predictions or top 25 rankings. From the ACC to the Sun Belt, there was plenty of disagreement from the staff on conference winners or the predicted order of finish.

 

In addition to the predicted winners of the conferences, Athlon’s editors also project the four teams to make the playoff and a national champion.   

 

Podcast: Official ’15 College Football Playoff Predictions



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* Indicates projected champion of league's conference title game.

 

Predicting CFB's Conferences, Playoff and National Champion

ACC

   
 

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American Athletic

 
 

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Big 12

 

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Big Ten

 

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Conference USA

 

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MAC

 

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Mountain West

 

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Pac-12

 

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North
   
1* *
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SEC

 

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Sun Belt

 

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Independents

 

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Playoff Predictions

 

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National Champion

 

 

Teaser:
College Football 2015 Conference and National Title Predictions
Post date: Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 13:00
Path: /college-football/louisville-unveils-all-black-alternate-uniform-sept-17-game-against-clemson
Body:

Louisville recently unveiled an alternate uniform for its opener against Auburn, and the Cardinals now have an all-black design for the Sept. 17 showdown against Clemson.

 

The all-black design is a sharp look for Louisville, featuring the “L” logo on the pants, along with a red Cardinal on the helmet.

 

Check out Louisville’s all-black uniform for the critical ACC showdown on Thursday, Sept. 17:

 

 

 

 

Teaser:
Louisville Unveils All-Black Alternate Uniform for Sept. 17 Game Against Clemson
Post date: Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 12:55
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-30-defensive-backfields-2015
Body:

Finding and evaluating cornerbacks and safeties is one of the most difficult jobs for any college football coaching staff. Competition level and a variety of offenses in high school create a several obstacles in player evaluation. But for some programs, finding the next stars at defensive back is an easy task. LSU and Florida consistently bring in and develop defensive back talent. And it’s no surprise the Tigers and Gators are at the top of the defensive backfield rankings for 2015.

 

Related: College Football's Top 50 Players for 2015

 

How did we come up with these rankings? A couple of factors were considered. Depth, overall talent, production, level of competition and projected output in 2015 all factored into the rankings for the backfield. While some teams may have experienced a down year last season, having a different quarterback or a change of scheme can make a huge difference. These rankings reflect projection for 2015, not solely what teams have accomplished in 2014.

 

College Football's Top 30 Defensive Backfields for 2015

 

1. LSU

Pass defense is an annual strength in Baton Rouge, and the 2015 version of LSU’s defensive backfield will be tough on opposing quarterbacks once again. Two starters depart, but the Tigers will reload with another wave of elite recruits. Tre’Davious White was one of the SEC’s top cover corners last season, recording two interceptions and helping LSU rank third nationally in pass efficiency defense. Sophomore Ed Paris, junior Dwayne Thomas or five-star freshman Kevin Toliver II will start opposite White at corner. True freshman Donte Jackson is another name to watch at cornerback. Jalen Mills and rising star Jamal Adams form one of the nation’s top duos at safety, but Mills is out indefinitely due to an ankle injury suffered in fall camp. The Tigers allowed only nine passing scores in SEC games last year.

 

Related: College Football Bowl Projections for 2015

 

2. Florida

Despite an offense that ranked near the bottom of the SEC, Florida’s defense led the conference by holding opponents to 4.6 yards per play. And even with end Dante Fowler off to the NFL, the Gators should be near the top of the league once again. New coordinator Geoff Collins is known for his aggressive play-calling and inherits a secondary loaded with elite talent, including All-America corner Vernon Hargreaves III. Sophomore Jalen Tabor is expected to win the battle to start at the other corner spot. Safeties Keanu Neal and Marcus Maye and nickel back Brian Poole round out a starting group that limited SEC opponents to 11 passing scores in 2014.

 

3. Ohio State

Standout corner Doran Grant will be missed, but Ohio State returns three starters from a secondary that ranked 13th nationally in pass efficiency defense. Eli Apple started 14 games as a redshirt freshman last season and led all Buckeye defenders with 10 pass breakups. Sophomore Gareon Conley is expected to replace Grant, while Marshon Lattimore and Damon Webb provide extra support at corner. Juniors Tyvis Powell and Vonn Bell are as active as any starting safety combination in the nation, recording 10 interceptions and 10 pass breakups in 2014.

 

Related: College Football's Top 30 Offensive Lines for 2015

 

4. Virginia Tech 

Despite ranking 14th nationally in pass efficiency defense last year, Virginia Tech had trouble stopping big plays in the passing game. The Hokies surprisingly allowed 21 plays of 30 yards or more and gave up four of 50-plus yards. With junior Kendall Fuller — an Athlon Sports first-team All-American — back at cornerback, along with the return of Brandon Facyson from injury, Virginia Tech’s secondary should eliminate some of the big plays that plagued this unit last year. Chuck Clark, Donovan Riley, Desmond Frye and Greg Stroman opened fall practice as the favorites to claim the starting spots at safety and rover. True freshmen Mook Reynolds and Adonis Alexander are also expected to factor into the mix for snaps.

 

5. Ole Miss

Two starters — cornerback Senquez Golson and safety Cody Prewitt — depart from a secondary that picked off 19 passes and ranked 16th nationally in pass efficiency defense last year. Additionally, cornerback Mike Hilton was shifted to safety, opening the door for two new cornerbacks at Ole Miss in 2015. Despite the player movement, the Rebels will be tough against the pass once again. Safety Tony Conner should assume Prewitt’s job as an all-around playmaker in the secondary, while junior college recruits Tee Shepard and Tony Bridges are ready to step into the starting jobs at cornerback after standout spring performances.

 

6. USC 

Some of the statistical numbers for USC were a bit unsightly in terms of pass defense last season. However, the overall pass defense numbers aren’t the best way to evaluate a secondary. While the Trojans were 115th nationally in pass defense, this unit ranked 38th nationally in pass efficiency defense (a better metric to evaluate defensive backfields) and gave up only 12 plays of 30 yards or more in 2014. With three starters returning, along with a full season of Adoree’ Jackson at cornerback, USC’s pass defense is poised to rank among the best in the Pac-12 this season. Jackson will be joined by senior Kevon Seymour at cornerback, with Chris Hawkins, John Plattenburg, Leon McQuay III and Marvell Tell rounding out the top options at safety.

 

Related: College Football's Top 35 Receiving Groups for 2015

 

7. West Virginia

The Big 12’s top defensive backfields usually reside at Texas, Oklahoma or TCU. But that’s not the case in 2015. The Mountaineers return all five starters from a unit that limited Big 12 quarterbacks to a 51.1 completion percentage and surrendered only 12 passing scores in conference games. Cornerback Daryl Worley missed two games due to suspension last season but still tied for the team lead in interceptions (three) and recorded 52 tackles. Worley is one of the nation’s most underrated defenders. Joining Worley at cornerback will be Terrell Chestnut, while the safety positions are in good hands with Dravon Henry, All-America candidate Karl Joseph and KJ Dillon.

 

8. Florida State

P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby will be missed at cornerback, but coach Jimbo Fisher has recruited well at this position and a quick reload should be in order. Of course, it doesn’t hurt Jalen Ramsey – arguably the best defensive back in college football – is shifting from safety to cornerback to ease the loss of Williams and Darby. Not only is Ramsey an elite cornerback, his versatility is a huge asset for coordinator Charles Kelly. Marquez White is expected to win the spot opposite of Ramsey at cornerback. Nate Andrews, Tyler Hunter, Lamarcus Brutus and Trey Marshall (a rising star) will anchor the safety/nickel positions. True freshman Derwin James will be tough for Kelly keep on the sidelines.

 

Related: College Football's Top 50 Players for 2015

 

9. Boise State 

This group has work to do, but there are plenty of reasons for coordinator Marcel Yates to be optimistic. Three starters return, including All-Mountain West picks in cornerback Donte Deayon and safety Darian Thompson. This duo combined for 13 interceptions last season and anchored a secondary ranked 31st nationally in pass efficiency defense. Joining Thompson and Deayon in the lineup should be Jonathan Moxey (cornerback), rising star Dylan Sumner-Gardner at safety, while Chanceller James and Mercy Maston are fighting for the edge at nickelback. The Broncos allowed only 10 passing scores in Mountain West games last season.

 

10. Wisconsin 

The Badgers quietly had one of the Big Ten’s best defensive backfields last season. This unit ranked 32nd nationally in pass efficiency defense and limited Big Ten quarterbacks to a completion percentage of 47.4. With three starters back, high expectations surround this group. The cornerback duo of Darius Hillary and Sojourn Shelton should be among the nation’s best, and safety Michael Caputo should push for All-America honors. One goal of this unit in 2015: Improve takeaways. Wisconsin picked off only three passes in Big Ten games last year.

 

11. Penn State 

12. Minnesota

13. Alabama

14. Notre Dame  

15. Georgia

16. Tennessee 

17. Clemson 

18. Auburn

19. Arkansas

20. UCLA 

21. Miami

22. Virginia

23. Michigan 

24. Oklahoma State

25. Houston

26. Kansas State 

27. Duke

28. Missouri

29. Texas

30. Maryland

Teaser:
College Football's Top 30 Defensive Backfields for 2015
Post date: Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-35-wide-receiver-groups-2015
Body:

While offensive and defensive lines are arguably more important to the success of any college football team, it’s the skill talent – running backs or receivers – and quarterbacks that generate most of the preseason attention. And with the balance of power in football shifting to the offense, big-play threats and speedy receivers are more valuable than ever.

 

Compiling the top 35 receiver groups for 2015 clearly showed there's a wealth of talented corps this season. Baylor takes the top spot in Athlon's top 35 receiver groups, with Texas A&M and Clemson rounding out the top three. 

 

Note: This ranking also takes into account tight ends.

 

Related: College Football's Top 50 Players for 2015

 

How did we come up with these rankings? A couple of factors were considered. Depth, overall talent, production, level of competition and projected output in 2015 all factored into the rankings for the backfield. While some teams may have experienced a down year last season, having a different quarterback or a change of scheme can make a huge difference. These rankings reflect projection for 2015, not solely what teams have accomplished in 2014.

 

College Football's Top 35 WR/TE Groups for 2015

 

1. Baylor

Recruiting and developing playmakers at receiver is becoming an annual strength for Baylor under Art Briles. Antwan Goodley departs after a standout career with the Bears, but there’s no concern about the returning group. Junior Corey Coleman led all Big 12 receivers with 10 touchdown catches in league games, while KD Cannon led the team with 17.8 yards per catch. Jay Lee is a reliable third option, and the Bears expect big contributions from sophomore Davion Hall and redshirt freshman Ishmael Zamora in 2015. The cupboard isn’t bare at tight end for Briles with 410-pound converted lineman LaQuan McGowan on board.

 

Related: College Football Bowl Projections for 2015

 

2. Texas A&M 

Kevin Sumlin’s team is loaded once again with playmakers in the receiving corps. Josh Reynolds led the team with 842 receiving yards and 13 touchdown catches in his first year after arriving from the junior college ranks. Speedy Noil and Ricky Seals-Jones combined for 95 catches and nine touchdown receptions as freshmen last season. Edward Pope, Frank Iheanacho and Sabian Holmes are back as other key targets, but true freshman Christian Kirk could be one of quarterback Kyle Allen’s favorite weapons by the end of the year.

 

3. Clemson

Athletic and speedy playmakers are in abundance at Clemson for new co-coordinators Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott. Mike Williams is back after leading the team with 1,030 receiving yards last season, but the offseason buzz with the Tigers revolved around the development of Artavis Scott. As a freshman in 2014, Scott caught 76 passes for 965 yards. Williams and Scott will catch a majority of quarterback Deshaun Watson’s passes, but Germone Hopper, freshmen Deon Cain and Ray-Ray McCloud, Charone Peake and tight end Jordan Leggett will be involved.

 

Related: 10 Players That Will Determine the National Title in 2015

 

4. Ole Miss

The talent and depth of the receiving corps have improved significantly under coach Hugh Freeze, and whichever quarterback starts for the Rebels will have plenty of options. Laquon Treadwell’s 2014 season was cut short by a nasty leg injury against Auburn, but all signs point to the junior returning at full strength by the opener. In nine games last year, Treadwell caught 48 passes for 632 yards. Evan Engram is listed at tight end, but the Georgia native can stretch the field like a receiver. Cody Core (41 catches in 2014), Quincy Adeboyejo, Washington transfer Damore’ea Stringfellow and Markell Pack join Engram and Treadwell as proven and viable candidates. Talented true freshmen Van Jefferson and DaMarkus Lodge are also in the mix for playing time.

 

5. Oregon

The Ducks could be a spot or two higher on this list, but this unit also has a few question marks to sort through. How soon will Devon Allen return at full strength from a knee injury suffered in the Rose Bowl win over Florida State? And how many games will Darren Carrington miss due to a suspension? Even if Allen and Carrington are sidelined for a significant period, Oregon has plenty of options for quarterbacks Jeff Lockie and Vernon Adams. Byron Marshall (74 catches) is the top target, with Dwayne Stanford (43 receptions) and redshirt freshman Jalen Brown also in the mix. The coaching staff was toying with the idea of placing dynamic sophomore Charles Nelson on defense. However, all signs point to Nelson spending most of the 2015 season on offense. Unless Pharaoh Brown returns at full strength from a serious leg injury suffered against Utah, Evan Baylis and Johnny Mundt are expected to share the bulk of the snaps at tight end.

 

6. California

California’s offense averaged 38.3 points a game last season, and the Bear Raid attack could add a few digits to that total in 2015. Coach Sonny Dykes has a loaded offense, starting with quarterback Jared Goff and running back Daniel Lasco. And despite the departure of Chris Harper to the NFL, this is one of the deepest groups in the Pac-12. Kenny Lawler (54 catches), Stephen Anderson (46) and Bryce Treggs are all candidates to earn All-Pac-12 honors this year. Trevor Davis, Darius Powe and Maurice Harris are three other names to watch in this group.

 

7. TCU

The Horned Frogs return four of their top five statistical receivers from last season. Josh Doctson is quarterback Trevone Boykin’s favorite target, and the Wyoming transfer became the first TCU receiver since 2003 to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark. Doctson also led the team with 11 touchdown catches last year. Kolby Listenbee averaged 18.4 yards per catch and caught seven passes of 40 yards or more. Deante’ Gray, Ty Slanina, Emanuel Porter and Ja’Juan Story round out an athletic and fast-improving receiving corps.

 

8. Notre Dame

New quarterback Malik Zaire inherits a strong supporting cast. The Fighting Irish return their top four receivers in 2015, including All-America candidate William Fuller (76 catches for 1,094 yards and 15 scores). Fuller is the top option, but he will have plenty of support from Chris Brown (39 receptions), Corey Robinson (40), Amir Carlisle and Torii Hunter Jr. C.J. Prosise caught 29 passes for 516 yards last year and is expected to see more snaps at running back after Greg Bryant was ruled ineligible for 2015. True freshman Alize Jones is expected to push Durham Smythe and Tyler Luatua for the starting tight end spot.  

 

Related: College Football's Top 30 Offensive Lines for 2015

 

9. Ohio State

This group was already stocked with speed, talent and options for quarterbacks Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett, but the addition of converted signal-caller Braxton Miller has added another weapon for coach Urban Meyer. Junior Michael Thomas led the team with 54 catches last season and is expected to be the go-to target for Jones and Barrett. There’s no shortage of big-play threats around Thomas, including Jalin Marshall (six touchdown catches in 2014), Dontre Wilson and Miller. Curtis Samuel and converted quarterback Torrance Gibson are other names to watch, especially in the opener with Marshall, Wilson and Smith suspended.

 

10. USC

Nelson Agholor is catching passes with the Eagles on Sundays, but the Trojans are stocked with talent on the outside once again. Sophomore JuJu Smith is poised for a monster year after catching 54 passes for 724 yards and five touchdowns last season. Smith should be the No. 1 option for quarterback Cody Kessler, while dangerous all-purpose threat Adoree’ Jackson is expected to see limited snaps on offense. Darreus Rogers, Steven Mitchell and junior college recruits Isaac Whitney and De’Quan Hampton round out the top weapons for Kessler. The tight end position is a concern for coach Steve Sarkisian after Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick and Bryce Dixon did not return to the team this fall.

 

11. Arizona

12. Penn State  

13. Tennessee

14. UCLA  

15. LSU    

16. Florida State  

17. Auburn

18. Mississippi State

19. Cincinnati 

20. Oklahoma 

21. Oklahoma State

22. North Carolina 

23. Bowling Green

24. Alabama  

25. Colorado State  

26. Washington State

27. Virginia Tech

28. Boise State

29. Texas Tech

30. Iowa State

31. Stanford

32. WKU

33. Tulsa

34. Nebraska

35. Western Michigan

Teaser:
College Football's Top 35 Wide Receiver Groups for 2015
Post date: Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, Big 12, Big Ten, Independents, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/10-players-who-will-decide-college-footballs-2015-national-title
Body:

Every college football team has personnel issues or question marks entering the 2015 season. But some concerns are bigger than others for teams in the national title or playoff mix. Whether it’s a quarterback battle, an open spot at defensive tackle or cornerback, every personnel concern is magnified in the race to win a national championship.

 

Which players could shape the national title emergence this season? We’ve compiled 10 names to watch this fall, with a small caveat. It’s no secret quarterback play is critical to winning a national championship or earning a spot in the four-team playoff. However, it’s the player development and emergence of new stars at other positions that can also make-or-break a team’s playoff chances. We could list a quarterback for several of Athlon's projected top 10-15 teams this season but attempted to identify players at positions with question marks as much as possible.

 

10 Players Who Will Decide College Football's 2015 National Title

 

Vernon Adams, QB, Oregon

Life after Marcus Mariota begins in Eugene this fall, with Jeff Lockie and Adams locked into a tight battle to replace the Heisman Trophy winner. Lockie’s experience within the offense and spring stint as the starter certainly bolsters his case to open the year as the No. 1 quarterback. However, Adams is more dynamic and brings more of a big-play element to the offense. How quickly will the Eastern Washington transfer pickup the offense and supplant Lockie as the starter? Or could coach Mark Helfrich play both quarterbacks all season? Oregon has a solid supporting cast and enough talent to return to the College Football Playoff if Adams or Lockie takes the quarterback spot from a question mark to a strength.

 

Vayante Copeland, CB, Michigan State

Copeland, Arjen Colquhoun, Darian Hicks and Demetrious Cox are fighting for two open cornerback spots in Michigan State’s secondary. Pass defense has been a strength in East Lansing in recent years, but the Spartans “No Fly Zone” may take a step back if this position spot remains unsettled. Copeland redshirted in his first season on campus and is making a strong push for a starting job. His emergence is critical for a secondary that held opponents to just six passing scores in Big Ten games last year.

 

Related: Ranking College Football's Top 30 Offensive Lines for 2015

 

Mike Freeze, LB, TCU

Scoring points won’t be a problem for the Horned Frogs this fall. While the defense is usually a strength under coach Gary Patterson, there are holes to fill in the back seven with the departure of four All-Big 12 performers. Freeze enrolled early and competed in spring practice, stating a strong case to earn a starting job this fall. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound linebacker has big shoes to fill after the departure of Paul Dawson. Can this freshman ensure there’s no drop off in production at linebacker this season? Cornerback Ranthony Texada and safety Kenny Iloka are also worth a mention as key defenders in TCU’s remodeled back seven.

 

Everett Golson/Sean Maguire, QB, Florida State

Florida State has several players we could mention here, but the quarterback position is under the biggest microscope after Jameis Winston’s departure to the NFL. Maguire has one start under his belt (Clemson, 2014), while Golson transferred to the Seminoles after spring practice at Notre Dame. Coach Jimbo Fisher hasn’t picked a starter yet, but it’s not out of the question both quarterbacks start a game this year. Even though Florida State has concerns outside of the quarterback spot on offense, as well as question marks on defense, a young Seminoles’ roster can compete for a playoff spot if Golson or Maguire solidifies the position.

 

Related: College Football's Top 50 Players for 2015

 

Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

A receiver – Robert Foster or ArDarius Stewart – is worth a mention here, but Alabama’s secondary is a preseason concern for the second year in a row. The Crimson Tide ranked 11th in the SEC after allowing 10 passing plays of 40 yards or more last season. Senior Cyrus Jones has one cornerback spot locked down, but Humphrey and sophomore Tony Brown are competing for the other. Humphrey redshirted last season, and the former five-star recruit could provide an upgrade at cornerback and help a secondary already replacing standout safety Landon Collins.

 

Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson

Keeping quarterback Deshaun Watson healthy is essential for Clemson to contend for the ACC title or a playoff bid. The offensive line lost starting left tackle Isaiah Battle to the NFL’s supplemental draft this summer, leaving senior Ryan Norton as the lone returning starter. Hyatt – a five-star recruit in the 2015 signing class – is slated to protect Watson’s blindside this fall. The true freshman is a future star for coach Dabo Swinney, but he has a huge test early in the year with a road trip to Louisville in Week 3.

 

Related: College Football Bowl Projections for 2015

 

Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn

Lawson missed last season due to injury after recording 7.5 tackles for a loss and four sacks as a true freshman in 2013. All signs point to the sophomore returning at full strength in 2015, which is a huge boost for an Auburn defense that managed only 10 sacks in SEC play last season. With Lawson poised to jumpstart the pass rush and the addition of coordinator Will Muschamp, the Tigers have reasons to be optimistic about improving a defense that allowed 26.7 points per game and 5.7 yards per play last year.

 

Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio State

The Buckeyes know what they have on one side of the defensive line in Joey Bosa. But who will emerge at the other end spot? As good as Bosa is, Ohio State needs more than just one player to generate a pass rush. All signs point to Lewis as the starter opposite of Bosa, as the North Carolina native looks to build off a promising 2014 campaign. In 15 games, Lewis recorded nine tackles (2.5 for a loss) and one quarterback hurry. The sophomore’s emergence is critical to keep opposing offenses from consistently sending double teams in Bosa’s direction.

 

Seth Russell, QB, Baylor

We tried to avoid quarterbacks in this article, but it’s hard to finding a glaring concern on Baylor’s roster. Sure, the Bears have to defend the pass better and replace Bryce Hager at linebacker. However, it’s the play of Russell that could be the difference in Baylor winning the Big 12 or finishing second to TCU. Russell has been solid in limited action, completing 74 of 128 passes for 1,231 yards and 11 scores. Coach Art Briles has a strong track record of finding the next star at quarterback. All signs point to Russell emerging as one of the Big 12’s top passers this season.

 

Related: Ranking College Football's Top 35 Defensive Lines for 2015

 

Delvon Simmons, DE, USC

Leonard Williams wreaked havoc on opposing Pac-12 offensive lines last season, and the first-round NFL draft pick won’t be easy to replace. USC may not have a difference maker like Williams this season, but there’s a collection of linemen ready to pickup the slack in the trenches. Simmons – a Texas Tech transfer – recorded 44 tackles and one sack last season and is expected to be a bigger piece of the puzzle up front in 2015.

 

5 Other Players to Watch

 

Brandon Harris, QB, LSU

LSU isn’t hurting for talent and has the necessary pieces to push for the SEC West title. Will Harris provide an upgrade for a passing attack that struggled mightily in 2014?

 

Malcolm Mitchell, WR, Georgia

Georgia’s quarterback situation remains unsettled, but the passing attack could use a healthy Mitchell to stretch the field. After battling injuries the last two years, can Mitchell regain his 2012 form (40 catches for 572 yards)?

 

Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

How far can the talented true freshman take the Bruins in 2015?

 

Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame

True freshman is expected to start after Jarron Jones was lost for the year due to a knee injury.

 

Jaylen Walton/Akeem Judd/Jordan Wilkins, RB, Ole Miss

The quarterback battle is getting most of the preseason attention in Oxford, but the Rebels have to run the ball better in 2015. 

Teaser:
10 Players Who Will Decide College Football's 2015 National Title
Post date: Wednesday, August 26, 2015 - 11:30
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-30-linebacker-units-2015
Body:

Picking the top linebacker units in college football is no easy task. After all, schemes dictate how linebackers are used and the rise of spread offenses generally means more defensive backs on the field. Regardless of whether a scheme utilizes a 4-3, 3-4, 4-2-5 or nickel package, linebackers are a critical component to any defense. How should a team with four starters at linebacker compare to one that uses only two? That's a tough question we tried to address.

 

Related: College Football's Top 50 Players for 2015

 

How did we come up with these rankings? A couple of factors were considered. Depth, overall talent, production, level of competition and projected output in 2015 all factored into the rankings for the backfield. While some teams may have experienced a down year last season, having a different quarterback or a change of scheme can make a huge difference. These rankings reflect projection for 2015, not solely what teams have accomplished in 2014.

 

College Football's Top 30 Linebacker Units for 2015

 

1. Georgia

The addition of Jeremy Pruitt as coordinator paid big dividends for Georgia’s defense, as the Bulldogs held opponents to 20.7 points per game in 2014. This unit is only going to improve with six starters back this season, anchored by a linebacking corps that features standout edge rushers in Lorenzo Carter, Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins. The trio combined for 25 tackles for a loss and 15.5 sacks in 2014. The interior must be rebuilt with the departure of Ramik Wilson and Amarlo Herrera, but Reggie Carter, Tim Kimbrough, Jake Ganus and Natrez Patrick should ensure little drop in production.

 

Related: College Football's Top 30 Offensive Lines for 2015

 

2. Ohio State

Two-year starter Curtis Grant departs, but the Buckeyes won’t miss a beat at linebacker. In fact, this group could be even better than it was in 2014. Darron Lee was an impact defender as a redshirt freshman last season, finishing second on the team with 16.5 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks. Joshua Perry returns for his senior season after leading the team with 124 tackles and recording three sacks and one interception. Grant’s departure opens the door for Raekwon McMillan — the No. 22 recruit in the 2014 247Sports Composite — to move into the starting lineup.

 

3. Alabama

Reggie Ragland is the next star in Alabama’s run of standout linebackers under coach Nick Saban. In 14 games last year, Ragland anchored the interior of Alabama’s 3-4 scheme, recording 95 tackles (10.5 for a loss) and one forced fumble. Senior Denzel Devall is the only other returning starter at linebacker for the Crimson Tide, but talent certainly isn’t an issue at the other spots. Ryan Anderson and hard-hitting Reuben Foster have the inside track to fill the starting positions, but Shaun Dion Hamilton, Tim Williams, Dillon Lee and Rashaan Evans will factor into the rotation.

 

4. Oklahoma

The Sooners enter 2015 with question marks about the defensive line and secondary, but coordinator Mike Stoops has little concern about the linebackers. All three starters are back this season, with senior Eric Striker the group’s leader and one of the Big 12’s top impact defenders. Striker recorded nine sacks and 17 tackles for a loss in 2014. Joining Striker as starters will be Dominique Alexander and Jordan Evans, but Frank Shannon is back from suspension and is a key addition to this group after recording 92 tackles in 2013.

 

Related: College Football's Bowl Projections for 2015

 

5. Notre Dame

The linebacker unit is the strength of the Fighting Irish in 2015, as Jaylon Smith returns after earning second-team All-America honors by the Associated Press last season. Smith led the team with 112 tackles and also recorded 3.5 sacks in 2014. Joe Schmidt started eight games and recorded 65 tackles before suffering a season-ending ankle injury. Getting Schmidt and Jarrett Grace both back to full strength from injury is critical to help a run defense that ranked 72nd nationally in 2014. Sophomore Nyles Morgan is another name to watch.

 

6. UCLA  

Eric Kendricks must be replaced, but UCLA’s linebacker corps should remain one of the best in the Pac-12. Myles Jack returns as the headliner, and the junior is an Athlon Sports first-team All-American for 2015. The Washington native is also a two-way threat, spending a little time on offense for the Bruins. Deon Hollins finished 2014 on a tear, recording six sacks over UCLA’s final four games. If Hollins picks up where he left off, any concerns about the pass rush will be erased. Sophomore Kenny Young and senior Aaron Wallace are likely to fill the remaining starting spots.

 

Related: Ranking the Pac-12's Top 15 Players for 2015

 

7. Stanford  

For the second consecutive season, the Cardinal enters a season with a few holes to fill at linebacker. However, expect this unit to quickly reload and remain one of the Pac-12’s top groups. Seniors Kevin Anderson and Blake Martinez lead the way for coordinator Lance Anderson. This duo combined for 9.5 sacks last season. Sophomore Peter Kalambayi is poised for a breakout year after recording 6.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for a loss in 2014. Kalambayi and Anderson will man the outside spots, Martinez is locked into one position on the interior, with Kevin Palma the favorite at the other inside position. Junior Noor Davis is expected to miss a few games due to injury.

 

8. Louisville

After a stingy 2014 first season under coordinator Todd Grantham, Louisville’s defense could be just as strong in 2015. It seems odd to suggest that notion with a revamped secondary, but the front seven is loaded with talent and depth. Keith Kelsey and James Burgess are the headliners for Grantham, and both players should push for first-team All-ACC honors. Kelsey is the team’s top returning tackler (87), while Burgess registered 71 stops last season and recorded 10 tackles for a loss. Sophomore Henry Famurewa is due for a bigger role on the outside, and Keith Brown returns after recording 20 tackles in a reserve role last season. The wild card of this group is former TCU end/linebacker Devonte Fields. The junior college transfer arrived on campus in August and has the talent to be a difference maker for Grantham.  

 

Related: Ranking the ACC's Top 15 Players for 2015

 

9. USC

With defensive end Leonard Williams off to the NFL, there’s added pressure for the other units to step up for the Trojans in 2015. The linebacking corps should be a strength for coordinator Justin Wilcox, as this unit is headlined by junior Su’a Cravens and seniors Lamar Dawson and Anthony Sarao. Dawson missed 2014 due to an injury, but his return should alleviate the loss of Hayes Pullard and J.R. Tavai. There’s also help in the form of junior Scott Felix and touted true freshmen Porter Gustin, John Houston Jr. and Osa Masina.

 

10. Penn State

“Linebacker U” is never hurting for talent and impact defenders in this group. Mike Hull’s 140 tackles won’t be easy to replace, and his toughness and leadership will be missed. However, the Nittany Lions return two proven options in Nyeem Wartman and Brandon Bell. Wartman ranked second on the team with 75 stops last season, while Bell finished with 47 tackles and two sacks. Sophomore Jason Cabinda is a rising star after recording 17 tackles in eight games last year. There’s quality depth in the form of senior Ben Kline and freshmen Troy Reeder and Koa Farmer. 

 

11. Missouri

12. Arizona

13. LSU

14. Utah State

15. Auburn

16. Arizona State

17. Oregon

18. Boise State

19. Michigan

20. Oklahoma State  

21. Utah

22. Michigan State

23. Wisconsin

24. Wake Forest

25. West Virginia

26. Tennessee

27. Florida

28. Florida State

29. Texas

30. San Diego State

Teaser:
College Football's Top 30 Linebacker Units for 2015
Post date: Wednesday, August 26, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/rutgers-coach-kyle-flood-under-investigation-rules-violation
Body:

According to a report from NJ.com, Rutgers coach Kyle Flood is under investigation for a rules violation. The story from reporter Keith Sargeant indicates the investigation is due to “impermissible contact with a university faculty member regarding the status of one of his players.”

 

Cornerback Nadir Barnwell is the player in question, as the junior’s status has been a question mark this offseason due to academics. Barnwell is a key piece of the secondary for the Scarlet Knights, starting six games and recording 29 tackles in 2014.

 

The NJ.com article indicates Flood allegedly sent an e-mail from a personal account to a faculty member regarding Barnwell and his status.

 

The punishment for the contact could range from a reprimand to a suspension or a firing.

 

The big question for the investigation will be the content and intent of the e-mail Flood sent. Was it a simple check-in e-mail? Or was there another motive for contacting the faculty member? Flood’s punishment will revolve around the contents of that e-mail.

 

Flood was promoted to head coach after Greg Schiano left for the NFL after the 2011 season. In three years with Rutgers, Flood is 23-16 and guided the program to an 8-5 record in its Big Ten debut last season.

 

Teaser:
Rutgers Coach Kyle Flood Under Investigation for Rules Violation
Post date: Tuesday, August 25, 2015 - 13:09
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Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-35-defensive-lines-2015
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The rise of spread offenses and the different schemes teams face on a week-to-week basis in a college football season has altered how some defensive coordinators think. While some are placing more emphasis on building a secondary, the success of any defense starts up front. Generating a pass rush and stopping the run are two staples of any defensive scheme. 

 

Related: College Football's Top 50 Players for 2015

 

How did we come up with these rankings? A couple of factors were considered. Depth, overall talent, production, level of competition and projected output in 2015 all factored into the rankings for the backfield. While some teams may have experienced a down year last season, having a different quarterback or a change of scheme can make a huge difference. These rankings reflect projection for 2015, not solely what teams have accomplished in 2014.

 

College Football's Top 35 Defensive Lines for 2015

 

1. Alabama

Nearly everyone from a dominant 2014 group is back for coordinator Kirby Smart. The Crimson Tide allowed only five rushing scores last year and limited opponents to 3.2 yards per carry. A’Shawn Robinson won’t post huge numbers, but the junior is versatile enough to play on the outside or on the interior and is the top player in this unit. Ends Jarran Reed and Jonathan Allen played in all 14 games and combined for 17.5 tackles for a loss last year. Helping the starting trio is a deep and experienced group of reserves, including D.J. Pettway and 2014 five-star recruit Da’Shawn Hand.

 

2. Michigan State

An aggressive and deep defensive front is becoming an annual storyline for Michigan State. The Spartans have ranked among the top 10 nationally in rush defense in four consecutive seasons and finished first last year by holding opponents to just 88.5 yards per game. Shilique Calhoun decided against entering the NFL Draft for one more season in East Lansing, and the senior is a first-team Athlon Sports All-American. Senior Lawrence Thomas slides from tackle to end, but sophomore Demetrius Cooper and redshirt freshman Montez Sweat will push for snaps. The interior is set with Malik McDowell and Joel Heath.

 

Related: College Football's Top 30 Offensive Lines for 2015

 

3. Virginia Tech 

Virginia Tech’s offense remains a work in progress, meaning the Hokies have to ask their defense to carry this team once again. Fortunately for coordinator Bud Foster, that won’t be a problem with eight returning starters and the best defensive line in the ACC. The Hokies allowed 144.8 rushing yards per game last season, but that number should decrease with the return of Luther Maddy from injury at tackle. And the rotation on the interior is set with Nigel Williams, Corey Marshall and Woody Baron. The Hokies could have the nation’s top duo at end with Dadi Nicolas and Ken Ekanem. True freshman Tim Settle is another name to watch. 

 

4. Baylor

Baylor’s high-powered offense garners all of the attention, but the defense has made considerable progress under coordinator Phil Bennett. The Bears held opponents to 3.2 yards per carry last year and ranked 16th nationally against the run. At 6’9” and 280 pounds, end Shawn Oakman is as physically gifted as any defender in the nation. He recorded 11 sacks last season. End Jamal Palmer is back as a starter on the other side after missing most of 2014 with a torn ACL. The interior is stout with senior Beau Blackshear and the underrated Andrew Billings back in 2015.

 

Related: College Football's Bowl Projections for 2015

 

5. Ole Miss 

Even though the Rebels lose three contributors from last year’s line, this group could be deeper and better than it was in 2014. Tackle Robert Nkemdiche earned first-team All-SEC honors last season, and the NFL prospect is primed for his best year as a junior. Issac Gross joins Nkemdiche as a disruptive force on the interior, with junior college recruit D.J. Jones supplying depth. Freshman Victor Evans and junior Fadol Brown are expected to start on the edges, but sophomore Marquis Haynes should see an increased role after leading the team with 7.5 sacks in 2014.

 

6. Ohio State   

The defending national champs have a few losses to address up front. Standout tackle Michael Bennett departs after recording 14 tackles for a loss and seven sacks last season, and the Buckeyes must find a new starter at end after Steve Miller and Rashad Frazier expired their eligibility. While two new starters join the lineup, this unit still features Joey Bosa – arguably the nation’s No. 1 player – and senior Adolphus Washington at tackle. The Buckeyes have plenty of options and talent to fill the voids up front, so a drop-off in production should be minimal.

 

Related: Ranking the Big Ten's Top 15 Players for 2015

 

7. TCU  

Another year, another strong defensive front for coach Gary Patterson. The Horned Frogs suffocated opposing offenses with an aggressive defensive front in 2014, holding rushing attacks to just 108.8 yards per game and recording 39 sacks in 13 games. This year’s line returns three starters from 2014, with tackle Chucky Hunter the lone departure. Ends James McFarland, Terrell Lathan, Mike Tuaua and Josh Carraway return after combining for 18.5 sacks in 2014. Aaron Curry, Chris Bradley, Tevin Lawson and Davion Pierson form an effective and talented group of options at tackle.

 

8. Florida 

While the offense has its share of question marks, Florida’s defense should be among the best in the SEC in 2015. The Gators return seven starters, including two in the trenches with senior Jon Bullard and junior Bryan Cox Jr. Junior Alex McCalister is poised for a breakout season after generating six sacks in a reserve role in 2014. Touted true freshman CeCe Jefferson will also see snaps in the end rotation, as the line looks to replace the production lost by Dante Fowler’s departure to the NFL. Sophomore Caleb Brantley and redshirt freshman Taven Bryan are two names to watch on the interior. The Gators held opponents to just 116.2 rushing yards per game last season.

 

9. Boise State

With eight returning starters and a year of experience under coordinator Marcel Yates, the Broncos’ defense is poised for big improvement on the stat sheet. Each of the three units on defense could be among the best in the nation, but the success of this group starts up front. End Kamalei Correra returns after recording 12 sacks last season, and senior Tyler Horn returns after missing nearly all of 2014 due to injury. The Broncos ranked fifth nationally after recording 47 sacks last year.

 

Related: College Football's Top 10 Dark Horse Playoff Contenders

 

10. Texas

A similar theme is set to unfold in Austin this season. The Longhorns should be stout on defense, but the offense will be a work in progress. The strength of Texas’ defense is located up front, where junior Hassan Ridgeway and sophomore Naashon Hughes are back as returning starters. Desmond Jackson’s return from injury and Poona Ford’s continued development will help the Longhorns remain strong at the point of attack. Junior college transfer Quincy Vasser, senior Shiro Davis and junior Bryce Cottrell are more options for coach Charlie Strong at the defensive end spot. 

 

11. Auburn  

12. Tennessee  

13. Penn State 

14. UCLA

15. Utah  

16. LSU  

17. Texas A&M

18. Notre Dame  

19. Arkansas  

20. Oklahoma State

21. Florida State  

22. Clemson

23. Louisville 

24. Boston College

25. USC

26. Nebraska

27. Oklahoma

28. Oregon

29. Michigan

30. Georgia

31. UCF

32. Minnesota

33. Georgia Tech

34. Temple

35. Mississippi State

Teaser:
College Football's Top 30 Defensive Lines for 2015
Post date: Tuesday, August 25, 2015 - 11:30
Path: /college-football/big-ten-football-breakout-players-2015
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Projecting college football’s breakout players for any given season is no easy assignment. After all, each person has a different take on what a “breakout player” is, and college football is always home to several new faces throughout the season. While it’s difficult to label breakout players, the new stars of any season can have a huge impact on conference championship or national title races.

 

Related: Ranking the Big Ten's Top 15 Players for 2015

 

The balance of power in the Big Ten clearly resides in the East Division this season. Ohio State is the favorite to repeat, and Michigan State should be a top-10 team once again in 2015. While both programs return plenty of talent and experience, there’s no shortage of breakout candidates for either team. And for the seven teams in the West Division, the emergence of a few stars is critical with each team entering 2015 with significant personnel issues.

 

Who will be the new stars in the Big Ten this year? Here's a handful of names to watch:

 

Big Ten Breakout Players for 2015

 

C.J. Beathard, QB, Iowa

Beathard was handed the keys to Iowa’s offense after the loss to Tennessee in the TaxSlayer Bowl, and the coaching staff hopes the junior sparks an attack that averaged only 28.2 points per game last season. Beathard has a stronger arm than former starter Jake Rudock and isn’t afraid to take chances. Additionally, Beathard can extend plays with his mobility. After completing 52 of 92 passes for 645 yards and five scores last season, all eyes are on Beathard to deliver in his first full year as Iowa’s starter.

 

Simmie Cobbs, WR, Indiana

Indiana’s passing attack ranked at the bottom of the Big Ten last season, but the Hoosiers are due for a quick turnaround with a healthy Nate Sudfeld at quarterback in 2015. Finding capable targets in the passing game is a must for coach Kevin Wilson. Cobbs played in all 12 games as a true freshman last season and caught seven passes for 114 yards. Expect Cobbs to easily exceed those totals as one of Sudfeld’s top weapons in 2015.

 

Related: Outrageous Big Ten Predictions for 2015

 

Mason Cole, OT, Michigan

Michigan’s offensive line has struggled over the last two seasons, but there’s optimism going into 2015. Jim Harbaugh’s arrival should help the entire offense improve, and line coach Tim Drevno was a key hire to bolster the play in the trenches. Cole started all 12 games for the Wolverines as a true freshman last season and is expected to anchor the line from the left tackle spot.

 

Michael Dieter, OL, Wisconsin

It’s safe to assume Wisconsin will field a strong offensive line once again in 2015. However, the Badgers are dealing with a few injuries and overall uncertainty about the position battles in the trenches this fall. There’s work to be done up front, but the coaching staff should feel secure in three positions (left tackle Tyler Marz, center Dan Voltz and Dieter at right guard). After a redshirt season in 2014, Dieter is poised to be a key cog in Wisconsin’s revamped line.

 

Related: College Football's Top 30 Offensive Lines for 2015

 

T.J. Edwards, LB, Wisconsin

Two spots in Wisconsin’s linebacker unit are set with the return of Vince Biegel and Joe Schobert. Finding two other starters has been a key challenge this fall for coordinator Dave Aranda, but all signs point to Edwards claiming a starting job at the end of practice. The redshirt freshman had a strong spring and is expected to anchor the interior of the linebacking corps.  

 

Hank Ekpe, DE, Minnesota

The Golden Gophers may not have a household name up front this season, but this unit is quietly in the top half of the Big Ten’s best defensive lines. Ekpe has played in 23 career games and registered three tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks last season. Contributing to the low stat totals was trouble with a severe sinus infection, but all signs point to a big year from Ekpe in 2015. With an All-Big Ten candidate on the other side (Theiren Cockran), Ekpe should see plenty of one-on-one opportunities to get to the quarterback.

 

Mike Gesicki/Adam Breneman, TE, Penn State

Pencil in a tight end in the breakout category for Penn State. Gesicki showed promise by catching 11 passes for 114 yards in 12 appearances last season, and the 6-foot-6 target is due for an even bigger role in 2015. Breneman redshirted last year due to injury, but the touted recruit is ready for a bounce back campaign.

 

Related: Ranking the Big Ten's Starting Quarterbacks for 2015

 

Derwin Gray/Damian Prince, OT, Maryland

Gray and Prince are two reasons to be optimistic about improvement for Maryland’s offensive line in 2015. This duo was a key pickup on the recruiting trail for the Terrapins in 2014 and redshirted in their first season on campus. Gray suffered a shoulder injury in the spring, but he should return in September. This redshirt freshman duo should anchor the Maryland offensive line for the next few seasons.

 

Grant Haley, CB, Penn State

Penn State’s secondary should be among the best in the Big Ten this season. Coordinator Bob Shoop is making a couple of tweaks to this unit, as Jordan Lucas shifts from corner to safety, opening the door for Haley to start. He played in 13 games for the Nittany Lions as a true freshman last season, recording 18 tackles, one interception and two pass breakups.

 

Kiy Hester, SS/Blessuan Austin, CB, Rutgers

Rutgers’ secondary remains unsettled into fall camp, but two freshmen could see extended snaps or win a starting job. Hester – a transfer from Miami – and Austin are being counted on by coordinator Joe Rossi this season, as the Scarlet Knights return only one starter in the secondary, and the status of Nadir Barnwell is uncertain.

 

Josh Hicks/Robert Martin, RB, Rutgers

Rutgers’ backfield is quietly one of the deepest in the Big Ten. Paul James was off to a hot start last season but an ACL injury sidelined him for the rest of 2014. In James’ absence, Desmon Peoples, Josh Hicks and Robert Martin effectively carried the ground attack. While James is the lead back, he’s never played a full season of snaps. The duo of Hicks and Martin is a dynamic option for coach Kyle Flood, as both players averaged at least five yards per carry in 2014.

 

Related: Big Ten Predictions for 2015

 

Godwin Igwebuike, S, Northwestern

Northwestern’s defense returns 10 starters from a unit that ranked seventh in the Big Ten in points allowed last season. With plenty of proven options, as well as talented youngsters like Igwebuike, improvement is expected in 2015. Igwebuike played in 11 games as a freshman last season, recording 51 tackles, three pass breakups and three interceptions. He should thrive in his first full year as a starter.

 

Jeff Jones, WR, Minnesota

Jones was a touted recruit at running back, but the redshirt freshman shifted to receiver this offseason. There’s an immediate need for playmakers at receiver, which should allow Jones to make an instant impact in 2015. There will be some ups and downs as Jones learns the nuances of the position, but he’s too talented to sit on the bench for a team that needs playmakers.

 

Markell Jones, RB, Purdue

Purdue must replace its top two rushers from an offense that averaged 162.4 yards per game on the ground in Big Ten play. Jones enrolled early after earning Mr. Football honors in Indiana and is projected to push for carries in a backfield featuring intriguing options in D.J. Knox, Keyante Green and Tario Fuller.

 

Jalin Marshall, WR, Ohio State

Marshall is suspended for the opener against Virginia Tech, but a one-game hiatus shouldn’t stop the sophomore from becoming an even bigger part of Ohio State’s offense this season. In 15 games last year, Marshall caught 38 passes for 499 yards and six scores. Additionally, he rushed for 145 yards and one touchdown and averaged 11.8 yards per punt return. Marshall could finish 2015 as one of the Big Ten’s top receivers.

 

Related: Ranking the Big Ten's Starting Quarterbacks for 2015

 

Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State

The Spartans’ defensive line is one of the best in the nation, and this unit will only get better with McDowell’s emergence in 2015. As a true freshman last season, McDowell chipped in 15 tackles (4.5 for a loss) and 1.5 sacks. The Detroit native was a big-time catch for coach Mark Dantonio on the recruiting trail and is poised to claim a starting spot at tackle this fall. 

 

Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State

The Buckeyes already have two of the nation’s top linebackers in Joshua Perry and Darron Lee. Add in McMillan’s potential as a sophomore and it’s easy to see why this trio is among the nation’s best linebacker units. McMillan recorded 54 tackles and 2.5 sacks as a reserve last season and could push for All-Big Ten honors in his first year as a starter.

 

Terrell Newby, RB, Nebraska

Newby doesn’t quite have the starting job locked down, but he’s the frontrunner for carries with less than two weeks to go before the opener against BYU. In 13 games last season, Newby recorded 297 yards and five scores and caught eight passes for 45 yards. The junior has big shoes to fill with the departure of Ameer Abdullah. Nebraska will throw more under new coach Mike Riley, but there should be plenty of opportunities for Newby (or another Husker running back) to impress early in 2015.

 

Related: Maliek Collins ranks as one of CFB's Top 50 Players for 2015

 

Yannick Ngakoue, DE, Maryland

Ngakoue is just one of four returning starters for Maryland’s defense this season, and the junior is also a key cog in the transition to a 4-3 scheme. Ngakoue thrived at linebacker last year, recording 13.5 tackles for a loss, six sacks and 37 tackles. He’s charged with leading Maryland’s pass rush from the edge in 2015.

 

Montae Nicholson, S, Michigan State

Michigan State’s “No Fly Zone” has a few holes to fill this offseason. The Spartans lost standouts in safety Kurtis Drummond and cornerback Trae Waynes, and Pat Narduzzi is now the head coach at Pittsburgh. Nicholson should be one of the new stars for Michigan State’s secondary after recording 31 tackles in 13 appearances as a redshirt freshman. The sophomore should push for All-Big Ten honors.

 

Jabrill Peppers, DB, Michigan

Peppers was poised for a significant role in Michigan’s defense last year, but a season-ending leg injury ended his 2014 campaign after the third game. In limited snaps in 2014, Peppers recorded eight tackles and returned one punt for six yards. Peppers was a five-star recruit in the 2014 signing class and should be an impact defender for new coordinator D.J. Durkin.

 

Tegray Scales, LB, Indiana

Improving the defense is coach Kevin Wilson’s top priority this offseason. The Hoosiers allowed 36 points per game in Big Ten action last year and ranked last in the conference against the pass. Scales is the type of player Wilson needs to generate improvement on this side of the ball, as the sophomore is an impact defender and a potential difference maker. In 12 games last season, Scales recorded 46 tackles (4.5 for a loss), two sacks and three interceptions.

 

Miles Taylor, S, Iowa

Iowa’s secondary is relatively set with the return of cornerbacks Greg Mabin and Desmond King, along with senior Jordan Lomax at safety. One spot is up for grabs this offseason, with Taylor expected to fill the strong safety job. In 13 appearances last year, Taylor recorded eight tackles. The sophomore is known for his big hits, but he has to prove he can handle more of a workload at safety this fall.

 

Related: College Football's Bowl Projections for 2015

 

Malik Turner/Geronimo Allison, WR, Illinois

With Mike Dudek sidelined indefinitely with a torn ACL, Turner and Geronimo Allison are the top targets at receiver for quarterback Wes Lunt. Both players are poised for a jump in production with Dudek out, with Allison the favorite to lead the team in catches after grabbing 41 receptions for 598 yards last year. But Turner also showed promise, catching 25 passes for 256 yards, including 10 receptions over the final three games.

 

Anthony Walker, LB, Northwestern

Walker quietly led all Northwestern defenders with nine tackles for a loss last season. Expect bigger and even better things from the sophomore in 2015, as he looks to build off a strong freshman season that resulted in 51 tackles and 1.5 sacks. 

 

Jihad Ward, DE, Illinois

Ward flashed potential last season and should build off a promising debut for the Fighting Illini in 2015. Of course, there’s one problem for the senior, as he is expected to miss two games due to a knee injury. In 13 contests last season, Ward recorded three sacks, 8.5 tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles. Assuming he returns at full strength, the senior will be a difference maker for the Illinois’ defensive front.

 

Dedrick Young, LB, Nebraska

Don’t be surprised if Nebraska turns to a true freshman to start at linebacker this season. Young enrolled in time to compete in the spring and is pushing for a starting spot alongside upper classmen Josh Banderas and Michael Rose-Ivey. Young ranked as a three-star recruit in the 2015 signing class by 247Sports. Even if he doesn’t win the starting job, Young will be a major contributor in the linebacking corps.

Teaser:
Big Ten Football Breakout Players for 2015
Post date: Tuesday, August 25, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/florida-state-rb-dalvin-cook-found-not-guilty-battery-reinstated-team-2015
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Florida State running back Dalvin Cook is back with the team after a one-day trial on misdemeanor battery charges ended in a not guilty verdict.

 

According to a release from the school, Cook has been reinstated immediately and is eligible to practice. The sophomore is expected to open the 2015 season as Florida State’s No. 1 running back. Cook is one of the nation’s top rushers after an impressive freshman campaign and is a key piece of the Seminoles’ offense with the departure of quarterback Jameis Winston. Cook's return to the field is also a huge boost for a Florida State backfield that should be one of the best in the nation. In addition to Cook, the Seminoles have touted freshman Jacques Patrick and Mario Pender.

 

The sophomore running back was suspended after charges were filed in early July, putting his status in question for the 2015 season. However, any doubts about Cook’s playing status for the upcoming year have cleared, as the verdict has opened the door for a full return.

 

 

Teaser:
Florida State RB Dalvin Cook Found Not Guilty of Battery; Reinstated to Team for 2015
Post date: Tuesday, August 25, 2015 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Oklahoma Sooners, Big 12, News
Path: /college-football/baker-mayfield-easy-choice-oklahoma-its-starting-quarterback
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Oklahoma’s quarterback battle was one of the biggest in college football this fall, but the intrigue is over in Norman. On Monday, the Sooners announced Baker Mayfield edged Trevor Knight and Cody Thomas for the starting spot for the Sept. 5 opener against Akron.

 

The decision to pick Mayfield as the starter is really no surprise. The Texas Tech transfer was considered the favorite since the spring and remained at the top of the depth chart over Knight and Thomas.

 

Mayfield has traveled an interesting path to Norman. The Texas native was a walk-on to Texas Tech in 2013 and started seven games for the Red Raiders. Mayfield threw for 2,315 yards and 12 scores during the regular season but decided to leave prior to the Holiday Bowl. Mayfield appealed for immediate eligibility with the Sooners in 2014. However, that appeal was unsuccessful, and Mayfield sat out 2014 as a result of transfer rules.

 

The play of the offense is under the microscope for Oklahoma this season. The Sooners averaged 36.4 points per game last year but ranked eighth in the Big 12 in passing and needed a new identity and direction.

 

Coach Bob Stoops decided to hit the reset button on offense, hiring rising star Lincoln Riley to call the plays. Riley plans on implementing an offense similar to the Air Raid approach he learned at Texas Tech under Mike Leach, as well as the one he coordinated at East Carolina from 2010-14.

 

Mayfield is well versed in this offense from his time at Texas Tech and in high school at Lake Travis. Having a grasp of this scheme certainly helped in this battle, and the junior possesses the confidence and playmaking ability to help Oklahoma make a quick transition to the new scheme.

 

Mayfield isn’t shy about taking chances with the ball, but he’s also accurate. The junior doesn’t necessarily have to connect on big plays every week, just be accurate and distribute the ball to the playmakers on the outside.

 

While Mayfield is likely the best fit among the Oklahoma quarterbacks for the new scheme, the strength of this offense still resides with its running backs. Samaje Perine, Alex Ross and Joe Mixon form one of the top backfields in the nation.

 

Choosing Mayfield as the starter should come as no surprise for the Sooners. But here’s the big question for Oklahoma: How much will the offense improve under Riley this year? With a loaded backfield and talent at receiver, there’s reason for optimism. However, there are four new starters on the line and a transition in schemes.

 

Is Mayfield the right player to lead this offense? Or will Thomas and Knight play their way into snaps? The Sept. 12 date at Tennessee should be a huge barometer test for Mayfield, Riley and Oklahoma’s new offense. For now, everything suggests Mayfield is the right (and easy) pick.

Teaser:
Baker Mayfield an Easy Choice to be Oklahoma's Starting Quarterback
Post date: Monday, August 24, 2015 - 16:01
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Texas A&M Aggies, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/kyle-allen-named-texas-am-starter-break-out-2015
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Several SEC teams opened fall practice with uncertainty at quarterback, but Texas A&M ended any controversy about its signal-caller with 10 days until its opener against Arizona State. On Monday, coach Kevin Sumlin picked sophomore Kyle Allen as the team’s starter over talented freshman Kyler Murray.

 

The decision to go with Allen should come as no surprise. The sophomore was the favorite to win the job and played well in his stint as Texas A&M’s starter. With the announcement out of the way, Allen has a chance to spend a full allotment of practices over the next two weeks as the starter for game preparation against the Sun Devils.

 

As a true freshman last season, Allen guided the Aggies to an upset road victory over Auburn, passed for 237 yards and three scores in a 34-27 loss to Missouri and threw for 294 yards and four touchdowns in the 45-37 win over West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl.

 

The Arizona native was a five-star prospect in last year’s signing class and showed plenty of promise in a limited run as the starter. With a full offseason to work in the No. 1 role, the sophomore should be ready to build off that success in 2015 and could challenge for All-SEC honors.

 

Murray was also a five-star prospect, ranking as the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the 2015 signing class by 247Sports. The touted true freshman should see some snaps this year but picking Allen as the starter was the right move by Sumlin. With valuable experience gained last season, combined with an impressive finish to the season, the sophomore is poised to emerge as one of the SEC’s top quarterbacks.

 

Scoring points hasn’t been a problem for Texas A&M since joining the SEC. And with one of the nation’s top receiving corps and a solid offensive line in place, the Aggies’ offensive attack won’t be easy to stop for opposing defenses once again in 2015. Murray is a dynamic and intriguing talent, but naming Allen as the team's starter was the right (and easy) call for Sumlin.

Teaser:
Kyle Allen Named Texas A&M's Starting Quarterback, Poised to Break Out in 2015
Post date: Monday, August 24, 2015 - 14:48
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Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-30-offensive-lines-2015
Body:

The offensive line is often the most overlooked position for any college football team. While the linemen in the trenches don’t get enough credit, they are often the most important piece to a successful offense. Flashy skill talent and quarterbacks take home all of the accolades and headlines, but neither position can thrive without a solid offensive line.

 

Which teams are strongest in the trenches heading into the 2015 season? Five SEC teams rank among college football's best lines, while Ohio State and Michigan State give the Big Ten two teams inside of the top three. 

 

Related: College Football's Top 50 Players for 2015

 

How did we come up with these rankings? A couple of factors were considered. Depth, overall talent, production, level of competition and projected output in 2015 all factored into the rankings for the backfield. While some teams may have experienced a down year last season, having a different quarterback or a change of scheme can make a huge difference. These rankings reflect projection for 2015, not solely what teams have accomplished in 2014.

 

CFB's Top 30 Offensive Lines for 2015

 

1. Georgia

New line coach Rob Sale couldn’t ask for a better way to begin his tenure in Athens. This unit allowed only 12 sacks in SEC games and excelled in run blocking by clearing lanes for rushers to average 6.0 yards per carry. All-SEC center David Andrews will be missed, but Sale’s group is set with the return of rising star Greg Pyke at guard, along with the standout tackle duo of John Theus and Kolton Houston. Brandon Kublanow is the favorite to replace Andrews at center.

 

2. Michigan State

The Spartans boasted one of the nation’s top offensive lines last season, and this unit is only getting better with the return of four starters, along with the emergence of sophomore guard Brian Allen. Left tackle Jack Conklin and center Jack Allen headline a group that gave up only 11 sacks last season and allowed rushers to average 5.2 yards per carry. Senior guard Donavon Clark and right tackle Kodi Kieler anchor an experienced right side.

 

3. Ohio State 

After a shaky start to the 2014 season, no line in the nation progressed as much as Ohio State’s. The Buckeyes gave up seven sacks in the loss to Virginia Tech in Week 2 but allowed only 15 sacks in Big Ten games, and quarterback Cardale Jones was sacked once in the national title win over Oregon. Four starters are back, and the Buckeyes expect this group to be even stronger. Left tackle Taylor Decker and right guard Pat Elflein are the unit’s top performers and first-team Athlon Sports All-Americans for 2015. Jacoby Boren returns at center, while Billy Price (left guard) and Chase Farris (right tackle) round out the starting five.

 

Related: College Football Bowl Projections for 2015

 

4. Baylor

The success of Baylor’s high-powered offense starts in the trenches. Left tackle Spencer Drango considered an early jump to the NFL, but the three-year starter is back and is a first-team Athlon Sports All-American for 2015. Three other seniors join Drango up front, including guard Blake Muir and tackle Pat Colbert. Center Kyle Fuller started all 13 games last year and will push for all-conference honors in 2015. The coaching staff wants to develop more depth, but there are few concerns about the starting group. This unit gave up only one sack every 22 pass attempts and allowed Baylor rushers to average 4.5 yards per carry.

 

5. Arkansas

The Razorbacks return four starters from the nation’s largest offensive line. This unit cleared the way for rushers to average 5.1 yards per carry and allowed only 14 sacks in 2014. All five projected starters for 2015 weigh over 300 pounds, with converted guard Denver Kirkland slated to anchor the line at left tackle. Kirkland and Dan Skipper are among the SEC’s best up front, and the tackle duo will have plenty of support from the starters on the interior. Sebastian Tretola is a mauling 322-pound guard, and senior Mitch Smothers enters 2015 with 21 career starts. Sophomore Frank Ragnow is the only new starter for this unit. 

 

Related: SEC Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes for 2015

 

6. Auburn  

The Tigers must replace standout center Reese Dismukes and guard Chad Slade, but this unit remains a strength for coach Gus Malzahn. Three starters are back, including tackle Avery Young and left tackle Shon Coleman. The return of guard Alex Kozan from a back injury should bolster the interior, while Austin Golson and Xavier Dampeer are locked into a tight battle to replace Dismukes at center. Promising sophomore Braden Smith is expected to start at right guard. This unit allowed only 10 sacks in SEC play last season.

 

7. LSU  

LSU’s passing offense is once again surrounded in mystery. However, there’s no doubt about the strength of the Tigers’ offense. The rushing attack should be among the best in the SEC and is anchored by rising star Leonard Fournette. The line is also a big part of LSU’s success on the ground, as three starters return from a unit that helped the Tigers average 224.5 rushing yards per game in 2014. Tackles Vadal Alexander and Jerald Hawkins are among the best in the SEC, while Ethan Pocic (a returning starter) is penciled in at left guard. Freshman Will Clapp (center) and Garrett Brumfield (right guard) should round out the starting five.

 

Related: Ranking the SEC's Top 15 Players for 2015

 

8. Alabama  

The Crimson Tide’s offensive line is undergoing some renovations with the loss of three starters. However, line coach Mario Cristobal has plenty of talent to develop, while the two returning starters – left tackle Cam Robinson and center Ryan Kelly – are among the best in the nation at their position. Redshirt freshman Ross Pierschbacher is expected to start at left guard, while Bradley Bozeman and Alphonse Taylor are battling for snaps at right guard. Senior Dominick Jackson has the inside track at right tackle.

 

9. USC  

The Trojans need to settle on a starting five, but this unit has plenty of promise and talent leading the way for one of the nation’s top offenses. Solidifying the left tackle position is critical, as junior Chad Wheeler is working his way back from a knee injury suffered in 2014. Toa Lobendahn could start at left tackle if Wheeler isn’t ready, or the talented sophomore could shift inside to left guard. Max Tuerk is arguably the nation’s best center, while the Trojans also boast returning starters at right tackle (Zach Banner) and right guard (Viane Talamaivao).

 

Related: Ranking the Pac-12's Top 15 Players for 2015

 

10. TCU

Protecting quarterback Trevone Boykin won’t be a problem for TCU in 2015. The Horned Frogs return four starters from a unit that allowed 23 sacks in 13 games last season. Hala Vaitai missed time in the spring due to a shoulder injury, but the senior is penciled in at left tackle after starting on the right side last year. Center Joey Hunt is among the nation’s best, while fellow seniors Jamelle Naff and Brady Foltz round out the returning starters.

 

11. Stanford

12. Notre Dame  

13. Texas Tech 

14. Boise State  

15. Georgia Tech 

16. UCLA  

17. Missouri  

18. Texas A&M 

19. Ole Miss  

20. Oregon  

21. Pittsburgh  

22. Wisconsin 

23. Kansas State 

24. Indiana  

25. North Carolina 

26. Minnesota  

27. Oklahoma State

28. Michigan

29. Texas

30. Bowling Green

Teaser:
College Football's Top 30 Offensive Lines for 2015
Post date: Monday, August 24, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-top-15-players-big-ten-2015-experts-poll
Body:

The balance of power in the Big Ten clearly rests with Ohio State and the East Division in 2015. The Buckeyes are a heavy favorite to repeat as college football’s national champion, and one look at the expert poll results for the best players in the Big Ten solidifies why coach Urban Meyer’s team is the No. 1 pick for 2015.

 

Ohio State had four players voted among the top six, including two quarterbacks – J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones – while defensive end Joey Bosa was voted No. 1 among the experts polled by Athlon Sports. Additionally, Michigan State had two of the top six selections in this poll, and no player from a West Division team finished among the top 10 in this vote.

 

With the season right around the corner, Athlon Sports sought to answer this question: Who are the best 15 players in the Big Ten for 2015?

 

In order to rank the top 15 players in the Big Ten for 2015, Athlon Sports sought the insight of several experts from the conference. The voting process was simple. Using criteria such as career performance so far, 2015 potential/projection, pro outlook, recruiting ranking, value to team or overall talent, each voter was asked to rank their top 15 players for 2015.

 

A point system was assigned, giving 15 points for a player with a No. 1 vote, 14 points for a No. 2 vote, 13 points for a No. 3 vote and so on.

 

The Voters
WriterTwitterAffiliation
Joe Hudson@HuskerMaxHuskerMax.com
Doug Lesmerises@DougLesmerisesCleveland.com/OSU
Brent Yarina@BTNBrentYarinaBTN.com
Marc Morehouse@MarcMorehouseThe Cedar Rapids Gazette
Sean Callahan@Sean_CallahanHuskerOnline.com
Matt Brown@MattBrownCFBSportsonEarth.com
Eric Seger@EricSeger33ElevenWarriors.com
Sam McKewon@SWMckewonOWHOmaha World-Herald
Steven Lassan@AthlonStevenAthlon Sports
Matt Brown@MattSBNSBNation/Land-Grant Holy Land
Brandon Cavanaugh@EightlacesEightlaces.com
Bryan Fischer@BryanDFischerNational CFB Writer
Jeff Rapp@RappUpSportsRappUp.com
Kevin Noon@Kevin_NoonBuckeyeGrove.com
Braden Gall@BradenGallAthlon Sports
Jon Miller@HawkeyeNationHawkeyeNation.com
Mike Griffith@MikeGriffith32MLive.com
Ben Jones@Ben_Jones88StateCollege.com
Jim Weber@JimMWeberLostLettermen.com
David Fox@DavidFox615Athlon Sports
Joe Rexrode@JoeRexrodeDetroit Free Press
Brian Neubert@BrianNeubertGoldandBlack.com
Chip Minnich@ChipMinnichAthlon Contributor Network
Pete Volk@Pete_VolkSBNation/Testudo Times
Dustin Hockensmith@dhockensmithPennLive.com
Sammy Jacobs@Hoosier_HuddleHoosierHuddle.com
Tyler Waddell@Tyler_WaddellToday's U
Travis Miller@HammerAndRailsHammerAndRails.com
Mitch Light@AthlonMitchAthlon Sports
J.P. Scott@TheJPScottAthlon Contributor Network
Mike Bainbridge@MikeBainbridge2Athlon Contributor Network
Chris Dougherty@WarontheWeekendAthlon Contributor Network
Curt Hogg@CyrtHoggBucky's 5th Quarter
Robert Boleyn@BoleynRobertAthlon Contributor Network
Mark Ross@AthlonMarkRAthlon Sports

 

Ranking the Big Ten's Best Players for 2015 (Experts Poll)
RankPlayerTeamTotal Points
1

Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State

(24 first-place votes)

501
2

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

(7 first-place votes)

471
3

Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State

(2 first-place votes)

392
4

J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State

(2 first-place votes)

337
5Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State317
6Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State243
7Anthony Zettel, DT, Penn State238
8Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State225
9Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State214
10Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State183
11Corey Clement, RB, Wisconsin169
12Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State153
13Jack Allen, C, Michigan State116
14Maliek Collins, DT, Nebraska96
15Leonte Carroo, WR, Rutgers68
16Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State63
17Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State56
18Adolphus Washington, DT, Ohio State46
19De'Mornay Pierson-El, WR/RS, Nebraska32
20DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Penn State29
21Joshua Perry, LB, Ohio State27
22Michael Caputo, S, Wisconsin23
23Drew Ott, DE, Iowa22
24Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan21
25Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern14
26TEric Murray, CB, Minnesota11
26TJordan Howard, RB, Indiana11
26TJordan Lucas, S, Penn State11
29Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State10
30TPat Elflein, OG, Ohio State9
30TMichael Thomas, WR, Ohio State9
32TJake Butt, TE, Michigan7
32TDe'Vondre Campbell, LB, Minnesota7
34TWilliam Likely, CB, Maryland6
34TTyler Marz, LT, Wisconsin6
34TNate Gerry, S, Nebraska6
34TTanner McEvoy, WR/S, Wisconsin6
34TBrad Craddock, P, Maryland6
39TRaekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State5
39TWes Lunt, QB, Illinois5
39TJa'Whaun Bentley, LB, Purdue5
39TVincent Valentine, DT, Nebraska5
43TJake Rudock, QB, Michigan4
43TDan Voltz, C, Wisconsin4
45TJake Duzey, TE, Iowa3
45TBriean Boddy-Calhoun, CB, Minnesota3
47Nate Sudfeld, QB, Indiana2
48TFrankie Williams, DB, Purdue1
48TSam Foltz, P, Nebraska1
48TVince Biegel, LB, Wisconsin1
48TLawrence Thomas, DE/DT, Michigan State1
Teaser:
Ranking the Top 15 Players in the Big Ten for 2015 (Experts Poll)
Post date: Friday, August 21, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-top-15-players-sec-2015-experts-poll
Body:

There’s plenty of uncertainty at quarterback in the SEC for 2015, but talent certainly isn’t an issue among the league’s 14 teams. And needless to say, pairing down the SEC’s talent to the top 15 players is no easy assignment. However, that’s the task Athlon recently assigned over 40 experts.

 

With the season right around the corner, Athlon Sports sought to answer this question: Who are the best 15 players in the SEC for 2015?

 

In order to rank the top 15 players in the SEC for 2015, Athlon Sports sought the insight of several experts from the conference. The voting process was simple. Using criteria such as career performance so far, 2015 potential/projection, pro outlook, recruiting ranking, value to team or overall talent, each voter was asked to rank their top 15 players for 2015.

 

A point system was assigned, giving 15 points for a player with a No. 1 vote, 14 points for a No. 2 vote, 13 points for a No. 3 vote and so on.

 

The Voters
VoterTwitterAffiliation
Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeBleacher Report
Steven Godfrey@38GodfreySBNation.com
Gabe Bock@GabeBockTexAgs.com
Zac Ellis@ZacEllisSI.com
Brad Crawford@BCrawfordSDSSaturday Down South
JC Shurburtt@JCShurburtt247Sports.com
Barton Simmons@BartonSimmons247Sports.com
Russ Mitchell@RussMitchellCFBCollege Football News
Steven Lassan@AthlonStevenAthlon Sports
Josh Kendall@JoshatTheStateThe State
Mitch Light@AthlonMitchAthlon Sports
Neal McCready@NealMcCreadyRebelGrove.com
Jack Peglow@JackPeglowRockMNation.com
Matt Scalici@MattScaliciAL.com
Josh Ward@Josh_WardSports Radio WNML
Braden Gall@BradenGallAthlon Sports
David Fox@DavidFox615Athlon Sports
Jeff Drummond@JDrumUKAllWildcats.com
The SEC Logo@SEC_Logo@SEC_Logo
Kipp Adams@KippLAdamsDawgs247
Jesse Johnson@JWJohnsonVU247Vandy247
Elton Hayes@EHDC12Athlon Contributor
Ryan Wright@HogManinLAAthlon Contributor
Adam Silverstein@OnlyGatorsOnlyGators.com
David Wunderlich@Year2TeamSpeedKills.com
Stephen M. Smith@ESPN_FutureTouchdownAlabama.Net
Daniel Lewis@RockyTopInsiderRockyTopInsider.com
Antwan Staley@AntwanStaleyAthlon Contributor
Olin Buchanan@OlinBuchananTexAgs.com
Will Shelton@WShelton2RockyTopTalk.com
Jake Rowe@Rowe247Dawgs247
Wess Moore@Wess_MooreFox 16
Nicholas Ian Allen@NicholasIAllenAthlon Contributor
Rush Roberts@DrNorrisCamachoGoodBullHunting.com
Jason Hall@JasonHallFSNAthlon Contributor
Greg Poole@ECDawg_BIBulldawgIllustrated.com
Rob McVey@Rob_UTVolsAthlon Contributor
Justin Nails@JustinNailsAthlon Contributor
Cody McClure@CodyMcClureCFBAthlon Contributor
Jeremy Attaway@MaconDawgDawgSports.com
Marky Billson@MarkyBillsonAthlon Contributor
John Whittle@JohnMWhittleTheBigSpur.com
Mark Ross@AthlonMarkRAthlonSports.com

 

Ranking the SEC's Best Players for 2015 (Experts Poll)
RankPlayerTeamTotal Points
1

Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

(20 first-place votes)

575
2

Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida

(11 first-place votes)

559
3

Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State

(3 first-place votes)

452
4Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss398
5

Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

(3 first-place votes)

394
6

Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss

(2 first-place votes)

348
7

A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama

(1 first-place vote)

264
8Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M250
9Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee229
10Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss228
11Pharoh Cooper, WR, South Carolina179
12

Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

(2 first-place votes)

175
13

Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama

(1 first-place vote)

172
14TDuke Williams, WR, Auburn134
14TReggie Ragland, LB, Alabama134
16Jeremy Johnson, QB, Auburn96
17Jordan Jenkins, LB, Georgia74
18Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas61
19Leonard Floyd, LB, Georgia46
20Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn44
21Vadal Alexander, OT, LSU41
22Jalen Mills, DB, LSU29
23Kentrell Brothers, LB, Missouri23
24Joshua Reynolds, WR, Texas A&M20
25Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas18
26Curt Maggitt, DL/LB, Tennessee16
27Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss15
28TJoshua Dobbs, QB, Tennessee14
28TTony Conner, S, Ole Miss14
30TTre'Davious White, CB, LSU12
30TJonathan Williams, RB, Arkansas12
32TCam Sutton, CB, Tennessee11
32TThe Entire Arkansas OL11
32TChris Jones, DL, Mississippi State11
35TCyrus Jones, CB, Alabama9
35TJalen Hurd, RB, Tennessee9
35TJamal Adams, S, LSU9
38TJovon Robinson, RB, Auburn8
38TGreg Pyke, OL, Georgia8
38TJonathan Bullard, DL, Florida8
41TKendell Beckwith, LB, LSU6
41TMelvin Lewis, DL, Kentucky6
41TMaty Mauk, QB, Missouri6
44Tony Bridges, CB, Ole Miss5
45TDan Skipper, OT, Arkansas3
45TSebastian Tretola, OG, Arkansas3
45TCassanova McKinzy, LB, Auburn3
45TJonathan Allen, DL, Alabama3
45TKyle Allen, QB, Texas A&M3
50TRyan Kelly, C, Alabama2
50TPatrick Towles, QB, Kentucky2
50TJonathan Jones, CB, Auburn2
50TSpeedy Noil, WR, Texas A&M2
54TDe'Runnya Wilson, WR, Mississippi State1
54TStephen Weatherly, LB, Vanderbilt1
54TDenver Kirkland, OT, Arkansas1
54TRicky Seals-Jones, WR, Texas A&M1
54TRussell Hansbrough, RB, Missouri1
Teaser:
Ranking the Top 15 Players in the SEC for 2015 (Experts Poll)
Post date: Thursday, August 20, 2015 - 11:30

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