Articles By Steven Lassan

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Michigan State has emerged as a national power under coach Mark Dantonio. The Spartans have won at least 11 games in each of the last four seasons and have claimed back-to-back finishes inside of the top five in the last Associated Press poll. Michigan State has a few personnel concerns heading into spring ball, and Dantonio has to replace coordinator Pat Narduzzi on the defensive side. While there’s a few new faces coming to East Lansing in 2015, the Spartans will contend once again for a top-10 finish.  

 

5 Storylines to Watch in Michigan State’s Spring Practice

 

1. New Faces at Running Back

The Spartans enter spring with uncertainty at running back. Jeremy Langford expired his eligibility after rushing for 1,522 yards and 22 scores last season, while second-leading rusher Nick Hill also departs after finishing 2014 with 622 yards. Delton Williams was the team’s third-leading rusher in 2014, but his status with the team is in question after an off-field incident. Talented freshman L.J. Scott won’t arrive until this summer, which leaves Madre London and Gerald Holmes as the team’s top options this spring. Can London or Holmes stake a clear edge in the battle for carries?

 

2. Connor Cook’s Passing Targets

The uncertainty of Michigan State’s skill players continues at receiver. Tony Lippett was the team’s clear No. 1 target last season, catching 65 passes for 1,198 yards and 11 scores. Lippett has expired his eligibility, and Keith Mumphery also departs East Lansing after ranking second on the team with 495 yards. Macgarrett Kings Jr. caught 29 passes for 404 yards last year and was expected to be a bigger piece of the receiving corps in 2015. However, his status with the team is also uncertain after an off-field incident. Who steps up here this spring? It’s up to Aaron Burbridge, Monty Madaris and R.J. Shelton to develop a better rapport with Cook this offseason.

 

3. Post-Pat Narduzzi Era

This spring marks Michigan State’s first offseason under Mark Dantonio without Pat Narduzzi coordinating the defense. Continuity was important for the program, and Dantonio promoted assistants Harlon Barnett and Mike Tressel into the co-coordinator role. What tweaks or changes will Barnett and Tressel install this spring?

 

4. Rebuilding the No Fly Zone

The Spartans have ranked inside of the top 25 nationally in pass efficiency defense in four consecutive seasons. Continuing the recent success will depend on how quick Barnett and Tressel can restock the secondary after the departures of cornerback Trae Waynes and safety Kurtis Drummond. Waynes and Drummond both earned first-team All-Big Ten honors last season and leave big shoes to fill. The spring depth chart lists Darian Hicks or Vayante Copeland at one corner spot, with junior Demetrious Cox at the other. The safety positions appear to be more defined, as Montae Nicholson is a player to watch after recording 31 tackles in 2014, and RJ Williamson returns for his senior year.

 

5. New Faces in the Defensive Line, Linebacker Corps

Even with the departures of Marcus Rush (7.5 sacks) and linebacker Taiwan Jones, Michigan State is in good shape in its front seven. But the Spartans will spend this spring focusing on settling a few starting jobs, as well as developing depth up front. There’s no question Shilique Calhoun is one of the Big Ten’s top defensive players, and Barnett and Tressel will spend the spring sorting out whether Lawrence Thomas fits better opposite of Calhoun at end or on the inside at tackle. Sophomore tackle Malik McDowell is also expected to have a breakout year.

 

Pre-Spring Outlook on Michigan State in the Big Ten:

 

Ohio State is the clear favorite in the Big Ten East Division, and the Spartans are just a step behind entering 2015. Michigan State will miss Narduzzi’s defensive acumen, as well as Lippett at receiver and defensive standouts like Waynes (CB), Drummond (S) and Jones (LB). However, there’s little reason to expect a big drop in wins this year. Michigan State returns one of the Big Ten’s top quarterbacks in Connor Cook, as well as four starters from an offensive line that allowed only 11 sacks in 2014. Another 10-win season is within reach for the Spartans.

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Michigan State Spartans 2015 Spring Football Preview
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College Football’s spring practice session is underway, and all 128 teams and coaches are getting their first glimpse at how their depth chart is shaping up for the 2015 season. And with teams hitting the practice fields, it’s the first chance to take a look at which players are ready to take the next step in their development and emerge as a key contributor.

 

After taking a look at the quarterbacks and running backs on the rise for 2015, let’s finish the offensive side of the ball with the wide receiver position. There’s no shortage of receivers or breakout candidates at this position, but the list is headlined by USC’s JuJu Smith, Florida State’s Travis Rudolph, Virginia Tech’s Isaiah Ford and Ohio State’s Jalin Marshall.

 

Note: Players considered for the on the rise designation had less than 1,000 receiving yards in 2014.

 

College Football’s Top 20 Wide Receivers on the Rise for 2015

 

Malachi Dupre, LSU

If LSU gets any consistency from its quarterbacks in 2015, then it’s safe to assume Dupre will have a breakout campaign. The Louisiana native was the No. 17 overall recruit in the 2014 247Sports Composite and showed his big-play ability as a freshman by averaging 22.7 yards per catch on 14 receptions. Additionally, five of Dupre’s catches went for touchdowns.

 

Isaiah Ford, Virginia Tech

In his true freshman campaign, Ford emerged as Virginia Tech’s top receiver. In 13 contests, Ford grabbed 56 receptions for 709 yards and six scores. He recorded only one performance of 100 yards (Georgia Tech) but averaged 4.3 receptions per game, which ranked ninth among receivers in the ACC. With more consistency from quarterback Michael Brewer and another year to work in the offensive scheme, Ford should only improve on his totals in 2015.

 

DaeSean Hamilton/Geno Lewis, Penn State

The Nittany Lions are loaded with promising young talent at receiver, with Hamilton and Lewis the group’s leading statistical options last season. Hamilton led the team with 82 catches for 899 yards, while Lewis ranked second with 55 receptions for 751 yards. Assuming Penn State can protect quarterback Christian Hackenberg in 2015, the passing attack should take a step forward, allowing Hamilton and Lewis to increase their production and opportunities.

 

Kenny Lawler/Stephen Anderson/Bryce Treggs, California

Let’s group all three of California’s top returning receivers here, as the Golden Bears should have one of the nation’s top passing attacks in 2015. Quarterback Jared Goff returns after throwing for 3,973 yards last season, and the talented trio of Lawler, Anderson and Treggs is due for an increase in opportunities after Chris Harper left for the NFL. With a defense that is still rebuilding, California will have to win with its offense in 2015. Keep an eye on this receiving trio, as it’s a safe bet at least one player will earn All-Pac-12 honors this year.

 

Jalin Marshall, Ohio State

Marshall and Dontre Wilson manned Ohio State’s H-Back position last season, and with the departure of Devin Smith, Evan Spencer and tight end Jeff Heuerman, both players should see an increased role in the offense in 2015. Marshall finished 2014 with 38 receptions for 499 yards and six scores and added 145 yards and one touchdown on the ground. Three of Marshall’s touchdowns came in one game, but he grabbed 24 of his 38 receptions over the final six contests.

 

Deon-Tay McManus, Marshall

The Thundering Herd enters spring with a few holes to fill on offense, as quarterback Rakeem Cato and top receiver Tommy Shuler expired their eligibility after the Boca Raton Bowl. While the quarterback battle could extend into the fall, the receiving corps could find its next go-to receiver in McManus this spring. As a redshirt freshman last year, the Maryland native caught 26 passes for 422 yards and six scores.

 

Speedy Noil, Texas A&M

The Aggies have one of the nation’s top receiving corps in 2015, and this group could get even deeper if Noil and Ricky Seals-Jones take the next step in their development. Noil caught 46 passes for 583 yards and five scores in his first season in College Station. In addition to his receiving totals, Noil averaged nearly 24 yards per kickoff return and 12 yards on punt returns. The sophomore should be one of the SEC’s top all-around playmakers in 2015.

 

Robbie Rhodes, Bowling Green

Bowling Green coach Dino Babers is a former Baylor assistant, and his “Falcon Fast” offense is similar to the one he learned under coach Art Briles in Waco. Rhodes is eligible in 2015 after sitting out 2014 due to NCAA transfer rules, and the sophomore should be an instant-impact performer for the Falcons. As a freshman at Baylor in 2013, Rhodes caught 10 passes for 157 yards (15.7 ypc). The Texas native ranked as the No. 28 recruit in the 2013 247Sports Composite.

 

Demarcus Robinson, Florida

Florida’s offense isn’t going to take a huge step forward in 2015, but new coach Jim McElwain will make a difference with this group. Robinson was the go-to target in the Gators’ passing offense last year, grabbing 53 receptions for 810 yards and seven scores. McElwain’s offense at Colorado State was instrumental in receiver Rashard Higgins (96 catches for 1,750 yards and 17 scores) pushing for All-America honors last season. Robinson won’t make that big of a jump in receiving totals, but he should benefit from the head coaching change this year.

 

Travis Rudolph, Florida State

With the departure of quarterback Jameis Winston, four starters on the offensive line and receiving targets Rashad Greene (WR) and Nick O’Leary (TE), there are a handful of new faces in key roles for Florida State’s offense this spring. Regardless of who takes the snaps under center for the Seminoles, Rudolph should be one of the team’s top playmakers in 2015. He caught 38 passes for 555 yards and four scores as a true freshman last season. Rudolph, Ermon Lane and incoming freshmen George Campbell and Da’Vante Phillips give Florida State one of the nation’s most talented groups of receivers for the next couple of seasons.

 

Artavis Scott, Clemson

As a true freshman last season, Scott led the team with 76 catches (including eight for scores) and recorded 965 receiving yards in 13 games. Scott capped the season on a high note by torching rival South Carolina for 185 yards and two scores, while also posting eight catches for 114 yards against Oklahoma. Scott should easily eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in 2015, especially if rising star quarterback Deshaun Watson stays healthy.

 

Hunter Sharp, Utah State

Despite injuries to Utah State’s top three quarterbacks, the Aggies still finished 10-4 and claimed victories in six out of their last seven games. Sharp was a key junior college find on the recruiting trail for coach Matt Wells, as the California native led the team with 66 catches for 939 yards and seven scores. Assuming Utah State has better luck in the injury department this year, Sharp should easily eclipse 1,000 yards and rank among the Mountain West’s best at receiver.

 

Brandon Sheperd, Oklahoma State

Sheperd entered 2014 with just 15 career receptions, but the Missouri native emerged as one of the top big-play threats in the Big 12. In 13 games, he grabbed 39 receptions for 737 yards and five scores. Sheperd developed a good rapport with quarterback Mason Rudolph late in the season, catching 12 passes for 254 yards and three scores in the final two games of 2014. With Rudolph under center for a full season, Sheperd is expected to be an even bigger piece of the offense in 2015.

 

Cam Sims/Robert Foster, Alabama

With the departure of Amari Cooper, DeAndrew White and Christion Jones, Alabama is essentially starting over at receiver in 2015. Go ahead and pencil in a name from the Crimson Tide roster in this space, the only question is which player will emerge as a go-to target for the quarterback in 2015? Sims and Foster are the two most likely breakout players on the roster, as the duo combined for 13 catches for 106 yards and one score last season. True freshman Calvin Ridley is another name to watch in Tuscaloosa.

 

JuJu Smith, USC

The biggest void on USC’s offense heading into 2015 is at receiver with the departure of Nelson Agholor. Last season, Agholor led the Trojans with 104 catches for 1,313 yards and 12 scores. Coach Steve Sarkisian isn’t hurting for options at receiver with the emergence of Smith, along with the addition of a talented recruiting class for 2015. Smith ranked second on the team with 54 catches for 724 yards and five scores last season and is expected to emerge as quarterback Cody Kessler’s go-to target in 2015.

 

Thomas Sperbeck, Boise State

The Broncos lost top receiver Matt Miller early in 2014 due to injury, but the receiving corps didn’t miss a beat with the emergence of Sperbeck. The California native caught 51 passes and led the team with 877 yards (17.2 ypc). He also delivered in the Fiesta Bowl with his best performance of 2014 (12 receptions for 199 yards) and caught six passes for 148 yards in a 55-30 win over BYU. Even with a new quarterback taking over at Boise State, Sperbeck should be a lock for All-Mountain West honors in 2015.

 

Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky

The Hilltoppers averaged 374.3 passing yards per game last season and should rank near the top of the nation once again with quarterback Brandon Doughty back under center. Taylor ranked second on the team with 797 yards (17 yards per catch) and third on the stat sheet with seven touchdown catches. Taylor is the team’s top big-play threat and should be an even bigger piece of Western Kentucky’s offense in 2015.

 

Jordan Westerkamp, Nebraska

New coach Mike Riley and coordinator Danny Langsdorf produced their share of prolific passing attacks at Oregon State and a few tweaks are coming to Nebraska’s offense in 2015. The Cornhuskers need quarterback Tommy Armstrong to take the next step in his development this season, but the passing game has all of the necessary pieces in place at receiver. Westerkamp was second on the team in 2014 in catches, yards and receiving touchdowns. With Kenny Bell out of eligibility, Westerkamp should slide into the No. 1 receiving role for Armstrong.

 

D’haquille Williams, Auburn

Williams ranked as one of the top junior college prospects in the nation going into the 2014 season. The Louisiana native didn’t disappoint in his Auburn debut, catching 45 passes for 730 yards and five scores. With Sammie Coates off to the NFL, and Jeremy Johnson – a better passer than Nick Marshall – taking over at quarterback, Williams will see more opportunities in his direction this year.

 

De’Runnya Wilson, Mississippi State

The Bulldogs have several new faces stepping into the lineup with just seven returning starters in 2015. However, there’s little doubt about the strength of this team next season with the return of quarterback Dak Prescott. The senior should be one of the top quarterbacks in the nation and has a talented group of receivers at his disposal. Wilson is a nightmare matchup for opposing defensive backs at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds. The Birmingham native finished 2014 on a tear, catching at least eight passes in each of his final three games.

 

Other Receivers to Watch in 2015

 

Power 5 Conferences

 

Devon Allen, Oregon

Allen showed plenty of promise as a redshirt freshman in 2014 before a knee injury in the Rose Bowl ended his season. If healthy, Allen should build off his 2014 totals: 41 receptions, 16.7 yards per catch, seven scores.

 

Victor Bolden/Jordan Villamin, Oregon State

The Beavers enter spring with uncertainty at quarterback, but there’s a promising group of receivers returning in 2015. Bolden and Villamin combined for 107 of Oregon State’s 290 catches in 2014.

 

Bra’Lon Cherry, NC State

Cherry is the Wolfpack’s top returning receiver after Bo Hines transferred to Yale. He caught 27 passes for 354 yards and three scores in 2014.

 

Stacy Coley, Miami

Can Coley regain his 2013 form (33 catches, 591 yards) after only grabbing 23 receptions in 2014?

 

Armanti Foreman, Texas

Upgrading the passing attack is coach Charlie Strong’s top priority this spring. The quarterback battle between Jerrod Heard and Tyrone Swoopes could extend into the fall, but the receiving corps is also under the spotlight with the departure of John Harris and Jaxon Shipley. Foreman – the No. 110 recruit in the 247Sports Composite last year – is ready for a bigger role in the offense.

 

J-Shun Harris II, Indiana

The Hoosiers must replace Shane Wynn (56 catches) this offseason. Will Harris emerge in 2015?

 

Levern Jacobs, Maryland

Jacobs missed 2014 due to suspension but he led the team with 47 catches for 640 yards in 2013. He should move into the No. 1 role with Stefon Diggs and Deon Long exiting College Park.

 

Devin Lauderdale, Texas Tech

Lauderdale averaged a healthy 19 yards per catch in 2014 and should see more passes his way in 2015 with the departure of Bradley Marquez.

 

Eric Lauderdale, Arizona State

Lauderdale ranked as a four-star prospect in the 2014 signing class and used a redshirt season in his first year in Tempe. The junior college prospect will be counted on to help replace the production lost by Jaelen Strong (NFL Draft) and Cameron Smith (knee injury).

 

Allen Lazard, Iowa State

Lazard did not disappoint in his true freshman campaign, catching 45 passes for 593 yards and three scores.

 

Gabe Marks, Washington State

Marks led Washington State with 74 receptions and 807 yards in 2013 but sat out 2014 as a redshirt. With the Cougars replacing leading receivers Vince Mayle and Isiah Myers, the door is open for Marks and River Cracraft to become the top receivers in coach Mike Leach’s offense in 2015.

 

Marquez North, Tennessee

North missed three games and battled injuries late in the season but still finished with 30 catches and four scores. He should benefit from a full season of Joshua Dobbs at quarterback.

 

Dante Pettis, Washington

Washington is looking for more playmakers in its receiving corps this offseason. Pettis is a name to watch after catching 17 passes for 259 yards and a touchdown in 2014.

 

Daikiel Shorts/Jordan Thompson, West Virginia

The Mountaineers lose top receivers Kevin White and Mario Alford. Can Shorts (24 catches in 2014) or Thompson (49) emerge as the No. 1 target this year?

 

Damore’ea Stringfellow, Ole Miss

Stringfellow transferred to Ole Miss after catching 20 passes for 259 yards at Washington in 2013. The California native was regarded as a top 100 recruit in the 2013 signing class.

 

Ja’Quay Williams, Louisville

Williams – a Texas A&M transfer – will be counted on for a major role in Louisville’s receiving corps in 2015, as the Cardinals lose standout DeVante Parker, Eli Rogers and tight end Gerald Christian expired their eligibility after the Belk Bowl. James Quick also deserves a mention in this article after catching 36 passes as a sophomore in 2014.

 

Group of 5

 

Devonte Boyd, UNLV

Boyd was one of the nation’s top freshman receivers last season, catching 64 passes for 973 yards and four touchdowns. He should see even more passes in his direction in 2015.

 

Trevon Brown, East Carolina

Brown is a talented playmaker that averaged 18.9 yards per catch (as a true freshman) before a knee injury limited him over the second half of 2014.

 

Steven Dunbar, Houston

Dunbar impressed as a true freshman last season by catching 20 passes for 286 yards. He will be one of the top targets in coach Tom Herman’s offense.

 

Donovan Harden, Georgia State

Illinois State transfer led Georgia State with 60 catches in 2014. With quarterback Nick Arbuckle returning, the Panthers should be one of the Sun Belt’s top passing offenses.

 

Carlos Henderson, Louisiana Tech

Henderson was a big-play threat for the Bulldogs as a redshirt freshman last season. In 12 games, he grabbed 29 receptions for 569 yards and four scores. Henderson’s 19.6 yards per catch ranked second among receivers in Conference USA in 2014.

 

Eric Judge, San Diego State

San Diego State has a new play-caller (Jeff Horton), and a likely transfer under center (Maxwell Smith), but Judge is a name to watch this spring. He caught 24 passes for 471 yards (and two scores) in 12 games last year.

 

Jesse Kroll, Central Michigan

Kroll ranked second on the team last season with 36 receptions for 582 yards and four scores. With Titus Davis expiring his eligibility, Kroll should emerge as the No. 1 target for quarterback Cooper Rush.

 

Mekale McKay, Cincinnati

The Bearcats return a loaded group of weapons for quarterback Gunner Kiel. McKay tied for the team lead with eight touchdown catches last season and ranked second on the team with 44 receptions. He could be primed for an even bigger role in 2015.

 

Dijon Paschal, Arkansas State

Paschal had a breakout year in 2014, catching 37 passes for 642 yards as a redshirt freshman. Arkansas State’s offense is only going to get better in 2015 with quarterback Fredi Knighten returning.

 

Zach Pascal/Blair Roberts, Old Dominion

The Monarchs lose quarterback Taylor Heinicke and top receiver Antonio Vaughan. But the offense should remain potent with coach Bobby Wilder and coordinator Brian Scott at the controls. Roberts missed 2014 due to injury, while Pascal caught 59 passes for 743 yards.

 

Alonzo Russell, Toledo

Russell ranked fourth in the MAC with eight touchdown catches in 2014. A healthy Phillip Ely at quarterback for the Rockets will only help Russell’s numbers in 2015.

 

Rokeem Williams, Miami (Ohio)

The RedHawks must replace quarterback Andrew Hendrix, but there’s a promising trio of young receivers returning in 2015. Williams caught 35 passes and averaged 19.5 yards per reception last year.

 

Ron Willoughby, Buffalo

Willoughby entered 2014 with just three career receptions. He caught 50 passes for 771 yards and nine scores last season. Look for Willoughby and Buffalo’s offense to improve under new coach Lance Leipold.

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West Virginia rebounded from a 4-8 mark in 2013 to finish 7-6 and earn its first winning record (5-4) in Big 12 action since joining the league. The Mountaineers return 16 starters for 2015, including talented running back Rushel Shell and defensive backs Daryl Worley (CB) and Karl Joseph (S). Coach Dana Holgorsen has this program trending in the right direction, but his 2015 team has a few holes to address this spring, including a quarterback battle and question marks on both lines of scrimmage.

 

5 Storylines to Watch in West Virginia’s Spring Practice

 

1. The Quarterbacks

West Virginia already has a good idea of what it has in its two quarterbacks vying for the starting role. Skyler Howard started the final two games of 2014 and finished the year with 829 passing yards and eight passing scores. Howard’s accuracy (50.9 percent) is one area to watch in 2015. William Crest was slated to work in the backup role last year. However, a shoulder injury sidelined the talented freshman in September after he rushed for 27 yards and completed three of four passes against Towson. The upside is clearly with Crest. Can he exit spring with a clear hold on the No. 1 job?

 

2. New Targets at WR

While the quarterback battle is expected to draw most of the offseason attention in Morgantown, West Virginia also has to find replacements for its top two receivers. Kevin White was one of the nation’s top receiving threats last year, catching 109 passes for 1,447 yards and 10 scores. Mario Alford also departs after recording 65 receptions for 945 yards and 11 touchdowns. This is a big spring for Jordan Thompson and Daikiel Shorts to emerge as the go-to targets for the quarterback. Shelton Gibson, freshman Jovon Durante and junior college recruit Ka’Raun White are also names to watch this offseason.

 

3. Stabilizing the Offensive Line

The Mountaineers must replace arguably their best offensive linemen from last year’s group in guards Quinton Spain and Mark Glowinski. Some shuffling is already underway for line coach Ron Crook, as Adam Pankey (13 starts in 2014) is moving to guard after playing at left tackle last year. Marquis Lucas and Tyler Orlosky also return as starters, but which positions will they play? Could Lucas flip to left tackle? This spring is the first opportunity to sort out this unit.

 

4. Restock the Defensive Line

Under Tony Gibson’s direction last season, West Virginia limited conference opponents to 27.1 points per game. And with nine starters back, the Mountaineers could improve on that total in 2015. The biggest concern for Gibson has to be the depth in the trenches with the departure of Shaquille Riddick and Dontrill Hyman. Riddick earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors after recording seven sacks in 2014. Kyle Rose and Noble Nwachukwu are back after productive 2014 campaigns, but Gibson still needs to find a third starter, as well as develop the depth needed to stop opposing offenses in the Big 12.

 

5. Replacements at Linebacker

Gibson’s busy spring continues with a few new faces stepping into starting roles at linebacker. Brandon Golson and Wes Tonkery have expired their eligibility, which leaves Shaq Petteway, Nick Kwiatkoski and Edward Muldrow as the unit’s top returners. Jared Barber also returns from a torn ACL, while Isaiah Bruce hopes to find the form that helped him rank second on the team in tackles in 2012.

 

Pre-Spring Outlook on West Virginia in the Big 12:

 

West Virginia has a few key voids to fill this offseason, but the middle of the Big 12 is open. The Mountaineers defeated Baylor in Morgantown and lost to TCU by just a point. This team has made progress since joining the Big 12 under coach Dana Holgorsen and should easily make a bowl in 2015. How high this team climbs in the standings revolves around solving quarterback battle and the new faces on the offensive and defensive lines. Surpassing last year’s win total wouldn’t be a surprise. 

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Syracuse unveiled three uniforms last season, but the reveal didn’t include an orange design. One year later, it appears Syracuse will be adding a fourth color to its jersey wardrobe.

 

On Monday, Syracuse unveiled a new orange jersey for 2015.

 

Check out the new look for the Orange:

 

 

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Post date: Monday, March 23, 2015 - 14:43
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Virginia Tech won at least 10 games in eight consecutive seasons from 2004-11. But the Hokies took a step back over the last three years, recording a 22-17 mark in that span. Coach Frank Beamer is also coming off his first losing record in conference play since 2002. While Virginia Tech’s win total has dipped recently, this program isn’t far from contending in the Coastal. The defense is one of the best in the nation, but the offense is once again under the spotlight in spring practice.

 

5 Storylines to Watch in Virginia Tech’s Spring Practice

 

1. Michael Brewer’s Development

Brewer threw for 2,692 yards and 18 scores in his debut at Virginia Tech last season. The Texas Tech transfer helped to guide the Hokies to a win at Ohio State early in the year but also tossed 10 picks through his first five games. With a full offseason to learn the offense and develop a rapport with coordinator Scot Loeffler, will Brewer take a step forward in 2015?

 

2. Finding Answers on the Offensive Line

The offensive line is easily the biggest concern for Virginia Tech in 2015. Three players started all 13 games last year – Laurence Gibson, David Wang and Caleb Farris – and have expired their eligibility, while this unit returns promising younger players in guard Wyatt Teller and tackle Jonathan McLaughlin. Can line coach Stacy Searels find the right answers for a unit that gave up 34 sacks in 2014?

 

3. Establishing a Pecking Order at Running Back

Make no mistake: Virginia Tech has options at running back. Will the coaching staff develop a clear pecking order for carries this spring? Clouding the outlook is a knee injury to Marshawn Williams, as well as a suspension for Shai McKenzie. J.C. Coleman, Trey Edmunds and Joel Caleb will have first shot at claiming the top spots on the depth chart this spring, while D.J. Reid and Travon McMillian are ready to push for snaps off a redshirt season.

 

4. New Faces at Safety

With eight starters back, Virginia Tech’s defense will be among the best in the nation. Few question marks surround this group, but coordinator Bud Foster needs to restock at safety after the departure of Kyshoen Jarrett and Detrick Bonner. Chuck Clark (73 tackles in 2014) is expected to move to safety after playing corner in 2014. The rover position is unsettled and could fall to C.J. Reavis or Der’Woun Greene.

 

5. Eliminate Turnovers and Mistakes

It’s difficult to predict or coach, but Virginia Tech has to find a way to limit the turnovers in 2015. The Hokies ranked near the bottom of the ACC with 26 turnovers lost in 2014 and also averaged seven committed penalties a game. If Beamer’s team can eliminate the mistakes, it should have a little better luck in close games after finishing 2-5 in one-score contests in 2014.

 

Pre-Spring Outlook on Virginia Tech in the ACC:

 

Similar to last season, the Coastal Division is filled with uncertainty entering spring practice. Georgia Tech is considered the favorite, but Virginia Tech isn't far behind. The Hokies are loaded with talent on defense and had some bad luck last season with 26 lost turnovers and a 2-5 mark in one-score games. If offensive line improves, and quarterback Michael Brewer develops in his second year as a starter, Virginia Tech has a chance to win the division and return to the top 25 in 2015.

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Auburn wasn’t quite able to recapture the magic from its 2013 run to the national championship, but coach Gus Malzahn’s second season still resulted in an 8-5 record with two losses coming by three points. As Malzahn’s team works through spring practice, it’s clear this team will be in the mix for the SEC West Division title. New quarterback Jeremy Johnson is a rising star, and there’s no shortage of talent at the skill positions. The defense should benefit significantly from the addition of Will Muschamp as coordinator.

 

5 Storylines to Watch in Auburn’s Spring Practice

 

1. Jeremy Johnson’s Time to Shine

Nick Marshall had a successful two-year stint as Auburn’s quarterback, but the offense shouldn’t miss a beat with Jeremy Johnson under center. The junior has two career starts under his belt and passed for 436 yards and three scores in seven appearances in 2014. Johnson isn’t as mobile as Marshall, but coach Gus Malzahn will tweak the offense to fit his strengths. This spring is Johnson’s first to work as the starter.  

 

2. New Faces on the Offensive Line

The Tigers must replace two starters on the line, including standout center Reese Dismukes. While Dismukes won’t be easy to replace, this unit does return left tackle Shon Coleman and promising sophomore Braden Smith, while guard Alex Kozan is expected to return from a back injury that sidelined him all of 2014. Ole Miss transfer Austin Golson could factor into the mix to replace Dismukes at center. This spring is all about finding the right players at the right positions.

 

3. Restocking the Skill Players

Talent is plentiful at the running back and receiver positions, but new faces must emerge to keep the offense performing at a high level in 2015. Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant are gone at running back, which leaves junior college recruit Jovon Robinson, Roc Thomas and Peyton Barber as the team’s top three options. At receiver, Sammie Coates and Quan Bray depart, but Duke Williams turned down the NFL for one more year at Auburn. In addition to Williams, the Tigers will ask more of Marcus Davis, Ricardo Louis and redshirt freshman Stanton Truitt.

 

4. Getting Comfortable With the New Defense

After giving up over six yards per play in SEC contests in each of the last two years, Malzahn decided it was time for a change at coordinator. And Malzahn made one of the offseason’s top hires by landing former Florida coach Will Muschamp to call the defensive signals in 2015. Muschamp should bring immediate improvement to this unit and will have help with the return of end Carl Lawson from an ACL injury. How quickly will the players pickup and adapt to the new scheme?

 

5. Solidify the Secondary

The pass defense had its share of issues over the last two seasons, and this unit enters spring practice with holes to fill. Cornerback Jonathon Mincy and safeties Jermaine Whitehead and Robenson Therezie must be replaced. Talent certainly isn’t an issue here, as Jonathan Jones is back at cornerback after a breakout season, and Georgia transfer Tray Matthews should help at safety. Joshua Holsey may claim the other starting cornerback spot, and Muschamp has options to fill the void left behind at safety. This unit isn’t necessarily a major concern for 2015, but it’s critical to establish a pecking order or begin to sift through the options.

 

Pre-Spring Outlook on Auburn in the SEC:

 

After a run to the national championship in 2013, the Tigers took a step back and finished just 4-4 in SEC play last season. However, this team will be one to watch in 2015. Auburn has all of the necessary pieces to make a run at the SEC title, especially if quarterback Jeremy Johnson performs as expected. The defense has been an issue over the last two years, but the addition of Muschamp will pay dividends. With Alabama visiting Auburn, it’s not out of the question to think the Iron Bowl could decide the SEC West champion in 2015. 

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Auburn Tigers 2015 Spring Football Preview
Post date: Monday, March 23, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/penn-state-nittany-lions-2015-spring-football-preview
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James Franklin’s debut at Penn State had its share of ups and downs, as the Nittany Lions started 4-0 but dropped six out of their last eight regular season games. A bowl win over Boston College propelled Franklin to a winning mark in his first season, and the program was able to ink a full class of players after NCAA sanctions limited scholarships in previous years. Penn State enters spring practice with question marks, but quarterback Christian Hackenberg is one of the Big Ten’s top players, and there’s plenty of returning talent on a defense that ranked among the nation’s best in 2014.

 

5 Storylines to Watch in Penn State’s Spring Practice

 

1. Improving the Offensive Line

Line coach Herb Hand is one of the best in the nation, and there’s no doubt Penn State’s offensive line should take a step forward in 2015. The Nittany Lions allowed 44 sacks last season, which was a big reason why the offense managed only 14 points per game in Big Ten play. How quickly can Penn State find the right mix up front? Keep an eye on junior college recruit Paris Palmer, along with redshirt freshman Chance Sorrell and incoming freshman Sterling Jenkins (enrolled in time to compete in spring ball) this offseason.

 

2. Depth at Running Back

Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak are out of eligibility, which leaves Akeel Lynch as the team’s only proven running back headed into spring practice. Lynch is capable of being an All-Big Ten back, but the Nittany Lions need depth here. Freshman Saquon Barkley will arrive this summer to add competition, but redshirt freshmen Nick Scott and Johnathan Thomas have a chance to push for the backup job this spring.

 

3. Reload at Defensive End

Penn State’s defense was one of the best in the nation last season, limiting opponents to just 4.3 yards per play. Coordinator Bob Shoop is an underrated coach, and with six starters back, the Nittany Lions should be able to keep the momentum on defense. Shoop has a few personnel questions to address this spring, including the end spot with the departures of C.J. Olaniyan and Deion Barnes. Garrett Sickels is a promising player for the defense, and redshirt freshman Torrence Brown is expected to push for snaps. Olaniyan and Barnes combined for nine of the defense’s 31 recorded sacks from 2014. Can that production be replaced?

 

4. Replacing Mike Hull at Linebacker

While the end spot is thin on proven options, the bigger concern for Shoop has to be the departure of linebacker Mike Hull. In his final season with the Nittany Lions, Hull registered 140 tackles and earned first-team All-Big Ten honors. Franklin mentioned Nyeem Wartman, Gary Wooten and Ben Kline as the likely replacements for Hull prior to spring practice. Can one player leave spring with a clear edge at middle linebacker?

 

5. Finding a New Kicker

It may seem like a small part of spring practice, but Penn State needs to find a replacement for Sam Ficken. As a senior last season, Ficken connected on 24 of 29 field goals and earned second-team All-Big Ten honors. The Nittany Lions won three games by three or less points last year. It’s critical to find a solid option this offseason.

 

Pre-Spring Outlook on Penn State in the Big Ten:

 

Penn State’s position in the East Division will largely be determined by how much its offensive line improves this offseason. Hackenberg is one of the Big Ten’s top quarterbacks, and there’s no shortage of skill talent. The defense has a few holes to address in the front seven, but this group should be near the top of the Big Ten. Ohio State is the clear favorite in the East, with Michigan State at No. 2. If the Nittany Lions get on track on offense, finishing third in the East with an improvement in the win column is very realistic.

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Penn State Nittany Lions 2015 Spring Football Preview
Post date: Monday, March 23, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/nebraska-cornhuskers-2015-spring-football-preview
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Mike Riley was a surprise hire at Nebraska, and the former Oregon State coach enters his first spring practice in Lincoln with key personnel question marks to address. The Cornhuskers return 12 starters, including quarterback Tommy Armstrong and standout defensive tackle Maliek Collins, but receiver Kenny Bell and running back Ameer Abdullah must be replaced. On defense, Nebraska has room to improve after allowing 5.5 yards per play in Big Ten games last season.

 

5 Storylines to Watch in Nebraska’s Spring Practice

 

1. Tommy Armstrong’s Development

In his first full season as Nebraska’s starter, Armstrong threw for 2,695 yards and 22 scores. He also rushed for 705 yards and six touchdowns in 13 games. Armstrong showed progress throughout 2014, which included his first 300-yard performance (USC). Riley and coordinator Danny Langsdorf will adapt to their personnel, but it’s notable Oregon State ranked first or second in the Pac-12 in passing in 2012 and 2013. Armstrong should still have opportunities to run in 2015. However, the offense needs him to develop more as a passer.

 

2. Replacing Ameer Abdullah

Ameer Abdullah finished a standout career at Nebraska with his third consecutive 1,000-yard season. Nebraska isn’t hurting for options at running back to replace Abdullah’s production, but which player will emerge as the go-to back? Senior Imani Cross has the most experience, while Adam Taylor and Terrell Newby are two other capable backs for Langsdorf to use in 2015.

 

3. Rebuilt Offensive Line

Three starters – Jake Cotton, Mark Pelini and Mike Moudy – expired their eligibility after the Holiday Bowl. Despite the personnel losses, the Cornhuskers are in relatively good shape up front. Alex Lewis earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors last season and returns to anchor the left side at tackle. Zach Sterup started 10 games in 2014 and should start at right tackle. The interior spots are up for grabs and should be the focus of spring ball. There’s experience returning in the way of Paul Thurston, Zach Hannon, Chongo Kondolo, Ryne Reeves, Dylan Utter and Givens Price, while redshirt freshmen Nick Gates, Tanner Farmer and Jerald Foster are also expected to push for time and add quality depth to the trenches.

 

4. Replacing Randy Gregory at DE

The biggest question mark for new defensive coordinator Mark Banker is the defensive end position. Randy Gregory was the unit’s top player over the last two years and accounted for seven of the Cornhuskers’ 29 sacks in 2014. The line isn’t overflowing with proven depth, but Greg McMullen and Jack Gangwish are experienced and should anchor the starting spots. However, Banker needs to develop depth here this spring. Will Joe Keels emerge as a key contributor in his second year in Lincoln? Players like redshirt freshman Freedom Akinmoladun, A.J. Natter and Peyton Newell need to provide quality snaps in 2015.

 

5. Find the Right Mix in the Back Seven

Banker inherits a defense that ranked fourth nationally in pass efficiency defense last season but allowed 206.8 rushing yards in Big Ten contests. Gone from last season’s unit are linebackers Zaire Anderson and Trevor Roach, along with cornerback Josh Mitchell and safety Corey Cooper. How will Banker solidify the linebacking corps and secondary this spring? Michael Rose-Ivey is back after missing 2014 due to a knee injury and could step into a starting role. Banker has options, but he just needs to find the right mix.

 

Pre-Spring Outlook on Nebraska in the Big Ten:

 

Wisconsin is the early favorite in the Big Ten West Division in 2015. Can Nebraska close the gap this spring? The scheme transitions on both sides of the ball present a challenge for contention in the West, along with a schedule that features a crossover game against Michigan State and a road trip to Minnesota. Riley is a good coach that won a tough place (Oregon State). If the personnel blends with the new schemes, Nebraska has a chance to win nine games in 2015.

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Nebraska Cornhuskers 2015 Spring Football Preview
Post date: Monday, March 23, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Baylor Bears, College Football, Big 12, News
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Baylor’s LaQuan McGowan is a very large man. According to the school’s official roster, the Texas native is 6-foot-7 and 410 pounds.

 

In the Cotton Bowl loss to Michigan State, McGowan showed off his athleticism by catching an 18-yard pass for a score.

 

And here’s the best part of this story: The coaching staff plans to give him more snaps at tight end this year.

 

McGowan added to his highlight reel with a catch in Baylor’s spring showcase:  

 

 

Teaser:
Baylor's 410-Pound OL LaQuan McGowan Catches a Pass in Spring Game
Post date: Monday, March 23, 2015 - 08:00
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Alabama enters 2015 with high expectations, as coach Nick Saban’s team has the best roster in college football and has won 10 games in seven consecutive seasons. Last year ended on a down note with a loss to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, but the Crimson Tide figure to be back in the playoff mix once again. With plenty of victories on the recruiting trail over the last few years, the roster has a wealth of talent at every position. This spring is all about settling on a quarterback, reloading at receiver and addressing a few holes in the secondary.

 

5 Storylines to Watch in Alabama’s Spring Practice

 

1. Jake Coker’s Job to Lose?

After transferring from Florida State last offseason, Jake Coker was expected to win the starting quarterback job over Blake Sims. However, Sims started all 14 games, and Coker threw only 59 passes in relief duty. Sims expired his eligibility, which means it’s Coker’s job to lose this spring. He will be pushed by talented freshmen Blake Barnett and David Cornwell, along with Cooper Bateman and Alec Morris. Will Coker claim the job this spring? Or will the battle extend into the fall?

 

2. New Options at Receiver

Amari Cooper was the best receiver in college football last season, and he caught 124 of Alabama’s 290 pass attempts in 2014. Not only does coordinator Lane Kiffin have to replace Cooper, but Christion Jones (19 catches) and DeAndrew White (40) also depart. This spring is all about finding the next wave of standouts at the receiver spot. Talent isn’t an issue here, starting with tight end O.J. Howard and receivers Chris Black, Robert Foster and Cam Sims. Keep an eye on true freshman Calvin Ridley once he arrives on campus this summer. How quickly can Alabama reload at receiver?

 

3. New Starters on the Offensive Line

Three starters are gone from an offensive line that allowed only 16 sacks in 2014. Much as the case at receiver, Alabama has talent and options to restock. The rebuilding effort starts with rising star Cam Robinson at left tackle, while center Ryan Kelly is one of the best in the SEC. Finding three starters shouldn’t be a problem for line coach Mario Cristobal, especially with experienced options like Alphonse Taylor, Dominick Jackson and Bradley Bozeman available. Redshirt freshman Ross Pierschbacher is also expected to factor into the mix. Finding a starting five and allowing this unit time to jell will be critical for Alabama’s chances at a national title in 2015.

 

4. Finding the Right Mix in the Secondary

For the second offseason in a row, Alabama’s secondary will take the spotlight on the defensive side in spring ball. The Crimson Tide allowed 19 passes of 30 or more yards last season, and there’s question marks at cornerback and safety that must be addressed. Landon Collins and Nick Perry depart at safety, while the cornerback spot opposite of Cyrus Jones is up for grabs. Will sophomore Hootie Jones claim a starting spot to help alleviate the loss of Collins? Will Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey emerge at corner? Or will incoming freshmen Minkah Fitzpatrick and Kendall Sheffield push for snaps in the fall?

 

5. Replacing Trey DePriest at Linebacker

Alabama’s front seven has a chance to be the best in the nation in 2015. There are a few holes to address, but once again, talent is there to fill the gaps. Trey DePriest and Xzavier Dickson depart at linebacker, and this should be an opportunity for Reuben Foster, Shaun Dion Hamilton or Rashaan Evans to stake their case for more snaps.

 

Pre-Spring Outlook on Alabama in the SEC:

 

It seems like a broken record, but it’s worth mentioning again: Alabama’s roster is overflowing with talent. The Crimson Tide has won the “recruiting championship” five years in a row. Winning the national title is within reach, but Nick Saban’s team needs a quarterback to emerge, along with options at receiver to replace Amari Cooper. The defense will rank among the best in the nation once again. But the secondary – especially without Landon Collins – remains a concern. Road trips to Georgia and Auburn are the toughest games on the schedule and could determine just how high this team climbs in the playoff picture.

Teaser:
Alabama Crimson Tide 2015 Spring Football Preview
Post date: Thursday, March 19, 2015 - 11:00
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Florida State’s three-year run from 2012-14 was one of the best in college football. The Seminoles won 39 games during that stretch, claimed the national championship after the 2013 season and made the playoffs last year. It’s hard to stay at the top of the nation with personnel losses and early entries to the NFL Draft, and coach Jimbo Fisher will have a busy spring ahead if Florida State is going to win at least 12 games for the fourth season in a row.

 

5 Storylines to Watch in Florida State’s Spring Practice

 

1. Quarterback Battle

There’s no doubt all eyes in Tallahassee will be on the quarterbacks this spring. Jameis Winston leaves big shoes to fill, and junior Sean Maguire enters spring ball as the favorite to win the job. Maguire made one start in 2014, completing 21 of 39 passes for 304 yards against arguably the nation’s No. 1 defense (Clemson). He will be pushed by redshirt freshman J.J. Cosentino, sophomore John Franklin III and incoming freshmen De’Andre Johnson and Deondre Francois.

 

2. Reloading the Receiving Corps

Talent certainly isn’t an issue here. Travis Rudolph and Ermon Lane ranked among the top six receivers in last year’s signing class by 247Sports Composite. The Seminoles also inked George Campbell (No. 19 overall prospect), Da’Vante Phillips (No. 99) and Auden Tate (No. 265) in 2015. Which players will emerge to help replace the production lost by Rashad Greene? Also, who steps up at tight end to replace Nick O’Leary? Redshirt freshmen Ryan Izzo and Mavin Saunders are two names to watch.

 

3. Offensive Line Replacements

Four new starters are slated for Florida State’s offensive line in 2015. This unit struggled at times in 2014 but was bolstered late by the addition of tackle Roderick Johnson into the lineup at left tackle. Johnson is expected to anchor that side of the line once again, but the other four spots are up for grabs this spring. Junior college recruits Chad Mavety and Kareem Are redshirted last season and are expected to prominently factor into the mix.

 

4. Focus in the Front Seven on Defense

After leading the ACC in fewest yards per play allowed in 2013 (4.1), Florida State’s total jumped to 5.5 in 2014. And even though seven starters are back for 2015, there will be growing pains on this side of the ball. Linemen Mario Edwards (DE) and Eddie Goldman (DT) earned first-team All-ACC honors last season and will be playing on Sundays next year. Who emerges as a key contributor in the trenches? Will tackle Demarcus Christmas or end Lorenzo Featherston have a breakout season?

 

5. Reloading the Cornerback Position

Ronald Darby and P.J. Williams departed Florida State for the NFL, leaving a big void at cornerback this spring. Much like the other positions mentioned here, the Seminoles aren’t hurting for talent, just need a few names to emerge. Jalen Ramsey is expected to slide to cornerback, which should solidify one spot. Converted running back Ryan Green and Marquez White are two players to watch, but freshmen Tarvarus McFadden, Marcus Lewis, Calvin Brewton and A.J. Westbrook also factor into the battle throughout the offseason.

 

Pre-Spring Outlook on Florida State in the ACC:

 

With the talent in place, combined with one of the top coaches in the nation, it’s tough to count out Florida State from contending for a playoff spot in 2015. However, the Seminoles are likely to take a small step back in the win column. Even if Sean Maguire performs at a high level this season, this team still has concerns on the offensive line and on defense. Running back Dalvin Cook will be an All-American candidate and figures to shoulder more of the offensive workload next year. Road trips to Clemson and Georgia Tech could determine whether Florida State wins the Atlantic or falls in second behind the Tigers. A finish among the top-10 teams in the nation wouldn’t be a surprise. But the Seminoles seem like a team poised to rebuild in 2015 – and contend for the national title again in 2016.

Teaser:
Florida State Seminoles 2015 Spring Football Preview
Post date: Thursday, March 19, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Arkansas Razorbacks, College Football, SEC, News
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Arkansas opens its third set of spring practices under coach Bret Bielema hoping to improve off last year’s 7-6 record. This team showed considerable progress in 2014 and is poised to take another step forward with 14 starters back in the mix. Bielema will have a new offensive play-caller with former Central Michigan coach Dan Enos hired to replace Jim Chaney. However, the formula for success in Fayetteville isn’t going to change, as the Razorbacks remain a run-first and defense team in 2015.

 

5 Storylines to Watch in Arkansas’ Spring Practice

 

1. Development of the Passing Game

Arkansas showed marked improvement with its passing game in coach Bret Bielema’s second year. After averaging just 148.5 yards per game in 2013, the Razorbacks improved that total to 188 in 2014. Quarterback Brandon Allen was hindered by a shoulder injury in 2013 but stayed healthy until late in the year and finished with just six interceptions on 339 attempts. Allen should take another step forward in his development this spring, especially with the return of tight end Hunter Henry and receiver Keon Hatcher. How much of an impact will new play-caller Dan Enos have on the offense in 2015? It’s up to Enos and Allen to continue to build off a solid 2014 season by the offense.

 

2. Shuffled Offensive Line

With four starters returning, the Razorbacks should have one of the SEC’s best offensive lines in 2015. But there’s a couple of tweaks coming to the front five this spring, as guard Denver Kirkland has shifted to left tackle, and Dan Skipper is shifting from left tackle to the right side. This move should only strengthen the offensive line, but this spring will be about meshing all of the pieces together and building a cohesive group once again.

 

3. Development of Wide Receivers

In addition to Brandon Allen’s development, Arkansas needs its receiving corps to take a step forward to help the passing game grow in 2015. Keon Hatcher (43 catches in 2014) is the leading target, and tight end Hunter Henry is one of the best in the nation. But who steps up to replace A.J. Derby as the No. 2 tight end and who emerges as a solid No. 2 or No. 3 option for Allen at receiver?

 

4. Restocking the Trenches

Robb Smith was one of the SEC’s top coordinator hires last season, and the Arkansas defense allowed only 28 points in its last four contests. In order for Smith to build off that total in 2015, he needs to find a few replacements for standouts in the trenches. Trey Flowers (six sacks) and tackle Darius Philon (11.5 tackles for a loss) have departed, leaving a void up front. It’s up to players like JaMichael Winston (DE) and Taiwan Johnson (DT) to pickup the slack in the trenches. Perhaps this unit won’t have an All-SEC player, but the overall depth and ability to rotate will be a strength.

 

5. Replacing LB Martrell Spaight

Spaight was one of the SEC’s most underrated defenders in 2014. In 13 contests, Spaight recorded 128 tackles (10.5 for a loss) and earned first-team All-SEC honors. Brooks Ellis (72 tackles) should be the leader of the linebacking corps in 2015, but sophomore Khalia Hackett is a name that will be watched closely in spring ball.

 

Pre-Spring Outlook on Arkansas:

 

The SEC West is not only the toughest division in college football, but it’s also one of the most intriguing races to watch in 2015. Arkansas made considerable progress in Bielema’s second year and showed improve once again in 2015. But the schedule isn’t easy, featuring crossover games against likely top 25 teams in Missouri and Tennessee, along with road trips to Ole Miss, LSU and Alabama. How high the Razorbacks can climb in the West likely depends on the development of the passing game and how quickly the defense can reload in the front seven. 

Teaser:
Arkansas Razorbacks 2015 Spring Football Preview
Post date: Wednesday, March 18, 2015 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Georgia Bulldogs, SEC, News
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Georgia opens spring practice as the early favorite in the SEC East. The Bulldogs just missed on a division title last season and return 12 starters for 2015. Coach Mark Richt’s team will be busy this spring, as this team has question marks on both sides of the ball and three new coaches are spending their first spring in Athens. Offensive play-caller Brian Schottenheimer was the biggest coaching move from the offseason, but Rob Sale (offensive line) and Thomas Brown (running backs) are also under the spotlight.

 

5 Storylines to Watch in Georgia’s Spring Practice:

 

1. The Quarterback Battle

Hutson Mason has expired his eligibility after starting all 13 games for Georgia last season. Mason threw for 2,168 yards and 21 scores in 2013. Replacing Mason is a three-way battle, headlined by Brice Ramsey (24 of 39, 333 yards, 3 TDs). The sophomore has the edge in experience, but Faton Bauta and redshirt freshman Jacob Park will push for time.

 

2. Replacing David Andrews at Center

The lone departure on Georgia’s offensive line was a big one. Center David Andrews expired his eligibility after earning All-SEC honors last season. Who steps up to replace Andrews? It’s expected Isaiah Wynn and Hunter Long will have the first opportunity to fill the void at center.

 

3. Options at Receiver

Chris Conley and Michael Bennett depart after catching 73 of Georgia’s 217 passes last season. Malcolm Mitchell missed nearly all of 2013 due to a knee injury and returned in 2014 to catch 31 passes for 248 yards and three scores. Can Mitchell regain the form from his first two seasons (85 catches)? And what other receivers will emerge as key targets in 2015? Will Justin Scott-Wesley return to full strength after only playing in six games last year?   

 

4. Secondary Shuffling

The Bulldogs ranked near the top of the SEC in pass defense, limiting conference opponents to just 10 passing scores in eight games. But this unit loses top cornerback Damian Swann, and coordinator Jeremy Pruitt isn’t afraid to mix and match personnel. Will Aaron Davis and Devin Bowman start at corner? Or can Malkom Parrish claim a starting job in his second year on campus? The safety spots are also up for grabs, with Quincy Mauger and Dominick Sanders as the favorites.

 

5. New Faces on the Defensive Line/Linebacking Corps

Three seniors depart from a defensive line that allowed 172.9 rushing yards in SEC contests in 2014. And it’s a safe bet coach Mark Richt and line coach Tracy Rocker are only writing their spring depth chart in pencil here. Freshman Jonathan Ledbetter will participate in spring ball, but No. 1 recruit Trenton Thompson won’t arrive until this summer. At linebacker, standouts Ramik Wilson and Amarlo Herrera must be replaced. Junior college recruit Chuks Amaechi is a name to watch, along with the development of sophomore Lorenzo Carter.

 

Pre-Spring Outlook on Georgia:

 

As we mentioned above, Georgia is the very early No. 1 pick in the East. But is that almost by default? Florida has a new coach (Jim McElwain), Missouri has significant personnel losses, and Tennessee might be a year away. Georgia’s schedule certainly doesn’t provide many breaks, as this team has road trips to Tennessee, Auburn and Georgia Tech, along with a home date against Alabama. The Bulldogs have one of the league’s best players (running back Nick Chubb) and four starters back on the offensive line. The defense returns six starters, but there are question marks in each unit as spring practice opens. The quarterback battle is the biggest storyline to watch this offseason, along with the development of the offense under new coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Even with question marks on both sides of the ball, Georgia has enough returning talent and potential to be a top 10 team in 2015.

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Georgia Bulldogs 2015 Spring Football Preview
Post date: Wednesday, March 18, 2015 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Clemson Tigers, College Football, News
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Clemson has won at least 10 games in a row in four consecutive seasons and enters the spring as one of the favorites to win the ACC in 2015. Quarterback Deshaun Watson is a rising star and is expected to return at full strength from ACL surgery by the fall. In addition to Watson, the offense is loaded with talent at the skill positions, including Artavis Scott and Mike Williams at receiver, along with Wayne Gallman at running back. Play-caller Chad Morris left to go to SMU, but coach Dabo Swinney promoted from within (Jeff Scott and Tony Elliott) to ensure continuity.

 

The defensive side of the ball is undergoing renovations with the loss of several key players. Only two starters return from a group that was arguably the best defense in the nation in 2014. While the losses are heavy, there’s young talent in place to prevent a major drop in production.

 

What’s ahead for the Tigers this spring? I asked David Hood (@MDavidHood) of TigerNet.com to help us preview Clemson and answer some of the key questions and storylines to watch:

 

1. With Chad Morris leaving to be the head coach at SMU, the focus shifts to co-coordinators Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott to keep Clemson’s offense among the best in the ACC. Should this be an easy transition for the Tigers? Or will Clemson’s offense take a step back without Morris calling the plays?

 

Clemson scored 40 points in the Russell Athletic Bowl win over Oklahoma, and with Tony Elliott calling the plays the offense moved the ball pretty well. Both Elliott and Scott have spent the last few years calling the plays in the scrimmages and the spring games and learning the art of calling plays under Morris, and head coach Dabo Swinney made the transition easier by saying that the offense is a "Clemson offense" and not changing the scheme or plays. As long as quarterback Deshaun Watson is healthy, the offense shouldn't miss a step without Morris.

 

2. The offensive line loses three starters from a unit that allowed 27 sacks last season. How big of a concern is this for Clemson with quarterback Deshaun Watson recovering from a knee injury? Also, can true freshman Mitch Hyatt factor prominently into the offensive line rotation this year?

 

I think this is the biggest concern on the offensive side of the ball. The good news is that two of the new starters - left guard Eric Mac Lain and right tackle Joe Gore - have each started games over the last few seasons and have played significant snaps. Add in center Ryan Norton and left tackle Isaiah Battle and the Tigers have plenty of experience at four of the spots. That leaves right guard Tyrone Crowder to prove he belongs. If the Tigers get back center Jay Guillermo - who is out this spring - Norton can move to the right guard spot and Clemson would then have five starters who have started games in the past. Mitch Hyatt has all the tools and came to camp at 282 pounds, and he will see action this season. His best position is left tackle, but with Battle (who has NFL talent) in front of him those snaps will be limited. If he sees action, it could be at the right tackle spot. Gore didn't impress against Georgia and South Carolina State last season, and another rough start might mean Hyatt gets thrown into action early.

 

3. In terms of skill talent, Clemson should have one of the best groups in the ACC next year. Is this Wayne Gallman’s job to lose at running back? Or will the Tigers use a committee approach? And at receiver, how much more involved will Artavis Scott be in 2015?

 

The job is Gallman's to lose. For now. Tyshon Dye missed the first part of the season in 2014 recovering from an Achilles tear and didn't make an appearance until late October. Swinney has said that Dye - who is a bigger back - fits more into Clemson's style of attack and that Dye just needed a spring practice to get fully invested in the offense and completely healthy. He is getting that chance this spring, and will push Gallman for that starting spot. However, Elliott told us last week that because Clemson wants to run 80-plus plays per game there will be plenty of playing time for everybody. Artavis Scott came on strong at the end of last season, and you have to figure he will be even more involved in the offense this season. He is playing in Sammy Watkins' old spot, and Elliott can get him the ball on the run, in the Wildcat, orbit motion and down the field.

 

4. The defensive line was hit hard by departures, including standouts in end Vic Beasley and tackle Grady Jarrett. But this unit returns a rising star in Shaq Lawson at end and some promising talent from the recruiting class. How big of a drop-off will there be in 2015 for this group?

 

There isn't too much of a drop-off in terms of talent - the Tigers have recruited well the past few years - but will sorely lack in experience. There will be new starters across the board in the front seven, and despite the talent I am sure there will be growing pains. But don't expect too much of a drop-off. While earning the title of the nation's number one ranked defense probably isn't feasible, it isn't out of the realm of possibility that this group can still be Top 20 nationally.

 

5. Outside of Lawson and cornerback Mackensie Alexander, who are a few players that might step up on defense this year to help replace some of the departed standouts from 2014?

 

Defensive tackles Carlos Watkins and D.J. Reader have both started games, as have linebackers Ben Boulware and B.J. Goodson. Boulware started for Stephone Anthony in the bowl game and returned an interception for a touchdown, and he is a tackling machine whenever he's on the field. He's also a fan favorite with his reckless style of play. Safety Jayron Kearse came to camp at 6-4, 217 pounds and appears ready to take that next step into elite playmaker after a solid season last year. There are also some freshmen in Christian Wilkins and Albert Huggins - both highly-recruited defensive linemen - who could see major playing time. 

 

- Visit TigerNet.com for the latest Clemson news and analysis for the 2015 season.

 

Clemson’s Pre-Spring Outlook in the ACC Atlantic:

 

Despite the personnel losses and movement on the coaching staff, Clemson is still one of the favorites to win the ACC and should push for 10 wins in 2015. The Tigers and Florida State are considered the No. 1 and No. 2 teams (in some order) in the Atlantic next season. The transition from Chad Morris to Jeff Scott and Tony Elliott will be a key storyline to watch in the fall. However, there’s no question the offense is loaded with talent with quarterback Deshaun Watson and talented skill players. The offensive line is the biggest concern for Scott and Elliott this spring. The defense must be revamped, but coordinator Brent Venables should be able to quickly reload to prevent a major drop in production. With Florida State visiting Death Valley in 2015, the road to the Atlantic Division title is favorable for the Tigers.

Teaser:
Clemson Tigers 2015 Spring Football Preview
Post date: Wednesday, March 18, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/washington-and-chris-petersens-offseason-uncertainty-grows-cyler-miles-absence
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Washington coach Chris Petersen was already planning on a quarterback battle this spring, but the outlook for the Huskies’ starting job was slightly altered with the announcement Cyler Miles would not participate in spring practice. According to a release from the school, Miles is taking a voluntary leave of absence. And a report from the Seattle Times indicated Miles does not plan on suiting up for the Huskies in 2015.

 

With Miles not expected to play for Washington next season, the starting quarterback position for Petersen’s second team in Seattle is down to three candidates: Jeff Lindquist, K.J. Carta-Samuels and Jake Browning.

 

Lindquist started the 2014 opener and finished the season with 162 passing yards and one score. While the edge in experience has to go to Lindquist, Carta-Samuels and Browning have to be considered the early favorites to take the first snap of 2015.

 

Carta-Samuels and Browning were touted prospects coming out of high school, as Carta-Samuels ranked as the No. 223 overall recruit in the 2014 247Sports Composite, while Browning – the No. 71 prospect in the 2015 rankings – enrolled in time to compete for spring ball.

 

While the quarterback battle is going to receive plenty of attention this offseason, this uncertainty at this position only underscores why Washington could be in for a rebuilding year in Petersen’s second season.

 

The defense returns only four starters, and there’s heavy losses to replace in the front seven with the departure of linebacker Shaq Thompson, tackle Danny Shelton and rush end Hau’oli Kikaha. On offense, Washington returns just two starters on the line and needs more playmakers to develop at receiver.

 

The schedule also features few breaks, as Washington catches USC, Arizona and Arizona State in crossover play from the South Division. The Huskies also have road dates at Stanford and Boise State.

 

Petersen’s first year wasn’t necessarily the big debut most expected. And as he heads into 2015, the Huskies are dealing with significant roster question marks on both sides of the ball.

 

There’s no doubt the spotlight is clearly on Browning and Carta-Samuels this spring. Both quarterbacks are talented, but it’s hard to see Washington taking a step forward in the win column in 2015 if some of the other holes aren’t addressed or replacements are found this offseason.

 

With a solid recruiting class inked for the 2015 haul, talented young quarterbacks and a good coach in Petersen, better days should be ahead for this program. However, with a freshman likely to start under center, combined with losses in the line of scrimmage, the Huskies appear to be a team in transition - with an eye to the future. 

Teaser:
Washington and Chris Petersen's Offseason Uncertainty Grows With Cyler Miles' Absence
Post date: Monday, March 16, 2015 - 12:30
Path: /college-football/tulane-unveils-new-black-jerseys-and-helmets-2015
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Tulane is adding a new jersey and helmet to its uniform rotation for 2015. While the new gear hasn’t been officially announced by the school, images are already circulating of the Green Wave’s new jerseys and helmets.

 

The black jerseys aren’t new for coach Curtis Johnson’s team, but the uniform now features blue numbers. And the helmet appears to feature a new matte look for the team.

 

Here’s a look at Tulane’s new black jerseys and helmets for 2015: 

 

 

Teaser:
Tulane Unveils New Black Jerseys and Helmets for 2015
Post date: Monday, March 16, 2015 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/big-tens-pre-spring-top-15-player-rankings-2015
Body:

The national perception of the Big Ten shifted at the end of the 2014 season thanks to Ohio State’s national championship and Michigan’s hire of Jim Harbaugh as the program’s new coach. While the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry is only going to increase in intensity with Harbaugh going up against Urban Meyer, don’t forget about Michigan State, Nebraska and Wisconsin. The Spartans return some of the league’s top talent with quarterback Connor Cook and defensive end Shilique Calhoun in 2015. 

 

With spring practice underway, it’s never too early to look ahead at 2015. Here’s a quick (and very early) primer on the Big Ten’s top 15 players for 2015. This list takes into account production so far in career, as well as a slight projection for the upcoming year. Of course, this list is all subject to change later this summer as depth charts and personnel shift during spring practice.

 

Big Ten’s Pre-Spring Top 15 Players for 2015

 

1. Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 55 tackles, 21 TFL, 13.5 sacks, 4 FF

 

Bosa was a disruptive force for Ohio State’s defense last season, leading the Big Ten with 13.5 sacks and 21 tackles for a loss. He should be one of college football’s top defenders in 2015. 

 

2. Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

2014 Stats: 3,214 yards, 24 TDs, 8 INTs

 

Cook will have to find a new go-to receiver with Tony Lippett out of eligibility, but the senior enters 2015 as the top quarterback in the Big Ten. Cook has guided Michigan State to 24 wins (including two huge bowl victories) over the last two years.

 

3. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 1,878 yards, 18 TDs, 28 catches, 220 yards

 

Elliott closed out the 2014 season on a tear, rushing for at least 220 yards in each of the final three games to help Ohio State win the national championship. The Missouri native is one of the frontrunners to win the Heisman in 2015.

 

4. Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 2,977 yards, 12 TDs, 15 INTs

 

Sure, Penn State’s offense struggled in 2014, but let’s not forget Hackenberg threw for 2,955 yards and 20 scores as a true freshman in 2013. With a little more help from his offensive line, Hackenberg – one of the top NFL prospects in the 2016 draft (if he wants to come out early) – should rebound in 2015.

 

5. Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

2014 Stats: 39 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 8 sacks, 1 FF

 

Calhoun turned down the NFL for one more season in East Lansing. Over his three-year career with the Spartans, the New Jersey native has accumulated 16.5 sacks and 29 tackles for a loss.

 

6. Anthony Zettel, DT, Penn State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

2014 Stats: 42 tackles, 17 TFL, 8 sacks, 1 FF

 

Zettel was quietly one of the nation’s most productive defensive linemen last season. He recorded 42 tackles (17 for a loss) and eight sacks in 13 games. Zettel earned Athlon Sports All-America honors after the 2014 campaign.

 

7. Jack Conklin, OT Michigan State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Conklin is a former walk-on that has emerged as one of the nation’s top offensive linemen over the last two years. The Michigan native has started 26 games for the Spartans and earned fourth-team All-American honors by Athlon Sports in 2014.

 

8. Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

2014 Stats: 81 tackles, 16.5 TFL, 7.5 sacks, 2 INT, 3 PBU

 

Lee is one of the nation’s top rising stars on the defensive side of the ball. He recorded 81 tackles last season in his debut, including a standout performance (7 tackles, 2 sacks) in the Sugar Bowl win over Alabama.

 

9. Ohio State Quarterbacks

All three Ohio State quarterbacks could individually rank in this space. But for now, let’s just slide a placeholder into the rankings and update prior to fall practice.

 

10. Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

Decker was the lone returning starter on Ohio State’s offensive line and anchored a group that showed steady improvement over the course of 2014. The Ohio native has started 29 consecutive games entering the 2015 season.

 

11. Jack Allen, C, Michigan State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

Allen and teammate Jack Conklin helped anchor a Michigan State offensive line that allowed only 11 sacks last season and paved the way for rushers to average 5.2 yards per carry. Allen enters 2015 with 35 career starts.

 

12. Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 92 tackles, 2 TFL, 6 INT, 6 PBU

 

Bell turned in a breakout season in his first full year as a starter, finishing second on Ohio State’s defense with 92 tackles. His six interceptions tied for first in the Big Ten, which included three picks over the final four games.

 

13. Briean Boddy-Calhoun, CB, Minnesota

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

2014 Stats: 51 tackles, 2 TFL, 5 INT, 9 PBU, 2 FF

 

Boddy-Calhoun was one of the leaders for a stingy Minnesota secondary last season. The Delaware native led the Golden Gophers by picking off five passes and his 14 defended passes ranked second in the Big Ten.

 

14. Maliek Collins, DT, Nebraska

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 45 tackles, 14 TFL, 4.5 sacks

 

Collins isn’t a household name yet, but the Missouri native is poised for a breakout year as the anchor for Nebraska’s defense. In his first full season as a starter in 2014, Collins recorded 45 tackles (14 for a loss) and 4.5 sacks. He has the talent to push for All-American honors in 2015.

 

15. William Likely, CB, Maryland

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 83 tackles, 4 TFL, 6 INT, 9 PBU

 

Likely was a first-team All-Big Ten selection after a standout 2014 campaign, which featured a big-play effort on defense (six interceptions) and on special teams (two return touchdowns.

 

Other Players to Watch in Spring Practice

 

Ja’Whaun Bentley, LB, Purdue

Bentley emerged as one of Purdue’s defensive leaders as a true freshman, ranking second on the team with 76 tackles.

 

Vince Biegel, LB, Wisconsin

Biegel was on the cusp of making the top 15. He was one of the Badgers’ top defenders in 2014 after recording 16.5 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks.

 

Leonte Carroo, WR, Rutgers

Carroo just missed the top 15 player rankings. How will the senior perform with a new quarterback and play-caller in 2015?

 

Corey Clement, RB, Wisconsin

Melvin Gordon will be missed, but Wisconsin is in good shape in the backfield with Clement returning for his junior season. Over the last two years, Clement has rushed for 1,496 yards and 16 scores. He should easily eclipse the 1,000-yard mark with more carries in 2015.

 

Imani Cross, RB, Nebraska

Will Cross replace Ameer Abdullah? Or will the Cornhuskers turn to Adam Taylor or Terrell Newby?

 

Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana

UAB transfer should be a solid replacement for Tevin Coleman.

 

Wes Lunt, QB, Illinois

Has the talent to be one of the top quarterbacks in the Big Ten. Can he stay healthy?

 

Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State

Primed for a bigger role on Michigan State’s defense after recording 15 tackles and 1.5 sacks as a true freshman in 2014.

 

Drew Ott, DE, Iowa

Earned second-team All-Big Ten honors by the league media in 2014 and will be the leader for a defensive line that must replace both starting tackles this offseason.

 

Paris Palmer, OT, Penn State

Junior college recruit is a key piece in Penn State’s hopes of improving the offensive line in 2015.

 

Jabrill Peppers, CB, Michigan

Five-star recruit was forced to redshirt due to injury after three games in 2013. Should be an impact defender for new coach Jim Harbaugh in 2015.

 

Anthony Walker, LB, Northwestern

Florida native started seven games as a redshirt freshman and impressed by recording 51 tackles and a team-high nine for a loss.

Teaser:
Big Ten's Pre-Spring Top 15 Player Rankings for 2015
Post date: Friday, March 13, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/secs-pre-spring-top-15-player-rankings-2015
Body:

The SEC hasn’t won a national title in the last two seasons, but this conference is still the best in the nation. And the two-year drought certainly won’t last much longer with the talent flowing to the 14 teams over the last few years on the recruiting trail.

 

With spring practice underway, it’s never too early to look ahead at 2015. Here’s a quick (and very early) primer on the SEC’s top 15 players for 2015. This list takes into account production so far in career, as well as a slight projection for the upcoming year. Of course, this list is all subject to change later this summer as depth charts and personnel shift during spring practice.

 

SEC's Pre-Spring Top 15 Players for 2015

 

1. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

2014 Stats: 3,449 yards, 27 TDs, 11 INTs, 986 rush yards, 14 TDs

 

Prescott earned first-team All-SEC honors and guided Mississippi State to one of the best seasons in school history last year. He also led the SEC by averaging 341.2 total yards per game.

 

2. Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 50 tackles, 2 TFL, 3 INT, 13 PBU

 

Hargreaves III has earned back-to-back first-team All-SEC honors and is one of the nation’s top lockdown cornerbacks.

 

3. Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

2014 Stats: 1,547 yards, 14 TDs, 18 catches, 213 yards, 2 TDs

 

Todd Gurley’s suspension and ACL tear didn’t derail Georgia’s offense, as Chubb emerged as one of the nation’s top running backs in the second half of 2014. Chubb averaged 165.4 rushing yards over the last eight games.

 

4. A’Shawn Robinson, DL, Alabama

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 49 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 3 PBU, 1 FF

 

Robinson won’t record monster stats on Alabama’s defensive line, but he’s excellent at the point of attack and a critical piece in the rush defense.

 

5. Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 35 tackles, 4 TFL, 2 sacks

 

Nkemdiche has been a steady force on Ole Miss’ defense over the last two years. However, entering his junior campaign, Nkemdiche appears primed for his best season in Oxford.

 

6. Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

2014 Stats: 72 tackles, 20.5 TFL, 10 sacks

 

Barnett was one of the nation’s top freshmen in 2014 and led all SEC defenders with 18 tackles for loss in conference games. Here’s the scary part for the rest of the SEC: He’s only going to get better in 2015.

 

7. Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Tunsil is recovering from a significant leg injury suffered in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. The Florida native has earned All-SEC accolades in back-to-back seasons, including first-team honors in 2014.

 

8. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 48 receptions, 632 yards, 5 TDs

 

Treadwell’s 2014 campaign was cut short by a significant leg injury. However, all signs point to the junior returning to full strength by the fall. He should be the SEC’s No. 1 receiver next year.

 

9. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

2014 Stats: 1,034 rushing yards, 10 TDs, 7 catches, 127 yards

 

Fournette is primed for a monster sophomore season. After rushing for 1,034 yards as a freshman and splitting time with Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard, Fournette should see over 200 carries in 2015. 

 

10. Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

2014 Stats: 53 tackles, 14 TFL, 11.5 sacks

 

Garrett ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the 247Sports Composite last season and certainly didn’t disappoint in his debut. In 12 games, Garrett led all Texas A&M defenders with 11.5 sacks and 14 tackles for a loss.

 

11. Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Robinson started all 14 games as a true freshman at left tackle last season. He should push for All-America honors in 2015.

 

12. Pharoh Cooper, WR, South Carolina

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 69 catches, 1,136 yards, 9 TDs

 

Cooper is one of the nation’s top all-around players. In addition to his 69 receptions last season, Cooper rushed for 200 yards, passed for 78 yards and was South Carolina’s leading punt returner (75 yards on 15 attempts).

 

13. Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 990 yards, 11 TDs, 5 catches, 133 yards, 2 TDs

 

With T.J. Yeldon off to the NFL, Henry is now the No. 1 back for the Alabama offense. Expect Henry to rush for 1,000 yards for the first time in his career this season.

 

14. Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

2014 Stats: 95 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1 FF

 

Ragland is Alabama’s top returning tackler (95) and is one of the leaders for a defense that should have one of the nation’s best front sevens in 2015.

 

15. Jeremy Johnson, QB, Auburn

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 436 passing yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT

 

Yes, this is a projection based on the 2015 season. Johnson should thrive in coach Gus Malzahn’s offensive scheme and will be one of the top breakout players in the nation.

 

Players to Watch in Spring Practice

 

Otaro Alaka, LB, Texas A&M

Alaka registered 33 tackles in 12 games last season. The sophomore should play an even bigger role in Texas A&M’s defense in 2015.

 

Lorenzo Carter, LB, Georgia

Carter is a rising star as an outside linebacker in Georgia’s 3-4 scheme, recording 41 tackles and 4.5 sacks as a true freshman in 2014.

 

Alex Collins/Jonathan Williams, RB, Arkansas

Collins and Williams just missed the top 15 rankings. This duo will once again rank as of the top running back combinations in college football next year. 

 

C.J. Hampton, S, Ole Miss

Emergence of Hampton should help the Rebels replace standout safety Cody Prewitt and cornerback Senquez Golson.

 

Jason Hatcher, DE, Kentucky

Hatcher is a key piece in Kentucky’s rebuilding efforts on the defensive line in 2015. With Za’Darius Smith and Bud Dupree departing, Hatcher will be tasked with getting after the quarterback more next year.

 

Jerald Hawkins, OT, LSU

Hawkins is slated to move from right tackle to the left side to replace La’el Collins in 2015.

 

Hootie Jones, S, Alabama

Who steps up to replace Landon Collins? Jones – the No. 50 prospect in the 247Sports Composite – should be primed for a bigger role in the secondary.

 

Denver Kirkland, OT, Arkansas

Kirkland is set to move from guard to left tackle in 2015. The junior will anchor the Arkansas offensive line with right tackle Dan Skipper.

 

Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn

Lawson missed all of 2014 due to a torn ACL. Expect the sophomore to thrive under new coordinator Will Muschamp after recording four sacks and 7.5 tackles for a loss in 2013.

 

Marcus Loud/Charles Harris, DE, Missouri

Are Loud and Harris Missouri’s next standouts at defensive end?

 

Cam Sutton, CB, Tennessee

Sutton and teammate Curt Maggitt could easily make the top 15 of this list by the end of 2015.

 

Ralph Webb, RB, Vanderbilt

Despite a struggling passing offense, Webb managed to nearly record 1,000 yards in his Vanderbilt debut. Should be more involved with the offense in 2015.

 

De’Runnya Wilson, WR, Mississippi State

Wilson is Dak Prescott’s go-to target after catching 47 passes for 680 yards and nine touchdowns in 2014. He’s also an emerging star in the SEC.

 

David Williams, RB, South Carolina

With Mike Davis off to the NFL, Williams could assume the No. 1 role in South Carolina’s backfield. He averaged 5.7 yards per rush in limited opportunities in 2014. 

Teaser:
SEC's Pre-Spring Top 15 Player Rankings for 2015
Post date: Thursday, March 12, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12s-pre-spring-top-15-player-rankings-2015
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The 2015 Pac-12 season is shaping up to be another year filled of intrigue in both division races. Oregon is the favorite in the North, but the Ducks have question marks on both sides of the ball. And the expected replacement for quarterback Marcus Mariota – Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams – won’t arrive until this summer. In the South Division, five out of the six teams have a strong case to be picked No. 1 in the league this year. Colorado is improving, but the Buffaloes are probably a year away from getting back into bowl contention.

 

With spring practice underway, it’s never too early to take a look at the top returning players in the Pac-12 for 2015.

 

Here’s a quick primer on the top 15 players in the Pac-12 for next season, as well as a few names to watch. 

 

Pac-12's Pre-Spring Top 15 Players for 2015

 

1. Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 163 tackles, 29 TFL, 14 sacks, 6 FF

 

Wright was the best defensive player in college football last season and a big reason why Arizona won the South Division and played for the Pac-12 Championship. 

 

2. Myles Jack, LB, UCLA

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 88 tackles, 8 TFL, 1 INT, 7 PBU

 

Jack didn’t see much time on offense last season – only 28 carries – but he continued to provide plenty of punch for the UCLA defense. Jack was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection and is now the leader for the linebacking corps after Eric Kendricks expired his eligibility.

 

3. Cody Kessler, QB, USC

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

2014 Stats: 3,826 yards, 39 TDs, 5 INTs

 

Kessler loses standout receiver Nelson Agholor, but he opens spring practice as the Pac-12’s top quarterback after tossing 39 touchdowns to just five interceptions in 2014.

 

4. Su’a Cravens, LB/S, USC

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 68 tackles, 17 TFL, 5 sacks, 3 INT, 9 PBU

 

Cravens is one of the most versatile defenders in college football. The California native plays a hybrid safety/linebacker role for coordinator Justin Wilcox and has seven interceptions and 18.5 tackles for a loss in two years with the Trojans.

 

5. Max Tuerk, C, USC

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

Tuerk anchors a young and improving USC offensive line entering 2015. The California native enters spring practice with 33 career starts and earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors in 2014.

 

6. DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

2014 Stats: 81 tackles, 13 TFL, 4 sacks, 4 PBU, 1 FF

 

Buckner turned down the NFL for one more season in Eugene. With Arik Armstead off to the next level, it’s up to Buckner to shoulder more of the workload in the trenches this year. There’s no doubt Buckner is up to the task.

 

7. Jared Goff, QB, California

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 3,973 yards, 35 TDs, 7 INTs

 

Goff is one of the nation’s rising stars at quarterback and is only going to get better with another offseason in coach Sonny Dykes’ offense. Goff led all Pac-12 quarterbacks (conference-only games) by averaging 341.1 yards per contest last year.

 

8. Kyle Murphy, OT, Stanford

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

Stanford has placed a lineman on the Pac-12’s first-team unit for seven consecutive years. It’s a safe bet to pick Murphy to extend that streak to eight in 2015.

 

9. Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

2014 Stats: 1,365 yards, 18 TDs, 16 rec., 158 yards, 1 TD

 

Freeman might not lead the Pac-12 in rushing due to a healthy Thomas Tyner as his backfield mate, but the sophomore might have the most overall talent of any running back in the conference.

 

10. Devontae Booker, RB, Utah

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

2014 Stats: 1,512 yards, 10 TDs, 43 rec., 306 yards, 2 TDs

 

Booker might be one of the nation’s most underrated players. Despite a struggling Utah passing offense last season, Booker ranked second in the Pac-12 with 1,512 yards and 10 scores. He should be the catalyst for Utah’s offense once again this year.

 

11. Paul Perkins, RB, UCLA

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 1,575 yards, 9 TDs, 26 rec., 201 yards, 2 TDs

 

Perkins quietly led all Pac-12 rushers with 1,575 yards last season, which included 190 against Oregon, 194 against Kansas State and 137 over Arizona. With quarterback Brett Hundley off to the NFL, Perkins may have to shoulder even more of the workload in 2015.

 

12.  Adoree’ Jackson, CB/WR, USC

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

2014 Stats: 49 tackles, 4 TFL, 10 PBU, 10 receptions, 138 yards, 3 TDs

 

Jackson is a name that could easily climb this list by the end of the 2015 season. Coach Steve Sarkisian hopes to get him a handful of snaps on offense after catching three of his 10 passes for scores in 2015. However, Jackson will be tough to remove on defense, as he broke up 10 passes and made 49 stops in 13 games last season.

 

13. Anu Solomon, QB, Arizona

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

2014 Stats: 3,793 passing yards, 28 TDs, 9 INTs, 291 rush yards, 2 TDs


Solomon had his share of ups and downs in 2014 but still finished with 28 touchdowns to nine interceptions in his first year as the starter. Getting Solomon back to 100 percent after a late-season ankle injury should help the sophomore take a step forward this offseason.

 

14. Nick Wilson, RB, Arizona

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

2014 Stats: 1,375 yards, 16 TDs, 12 receptions, 90 yards, 1 TD

 

Wilson was the other standout freshman performer for coach Rich Rodriguez in 2014. In 13 contests, Wilson rushed for 1,375 yards and contributed 16 rushing scores. His numbers should only climb in 2015.
 

15. Nelson Spruce, WR, Colorado

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

2014 Stats: 106 catches, 1,198 yards, 12 TDs

 

Spruce made sure Colorado’s passing game didn’t miss a beat without Paul Richardson at receiver. The California native tied Washington State’s Vince Mayle for the Pac-12 crown in receptions (106), while Spruce tied two other players for first in touchdown receptions.

 

Players to Watch

 

Ishmael Adams, DB, UCLA

Adams was on the cusp of making our pre-spring top 15 players. The first-team All-Pac-12 defensive back could crack the list with a strong 2015 season.

 

Vernon Adams, QB, Oregon

Eastern Washington transfer won’t arrive on campus until this summer. Where does Adams fall in the pecking order of Pac-12 quarterbacks?

 

Budda Baker, S, Washington

Baker was a standout freshman for coach Chris Petersen and is only going to improve with another offseason in Seattle.

 

D.J. Foster, RB/WR, Arizona State

With the emergence of Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage, Arizona State plans to shift Foster into a hybrid running back/receiver role in 2015.

 

Peter Kalambayi, LB, Stanford

Should play a bigger role in the defense after recording 9.5 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks in 2014.

 

Gabe Marks, WR, Washington State

Marks is back in the mix for Washington State after a redshirt year in 2014. He caught 74 passes in 2013 and could push for the team lead in receptions, yards and touchdowns in 2015.

 

Gionni Paul, LB, Utah

Miami transfer had his 2014 season cut short by injury. However, Paul (when healthy) is an impact defender for coach Kyle Whittingham’s defense.

 

JuJu Smith, WR, USC

Smith is the likely replacement for Nelson Agholor after catching 54 passes for 724 yards and five scores in 2014.

 

Storm Woods, RB, Oregon State

Woods closed out 2014 by rushing for 128 yards against Oregon. Will he be a bigger part of the new offense under coach Gary Andersen?

Teaser:
Pac-12's Pre-Spring Top 15 Player Rankings for 2015
Post date: Wednesday, March 11, 2015 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Iowa Hawkeyes, Big Ten, News
Path: /college-football/iowa-qb-jake-rudock-transferring-michigan-his-next-stop
Body:

Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock is leaving the program and will be eligible to compete in 2015 at another FBS program as a graduate transfer. But this is where the intrigue begins. Could Michigan be a possible landing spot for Rudock?

 

According to FoxSports.com’s Bruce Feldman, Rudock is taking a visit to Ann Arbor next week to explore a possible transfer to Michigan.

 

Rudock started the last two seasons for the Hawkeyes and threw for 4,819 yards in that span. He also tossed 34 touchdowns and completed 60.3 percent of his throws.

 

New Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh opened spring practice with a major question mark at quarterback. Junior Shane Morris is considered the frontrunner, but freshmen Alex Malzone and Zach Gentry, along with sophomore Wilton Speight are pushing for time.

 

Although all four of those quarterbacks will have an advantage in learning the offense, Rudock is a two-year starter and would be Michigan’s most-established option at the position if he transfers to Ann Arbor.

 

For Iowa, Rudock’s transfer clearly means C.J. Beathard is the team’s starter in 2015. Beathard has played in 14 games over the last two years and has thrown for 824 yards and six scores.

 

Beathard was going to push Rudock for time this spring, especially since the Tennessee native has a stronger arm and the potential to provide Iowa's offense with more of a downfield passing threat.

 

However, Rudock’s transfer means Beathard is the man to beat for coach Kirk Ferentz this spring.

 

And Rudock could be starting in the Big Ten – just not with the Hawkeyes. Michigan needs an answer at quarterback. Harbaugh clearly subscribes to the theory that you can never have enough quarterbacks. A two-year starter that’s already proven commodity in the Big Ten would be a good asset for Harbaugh to have in his first year at Michigan.

Teaser:
Iowa QB Jake Rudock is Transferring - Is Michigan His Next Stop?
Post date: Wednesday, March 11, 2015 - 10:28
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/bo-pelini-driving-little-weird-these-days
Body:

Former Nebraska (and current Youngstown State coach) Bo Pelini is driving a little strange these days. Or maybe it's just the rain. 

 

Thanks a quick video from his son Patrick, Pelini was filmed driving in an interesting (and quite hilarious) position, along with a little background music from The Carpenters.

 

Check out Pelini’s awesome driving technique:

Teaser:
Bo Pelini is Driving a Little Strange These Days
Post date: Wednesday, March 11, 2015 - 09:34
Path: /college-football/big-12s-pre-spring-top-15-player-rankings-2015
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The Big 12 should be an interesting league to follow in 2015. Although the conference was left out of the final four of the college football playoff last season, Baylor and TCU will be back in the mix once again in 2015. And of course, the league should have depth with Oklahoma and Texas looking to rebound, as well as an Oklahoma State team that is set to improve behind sophomore quarterback Mason Rudolph.

 

With spring practice underway, it’s never too early to take a look at the top returning players in the conference for 2015. The Big 12 has a Heisman candidate in TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, as well as some of the nation’s top linemen in Spencer Drango (OT) and Shawn Oakman (DE).

 

Here’s a quick primer on the top 15 players in the Big 12 for next season, as well as a few names to watch.

 

Big 12's Pre-Spring Top 15 Players for 2015

 

1. Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

2014 Stats: 3,901 yards, 33 TDs, 10 INTs, 707 rush yards, 8 TDs

 

Boykin was one of the nation’s most-improved players last season and enters 2015 as one of the leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy.

 

2. Spencer Drango, OT, Baylor

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

Drango enters 2015 as one of the top offensive linemen in the nation. The Texas native showed no rust from a back injury that sidelined him for the final four games of 2013, as Drango earned first-team All-Big 12 and second-team Walter Camp Football All-America honors.

 

3. Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

2014 Stats: 1,713 yards, 21 TDs, 15 catches, 108 yards

 

Perine was one of college football’s top freshman in 2014. He rushed for 1,713 yards, including a single-game record of 427 against Kansas in late November. Perine should be the focal point of Oklahoma’s offense in 2015.

 

4. Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

2014 Stats: 51 tackles, 19.5 TFL, 11 sacks, 3 FF

 

Oakman is a physically imposing figure off the edge at 6-foot-9 and 280 pounds. He registered 11 sacks anchoring Baylor’s defensive line last season, including five over the final four games.

 

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5. Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 49 tackles, 17 TFL, 11 sacks, 1 FF

 

Ogbah quickly emerged as one of the Big 12’s top defenders in his first full season as a starter. His 11 sacks ranked second in the Big 12 in 2014. Ogbah delivered in big games, recording two sacks against Florida State, one against Baylor and two against TCU.

 

6. Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 37 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 2 sacks

 

Billings is quietly one of the league’s top defenders. At 300 pounds, the Texas native has the size to plug the middle, while also possessing the ability to wreak havoc on opposing offensive lines (11.5 TFL in 2014).

 

7. Eric Striker, LB, Oklahoma

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

2014 Stats: 68 tackles, 17 TFL, 9 sacks, 2 FR

 

Striker finished 2013 on a tear by recording three sacks against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, and the Florida native picked up where he left off in 2014. Striker registered nine sacks and his 17 tackles for a loss ranked third among Big 12 defenders.

 

8. Le’Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

Clark is the anchor for an underrated Texas Tech offensive line. The Texas native enters 2015 with 38 consecutive starts and earned first-team All-Big 12 honors in 2014.

 

9. Cody Whitehair, OT, Kansas State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

Whitehair shifted from guard to tackle and continued to anchor Kansas State’s offensive line in 2014. The Kansas native earned second-team All-Big 12 honors in each of the last two seasons.

 

10. Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

2014 Stats: 92 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1 INT, 3 PBU

 

Joseph and teammate Daryl Worley anchor a secondary that should be near the top of the Big 12 in 2015. Joseph ranked second on West Virginia’s defense with 92 stops in 2014.

 

11. Zack Sanchez, CB, Oklahoma

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 43 tackles, 6 INT, 8 PBU

 

Sanchez has started all 26 games in his two years with the Sooners. The Texas native also has eight interceptions in his career and tied for sixth among Big 12 players in 2014 with 14 passes defended.

 

12. Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 64 receptions, 1,119 yards, 11 TDs

 

Coleman emerged as Baylor’s No. 1 receiver last season, averaging 17.5 yards per catch in 10 contests. In two years with the Bears, Coleman has 13 touchdown catches and was one of only three receivers in the Big 12 to average at least 100 receiving yards per game in 2014.

 

13. Shock Linwood, RB, Baylor

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 1,252 yards, 16 TDs

 

Even though Baylor has one of the nation’s top passing offenses, don’t forget about Linwood’s production. In his first year as the starter, Linwood rushed for 1,252 yards and 16 scores.

 

14. Pete Robertson, LB, Texas Tech

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

2014 Stats: 81 tackles, 14.5 TFL, 12 sacks, 3 FF

 

Robertson is a key piece in new coordinator David Gibbs’ rebuilding effort on defense. The senior earned second-team All-Big 12 honors after leading the conference with 12 sacks in 2014.

 

15. Dante Barnett, S, Kansas State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

2014 Stats: 77 tackles, 4 TFL, 3 INT

 

Barnett has been a steady presence as a starter in Kansas State’s secondary in each of the last two years. He has seven interceptions in that span and earned second-team All-Big 12 honors in 2014. 

 

Seven Names to Watch This Spring

 

Dravon Henry, S, West Virginia

Rising star in West Virginia’s secondary recorded 45 tackles and two interceptions as a true freshman last year.

 

Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

Five-star recruit likely to make an instant impact for a Texas defense losing linebackers Steve Edmond and Jordan Hicks.

 

Allen Lazard, WR, Iowa State

Lazard didn’t disappoint as a true freshman, catching 45 passes for 593 yards and three scores.

 

Elijah Lee, LB, Kansas State

Lee was an impact freshman for K-State last season, recording 4.5 sacks and one forced fumble. He should play an even bigger role in the defense in 2015.

 

Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech

Tossed 14 scores over the final three games of 2014. Can he beat out Davis Webb for the No. 1 spot on the depth chart?

 

Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

Was a key cog in Oklahoma State’s late-season improvement. Will only get better as a sophomore.

 

Ranthony Texada, CB, TCU

Started all 13 games as a redshirt freshman last season. Texada is now one of the leaders for a TCU secondary replacing standouts Kevin White (CB), Sam Carter (S) and Chris Hackett (S).

Teaser:
Big 12's Pre-Spring Top 15 Player Rankings for 2015
Post date: Tuesday, March 10, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/mississippi-state-qb-dak-prescott-attacked-spring-break-concert
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Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott and teammates Damian Williams and Torrey Dale were attacked during a concert on spring break in Panama City, Fla, but all three players avoided major injuries from the incident. According to SunHerald.com, Prescott does not plan on pressing charges.

 

Prescott tweeted this on Monday night after news about the incident surfaced:

Williams added this on Monday night:

Photos emerged following the incident, which appeared to show Prescott suffering from a few cuts:

There's also video from the incident:

Teaser:
Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott Attacked at Spring Break Concert
Post date: Tuesday, March 10, 2015 - 00:37
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-15-quarterback-battles-watch-spring-practice-2015
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Quarterback battles are easily one of the biggest storylines in any college football offseason. And it’s even more under the microscope in 2015, as the position lost several top performers, including Florida State’s Jameis Winston, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Baylor’s Bryce Petty and UCLA’s Brett Hundley.

 

With spring practice already underway for a handful of teams, it’s time to preview the biggest (and most important) quarterback battles for 2015 spring practice. Ohio State’s battle will garner all of the attention, but because of injuries, it’s unlikely the job will be settled until the fall. Alabama needs a big spring from Jake Coker to replace Blake Sims, while Sean Maguire opens practice at Florida State with an edge on J.J. Cosentino.  

 

College Football's Top 15 QB Battles for Spring Practice

 

1. Ohio State


The Contenders
Cardale Jones (Junior)
Braxton Miller (Senior)
J.T. Barrett (Sophomore)

Urban Meyer has a good problem on his hands. The Buckeyes have three quarterbacks capable of winning the Heisman Trophy. Injuries to J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller make it unlikely a pecking order is determined this spring.

Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Jones    

 

2. Alabama

 

The Contenders

Jake Coker (Senior)

Blake Barnett (Freshman)

David Cornwell (Redshirt Freshman)

Alec Morris (Junior)

Cooper Bateman (Sophomore)

 

Florida State transfer Jake Coker was the favorite to win the job last season but was unable to beat out Blake Sims. It’s Coker’s job to lose again this spring. Freshmen Blake Barnett and David Cornwell might be his biggest challengers.

 

Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Coker

 

3. Florida State

 

The Contenders

J.J. Cosentino (Redshirt Freshman)

Sean Maguire (Junior)

John Franklin III (Sophomore)
De’Andre Johnson (Freshman)

Deondre Francois (Freshman)

 

Sean Maguire has one start under his belt, throwing for 304 yards and one touchdown in a 23-17 overtime win over Clemson – arguably the best defense in college football – in 2014. Maguire is the safe pick here, but the upside is with J.J. Cosentino and Deondre Francois.

 

Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Maguire

 

4. Notre Dame

 

The Contenders

Everett Golson (Senior)

Malik Zaire (Sophomore)

 

Golson started all 12 of Notre Dame’s regular season matchups, but was passed by Zaire on the depth chart prior to the Music City Bowl. In the upset win over LSU, Zaire passed for 96 yards and added 96 more on the ground. He’s the man to beat in spring practice.  

 

Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Zaire

 

5. Oregon

 

The Contenders

Vernon Adams (Senior)

Jeff Lockie (Junior)

Travis Waller (Freshman)
Morgan Mahalak (Redshirt Freshman)

Ty Griffin (Sophomore)

 

The Ducks make an appearance here in the quarterback battle column, but it would be a major surprise if anyone unseats Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams. The senior has a chance to be one of the Pac-12’s top quarterbacks in 2015.

 

Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Adams

 

6. LSU

 

The Contenders

Anthony Jennings (Junior)

Brandon Harris (Sophomore)

Justin McMillan (Freshman)

 

Upgrading the passing attack should be the top priority for LSU this spring. The Tigers completed only 50 percent of their passes and ranked last in the SEC in passing offense. Jennings posted a 48.9 completion percentage, while Harris didn’t get on the field much in the second half of 2015. LSU should know what it has in Jennings. It’s time to see what this team has in Harris.

 

Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Harris

 

7. Georgia

 

The Contenders

Brice Ramsey (Sophomore)

Jacob Park (Redshirt Freshman)

Faton Bauta (Junior)

 

Georgia’s offense should revolve around running back Nick Chubb, but contending for the SEC title could depend on how quickly this battle is settled. There’s a new play-caller in Brian Schottenheimer, so there’s a clean slate among this group. The upside is with Park. Experience edge goes to Ramsey.

 

Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Ramsey

 

8. Michigan

 

The Contenders

Shane Morris (Junior)

Alex Malzone (Freshman)

Wilton Speight (Sophomore)

Zach Gentry (Freshman)

 

Michigan’s offense will show improvement under new coach Jim Harbaugh. But how much improvement? That depends on the development of the quarterbacks. Morris has the edge in experience (43 of 87, 389 yards in career), but Zach Gentry and Alex Malzone are both part of Harbaugh’s first signing class in Ann Arbor.

 

Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Morris

 

9. Oklahoma

 

The Contenders

Trevor Knight (Junior)

Bake Mayfield (Junior)

Cody Thomas (Sophomore)

Justice Hansen (Redshirt Freshman)

 

Knight appeared poised for a breakout season in 2014, but he never was able to capitalize off of a strong Sugar Bowl performance against Alabama. Mayfield sat out due to transfer rules from Texas Tech, while Thomas started the final three games of the regular season. New coordinator Lincoln Riley is an Air Raid disciple. That may give Mayfield a slight edge for the job.

 

Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Mayfield

 

10. UCLA

 

The Contenders

Josh Rosen (Freshman)

Jerry Neuheisel (Junior)

Asiantii Woulard (Sophomore)

 

Brett Hundley leaves big shoes to fill at UCLA, and there’s an intriguing battle ahead this offseason. Rosen – the No. 12 prospect in the 247Sports Composite – is battling Jerry Neuheisel – the son of former coach Rick Neuheisel. Rosen has the edge in talent and enrolled in time to compete in spring practice.

 

Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Rosen

 

11. Ole Miss

 

The Contenders

Chad Kelly (Junior)

Ryan Buchanan (Sophomore)

DeVante Kincade (Sophomore)

 

This quarterback battle is one of the toughest to project on this list. Kelly – a former Clemson quarterback – has the edge in talent but Kincade and Buchanan have worked in coach Hugh Freeze’s system for the last two years.

 

Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Kelly

 

12. Florida

 

The Contenders

Treon Harris (Sophomore)

Will Grier (Redshirt Freshman)

 

New coach Jim McElwain’s background on offense is going to pay dividends for the Gators. Harris threw for 1,019 yards and nine scores in nine games last season, while Grier – the No. 48 recruit in the 2014 247Sports Composite – spent last year as a redshirt.

 

Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Grier

 

13. Louisville

 

The Contenders

Reggie Bonnafon (Sophomore)

Will Gardner (Junior)

Pat Thomas (Junior)

Lamar Jackson (Freshman)

Kyle Bolin (Sophomore)

Tyler Ferguson (Junior)

 

Three quarterbacks – Bonnafon, Bolin and Gardner – all made starts for Louisville in 2014. Bonnafon and Gardner suffered knee injuries, which allowed Bolin to start against Georgia in the Belk Bowl. Ferguson is a transfer from Penn State and completed 10 of 15 passes for 155 yards for one score with the Nittany Lions in 2013.

 

Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Ferguson

 

14. Baylor

 

The Contenders

Seth Russell (Junior)

Chris Johnson (Sophomore)
Jarrett Stidham (Freshman)

 

Technically, there’s a quarterback battle with Bryce Petty departing. However, all signs point to Seth Russell as the favorite. True freshman Jarrett Stidham is a name to watch for the future.

 

Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Russell

 

15. Texas

 

The Contenders

Jerrod Heard (Redshirt Freshman)

Tyrone Swoopes (Junior)

Kai Locksley (Freshman)

 

This position is under the spotlight after Texas averaged only 21.4 points per game in 2014. Swoopes had some promising efforts but threw for only 257 yards and five interceptions over the last two games. Heard – the No. 72 recruit in the 2014 247Sports Composite – is off a redshirt season and ready to push for the starting job.

 

Who Takes the First Snap of the 2015 Season: Heard

 

Other Key QB Battles to Watch in Spring Practice

 

Boise State

Boston College

Iowa

Kansas State

Marshall

Maryland

Oregon State

Rutgers

South Carolina

Texas Tech

Utah State

Washington

Washington State

West Virginia

Vanderbilt

Teaser:
College Football's Top 15 Quarterback Battles to Watch in Spring Practice 2015
Post date: Monday, March 9, 2015 - 10:45
Path: /college-football/accs-pre-spring-top-15-player-rankings-2015
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The ACC is losing some significant star power with the departure of Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley, Louisville safety Gerod Holliman and Miami running back Duke Johnson (just to name a few).

 

All 14 teams in the ACC will be busy this spring filling key personnel question marks for 2015, and the loss of several star players shows why most preseason rankings have Florida State, Clemson and Georgia Tech all outside of the playoff picture.

 

As spring practice begins around the ACC, it’s never too early to take a peek at what’s ahead in 2015. Here’s a quick primer on the top 15 players in the ACC for next season, as well as a few names to watch. 

 

ACC's Pre-Spring Top 15 Players for 2015

 

1. James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior
2014 Stats: 1,765 yards, 26 TDs

Conner was the ACC’s Player of the Year in 2014 and will remain the centerpiece of Pittsburgh’s offense in 2015. 

 

2. Jalen Ramsey, S, Florida State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 79 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 2 INT, 12 PBU

 

Ramsey’s all-around ability is a huge asset for Florida State’s defense. He led the team with 12 pass breakups last season and could slide to cornerback to help replace the production lost by P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby.

 

3. Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 54 tackles, 2 INT, 15 PBU

 

Fuller has a variety of accolades in just two seasons with the Hokies. The Baltimore native was the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2013 and earned All-America honors last year. He should lead a tough Virginia Tech defense in 2015.

 

4. Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 78 receptions, 1,261 yards, 8 TDs

 

Boyd has started his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and has grabbed 15 touchdown receptions in two years. The Pennsylvania native will be the ACC’s No. 1 receiver in 2015.

 

5. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore
2014 Stats: 1,008 yards, 8 TDs, 22 rec., 203 yards

Cook is primed for a monster season as Florida State’s go-to back. As a true freshman in 2014, Cook led the team with 1,008 yards. All-America honors in 2015 would not be a surprise. 

 

6. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

2014 Stats: 93 of 137, 1,466 yards, 14 TDs, 2 INTs

 

Watson could be the No. 1 player on this list by the end of the 2015 season. He’s recovering from ACL surgery, but the sophomore lived up to his recruiting hype by throwing for 1,466 yards and 14 touchdowns in limited action last year.

 

7. Justin Thomas, QB, Georgia Tech

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior
2014 Stats: 1,719 passing yards, 18 TDs, 6 INTs, 1,086 rush yards, 8 TDs

 

Thomas is the perfect fit as the catalyst in Georgia Tech’s option offense. The Alabama native led the team with 1,086 rushing yards last season and connected on 14 pass plays of 30 yards or more.  

 

8. Dadi Nicolas, DE, Virginia Tech

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

2014 Stats: 72 tackles, 18.5 TFL, 9 sacks

 

Nicolas had a breakout season in his first full year as a starter. After recording four sacks in 2013, Nicolas upped that total to nine and ranked second among ACC defenders with 18.5 tackles for a loss.

 

9. Marquise Williams, QB, North Carolina

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

2014 Stats: 270 of 428, 3,068 yards, 21 TDs, 9 INTs, 788 rush yards, 13 TDs

 

Williams will miss spring practice due to a hip injury, but the senior isn’t expected to miss any snaps in the fall. He ranked second among ACC quarterbacks (conference-only games) by completing 62.9 passes last year. Williams ranked second in the ACC by averaging 296.6 total yards per game. 

 

10. Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

2014 Stats: 221 of 378, 3,198 yards, 26 TDs, 12 INTs

 

Kaaya started all 13 games as a true freshman and guided Miami's offense to an average of 29.2 points per game. The California native is only going to get better as a sophomore, which is critical for a team dealing with key losses on defense (Denzel Perryman), at running back (Duke Johnson) and on the offensive line.

 

11. Jeremy Cash, S, Duke

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

2014 Stats: 111 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 2 INT, 7 PBU, 4 FF

 

Cash sat out spring ball due to knee injury, but the senior is expected to be at full strength by the fall. He’s one of the top defensive playmakers in the ACC after recording four forced fumbles and two picks last season.

 

12. Jacoby Brissett, QB, NC State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

2014 Stats: 2,606 yards, 23 TD, 5 INTs, 529 rush yards, 3 TDs

 

Brissett turned in a solid all-around in his debut at NC State, and bigger and better things should be coming for the senior in 2015. The Florida transfer did not throw an interception over the last three games of 2014.

 

13. Quin Blanding, S, Virginia

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

2014 Stats: 123 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack, 3 INT, 6 PBU

 

Blanding certainly lived up to his five-star recruiting hype coming out of high school. On his way to earning second-team All-ACC honors, Blanding led the team with 123 tackles and tied for first on the defense with three interceptions.

 

14. Luther Maddy, DT, Virginia Tech

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

2014 Stats: 9 tackles

 

Maddy missed nearly all of 2014 due to a knee injury. In 2013, he recorded 55 tackles (13.5 for a loss) and 6.5 sacks. If Maddy is healthy, he will rank higher on this list in the fall.

 

15. Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

2014 Stats: 21 tackles, 2 TFL, 6 PBU

 

It’s a little bit of a projection to put Alexander here, but he’s poised for a breakout year after starting all 13 games last season. According to Clemson’s game notes, Alexander ranks first in school history in snaps by a freshman. 

 

Six Names to Watch in Spring Practice

 

KeShun Freeman, DE, Georgia Tech

As a true freshman, Freeman’s emerged as one of Georgia Tech’s top defensive linemen in 2014. He should make an even bigger impact in 2015.

 

Rod Johnson, OT, Florida State

Rising star anchored the left side of Florida State’s line for the final five games of 2014 - as a true freshman.

 

Artavis Scott/Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

This duo combined for 133 catches for 1,995 yards and 14 scores last season. It’s a good bet one of these receivers rank on the top 15 players for the ACC at the end of 2015.

 

Cam Serigne, TE, Wake Forest

Serigne was a bright spot for a struggling Wake Forest offense last season. He caught 54 passes for 531 yards and five scores.

 

Wyatt Teller, OL, Virginia Tech

Teller moved from the defensive line to the offensive line in 2013 and started the last six games in his redshirt freshman season. Virginia Tech’s offensive line is a huge question mark entering 2015. Teller is one of the few certainties heading into this season.

 

Joseph Yearby, RB, Miami

Duke Johnson leaves big shoes to fill, but Yearby is capable of handling the starting role in 2015.

Teaser:
ACC's Pre-Spring Top 15 Player Rankings for 2015
Post date: Monday, March 9, 2015 - 10:00

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