Articles By Steven Lassan

Path: /college-football/college-football-bowl-projections-2012

Whether you hate or love the BCS, the bowl season is exciting time for college football fans. Although there are too many bowl games, it's one last chance to see teams before the long offseason sets in. 

Athlon has released its 2012 rankings but it's time to unveil where teams will be spending the postseason.

USC and LSU are Athlon's prediction to play in the national title game, but who will play in college football's remaining 35 bowls?

2012-2013 College Football Bowl Projections

Bowl Date Tie-In Projected Matchup
New Mexico Dec. 15 MWC vs. Pac-12 Arizona vs. Colorado State
Famous Idaho Potato Dec. 15 MAC vs. WAC Louisiana Tech vs. Western Michigan
Poinsettia Dec. 20 BYU vs. MWC BYU vs. Nevada
Beef 'O'Brady's Dec. 21 Big East vs. C-USA Vanderbilt* vs. Southern Miss
New Orleans Dec. 22 Sun Belt vs. C-USA UL Lafayette vs. Tulsa
Las Vegas Dec. 22 MWC vs. Pac-12 UCLA vs. Boise State
Hawaii Dec. 24 C-USA vs. MWC Wyoming vs. SMU
Little Caesars Dec. 26 Big Ten vs. MAC Washington State* vs. Toledo
Military Dec. 27 ACC vs. Army Marshall* vs. Air Force*
Belk Dec. 27 ACC vs. Big East Virginia vs. Pittsburgh
Holiday Dec. 27 Big 12 vs. Pac-12 Washington vs. Kansas State
Independence Dec. 28 ACC vs. SEC Miami vs. Mississippi State
Russell Athletic Dec. 28 ACC vs. Big East South Florida vs. Clemson
Meineke Car Care Dec. 28 Big Ten vs. Big 12 Baylor vs. Purdue
Armed Forces Dec. 29 C-USA vs. MWC Houston vs. Fresno State
Kraft Fight Hunger Dec. 29 Pac-12 vs. Navy Navy vs. Utah
Pinstripe Dec. 29 Big East vs. Big 12 Rutgers vs. Notre Dame*
Alamo Dec. 29 Big 12 vs. Pac-12 Stanford vs. Oklahoma State
Buffalo Wild Wings Dec. 29 Big Ten vs. Big 12 TCU vs. Northwestern
Music City Dec. 31 SEC vs. ACC Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech
Sun Dec. 31 ACC vs. Pac-12 NC State vs. California
Liberty Dec. 31 SEC vs. C-USA East Carolina vs. Texas A&M
Chick-fil-A Dec. 31 ACC vs. SEC Virginia Tech vs. Florida
TicketCity Jan. 1 Big Ten vs. C-USA Texas Tech* vs. Illinois Gator Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten Auburn vs. Iowa
Capital One Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten Georgia vs. Wisconsin
Outback Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten South Carolina vs. Michigan State
Cotton Jan. 4 Big 12 vs. SEC West Virginia vs. Arkansas
BBVA Compass Jan. 5 SEC vs. Big East Missouri vs. Cincinnati Jan. 6 MAC vs. Sun Belt Arkansas State vs. Ohio
BCS Bowls      
Rose Jan. 1 BCS vs. BCS Michigan vs. Oregon
Orange Jan. 1 BCS vs. BCS Florida State vs. Louisville
Sugar Jan. 2 BCS vs. BCS Alabama vs. Texas
Fiesta Jan. 3 BCS vs. BCS Oklahoma vs. Nebraska
National Title Jan. 7 BCS vs. BCS USC vs. LSU

*  According to our projections, the Big East, Big Ten, ACC, Army and Big 12 will fail to to fill their allotted slots.

Related College Football Content

2012 College Football Rankings
Athlon's 2012 All-American Team

Athlon's 2012 College Football Predictions

College Football's Top 10 Impact Transfers

Ranking College Football's New Head Coaches for 2012

College Football's Top 25 Heisman Contenders for 2012

<p> College Football Bowl Projections for 2012</p>
Post date: Monday, July 16, 2012 - 05:55
Path: /college-football/unit-rankings-2012-big-12-defensive-lines

Kickoff for the 2012 college football season is still two months away, but it's never too early to project how the year might play out. Athlon will be taking a look at how each position stacks up in the BCS conferences and nationally until the start of the season.

Each unit ranking was evaluated based upon how it will perform in 2012 - not how the team played in 2011.

Ranking the Big 12's Defensive Lines for 2012

1. Texas Defensive tackle Kheeston Randall is gone, but the Longhorns should still own the Big 12’s top defensive line. Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor form one of the nation’s best end duos after combining for 14.5 sacks last year. Both players have the potential to be first-round picks in the 2013 NFL Draft. Junior Ashton Dorsey is a rising star and will anchor the interior. Sophomore Desmond Jackson is expected to start at the other tackle spot, but junior college transfer Brandon Moore will contribute immediately. Texas finished sixth nationally against the run and ranked 29th with 30 sacks last year. With the talent returning in Austin, the Longhorns could improve those numbers in 2012. 

2. OklahomaThe Sooners need to show vast improvement on defense if they expect to compete for a national title in 2012. The rush defense was average (43rd nationally) but replacing two stars on a unit that was eighth nationally in sacks (3.08 spg) will be tough. Frank Alexander and Ronnell Lewis’ shoes will be filled by uber-recruit turned senior starter R.J. Washington, who needs to realize his long-assumed athletic ability, and David King. The duo combined for 7.0 sacks last year and needs to develop into leaders. They both received second-team All-Big 12 honors this preseason. The tackles returned largely intact, as a trio of talented options — Stacy McGee, Casey Walker and Jamarkus McFarland — are looking to fulfill their own lofty recruiting hype. Junior college transfer Chaz Nelson and a host of talented underclassmen will provide plenty of depth. Oklahoma has no issues with depth and talent, but the task charged with Mike Stoops is to return the Sooner defense to prominence and a rebuilt line is atop his priority list. It helps that all four starters should be seniors.

3. TCU This unit may not be vintage TCU, but Stansly Maponga will make sure it holds its own. He led the team with 13.5 tackles for a loss and five forced fumbles a year ago and has All-American-type potential. His bookend buddy, Ross Forrest, is a fellow returning starter and is the lone senior along the defensive line. At tackle, Jon Lewis and David Johnson both return with plenty of starting experience for Gary Patterson. The starting four has plenty of talent, but the Frogs need to develop some depth behind the front line. This unit finished 25th nationally in rushing defense and only 59th in sacks (1.92 spg) and with most of the talent back in 2012, it could be improved - provided it can stay healthy.

4. Kansas State This unit was underrated nationally last year, as the Wildcats finished 37th in rush defense and held opponents to an average of 4.0 yards per carry. This group returns a couple of key contributors, but will miss second-team All-Big 12 tackle Ray Kibble. Although he didn’t post huge stats (38 tackles), Kibble was a good run-stuffer and will be missed. Meshak Williams led the team with seven sacks last season and is expected to be Kansas State’s top pass rusher once again in 2012. He will be joined at end by senior Adam Davis. Replacing Kibble and Raphael Guidry on the interior will likely fall to seniors Vai Lutui, Javonta Boyd and John Sua. Lutui is the most accomplished out of that group, as he recorded 34 tackles and one sack last year. There’s not a ton of depth coming back, but Williams, Davis and Lutui is a good trio to build around.

5. Oklahoma StateDespite the departures of ends Jamie Blatnick and Richetti Jones, the Cowboys’ coaching staff is positive about the outlook for this unit in 2012. Blatnick and Jones combined for 12 sacks last year, so it will be up to seniors Nigel Nicholas (moving from defensive tackle) and Ryan Robinson (21 tackles last year) to generate a pass rush in 2012. Fellow senior Cooper Bassett will also be expected to contribute significantly to the rotation at end. The interior lacks a standout, but the coaching staff has assembled solid depth. Junior college recruit Calvin Barnett is a name to remember for the fall, while junior Anthony Rogers and sophomore Christian Littlehead have significant experience. 

6. West Virginia This team has few glaring weaknesses, but the defensive line might be the biggest. At least, it is the most unknown position on the Mountaineers roster. Losing sackmasters Bruce Irvin and Julian Miller is going to hurt this unit severely. Will Clark is a third-team All-Big 12 pick in the preseason and should be the best of the bunch, while Jorge Wright returns to the nose guard spot in the new 3-4 scheme. These two tackles will need to anchor the middle while Joe DeForest and Keith Patterson find people to rush the passer. Juniors Tyler Anderson and Chidoziem Ezemma need to lock down the defensive end position. The good news for WVU fans is the linebacking corps has plenty of experience and should help get after the quarterback in the new formation.

7. Iowa State While there are no questions with the Cyclones linebackers, coordinator Wally Burnham knows he needs to find answers up front. Losing two veterans from this group will hurt, but senior Roosevelt Maggitt’s return from injury will be closely monitored. He missed all but one game last fall with a knee injury, and should he return to form, has a chance to improve this unit significantly. Otherwise, nose guard Jake McDonough is the lone returning starter. The good news is there are five seniors and a junior in the two-deep, giving this group plenty of experience. Maggitt will be the key, however, if ISU wants to improve on its 98th-ranked rushing defense from a year ago.

8. Baylor Improving the defense is the top priority for coach Art Briles and coordinator Phil Bennett this offseason. This unit gave up 37.2 points a game, while ranking last in the conference in pass defense. Eight starters are back in 2012, but the Bears still have question marks at each level of the unit. The line was pushed around last season, allowing 197.4 yards per game on the ground and barely generated a pass rush (19 sacks). Terrance Lloyd, Gary Mason and Chris McAllister return at end, while the coaching staff anxiously awaits the arrival of Javonte Magee – ranked as the No. 18 overall defensive lineman by Athlon Sports in the 2012 recruiting class. Tevin Elliott was expected to be a key contributor for this unit, but he was suspended indefinitely due to a violation of team rules after spring practice. The interior of the line is a huge concern, especially with the departure of Nicolas Jean-Baptiste and Tracy Robertson. Converted fullback Kaeron Johnson and senior Nick Johnson will get the first opportunity to start at the tackle spots.

9. Kansas One look at the Jayhawks’ depth chart in Athlon’s 2012 Big 12 Preview Annual should say all you need to know about Kansas’ defensive line in 2012. Four newcomers could crack the post-fall two-deep, and there’s very little in the way of proven depth. Senior Toben Opurum is the unit’s biggest reason for hope, and the coaching staff hopes to take advantage of his abilities by sliding him into a hybrid end/linebacker role. Opurum recorded 45 tackles and four sacks last year. Keba Agostinho is a returning starter, but is expected to be pushed by Nebraska transfer Josh Williams for time. The interior of the line is a major concern, especially after Richard Johnson and Patrick Dorsey finished their eligibility last year. Junior college recruits Jordan Tavai and Ty McKinney are expected to contribute right away, while Pat Lewandowski and John Williams will also rotate into the mix. 

10. Texas Tech The defense was a train wreck last fall and the defensive line was a major reason why. Tech ranked 120th in the nation against the run — yes, there were only 120 teams in the country last year. At 1.33 sacks per game, or 100th nationally, the Red Raiders weren’t any better at getting to the quarterback either. The bad news is only one starter returns, while the good news is only one starter returns. Kerry Hyder and Delvon Simmons will man the interior with Leon Mackey and Dennell Wesley backing them up. There is plenty of experience up the middle. Meanwhile, freshman Branden Jackson and sophomore Pete Robertson will hold down the outside with veteran Dartwan Bush relegated to spot duty. Tommy Tuberville has shifted players around, signed junior college athletes, and will play freshman in an effort to somehow improve what is the league’s worst defensive line.


by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)

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Big 12 Offensive Line Rankings for 2012
Big 12 Wide Receiver Rankings for 2012
Athlon's 2012 Big 12 Predictions

Athlon's 2012 All-Big 12 Team

Big 12 Heisman Contenders for 2012
College Football Realignment Winners and Losers
The History of Big 12 Realignment
Introducing West Virginia to the Big 12
TCU Comes Home to the Big 12

<p> Unit Rankings: 2012 Big 12 Defensive Lines</p>
Post date: Monday, July 16, 2012 - 05:45
All taxonomy terms: College Football, MAC, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-examining-best-players-mac

College fantasy football drafts will be heating up over the next few months and Athlon Sports has teamed with The College Fantasy Football Site to provide in-depth coverage for 2012. 

2012 Preseason MAC All-Fantasy Team

Using a starting roster of 2-QB, 3-RB, 3-WR, FLEX, TE, K, Def/ST, All-Conference Fantasy Teams are projected using the following scoring system:

Passing—25 pass yds = 1 point, Passing TD = 4 points, INTs = -1 point

Rushing—10 rushing yards = 1 point, Rushing TDs = 6 points

Receiving—.5 points per reception, 10 receiving yards = 1 point, Receiving TDs = 6 points

Kicking—Extra Point = 1 point, FG 0-39 yards = 3 points, 40-49 yards = 4 points, 50+ = 5 points

Defense/ST—Defense, KR, and PR TDs = 6 points, Safety = 2 points, Fumbles and INTs = 3 points, Sack = 1 point, Points allowed (0 = 15 points, 2-6 = 10 points, 7-10 = 7 points, 11-13 = 5 points, 14-21 = 4 points, 22-28 = 2 points, 29-24 = 0 points, 35+ = -2 points)



QB—Tyler Tettleton, Jr. (Ohio)

Last season:  Passed for 3,302 yards and 28 TDs, rushed for 658 yards and 10 TDs.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 4-5-6; Norfolk St, @ UMass, Buffalo

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Bowling Green, @ Ball St, @ Kent St


QB—Alex Carder, Sr. (Western Michigan)

Last season:  Passed for 3,873 yards and 31 TDs, Rushed for270 yards and 4 TDs.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 6-7-8; UMass, @ Ball St, @ Kent St

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  @ Buffalo, E. Michigan, Bye


RB—Branden Oliver, Jr. (Buffalo)

Last season:  Rushed for 1,395 yards and 13 TDs, 38 receptions for 365 yards.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012: Weeks 11-12-13; W. Michigan, @ UMass, Bowling Green

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  W. Michigan, @ UMass, Bowling Green


RB—David Fluellen, Jr. (Toledo)

Last season:  Rushed for 493 yards and 4 TDs, 16 receptions for 155 yards and 2 TDs.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 3-4-5; Bowling Green, Co. Carolina, @ W. Michigan

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Bye, @ No. Illinois, Akron


RB—Anthon Samuel, So. (Bowling Green)

Last season:  Rushed for 844 yards and 5 TDs, 15 receptions for 93 yards.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 7-8-9; Miami (OH), @ UMass, E. Michigan

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  @ Ohio, Kent St, Buffalo


WR—Nick Harwell, Jr. (Miami (OH))

Last season:  Led the team in receptions, yards, and TDs (97-1,425-9).

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 4-5-6; UMass, @ Akron, @ Cincinnati

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Kent St, @ C. Michigan, Ball St


WR—Bernard Reedy, Jr. (Toledo)

Last season:  40 receptions for 758 yards and 9 TDs.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 5-6-7; @ W. Michigan, C. Michigan, @ E. Michigan

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Bye, @ No. Illinois, Akron


WR—Eric Monette, Sr. (Western Michigan)

Last season:  29 receptions for 306 yards and TD.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 6-7-8; UMass, @ Ball St, @ Kent St

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  @ Buffalo, E. Michigan, Bye


TE—Garrett Hoskins, Sr. (Eastern Michigan)

Last season:  22 receptions for 328 yards and 3 TDs.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 6-7-8; Kent St, Temple, Army

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  C. Michigan, @ W. Michigan, No. Illinois


FLEX—Titus Davis, So. (Central Michigan)

Last season:  40 receptions for 751 yards and 8 TDs.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 7-8-9; Navy, Ball St, Akron

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  @ E. Michigan, Miami (OH), @ UMass


K—Matt Weller, Sr. (Ohio)

Last season: 25 of 34 on FG attempts, 48 of 49 on extra points.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 5-6-7; @ UMass, Buffalo, Akron

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Bowling Green, @ Ball St, @ Kent St


DEF/ST—Ohio Bobcats

Last season:  No. 32 scoring defense, No. 46 scoring defense.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 4-5-6; Norfolk St, @ UMass, Buffalo

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Bowling Green, @ Ball St, @ Kent St


Top 5 Reserves

QB—Jordan Lynch, Jr. (NIU)

QB—Zac Dysert, Sr. (Miami (OH))

RB—Jahwan Edwards, So. (Ball St)

RB—Jawon Chisholm, So. (Akron)

WR—Donte Foster, Jr. (Ohio)


By Joe DiSalvo

The College Fantasy Football Site

Follow Joe DiSalvo on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Related Content: Athlon's 2012 College Fantasy Football Rankings

<p> College Fantasy Football: Examining the Best Players in the MAC</p>
Post date: Sunday, July 15, 2012 - 15:33
Path: /college-football/unit-rankings-2012-acc-offensive-lines

Kickoff for the 2012 college football season is still two months away, but it's never too early to project how the year might play out. Athlon will be taking a look at how each position stacks up in the BCS conferences and nationally until the start of the season.

Each unit ranking was evaluated based upon how it will perform in 2012 - not how the team played in 2011.

Ranking the ACC's Offensive Lines for 2012

1. North CarolinaThe Tar Heels averaged 28 points a game last year but could raise that number in 2012 with the arrival of new coach Larry Fedora. Quarterback Bryn Renner and running back Giovani Bernard will be two of the top players in the ACC, and both players will operate behind the No. 1 offensive line in the ACC. Left tackle James Hurst earned second-team All-ACC honors last year and could push for All-American status with a standout 2012 campaign. Senior Jonathan Cooper is also one of the best guards in the nation. Seniors Travis Bond and Brennan Williams are back as returning starters on the right side of the line. The biggest question mark will be replacing the steady Cam Holland at center. It’s not a particularly strong year for offensive lines in the ACC, but the Tar Heels have two likely first-team All-ACC players and should cut down on the 27 sacks allowed last year.

2. NC State The Wolfpack are a trendy sleeper pick to contend in the Atlantic Division. Quarterback Mike Glennon returns after a solid 2011 season, and the offensive line returns four starters from last year. Center Camden Wentz has made 26 consecutive starts and is an Athlon second-team All-ACC selection for 2012. Left tackle R.J. Mattes has started 30 contests in his career and will solidify the left side of the line. Andrew Wallace will likely start at left guard after missing most of 2011 with an injury. Rob Crisp ranked as the No. 2 offensive lineman in the 2010 recruiting class by Athlon Sports and all signs point to a breakout year in 2012. 

3. Georgia Tech Considering the Yellow Jackets’ option offense, it’s a little difficult to evaluate how this unit stacks up against the rest in the ACC. Georgia Tech allowed 13 sacks last year, but attempted only 167 passes. The good news for this unit is rushers averaged 5.7 yards per carry and recorded 45 scores on the ground last year. Four starters are back in 2012, including standout guard (and Athlon 2012 All-American) Omoregie Uzzi. Ray Beno (tackle), Will Jackson (guard) and center Jay Finch are back as returning starters. The lone spot up for grabs (tackle) on the line is expected to be decided between Morgan Bailey or Tyler Kidney.

4. VirginiaOne of the big reasons for Virginia’s improvement on the ground last year is due to the performance of the offensive line. This group led the way for rushers to average 4.3 yards per carry last season and allowed only 16 sacks. Guard Austin Pasztor and center Anthony Mihota must be replaced, but three starters are back for 2012. Left tackle Oday Aboushi should contend for All-American accolades, while right tackle Morgan Moses is a rising star in the ACC. Luke Bowanko started all 13 games and will return to man the right guard spot.

5. ClemsonThis unit had its share of ups and downs last year, but with three key starters departing, it will be a struggle up front once again in 2012. Tackles Phillip Price and Landon Walker and guard Antoine McClain started all 14 games last season and will be missed. However, the cupboard isn’t completely bare, especially with center Dalton Freeman returning. He garnered first-team All-ACC honors in 2011 and should be one of the top linemen in the conference for 2012. Brandon Thomas started at guard last year but will shift to left tackle this season. Junior Tyler Shatley switched from the defensive line to guard in the spring and is expected to start this year. Kalon Davis and Gifford Timothy will likely win the other two spots. 

6. DukeThis group has been a source of frustration for coach David Cutcliffe during his tenure in Durham, but the Blue Devils may be ready to turn a corner in 2012. Four starters are back along the offensive line, and this group will regain the services of center Brian Moore, who missed nearly all of 2011 due to an arm injury. Laken Tomlinson started all 12 games as a freshman last year and is an Athlon third-team All-ACC selection for 2012. Juniors Dave Harding and Perry Simmons are expected to return as starters, while Takoby Cofield will take over at left tackle. The Blue Devils allowed only 19 sacks last year, but need to find a way to open up more rushing lanes after rushers averaged only 3.1 yards per carry in 2011.

7. MiamiWith a new quarterback taking over, the departure of running back Lamar Miller to the NFL and two receivers (Tommy Streeter and Travis Benjamin) finishing their eligibility, the Hurricanes could have a few growing pains on offense this year. The line allowed only 19 sacks last season, but must replace center Tyler Horn, guard/tackle Brandon Washington and guard Harland Gunn. Right guard Brandon Linder is expected to be the leader for this group after starting 12 games in 2011. Jon Feliciano will likely start at left guard, while Shane McDermott has the early edge to replace Horn at center. The key to this unit’s performance will be the play of Seantrel Henderson. The junior arrived at Miami as one of the top high school recruits in the nation but has yet to live up to that potential.

8. Florida StateIf the Seminoles want to contend for a national championship, this is the unit that has to make the most progress in the fall. Florida State’s offensive line allowed a league-high 41 sacks last year, and rushers averaged only 3.3 yards per carry. Line coach Rick Trickett tried a handful of different players in the starting lineup last season, but the unit seemed to find some success in the second half of the Champs Sports Bowl victory against Notre Dame. It’s possible five sophomores could crack the starting lineup, including Cameron Erving, who switched from defensive tackle to left tackle in the spring. There’s a lot of youth, but it’s difficult to see this unit struggling as much as it did in 2011.

9. Boston CollegeThe Eagles are usually solid along the offensive line, but 2011 was a disappointing year for this group. This unit allowed 24 sacks (65th nationally), but rushers averaged only 3.6 yards per carry last season. There’s hope for improvement in 2012, especially with the return of four starters, and the addition of former Ohio State offensive line coach Jim Bollman. Tackles Emmett Cleary and John Wetzel are solid, with Ian White and Bobby Vardaro returning as starters. Cleary is the best player on this unit and should contend for All-ACC honors. The biggest loss is center Mark Spinney, but it appears White will shift from guard to anchor the middle.

10. Virginia TechJust like ACC title contenders Florida State and Clemson, the Hokies have significant question marks about its offensive line. Four starters – including All-ACC selections Blake DeChristopher and Jaymes Brooks – are gone from a unit that allowed 17 sacks last season. The lone returning starter is Andrew Miller, who could be one of the ACC’s top centers in 2012. The rest of the group is up for grabs, with Georgia transfer Brent Benedict expected to work his way into the mix at one of the guard spots. Senior Nick Becton should be solid at left tackle, but there’s a lot of pressure on inexperienced left guard David Wang and right tackle Vinston Painter to perform right away in 2012.

11. MarylandNot much went right on offense for the Terrapins last season. The quarterbacks struggled to adapt to Gary Crowton’s scheme, the receivers were inconsistent, and Maryland ranked 10th in the ACC in scoring offense. This group had some promise surrounding it at the close of 2011, but the decision by Max Garcia and R.J. Dill to transfer has clouded the outlook for 2012. Guard Bennett Fulper is an All-ACC performer, but there are few proven options around him. Justin Gilbert’s return from knee injuries should help fill the void at tackle, but the overall depth and talent of this line is a concern.

12. Wake Forest This unit allowed 2.7 sacks a game last year, and the Demon Deacons averaged only 114.6 rushing yards per game. Although this group’s experience was valuable to helping quarterback Tanner Price develop as a starter, it has to be better in 2012. Making that task more difficult is the loss of four starters. The lone returning starter from last season is center Garrick Williams. The rest of the group is a question mark heading into fall practice and there could be some position shuffling before the 2012 season begins. 

By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)

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Ranking the ACC Wide Receiving Corps for 2012
College Football's Top 10 Impact Transfers for 2012

Ranking College Football's Best and Worst Coaching Hires for 2012

Al Golden Has Miami Back on Track

Athlon's 2012 All-ACC Team

Athlon's 2012 ACC Predictions

Top 25 ACC Heisman Contenders for 2012

<p> Unit Rankings: 2012 ACC Offensive Lines</p>
Post date: Friday, July 13, 2012 - 06:01
Path: /college-football/unit-rankings-2012-big-ten-offensive-lines

Kickoff for the 2012 college football season is still two months away, but it's never too early to project how the year might play out. Athlon will be taking a look at how each position stacks up in the BCS conferences and nationally until the start of the season.

Each unit ranking was evaluated based upon how it will perform in 2012 - not how the team played in 2011.

Ranking the Big Ten's Offensive Lines for 2012

1. Wisconsin — Gone are three first-team All-Big Ten performers — and the Badgers won’t miss a beat along the offensive front. A staple since Barry Alvarez took over the program more than two decades ago, Wisconsin’s offensive line will once again be among the nation’s most dependable. Ricky Wagner will push for another UW Outland Trophy at left tackle, while the versatile Travis Frederick slides over to center. Both could be the best at their position in the Big Ten. Rob Havenstein, who conjures images of Aaron Gibson at 6-foot-8 and 343 pounds, will take over at right tackle while Ryan Groy will settle in nicely at left guard. Robert Burge, Casey Dehn and true freshman Dan Voltz should battle for snaps at right guard. With elite players at the top, depth in the middle and another stellar incoming class, the Badgers should have no issues with three new starters.

2. Michigan State — Mark Dantonio has to be excited about at least one part of his offense. His offensive line in 2012 could be the best he has ever had in East Lansing despite losing the best blocker from last year’s squad, Joel Foreman. The tackle tandem of Dan France and Fou Fonoti should be as stable as any bookend duo in the nation, while sophomore center Travis Jackson has as much upside as any hog molly of the Dantonio era. Chris McDonald is a stable, veteran presence at right guard, while Blake Treadwell will take over for Foreman. The best way to break in a new quarterback is with an athletic versatile group like Michigan State will have in 2012.

3. Michigan — Replacing the nation’s top center, David Molk, won’t be easy, but Brady Hoke’s front line looks to have plenty of talent and potential. Rocky Barnum takes over at center with guard Patrick Omameh and tackle Michael Schofield returning to anchor the right side. Taylor Lewan has a chance to be the top tackle in the league should he continue to develop into the future NFL talent many believe him to be. He is the leader of this unit and will be called upon to help develop younger players since the lack of depth might be the only issue. Sophomores Joey Burzynski and Krisitan Mateus, as well as freshman Kyle Kalis, Jack Miller and Chris Bryant, should all expect significant playing time. Potential right guard Elliot Mealer is the only other upperclassmen stepping into regular playing time.

4. Nebraska — Guard Spencer Long, Tim Beck’s top “war daddy” in the running game, and Seung Hoon Choi, the top pass blocker on the roster, will lead the way for another solid Cornhusker front line. On the edge, Tyler Moore, Jeremiah Sirles and bounce-back candidate Andrew Rodriguez provide plenty of talent at the tackle positions. Replacing Mike Caputo at center will be the tallest order, as the undersized Cole Pensick steps into the pivot role. There is plenty of talent and bodies but getting enough reps to win the Big Ten will be the difference for a relatively inexperienced group. Look for Ryne Reeves, Brandon Thompson and Brent Qvale to provide breathers.

5. Ohio State — Like any Ohio State roster, this group has plenty of elite recruits vying for playing time. Realizing their lofty potential, for guys like Marcus Hall and Andrew Norwell, will either stabilize a position of concern for Urban Meyer or rebuild an always strong Ohio State front line in short order. Corey Lindsey looks poised to take over at center for four-year starter Michael Brewster and Jack Mewhort, if he can stay focused, should be the best and most consistent blocker on the roster. He will need to be solid to protect Braxton Miller’s blindside at left tackle. Converted tight end Reid Fragel, converted defensive lineman Darryl Baldwin and a pair of highly touted freshman in Taylor Decker and Kyle Dodson will push for time at right tackle. This is a very talented group, but dependable experience is clearly lacking and Meyer is hoping his quicker, smaller offensive line comes together quickly.

6. Purdue — The good news is three starters are back on a unit that averaged over 180 yards rushing per game in 2011. The bad news is two projected starters, Justin Kitchens and Peters Drey, missed all of spring practice. Center Rick Schmeig and left tackle Trevor Foy also return to the field of play, and Kevin Pamphile is penciled in as the left guard. This group could be very athletic and possesses loads of experience as it could start two seniors and three juniors. Should this group come together quickly in the fall, Purdue could challenge in the Leaders Division.

7. Iowa — No one simply replaces two NFL draft picks, but that is what Kirk Ferentz must do after losing Riley Reiff and Adam Gettis. But new OL coach Brian Ferentz has younger brother and three-year starter James Ferentz back at center to lead the unit. Fellow senior returning starter Matt Tobin also returns alongside the youngest Ferentz. The rest of the spots are up for grabs as youthful but talented options like Brandon Scherff (LT) and Austin Blythe (RG) will join with potential veteran right tackles Brett Van Sloten and Nolan MacMillan to fill out the rest of the line. Expect Conor Boffeli and Andrew Donnal, Jordan Walsh and Drew Clark to all see reps in fall camp. This group was last in the Big Ten in rushing a year ago and needs to improve if Iowa expects to improve in 2012.

8. Illinois — This unit regressed in 2011 and finished a pathetic 102nd nationally in sacks allowed. It also couldn’t run the ball like Illini teams have been able to do in the past. Enter a new coaching staff that includes Luke Butkus (yes, that Butkus). He will begin his work with All-Big Ten center Graham Pocic and senior left guard Hugh Thornton. These two must be the veteran rocks on the interior of a line that will surround them with underclassmen. Sophomore Simon Cvijanovic looks to be headed for left tackle with freshman Ted Karras leading the way at right guard. Sophomore Michael Heitz returns to the left tackle position. The group was a huge reason why Illinois stumbled to 0-6 down the stretch last year and must show marked improvement if Orange Crush fans want to contend in the Leaders this fall.

9. Penn State — Normally a major strength for the Nittany Lions, Bill O’Brien will need to find replacements for four starters this summer. Center Matt Stankiewitch is the lone returner and will anchor the line from the pivot position. Talented redshirt freshman Donovan Smith will battle with senior Mike Farrell at right tackle while Adam Gress appears to have the left side locked down. The guard position seems more fluid as big-time recruit Miles Dieffenbach will get the first crack at left guard while John Urschel, Eric Shrive and Angelo Mangiro press for playing time as well. This group has plenty of talent but needs to jell quickly to make things better for the entire offense — and open up lanes for Silas Redd.

10. Northwestern — Pat Fitzgerald has improved recruiting across the board at Northwestern, and nowhere does he need the results more than along the offensive line. Two four-year starters are gone in Al Netter and Ben Burkett and both will be sorely missed on a unit that disappointed last fall. The good news is the left side of the line returns with Brian Mulroe at guard, Patrick Ward shifting from right to left tackle and center Brandon Vitabile building on his solid redshirt freshman campaign. The right side of the line will be key as Neal Dieters, Jack Konopka, Paul Jorgensen, Shane Mertz and Chuck Porcelli battle for two spots. The running game has to get some sort of traditional push in 2012.

11. Minnesota — There could only be one upperclassmen starting along this line and no seniors are listed in the two deep. This means Gophers fans can be cautiously optimistic about the future of its line — especially after playing 11 different players last fall. But it also means that this group is very green. Ed Olson is a junior and could be a special player as the clear leader of the group. A host of talented sophomores, led by big-time recruit Jimmy Gjere are penciled in to the other spots. Olson should be joined by his brother, Tommy, along the left side and coaches want to see junior Zach Mottla start at center due to his experience. This group has loads of upside and only allowed 21 sacks last fall (fifth in Big Ten) and could eventually be one of Minnesota’s better units. It remains to be seen if that can happen in 2012 or if its still a year or two away.

12. Indiana — This team finished ninth in the Big Ten in rushing (mostly because of quarterback Tre Roberson’s improvisational skills) and allowed 2.58 sacks per game (96th nationally). Four players with starting experience return but nearly every spot on the line is up for grabs. Center Will Matte is the most entrenched and should be the leader of the group as a Rimington Award candidate. Bernard Taylor has serious upside at left guard as well. The rest of the line is in a fluid state as the entire group needs to improve across the board.

-by Braden Gall


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Top 25 Big Ten Heisman Contenders for 2012

<p> Unit Rankings: 2012 Big Ten Offensive Lines</p>
Post date: Friday, July 13, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/unit-rankings-2012-big-east-offensive-lines

Kickoff for the 2012 college football season is still two months away, but it's never too early to project how the year might play out. Athlon will be taking a look at how each position stacks up in the BCS conferences and nationally until the start of the season.

Each unit ranking was evaluated based upon how it will perform in 2012 - not how the team played in 2011.

Ranking the Big East's Offensive Lines for 2012

1. South FloridaDespite the departure of two starters, the Bulls get the nod as the No. 1 offensive line in the Big East. Left tackle Mark Popek has 21 career starts and is an Athlon first-team All-Big East selection for 2012. The competition around Popek is up for grabs, as senior Damien Edwards is poised to replace Jeremiah Warren at left guard. Sophomore Austin Reiter left spring with the edge to fill the void left behind by Chaz Hine at center. The right side of the line is set with the return of guard Danous Estenor and tackle Quinterrius Eatmon. The Bulls only gave up 16 sacks and ranked 31st nationally in rushing offense last season. With three solid starters returning, this unit should perform at a high level once again in 2012.

2. LouisvilleThis group struggled to match its 2010 performance last year, but there’s plenty to like about the Cardinals going into 2012. Senior Mario Benavides missed the first three games of last year due to injury and the line never seemed to jell as a result. With Benavides at full strength and another spring practice under its belt, Louisville’s offensive line is poised to to rank among the conference’s best. Alex Kupper started all 13 games last season and will anchor the left side of the line at tackle. John Miller started 10 games as a freshman in 2011 and could contend for All-Big East honors this year. Sophomores Jake Smith (right guard) and Jamon Brown (tackle) will hold down the right side. The Cardinals allowed 41 sacks last season, but that number should be cut in half in 2012.

3. SyracuseWith three starters back, this unit should be a strength for the Orange in 2012. Left tackle Justin Pugh is the headliner and enters his junior year ranked among the top tackles in college football. He is a third-team All-American selection by Athlon Sports and has earned All-Big East honors in each of his first two seasons. Guard Zack Chibane started all 12 games last year and should be in the mix for all-conference accolades in 2012. Center Macky MacPherson also returns after recording 12 starts last season. This group will miss guard Andrew Tiller and tackle Michael Hay, but there’s plenty to lean on with three starters coming back to Syracuse.

4. Rutgers Improving the offensive line was a high priority for Rutgers entering last season, especially after allowing 61 sacks and ranking near the bottom of the nation in rushing offense in 2010. This unit was better in 2011, as it allowed only 30 sacks, but rushers managed only 2.8 yards per carry. Only two starters return for 2012, but this group will gain the services of Maryland transfer R.J. Dill, who started 33 games in three years with the Terrapins. Sophomore Kaleb Johnson is a rising star at left tackle, while junior Andre Civil is a returning starter, but could struggle to crack the starting unit in 2012. The guard spots are expected to go to Antwan Lowery and Taj Alexander, but Betim Bujari or David Osei could figure into the mix. Bujari and Dallas Hendrikson will compete to be the No. 1 center. Cutting down on the sacks allowed was a good sign for Rutgers last season, but this group has to open up more lanes for running backs in 2012. The Scarlet Knights still have holes up front, but this unit appears to be on the right track entering fall practice.

5. Cincinnati There’s not much separation between Rutgers and Cincinnati for the No. 4 and No. 5 spots in this list. Although the Bearcats return two starters and others with experience, this group suffered heavy losses with the departure of center Evan Davis, tackle Alex Hoffman and guard Randy Martinez. Hoffman and Martinez were All-Big East selections in 2011. Eric Lefeld enters his sophomore year entrenched at left tackle, while guard Austen Bujnoch returns after starting 13 games last year. Sean Hooey is a towering right tackle (6-foot-9) and recorded six starts in 2011. Dan Sprague has the edge at center, while sophomore Kevin Schloemer finished spring practice with the lead at right guard. Ohio State transfer Sam Longo could figure into the mix at center or guard. With a new starter at quarterback and running back, it will be important for this group to pickup where they left off last year.

6. Connecticut With two key players gone from last season’s line, the Huskies have significant voids to fill entering fall practice. Center Moe Petrus and left tackle Mike Ryan were two of the Big East’s standout offensive linemen and will be missed. The good news for line coach (and offensive coordinator) George DeLeone is the cupboard isn’t completely bare. Senior Adam Masters is back at left guard after starting all 12 games last season. Right tackle Kevin Friend (10 starts in 2011) and guard Steve Greene (8 starts) are expected to anchor the right side of the line in 2012. The other two spots in the lineup are up for grabs, with senior Jimmy Bennett expected to get the nod at left tackle, while Penn State transfer Alex Mateas holding an edge to start at center. 

7. PittsburghWhile quarterback Tino Sunseri received much of the blame for Pittsburgh’s offensive woes last year, the offensive line deserved a good bit of criticism as well. This group allowed a whopping 64 sacks, and rushers allowed just 3.5 yards per carry in 2011. The offensive line struggled to fit in Todd Graham’s up-tempo spread attack, but this unit is better positioned to succeed under new coach Paul Chryst and a pro-style offense. Another reason for hope up front is the return of guard Chris Jacobson. He missed most of last season with a knee injury and should stabilize the right side of the line. Ryan Turnley is one of the top returning centers in the Big East, but the rest of the group is up for grabs. Juantez Hollins and Matt Rotheram appear to have the inside track on the tackle spots, while Cory King has the edge at left guard. This unit will be improved, but there are enough question marks to keep it near the bottom of the Big East.

8. Temple This unit was a strength for the Owls last season, but with four new starters taking over, a drop off in performance is expected for 2012. The lone returning starter is senior Martin Wallace, who started all 13 games for Temple last season. This unit expects to get a boost with the return of senior Sean Boyle at center. He missed all of 2011 due to a shoulder injury, but his experience will be valuable for a line that needs leadership. While Wallace and Boyle should be dependable players, the rest of the group is young and depth is an issue. Freshman Zach Hooks could get the nod at left tackle, while sophomore Jaimen Newman finished spring practice as the No. 1 right guard. Junior Jeff Whittingham is penciled in as the starter at left guard. If the Owls want to make a bowl game in their first season back in the Big East, developing continuity up front will be critical this fall. 

by Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

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Athlon's 2012 All-American Team

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<p> Unit Rankings: 2012 Big East Offensive Lines</p>
Post date: Thursday, July 12, 2012 - 05:42
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-title-contenders-have-offensive-line-question-marks

When determining a preseason pick for college football’s national champion, offensive lines are often the most overlooked aspect to ranking teams No. 1 through No. 124. Quarterback play and success is equally important, but developing a standout offensive line can be just as crucial.

In the BCS standings released on December 4, 2011, each of the top five teams – LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma State, Stanford and Oregon – ranked in the top 25 in fewest sacks allowed. Six of the top 15 teams in Athlon’s 2011 offensive line rankings made a BCS game, while Boise State won 12 contests and finished in the top 10.

Factors such as scheme, conference and quarterback play all figure into sack totals, so it’s impossible to target one specific stat to rank offensive lines.

As the countdown to the 2012 college football season hits under 50 days, it’s time to take a look at how the national title contenders stack up on the offensive line. Some of the top contenders – USC, LSU and Alabama – are in great shape. However, potential contenders like Florida State or Georgia have big question marks to answer.

Athlon will release its national offensive line rankings later this summer, but here’s an early glance at how some of the top contenders look up front.

Offensive Lines In Great Shape

It’s just a coincidence, but each of the teams in Athlon’s projected top five is in great shape up front.

Alabama (Athlon 2012 projected finish: 3) – William Vlachos will be missed, but the Crimson Tide won’t miss a beat up front. Senior Barrett Jones is college football’s best returning lineman and will shift from left tackle to center. The guard spots will be manned by Chance Warmack and Anthony Steen, while junior D.J. Fluker should have a breakout year. Left tackle is a question mark, but Cyrus Kouandjio  - the No. 2 recruit in the 2011 Athlon Consenus 100 – is ready to start.

LSU (Athlon 2012 projected finish: 2) – The combination of Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews might be the best tackle duo in college football, but LSU’s Chris Faulk and Alex Hurst aren’t too far behind. In addition to the strength at tackle, the Tigers bring back guard Josh Williford and center P.J. Lonergan, while Josh Dworaczyk returns after missing all of 2011 with an injury. The Tigers allowed 18 sacks last season and allowed rushers to average 4.8 yards per rush. With two likely All-Americans (Hurst and Faulk) leading the way, LSU should once again keep its punishing ground attack going, while pushing for a spot in the national title game.

Oklahoma (Athlon 2012 projected finish: 5) – Three starters are back from a unit that allowed just 11 sacks last season. Gabe Ikard has emerged as one of the nation’s best guards, while this group should get a boost with the return of center Ben Habern. The senior missed time due to an arm injury last year. Seniors Lane Johnson and Tyler Evans and sophomore Daryl Williams are expected to round out the starting lineup. The Sooners struggled to find their offensive rhythm over the final three games of last season, but with one of college football’s top lines returning, along with quarterback Landry Jones, Oklahoma should average nearly 40 points a game.

Oregon (Athlon 2012 projected finish: 4) – Some of the credit to the Ducks’ rushing attack over the last three years has to go to running back LaMichael James and quarterback Darron Thomas, but the offensive line also played a key role in its success. This group returns three starters in 2012, and the replacements stepping in have experience. Left tackle Jake Fisher is a rising star, while right guard Ryan Clanton played in 11 games last year. Starting left guard Carson York suffered a significant knee injury in the Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin, but is expected to return early – if not by the season opener – in 2012.

USC (Athlon 2012 projected finish: 1) – Despite losing left tackle Matt Kalil, the Trojans are in good shape up front. Four starters are back, including 2012 Athlon All-American center Khaled Holmes. USC’s offensive line gave up only eight sacks last season and shouldn’t see that number increase by much this season. Considering the Trojans could match up against LSU (one of the best defensive lines in college football) in the national title game, it’s important for this group to jell this fall.

In Great Shape…Outside of Athlon’s Projected Top 10 for 2012

Michigan State – Quarterback Kirk Cousins must be replaced, but the Spartans can lean on running back Le’Veon Bell and four starters on the offensive line.

NC State – Looking for a sleeper pick to win the ACC in 2012? Take a look at the Wolfpack. Quarterback Mike Glennon is back, and four starters return on the offensive line.

Texas A&M – Transitioning to the SEC will be a challenge, but the Aggies can lean on tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews. Center Patrick Lewis also returns after earning honorable mention All-Big 12 accolades last year.

Projected Top 25 Teams With Question Marks

Clemson – The Tigers have the firepower (quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins) to win the ACC, but the offensive line could hold this team back from reaching a BCS bowl. This group loses three starters, including both tackles in Phillip Price and Landon Walker. Center Dalton Freeman and guard Brandon Thomas is a good building block, but Clemson’s high-powered offense could sputter with a sluggish performance up front.

Florida State – The Seminoles are a good darkhorse pick to win the national title, but winning the championship won’t be possible without better play from the line. This unit struggled throughout 2011 and ranked 110th nationally with 41 sacks allowed. Florida State will be young on the offensive line once again in 2012, as the starting five could be composed entirely of sophomores. Line coach Rick Trickett should have this group playing better, but it’s hard to see the Seminoles making the jump to elite offensive line status in 2012.

Georgia – This unit could be the only area holding the Bulldogs back from contending for a national title. The Bulldogs must replace three starters, including second-team All-SEC center Ben Jones and first-team tackle Cordy Glenn. Justin Anderson also departs after making 14 starts in 2011. There’s some experience returning with Kenarious Gates (9 starts in 2011), Chris Burnette (12) and Dallas Lee (7), but Jones, Anderson and Glenn will be missed. This unit allowed 33 sacks last year and may struggle to lower that number in 2012.

Michigan – Transitioning from Rich Rodriguez’s spread attack to Al Borges’ offense didn’t have much effect on the Wolverines’ offensive line. This group allowed only 18 sacks and led the way for rushers to average 5.2 yards per carry. With the departures of center David Molk – one of college football’s best linemen in 2011 – and right tackle Mark Huyge, it may take some time for Michigan to jell up front. The good news for coach Brady Hoke is three starters are back, but replacing Molk’s leadership won’t be easy. With a difficult season opener against Alabama, the Wolverines will have an early litmus test to determine how far this unit has improved since spring practice.

Oklahoma State – Although the Cowboys must replace four starters up front, it’s hard to consider this a real weakness. Line coach Joe Wickline consistently reloads, so Oklahoma State’s offense shouldn’t see too much of a drop in production in 2012. Lane Taylor is the headliner, but three expected starters (Michael Bowie, Parker Graham and Jonathan Rush) could all be in the mix for All-Big 12 honors by the end of the year. The biggest question mark is at center, where Evan Epstein is replacing Grant Garner (the Big 12’s top offensive lineman in 2011).

Virginia Tech – It’s a good thing the Hokies have Logan Thomas under center. The junior’s mobility will be an important asset in 2012, especially as Virginia Tech replaces four starters on the offensive line. Gone are All-ACC standouts in Blake DeChristopher and Jaymes Brooks, while Andrew Lanier and Greg Nosal have also finished their eligibility. Center Andrew Miller is a solid building block, but there’s a lot of question marks around him. Georgia transfer Brent Benedict is expected to claim one of the guard spots, but likely starters Nick Becton (left tackle), David Wang (left guard) and Vinston Painter (right tackle) have zero starts in their career.

Solid…But Not Spectacular

Arkansas – It’s tough to envision the Razorbacks as a national title contender without Bobby Petrino on the sidelines. However, Arkansas returns quarterback Tyler Wilson and running back Knile Davis and catches Alabama and LSU in Fayetteville. Alvin Bailey has potential to be one of the best guards in the nation, while junior Travis Swanson is back after a solid sophomore campaign.

Nebraska – This unit returns only two starters, but there’s enough experience returning to keep the Nebraska rushing attack going in 2012. Guard Spencer Long is expected to challenge for All-Big Ten honors, while Andrew Rodriguez is back after making seven starts last year. Seung Hoon Choi (guard) and Tyler Moore (right tackle) are expected to crack the starting lineup after combining for 10 starts in 2011. Jeremiah Sirles played in 12 games last year and should seamlessly slide into the left tackle spot. 

Notre Dame – Largely due to the quarterback issues, the Irish’s offensive line flew under the radar last season. This group allowed only 17 sacks and allowed rushers to average 4.8 per carry. Three starters are back, including left tackle Zack Martin. Notre Dame needs a quarterback to emerge to reach a BCS game, but this line could rank among the top 10 nationally in 2012.

South Carolina – The Gamecocks allowed 31 sacks in 2011, but rushers averaged 4.5 yards per carry. Only two starters are back in 2012, but sophomore A.J. Cann is an emerging star, and center T.J. Johnson could be one of the best in the SEC.

Stanford – Despite losing David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin, the Cardinal should have one of the Pac-12’s top offensive lines. David Yankey and Cameron Fleming form a solid duo to build around, while a talented freshman class will add to the competition in the fall.

Texas – Even if the Longhorns struggle to get better quarterback play, their offensive line, rushing attack and defense should push this team to 10 wins. Texas will have four starters back in 2012 and adds touted junior college recruit Donald Hawkins at left tackle.

West Virginia – This unit was criticized often last year but should be better with another offseason to learn under line coach Bill Bedenbaugh. The Mountaineers return three starters and regain the services of guard Josh Jenkins (missed 2011 with knee injury).

Wisconsin – The Badgers rarely struggle to reload up front, but three first-team All-Big Ten selections are gone, while coach Bob Bostad departed Madison. The returning starters (Travis Frederick and Ricky Wagner) are two of the best in the Big Ten, but the Badgers must reload at three spots.

Can’t win the National Title…but Has Question Marks

Ohio State – Urban Meyer’s arrival in Columbus should add some much-needed punch to the Buckeyes’ offense, but the line was a question mark last season and may not be much better in 2012. Ohio State allowed 46 sacks in 2011 and must replace three starters this season. Jack Mewhort and Andrew Norwell are the lone returning starters, and both players started in all 13 games last season. The rest of the starting lineup has experience, but it may take some time for this unit to jell. The Buckeyes can’t win the national title, but could finish among the top 10 teams in college football for 2012.


Returning Starters on the Offensive Line for BCS Conferences*


2012 Ranking Team Returning Starters
9 Florida State 3
15 Clemson 2
16 Virginia Tech 1
28 NC State 4
29 North Carolina 4
35 Georgia Tech 4
36 Virginia 3
48 Miami, Fla. 2
57 Wake Forest 1
72 Maryland 2
80 Duke 4
86 Boston College 4

Big East

2012 Ranking Team Returning Starters
23 Louisville 4
34 South Florida 3
45 Pittsburgh 2
46 Rutgers 2
56 Cincinnati 2
67 Syracuse 3
69 Connecticut 3
73 Temple 1

Big Ten

2012 Ranking Team Returning Starters
6 Ohio State 2
7 Michigan 3
14 Nebraska 2
17 Wisconsin 2
18 Michigan State 4
44 Penn State 1
49 Northwestern 3
50 Iowa 2
52 Illinois 3
53 Purdue 3
62 Minnesota 2
89 Indiana 2

Big 12

2012 Ranking Team Returning Starters
5 Oklahoma 3
11 Texas 4
12 West Virginia 3
19 Oklahoma State 1
22 TCU 2
27 Kansas State 2
40 Baylor 3
58 Texas Tech 3
60 Iowa State 3
81 Kansas 3


2012 Ranking Team Returning Starters
1 USC 4
4 Oregon 3
21 Stanford 3
25 Washington 3
33 Utah 3
38 California 3
42 UCLA 2
43 Arizona 5
51 Washington State 3
55 Arizona State 2
61 Oregon State 2
84 Colorado 3


2012 Ranking Team Returning Starters
2 LSU 4
3 Alabama 4
8 Georgia 3
10 South Carolina 2
13 Arkansas 3
26 Florida 5
30 Auburn 3
31 Missouri 3
32 Texas A&M 3
37 Tennessee 5
41 Vanderbilt 2
47 Mississippi State 2
71 Ole Miss 1
75 Kentucky 2

Non-BCS Conferences and Independents

2012 Ranking Team Returning Starters
20 Notre Dame 3
39 BYU 3
65 Navy 1
96 Army 3
Conference USA    
2012 Ranking Team Returning Starters
66 UCF 2
70 Houston 4
74 Tulsa 2
78 East Carolina 4
82 Southern Miss 4
83 Marshall 3
93 SMU 0
105 UTEP 4
106 UAB 1
107 Rice 1
113 Tulane 2
115 Memphis 4
2012 Ranking Team Returning Starters
59 Ohio 3
77 Western Michigan 4
79 Toledo 2
85 Northern Illinois 1
94 Bowling Green 4
97 Kent State 3
99 Miami (Ohio) 3
102 Ball State 3
103 Eastern Michigan 5
110 Central Michigan 3
111 Buffalo 4
119 Akron 1
122 UMass 4
Mountain West    
2012 Ranking Team Returning Starters
24 Boise State 3
54 Nevada 3
87 Fresno State 4
88 Wyoming 2
91 Colorado State 3
92 Air Force 2
95 San Diego State 2
108 Hawaii 2
112 UNLV 5
117 New Mexico 5
Sun Belt    
2012 Ranking Team Returning Starters
64 Arkansas State 2
68 FIU 4
76 UL Lafayette 4
100 UL Monroe 3
101 Western Kentucky 4
104 North Texas 4
109 Troy 3
114 MTSU 2
120 FAU 3
123 South Alabama 2
2012 Ranking Team Returning Starters
63 Louisiana Tech 4
90 Utah State 3
98 San Jose State 2
116 New Mexico State 2
118 Idaho 3
121 Texas State 2
124 UTSA 5

* Returning starters were compiled from depth charts in Athlon's 2012 National College Preview Annual. Athlon's criteria for a returning starter is making seven starts in a season or six consecutive starts to finish the year.

by Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

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Athlon's 2012 College Football Rankings
2012 College Football Predictions

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Ranking the Big 12's Offensive Lines for 2012

Ranking the Big East's Offensive Lines for 2012

Ranking the Pac-12's Offensive Lines for 2012

Ranking the SEC's Offensive Lines for 2012

<p> College Football's Title Contenders Have Offensive Line Question Marks</p>
Post date: Thursday, July 12, 2012 - 05:36
Path: /college-football/college-football-recruiting-rankings-do-they-matter-1

Auburn fans were getting nervous. It was National Signing Day 2012, and if you listened to talk radio, read blogs or followed Twitter around lunchtime that day, you could have been excused for thinking the sky had fallen in Auburn.

The Tigers kept swinging for the fences on recruits. And too often, they kept whiffing while bitter rival Alabama coasted to another mythical recruiting national championship.

A national analyst went on the radio in Birmingham and labeled Auburn one of the nation’s biggest disappointments. An analyst from the Auburn Rivals website took to the air and used words like “disappointment” and “shock and awe” to describe the Tigers’ class.

This wasn’t supposed to happen to Auburn, the 2010 national champion. Programs typically get the biggest bounce from a national title a full year later. Of the nine BCS champions that preceded Auburn, five improved their recruiting ranking by Rivals a year later, and two stayed the same compared to the class they signed a month after winning the title.

But Signing Day 2012 was still young for Auburn and, in the minds of recruiting analysts, Gene Chizik and his staff righted themselves. The Tigers finished 2012 ranked 10th by Rivals, only slightly behind their No. 7 spot in 2011.

How good is their latest class? Who knows? Check back in three years or so.

But in the around-the-clock world of college football recruiting, there are winners and there are losers. And they get declared now. Rivals, Scout, ESPN and 247Sports all take turns ranking players and teams in a lucrative business that makes recruiting a 365-days-a-year obsession for some fans.

Recruiting rankings matter. Until they don’t.

Five-star players are great. Unless they’re not.

Nothing matters more in college football than recruiting. Hire the best coach and it usually doesn’t mean a thing without exceptional players. Yet on the flip side, teams can have exceptional talent and underachieve without proper coaching and discipline.

How good are recruiting rankings at predicting future college football success? That’s the difficult question Athlon Sports set out to answer by reevaluating past rankings — all by Rivals, for consistency purposes — and seeing how those results played out on the field.

If you talk to coaches, they’re all pleased every single year by their recruiting class. The next coach to stand up on Signing Day and declare, “We did poorly, my bad,” will be the first. Yet privately, coaches know there are winners and losers in recruiting, even if it may take several years for that to become evident.

Eight of the past 10 teams with a No. 1 recruiting class by Rivals played for the BCS championship within three years, and seven won the title. The only Rivals No. 1 not to play for a national title within three years was 2006 USC, which would have played for the BCS championship in the 2006 season if the Trojans had not lost on the final weekend. The other No. 1 class not to play for the title within three years is 2010 USC, whose clock is still ticking.

Between 2007 and 2011, Alabama produced the best average ranking from Rivals. Nick Saban’s stockpiling of elite talent translated into two national championships in the past three years, plus four straight 10-win seasons.

But recruiting rankings aren’t the end-all, be-all, either. If they were, why have Texas, Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame and Georgia all experienced relatively poor seasons recently despite being among the 10 highest-ranked classes over the past five years? Or, the question needs to be asked, were those classes also misevaluated by the analysts from the beginning?

Either way, whenever talented classes add up, the pressure increases on coaches to deliver. It’s in part why Mark Richt faced a make-or-break year last season at Georgia before reaching the SEC Championship Game. It’s in part why Ole Miss (20th by Rivals in recruiting from 2007 to 2011), UCLA (21st) and Texas A&M (22nd) all fired their coaches after disappointing 2011 seasons.

The theory goes that compiling an average top-25 recruiting ranking over five years should make a team pretty good by that fifth year. Right? Not necessarily. Twelve teams that averaged a top-25 recruiting class from 2007 to 2011 lost five games or more in 2011. Take a bow, Florida, Tennessee, Texas, Auburn, Notre Dame, Ohio State, North Carolina, Miami, California, UCLA, Texas A&M and Ole Miss.

Teams with elite recruiting classes can experience declines on the field for all kinds of reasons. The NCAA is investigating or sanctioning the program. The stud quarterback isn’t a stud as projected or doesn’t stick around. Players become ineligible or transfer or get arrested. Coaches leave for other jobs or don’t get enough out of their teams.

Ole Miss may be the best example of how recruiting rankings only go so far. The Rebels’ classes were rated 27th, 29th, 18th, 18th and 19th from 2007 to 2011. On the field, Ole Miss went 27–35 during that period, winning nine games each in 2008 and 2009 but then going 4–8 and 2–10 in the final two years of Houston Nutt’s coaching tenure.

Look at last year’s final BCS standings: 1. LSU, 2. Alabama, 3. Oklahoma State, 4. Stanford, 5. Oregon, 6. Arkansas, 7. Boise State, 8. Kansas State, 9. South Carolina, 10. Wisconsin. Only two of those teams averaged a top-10 class over the previous five years: LSU and Alabama. They also happened to play for the BCS championship.

If not for a double-overtime loss to Iowa State last season, Oklahoma State would have played LSU for the national title. Yet Oklahoma State never had a top-25 class in the five years preceding the Cowboys’ 2011 season. Neither did Boise State, Kansas State or Wisconsin.

Stanford produced solid recruiting rankings of 20th, 26th and 22nd from 2009 to 2011. But the school was 50th in 2008 and not even in the top 50 in 2007.

Oregon had very solid recruiting classes from 2007 to 2011, including a top-10 finish last year. South Carolina had a top-25 class all five of those years, reaching as high as No. 6 in 2007. Arkansas had two top-25 classes in that five-year period and was ranked as high as 16th and as low as 49th.

Swooning over recruits is reminiscent of Jerry Seinfeld’s observation many years ago about free agency in professional sports. Given how frequently pro athletes change teams, Seinfeld quipped, cheering for our favorite franchise amounts to rooting for laundry.

Some fans aren’t rooting wildly for laundry. They’re rooting wildly for hormones.

They’re hoping hormones honor commitments. They’re hoping hormones don’t get in trouble. They’re hoping hormones live up to the hype at a time when teenagers typically aren’t physically or emotionally mature yet.

Coaches can justify immersing themselves in this perverse madness. Their livelihood depends on it. What’s the excuse for rabid fans who can’t get enough of recruiting rankings and the daily commitment tracker?

Two decades ago, fans reached into this niche recruiting industry through periodic magazines and newsletters. After that came the 1-900 phone numbers. Back then very few people could envision the interest there would be in recruiting. 

Then came the Internet to provide more updated information, message-board chats between rabid fans and eventually streaming video for consumers to see the recruits perform for themselves. Jim Heckman, the former son-in-law of legendary Washington football coach Don James, started the first Rivals. He actually offered to build the model in 1995 for ESPN, which thought there would only be a couple thousand subscribers.

But the Internet giveth and taketh away. The original Rivals went bankrupt in 2001 during the dotcom bust. The thinking was the first Rivals failed by giving away content and relying on advertising, so the business model switched to paid subscriptions.

At one point, some key employees from Rivals and worked together as one operation in the original Rivals. Heckman lost the brand name, technology and subscribers in the subsequent liquidation sale to a group led by Shannon Terry, Greg Gough and Bobby Burton.

Heckman started from scratch and co-founded Seattle-based Scout Media in 2001, taking with him a couple dozen Rivals employees. The tension between Rivals and Scout resulted in a series of lawsuits several years ago centered on tactics used to lure individual team site publishers after the original Rivals folded.

Fox purchased Scout for a reported $60 million in 2005. Two years later, Yahoo! bought Rivals for approximately $100 million. ESPN has since gotten into the recruiting ranking business but struggled developing individual school sites. Meanwhile, Burton and Terry have since left Rivals to start 247Sports.

All of these sites hire recruiting analysts and reporters to inform the public about which players are getting offers, where they’re taking visits, and how highly teams are ranked. The not-so-quiet secret is that some analysts are fans of the teams they cover, and most services rely on information from coaches, creating a unique relationship. The recruiting services need reliable information, but sometimes they don’t get it unless they rank a coach’s players high or talk them up.

Coaches may be leery of analysts. But at prominent football schools, especially in the South, they learn to play the recruiting ranking game. A coach may be perfectly content with the players he recruits. But he doesn’t want to get a reputation for never getting ranked by analysts.

Recruiting rankings have gotten better in recent years. There are more eyes watching around the country, more 7-on-7 events to evaluate, and more college coaches with a vested interest in the hype for the rankings not to have improved.

It’s just a small anecdote, but consider how some future Associated Press All-Americans have been evaluated before college. Thirty-six percent of the 2009 first-team All-Americans (not including kickers) were rated by Rivals among the top 10 at their positions entering college. Last year, that figure increased to 48 percent.

Every year there are always misses. That’s the nature of the beast, for whatever reason. Still, some of the misses are eye-opening in hindsight.

Oklahoma State All-American Justin Blackmon was the 91st-rated wide receiver out of high school in 2008. He wasn’t even considered the best Blackmon at wide receiver, playing second fiddle to 79th-ranked Chance Blackmon, who has one catch in four years at Colorado and Houston.

LSU All-America cornerback Morris Claiborne was another future NFL first-round pick who was underrated out of high school. Claiborne was a 3-star recruit in 2009, a player without a position, so he became that year’s No. 58 “athlete” by Rivals.

There is no team sport for which it’s as difficult to evaluate prospects at such a young age as football. The nature of the sport provides so many unknowns. Will the player put on weight or lose it? Will he stay healthy? And when times are tough, will he respond with the competitiveness and heart a coach hopes to see?

Nonetheless, fans must find immediate recruiting winners and losers. Coaches know deep down there are recruiting winners and losers. And the recruiting services make money off telling fans who the winners and losers are before the players even step on campus.

This is college football recruiting in 2012, a world where getting ranked high can make or break a coach.



How the 2011 AP All-Americans were ranked by prior to attending college.

Position Player, College Ranking/Position
QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor No. 4 Dual-threat Quarterback
RB Montee Ball, Wisconsin No. 33 Running Back
RB Trent Richardson, Alabama No. 2 Running Back
OT Barrett Jones, Alabama No. 1 Center
OT Matt Kalil, USC No. 3 Offensive Tackle
OG David DeCastro, Stanford No. 11 Center
OG Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin No. 39 Guard
C David Molk, Michigan No. 5 Center
WR Justin Blackmon, Okla. State No. 91 Wide Receiver
WR Robert Woods, USC No. 1 Athlete
TE Dwayne Allen, Clemson No. 12 Tight End
AP Sammy Watkins, Clemson No. 3 Wide Receiver
K Randy Bullock, Texas A&M No. 5 Kicker
Position Player, College Ranking/Position
DE Melvin Ingram, South Carolina No. 21 Outside Linebacker
DE Whitney Mercilus, Illinois No. 28 Weak-side Defensive End
DT Devon Still, Penn State No. 10 Strong-side Defensive End
DT Jerel Worthy, Michigan State No. 53 Defensive Tackle
LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College No. 44 Outside Linebacker
LB Jarvis Jones, Georgia No. 4 Weak-side Defensive End
LB Dont’a Hightower, Alabama No. 15 Inside Linebacker
CB Morris Claiborne, LSU No. 58 Athlete
CB Tyrann Mathieu, LSU No. 13 Cornerback
S Mark Barron, Alabama No. 5 Athlete
S Bacarri Rambo, Georgia No. 40 Athlete
P Brad Wing, LSU No. 5 Kicker


Top 25 Recruiting Rankings by, 2007-2011

Team Average Ranking 2011 Record
 1. Alabama 3.6 12–1
 2. USC 3.8 10–2
T3. LSU 5.8 13–1
T3. Florida 5.8 7–6
 5. Texas 6 8–5
 6. Georgia 8.4 10–4
 7. Florida State 9.8 9–4
 8. Oklahoma 10.8 10–3
 9. Notre Dame 11 8–5
10. Auburn 11.4 8–5
11. Ohio State 11.6 6–7
12. Tennessee 14 5–7
13. Michigan 14.2 11–2
14. South Carolina 16.4 11–2
15. Oregon 16.8 12–2
16. Miami 18.2 6–6
17. Clemson 18.4 10–4
18. North Carolina 20.6 7–6
19. Nebraska 21.6 9–4
20. Ole Miss 22.2 2–10
21. UCLA 24 6–8
22. Texas A&M 25 7–6
T23. California 25.2 7–6
T23. Virginia Tech 25.2 11–3
25. Penn State 27.6 9–4

This article appeared in Athlon's 2012 College Football Preview Annual.

Related College Football Content

Athlon's 2012 All-American Team
College Football Predictions for 2012

Top 25 Heisman Contenders for 2012

Athlon's 2012 College Football Rankings

Countdown to 2012 College Football Kickoff

<p> College Football Recruiting Rankings: Do They Matter?</p>
Post date: Thursday, July 12, 2012 - 04:31
All taxonomy terms: News
Path: /news/big-ten-mascots-perform-call-me-maybe

Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" song has spurred many video parodies, including the Miami Dolphins' cheerleaders and Harvard's baseball team

And what better way to prepare for the 2012 college football season than a video of Big Ten Mascots and their take on the song.

Even if you don't like the song or are tired of the parodies, Minnesota's mascot (Goldy) and Wisconsin's (Bucky) makes this one worth the three minutes of your time. 

It's good to have some down time every now and then, but I think we can all can agree when videos like this pop's time for football season to get here. 

<p> Big Ten Mascots Perform Their version of call me maybe</p>
Post date: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - 15:49
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News, Big East
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-impact-transfers-2012

College football transfers can make an immediate impact on the conference and national title races. Need evidence? Russell Wilson's decision to transfer from NC State to Wisconsin was enough to boost the Badgers into the Rose Bowl and come within a few plays from an unbeaten regular season.

Athlon previously examined the top transfers prior to spring practice. However, much has changed since then and with more movement among players over the last few months, here's an updated look at the top 10 impact transfers for 2012, along with a watchlist for 2013.

1. Danny O’Brien, QB, Wisconsin (from Maryland) – For the second consecutive season, the Badgers’ starting quarterback will be a transfer. Russell Wilson led Wisconsin to a Rose Bowl appearance and a Big Ten title, so the pressure is on O’Brien to produce right away. O’Brien had a standout freshman season at Maryland, earning ACC Rookie of the Year honors after throwing for 2,438 yards and 22 touchdowns. However, with a new coordinator and receiver Torrey Smith catching passes in the NFL, O’Brien struggled to match his production from his freshman season. While Wilson had only one year of eligibility to use, O’Brien can play two seasons in Madison. He isn’t likely to match Wilson’s production or effectiveness, but O'Brien is an upgrade over the current options on the roster. With running back Montee Ball and stalwarts Travis Frederick and Ricky Wagner returning on the offensive line, O’Brien won’t be asked to win games all on his own. However, he needs to have a much better season than he did in College Park in 2011 if the Badgers want to win the Big Ten title.

2. Dayne Crist, QB, Kansas (from Notre Dame) – After a failed stint at Notre Dame, Charlie Weis is back on the sidelines at Kansas. Weis has created a buzz in Lawrence and landed Crist from Notre Dame to start in 2012, while picking up quarterback Jake Heaps (BYU) and receiver Justin McCay (Oklahoma) to start in 2013. Crist committed to Weis at Notre Dame, but failed to fulfill his potential, finishing with 2,327 yards and 16 touchdowns in three years. Injuries derailed Crist for two years, but he was benched after a slow start in the 2011 season opener and barely played the remainder of the year. Crist’s familiarity with Weis’ offense should pay dividends, and he should be an upgrade on last season’s quarterback play. However, Crist is unlikely to provide enough of a boost for Kansas to get to six wins and a bowl in 2012.

3. Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor (from Oregon) – Seastrunk was one of college football’s most sought after recruits in the 2010 signing class. He redshirted as a freshman in 2010 and transferred from Oregon before playing a snap in 2011. Seastrunk isn’t the biggest back, but his speed will be a valuable addition to Baylor’s backfield. He rushed for 138 yards on seven attempts during the spring game and will be expected to share carries with Jarred Salubi and Glasco Martin. Salubi rushed for 331 yards and three touchdowns last season and will likely begin the season as the No. 1 back. However, Seastrunk will see plenty of carries and provides a much-needed big-play threat in Baylor’s offense with Robert Griffin off to the NFL.

4. DeAnthony Arnett, WR, Michigan State (from Tennessee) – Arnett might not be a household name like Dayne Crist or Danny O’Brien, but his addition was a huge boost for Michigan State. Not only are the Spartans losing quarterback Kirk Cousins, but they must replace the top three receivers from last season. Arnett was a key contributor as a true freshman at Tennessee last year, catching 24 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns. He was able to obtain a hardship waiver from the NCAA and is eligible immediately in East Lansing for the 2012 season. Arnett has some work to do to crack the starting rotation, but will provide an experienced weapon for quarterback Andrew Maxwell. 

5. Mike Blakely, Auburn (from Florida) – After enrolling early at Florida, Blakely made the surprising decision to transfer after his first semester in Gainesville. Running back wasn’t expected to be a significant need for Auburn after the 2011 season, but 1,000-yard rusher Michael Dyer transferred to Arkansas State. Onterio McCalebb is slated to be the Tigers’ No. 1 back, but he may not have the durability to withstand 25 carries a game. Alabama transfer Corey Grant and sophomore Tre Mason will also figure into the backfield, but Blakely has momentum entering fall practice after rushing for 65 yards and a score in the spring game. Auburn could choose to use a committee of backs in 2012, but Blakely figures to be see plenty of opportunities. 

6. Cody Green, QB, Tulsa (from Nebraska) – With Taylor Martinez entrenched as Nebraska’s starting quarterback, playing time for Green would have been limited over the next two years in Lincoln. In two seasons with the Cornhuskers, he threw for 657 yards and five touchdowns, while adding 254 yards and three scores on the ground. Tulsa has a solid supporting cast in place on offense, as running backs Trey Watts and Ja’Terian Douglas return, along with two All-Conference USA candidates on the offensive line. Green should be a good fit in Tulsa’s offense and will have the Golden Hurricane in contention for the Conference USA West Division crown.

7. R.J. Dill, OT, Rutgers (from Maryland) – Dill’s decision to transfer to Rutgers could play a key role in deciding the Big East title. He started 33 games over three seasons at Maryland and has one more year of eligibility with the Scarlet Knights. The offensive line has been a source of criticism for Rutgers over the last two years, and this unit loses All-Big East starters Desmond Wynn and Art Forst. Dill is unlikely to be an All-American, but his presence should help to stabilize the right side of the line and allow the Scarlet Knights to establish their ground attack in 2012.

8. Ryan Katz, QB, San Diego State (from Oregon State) – Katz was pinpointed as one of the Pac-12’s top breakout players for 2011, but he was benched in the second game of the year. Katz threw for 2,401 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2010, but threw for only 104 yards in the first two games of 2011. With quarterback Ryan Lindley and running back Ronnie Hillman departing, the Aztecs will be starting over on offense. Katz left spring practice as the starting quarterback and will have one of the Mountain West’s top receiving corps to throw to. If he can return to his 2010 form, Katz will be a solid pickup for San Diego State.

9. Garrett Gilbert, QB, SMU (from Texas) – Gilbert was one of the most decorated quarterbacks in the 2009 signing class and was anointed as Texas’ starter once Colt McCoy finished his eligibility. He started all 12 games in 2010 but threw for only 2,744 yards and 10 touchdowns, while tossing 17 interceptions. Gilbert got off to a slow start in 2011 and was benched after the Sept. 10 victory against BYU. With Kyle Padron transferring to Eastern Washington, Gilbert has a clear path to the starting job at SMU. After facing enormous pressure in Austin, the junior has an opportunity to shine outside of the spotlight. June Jones is one of college football’s top offensive minds, and Gilbert could have a big season in the Mustangs' offense.

10. Brent Benedict, OG, Virginia Tech (from Georgia) – The Hokies’ biggest weakness in 2012 is the offensive line. Gone are four starters, including All-ACC selections in Blake DeChristopher and guard Jaymes Brooks. Benedict ranked among the top 150 prospects coming out of high school by most recruiting services, but suffered a significant knee injury in his senior year. He redshirted during his only season at Georgia and all signs point to a return to full strength in 2012. Benedict is expected to start at right guard this year and provided he can stay healthy, this should turn out to be a huge addition for the Hokies. 


Others to watch for 2012

Austyn Carta-Samuels, QB (Wyoming to Vanderbilt)
Brice Butler, WR (USC to San Diego State)
Amir Carlisle, RB (USC to Notre Dame)
Cullen Christian, DB (Michigan to Pittsburgh)
Tommy Davis, DB (Northern Illinois to Illinois)
Jonathan Dowling, DB (Florida to Western Kentucky)
Chris Dunkley, WR (Florida to South Florida)
De’Leon Eskridge, RB (Minnesota to San Jose State
Cameron Fordham, OL (LSU to NC State)
Khairi Fortt, LB (Penn State to California
Tyler Gabbert, QB (Missouri to UCF)
Corey Grant, RB (Alabama to Auburn)
Montel Harris, RB (Boston College to Temple)
Storm Johnson, RB (Miami to UCF)
Jacob Karam, QB (Texas Tech to Memphis)
James Kittredge, DT (Vanderbilt to Michigan State)
Alex Mateas, C (Penn State to Connecticut)
Bryce McNeal, WR (Clemson to Louisville?)
Shakim Phillips, WR (Boston College to Connecticut)
Kyle Prater, WR (Northwestern to USC)
Silas Redd, RB (Penn State to USC)
Josh Shaw, S (Florida to USC)
Phillip Sims, QB (Alabama to Virginia)
Phil Smith, OL (Georgia Tech to UCF)
Darryl Stonum, WR (Michigan to Baylor)
Jordan Webb, QB (Kansas to Colorado)
Forrest West, DL (Colorado to NC State)
Ryan Williams, QB (Memphis to Miami)
Toney Williams, RB (Tennessee to Ball State)
Brandon Willis, DT (North Carolina to UCLA)
Connor Wood, QB (Texas to Colorado)


10 to Watch for 2013

Aaron Green, RB, TCU (from Nebraska)
Michael Dyer, RB, Arkansas State (from Auburn)
Max Garcia, OT, Florida (from Maryland)
Jake Heaps, QB, Kansas (from BYU)
Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida (from Notre Dame)
Justin McCay, WR, Kansas (from Oklahoma)
Jalen Saunders, WR, Oklahoma (from Fresno State)
Pete Thomas, QB, NC State (from Colorado State)
Darius White, WR, Missouri (from Texas)
Brandon Williams, RB, Texas A&M (from Oklahoma)

by Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

Related College Football Content

Athlon's 2012 College Football Rankings
Athlon's 2012 College Football Predictions

<p> College football's top 10 impact transfers for 2012</p>
Post date: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - 06:55
Path: /college-football/ranking-college-footballs-best-and-worst-hires-2012

The college football coaching carousel was busy in the offseason, as 28 programs changed hands. Here’s how we rank the new hires:

1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State

Previous Job: College football analyst, ESPN

Pros: Meyer boasts an incredible 104–23 record as a head coach in stops at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida. His teams are 60–18 in conference play, and he has led two teams to a national title (’06 Florida, ’08 Florida) and another to an undefeated season (’04 Utah).

Cons: Meyer’s tenure at Florida didn’t end on the best note. He resigned in December 2009, citing health reasons, but changed his mind the next day. His 2010 Gators struggled on offense and limped to an 8–5 record (4–4 in the SEC). Meyer stepped down once again in December 2010.

Final Analysis: This is a tremendous hire. Ohio State is very fortunate that Meyer was available as basically a free agent the year in which it was looking for a new coach. If Meyer’s health is not an issue and his batteries are recharged, there is little doubt that he will win Big Ten championships during his time in Columbus.

2. Mike Leach, Washington State

Previous Job: College football analyst, CBS Sports

Pros: Leach won at a high level at Texas Tech, compiling an overall record of 84–43 and a mark of 47–33 in the Big 12 in 10 seasons. His offenses were consistently among the most explosive in college football.

Cons: Leach comes with some baggage — though no one is quite sure just how much. There has to be a reason so many schools passed on him in the past two years, right?

Final Analysis: This is an absolute home run hire for Washington State, which has really struggled to compete in the league over the past five years. With a well-deserved reputation as one of the top offensive coaches in the game, Leach will be able to attract top-flight talent at the skill positions to Pullman. It will be difficult for Wazzu to out-recruit rivals Washington and Oregon on a consistent basis, but the Cougars will at least be relevant with Leach running the ship.

3. Terry Bowden, Akron

Previous Job: Head coach, North Alabama

Pros: Bowden has a fantastic record in 18 seasons as a head coach at Division III Salem (19–13), Division I-AA Samford (45–23–1), Auburn (47–17–1) and Division II North Alabama (29–10). He is very well known nationally and will be able to attract talent to Akron. Bowden spent the 1986 season — his only year as a full-time assistant coach at any level — as the quarterbacks coach at Akron.

Cons: Bowden hasn’t coached in the FBS (or Division I-A) ranks since 1998, when he was forced out at Auburn after a 1–5 start.

Final Analysis: Bowden is a proven commodity who brings instant credibility to a program that has slipped to the bottom of the MAC food chain. He will get quality players — don’t be surprised if Akron becomes a popular destination for transfers — and win plenty of games. Great hire by Akron.

4. Gus Malzahn, Arkansas State

Previous Job: Offensive coordinator, Auburn

Pros: Malzahn is regarded as one of the top offensive minds in college football. Auburn struggled this past season, but Malzahn’s four previous offenses — two at Auburn and two at Tulsa — finished seventh, 16th, first and first nationally.

Cons: Malzahn’s lack of head coaching experience in the collegiate ranks might have been considered a negative had he jumped to a BCS conference job, but not so at Arkansas State.

Final Analysis: Malzahn was reportedly in the running for the top job at Kansas and North Carolina. Didn’t happen — for various reasons. Rather than return to Auburn for another season, he opted to accept Arkansas State’s offer to succeed Hugh Freeze. This is quite the coup for the Red Wolves, who will be favored to repeat as champs of the Sun Belt.

5. Paul Chryst, Pittsburgh

Previous Job: Offensive coordinator, Wisconsin

Pros: Chryst has been one of the top offensive coordinators in college football over the past nine seasons, two at Oregon State and the past seven at Wisconsin. The Badgers have led the Big Ten in scoring offense in each of the past three years.

Cons: Chryst has never been a head coach on any level.

Final Analysis: It’s been a tumultuous time at Pittsburgh, which fired an alum (Dave Wannstedt) and hired three head coaches (Mike Haywood, Todd Graham and Chryst) in a 13-month period. In the end, however, things have worked out for the Panthers. The highly respected Chryst appears to be an ideal fit. His offenses have been built around power running attacks and efficient quarterback play — a recipe that should work well at Pittsburgh.

6. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M

Previous Job: Head coach, Houston

Pros: Sumlin compiled a 35–17 record (24–8 C-USA) in four seasons at Houston, and did so in entertaining fashion. The Cougars averaged 42.6 points on Sumlin’s watch and led the nation in total offense twice and ranked second once. This will be his second stop in College Station (offensive coordinator in 2001-02).

Cons: It’s tough to poke holes in Sumlin’s résumé, but it is worth noting that his record at Houston was 3–6 in games in which Case Keenum did not play (ACL injury in ’10).

Final Analysis: Sumlin was the obvious choice for Texas A&M after the school made the decision to cut ties with Mike Sherman. Nothing is a given in the world of college football, but it’s tough to envision Sumlin not enjoying success as the boss in College Station.

7. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona

Previous Job: College football analyst, CBS Sports Network

Pros: Rodriguez enjoyed a tremendous seven-year run as the head coach at West Virginia, compiling a 60–26 record and doing so with some of the most exciting offenses in the nation. He also succeeded (43–28–2, seven years) at Glenville (W.Va.) State, an NAIA school in West Virginia.  

Cons: Rodriguez struggled to win games at Michigan, a school where it’s hard not to win. He went 15–22 overall and 6–18 in the Big Ten, the worst three-year stretch at the school since the mid-1930s. Rodriguez has had minor issues with the NCAA at both stops as a head coach at the FBS level. Also, he has not coached out West, and most of his coaching staff does not have experience in the Pac-12 — something that could hurt recruiting.

Final Analysis: This is a very important hire by Arizona AD Greg Byrne, who served as a one-man committee. RichRod has some baggage — struggled at Michigan plus NCAA issues — but he is a very good coach who will play an exciting brand of football. This is a solid hire.

8. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss

Previous Job: Head coach, Arkansas State

Pros: Freeze enhanced an already strong résumé by leading Arkansas State to its first-ever Sun Belt title in his only season as the head coach. He also did an outstanding job in his only year as the Red Wolves’ offensive coordinator (2010), and had a 20–5 mark in two seasons as the head coach at Lambuth College, an NAIA school in Jackson, Tenn.

Cons: Freeze has only four years of experience in FBS football, two with Ole Miss (2006-07) and two with Arkansas State (2010-11).

Final Analysis: Freeze is a Mississippi native who is a perfect choice to take on the difficult task of making Ole Miss football a consistent winner in the brutal SEC West. The sample size of his work isn’t large, but he has been very successful at every stop.

9. Larry Fedora, North Carolina

Previous Job: Head coach, Southern Miss

Pros: Fedora was successful in his tenure at Southern Miss, with an overall record of 34–19 and a 20–12 mark in Conference USA. Prior to becoming a head coach, he was a highly regarded offensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee, Florida and Oklahoma State.

Cons: Fedora won a bunch of games at USM, but the 22 wins in his first three seasons were actually one fewer than the 23 that Jeff Bower won in his final three years at the school.

Final Analysis: North Carolina has been unable to enjoy sustained success since Mack Brown bolted for Texas in 1997. Butch Davis recruited at a high level but never lost fewer than five games in his four seasons in Chapel Hill. Fedora looks like a great fit at North Carolina — but so did Davis before him and John Bunting before Davis.

10. John L. Smith, Arkansas

Previous Job: Head coach, Weber State

Pros: Smith knows the Arkansas program very well. He was on staff as the special teams coordinator from 2009-11 before leaving (for only four months) to serve as the head coach at his alma mater, Weber State. He has 18 years of head coaching experience.

Cons: Smith is a bit on the eccentric side, which is fine when things are going well. It will be interesting to see how he handles himself if this team faces some adversity.

Final Analysis: At first, this seemed to a be a curious hire. But the more you think about it, the more it makes sense. Arkansas, with a veteran roster, is built to win now. Smith knows the players and he knows most of the coaches. There should be a seamless transition. The Hogs will no doubt miss Bobby Petrino the playcaller, but in the short term they might not miss Petrino the program CEO.  

11. Jim McElwain, Colorado State

Previous Job: Offensive coordinator, Alabama

Pros: McElwain spent the last four seasons on Nick Saban’s staff at Alabama and was a part of two national championship teams. He is highly respected by his peers and has plenty of experience coaching out West, with stops at Eastern Washington, Montana State and Fresno State.

Cons: McElwain has no experience, on any level, as a head coach.

Final Analysis: Colorado State, once the premier program in the Mountain West, won exactly three games in four of the past five seasons. That is not acceptable. McElwain’s charge is to add some spice to an offense that ranked 97th or worse in scoring in each of the past three seasons. He wasn’t the sexiest hire of the offseason, but he is a solid coach who should have this program more competitive in the near future.

12. Tim Beckman, Illinois

Previous Job: Head coach, Toledo

Pros: Beckman did a very good job in his three seasons at Toledo, with an overall record of 21–16 and a 17–7 mark in the MAC (including 14–2 in the final two years). And while Toledo is consistently one of the top programs in the league, the Rockets had suffered through three straight losing seasons prior to Beckman’s arrival. He was also a successful defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State (2007-08) and a position coach (cornerbacks) at Ohio State (’05-06).

Cons: This is being a bit picky, but Beckman’s clock management down the stretch of Toledo’s 63–60 loss at home to Northern Illinois in November was highly questionable. That game ended up costing the Rockets the MAC West title.

Final Analysis: Beckman fits the profile of a Big Ten coach: He’s been a head coach in the MAC, a coordinator in a BCS league and a position coach in the Big Ten. He wasn’t the most exciting hire of the offseason, but Beckman looks to be the right guy at the right time for Illinois football.

13. Garrick McGee, UAB

Previous Job: Quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator, Arkansas

Pros: McGee spent the past four seasons under the tutelage of Bobby Petrino, one of the top offensive coaches in the nation. While Petrino called plays for the Hogs, McGee was heavily involved in the game plans, and he coached two outstanding quarterbacks in Ryan Mallett and Tyler Wilson.

Cons: McGee has never been a head coach on any level.

Final Analysis: McGee made the somewhat surprising career move in 2007 to leave his position as the offensive coordinator at Northwestern to be a position coach at Arkansas. Turned out to be a wise move. He was elevated to the coordinator position after two seasons and landed his first job as a head coach two years later. UAB is a difficult job, with very little fan support and very poor facilities, but the school is located in a fertile recruiting area. McGee will enjoy some success if he can identify — and sign — the best players in the state who aren’t quite good enough to play in the SEC.

14. Matt Campbell, Toledo

Previous Job: Offensive line coach, offensive coordinator, Toledo

Pros: Campbell did an outstanding job in his three seasons as the Rockets’ offensive coordinator. Toledo ranked eighth in the nation in scoring in 2011 and averaged 51.0 points in its final six games. He is young, energetic and reputed to be one of the top recruiters in the MAC.

Cons: Youth is a good thing in the world of coaching, but Campbell is only 32 years old, and his coaching staff is among the youngest in the nation.

Final Analysis: It’s a bit of a gamble to hire someone so young and so inexperienced, but this is a gamble that is likely to pay off for UT. Campbell is a bright offensive coach who will keep the momentum headed in the right direction at Toledo.

15. Todd Graham, Arizona State

Previous Job: Head coach, Pittsburgh

Pros: Graham is 20 games over .500 (49–29) in six seasons as a head coach — at three different programs. In 2006, he took a Rice team that had gone 1–10 the year before to the school’s first bowl game since 1961. He has had only one losing season as a head coach.

Cons: Graham has bolted after one year twice in his relatively short career as a head coach, leaving Rice after the 2006 season for Tulsa and Pitt in 2011 for Arizona State. This reputation as a program-hopper could hurt recruiting. Also, he has had high turnover among his staff in previous stops. 

Final Analysis: Graham was crucified by the national media for leaving Pittsburgh after one year, but the guy is a pretty good coach. Pitt struggled in 2011 (6–6 overall), but Graham didn’t have the type of personnel needed to succeed in his spread attack. He might not be the most well-liked man in coaching, but he should be able to win consistently at a school that has underachieved over the past two decades.

16. Jim Mora, UCLA

Previous Job: NFL Analyst, FOX

Pros: Mora brings name recognition from his two stints as a head coach in the NFL — Atlanta (2004-06) and Seattle (2009). He is a high-energy guy who hired an outstanding coaching staff that has already shown the ability to recruit well.

Cons: Mora has one season of experience in the collegiate ranks, as a graduate assistant at Washington in 1984.

Final Analysis: UCLA went outside the box on this hire after its attempt to land Boise State’s Chris Petersen failed. Mora’s lack of experience in college football is a concern, but it’s not something that can’t be overcome. As stated, he has surrounded himself with very good assistant coaches who will help make his transition smoother. Bottom line: Mora is a good coach and UCLA appears to be a solid fit for him. The guess here is that this will be remembered as an outstanding hire.

17. Justin Fuente, Memphis

Previous Job: Co-Offensive coordinator, TCU

Pros: Fuente spent the previous five years working for Gary Patterson, one of the top coaches in the game. He is young — 36 when the season starts — and will bring some much-needed positive energy into the Memphis program. Unlike his predecessor, Larry Porter, Fuente has previous experience as a coordinator, having served as the primary play-caller at TCU the past three seasons.

Cons: He has no experience as a head coach.

Final Analysis: After enjoying decent success under Tommy West, Memphis took several large steps backward during the two-year Larry Porter era. Fuente has a very difficult job, but he appears to be an ideal fit. He lacks experience, but he is very well respected and has a strong pedigree. Memphis has finally made a financial commitment to football — Fuente will be given every opportunity to succeed.

18. Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State

Previous Job: Defensive coordinator, Texas A&M

Pros: DeRuyter has been an effective defensive coordinator at four stops over the past decade. He inherited a unit at Texas A&M that ranked 105th in the nation in 2009 and had the Aggies ranked 55th and 59th in his two seasons — while playing in the high-powered Big 12.

Cons: DeRuyter has never served as a head coach on any level.

Final Analysis: Pat Hill did great things at Fresno State, but it was time for a divorce after 15 seasons. DeRuyter, a California native who was educated at the Air Force Academy, is the ideal coach to take over as the program moves from the WAC to the more competitive MWC.

19. Charley Molnar, Massachusetts

Previous Job: Offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, Notre Dame

Pros: Molnar has 28 years of experience in the collegiate ranks, including 11 as an offensive coordinator. He has spent the past six seasons with Brian Kelly — one at Central Michigan, three at Cincinnati and two at Notre Dame. He is very familiar with the MAC, UMass’ new league, having coached at Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Kent State and Eastern Michigan.

Cons: Molnar has been a full-time assistant since 1989, working at 10 different schools. Only once has he been a coordinator at a BCS conference school, and that was at Notre Dame, where he didn’t call the plays.

Final Analysis: UMass was one of the elite FCS programs in the mid-2000s, but the Minutemen have missed the playoffs in each of the past four seasons. Molnar’s job will be to keep UMass competitive as it migrates to the MAC East. With 11 years of experience in the league, as well as several other stops in the Midwest, he appears to be a solid choice to lead the Minutemen into a new era.

20. Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss

Previous Job: Assistant head coach, defense, South Carolina

Pros: Johnson is a highly regarded defensive coach who is fresh off a successful four-year run at South Carolina. He has also been the defensive coordinator at Mississippi State, Alabama, Clemson, Southern Miss and Appalachian State. Johnson has four years of experience as a head coach at two different schools (Gardner-Webb, 1983 and The Citadel, 2001-03).

Cons: Johnson’s staff isn’t exactly comprised of young up-and-comers. The head coach is 60 years old, and defensive coordinator Tommy West is 58.

Final Analysis: Johnson gets his first shot at an FBS head coaching position at one of the top jobs in Conference USA. In his previous stint as a head coach, Johnson struggled early but went 6–6 in his third year at The Citadel — one of only three non-losing seasons at the school since 1997. This hire isn’t overly exciting, but Johnson is a solid football coach who will likely do well in Hattiesburg.

21. Curtis Johnson, Tulane

Previous Job: Wide receivers coach, New Orleans Saints

Pros: Johnson was regarded as an outstanding recruiter during his 10 years (1996-2005) as the receivers coach at Miami (Fla.). He has experience coaching at the highest level of the collegiate ranks and also has spent six seasons in the NFL.

Cons: Johnson has no experience as a head coach or a coordinator.

Final Analysis: Tulane is one of the more difficult jobs in the nation. Support is extremely low, and the school lacks tradition. There was talk of building an on-campus stadium, but that hit a snag over the winter. This program needs an influx of talent. Johnson should be able to recruit well, which will give him a better chance to succeed than his predecessor.

22. Charlie Weis, Kansas

Previous Job: Offensive coordinator, Florida

Pros: Despite his lack of success as the head coach at Notre Dame, Weis is still regarded as one of the top offensive minds in football. He should be able to attract quality skill players to Kansas, which has had only one player earn either first- or second-team All-Big 12 honors on the offensive side of the ball in the past two seasons.

Cons: Weis struggled at Notre Dame, with a 35–27 record in five seasons (16–21 in his final three years). And it’s obviously much easier to win at Notre Dame than Kansas. Also, Florida struggled mightily on offense in 2011 (105th in the nation), Weis’ lone season as the Gators’ coordinator.

Final Analysis: Kansas went to a BCS bowl as recently as 2007, but the program is now clearly the worst in the Big 12. The school wanted to make a splash with this hire. Mission accomplished. But was it a good hire? Time obviously will tell, but it’s difficult to envision a coach who was five games under .500 in his final three season at Notre Dame winning consistently at Kansas.  

23. Bill O’Brien, Penn State

Previous Job: Offensive coordinator, New England Patriots

Pros: O’Brien brings a solid résumé to Penn State. He spent 12 years in the ACC (eight at Georgia Tech, two at Maryland and two at Duke) and the past five in the NFL, working for Bill Belichick.

Cons: He has no experience as a head coach — not ideal for someone who is taking over for Joe Paterno on the heels of one of the biggest scandals in college football history. In his two years as an offensive coordinator at Duke (’05-06), the Blue Devils went 1–22. Also, other New England assistants — Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel and Josh McDaniels — have not fared well as head coaches.

Final Analysis: Penn State’s decision to turn to O’Brien has been widely criticized, by media and fans. But let’s be honest: The pool of candidates interested in taking over in Happy Valley was not overwhelming. O’Brien’s job will not be easy: The product on the field has been rather ordinary in recent seasons, and the Penn State brand has been greatly tarnished. He will need time to rebuild and prove that he was the right man for the job.


24. Tony Levine, Houston

Previous Job: Special teams coordinator, tight ends coach, Houston

Pros: Levine has been a highly regarded assistant coach who has worked for some quality head coaches — Kevin Sumlin (Houston), Bobby Petrino (Louisville) and Tommy Tuberville (Auburn) — and spent time as an assistant in the NFL. He is well-liked by the Houston players and plans on keeping many of the same offensive schemes in place.

Cons: Has only one game of experience as a head coach — a 30–14 win over Penn State in the TicketCity Bowl — and zero time spent as an offensive or defensive coordinator at any level.

Final Analysis: Houston AD Mack Rhoades is a well-respected administrator, but this was a curious hire. It’s a mighty big jump from coaching special teams to being a CEO of an FBS program. Houston has been a consistent winner in Conference USA under Art Briles and Sumlin; the program cannot afford to take a step back as it heads to the Big East in 2013. UH is putting its eggs in an unproven basket.

25. Kyle Flood, Rutgers

Previous Job: Assistant head coach, offensive line coach, Rutgers

Pros: Flood is a native of Queens who has spent the past seven seasons on Greg Schiano’s staff at Rutgers. He was a part of six bowl teams at Rutgers, and he consistently produced quality offensive linemen. Flood is also regarded as an outstanding recruiter.

Cons: Flood has basically been a position coach in each of his 19 seasons as an assistant. He has had the title of co-offensive coordinator (Rutgers ’09-10) and run game coordinator (Rutgers ’07), but has never been the primary play-caller.

Final Analysis: It’s never a good time to lose a head coach, but Schiano’s decision to leave Rutgers came at a really bad time — the week before National Signing Day. The school made a run at FIU’s Mario Cristobal before turning to Flood, a trusted assistant who would make the transition as easy as possible. On that front, Flood and his staff should be commended for keeping the majority of the Scarlet Knights’ recruiting class intact. Now, they will have to prove they can get the job done on the field.

26. Norm Chow, Hawaii

Previous Job: Offensive coordinator, Utah

Pros: Chow is a Hawaii native who has a reputation as one of the top quarterback coaches in the nation. He served on LaVell Edwards’ staff for 27 years and was the offensive coordinator at USC during the vacated-championship years of the Pete Carroll era.

Cons: The numbers don’t necessarily back up the popular view that Chow is an elite offensive coach. In each of his last four seasons as an offensive coordinator (2011 at Utah and ’08-10 at UCLA), his teams ranked 109th, 100th, 88th and 111th in the nation in total offense. Chow is the oldest — he will be 66 in the fall — of the 28 new head coaches in the FBS ranks

Final Analysis: Chow is an overrated offensive coordinator who did not land his first job as a head coach until his 40th season in the profession. His background in the state of Hawaii is a plus, but this move does not appear to be a step up from Greg McMackin.

27. Bob Davie, New Mexico

Previous Job: College football analyst, ESPN

Pros: Davie has five years of head coaching experience at Notre Dame. He also has recruiting ties in Texas, one of New Mexico’s primary areas of focus.

Cons: Davie has been out of coaching since 2001, when he was fired as Notre Dame head coach. The Irish were 19–16 in his final three seasons, with a losing mark in both 1999 (5–7) and 2001 (5–6).

Final Analysis: This is a puzzling hire. I’m not sure why the New Mexico administration believes that a coach who could not win consistently at Notre Dame — more than a decade ago — will be able to build a winner at New Mexico. Glen Mason, the former head coach at Kent State, Kansas and Minnesota, was reported to be a finalist. He might not have been the sexiest hire, but at least Mason did well (relatively) at all of his stops as a head coach. 

28. Carl Pelini, Florida Atlantic

Previous Job: Defensive coordinator, Nebraska

Pros: Pelini played a key role in Nebraska’s transformation from one of the worst defensive teams in the nation (112th in ’07) to one of the best (seventh in ’09, 11th in ’10).

Cons: Pelini doesn’t have the most impressive résumé, having spent only four of his 25 years in coaching as a full-time assistant at a BCS conference school. He coached in the high school ranks for 12 years and served as a defensive line coach in the MAC before being hired by his brother, Bo, in 2008. 

Final Analysis: This hire was a bit uninspiring. Pelini is a Midwest guy who has never coached south of the Mason-Dixon line and has no ties to the state of Florida. He was successful as a defensive coordinator, but he worked for a defensive-minded head coach; you never know just who to credit for a unit’s success in those situations. One other cause for concern: Pelini didn’t get off to great start with a few local high school coaches when he failed to honor some previous verbal commitments.

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Athlon's All-American Team for 2012

College Football's Top 25 Heisman Contenders for 2012

<p> Ranking College Football's Best and Worst Hires for 2012</p>
Post date: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - 06:50
Path: /college-football/urban-meyers-arrival-has-ohio-state-football-back-track

The note was abrupt: “Urban, make sure the garage door is shut.” It wasn’t signed, because there was no mistaking who wrote it.

Soon after Urban Meyer was hired as Ohio State’s new football coach, he moved in with his mentor, Earle Bruce, his former boss when Meyer was a wide-eyed graduate assistant at OSU in 1986 and ’87.

Bruce had lost his wife of 56 years, Jean, to cancer in December just a couple weeks after Meyer had been named head coach at Ohio State. Meyer needed time to redirect his family and belongings from Florida to central Ohio and lived with Bruce for about a month while sifting through potential new homes and pouring himself into his new job.

But this is no “Odd Couple” sequel. Bruce never scolded his guest for placing dirty socks on the couch or leaving the trash bin full. He just wanted to make sure Meyer remembered to hit the garage door remote on the way to his new daily grind. Hence the note.

“We laughed about it,” the 80-year-old Bruce says, “because he says ‘Geez, that’s just like my wife. She does that (stuff) to me, too.’”

Meyer doesn’t go around seeking a whole lot of instruction from others. He’s proved in short order that he’s comfortable in his own skin by putting forth his personal directives, which center on toughness, competitive fire, accountability and achievement.

But make no mistake — they are traits he learned to value under coaches such as Bruce and Lou Holtz, and that served him well when he began to cut his teeth as a head coach at Bowling Green (2001-02). From there, he landed at Utah (2003-04), where he compiled a 22–2 record and won national acclaim.

In the six years that followed at Florida, Meyer established himself as one of the premier coaches in the country, racking up a mark of 65–15 and winning three SEC East titles, two conference championships and BCS national championships following the 2006 and ’08 seasons.

Buckeye fans remember the first one all too well, as Meyer, an Ohio native, led the Gators to a 41–14 bludgeoning of No. 1 OSU in Glendale, Ariz.

Meyer took a very brief leave of absence following the 2009 season — which coincided with the end of the Tim Tebow era — then returned and led UF to an 8–5 mark and Outback Bowl win. But he walked away from the game again after that season and took a job as an analyst for ESPN to occupy his newfound free time.

While in the booth, Meyer saw his name linked to potential openings at Penn State and Ohio State while scandal and the ouster of elite coaches Joe Paterno and Jim Tressel tormented the respective programs. By the time OSU faced Michigan in Ann Arbor, the cat was out of the bag — Luke Fickell would be removed from his temporary post as head coach, and Meyer would be pulled in with a lavish contract.

Ohio State offered a six-year, $24 million-plus deal, and the 47-year-old Meyer accepted. Thus began a new and suddenly promising era of Buckeye football — despite the program’s lingering NCAA sanctions.

Still, questions, and some baggage, came with the acquisition.

Would Meyer be able to recruit at a high level with a Buckeyes program reeling from a 6–7 season and staring at scholarship reductions and a 2012 postseason ban? Would he burn out again or encounter more health concerns like the ones that shelved him in Gainesville? Is his Bruce Wayne persona and SEC-like approach really the right fit for a Midwestern program still licking its wounds from its most embarrassing setback?

The answer to the first query is a resounding yes. Even with a late start and amid a sea of negative recruiting, Meyer pulled in a head-spinning number of 4- and 5-star prospects, including defensive linemen Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington and Se’Von Pittman as well as offensive linemen Kyle Dodson and Taylor Decker.

Fickell and Mike Vrabel were retained on the OSU staff and helped nail down several of those players. Meyer moved Stan Drayton from receivers coach to tutor the running backs and hired six new full-timers, including former Notre Dame assistants Ed Warinner and Tim Hinton, who were instrumental in easing Decker’s mind as he flipped his commitment from ND to Ohio State.

In fact, eight members of the 25-player signing class originally had committed to other programs. That caused an uproar around the Big Ten.

Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema aired his concerns about Dodson’s late change of heart from UW to Ohio State by complaining publicly about the move and privately to Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany. Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio and defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi also were miffed about OSU going after Pittman, a longtime Spartan commit, citing the gentleman’s agreement the program had enjoyed with Tressel in past years.

But Meyer never blinked and vowed to recruit even harder going forward.

He already has an impressive head start on his 2013 recruiting class, signaling that better times appear to be just around the corner for Buckeye fans.

But to make sure his players had no acceptance of failure, he lured strength coach Mickey Marotti from Florida and launched a demanding offseason program reminiscent of the days of Earle and Woody Hayes.

The result of every drill, every practice, every academic pursuit is measured against a standard and given a winner/loser tag.

“The structure of this program is to compete, and they don’t have a choice,” Drayton says. “If they don’t want to compete this is not the program for them.”

Says Meyer: “I want to see that distaste in somebody’s face when they lose. If they don’t share that same distaste that a lot of our coaches have, I don’t really want to see them play.”

While Meyer oozes intensity, regularly calls for 6 a.m. team meetings, likes to throw Buckeyes into one-on-one smack drills and has no hesitation in calling out players’ deficiencies — something Tressel avoided with senatorial skill — he also has begun to display a lighter side.

He cracked several jokes at the team’s Spring Kick-Off luncheon and also invited students to witness a weekend practice. In fact, he had them circle tightly around the players on some kicking drills and vowed to have one of them try some placements in front of the team next year.

“Sometimes we forget what this is all about,” Meyer says. “It’s about student-athletes and the student body and making the collegiate experience a positive thing. What does every student want? Ownership and access. So we’re going to give it to them. It’s their stadium. It’s their football team.”

Drayton, who also worked under Meyer at Bowling Green and Florida, has noticed the change. “He’s the same Urban Meyer as far as X’s and O’s and as far as intensity on the football field, but he’s in a better place right now, I think, spiritually,” he says. “He’s not letting a whole lot of things get to him as much, but it’s not like he’s taking the foot off the gas pedal at all.

“The intensity is still there and the command is still there, but now that he’s delegated some of those responsibilities and is trusting his supporting staff that much more, it’s just going to be better for him.”

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Top 10 Ohio State Buckeyes for 2012

<p> Urban Meyer is remaking Ohio State football in his image.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - 06:30
Path: /college-football/unit-rankings-2012-pac-12-offensive-lines

Kickoff for the 2012 college football season is still two months away, but it's never too early to project how the year might play out. Athlon will be taking a look at how each position stacks up in the BCS conferences and nationally until the start of the season.

Each unit ranking was evaluated based upon how it will perform in 2012 - not how the team played in 2011.

Ranking the Pac-12's Offensive Lines for 2012

1. USC – Despite the departure of left tackle Matt Kalil, the Trojans should still have the No. 1 offensive line in the Pac-12. Four starters are back from a unit that allowed only eight sacks and allowed rushers to average 4.9 yards per carry last season. Center Khaled Holmes should be in the mix for All-American honors after picking up second-team All-Pac-12 accolades last year. Kevin Graf started all 12 games at right tackle in 2011 and was in the mix to replace Kalil on the left side, but sophomore Aundrey Walker seemed to solidify that spot at the end of spring practice. The guard spots are expected to be manned by sophomore Marcus Martin and junior John Martinez. The depth of this unit will get a boost in the fall with the arrival of true freshmen (and Athlon Consensus 100 recruits) Zach Banner, Max Tuerk and Jordan Simmons.

2. Oregon – A healthy Carson York makes this a much more stable unit for Chip Kelly. Assuming he returns to the lineup at full strength, this offensive line should be as good, if not a touch better than last year’s group. Nick Cody returns to right tackle and Hroniss Grasu should be that much better as a sophomore now at center. Add to it athletic upgrades at left tackle with Jake Fisher and right guard with Ryan Clanton, and line coach Steve Greatwood has to be excited about his uptempo collection of blockers. It’s not as if this group has finished in the top six nationally in rushing and paced the Pac-12 for four straight years in rushing. Wait…

3. Stanford – Replacing Jonathan Martin and David DeCastro won’t be easy at all. They were two of the best at their positions nationally. However, left guard David Yankey is an Athlon Sports first-team All-Pac-12 pick and right tackle Cameron Fleming is a second-team all-league preseason selection. Sam Schwartzstein returns to the center position as a senior as well. And with David Shaw/Jim Harbaugh’s continued preaching of physicality, this group should be just fine once again. Kevin Danser and Cole Underwood will be atop an intense battle for the right guard and left tackle positions, respectively with arguably the greatest offensive line recruiting class ever assembled. Stanford has some losses but will be fine along the line.

4. Utah – Running back John White’s 2011 season is even more impressive when you consider the Utes didn’t have much of a passing attack after quarterback Jordan Wynn was lost for the year with a shoulder injury. Although White deserves much of the credit, the offensive line shouldn’t be overlooked. This group allowed 33 sacks last season, but also faced more pressure with the lack of a passing attack. Two key starters are gone from 2011, as tackles John Cullen and Tony Bergstrom have finished their eligibility. Three starters are back in Salt Lake City for 2012, including seniors in center Tevita Stevens and guard Sam Brenner. Fellow senior Miles Mason is a returning starter at left guard, but is locked into a tight battle with Jeremiah Tofaeono for snaps. Junior Percy Taumoelau (left tackle) and freshman Daniel Nelson (right tackle) are expected to be in the starting lineup, but junior college recruits Charles Lozano, Marc Pouvave and Junior Salt will push for time.

5. California – Jim Michalczik is one of the Pac-12’s top offensive line coaches and should push this unit to improve in 2012. Three starters are back from last season, but gone are two key performers, including first-team All-Pac-12 selection Mitchell Schwartz. Guard Brian Schwenke is expected to contend for all-conference honors in 2012, while Dominic Galas and Matt Summers-Gavin are back after starting all 13 games last season. Senior Tyler Rigsbee and junior Bill Tyndall look like the frontrunners at left tackle, while Geoff Gibson or Jordan Rigsbee will likely get the nod at right guard. California allowed 28 sacks in 2011, but with three seniors penciled in as returning starters, this unit should cut that number in 2012.

6. Arizona – Generally speaking, coaches love it when all five starters return to an offensive line. And there's no question Rich Rodriguez, and his zone read option rushing attack has to be excited about it. Yet, this group must show improvement to come close to recreating the Pat White-Steve Slaton magic at West Virginia. Arizona finished 114th nationally in rushing and 11th in the league while ranking 59th nationally in sacks allowed. There is promise in this group as center Kyle Quinn returns as a leader on and off the field. There's also concerns about transitioning from an offense based more on the pass, to a scheme that relies more on the run. While Quinn could contend for All-Pac-12 honors, the rest of the group needs to stay focused if they expect to improve in 2012.

7. Washington – With Keith Price back at quarterback and a solid receiving corps in place, the Huskies should once again average over 30 points per game in 2012. However, there are concerns about this unit, especially after this group suffered a setback late in the spring when returning starter Colin Porter decided to retire due to injuries. Although Porter’s departure was a blow, the Huskies still return three starters up front. Colin Tanigawa is back after starting 11 games as a freshman last season, while Erik Kohler will shift from the right side to anchor the line at left tackle. Center Drew Schaefer is the leader and should push for All-Pac-12 honors in 2012. There are some injury concerns with this group, and there’s room to improve after allowing 34 sacks last year. The Huskies have the pieces in place to expect a turnaround, but left tackle Senio Kelemente and Porter will be missed.

8. UCLA – Three starters are back to lead to Jim Mora's first offensive line in Westwood. But with the return of elite recruit and early contributor Xavier Su’a-Filo from his LDS Mission, this group could be dramatically improved in 2012. Jeff Baca and Greg Capella offer some veteran leadership, while freshman Jake Brendel looks to take over at center. With the loss of Wade Yandall to medical issues, this group will certainly have some young pieces. The cupboard isn’t bare, however, as the former regime recruited well at the position. Mora and his staff simply need to assemble the right players in the right places. Su’a-Filo, if he picks up where he left off, has a chance to be a special player.

9. Arizona State – This is a rebuilding time for Arizona State’s offensive line. The good news is there is little place to go but up after finishing 85th in rushing and 73rd in sacks allowed last year. Threes starters are gone but new coach Todd Graham has been cautiously optimistic about this section of his offense. Right guard Andrew Sampson and left tackle Evan Finkenberg return as the leaders of the group and must get this collection of talent to play up to its capabilities.

10. Oregon State – Mike Riley’s teams have consistently run the football with authority for much of his time in Corvallis. But 118th in the nation isn’t get the job done. Neither is 81st in sacks allowed. But three starters are back and the former elite recruit Michael Philipp returns after missing last season due to injury. This unit was banged-up again in the spring and must develop some depth if it expects to run the football the way Riley craves. Look for a lot of names to get looks through summer camp, including top 100 freshman Isaac Seumalo.

11. Colorado – Although the Buffaloes check in at No. 11 in this ranking, there’s some promise for this group. Left tackle David Bakhtiari earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors in 2011 and should be one of the best linemen in the conference this season. Junior Gus Handler is back after starting 10 games in 2011, while guard Ryan Dannewitz returns at right guard (11 starts last year). Sophomore Alex Lewis made one start at left tackle last season and is poised to claim the job at left guard. Jack Harris claimed the right tackle starting spot at the beginning of 2011 but suffered a broken leg and missed most of the season. Colorado has some solid pieces in place, and this unit could rank much higher on this list at the end of the year. However, the Buffaloes need to cut down on the sacks allowed from last season (31), while opening up more rushing lanes for the running backs (3.5 yards per carry in 2011).

12. Washington State – With Mike Leach’s arrival in Pullman, the Cougars are expected to be one of college football’s top passing offenses in 2012. Washington State is also expecting a big season from quarterback Jeff Tuel, who missed most of last year with injuries. However, the offense could stall if the offensive line doesn’t come together. The headliner of this group will be John Fullington. He has 18 career starts in the first two years of his career and is shifting from left guard to left tackle. Matt Goetz started the final nine games at center last year and should be the starter there in 2012. Dan Spitz is expected to start at right guard, while Wade Jacobson is back after missing most of last season. After allowing 40 sacks last year, the Cougars need to be much better up front in order to reach a winning record in 2012.

by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)

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Ranking the Pac-12 Wide Receiving Corps for 2012
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<p> Unit Rankings: 2012 Pac-12 Offensive Lines</p>
Post date: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - 06:26
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News, WAC
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-examining-best-players-wac

College fantasy football drafts will be heating up over the next few months and Athlon Sports has teamed with The College Fantasy Football Site to provide in-depth coverage for 2012. 

Here's a look at the best of the best for WAC in terms of fantasy options for 2012:

2012 Preseason WAC All-Fantasy Team

Using a starting roster of 2-QB, 3-RB, 3-WR, FLEX, TE, K, Def/ST, All-Conference Fantasy Teams are projected using the following scoring system:

Passing—25 pass yds = 1 point, Passing TD = 4 points, INTs = -1 point

Rushing—10 rushing yards = 1 point, Rushing TDs = 6 points

Receiving—.5 points per reception, 10 receiving yards = 1 point, Receiving TDs = 6 points

Kicking—Extra Point = 1 point, FG 0-39 yards = 3 points, 40-49 yards = 4 points, 50+ = 5 points

Defense/ST—Defense, KR, and PR TDs = 6 points, Safety = 2 points, Fumbles and INTs = 3 points, Sack = 1 point, Points allowed (0 = 15 points, 2-6 = 10 points, 7-10 = 7 points, 11-13 = 5 points, 14-21 = 4 points, 22-28 = 2 points, 29-24 = 0 points, 35+ = -2 points)




QB—Colby Cameron, Sr. (LA Tech)

Last season:  Passed for 1,667 yards and 13 TDs, rushed for 180 yards.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 8-9-10; Idaho, @ NM St, UTSA

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Texas St, Utah St, @ San Jose St


QB—Andrew Manley, So. (New Mexico State)

Last season:  892 yards and 6 TDs passing.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 3-4-5; @ UTEP, New Mexico, UTSA

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  San Jose St, Bye, BYU


RB—Hunter Lee, So. (LA Tech)

Last season:  Rushed for 650 yards and 5 TDs, 13 receptions for 126 yards.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 6-7-8-9; UNLV, Bye, Idaho, NM St

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Texas St, Utah St, @ San Jose St


RB—Kerwynn Williams, Sr. (Utah State)

Last season:  Rushed for 542 yards and 3 TDs as RB#3 behind Robert Turbin and Michael Smith.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 8-9-10; NM St, @ UTSA, Texas St

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Bye, @ LA Tech, Idaho


RB—De’Leon Eskridge, Sr. (San Jose State)

Last season:  Transferred from Minnesota.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 8-9-10; @ UTSA, Texas St, @ Idaho

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  @ NM St, BYU, LA Tech


WR—Quinton Patton, Sr. (LA Tech)

Last season:  79 receptions for 1,202 yards and 11 TDs.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 8-9-10; Idaho, @ NM St, UTSA

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Texas St, Utah St, @ San Jose St


WR—Noel Grigsby, Jr. (San Jose State)

Last season:  89 receptions for 886 yards and 2 TDs.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 7-8-9; Utah St, @ UTSA, Texas St

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  UCLA, @ Arizona St, Washington


WR—D.J. Banks, Jr. (LA Tech)

Last season:  Transferred from Tulane.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 8-9-10; Idaho, @ NM St, UTSA

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Texas St, Utah St, @ San Jose St


TE—Ryan Otten, Sr. (San Jose State)

Last season:  52 receptions for 739 yards and 5 TDs.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 7-8-9; Utah St, @ UTSA, Texas St

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  UCLA, @ Arizona St, Washington


FLEX—Terrence Franks, So. (Texas State)

Last season:  Rushed for 863 yards and 9 TDs in the FCS.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 6-7-8-9; @ NM, Idaho, Bye, @ San Jose St

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  LA Tech, @ Navy, @ UTSA


K—Matt Nelson, Sr. (LA Tech)

Last season: 15-for-21 on FG attempts, 46-for-48 on extra points.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 6-7-8-9; UNLV, Bye, Idaho, NM St

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Texas St, Utah St, @ San Jose St


DEF/ST—Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

Last season:  No. 41 scoring defense, No. 13 in turnover margin.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 9-10-11; @ NM St, UTSA, @ Texas St

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Texas St, Utah St, @ San Jose St


Top 5 Reserves

QB—Chuckie Keeton, So. (Utah State)

RB—Ryan Bass, Sr. (Idaho)

RB—Marcus Curry, Sr. (Texas State)

RB—Robert Clay, Sr. (New Mexico State)

WR—Jacarri Jackson, Jr. (LA Tech)



By Joe DiSalvo

The College Fantasy Football Site

Follow Joe DiSalvo on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Related Content: Athlon's 2012 College Fantasy Football Rankings

<p> College Fantasy Football: Examining the Best Players in the WAC</p>
Post date: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - 02:23
Path: /college-football/big-east-football-which-teams-are-rise-or-decline

With kickoff to the 2012 college football season still weeks away, it's time to evaluate where each team is headed. This is essentially a checkup or a state of the program overview for each team in the conference. Are they on the rise or decline? What factors in the future could have an impact on success? 

Big East State of the Program: On the Rise or On the Decline?


Record over the last 5 years: 47-18 (24-11 Big East)
Record over the last 10 years: 78-49 (30-19 Big East – 7 years)

The Bearcats have been one of the Big East’s most successful teams over the last five years. Mark Dantonio established a solid foundation from 2004-05, while Brian Kelly elevated the program to back-to-back BCS bowls. After a 4-8 mark in 2010, Butch Jones returned the Bearcats into Big East title contention, but an injury to quarterback Zach Collaros late in the year was a huge setback.

State of the Program: On the Rise

Despite the losing record in his first season, Butch Jones is the right coach for Cincinnati. The Bearcats have some key losses to replace in 2012, but should be in the mix for a bowl game. The next step for Cincinnati is to win more in-state recruiting battles with Ohio State. Considering the talent in Ohio, the Bearcats should rank near the top of the Big East in recruiting every season. Facilities are improving, as Cincinnati added a practice bubble and expansion of the stadium has been discussed. With Syracuse, West Virginia and Pittsburgh leaving the Big East, Cincinnati has a chance to become one of the top programs in the conference.



Record over the last 5 years: 38-26 (19-16 Big East)
Record over the last 10 years: 70-53 (22-27 Big East – 7 years)

The Huskies have made steady progress since joining the FBS ranks in 2000. Randy Edsall turned Connecticut into a consistent winner, posting at least six victories in six out of eight seasons from 2002-09. Edsall also led the Huskies to a Fiesta Bowl appearance, but decided to bolt to Maryland after that game. Paul Pasqualoni was a curious hire, and Connecticut missed out on a bowl in 2010 for the first time since 2006.

State of the Program: Slightly Declining

Although Edsall had a terrible first season in College Park, he took the Huskies to five bowl games and a share of the Big East title in 2007 and 2010. Pasqualoni’s ties in the Northeast should help Connecticut’s recruiting, but his tenure at Syracuse declined over the last four years. Considering Pasqualoni will be 63 when the 2012 season begins – is he really the long-term answer? Another sub .500 season should place Pasqualoni squarely on the hot seat. If there’s another round of conference realignment, Connecticut is expected to be one of the first targets for the ACC. The Huskies are poised to move up the ladder in the next 10-15 years, but this program slowly sliding back after last season.


Record over the last 5 years:
29-33 (13-22 Big East)
Record over the last 10 years: 77-48 (24-25 Big East – 7 years)

For the most part, the last 10 years have been a success for Louisville football. Of course, there’s the forgettable three-year tenure by Steve Kragthorpe, but the Cardinals won at least seven games in 7 of out the last 10 years. Bobby Petrino led Louisville to an appearance in the 2007 Orange Bowl and at least nine victories in each of his four years with the Cardinals. Charlie Strong had quite a mess to clean up from the Kragthorpe era, but has rebuilt Louisville into a top 25 team.

State of the Program: On the Rise

It’s no secret Louisville is an emerging Big East power. With West Virginia off to the Big 12 and Pittsburgh and Syracuse moving to the ACC, the door is open for the Cardinals to dominate in the Big East. Of course, that could quickly change with more realignment, as Louisville could be on the radar for future ACC or Big 12 expansion. Although Strong will be in the mix for offseason vacancies, there is no shortage of resources for this program to continue finishing near the top of the Big East in future seasons.



Record over the last 5 years:
38-26 (22-13 Big East)
Record over the last 10 years: 74-51 (42-27 Big East)

Pittsburgh football was largely dormant throughout the 1990s. The Panthers had only two winning seasons from 1990-99, but the hire of Walt Harris helped to get the program back in the right direction. Harris led the Panthers to a BCS bowl appearance in 2005, before leaving to coach at Stanford. Dave Wannstedt went 16-19 through his first three years, but led Pittsburgh to at least eight victories in each of his final three seasons. Wannstedt was fired after the 2010 regular season, and Miami (Ohio) coach Mike Haywood was hired to replace him. Haywood wasn’t on the job long before he was fired due to an off-the-field incident. The Panthers lack of success with head coaches continued with Todd Graham, who spent one season in the Steel City before bolting to Arizona State.

State of the Program: On the Rise

New coach Paul Chryst will bring some much-needed stability to Pittsburgh. The Panthers are a sleeper team to watch in the Big East title race for 2012, and this program will likely move to the ACC in time for the 2013 season. Although the Panthers have played in only one BCS bowl since 2000, there’s potential to win big and the move to a high-profiler conference should help.



Record over the last 5 years:
38-26 (16-19 Big East)
Record over the last 10 years: 66-58 (28-41 Big East)

Greg Schiano inherited a program that had won just 10 games in the four seasons prior to his arrival. His tenure got off to a slow start, as Rutgers won just eight games in Schiano’s first three years. However, he eventually turned the Scarlet Knights into a consistent bowl team. Rutgers won at least eight games in five out of Schiano’s final six seasons, including an 11-2 record in 2006.

State of the Program: Holding Steady

Schiano’s decision to depart for the NFL has clouded the immediate future of this program. Although new coach Kyle Flood has done a good job on the recruiting trail, he has no experience as a collegiate head coach. If Flood is able to build on what Schiano created, Rutgers will be in great shape for the next 10 years. However, Flood’s hire was an interesting decision for a program that struggled to find success throughout the 1990s. Schiano never won an outright Big East title, but there’s no question he left the program in much better shape than how he found it. 


South Florida

Record over the last 5 years:
38-26 (13-22 Big East)
Record over the last 10 years: 73-49 (21-28 Big East – 7 years)

The Bulls have come a long way since their first football game on Sept. 6, 1997. Over the last 10 years, South Florida has played in six bowl games and achieved a No. 2 ranking in 2007. Jim Leavitt had a messy end to his tenure in Tampa, but deserves credit for building the program from scratch to national relevance. Skip Holtz was hired to take South Florida to the next level, but he is just 13-12 in his two seasons with the Bulls.

State of the Program: Holding Steady

Florida will always have the Big 3 – Florida, Florida State and Miami – but there’s plenty of room for USF. The Bulls have an excellent recruiting base and there’s a lot of potential surrounding this program for 2012 and beyond. South Florida has underachieved at times, which holds it back from being placed in the “on the rise” category. Holtz is the right coach and should have the Bulls contending for a Big East title in future seasons. South Florida has been considered a sleeping giant, but considering its location, conference and potential, it should be able to be one of the top teams in the new Big East in 2013.



Record over the last 5 years: 22-39 (8-27 Big East)
Record over the last 10 years: 43-77 (17-52 Big East)

Although Syracuse has been a basketball power, it’s been a struggle to find success on the gridiron over the last 10 years. The Orange went 10-37 under Greg Robinson and has played in just one bowl game since 2005. Coach Doug Marrone took Syracuse to the 2010 Pinstripe Bowl, but is 9-15 in his other two seasons.

State of the Program: Holding Steady

It’s tough to peg where this program is headed. There’s certainly more potential for Syracuse than what has been shown in recent years, but after winning eight games in 2010, the Orange took a step back and finished with a 5-7 mark in 2011. Marrone is a good fit at Syracuse, but moving to the ACC isn’t going to make it any easier to win games. Although success has been limited, Marrone seems to have the program on the right track and could get back into the postseason in 2012.



Record over the last 5 years:
35-27 (no Big East games during this period)
Record over the last 10 years: 43-77 (3-17 Big East – 3 years)

It has been quite a roller coaster ride for Temple football over the last 10 years. The Owls were dismissed from the Big East in 2004 and were forced to play as an Independent before joining the MAC in 2007. Former coach Al Golden deserves a ton of credit for this program’s turnaround, as he took a team that had won only seven games in the four years prior to his arrival, to winning 10 over his first three seasons. Temple’s return to the Big East was huge for the conference in 2012, as it gives the Big East eight football members.

State of the Program: On the Rise

Can Steve Addazio keep it going? That’s the big question facing Temple in 2012 and beyond. He had a successful debut season, but he has no proven track record as a head coach. Addazio’s background in the Northeast will help the Owls in recruiting, along with the move to a higher profile conference. Temple may struggle to get to a bowl in 2012, especially with the amount of roster turnover experienced from last season’s team. The Owls aren’t ready to challenge for a spot in the top 25, but they certainly won’t return to the struggles this program had in the 1990s. 

By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

2012 Big East Previews

Cincinnati Rutgers
Connecticut South Florida
Louisville Syracuse
Pittsburgh Temple

Related Big East Content

Big East 2012 Predictions
Athlon's 2012 All-Big East Team

Ranking the Wide Receiving Corps in the Big East for 2012

Big East Heisman Contenders for 2012

<p> Big East Football: Which Teams Are On The Rise or Decline?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - 05:42
Path: /college-football/unit-rankings-2012-big-12-offensive-lines

Kickoff for the 2012 college football season is still two months away, but it's never too early to project how the year might play out. Athlon will be taking a look at how each position stacks up in the BCS conferences and nationally until the start of the season.

Each unit ranking was evaluated based upon how it will perform in 2012 - not how the team played in 2011.

Ranking the Big 12's Offensive Lines for 2012

1. Oklahoma – Despite the departure of left tackle Donald Stephenson, the Sooners should have the No. 1 offensive line in the Big 12. Guard Gabe Ikard is one of the best in college football, while guard Tyler Evans and tackle Lane Johnson will be in the mix for all-conference honors. Center Ben Habern missed most of last season with an arm injury and was expected to return at full strength for 2012. However, he decided to end his career in August. Ikard could take Habern's place at center. Daryl Williams is expected to start at right tackle, while Adam Shead will likely slide into one of the guard spots. This group allowed only 11 sacks last season and should be strong once again in 2012.

2. Texas – The Longhorns certainly aren’t devoid of talent. In fact, there is more talent along the Burnt Orange line of scrimmage than nearly every team in the nation. Developing that talent has been the issue of late, however. Enter Stacy Searels. The offensive line coach enters his second season on the 40 Acres charged with toughening up a unit that has underachieved. His first order of business was signing junior college stud Donald Hawkins, who is penciled in as the starting left tackle. The rest of the line returns intact as two extremely highly touted juniors, Trey Hopkins and Mason Walters, need to develop into leaders while two sophomores - Dominic Espinosa and Josh Cochran - should only continue to improve. The talent and depth is obvious, but for Texas to challenge in the Big 12 race, this group has to protect the quarterback better (73rd nationally in sacks allowed, including eight to Oklahoma).

3. Oklahoma State – The Cowboys suffered some heavy losses up front, including first-team All-Big 12 tackle Levy Adcock and center Grant Garner – the Big 12’s 2011 Offensive Lineman of the Year. Only one starter returns for 2012, but Oklahoma State is expected to still own one of the conference’s best lines. Much of the credit for this group’s success has to go to line coach Joe Wickline, who consistently replaces players and keeps the front five performing at a high level. Guard Lane Taylor is the unit’s only returning starter, but he should contend for first-team All-Big 12 honors in 2012. Parker Graham and Michael Bowie are expected to man the tackle spots after combining for 11 starts last year. Guard Jonathan Rush suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 4 last year but all signs point to a return to full strength by the opener in 2012. Center Evan Epstein enters his final year of eligibility, but doesn’t have much experience. Considering how important Garner was to this offense, much of the focus up front will rest with Epstein and how well he will perform in 2012.

4. West Virginia  Three starters are back along an offensive front that should feature three seniors, one junior and a sophomore. Joe Madsen has been praised by the coaches as one of the best on the roster and will be the unit's leader at center. Guard Jeff Braun and tackle Pat Eger showed improvement last fall and should hold down the right side of the line. Big soph Quinton Spain (6-5, 335) looks to be the top choice at left tackle but will have to hold off a host of up veterans to keep that starting spot. The real kicker for the Mountaineers will be fifth-year senior Josh Jenkins. One of the most highly-touted prospects to ever sign with WVU, Jenkins returns after missing all of 2011 with a knee injury. His return to form could transform an average group of blockers into an area of strength for Dana Holgorsen.

5. Baylor – Improving the offensive line has been a priority for coach Art Briles since he came to Waco. The Bears have had five offensive linemen drafted since 2009, including two in the first round – Jason Smith and Danny Watkins. This group must replace two All-Big 12 performers – Philip Blake and Robert T. Griffin – but three proven starters are back. Junior Cyril Richardson is a mammoth guard at 6-foot-5 and 335 pounds and will be in the mix for first-team All-Big 12 honors. Senior Ivory Wade enters 2012 with 33 consecutive starts and will shift from tackle to replace Blake at center. Guard Cameron Kaufhold is back after starting all 13 games last season. Redshirt freshman Spencer Drango is expected to get the nod at left tackle, while sophomore Troy Baker finished spring as the No. 1 option on the right side. Despite the losses, there’s plenty to like about this group heading into 2012.

6. Kansas State  – For a team with a quarterback who recorded 27 touchdowns and 1,141 yards on the ground, KSU finished only fifth in the Big 12 in rushing. The Wildcats also finished dead last in sacks allowed (3.31) and 115th nationally. So Bill Snyder might not be sure if replacing three starters with younger players is a good or bad thing just yet. B.J. Finney returns to the center position, while Nick Puetz returns as the lone senior returner. Manase Foketi was expected to be in the mix at left tackle, but he requested a transfer following spring practice. With Foketi's status in doubt, junior Cornelius Lucas could be in line to start on the left side. Tomasi Mariner, Cody Whitehair and Boston Stiverson are all youngsters who will battle for time along the right side of the line. This team would like to throw the ball more in 2012, but the O-Line has to prove it can protect Collin Klein if it expects to win the Big 12.

7. Kansas – After finishing last in the Big 12 in scoring offense in 2011, there’s some hope for a turnaround at Kansas for 2012. The quarterback position has stabilized with Dayne Crist arriving from Notre Dame, while the Jayhawks have capable running backs in James Sims, Tony Pierson and Brandon Bourbon. The line loses two starters, including All-Big 12 center Jeremiah Hatch, but three key players are back for 2012. Left tackle Tanner Hawkinson is drawing the interest of NFL scouts, while guard Duane Zlatnik earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors in 2011. Trevor Marrongelli started all 12 games at guard last season but will shift to center to replace Hatch. Junior college recruit Aslam Sterling is penciled in at right guard, and junior Riley Spencer is expected to get the nod at right tackle. This unit allowed 31 sacks last year but should be able to improve upon that total with three solid contributors returning.

8. Texas Tech – This unit will be a key area of development throughout the summer and fall camps. Two starters are back as Deveric Gallington is locked in at center while LaAdrian Waddle has the left tackle spot to himself. It also appears that Brian Thomas, who played on one of the Big 12’s most talented lines a year ago at Texas A&M, will stabilize the left guard position after transferring in this spring. Experienced and versatile backups Beau Carpenter and Terry McDaniel will battle with freshman Le’Raven Clark for the remaining starting jobs. The offensive line will be the key difference for an offense that appears to be settled at nearly every other position.

9. TCU – You aren’t in Kansas anymore, Toad-O. Well, technically, TCU will play in Lawrence Week 2, but the Horned Frogs will be facing a different caliber of defensive line this fall. Moving from the Mountain West to the Big 12 will test an offensive line that returns only two starters. This is the offense’s biggest weakness and depth could be an issue as well. Center James Fry and guard Blaize Foltz are seniors and will be asked to carry the load. Behind those two there are a lot unknowns, however, there is upside as well. James Dunbar has experience and should be better after switching from left to right tackle. BYU transfer Tayo Fabuluje has big-time athletic ability and size while John Wooldridge, Michael Thompson and Eric Tausch provide versatility at a number of positions. This group will be the coaching staff’s area of focus come summer camp.

10. Iowa State – There’s really not a bad offensive line in the Big 12, so the separation between No. 6 and No. 10 on this list is very minimal. The Cyclones have three starters returning but must replace their two best players from last season’s unit – left tackle Kelechi Osemele and guard Hayworth Hicks. Osemele was a first-team All-Big 12 selection, while Hicks earned second-team honors. Tom Farniok is a rising star after starting all 13 games at center as a redshirt freshman last year. Junior Ethan Tuftee and senior Brayden Burris are back as returning starters and will help provide stability and leadership up front. Senior Carter Bykowski and junior Kyle Lichtenberg will battle to replace Osemele at left tackle, while Bob Graham, Jacob Gannon and Oni Omoile are in the mix to replace Hicks at right guard. The Cyclones will miss Osemele and Hicks, but this group isn’t going to see a dramatic drop in performance. 

by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)

Related Big 12 Content

Big 12 Wide Receiver Rankings for 2012
Athlon's 2012 Big 12 Predictions

Athlon's 2012 All-Big 12 Team

Big 12 Heisman Contenders for 2012
College Football Realignment Winners and Losers
The History of Big 12 Realignment
Introducing West Virginia to the Big 12
TCU Comes Home to the Big 12

<p> Unit Rankings: 2012 Big 12 Offensive Lines</p>
Post date: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - 05:39
Path: /college-football/virginia-tech%E2%80%99s-logan-thomas-rising-superstar-acc

While many of his classmates undoubtedly spent spring break in tropical climates, soaking in rays and paying too much for watered-down drinks, Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas was on the beach for a very different reason.

The Hokies’ junior quarterback spent a week in San Diego in March, working out for four days with quarterback-coach-to-the-stars George Whitfield, whose roster of clients has included Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton and Andrew Luck.

Whitfield’s ever-evolving training regimen included a trip to the beach, where the 6'6", 262-pound Thomas waded knee-deep into the Pacific Ocean, then simulated taking drop-backs through the uneven current, trying to keep his balance and maintain a solid base. He caught on quickly, a recurring theme from the trip.

“I just think he’s going to be a very, very special college football player,” says Whitfield, who raves about Thomas’ size, agility and smarts. “To see him up close and personal and how diligent he is and just how big of a man he is, he’s going to be scary. It’s kind of a shock and awe thing when it all comes together.”

Virginia Tech is starting to get spoiled with its quarterbacks. After four years of Tyrod Taylor, who left after 2010 as the school’s all-time leader in total offense, passing yards, quarterback rushing yards and career wins, the Hokies seamlessly passed the baton to Thomas, who served as Taylor’s understudy for two seasons before taking a prime-time role last year.

He looked every bit the part, breaking Taylor’s single-season total offense mark with 3,482 yards and accounting for 30 touchdowns on his way to a second-team All-ACC selection.

Thomas’ 3,013 passing yards were second-most in a season for a Tech quarterback to Don Strock’s mark of 3,243 set in 1972. His 11 rushing touchdowns were tied for the most by a quarterback in school history and were three more than the program’s standard-bearer — Michael Vick — ever had in a season. And it all happened in Thomas’ first year as a starter.

“I think it’s rare for most people,” Hokies head coach Frank Beamer says of Thomas’ maturity. “But I think Logan’s in a different category.”

Thomas’ rapid rise is even more remarkable considering his background. A multi-sport star at Brookville High in Lynchburg, Va., about 100 miles east of Blacksburg, he thought of himself as a basketball player for most of his life. On the football field, he played receiver until moving to quarterback his final two years, earning state Player of the Year honors as a senior and leading his team to the championship game, a 50–46 loss in which he threw four touchdowns.

Still, he considered his best path in college to be at tight end or H-back, going so far as to eliminate any school that recruited him solely as a quarterback. Virginia Tech obliged, getting him to sign in February 2009. During his first practice in August, Hokies coaches, in a bit of a switcheroo, urged him to try throwing the ball. He was raw, but the skill set, which included a cannon for an arm, was evident.

The reluctant quarterback soon embraced the position, redshirting that first year and serving as a backup in 2010. He sat in on meetings with Taylor, the team’s entrenched starter, soaking up whatever he could. Reps in the spring and fall became crucial as he tried to play catch-up at the position.

“Most people, they spend their whole lives gearing to be a quarterback at this level,” Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring says. “Football camps, quarterback camps. Logan in high school didn’t really play quarterback until he was a junior, then he picked up a basketball, then he ran track, and he picked up a football again Aug. 5. …

“I think because of that, you’re still going to see a guy who continuously improves. He still has the opportunity I believe — and he believes — to have better days in front of him.”

With all eyes on him last year, Thomas calmly guided the Hokies to their eighth straight season of 10 or more wins and a trip to the Sugar Bowl. Somewhat shaky at first, with five interceptions in the first five games, Thomas found a comfort level, accounting for 25 touchdowns in the final nine games, including five each in crucial Coastal Division wins against Miami and Georgia Tech.

Although Thomas no doubt draws comparisons to Newton, another 6'5", 250-plus-pound athlete who redefined the dual-threat quarterback in the college game two years ago, he’s not quite the same runner. While Thomas is a load to take down in the open field — he dragged half the Georgia Tech defense into the end zone on a 12-yard quarterback sneak in November — he much prefers to move around in the pocket and throw it.

“He’s incredibly agile and athletic for being such a big man,” Whitfield says. “The only other person I’ve been around that’s that size and that athletic is Ben Roethlisberger. Him and Ben are both slightly bigger than Cam. And they’re both light on their feet. I’m sure in some alternate universe, these guys could be free safeties.”

The big challenge comes this year. Thomas was blessed last season with a veteran offensive line featuring four fifth-year starters, a pair of wideouts who ranked 1-2 on Tech’s all-time receiving list and running back David Wilson, the ACC Player of the Year who ran for over 1,700 yards. They’re all gone now, and Virginia Tech must re-tool with eight new starters on offense. But with Thomas, the Hokies have a chance to duplicate last year’s success.

Tech coaches have thrown everything in the playbook at him, but he’s taken it in stride. Teammates describe Thomas as being more relaxed this spring. Even he admits he was too uptight at times last year.

“I wanted to be perfect with everything,” Thomas says. “Sometimes you can’t be perfect on every snap. And I kind of beat myself up about it, but this year you kind of let it roll off your back, because you know there’s the next down coming. That’s kind of just something I learned through the second half of our season.”

Thomas’ future is bright enough that it has many Hokies fans worried he could enter the NFL Draft after his junior year. Whitfield, who has frequent discussions with pro scouts and coaches, believes Thomas will be in the discussion as one of the top-rated quarterbacks whenever he decides to go.

“He absolutely could be a No. 1 pick,” Whitfield says.

Tech is preparing for the possibility, with quarterbacks coach and play-caller Mike O’Cain acknowledging that if Thomas is projected as a high first-round draft pick, it will be tough to turn down (although highly touted quarterbacks like 2012 NFL No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck, USC’s Matt Barkley and Oklahoma’s Landry Jones have done just that recently, returning for their senior seasons).

“I believe he feels that the more he plays, the better it’s going to give him his foundation for the NFL,” O’Cain says. “And again, you never know if he just goes out and has a phenomenal year, and I hope he does. I hope he has a phenomenal year …” O’Cain pauses and laughs before finishing his thought. “But just not a high first-round draft choice.”

— by Andy Bitter

This article appeared in Athlon's 2012 ACC Preview Annual.

Related ACC Content

Athlon’s 2012 ACC Predictions
Athlon’s 2012 All-ACC Team

2012 Virginia Tech Hokies Team Preview

ACC’s 2012 Heisman Contenders

<p> Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas is a Rising Superstar in the ACC</p>
Post date: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - 04:35
Path: /college-football/ranking-college-footballs-best-hires-2011

As evidenced last season, new coaches can make an immediate impact on college football conference title races. Michigan's hire of Brady Hoke allowed the Wolverines to jump back into a BCS bowl, while James Franklin led Vanderbilt to its second bowl game since 1982.

Athlon ranks the new coaches from 2011 season:

1. Hugh Freeze, Arkansas State
Before: 4–8 (4–4); After: 9–3 (8–0)

Freeze guided the Red Wolves to their first-ever Sun Belt title in his only season in Jonesboro. Arkansas State swept through the league with an 8–0 record and an average margin of victory of 16.8 points.

2 . Brady Hoke, Michigan          
7–6 (3–5); After: 11–2 (6–2)

Hoke restored order in Ann Arbor, leading Michigan to a three-game improvement in the Big Ten, and, more important, its first win over Ohio State since 2003. The key? A defense that allowed 128.5 fewer yards per game and jumped 93 spots in the national rankings. 

3. James Franklin, Vanderbilt
2–10 (1–7); After: 6–7 (2–6)

The Commodores won more games last season (six) than the two previous seasons combined (four). They won four of those games by at least 23 points (including two in SEC play), and their final four league losses came by an average of 4.8 points. This team was dramatically improved.

4. Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana-Lafayette
3–9 (3–5); After: 9–4 (6–2)

The Ragin’ Cajuns improved by six wins and won a bowl game for the first time in school history, rallying past San Diego State, 32–30, at the New Orleans Bowl. They scored 30 points or more in all but three games.

5. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia
Before: 9-4 (5-2); After: 10-3 (5-2)

The Mountaineers improved their win total by only one in Holgorsen's first season, but they claimed a share of the Big East title and dismantled Clemson 70-33 in the Orange Bowl. Holgorsen's pass-first offense injected some energy into the fanbase, and the program is riding a wave of momentum going into 2012. 

6. David Shaw, Stanford
12–1 (8–1); After: 11–2 (8–1)

Jim Harbaugh made the move to the NFL, but the Cardinal were just as imposing with Shaw running the show. Stanford outscored its opponents by more than 21 points per game and went 5–0 in road games.

7. Pete Lembo, Ball State
4–8 (3–5); After: 6–6 (4–4)

The highlight of Lembo’s first season came early, a 27–20 win over Indiana in Indianapolis. The Cardinals also beat Ohio, champs of the MAC East, en route to a .500 record in league play.

8. Bill Blankenship, Tulsa
10–3 (6–2); After: 8–5 (7–1)

The Golden Hurricane survived a brutal early schedule — at Oklahoma, Oklahoma State at home, at Boise State, all in September — and won seven straight games from Oct. 1 through Nov. 19. The offense wasn’t quite as explosive, but the Tulsa D was vastly improved.

9. Dave Doeren, Northern Illinois
Before: 11–3 (8-0); After: 11–3 (7–1)

Doeren and the Huskies were upset in their MAC opener against Central Michigan but reeled off nine straight wins to close the season. NIU won its first MAC title since 1983.

10. Dan McCarney, North Texas
3–9 (3–5); After: 5–7 (4–4)

The Mean Green closed strong, winning two of their final three to finish with a .500 mark in the Sun Belt for the first time since 2004. McCarney, the former Iowa State head coach, has North Texas on the right track.

11. Darrell Hazell, Kent State
5–7 (4–4); After: 5–7 (4–4)

The Golden Flashes took advantage of a softer second-half schedule to win four of their final five games to even their MAC record at .500. The defense was stout (No. 22 in the nation), but the offense struggled.

12. Al Golden, Miami (Fla.)
7–6 (5–3); After: 6–6 (3–5)

The Canes took a step back in the win column — most notably in ACC play — but were more consistently competitive under Golden. Miami’s six losses came by an average of 5.5 points; in ’10, the Canes’ six losses were by an average of 13.0 points.

13. Steve Addazio, Temple
8–4 (5–3); After: 9–4 (5–3)

Addazio got a lot done in his first year as a head coach. The Owls put a scare into Penn State (in a four-point loss), dominated Maryland on the road and won their first bowl game (37–15 over Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl) since 1979.

14. Rocky Long, San Diego State
9–4 (5–3); After: 8–5 (4–3)

The Aztecs weren’t quite as formidable as in 2010, when they lost four games by five points or less, but they still won eight games and finished over .500 in MWC play.

15. Will Muschamp, Florida
8–5 (4–4); After: 7–6 (3–5)

You can argue that Urban Meyer didn’t leave a full cupboard of talent, but it’s hard to call the Gators’ 2011 season a success. They ranked 105th in the nation in total offense and had a losing record in the SEC for the first time since 1986.

16. Todd Graham, Pittsburgh
8–5 (5–2); After: 6–7 (4–3)

Graham is now hated by Panther faithful for his abrupt departure, but his only season at Pitt wasn’t a complete debacle. Playing with offensive personnel that didn’t fit his system, he still went 4–3 in the Big East, and it’s worth noting that four of his six losses (he wasn’t around for the bowl game) were by four points or less.

17. Jerry Kill, Minnesota
3–9 (2–6); After: 3–9 (2–6)

The Gophers lost at home to New Mexico State and North Dakota State in nonconference action, and their six Big Ten losses came by an average of 27.3 points.

18. Paul Pasqualoni, Connecticut
8–5 (5–2); After: 5–7 (3–4)

The Huskies won at least eight games in the four seasons prior to Pasqualoni’s arrival but slumped to a 5–7 mark in 2011. The offense ranked 108th in the nation.

19. Don Treadwell, Miami (Ohio)
10–4 (7–1); After: 4–8 (3–5)

The RedHawks captured the MAC title in 2010 but managed only four wins under Treadwell, despite the return of 16 starters. The defense regressed (from 28th to 48th), and they too often lost the turnover battle (85th in margin). 

20. Jon Embree, Colorado
5–7 (2–6); After: 3–10 (2–7)

The Buffs ended the season with an upset at Utah, but not much else went well in Embree’s first season at his alma mater. Colorado ranked 109th in the nation in both scoring offense and scoring defense.

21. Kevin Wilson, Indiana
5–7 (1–7); After: 1–11 (0–8)

The Hoosiers were dreadful in 2011, with their only win coming over FCS foe South Carolina State. They were outscored in 11 games vs. FBS competition by 18.9 points per game.

22. Randy Edsall, Maryland
Before: 9–4 (5–3); After: 2–10 (1–7)

Where do we start? The Terps had the biggest drop in wins in the FBS ranks, from nine in 2010 to two in ’11. They lost their final 10 games against FBS opponents, including at home to Temple by 31 points. And in the season finale, they led NC State 41–14 in the third quarter before giving up 42 straight points. 

by Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch on Twitter)

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<p> Ranking college football's new coaches from 2011</p>
Post date: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - 04:22
Path: /college-football/unit-rankings-2012-sec-offensive-lines

Kickoff for the 2012 college football season is still two months away, but it's never too early to project how the year might play out. Athlon will be taking a look at how each position stacks up in the BCS conferences and nationally until the start of the season.

Each unit ranking was evaluated based upon how it will perform in 2012 - not how the team played in 2011.

Ranking the SEC's Offensive Lines for 2012

1. Alabama
Even with the departure of center William Vlachos, the Crimson Tide have one of the top offensive lines in the nation. Barrett Jones earned first-team All-SEC honors last season but will move to center in 2012. Considering the versatility and performance throughout his career, he has to be considered the best linemen in college football. Replacing Jones at left tackle is expected to be Cyrus Kouandijo, a former 5-star recruit. Right tackle D.J. Fluker started all 13 games last year, while Anthony Steen and Chance Warmack are back to man the guard positions. Fluker is on the verge of a breakout season, while Warmack should be in the mix for All-American honors.

2. LSU 
This collection of Bayou blockers could be the best in the nation. Two potential future first-round picks in Alex Hurst and Chris Faulk bookend a line that returns four starters. This group was No. 2 in the SEC in rushing and No. 1 in the SEC in sacks allowed (1.29) last year and could actually get better. The only replacement comes in the form of Josh Dworaczyk, who is a sixth-year player with loads of experience. P.J. Lonergan, who is only starter who isn’t at least 6-foot-6, will be one of the nation’s top pivots and Josh Williford returns at right guard. This group averages 319 pounds up front and is stacked with elite level depth behind them. There are few groups nationally that are as talented and deep as the LSU Tigers front line.

3. Texas A&M
With a new quarterback and offensive scheme, the Aggies may have to rely more on their rushing attack in 2012. The good news for Texas A&M is three starters are back up front, including tackles Luke Joeckel (second-team All-Big 12 in 2011) and Jake Matthews (honorable mention All-Big 12). Both players have All-American potential and should allow this line to rank among the top 10-15 nationally. Patrick Lewis has been a starter the last three years and will provide a veteran presence in the middle. The guard spots are up for grabs, but Jarvis Harrison, Shep Klinke and Cedric Ogbuehi all have experience. This group allowed just nine sacks last year and should be a team strength once again in 2012.

4. South Carolina
This group will have some youth and inexperience, but it also has loads of talent. T.J. Johnson is the elder statesman and lone senior, but will anchor the line at center. A.J. Cann - an elite recruit in the 2010 class who played every game of his freshman season last fall - returns for his redshirt sophomore campaign at left guard. With junior Ronald Patrick lining up at right guard, the interior of the offensive line should be stable. The tackle position is a bit more fluid but the talent has incredible upside. Brandon Shell ranked behind only Jadeveon Clowney in the Gamecocks’ 2011 haul and he should be ready to compete as a redshirt freshman. He will battle with Cody Gibson, who got four starts last year, and Mike Matulis, who was pressed into action last year as a freshman due to injuries. Between the trio of underclassmen, South Carolina feels that it can improve on its 2.38 sacks allowed per game from a year ago (87th nationally). 

5. Arkansas
Running up the middle and off guard to the right should be no issue whatsoever for the Hogs. Center Travis Swanson and right guard Alvin Bailey, who has loads of NFL potential, are as good a center-guard combo as there is in the league. Filling the holes around them will determine just how far Arkansas can go in the SEC West this year. Jason Peacock, who started nine games last fall, will get the first crack at protecting Tyler Wilson’s blindside while uber-recruit Brey Cook will bookend the right side. Expect David Hurd and Chris Stringer to figure heavily in the tackle mix as well. Tyler Deacon and Luke Charpentier will work into the guard rotation with Bailey. Lastly, Mitch Smothers can play anywhere on the line and is a versatile piece on the bench. If Arkansas expects to beat Alabama or LSU, it must get improved play from a line that was 73rd nationally in sacks allowed and 81st in rushing offense.

6. Auburn
Few teams in the nation have recruited as well along the offensive line over the last two cycles. Twelve of the 16 scholarship blockers on the roster were signed in the 2010 or 2011 recruiting classes. Sophomore Reese Dismukes is entrenched at center after only one year of action while fellow sophomore Chad Slade has the right tackle position locked up. One of the few veterans, John Sullen, looks to have the left guard position to himself. Look for an elite group of talented but unproven youngsters, including redshirt freshmen Greg Robinson and Christian Westerman to divide the right guard and left tackles duties up at some point. Freshman Patrick Miller will also get plenty of chances to compete. Gene Chizik has an elite three-year haul of hog mollies, now it’s up to line coach Jeff Grimes to develop and motivate these massive blockers.

7. Georgia
Perhaps the only area preventing Georgia from garnering a top five ranking in preseason polls is the offensive line. Three key players are gone from last season’s unit, including center Ben Jones. Tackles Cordy Glenn (first-team All-SEC in 2011) and Justin Anderson have both expired their eligibility. The cupboard isn’t bare for coach Mark Richt, but there’s a lot of work to be done. Three starters are back, including guard Chris Burnette who started 12 games last year. Kenarious Gates and Dallas Lee combined for 16 starts in 2011 and figure to work with the first team once again in 2012. Although three starters are back, the two most important positions on the offensive line – left tackle and center – have question marks. True freshman John Theus will have an opportunity to start at left tackle, while sophomore David Andrews appears to have the early edge at center. If this unit jells, Georgia will have a chance to compete for the national title.

8. Missouri
This unit loses three key players, but is in decent shape heading into 2012. Senior left tackle Elvis Fisher is back after missing all of 2011 with a knee injury. Fisher earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors in 2009 and 2010 and needs to quickly find that form in 2012. The guard spots are expected to be anchored by Travis Ruth and Jack Meiners, while Justin Britt shifts from left side to start at right tackle. Sophomore Mitch Morse played in 13 games last year, but has yet to start a game. He is expected to start at center in 2012, and his performance will be crucial to the success of Missouri’s offensive line. This unit allowed 18 sacks in 2011 – a number surely helped by quarterback James Franklin’s mobility – but should be steady once again in 2012.

9. Tennessee
For the first time in a few years, the Vols finally look to have restocked the offensive line with talent, depth and experience. This is due in part to the fact that so many returning starters were forced into action as freshmen and sophomores. The only non-returning starter is Tiny Richardson - who is thought so highly by the coaching staff that Dallas Thomas will be moved inside to guard - steps in at left tackle to protect Tyler Bray’s backside. Ju’Juan James should hold down the right tackle spot. Zach Fulton, Alex Bullard, James Stone and Marcus Jackson — who all have plenty of playing experience — will battle it out for the center and right guard positions in camp (maybe, all season). This offensive line, for the first time in years, has a chance to be a strength rather than an area of concern.

10. Mississippi State
Despite dealing with inconsistency up front in 2011, the Bulldogs still managed to average 4.4 yards per carry and ranked 38th nationally in rushing offense. With a new quarterback and running back taking over, this unit will be under the microscope to perform in 2012. Guard Gabe Jackson has started all 26 games in his career and is a candidate to earn first-team All-SEC honors in 2012. Center Dillon Day is the unit’s only other returning starter, but he could be pushed for time from junior college recruit Dylan Holley. This unit needs Blaine Clausell stabilize the left tackle spot, but don’t be surprised if junior college recruit Charles Siddoway pushes for time in the fall. 

11. Florida
The offensive line has been a major point of contention for second-year head man Will Muschamp. The defense kept them in most games last year but the offense could do little to help out. With new coaches all around the O-Line, upperclassmen like Matt Patchen and Xavier Nixon need to deliver on their five-star recruiting status. Those two will man the tackle positions and should have their best seasons, while junior Jonotthan Harrison will man the pivot. James Wilson, who will be entering his sixth season on campus, will get the first crack at right guard and could also finally deliver on his lofty recruiting potential. Sophomore Chaz Green, and freshmen D.J. Humphries and Trip Thurman could compete right away for important playing time. Like most positions on the Gators roster there is loads of talent and upside — it just needs to be realized. 

12. Vanderbilt
A year after finishing last in the SEC in scoring, the Commodores showed significant improvement on offense. The line was a key reason for Vanderbilt’s offensive gains, as it averaged 4.3 yards per carry and paved the way for 26 rushing scores. While this unit improved last season, the Commodores have a few question marks up front, especially with only two starters returning. Left tackle Wesley Johnson has All-SEC potential, while Ryan Seymour is back after making 12 starts last year. Josh Jelesky and Andrew Bridges are expected to anchor the right side of the line and both gained valuable experience last season. The biggest question mark will be center Spencer Pulley. Although the Commodores rank No. 12 on this list in July, don’t be surprised if this group ranks higher by the end of the season.

13. Kentucky
A combined 87 starts are gone from last year’s unit but Joker Phillips is surprisingly optimistic about this group. Larry Warford is a superstar and anchors the unit from his right guard position while fellow senior Matt Smith returns as the starting center. The left side of the line will be manned by two talented youngsters in sophomore Darrian Miller (left tackle) and freshman Zach West. Veterans Kevin Mitchell and Trevino Woods will battle for right tackle duties. There is a nice blend of youth and experience on this roster, but depth is a major issue. Any one injury for any extended period of time could spell disaster for a team already scratching and clawing to get to bowl eligibility.

14. Ole Miss
With the departures of tackles Bradley Sowell and Bobby Massie, along with guard Matt Hall, there are few positives surrounding this group going into 2012. Evan Swindall is a returning starter at center, but four spots are up for grabs around him. Junior college recruit Pierce Burton is expected to start at right tackle, while Emmanuel McCray finished spring as the No. 1 option on the left side. Senior A.J. Hawkins is expected to anchor one of the guard spots, and his experience will be valuable for a unit that lacks overall depth and proven bodies. This unit allowed 33 sacks in 2011 and could be worse in 2012 if four new starters struggle to jell in the fall.

by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)

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<p> Unit Rankings: 2012 SEC Offensive Lines</p>
Post date: Monday, July 9, 2012 - 06:14
Path: /college-football/college-football-2012-all-american-team

Picking a college football All-American team is no easy task. Some positions are deeper than others, while it's also difficult to project how a player will perform with the losses or additions around them.

With that in mind, it's time to unveil Athlon's 2012 All-American Team.

Related: Athlon's 2012 All-American Team as Recruits

Athlon's 2012 All-American Team 

First-Team Offense

QB Matt Barkley, USC

RB Montee Ball, Wisconsin

RB Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina

WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson

WR Robert Woods, USC

TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame

C Barrett Jones, Alabama

OT Alex Hurst, LSU

OT Ricky Wagner, Wisconsin

OG Alvin Bailey, Arkansas

OG Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma

AP De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon

First-Team Defense

DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina

DE Sam Montgomery, LSU

DT Star Lotulelei, Utah

DT Joe Vellano, Maryland

LB Jarvis Jones, Georgia

LB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame

LB Chase Thomas, Stanford

CB David Amerson, NC State

CB Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State

S T.J. McDonald, USC

S Eric Reid, LSU

First-Team Specialists

K Caleb Sturgis, Florida

P Brad Wing, LSU

KR De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon

PR Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin

Second-Team Offense

QB Geno Smith, West Virginia

RB Rex Burkhead, Nebraska

RB Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State

WR Keenan Allen, California

WR Marquess Wilson, Washington State

TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington

C Khaled Holmes, USC

OG Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech

OG Larry Warford, Kentucky

OT Chris Faulk, LSU

OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M

AP Tavon Austin, West Virginia

Second-Team Defense

DE Corey Lemonier, Auburn

DE John Simon, Ohio State

DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State

DT Kawann Short, Purdue

LB Arthur Brown, Kansas State

LB Khaseem Greene, Rutgers

LB A.J. Klein, Iowa State

CB Brodrick Brown, Oklahoma State

CB Nickell Robey, USC

S John Boyett, Oregon

S Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma

Second-Team Specialists

K Brett Maher, Nebraska

P Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech

KR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State

PR Jamal Miles, Arizona State

Third-Team Offense

QB Denard Robinson, Michigan

RB Kenjon Barner, Oregon

RB Giovani Bernard, North Carolina

WR Marqise Lee, USC

WR Kenny Stills, Oklahoma

TE Joseph Fauria, UCLA

C Travis Frederick, Wisconsin

OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina

OG Chance Warmack, Alabama

OT Oday Aboushi, Virginia

OT Justin Pugh, Syracuse

AP Tyler Lockett, Kansas State

Third-Team Defense

DE Brandon Jenkins, Florida State

DE Alex Okafor, Texas

DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida

DT Bennie Logan, LSU

LB Dion Bailey, USC

LB Chris Borland, Wisconsin

LB Gerald Hodges, Penn State

CB Quandre Diggs, Texas

CB Jordan Poyer, Oregon State

S Matt Elam, Florida

S Bacarri Rambo, Georgia

Third-Team Specialists

K Dustin Hopkins, Florida State

P Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State

KR Raheem Mostert, Purdue

PR Tavon Austin, West Virginia

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Athlon's 2012 All-SEC Team
College Football 2012 Rankings

College Football 2012 Predictions

<p> Athlon's 2012 College Football All-American Team</p>
Post date: Monday, July 9, 2012 - 05:44
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Big 12, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-examining-top-players-big-12

College fantasy football drafts will be heating up over the next few months and Athlon Sports has teamed with The College Fantasy Football Site to provide in-depth coverage for 2012. 

Here's a look at the best of the best for Big 12 in terms of fantasy options for 2012:

2012 Preseason Big 12 All-Fantasy Team

Using a starting roster of 2-QB, 3-RB, 3-WR, FLEX, TE, K, Def/ST, All-Conference Fantasy Teams are projected using the following scoring system:

Passing—25 pass yds = 1 point, Passing TD = 4 points, INTs = -1 point

Rushing—10 rushing yards = 1 point, Rushing TDs = 6 points

Receiving—.5 points per reception, 10 receiving yards = 1 point, Receiving TDs = 6 points

Kicking—Extra Point = 1 point, FG 0-39 yards = 3 points, 40-49 yards = 4 points, 50+ = 5 points

Defense/ST—Defense, KR, and PR TDs = 6 points, Safety = 2 points, Fumbles and INTs = 3 points, Sack = 1 point, Points allowed (0 = 15 points, 2-6 = 10 points, 7-10 = 7 points, 11-13 = 5 points, 14-21 = 4 points, 22-28 = 2 points, 29-24 = 0 points, 35+ = -2 points)


QB—Collin Klein, Sr. (Kansas State)

Last season:  Passed for 1,918 yards and 13 TDs, rushed for 1,141 yards and 27 TDs.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 1-2-3; Missouri St, Miami, North Texas

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  @ TCU, @ Baylor, Bye


QB—Geno Smith, Sr. (West Virginia)

Last season:  Passed for 4,385 yards and 31 TDs.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 3-4-5; James Madison, Maryland, Baylor

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  @ Oklahoma St, Oklahoma, @ Iowa St


RB—Joseph Randle, Jr. (Oklahoma State)

Last season:  Rushed for 1,216 yards and 24 TDs, 43 receptions for 266 yards and 2 TDs.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 1-2-3; Savannah St, @ Arizona, Louisiana

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  West Virginia, Texas Tech, @ Oklahoma


RB—Lache Seastrunk, So. (Baylor)

Last season:  Sat out 2011 season after transferring from Oregon.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 1-2-3-4; SMU, Bye, Sam Houston St, @ UL-Monroe

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  @ Oklahoma, Kansas St, Texas Tech


RB—Dominique Whaley, Sr. (Oklahoma)

Last season:  Rushed for 627 yards and 7 TDs in seven games (broken ankle).

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 8-9-10; Kansas, Notre Dame, @ Iowa St

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Baylor, @ West Virginia, Oklahoma St


WR—Tavon Austin, Sr. (West Virginia)

Last season:  101 receptions for 1,186 yards and 8 TDs, 182 yards and TD rushing.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 3-4-5; James Madison, Maryland, Baylor

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  @ Oklahoma St, Oklahoma, @ Iowa St


WR—Stedman Bailey, Jr. (West Virginia)

Last season:  72 receptions for 1,279 yards and 12 TDs.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 3-4-5; James Madison, Maryland, Baylor

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  @ Oklahoma St, Oklahoma, @ Iowa St


WR—Terrance Williams, Sr. (Baylor)

Last season:  59 receptions for 957 yards and 11 TDs as WR#2 opposite Kendall Wright.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 3-4-5; Sam Houston St, @ UL-Monroe, @ West Virginia

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  @ Oklahoma, Kansas St, Texas Tech


TE—Blake Jackson, Jr. (Oklahoma State)

Last season:  No. 1 rated JUCO tight end recruit chose the Cowboys over Georgia.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 10-11-12; @ Kansas St, West Virginia, Texas Tech

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  West Virginia, Texas Tech, @ Oklahoma


FLEX—Darrin Moore, Sr. (Texas Tech)

Last season:  47 receptions for 571 yards and 8 TDs, missed four games with injury (knee).

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 1-2-3; Northwestern St, @ Texas St, New Mexico

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Kansas, @ Oklahoma St, Baylor


K—Quinn Sharp, Sr. (Oklahoma State)

Last season: 22-for-25 on FG attempts, 79-for-80 on extra points.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 10-11-12; @ Kansas St, West Virginia, Texas Tech

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  West Virginia, Texas Tech, @ Oklahoma


DEF/ST—Texas Longhorns

Last season:  No. 6 rushing defense, No. 11 total defense.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 1-2-3; Wyoming, New Mexico, @ Ole Miss

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Iowa St, Bye, TCU


Top 5 Reserves

QB—Landry Jones, Sr. (Oklahoma)

QB—Casey Pachall, Jr. (TCU)

WR—Tracy Moore, Sr. (Oklahoma St)

WR—Kenny Stills, Jr. (Oklahoma)

WR—Eric Ward, Jr. (Texas Tech)




By Joe DiSalvo

The College Fantasy Football Site

Follow Joe DiSalvo on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Related Content: Athlon's 2012 College Fantasy Football Rankings

<p> College Fantasy Football: Examining the Best Players in the Big 12</p>
Post date: Monday, July 9, 2012 - 02:14
Path: /college-football/unit-rankings-2012-acc-wide-receivers

Kickoff for the 2012 college football season is still two months away, but it's never too early to project how the year might play out. Athlon will be taking a look at how each position stacks up in the BCS conferences and nationally until the start of the season.

Each unit ranking was evaluated based upon how it will perform in 2012 - not how the team played in 2011.

Ranking the ACC's WR/TE Corps for 2012

1. Clemson – The Tigers had high expectations for Sammy Watkins last year, and the freshman didn’t disappoint. He quickly emerged as Clemson’s No. 1 receiver, catching 82 passes for 1,219 yards and 12 scores. An off-the-field arrest in May has clouded Watkins’ status for the season opener, but he is not expected to miss more than one or two games. The sophomore isn’t the only returning weapon for Tajh Boyd, as DeAndre Hopkins is back after snagging 72 balls last year. Jaron Brown, Charone Peake, Martavis Bryant and Adam Humphries will fill out the rest of the receiving corps. Senior Brandon Ford is expected to step in for Dwayne Allen at tight end. He caught 14 passes for 166 yards and two scores last year.

2. Florida State – The Seminoles don’t have the All-American that Clemson has in Sammy Watkins, but there’s a lot to like about this group in 2012. Rashad Greene caught 38 passes for 596 yards and seven touchdowns as a freshman last year and should be in contention for first-team All-ACC honors in 2012. Rodney Smith is back after ranking second on the team with 561 receiving yards last season, while Willie Haulstead returns after missing all of 2011 due to a concussion. Adding to depth will be junior Kenny Shaw, sophomore Christian Green and a breakout candidate in redshirt freshman Kelvin Benjamin. Nick O’Leary is an emerging threat at tight end and should easily improve upon his totals from last year (12 catches, 164 yards and one touchdown).

3. Virginia Tech – Despite the departures of Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale, the Hokies are still in great shape at receiver. D.J. Coles is back after ranking third on the team with 36 receptions and 480 yards last year. Senior Marcus Davis averaged 17 yards per reception in 2011 and should contend for All-ACC honors in 2012. This group will get a boost with the return of Dyrell Roberts. He missed nearly all of last year with an arm injury but has 63 career catches for 965 yards and five scores. A player to watch will be incoming freshman Joel Caleb. He ranked as the No. 95 recruit in the 2012 Athlon Consensus 100 and should push for playing time.

4. Duke – Conner Vernon hasn’t received much national recognition, but he is on the verge of finishing his career as one of the ACC’s most prolific receivers. He ranks seventh in career receptions and needs 35 to pass Aaron Kelly (Clemson) for the No. 1 spot. Vernon ranks 16th in conference history with 2,675 yards and needs 843 in 2012 to pass Peter Warrick (Florida State) for first place. Donovan Varner and tight end Cooper Helfet have expired their eligibility, and the Blue Devils need sophomore Jamison Crowder or freshman Nick Hill to help take the pressure off of Vernon. Replacing Helfet at tight end is expected to be Issac Blakeney or Braxton Deaver.

5. North Carolina – In order to make new coach Larry Fedora’s spread attack work, the Tar Heels will need some players to step up at receiver. Senior Erik Highsmith is the first choice to replace Dwight Jones as the No. 1 target. Highsmith grabbed 51 receptions for 726 yards and five scores last year and should see his numbers increase in 2012. Sophomore T.J. Thorpe is ready for an increased role in the offense, while seniors Todd Harrelson and Jheranie Boyd have one more shot to make an impact. Sophomores Sean Tapley and Reggie Wilkins will battle for snaps, but incoming freshman Quinshad Davis could crack the receiver rotation in the fall. Eric Ebron appears to be the likely starter at tight end.

6. NC State – The concern over losing tight end George Bryan and speedy receiver T.J. Graham is lessened somewhat by the return of quarterback Mike Glennon. The senior was solid in his first year as the starter, throwing for 3,054 yards and 31 scores. Running back James Washington is the team’s leading returning receiver after catching 42 passes last year. Tobais Palmer will likely be the new No. 1 target for Glennon and he grabbed 37 receptions for 496 yards in 2011. Bryan Underwood flashed potential as a freshman last year by nabbing 16 receptions for 226 yards. This group will be counting on juniors Rashard Smith and Quintin Payton to fill the No. 3 and No. 4 roles, while Mario Carter and Asa Watson will battle to replace Bryan as the starting tight end.

7. Maryland – This group wasn’t a strength last year, but the Terrapins also dealt with inconsistency at quarterback and a change in offensive scheme. There’s a new coordinator once again in 2012, but there’s hope for the offense to turn things around. Three of the top four players at the top of Maryland’s catch total from last season are back, and there’s a lot of potential surrounding freshman Stefon Diggs. Kevin Dorsey, Kerry Boykins and Diggs will likely round out the starting receiving corps, while Devin Burns, Marcus Leak and Nigel King are in the mix for snaps. With the struggles of Maryland’s passing attack last year, tight end Matt Furstenburg went largely unnoticed. The senior could be the best in the ACC at his position in 2012.

8. Miami – In addition to the question marks surrounding the quarterback position, the Hurricanes suffered some significant losses at this position. Tommy Streeter and Travis Benjamin combined for 87 receptions and 1,420 yards last year but both are catching passes in the NFL this summer. Allen Hurns is Miami’s top returning receiver (31 catches) and will have to take on a bigger role in 2012. Phillip Dorsett grabbed 14 receptions as a freshman last year and will be in the mix to start this season. Sophomore Rashawn Scott and senior Kendal Thompkins will have to hold off a charge for playing time from incoming freshmen Angelo Jean-Louis, Malcolm Lewis and Robert Lockhart. Clive Walford had a solid freshman campaign – catching 18 passes for 172 yards and one touchdown – and is expected to increase his numbers in 2012.

9. Virginia – There’s no question the Cavaliers are back on track after winning eight games last season. However, to take the next step and win the ACC title, the passing attack has to get better. Quarterback Michael Rocco settled into the job last year and another offseason to work as the starter will help Virginia’s offense. This unit will miss Kris Burd, but junior Tim Smith is an emerging weapon after averaging 17.1 yards per catch in 2011. Darius Jennings turned in a solid freshman campaign, catching 20 passes for 239 yards and a score. Sophomores Dominique Terrell, E.J. Scott and Miles Gooch will compete for time, while tight end is in good shape with Colter Phillips and Jake McGee returning.

10. Wake Forest – Chris Givens emerged as one of the ACC’s top receivers last year but decided to leave a year early for the NFL Draft. Without Givens, the Demon Deacons are counting on Michael Campanaro to have another big season in 2012. He caught 73 passes for 833 yards and two touchdowns last year and will be the No. 1 target for quarterback Tanner Price. After Campanaro is where Wake Forest needs playmakers to emerge. Senior Terence Davis caught 20 passes for 269 yards and five scores last season but must have a bigger impact in 2012. Junior Quan Rucker, sophomore Brandon Terry and freshmen Airyn Willis and Sherman Ragland will provide depth, while tight end is an area of concern with very little experience returning.

11. Boston College – The Eagles ranked a disappointing 11th in the ACC in passing offense last year, but there’s hope for a turnaround in 2012. New coordinator Doug Martin did a good job of improving New Mexico State’s offense last season, and this group returns quarterback Chase Rettig and the top four statistical receivers from 2011. Rettig is a work in progress, but he needs more help from this group. Bobby Swigert led the team with 44 receptions for 470 yards, while Colin Larmond averaged 15.5 yards per catch. Swigert, Larmond and tight end Chris Pantale are a nice trio to build around, but Boston College needs more big-play ability from the rest of the group.

12. Georgia Tech – Considering the Yellow Jackets averaged 12.8 passing attempts per game last season, possessing an elite receiving corps isn’t essential to make the option offense work. However, this unit was hit hard with the early departure of standout Stephen Hill to the NFL, while Tyler Melton finished his eligibility. With those two players departing, Georgia Tech has no receivers returning with any career receptions. Sophomores Jeff Greene and Darren Waller need a big season as the likely starters, while senior Chris Jackson and junior Jeremy Moore will push for snaps. The Yellow Jackets won’t need an All-ACC standout, but a receiver or two needs to emerge as a downfield threat to keep defenses honest. 

By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

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<p> Unit Rankings: 2012 ACC Wide Receivers</p>
Post date: Friday, July 6, 2012 - 05:40
Path: /college-football/unit-rankings-2012-big-ten-wide-receivers

Kickoff for the 2012 college football season is still two months away, but it's never too early to project how the year might play out. Athlon will be taking a look at how each position stacks up in the BCS conferences and nationally until the start of the season.

Each unit ranking was evaluated based upon how it will perform in 2012 - not how the team played in 2011.

Ranking the Big Ten's Receiving Corps for 2012

1. Nebraska —In what could be considered the weakest position in the Big Ten, the Huskers claim the top slot almost by default — and upside. Kenny Bell led the team in catches and yards as only a freshman, becoming only the second player to do so at Nebraska. He is explosive and dynamic enough to be used in a variety of ways and has gotten bigger and stronger this offseason. Fellow sophomore Jamal Turner has loads of ability and dynamic potential, but needs to work on being more physical and consistent. Seniors Quincy Enunwa and Tim Marlowe offer veteran experience and both do all of the little things coach Rich Fisher wants from his wideouts. Expect to see Taariq Allen and Tyler Evans receive plenty of time as well. Ben Cotton and Kyler Reed form one of the best tight end duos in the nation. Reed has rare physical talents that need to be utilized by Nebraska and quarterback Taylor Martinez more.

2. Northwestern – The words “absolutely loaded” aren’t used to often in Athlon Sports preview magazines when talking about the Wildcats, but Pat Fitzgerald has more talent at the position than maybe any Northwestern team in history. And this, despite losing Jeremy Ebert to graduation and Kain Colter to the quarterback position. Demetrius Fields and Christian Jones can be special players, and the duo will dominate the slot in Evanston. Speedy Tony Jones returns after missing all of last year with an injury, and Rashad Lawrence is looking to bounce back after a sluggish sophomore season. Without tight end Drake Dunsmore and boasting a a six- or seven-man rotation, expect to see the Cats in plenty of four- and five-wide receiver sets. Juniors Mike Jensen and Drew Moulton and freshmen Pierre Youngblood-Ary and Cameron Dickerson will be waiting in the wings.

3. Wisconsin — While he may not be the most talented or explosive player, Jared Abbrederis is likely the top wide receiver in the Big Ten. He is extremely dependable, leads by example and rarely makes mistakes, and he also is a big-play threat in the punt return game. He could easily lead the league in receptions, yards and touchdowns in 2012. Behind him, however, there is little proven depth. Jeff Duckworth will start opposite Abbrederis, while Manasseh Garner and Kenzel Doe are the only other returning wideouts who caught a pass last year (two each). Isaiah Williams and Marquis Mason could work their way into the starting rotation as well. That said, in a system known for its tight end use and running game, fans can expect to see Abbrederis on the receiving end of most of Danny O’Brien's passes. Speaking of tight ends, Jacob Pedersen is the next great player in a long line of UW TEs. He caught eight touchdowns as a sophomore and will be more of a target this fall. Pedersen is the complete package at tight end.

4. Iowa — Marvin McNutt would overshadow nearly anyone who has played in a Hawkeye uniform having  departed Iowa City as the school’s all-time leading receiver in a variety of categories. However, it appears that Keenan Davis is poised to deliver on his immense talent this fall. He will need to continue to step up his game as he is now the No. 1 option. Sophomore Kevonte Martin-Manley played in all 13 games as a freshman and will likely be asked to do more this season. Steven Staggs and Jordan Cotton give the two-deep an experienced feel. The development of tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz could be a game-changer for this offense if he can live up to his lofty recruiting status. New offensive coordinator Greg Davis says “in 39 springs, I’ve never had a tight end like C.J. with his size and ability to play at the line of scrimmage and stretch the field.” With the top pure passer in the Big Ten under center, Iowa should feel pretty comfortable with its plethora of emerging talent.

5. Ohio State — The leading receiver for the Buckeyes caught only 14 passes last year, but the potential and growth (and overall lack of elite options in the league) give OSU the No. 5 group in the Big Ten. Jake Stoneburner exploded at the start of last year, but went missing after Braxton Miller took over. Expect Urban Meyer to work the talented tight end into the gameplan on a more regular basis this fall. Fellow tight ends Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett will play plenty of snaps as well. On the outside, there is a jumbled mix of undeveloped potential and muddled depth charts. Devin Smith led the team in all three major categories as only a freshman and should be better while juniors Philly Brown and Chris Fields need to turn into leaders. True freshman Mike Thomas, at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, might be the wild card after performing extremely well in spring football. A big-bodied down-the-field threat is what this offense is missing and Thomas could be that for Meyer.

6. Michigan — Roy Roundtree is a bizarre case study. He was an All-Big Ten performer as a sophomore (72 rec., 935 yards), but plummeted back to Earth last fall, (19 rec., 355 yards) while Junior Hemingway and Jeremy Gallon took on bigger roles. Gallon is back opposite Roundtree and offers intriguing play-making skill. Yet, it is Roundtree that could push this unit into the Big Ten’s top tier of pass-catchers. Sophomore Jerald Robinson is a big body that Brady Hoke wants to get involved in the vertical passing game and Jeremy Jackson will get plenty of looks as well. Brandon Moore and Ricardo Miller will take over for the departed Kevin Koger at tight end.

7. Purdue — Junior O.J. Ross and senior Antavian Edison are about as good a 1-2 punch as there is in the Big Ten this fall. The two combined for 77 catches, over 900 yards and three touchdowns with a revolving door at quarterback all season. The trouble for Purdue is depth. Gary Bush, Tommie Thomas, Raheem Mostert and Shane Mikesky need to step into bigger roles this fall. Crosby Wright and Gabe Holmes do offer some dependability and upside at the tight end position.

8. Michigan State — This is going to be a huge rebuilding project for Mark Dantonio after losing B.J. Cunningham and Keshawn Martin to the NFL. Tony Lippett and Bennie Fowler have loads of talent, but need to develop into consistent playmakers on the outside. Keith Mumphrey and Andre Sims Jr. also provide plenty of upside. Although there is some potential with the returning receivers, the addition of former Tennessee Vol DeAnthony Arnett to the unit has to make Spartans fans more comfortable with their receiving corps. No returning receiver caught more than four passes last year while Arnett, from Saginaw, Mich., posted 24 catches, 242 yards and two scores as a true freshman last year for Tennessee. He almost instantly becomes the most experienced and talented option on the roster. Dion Sims is now an upperclassman and is poised for his best season at tight end. Look for this group to develop quickly and rapidly move up these rankings.

9. Penn State — Only one player returns to the wide receiving corps with at least five catches last season. Devon Smith was expected to start, but he left the team in late June. Justin Brown, who has been a complementary piece, will need to step up and be the deep threat that Derek Moye was, while also emerging as a leader with very little experience around him. Shawney Kersey, Alex Kenney, Allen Robinson and Christian Kuntz will all get a chance to start as well. Meanwhile, Bill O’Brien plans to refocus on the tight end position — a la his former employer, the New England Patriots. Junior Garry Gilliam might have the most talent, but he needs to stay on the field after dealing with injury issues, while Kevin Haplea boasts the most experience. Now, if someone could just get them the football.

10. Indiana — Converted quarterback Kofi Hughes may not have the elite game-changing ability Kevin Wilson is looking for, but he will likely be the best IU receiver. He built a tremendous rapport with freshman signal caller Tre Roberson, as his eight-catch, 147-yard performance against Ohio State indicates. He can also be used in unique ways with his ability to run and throw the football from the wideout position. Duwyce Wilson might be the most gifted player on the two-deep, but he has to prove he is healthy after missing spring with a knee issue. Expect Cody Lattimore, Jay McCants and Jamonne Chester to figure prominently into the mix as well. Tight end Ted Bolser can expect the biggest boost from new coordinator Seth Littrell, as the pro-style attack will feature the tight end more prominently.

11. Illinois — Replacing A.J. Jenkins will be a tall order for new head coach Tim Beckman. Spencer Harris is a junior who posted 26 catches a year ago. Darius Millines is also an upperclassman who had 19 receptions last fall, while sophomore tight end Jon Davis posted 22 receptions as a freshman a year ago. These three should be Nathan Scheelhaase’s top targets. The most intriguing development, however, could be the usage of cornerback Terry Hawthorne. The coverman was a star pass-catcher in high school and could be used on both sides of the ball. His raw play-making ability might be too much to keep him out of the offensive gameplan. Ryan Lankford should also see a big role, as a host of talented but unproven underclassmen fill the two-deep.

12. Minnesota — Only one returning receiver has caught a touchdown on this roster - senior Brandon Green. Speed demon Marcus Jones will control the slot but has to stay healthy after dealing with a torn knee ligament a season ago. Former junior college transfer Malcolm Moulton can make plays, but he has to be more consistent while Devin Crawford-Tufts also needs to continue his development in a big way. Freshman Andre McDonald could be a wild card at 6-foot-2 and over 200 pounds, while John Rabe and Drew Goodger are expected to get the reps at tight end. Quarterback MarQueis Gray is a senior and should have his best year, but Minnesota needs players to step up around him for the Gophers to improve in 2012.

By Braden Gall (@BradenGall on Twitter)

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Revisiting Northwestern's 1995 Rose Bowl Team

<p> Unit Rankings: 2012 Big Ten Wide Receivers</p>
Post date: Friday, July 6, 2012 - 05:23
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Kansas Jayhawks, Big 12, News
Path: /college-football/kansas-football-will-charlie-weis-second-chance-equal-success

It didn’t matter that spring practice was just a month away or that the business of rebuilding a team coming off a 2–10 season never closed. Charlie Weis wanted to get home for the game.

The basketball game.

Just days earlier, Kansas’ hoop squad had claimed a highly charged 87–86 win over third-ranked Missouri. Now, two days later, the Jayhawks had traveled to Stillwater for a matchup with Oklahoma State. It’s not like the Pokes were a big threat on paper; in fact, they had a losing record. But after such a draining triumph, a letdown was almost inevitable. Weis wanted to see how KU would respond.

“I love the hoops team,” Weis says. “I got home to see the basketball game, because I wanted to see how (Kansas coach Bill) Self would handle the emotional letdown after a huge win Saturday.”

The Jayhawks were just fine. They earned a 70–58 win over OSU, clinching the Big 12 regular-season championship. From his perch at home, Weis — the new Kansas football coach — had a chance to watch Self at work and see just how far his own program had to go to match its more celebrated hardwood counterpart.

That Weis has taken over in Lawrence is both interesting and surprising. His arrival at Kansas has to stun many who believed that the coach’s inability to make good on his early assurances that he would turn Notre Dame into a national champion contender disqualified him from another BCS job, especially so soon after leaving South Bend (after the 2009 season). It fascinates those who wonder whether this NFL offensive wizard can author a strong second act away from the intense scrutiny he faced while directing the Irish.

Weis certainly didn’t choose a situation that will provide an easy rehabilitation for his reputation. The Jayhawks didn’t simply post a horrible record last year; they were disorganized and undisciplined. Even the players know that.

“For the most part, it was a lot of little things, small discipline things, that can over time grow into larger things,” says senior offensive tackle Tanner Hawkinson. “The small things turned into big losses,” adds senior defensive end Toben Opurum.

So, not only must Weis upgrade the team’s talent, find a way to shore up a defense that surrendered 43.8 points per game and improve the team’s passing attack, but he must also tighten up the focus and commitment of his players.

The last task was the first he tackled, and he went about it from two angles. First, he hired Scott Holsopple from Florida to be his strength and conditioning coach. (Weis was the Gators’ offensive coordinator last year.) Secondly, he put more pressure on the players to perform in the classroom by installing himself as the academic liaison for the program.

“I interviewed every kid on the team (one March) Saturday morning, and 90 percent of them said the biggest two differences for them were how much improvement they gained in strength and conditioning and how much more accountability they have academically,” Weis says.

Weis considers himself a “loving father” to his players, and that image seems to be at odds with the personality he displayed at Notre Dame, when he was often caustic and arrogant to those outside the program. To his credit, Weis seems to have toned down the offensive genius shtick somewhat and is focused more on producing a winning team than on polishing his national image.

To that end, he was extremely active in the personnel department during his first few months on the job. He began with the quarterback position, which last year featured Jordan Webb, who completed 63.7 percent of his passes for 1,824 yards, 13 touchdowns and 12 picks. Webb wasn’t awful, but he certainly wasn’t a good fit for Weis’ pro-style offense and has since transferred to Colorado. In his place, Weis will likely insert former Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist, who left South Bend after an injury-marred career to play for the man who recruited him to ND. If Crist, who suffered two serious knee injuries while with the Irish, can’t go, Weis will turn to Turner Baty, who led City College of San Francisco to the junior college national title. Former BYU quarterback Jake Heaps, once the nation’s No. 1 high school quarterback, has transferred to Lawrence and will be eligible in 2013.

“If you look at our recruiting class of Dayne Crist, Jake Heaps and Turner Baty, how can anybody in the country have a better recruiting class than that at quarterback?” Weis says, making a pretty good point.

Under center isn’t the only place on the field you’ll find some experienced newcomers in 2012. Weis brought in a total of nine junior college players, and even signed one — offensive lineman Aslam Sterling — on March 12. Unlike at Notre Dame, which did not allow junior college transfers, Kansas is quite amenable to their arrival, and Weis is delighted to be bringing in a class that has some older hands.

“You can turn around a program like this faster when you can blend a mixture of high school kids and junior college kids and other factors, like fifth-year kids who have already graduated (like Crist),” Weis says. “A lot of these kids are ready to play now.”

Weis makes no secret that he is using rival Kansas State as a template for his program. When Bill Snyder began his second stint in Manhattan in 2009, he faced a similar situation: The team was undisciplined and lacked talent. By the next season, Snyder had the Wildcats in a bowl game, and last season, KSU was 10–2 during the regular season. Snyder’s formula included plenty of transfers.

But junior college imports can backfire on coaches, and Weis has to be careful that his desire for quick success doesn’t create trouble down the road. Kansas football fans may not be as demanding as those who grew tired of Weis in South Bend, but if the Jayhawks don’t show progress, it will be hard to justify keeping him.

“When you come to do a rebuild at a school like Kansas, it’s somewhat helpful that he ­didn’t have all 10- and 11-win seasons,” says KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger, who describes Weis as having a “great work ethic” and a “great football mind.”

“That sounds like a justification, but he knows how to coach a 6–6 team and a 9–3 team. As you rebound, you’re going to have 6–6 seasons before 9–3 seasons.”

At this point, 6–6 sounds pretty good in Lawrence. Not for the basketball team, but for Weis

This story appeared in Athlon's 2012 Big 12 Preview Annual.

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<p> Kansas Football: Will Charlie Weis' Second Chance Equal Success?</p>
Post date: Friday, July 6, 2012 - 05:02
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-examining-best-players-acc

College fantasy football drafts will be heating up over the next few months and Athlon Sports has teamed with The College Fantasy Football Site to provide in-depth coverage for 2012. 

Here's a look at the best of the best for ACC in terms of fantasy options for 2012:

2012 Preseason ACC All-Fantasy Team

Using a starting roster of 2-QB, 3-RB, 3-WR, FLEX, TE, K, Def/ST, All-Conference Fantasy Teams are projected using the following scoring system:

Passing—25 pass yds = 1 point, Passing TD = 4 points, INTs = -1 point

Rushing—10 rushing yards = 1 point, Rushing TDs = 6 points

Receiving—.5 points per reception, 10 receiving yards = 1 point, Receiving TDs = 6 points

Kicking—Extra Point = 1 point, FG 0-39 yards = 3 points, 40-49 yards = 4 points, 50+ = 5 points

Defense/ST—Defense, KR, and PR TDs = 6 points, Safety = 2 points, Fumbles and INTs = 3 points, Sack = 1 point, Points allowed (0 = 15 points, 2-6 = 10 points, 7-10 = 7 points, 11-13 = 5 points, 14-21 = 4 points, 22-28 = 2 points, 29-24 = 0 points, 35+ = -2 points)


QB—Tajh Boyd, Jr. (Clemson)

Last season:  Passed for 3,828 yards and 33 TDs, rushed for 218 yards and 5 TDs.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 10-11-12; @ Duke, Maryland, NC St

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Maryland, NC St, South Carolina


QB—Logan Thomas, Jr. (Virginia Tech)

Last season:  Passed for 3,013 yards and 19 TDs, rushed for 469 yards and 11 TDs.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 6-7-8; @ North Carolina, Duke, @ Clemson

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Florida St, @ Boston College, Virginia


RB—Giovani Bernard, So. (North Carolina)

Last season:  Rushed for 1,253 yards and 13 TDs, 45 receptions for 362 yards and TD.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 3-4-5; @ Louisville, East Carolina, Idaho

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Georgia Tech, @ Virginia, Maryland


RB—Andre Ellington, Sr. (Clemson)

Last season:  Rushed for 1,178 yards and 11 TDs, 22 receptions for 109 yards.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 1-2-3; Auburn, Ball St, Furman

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Maryland, NC St, South Carolina


RB—Josh Harris, Jr. (Wake Forest)

Last season:  Rushed for 432 yards and 3 TDs. 

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 4-5-6; Army, Duke, @ Maryland

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  @ NC St, @ Notre Dame, Vanderbilt


WR—Sammy Watkins, So. (Clemson)

Last season:  82 receptions for 1,219 yards and 12 TDs, 231 rushing yards, 1 KRTD.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 10-11-12; @ Duke, Maryland, NC St

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Maryland, NC St, South Carolina


WR—DeAndre Hopkins, Jr. (Clemson)

Last season:  72 receptions for 978 yards and 5 TDs.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 10-11-12; @ Duke, Maryland, NC St

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Maryland, NC St, South Carolina


WR—Rashad Greene, So. (Florida State)

Last season:  38 receptions for 596 yards and 7 TDs.  Missed four games due to injury.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 1-2-3; Murray St, Savannah St, Wake Forest

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  @ Virginia Tech, @ Maryland, Florida


TE—Brandon Ford, Sr. (Clemson)

Last season:  No. 1 rated JUCO tight end recruit chose the Cowboys over Georgia.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 10-11-12; @ Duke, Maryland, NC St

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Maryland, NC St, South Carolina


FLEX—Michael Holmes, Fr. (Virginia Tech)

Last season:  Redshirted.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 2-3-4; Austin Peay, @ Pitt, Bowling Green

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Florida St, @ Boston College, Virginia


K—Chandler Catanzaro, Jr. (Clemson)

Last season: 22-for-25 on FG attempts, 79-for-80 on extra points.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 1-2-3; Auburn, Ball St, Furman

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Maryland, NC St, South Carolina


DEF/ST—Florida State Seminoles

Last season:  No. 2 rushing defense, No. 4 scoring defense, total defense

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 1-2-3; Murray St, Savannah St, Wake Forest

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  @ Virginia Tech, @ Maryland, Florida


Top 5 Reserves

QB—Bryn Renner, Jr. (North Carolina)

RB—Perry Jones, Sr. (Virginia)

RB—Orwin Smith, Sr. (Georgia Tech)

WR—Erik Highsmith, Sr. (North Carolina)

WR—Michael Campanaro, Jr. (Wake Forest)



By Joe DiSalvo

The College Fantasy Football Site

Follow Joe DiSalvo on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Related Content: Athlon's 2012 College Fantasy Football Rankings

<p> College Fantasy Football: Examining the Best Players in the ACC</p>
Post date: Friday, July 6, 2012 - 02:19