Each top 25 college football team’s most important player

Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports  |  By Grey Papke  |  Last updated 8/29/18

Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

The college football season is upon us, which should have fans pumped across the country. Though it will take a while to get a sense for the best 25 teams in the country, we do have our preseason top 25 entering the first full slate of games. Those teams will be relying on some key players all season. Here is a look at the most important player for each of the preseason’s top 25 teams.

1) Alabama — Tua Tagovailoa, QB

After taking over the second half of the national championship game, Tagovailoa showed what he can do. He is mobile, fearless, and has a big arm. He can give Alabama the kind of big-play ability at quarterback they haven’t seen for a while — possibly ever. He has no shortage of talent around him, much of it NFL-level, and he has already demonstrated skill and poise in the most pressure-filled situation. Expect him to have a solid year at minimum.

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Alabama Football: GameDay hosts split on Playoff predictions and champion

The hosts of ESPN’s College GameDay made their prediction on who will be the top four teams and who wins when the dust is settled. There are some sharp differences between the three hosts and one that will anger some Alabama football fans. Once more dose of preseason predictions before the start of the season […]Alabama Football: GameDay hosts split on Playoff predictions and champion - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.Original link
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Nick Saban compares Louisville QB Jawon Pass to Cam Newton

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Looking ahead to his program’s first game of the 2018 college football season against Louisville, Alabama head coach Nick Saban offered high praise for Cardinals quarterback Jawon Pass.

He compared Pass to former Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, who’s now the franchise quarterback for the Carolina Panthers.

“I think he’s an outstanding, talented player,” Saban said, per AL.com. “Very, very good in high school. Has got great size. Very good arm talent. Very good athlete. He’s kind of a Cam Newton-looking type of guy out there and, when he had the opportunity to play last year, I thought he played very well and showed a lot of poise. They’ve got a very experienced offensive team, so I’m sure that that experience is going to help him and his confidence playing in that first game.”

That’s some heady stuff there, as it’s not like we see comparisons to Newton very often.

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From Ethiopia to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, a difficult but quick trip for Ajulu Thatha

By Katie Barnes | Aug 30, 2018espnW.com

Courtesy DeeEllen Davis

Ajulu Thatha learned how to play basketball and already has accepted a scholarship to play in college.

Basketball tucked under one arm, Ajulu Thatha steps out of her Indianapolis apartment and into a hot and humid July day. Her long braids flop over her shoulders as she hops into the front seat of the car. She's quiet. Until the topic turns to her newfound passion: basketball.

Thatha has played the sport for only five years, and she has been in the United States for only six. She was inspired to give basketball a try after attending an Indiana Fever game within months of her plane landing from Ethiopia.

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Alabama Football: Tuesday practice edged closer to set starters

Alabama football continued its Louisville preparation Tuesday afternoon working inside the Hank Crisp Indoor facility, in full pads. Other than at quarterback, any mystery about Alabama football starters against Louisville is rapidly fading. The first unit offensive line is set. Same for the running back and the receivers. The front seven on defense is set. […]Alabama Football: Tuesday practice edged closer to set starters - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.Original link
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No. 15 USC debuts freshman QB J.T. Daniels vs. UNLV

9:46 PM ETEmailprint

LOS ANGELES -- Southern California head coach Clay Helton walked up to quarterback JT Daniels, looking into his eyes for confirmation the second freshman to start a season opener in the program's storied history was not overwhelmed by the moment.

"They're either that big," said Helton, holding his hands wide open, "or they're like, `All right, let's roll.' "

Daniels was ready, throwing for 282 yards with a 43-yard touchdown pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown to help the No. 15 Trojans overcome a sluggish performance and defeat UNLV 43-21 on Saturday.

Outside of an early gaffe where Daniels turned the wrong way trying to hand the ball off to running back Stephen Carr, forcing the 2017 Gatorade national player of the year to scramble for a 5-yard gain, there were no apparent nerves from the 18-year-old.

Daniels did admit to feeling goosebumps coming down the tunnel for the first time before joining Matt Barkley in 2009 to start in his USC debut.

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Alabama Football: Three unknowns in the Crimson Tide – Louisville matchup

Alabama football opens the season against Louisville with both teams facing unknowns. Let’s consider how three of those unknowns may play out. Almost no one in the college football world believes Louisville will seriously challenge Alabama football. Even with the game predicted to be one-sided, the Crimson Tide will challenge itself to play up to a […]Alabama Football: Three unknowns in the Crimson Tide – Louisville matchup - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.Original link
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Scout's Take Tre Mann to Florida Gators

Aug 28, 2018

ESPN 100 guard Tre Mann verbally committed to Florida on Tuesday. He chose the Gators over North Carolina, Kansas and Tennessee. He recently checked in at No. 30 on our updated player rankings board.

Why he committed: The Gators have had impressive recruiting classes since Mike White's arrival. Mann is the first impact in-state player to commit to the Gators. Mann told ESPN what impressed him about White. "He recruited me real hard," Mann said. "Every time I would look up he would be at one of my games. He told me he would not let me fail."

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Tom Herman, Texas Longhorns head coach, was other Ohio State assistant on Zach Smith strip club trip

Aug 29, 2018Emailprint

Texas head coach Tom Herman was the assistant coach who accompanied former Buckeyes assistant Zach Smith to a strip club while on a recruiting trip, an Ohio State spokesperson confirmed to ESPN on Tuesday.

The 2014 strip club trip also included high school coaches.

Smith's $600 involvement in the Miami-based excursion was noted in the school's detailed 23-page summary of its investigation released last week, although Smith was the only person named in the documents. The $600 came from Smith's own money, and he did not seek reimbursement for it from the football program or the school.

Upon discovering the information about the strip club trip, the investigators reported it to Ohio State's Office of University Compliance and Integrity and the Athletic Compliance Office to investigate whether the conduct violated NCAA rules.

Under the terms of their suspensions, coach Urban Meyer and AD Gene Smith were allowed to meet with Ohio State players and coaches last Thursday.

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10 teams most likely to reach the College Football Playoff

Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports  |  By Grey Papke  |  Last updated 8/27/18

The college football season is upon us, and expectations vary per team. Only a select few programs have a realistic shot of reaching the College Football Playoff. For some schools, it will be a disappointing season if they don’t achieve that goal.

There are a dozen or so teams that will really believe they have the team and the favorable climate they need to challenge for the playoff, but only four teams can actually make it in. Here are ten that will have the best chance of doing just that.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

10) Michigan

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Lane Kiffin defends Nick Saban against ‘cheating’ allegation

Oct 1, 2016; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffen prior to the game against Kentucky Wildcats at Bryant-Denny Stadium.  Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Lane Kiffin loves to troll Nick Saban and take jabs at his former boss, but this time he decided to come to the Alabama coach’s defense.

A CBS Sports poll asked coaches to identify the most overrated and underrated coaches. One coach called Saban overrated and even said that he cheats.

“If you had the No. 1 recruiting class in the country every year [you’d win like Nick Saban]. He shows up at every single game with a better roster than the teams he ‘s playing. … If you count cheating and getting the best players in the country as part of running a program, he’s the best in the country. It’s like saying an NFL coach is the best coach in the league if he gets 25 first-round picks every year,” one coach said about Saban, according to the poll.

Kiffin was asked about that allegation during an interview with Colin Cowherd and tore it apart. Instead, he attributed Saban’s success in recruiting to his work ethic.

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Ex-Alabama QB Blake Barnett wins USF starting job

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Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports  |  By Larry Brown  |  Last updated 8/23/18

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

It took a couple of years and a couple of transfers, but Blake Barnett is a starting college quarterback once again.

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Alabama Football: SEC coaches value more UGA players than Tide players

Alabama football came in second to Georgia in the number of players named to the Coaches Preseason All-SEC team. The Tide had 10 selections to 12 for UGA. Should Alabama football fans feel slighted the SEC coaches value more Bulldogs than Crimson Tiders? More importantly, should Alabama football players be offended? It is best to not […]Alabama Football: SEC coaches value more UGA players than Tide players - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.Original link
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Alabama Football: Training Days, Episode 3 hits a wall

The third installment of ESPN’s Training Days: Rolling with the Tide follows the Alabama football team through a grueling week of fall camp. The opening shot of Training Days catches a weary-looking Nick Saban during practice as his Alabama football squad seems to have reached a breaking point. To further illustrate this, ESPN shows him wiping his […]Alabama Football: Training Days, Episode 3 hits a wall - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.Original link
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Alabama Football: Good news from fall camp session No. 17

The Alabama football team worked outside in full pads again on Wednesday. Najee Harris appeared to be close to returning to practice action. For those Alabama football fans wondering exactly how many shotgun snaps Jalen and Tua took from Ross Piersbacher, our report may be lacking. There was no new practice information (same as Monday […]Alabama Football: Good news from fall camp session No. 17 - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.Original link
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College football opening week preview

Nigel Owens/Getty Images

College football is back. Like Herm Edwards back. Like Chip Kelly back. And while this first week’s slate of games is short, just four tantalizing morsels of collegiate gridiron goodness, it still marks the beginning of all that is good in the world. People like to call it “Week Zero” and say it doesn’t really count, but it does, especially to the eight teams kicking off. Just ask newly minted Rice head coach Mike Bloomgren.

Here’s everything you need to know heading into the first weekend of college football.

Duquesne at UMass – If you like offense, then this is the game for you. The Duquesne Dukes, coached by Jerry Schmitt, boast a balanced offense despite breaking in a relatively new quarterback. Like most coaches, Schmitt is being coy about naming a starter but has narrowed it down to junior Brett Brumbaugh and redshirt junior FAU transfer Daniel Parr. Running back A.J. Hines will take some of the pressure off the new QB — Hines topped 1,000 yards last season and had 10 touchdowns despite playing in just nine games. Unfortunately for the Minutemen, UMass doesn’t have a particularly strong run defense — it allowed 197.9 yards per game last season. The secondary will carry the defense, but the offense will carry the team. It is led by underrated QB Andrew Ford, who has more than 5,500 passing yards and 48 touchdowns in the last two season. But the Dukes have experience on the road and a solid offense that will test UMass’ defense up front.

Prairie View A&M at Rice – This game has “feel-good” written all over it for the Rice Owls. The program has been shrouded in optimism this offseason with the hire of former Stanford offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren. But the reality of a rebuild is that it takes time. But if anyone knows how to utilize wide receiver Aaron Cephus and his monster yardage, it’s Bloomgren. Prairie View A&M will test Rice’s offense with a defense that boasts both size and speed and gained depth this offseason thanks to the transfer well, expertly utilized by new head coach Eric Dooley. Offensively, the Panthers lost their leading rusher and top three receivers, meaning new gamers will need to emerge. Prairie View may have the juice, coming off three straight wins to end last season, but Rice is just more physical and athletic. Look for the Owls to dominate despite the inevitable growing pains.

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Alabama Football: The best opposing players to test the Tide this season

The 2018 Alabama football schedule might be a tad weaker than normal but the Tide will face some of the nation’s best players in the regular season. Based on the recent AP preseason list of All Americans, Alabama football will compete against six of the nation’s best players in the regular season. Using the All […]Alabama Football: The best opposing players to test the Tide this season - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.Original link
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Alabama Football: Position groups solidfying in camp sesssion No. 16

It was back to work as normal for the Alabama football team Tuesday afternoon in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide worked outside in full pads. After a lighter practice on Monday, Alabama football returned to normal on Tuesday. Normal means full pads, heat and hitting. There are only four fall camp sessions left before the transition to […]Alabama Football: Position groups solidfying in camp sesssion No. 16 - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.Original link
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10 under-the-radar Heisman Trophy contenders in 2018

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The college football world typically has a good understanding of Heisman Trophy contenders. Sometimes, though, an unexpected candidate emerges.

Last season, Arizona’s Khalil Tate, Central Florida’s McKenzie Milton and Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor were among the breakout sensations. When the season began, nobody expected them to contend for the award.

Nevertheless, a couple of quarterbacks and running backs will always stand out. Where might they come from in 2018?

While we’d love to suggest a defensive player could surprise and shoot up Heisman lists, that’s not likely. In the last three top-10s of Heisman voting, 27 of the 30 players have been either a quarterback or running back.

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2018 ESPN 100 Jaykwon Walton commits to Georgia Bulldogs

8hAdrian Wojnarowski

13hTim McManus

1dTristan H. Cockcroft

7dESPN Fantasy

12hJackie MacMullan

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