Alabama Crimson Tide: Texas Tech Red Raiders

States of strength: Texas RBs 

May, 15, 2014
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When it comes to running backs, the state of Texas is loaded. Ten running backs represent the Lone Star State in the ESPN 300. Of those 10, five are committed. A total of seven running backs in the state have reported FBS commitments.

ESPN 300 RBs from the state:

No. 50 Ronald Jones II: Ranked the nation’s No. 3 running back, Jones is an explosive, game-changing back who -- as scary as it might sound -- will only get better. Jones committed to Oklahoma State on April 6 and finished his junior season with more than 2,400 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns.

Florida has Florida State. Georgia has Georgia Tech. Kentucky has Louisville. And, of course, South Carolina has Clemson.

When it comes to the new SEC scheduling format starting in 2016, those four schools are already on board. Their annual rivalry games fulfill the league’s forthcoming requirement for a yearly nonconference game against an ACC, Big 12, Big Ten or Pac-12 school.

But for the rest of the teams around the league, there’s a void.

Sure, they can go year to year and rotate in nonconference opponents. But where’s the fun in that? Let’s create some new rivalries, and in the case of some programs, reignite old ones.

[+] EnlargeBob Stoops and Nick Saban
AP Photo/Gerald HerbertThe spectacular salaries of college football coaches such as Bob Stoops, left, and Nick Saban are generated mostly by the labor of unpaid workers.
Alabama-Oklahoma: If FSU wasn’t already taken, the Noles would have been a perfect fit. The physical and philosophical proximity between programs is obvious. But looking elsewhere, Oklahoma might be a fun matchup. The Sugar Bowl has already created tons of tension on both sides with Sooners coaches delighting in calling out Nick Saban and the SEC.

Arkansas-Baylor: Call it a throwback to the old Southwest Conference. Arkansas, which didn’t join the SEC until 1992, has played more games against Baylor (69) than any school in its current conference. On top of that, the differences between Bret Bielema’s physical style and Art Briles’ free-flowing offensive scheme would be a joy to watch.

Auburn-Oregon: Recent history and playing styles dictates this matchup. Not only do we get a rematch of the 2010 BCS National Championship Game, but it pits offenses that live to go fast. Maybe it could be a two-hand touch game in which whoever reaches 100 points first wins.

LSU-Notre Dame: We couldn’t make a list of nonconference matchups and leave Notre Dame off, could we? Pitting the Golden Domers against an SEC program would be appointment viewing. Make that program LSU and the opposing coach Les Miles, and television networks will scratch each other's eyes out to get the game.

Mississippi State-Texas Tech: The Bulldogs have shied away from high profile nonconference games in the past, loading up on the likes of Memphis, UAB and South Alabama. Well, it’s time to infuse a little spice into the schedule. Kliff Kingsbury is too cool to keep out of the SEC. His Red Raiders would be a good matchup with Mississippi State, which faced Texas Tech seven times from 1953-70.

Missouri-Kansas: Does this one really need to be explained? The Border War should have never gone away in the first place. Now is the perfect opportunity to save face and bring back a rivalry that goes all the way back to 1891.

Ole Miss-Miami: We’ve got to get ‘The U’ involved. Miami and Ole Miss have already played a few times in their history, with the Rebs holding a 2-1 series lead. But bigger than that, it would get the SEC back into South Florida on a permanent basis because Miami and Florida don’t have the common sense to do that already.

Tennessee-North Carolina: Even if most people don’t remember it, there’s history there. Tennessee and UNC have played 29 times, with the Vols holding a 20-8-1 advantage. Plus, even if your memory is short, you should recall the double overtime Music City Bowl from 2010 between the schools. If they can re-create that just once, it would make the rivalry worth it.

Texas A&M-Texas: See Missouri-Kansas. Don’t let conference affiliations ruin great rivalries. Texas A&M-Texas should have never been shelved in the first place. And while the UT administration might not see a reason to bring it back -- nor Texas A&M's leadership, for that matter -- surely both fan bases do.

Vanderbilt-Duke:Call it a private school showdown. The proximity is reasonable, the fan bases similar, and the rivalry could easily extend to the hard court. Plus, have you seen Derek Mason’s nonconference schedule this year? It needs help.

No. 1 2015 dual-threat QB names top 10 

February, 6, 2014
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The nation’s top-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the Class of 2015 has a top 10.

ESPN Junior 300 quarterback Jarrett Stidham (Stephenville, Texas/Stephenville) announced his early list via Twitter and confirmed the list via phone. Stidham’s list includes Texas A&M, Auburn, Alabama, Oregon, Michigan, Ohio State, Tennessee and Big 12 schools Baylor, Oklahoma and Texas Tech.

Ranked No. 24 in the ESPN Junior 300 and the No. 3 player in the state of Texas, Stidham said all 10 of the schools have a lot in common, but he is hoping to make spring visits to separate them.


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An early top two for 2015 OT Elbert 

July, 22, 2013
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It was a pretty good five-day span for 2015 offensive tackle Trevor Elbert (Heath, Texas/Rockwall-Heath). Big-time SEC offer last Wednesday. Big-time SEC offer on Sunday.


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LEANDER, Texas -- Take one look at 2015 ESPN 300 safety Justin Dunning on the football field, notice his size and build, and it's natural to peg him at the position he currently plays or even at linebacker, a position he could grow into in the years to come.

But while with his Whitehouse (Texas) High School teammates at the Texas state 7-on-7 championships last week, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Dunning showed another set of skills that he has, doing it in an impressive manner.


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2016 DB Anderson ready for Bama camp 

July, 14, 2013
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LEANDER, Texas -- Forget the fact that he just completed his freshman year. Deontay Anderson (Manvel, Texas/Manvel) put on a show at the Texas State 7-on-7 Tournament.

Expect more of the same in the immediate future. If he has his way, the 2016 safety, who also sees time at wide receiver, will put on a similar show at the Alabama camp that will run Sunday through Wednesday. Anderson said he will arrive in Tuscaloosa on Tuesday.


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LONGVIEW, Texas -- Zaycoven Henderson has been committed to TCU for more than three months, but he’s still curious to know what other opportunities are out there.

That’s why the Longview (Texas) defensive tackle pledge already is turning his attention to his fall official visits.


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NORCROSS, Ga. -- ESPN 150 defensive end Lorenzo Carter seems to never stop grinning, even on the football field. His 100-megawatt smile calls to mind another affable defensive end, Michael Strahan, complete with the trademark gap. Even a shoving match with a teammate resulted in Carter falling down laughing about it later.

During the Norcross spring game on Friday, Carter and offensive tackle Horatio Walker tangled as they went at each other in the trenches. Walker held Carter’s jersey and was rewarded with a shot to the helmet.

“Well it was a run, and I don’t think Horatio respects me on the run yet, but it is all good,” Carter said between guffaws. “He tried to bully me around, but I was not having that so I had to hit him back. I was having fun out there.”


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Gladewater (Texas) High School defensive tackle Daylon Mack felt confident in where his recruitment was headed.

Having picked up offers from the two most well-known programs in his home state, visiting both campuses and dissecting it all, he felt certain that he was ready to make a commitment to one of them.

Then Alabama extended the 2015 prospect a scholarship offer and Mack took a step back. Now, the 6-foot-2, 307-pound prospect intends to take his time when it comes to decision-making in the recruiting process.

"It really came out of nowhere," Mack said about getting his offer from the Crimson Tide. "Getting an offer from them, it showed me that I really need to go ahead and slow things down and take my time with it all."

Mack seemed all but certain to end up committing to Texas A&M sooner rather than later. He recently told GigEmNation that he was likely going to "shut it down" after a trip to SMU to check out the Mustangs, which was originally scheduled for Saturday.

His offer list currently includes Oklahoma, SMU, TCU, Texas and Texas Tech in addition to A&M and Alabama. Before the reigning BCS champions swooped in on Friday, Mack had it narrowed to Texas and Texas A&M with the Aggies pulling ahead after his visit to College Station, Texas for the Maroon-and-White spring game.

Now his timeline has changed.

"To be honest, before that offer I probably would have committed [to Texas A&M] this weekend," Mack said. "After having that [Alabama offer], I think I'm going to slow it down. I probably won't even think about committing. I think I'm going to enjoy this ride."


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BUFORD, Ga. -- ESPN Watch List defensive end Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) credits his blindingly pink socks and highlighter yellow shoelaces with helping him win the defensive lineman MVP award at the Atlanta NFTC on Saturday.

The award came with a brilliant gold dog tag that complemented his outfit. But what really caught Carter’s eye, and fashion sense, was the big gold box that he was handed that contained his invitation to The Opening.


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A series of visits are coming for one of the best junior college offensive linemen in the country, and he could start naming favorites shortly thereafter.


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The Twitter account for Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/Martin) tells half truth.

Garrett’s bio reads, “The big silly guy who plays football? Yea thats me,” and those who know Garrett know he enjoys to laugh and joke around. What the Twitter page doesn’t tell is just how athletically gifted the ESPN Watch List defensive end is. In fact, in addition to being the silly guy, friends have a nickname for him that seems to fit.

Myles Garrett
Max Olson/ESPN.comDefensive end Myles Garrett says he has no favorites right now, but he is visiting Texas A&M soon.
“They call me Superman,” Garrett said. “I guess it’s cool. It makes me laugh.”

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ATHENS, Ga. -- ESPN Watch List wide receiver Demarre Kitt (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek) recently cut his mammoth offer list down to a top-15 group of schools that he will consider.

“It got crazy at one point with almost everybody that offered me trying to talk to me,” Kitt said. “So I had to cut my list down to 15 schools. After spring practice I will cut it down to eight or 10. At the end of summer I will do five and then go from there.”


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Q&A: OT Jovan Pruitt likes four early 

February, 27, 2013
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When the talk about Dallas Bishop Dunne started for the Class of 2014, it all stemmed around ESPN Watch List cornerback Nick Watkins.


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Georgia quick to offer Watch List RB 

February, 16, 2013
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Many high school prospects are evaluated for months or even years before a college program extends a scholarship offer. Highlights from sophomore seasons are compared to those of junior seasons to see progression and potential. Players who make a name for themselves as juniors are visited as seniors to gauge their possible impact at the next level. And then there are prospects like Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) for whom the entire process takes three or maybe four days.


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