Oregon Ducks: SEC

video Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- For most highly-rated defensive line prospects coming out of high school, the word "technique" is rarely used. Not because the prospects don’t want to learn, but because proper technique is something that is seldom taught or even required at the high school level. Top defensive line prospects generally rely on brute strength or superior speed to beat the offensive linemen they face. But for ESPN Junior 300 defensive end Byron Cowart, who is the No. 68-ranked prospect in the country, technique has been his sole focus during the offseason.


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The 10 most memorable BCS moments

January, 13, 2014
Jan 13
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With the door closed on the 16-year reign of the BCS, we dove into the 72 BCS bowl games to find the 10 most memorable moments of the BCS era.

10. Utah’s hook-and-ladder: The first team ever dubbed a “BCS Buster” was the Urban Meyer-coached and Alex Smith-led Utah Utes in 2004. In the 2005 Fiesta Bowl, Utah led Pittsburgh 28-7 late in the third quarter and lined up at the Panthers’ 18-yard line. Smith swung it left to Steven Savoy, who lateraled to Paris Warren, who ran it in for the score as the Utes completed a 12-0 season.

9. Peerless Price down the sideline: Tennessee led Florida State 14-9 with 9:29 remaining in the fourth quarter in the 1999 Fiesta Bowl with the first BCS Championship on the line. UT quarterback Tee Martin found Price down the right sideline, and Price took it the distance for a 79-yard score. Price had 199 receiving yards for the winning Vols, the most ever in the BCS title game.

8. Ginn’s costly return: Ohio State received the opening kickoff from Florida in the 2007 BCS Championship game, and Ted Ginn Jr. wasted no time in getting the game’s first score on a 93-yard return. What will always be remembered, however, is that Ginn suffered a foot injury on the ensuing celebration and was out for the rest of the Buckeyes’ 41-14 loss.

7. Warrick's juggling score: Though the championship of the 1999 season was marked by Virginia Tech freshman QB Michael Vick, it was Florida State’s Peter Warrick who was named the most outstanding player. He had a punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter, and his juggling catch on a 43-yard score midway through the fourth served as the dagger.

6. Vince Young, Part I: Facing Michigan in the 2005 Rose Bowl, Young was responsible for all five Texas touchdowns in a 38-37 win. Though he had runs of 60, 23 and 20 yards, the most impressive was a 10-yard run in which Young escaped the tackle of Michigan lineman Pat Massey before scampering to the right pylon.

5. Dyer isn’t down: Tied at 19 with Oregon with just more than two minutes remaining in the 2011 BCS Championship Game, Auburn running back Michael Dyer appeared to be tackled for a short gain at the Auburn 45-yard line. Having rolled over the defender, Dyer was never ruled down, and ended up gaining 37 yards on the play before he was taken down at the Oregon 23-yard line. Auburn would win on a field goal as time expired.

[+] EnlargeBoise
Steve Grayson/WireImageIan Johnson's two-point conversion run in overtime propelled Boise State over heavily-favored Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
4. Winston to Benjamin: Trailing Auburn 31-27 in the final BCS Championship Game, Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston drove the Noles 78 yards in less than a minute to the Auburn 2-yard line. Receiving the snap with 17 seconds left in a wild fourth quarter, Winston threw a perfect pass to Kelvin Benjamin, who brought it down for the game-winning score to complete an undefeated season.

3. Was it pass interference? Some will remember Maurice Clarett’s game-saving strip of Sean Taylor, but the lasting legacy of the game is the dubious pass interference call in overtime. Miami led 24-17 and Ohio State faced fourth-and-3 from the 5-yard line. Glenn Sharpe was called for pass interference, giving the Buckeyes new life in a game they would win 31-24.

2. Boise State’s trick plays: In the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, Boise State trailed heavily favored Oklahoma 35-28 with 18 seconds left and facing fourth-and-18 from the 50-yard line. Jared Zabransky completed a pass to Drisan James just short of the first down, but he lateraled it to Jerard Rabb, who took it the rest of the way for the tying touchdown. In overtime, down 42-35 on fourth down, wide receiver Vinny Perretta completed a 3-yard pass to Derek Schouman for a touchdown. Chris Petersen elected to go for two, and Zabransky faked a throw to his right before handing it behind his back to Ian Johnson on the Statue of Liberty play for the winning two-point conversion. Johnson would propose to his girlfriend, a Boise State cheerleader, on the sideline after the game.

1. Vince Young, Part II: After a Longhorns touchdown and key fourth-down stop, undefeated Texas trailed undefeated USC 38-33 with 26 seconds remaining and faced fourth-and-5 from the 9-yard line, with the 2005 BCS championship on the line. Vince Young dropped back to pass but saw nobody open, and immediately sprinted for the right pylon for the title-winning score in the marquee game of the BCS era.

#CampusConnection: Primetime Live

October, 26, 2013
10/26/13
10:25
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Will UCLA score enough points to somehow beat Oregon? Will Missouri all but clinch the SEC East against South Carolina? Will Ohio State remain unbeaten against the rival Nittany Lions? Head on over to Campus Connection at 7 ET and follow the evening action along with 10 of our reporters, including Mark Schlabach at UCLA-UO, Chris Low at SC-Mizzou, Max Olson at Texas-TCU, Greg Ostendorf at FAU-Auburn and Austin Ward at PSU-OSU.

Post your comments and questions and we’ll include as many of them as possible.

Pick your QB: Manziel or Mariota

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
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Manziel/MariotaUS PresswireBoth Johnny Manziel and Marcus Mariota have made some electric plays this season.

We've hit the midway point of the 2013 college football season and we're looking at midseason All-Americans.

There are plenty of worthy options at QB, but we all know it comes down to two names: Johnny Manziel and Marcus Mariota.

They are the two most exciting players at their position, and both are on teams that could be playing in the BCS title game. But which one truly is No. 1? Well, Pac-12 reporter Ted Miller and SEC reporter Edward Aschoff decided to take this argument to the streets!

We made our cases for both, but you guys decide the winner:

Edward Aschoff: Well, this one really is an easy one for me.

Remember when we all buried Manziel for his off-field shenanigans? We wondered if he'd be focused enough to duplicate his record-setting, Heisman Trophy-winning first year. Well, through six games, Manziel has totaled 2,273 yards of offense and 19 touchdowns. He's averaging 378.8 yards and 3.2 touchdowns per game and has completed 73.2 percent of his passes. He's a little behind last year’s production, but he also has less receiving weapons this year and his line isn't as strong.

Watching Manziel is like watching poetry in motion. He's standing in the pocket longer, scanning the field, making reads and thinking about running second. And when he does run, watch out. He's easily the slipperiest player in the country. He jukes guys out of their shoes and can make NFL throws on the run or in the pocket. Nothing gets to this kid, and you'd be crazy not to have him No. 1 on any awards list.

Ted Miller: Over at the Pac-12, we respect good quarterback play, so we are excited the SEC is finally getting to see what good QB play can do. Further, we love watching that little spark plug Johnny Football play. He's a neat little guy. So please accept a pat on the head from us.

Why is Mariota the midseason first-team QB? It's because, well, he's so completely freaking better than anyone else.

We’ll start with QBR first.

Our boy Mariota is No. 1. Manziel is No. 6.

Mariota has 17 touchdown passes. Manziel has 14. Mariota has zero interceptions (no turnovers, in fact). Manziel has five.

Manziel is slippery. He slipped his way to 438 rushing yards, which beats Mariota by 12. Of course, Mariota averages 10.4 yards per carry compared to 6.5 for Manziel. And Mariota has eight touchdown runs compared to five for Manziel.

Heck, if we just went bottom line with points accounted for, Mariota has 150 compared to 114 for Manziel.

Oh, and Mariota is 6-foot-4 and a sure NFL first-round draft pick. Manziel is 6-1 if you measuring him while he stands on his tippy toes.

EA: What Mariota has done this year has been very impressive, but he's just not Manziel. He can't change games like Manziel does.

You never see Manziel hesitate in the pocket or on runs. He stands tall, even though he really does look like a kicker out there with his size, and isn't afraid to take a hit or two. Manziel just has a magical way of extending plays and turning trash into treasure. A switch goes on when he walks into a stadium and he immediately becomes the best athlete on the field.

Look at what he did against Alabama and Ole Miss. The Crimson Tide built a 35-14 lead early in the third quarter and Manziel did everything he could to break that lead down bit by bit. He threw for a school-record 464 yards and five TDs and ran for another 98 yards in the Aggies' 49-42 loss. What if Manziel got the ball back on that onside kick with 15 seconds remaining?

Remember his Eli Manning-David Tyree moment against Alabama? I mean, Manziel only slipped out of Jeoffrey Pagan's attempted wrap-up and heaved an errant pass off his back foot into traffic on third-and-8, only for it to fall right into the hands of wide receiver Edward Pope for a 12-yard gain.

By the way, that Alabama defense now ranks No. 8 nationally.

Against Ole Miss, Manziel had a scary left knee injury in the first quarter, missed a play and then proceeded to play better. He made PlayStation-like plays with his legs, delivered some beautiful throws and sliced his way through Ole Miss' defense to deliver a come-from-behind, game-winning drive. He accounted for 346 passing yards, 124 rushing yards and two touchdowns, with 177 of those yards and a score coming in the fourth quarter.

He's easily the most exciting player to watch and the toughest player to stop. He'll burn you with his feet and carve you up with his arm. There just isn't another gamer like Manziel.

TM: I do love watching Manziel play. There's not only something magical about his devil-may-care playmaking, it's also cool that he doesn't look like he was constructed in a lab.

Further, when taking a measure of both, it doesn't help that they haven't played through the meat of their schedules yet. The only good team Manziel has faced is Alabama. The only good team Mariota has faced is Washington. Heck, the big deal from the win over the Huskies was that Mariota threw his first pass of the year in the fourth quarter because it was the first time he was needed in the fourth. And, yes, No. 1 Alabama is a far greater test, even at home, than a visit to No. 20 Washington.

So what did Mariota do when the Ducks only led by seven entering their first meaningful fourth quarter? He was 5-of-6 for 75 yards with a 3-yard touchdown pass and a 5-yard touchdown run. Like Manziel, Mariota took over the game. He completed 24-of-31 passes for 366 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed 13 times for 88 yards and a score. Those numbers came against a defense that was playing at home and ranked 10th in the nation in total defense, 11th in scoring defense and third in pass efficiency defense.

It wasn't a Nick Saban defense. But if you ask around, a Justin Wilcox defense isn't too shabby either.

In the end, I see Mariota with significantly better numbers at midseason leading an undefeated, No. 2-ranked team.

Of course, we have two very good QBs who still have half a season to play. No one ever remembers the midseason MVP. It's all about where things stand in January.

ESPN.com's Preseason All-America team

August, 16, 2013
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The All-American wealth has spread across the land. The Pac-12 leads the conferences with seven, one more than the SEC. Dual-threat QB Marcus Mariota and RB Lache Seastrunk both originally signed with Oregon. Now that Seastrunk plays for Baylor, he and Mariota no longer have to share a backfield. Seastrunk and G Cyril Richardson make the Bears the only team with two on offense. Richardson is surely the first All-American named Cyril, but Lache is not the first body of water to make it. He joins 1939 Heisman winner Nile Kinnick.

Alabama has won three of the past four BCS titles with defense and placed LB C.J. Mosley and S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix on this team. Alabama and Oregon lead with three players apiece on the list. That's one more than the Big Ten and two more than the ACC and Conference USA. -- Ivan Maisel

View ESPN.com's 2013 Preseason All-America team here.

Brock Huard's top 10 QBs in college football

August, 15, 2013
8/15/13
8:30
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Tajh Boyd, AJ McCarron and Marcus MariotaGetty ImagesTajh Boyd, AJ McCarron and Marcus Mariota all rank near the top of Brock Huard's top 10.

The 2013 NFL draft featured a weaker-than-usual class of quarterbacks, to be sure, but there was another reason why EJ Manuel was the only QB taken in the first round: NFL teams knew that the 2014 class of passers is loaded with intriguing talent that comes in a variety of sizes, skill sets and experience levels.

Which brings us to the preseason edition of ESPN Insider Brock Huard's QB rankings. Unlike his Insider colleagues Todd McShay and Mel Kiper, who will be projecting these signal-callers (and all the 2014 draft-eligible prospects) all season long based on their NFL potential, and unlike analysts who are ranking them based on their collegiate performance, Huard is setting out to do a little of both.

View Huard's complete rankings here. Insider

Links: Farewell to the BCS

August, 14, 2013
8/14/13
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This is the last year of the BCS, and our writers look at its impact on college football:

From Ivan Maisel: The BCS has moved NCAA football forward in a way no system before it could and given it a national stage, but along with exposure comes greater pressure and expectations, which in the end the series couldn't overcome.

From Mark Schlabach: As we prepare for the final season of the BCS, let's take a look back at its highs and lows.

From Brian Bennett: Five of the last seven national champions have had at least one loss, and with a playoff looming, going undefeated will be harder than ever.
Tags:

Pac-12, SEC, ACC, Big 12, NCF

BRADENTON, Fla. -- ESPN 300 running back Racean Thomas (Oxford, Ala./Oxford) was one of the top performers on Saturday at the IMG 7on7 National Championships.

While in Florida, Thomas had a chance to visit both Florida and Florida State, and the 5-foot-10, 202-pound back came away impressed with both schools.


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BRADENTON, Fla. -- ESPN 150 wide receiver Artavis Scott (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake), as expected, was one of the top wideouts in attendance at the IMG 7v7 Southeast regional championships over the weekend.

The four-star wide receiver visited Michigan recently and said he enjoyed his experience in Ann Arbor.


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Coming off of another camp MVP performance, one of the nation's hottest recruits is ready to see what comes next. With more than 30 offers to his credit and a busy spring and summer ahead, running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom), is busy plotting his next move.


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The news of Chip Kelly's decision to leave Oregon for the Philadelphia Eagles sent the residents of Eugene, Ore., into a natural funk. But it also should have saddened many of the people who reside in SEC country.

The sexy Oregon-SEC national championship matchup that has become a regular storyline in college football over the past few years just lost a monster amount of its luster. Are the same athletes still on campus? Oh, yeah. But Kelly isn't, and the storyline of Kelly vs. the SEC was such a good one for college football.

[+] EnlargeChip Kelly
AP Photo/Bruce SchwartzmanChip Kelly's move to the NFL removes a formidable foe from the list of coaches capable of ending the SEC's string of national titles.
While Kelly had been bested by the SEC in recent attempts (see: Auburn and LSU), he still seemed like the only coach who really had what it took to end the SEC's reign of terror on the rest of the college football landscape. SEC fans snickered at a lot of teams that thought they had the recipe for stopping the SEC, but they had respect for Kelly and his Oregon teams.

Now, that respect will take a little bit of a hit. That's not to say Marcus Mariota and De'Anthony Thomas won't be elite players in 2013, but that team as a whole has to replace one of the best football minds in the game. During the better part of his tenure at Oregon, Kelly engineered one of the most exciting football programs to watch. Outside of the flashy uniforms, Oregon had tricky formations that took full advantage of all that speed that is legitimately comparable to what the SEC is packing.

That speed isn't going anywhere, and those formations will likely still be there, but the intangibles of having Kelly running things will be missed. It just won't be the same watching Oregon attempt a run for the BCS title game, because Kelly and that genius mind of his won't be there on the sideline. And it won't be as exciting if an SEC team has a chance to be paired with the Ducks in the big game. Sure, the overload Nike and neon will attract a lot of attention, but something will be missing if the Kelly-less Ducks meet the SEC in the championship game.

It just won't feel right, because Kelly was such a big part of what made Oregon such a formidable foe for the SEC. Kelly's mind was as interesting as the team he fielded, and his absence really does affect the buzz around what has turned into a fun little rivalry.

It wasn't necessarily as big as Good vs. Evil, but it was a fun "rivalry" to talk about every season. When the possibility of an Alabama-Oregon national championship became a realization, college football was truly buzzing. When Alabama crushed Notre Dame in the Discover BCS National Championship, Oregon was the first team brought up when discussing which opponent would have given the Crimson Tide an actual challenge.

Kelly vs. the SEC is one of those matchups that doesn't get old because it feels like one that could actually bring the SEC down. SEC fans certainly don't want to see the end of their conference's historic run, but the thought of a real challenge is intriguing. Kelly brought that intrigue.

With all that talent returning, Oregon likely isn't going anywhere, but an Oregon team lacking Kelly's presence won't be as appealing to SEC folk. The visor and the quirkiness are gone. He figured to be the top coach out there, with the right mind and equipment to top the SEC. Losing that just takes a little bit of the excitement out of the thought of the SEC taking on Oregon.

#UAGame practice: Day 2 notebook 

January, 1, 2013
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- There were several standouts at Tuesday's Day 2 practice for the Under Armour All-America Game (5 p.m. ET Friday, ESPN). Two players -- one for Team Nitro, the other for Team Highlight -- said they are closing in on their college decisions and will make their announcements Friday. Meanwhile, the nation's No. 1 player left the field at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports with an injury.

Folston closing in on decision

Four-star athlete Tarean Folston (Cocoa, Fla./Cocoa) is set to make his college decision Friday. The 5-foot-9, 190-pound ESPN 150 will chose between Notre Dame, Florida State and Oregon.

Folston has been a standout defensive back during the first two days of practice, but he's being recruited by all three of his final schools to play running back.

He said he likes the familiar feeling he gets from Notre Dame and Oregon.

"It's just a home feeling, the fans around there are great fans. The community is all involved in football. It's just a nice town and a home feeling environment. With Oregon, it's pretty much the same as Notre Dame. They are two different schools but I call it 'the village,' just everybody in that place comes together and helps support the team."

Florida State is the only school Folston is considering from his home state, but he insists distance won't be a factor in his decision.


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ESPN 150 S McQuay set to decide Friday 

December, 30, 2012
12/30/12
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- ESPN 150 safety Leon McQuay III (Seffner, Fla./Armwood) will be making his college decision at the Under Armour All-America Game on Friday.


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Four-star LB Powell sets USC visit 

December, 30, 2012
12/30/12
1:35
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Four-star defensive end Quinton Powell (Daytona Beach, Fla./Mainland) has set his official visit to USC for Jan. 18. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound athlete said he will also visit South Carolina, Oregon and possibly Miami.


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Oregon recruiting: Quick hitters 

December, 24, 2012
12/24/12
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Danny MattinglyTom Hauck/ESPNHSDanny Mattingly, who previously was committed to Notre Dame, pledged to Oregon last week.

After a long drought in which Oregon went almost the entire season without gaining any new commits, the Ducks have been busy doling out new offers, two of which resulted in immediate commitments.

Once junior-college LB Joe Walker (Los Angeles, Calif./Harbor College) took his official visit to Eugene, an offer was made and Walker jumped at the opportunity. Last week, the Ducks found the ultimate diamond in the rough when they offered -- and received an immediate commitment from -- OL Jake Pisarcik (Medford, N.J./Shawnee).

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ESPN 300 Ranking Motivates Byron Cowart
After a recent rise into the top 10 overall, defensive end Byron Cowart of Armwood (Seffner, Fla.) joins ESPN's Matt Schick to discuss recruiting and the new ESPN 300.Tags: Byron Cowart, Armwood, ESPN 300, RecruitingNation, high school football recruiting, Matt Schick
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