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Crimson Tide signs 25 for 2013

ALABAMA BCS CELEBRATION AP

(Below is Alabama’s press release on the players added as part of its 2013 recruiting class.)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban announced that 18 student-athletes have signed national letters of intent to play football with the Crimson Tide, joining seven players who enrolled at the Capstone in January and will compete in spring practice later this semester.

The 25 total players, including seven mid-year enrollees, come from 13 states – Alabama (7), Georgia (3), Florida (2), Louisiana (2), Tennessee (2), Texas (2), Arkansas (1), California (1), Maryland (1), Pennsylvania (1), New Jersey (1), Utah (1) and Virginia (1).

As of 3:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Alabama’s 2013 signing class ranked first nationally by 247Sports, ESPN, Rivals.com and MaxPreps. The Crimson Tide is ranked fourth in the Scout.com team rankings.

As listed by position, the Crimson Tide add to their roster four running backs, three defensive linemen, three linebackers, three defensive backs, three offensive linemen, two quarterbacks, two wide receivers, two athletes, one tight end, one long snapper and one defensive lineman/linebacker.

Seven players – Cooper Bateman (QB), Leon Brown (OL), Raheem Falkins (WR), Derrick Henry (RB), Brandon Hill (OL), O.J. Howard (TE) and Parker McLeod (QB) – are already attending classes at the University. They all enrolled in January, began taking classes for the spring 2013 semester and will be able to participate in Alabama’s spring football practices. The other 18 players signed national letters of intent today. The Crimson Tide had eight players in enroll in the spring of 2012, nine in 2011, 11 in 2010 and four in 2009.

Among the 25 players are:

· Class Rankings as of 3:45 p.m.: No. 1 247Sports, No. 1 Rivals, No. 1 ESPN, No. 1 MaxPreps (CBSSports.com) and No. 4 Scout.com
· 6 Five-Star Prospects (247Sports, Rivals, ESPN & Scout): Jonathan Allen, Reuben Foster, Robert Foster, Derrick Henry, O.J. Howard, A’Shawn Robinson)
· 14 Four-Star Prospects (247Sports, Rivals, ESPN & Scout): Anthony Averett, Cooper Bateman, Leon Brown, Jonathan Cook, Raheem Falkins, Grant Hill, Eddie Jackson, Tyren Jones, Dee Liner, Darius Paige, Maurice Smith, ArDarius Stewart, Altee Tenpenny, Tim Williams,
· 9 players participated in the Under Armour All-America Game – Cooper Bateman, O.J. Howard, Robert Foster, Reuben Foster, Grant Hill, Alvin Kamara, Dee Liner, Maurice Smith, Tim Williams
· 5 players participated in the U.S. Army All-America Bowl game – Jonathan Allen, Derrick Henry, Tyren Jones, A’Shawn Robinson, Altee Tenpenny,
· 3 members of the Parade Magazine prep All-America team – Jonathan Allen, Reuben Foster, Derrick Henry
· 8 members of the USA Today’s 2011 All-USA High School Football Team – Jonathan Allen (2nd), Robert Foster (1st), Reuben Foster (1st), Derrick Henry (1st), Grant Hill (1st), Dee Liner (1st), A’Shawn Robinson (2nd), Tim Williams (2nd)
· 14 players in the ESPNU150 – Jonathan Allen, Cooper Bateman, Robert Foster, Reuben Foster, Derrick Henry, Grant Hill, O.J. Howard, Tyren Jones, Alvin Kamara, Dee Liner, A’Shawn Robinson, Maurice Smith, Altee Tenpenny, Tim Williams
· 13 players on the PrepStar 150 Dream Team – Jonathan Allen, Robert Foster, Reuben Foster, Derrick Henry, Grant Hill, O.J. Howard, Tyren Jones, Dee Liner, A’Shawn Robinson, Maurice Smith, ArDarius Stewart, Altee Tenpenny, Tim Williams
· 11 players named to the Rivals.com 100 – Jonathan Allen, Reuben Foster, Derrick Henry, Grant Hill, O.J. Howard, Tyren Jones, Alvin Kamara, Dee Liner, Darius Paige, A’Shawn Robinson, ArDarius Stewart, Altee Tenpenny
· 16 players in the Rivals 250 – Jonathan Allen, Cooper Bateman, Reuben Foster, Robert Foster, Derrick Henry, Grant Hill, O.J. Howard, Tyren Jones, Alvin Kamara, Dee Liner, Darius Paige, A’Shawn Robinson, Maurice Smith, ArDarius Stewart, Altee Tenpenny, Tim Williams
· 18 players in the 247sports.com Top 247 – Jonathan Allen, Anthony Averett, Cooper Bateman, Jonathan Cook, Reuben Foster, Robert Foster, Derrick Henry, Grant Hill, O.J. Howard, Eddie Jackson, Tyren Jones, Alvin Kamara, Dee Liner, Darius Paige, A’Shawn Robinson, Maurice Smith, ArDarius Stewart, Tim Williams.

(Writer’s note: below the jump are the complete bios of all 25 members of Alabama’s 2013 recruiting class.)

Jonathan Allen
LB/DL, 6-3, 264, Leesburg, Va./Stone Bridge
Jonathan Allen is one of the premier defensive prospects in the 2013 signing class … a defensive end in high school that could also project at outside linebacker … a five-star player by 247Sports, Rivals.com and Scout.com … played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl … 2012 Gatorade Virginia Football Player of the Year … first-team Parade Magazine All-American … second-team USA Today All-American in 2012 … the No. 11 player in the Top247 and the No. 2 outside linebacker nationally by 247Sports while ranking second among player from Virginia … listed 17th in the 247Sports Composite listing and the No. 3 OLB …. also the No. 11 player nationally and the No. 2 weakside defensive end by Rivals.com, but ranks as the No. 1 player in Virginia … Scout.com ranks Allen as the No. 2 defensive end and 34th in the Scout300 … 28th in the ESPN150 and outlet’s No. 3 defensive end … ranked 36th in the Tom Lemming MaxPrep rankings and the outlet’s No. 4 defensive end nationally … first-team All-American as a defensive lineman by MaxPreps … a five-star defensive end by PrepStar that ranks third at his position and 18th nationally … member of the PrepStar Top 150 Dream Team and a PrepStar All-American … posted 119 tackles with nine sacks, six fumble recoveries, eight pass breakups, six blocked kicks and had seven pass breakups as a senior in 2012 … totaled 102 stops with 15 sacks and seven blocked kicks as a junior … finished with 87 tackles, 20 sacks and eight forced fumbles as a sophomore in 2010 … two-time first-team All-State performer in Virginia and Washington Post All-Metro selection … coached by Mickey Thompson at Stone Bridge High School … chose Alabama over Florida, Michigan, Penn State, Ohio State, Stanford, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech.

Anthony Averett
ATH, 6-0, 170, Woodbury, N.J./Woodbury
Anthony Averett joins the Crimson Tide out of Woodbury High School in New Jersey … a talented athlete, who also boasts a distinguished career in track and field … ranks 115th in the Top247 and is the site’s No.14 safety and No. 5 player in New Jersey … ranks 274 in the 247Composite … No. 22 athlete by ESPN and No. 211 in the ESPN300 … Scout.com ranks him as the No. 23 cornerback nationally while Rivals.com lists him as the No. 23 corner … a PrepStar All-East Region choice … ranked 193rd nationally by PrepStar … No. 10 athlete in Tom Lemming’s MaxPreps … second-team small school All-American as a defensive back by MaxPreps … played in the Semper Fidelis All-American Game … clocked at 10.6 in the 100-meters, 6.46 in the 55 meters and high jumped 6-feet, 4-inches … maybe the top prep long jumper in the nation with a jump of 25-feet, two-inches, which was the longest jump in the nation this year and the second longest in state history … finished second in the 2012 Penn Relays in the long jump … posted 106 tackles, 12 pass breakups and five interceptions as a senior in 2012, which earned him first-team All-State honors … had 52 stops and three picks as a junior in 2011 and 40 tackles and three interceptions in 2010 … also ran for 1,278 yards (15 touchdowns) and passed for 836 yards (14 scores) as a senior … coached by Zac Valentine … nephew of former Miami (Fla.) All-American and Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie … chose Alabama over Penn State, Iowa, South Carolina, West Virginia and Tennessee.

Cooper Bateman
QB, 6-3, 215, Murray, Utah/Cottonwood
Cooper Bateman comes to the Capstone as one of the top quarterbacks in the class of 2013 … a consensus four-star prospect that is ranked as the No. 3 pocket passer by ESPN and the No. 5 pro-style quarterback by 247Sports and Scout.com … 44th in the ESPN150 … rated 87th in the Top247 and 79th in the 247Sports composite rankings … ESPN Elite 11 quarterback … No. 11 pro-style quarterback by Rivals.com and No. 189 in the Rivals250 … the consensus No. 1 player in the state of Utah … led the Black Team to a win in the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game … No. 4 pro-style quarterback by MaxPreps … ranked 59th overall nationally by PrepStar … Sporting News’ No. 14 quarterback nationally … arrived at Alabama as an early enrollee in January of 2013 … coached by Greg Croshaw at Cottonwood High School in 2012 … threw for 2,384 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior while running 82 times for 277 yards and 12 touchdowns … threw for 2,484 yards as a junior with 26 touchdowns … connected for 27 touchdowns and just five interceptions as a sophomore while connecting on 68 percent of his passes for 2,786 yards … in his final three seasons at Cottonwood, passed for 7,654 yards and 68 touchdowns … chose Alabama over LSU, Florida, Arizona, Arkansas, Auburn and Washington.

Leon Brown
OL, 6-6, 300, Riverdale, Md. (Parkdale/ASA College
Leon Brown arrives at Alabama from junior college looking to compete for one of the open positions along the Crimson Tide offensive line … enrolled at the Capstone in January of 2013 to get an early start in spring drills … out of ASA College in Brooklyn, N.Y., Brown was a second-team All-Northeast Football Conference selection at tackle in 2012 … a four-star prospect by ESPN, 247Sports and Scout.com … Scout.com ranks Brown as the No. 2 offensive tackle and the No. 8 overall junior college prospect … No. 50 in the Rivals.com JUCO Top 50 … a PrepStar JUCO All-American … played at Parkdale High School where he was a first-team All-County selection in 2010 … chose Alabama over Oklahoma, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Jonathan Cook
DB, 6-0, 186, Daphne, Ala./Spanish Fort
Jonathan Cook is a fast-rising four-start prospect at cornerback according to 247Sports … the nation’s No. 13 cornerback according to 247Sports and ranked 145th in the Top247 … a PrepStar All-Southeast Region selection … rated as the No. 33 cornerback nationally by Scout.com … ranked as the nation’s No. 37 cornerback by Rivals.com … No. 73 defensive back according to ESPN … made 81 tackles as a senior in 2012 with seven interceptions and 21 pass breakups … made 65 tackles with six interceptions as a junior … first-team 2012 All-State selection by the Alabama Sports Writers Association … also named to the 2012 ASWA Super 12 team and was selected as the 5A Back of the Year … played in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game … played for Mark Freeman at Spanish Fort High School … chose Alabama over Nebraska, Louisville, Mississippi State and Mississippi.

Raheem Falkins
WR, 6-4, 195, New Orleans, La. /G.W. Carver
Raheem Falkins is a four-star prospect that boasts outstanding measurables for the wide receiver position … arrived at Alabama as an early enrollee in January of 2013 … ranks as the No. 38 wide receiver nationally and the No. 13 player in Louisiana by Rivals.com … the No. 41 wide receiver by ESPN and 247Sports … is 268th nationally in the ESPN300 while ranking 12 in the state and 128th in the Southeast Region … 247Sports also has Falkins as the No. 50 wide out in its composite rankings … No. 67 wide receiver by Scout.com … caught 47 passes for 1,058 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior while averaging 22.5 yards per reception … earned first-team 2A All-State honors from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association in 2012 … as a junior hauled in 51 catches for 800 yards and 14 scores … No. 23 in the Times-Picayune’s Nifty 50 … coached by Bryon Addison at G.W. Caver High School … chose the Crimson Tide over LSU, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, Southern California, Illinois and Mississippi.

Robert Foster
WR, 6-3, 187, Monaca, Pa./Central Valley
One of the top wide receiver prospects in the nation, Robert Foster will give the Crimson Tide an explosive passing-catching option … participated in the Under Armour All-America Game … a first-team USA Today All-American … a five-star prospect by 247Sports and Scout.com … the nation’s No. 1 wide receiver according to 247Sports … No. 18 in the Top247 and he No. 2 player in the state of Pennsylvania … ranked 23rd nationally in the 247Composite and the No. 2 wide out … Scout.com lists him as the No. 4 wide receiver and No. 23 in the Scout300 … ESPN ranks Foster as the No. 2 wide receiver nationally and No. 25 in the ESPN150 … ESPN also has him as the No. 1 player in Pennsylvania and the No. 25 player in the East Region … Rivals.com rates him as the No. 4 wide receiver and the No. 4 player in the state … No. 32 nationally according to Tom Lemming with MaxPreps and is the site’s No. 1 wingback … Sporting News’ No. 49 player in the nation … a member of the PrepStar Dream Team and the publication’s No. 10 receiver and No. 80 player nationally… caught 45 passes for 756 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior, while rushing for 549 yards and 12 scores in 2012 … earned Pennsylvania Sportswriters Class AAA All-State honors in 2012 and was a 2011 PSWA All-State selection as a specialist … also intercepted four passes on defense with 67 tackles and eight pass breakups in his senior year … hauled in 37 passes for 584 yards and five touchdowns as a junior while rushing for 419 yards and two touchdowns in 2011 … as a sophomore in 2010, caught 25 passes for 520 yards and seven scores while rushing for 406 yards and three TDs … coached by Mark Lyons at Central Valley High School … chose Alabama over Pittsburgh, Penn State, Ohio State, Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame.

Reuben Foster
LB, 6-1, 244, Auburn, Ala./Auburn
Reuben Foster comes to the Capstone as the nation’s consensus No. 1 inside linebacker … member of the 2012 first-team All-USA Football Team, chosen by USA Today … named the defensive MVP of the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game … a five-star prospect by 247Sports, Rivals.com, Scout.com, MaxPreps and PrepStar … the nation’s No. 2 overall player according to Scout.com and PrepStar while ranking third nationally by MaxPreps … rated 13th nationally in the Rivals100 … No. 15 in the Top247 and No. 16 in the ESPN100 … the top-ranked player in the state of Alabama by all national services … ESPN also ranks him 11th in the Southeast Region … the 247Composite has Foster ranked seventh nationally, the No. 1 inside linebacker and the top player in the state … member of the PrepStar Dream Team … recorded 102 tackles with 22 tackles for loss and six sacks as a senior at Auburn in 2012 … earned first-team All-State honors from the Alabama Sports Writers Association and was named the 6A Lineman of the Year … … invited to “The Opening” in the summer of 2012 on the Nike campus in Oregon … played in the 2013 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic … was the Georgia AAA Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-State selection as a junior at Troup County High School in 2011 … made 185 tackles with 144 solo stops, 34 tackles for loss and 18 sacks … had 112 tackles as a sophomore in 2010 at Troup County … coached by Charles Flowers at Troup County in 2010 and 2011 … played for Auburn High School head coach time Carter in 2012 … chose the Crimson Tide over Auburn and Georgia.

Derrick Henry
RB, 6-3, 242, Yulee, Fla. /Yulee
Derrick Henry is a five-star prospect that is listed as the nation’s No. 1 athlete and No. 4 running back prospect … member of the 2012 All-USA Football Team, chosen by USA Today … 2012 Maxwell Football Club National High School Player of the Year … broke Ken Hall’s 51-year-old national high school rushing record with 12,124 yards after rushing for 4,261 yards as a senior in 2012 … Parade Magazine All-American and the publication’s National Player of the Year … played for the East squad in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, rushing for 53 yards with a touchdown and a two-point conversion … MaxPreps National Player of the Year and first-team All-American … finished his high school career with 153 rushing touchdowns, which ranks fifth all time, including 55 in 2012 … arrived at Alabama as an early enrollee in January of 2013 … five-star prospect by ESPN, 247sports and Scout.com … No. 9 in the ESPN150 and the outlets No. 1 athlete … ranks sixth by ESPN in Florida and eighth in the southeast region … the No. 3 player in Florida by 247Sports and the No. 1 athlete nationally while ranking 12th in its Top247 … the No. 4 athlete by Rivals.com and the No. 70 player in the Rivals100 … MaxPrep’s (Tom Lemming) No. 2 running back and No. 13 player nationally … Sporting News’ No. 2-ranked running back and No. 5 player overall … PrepStar All-American and member of the PrepStar Dream Team … set the Florida high school record with a 510-yard performance against Jacksonville Jackson and averaged 9.2 yards per carry and 327.8 yards per game as a senior … 2012 first-team All-State selection by the Associated Press and was the Player of the Year on the All-First Coast team … named the 2012 Columbus (Ohio) Touchdown Club National High School Player of the Year … rushed for 2,610 yards and 34 scores as a junior in 2011 to earn first-team All-Coast honors from the Florida Times-Union … also a first-team All-Coast running back in 2010 after rushing for 2,788 yards and 38 touchdowns while averaging 8.9 yards per attempt … went for 2,465 yards and 26 scores as a freshman in 2009 … coached by Bobby Ramsay at Yulee High School … chose the Crimson Tide over a myriad of schools, including Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Clemson, Miami, Notre Dame, Southern California and Florida State.

Brandon Hill
OL, 6-7, 390, Collierville, Tenn. (St. George’s/Hargrave Military Academy
Brandon Hill arrives at Alabama after a season at Hargrave Military Academy with a lot of potential along the offensive line … enrollee in January of 2013 … No. 13 in the Rivals.com 2013 Prep Top 50 … a massive prospect who has good athleticism and quickness for his size … MaxPrep 2011 U.S. Air Force Medium Schools All-American … Scout.com rates him as the nation’s No. 25 offensive guard prospect … the No. 9 player in Tennessee by 247sports.com and the site’s No. 46 offensive tackle prospect … SuperPrep ranks him 11th in the state of Tennessee … earned All-State honors in Tennessee at the Division 2A level … Rivals.com has Hill as the No. 57 offensive tackle and the No. 18 player in Tennessee … ESPNU lists him as the No. 77 tackle nationally and the No. 19 player in Tennessee … PrepStar All-Southeast Region selection … a three-star recruit … helped St. George capture the Class A Division II Tennessee State Championship … coached by Brent Hill … chose Alabama over Mississippi coming out of Hargrave Military Academy … also recruited by Georgia, Mississippi State and Kentucky coming out of high school.

Grant Hill
OL, 6-6, 301, Huntsville, Ala./Huntsville
Grant Hill arrives at the Capstone as one of the top offensive guard prospects in the nation … member of the 2012 All-USA Football Team, chosen by USA Today … a consensus four-star prospect that is rated as the nation’s No. 1 offensive guard by ESPN … 86th in the ESPN150 while being listed as the No. 5 player in the state of Alabama and the No. 47 player in the southeast region … participated in the 2013 Under Armour All-American Game … No. 2 guard in the nation according to 247Sports and the 247Composite while ranking third and fourth in the state respectively … ranked 54th nationally in the Top247 and 60th nationally in the 247Composite … Scout.com ranks Hill as the No. 3 offensive guard and 67th in its Scout300 … PrepStar lists Hill as the No. 1 guard nationally … a member of the PrepStar Dream Team as the No. 71 player in the country … second-team All-American as an offensive lineman by MaxPreps … Tom Lemming of MaxPreps ranked him 40th overall nationally and the No. 5 offensive tackle prospect … Rivals.com rates Hill as the No. 5 offensive guard nationally and the No. 77 player in the Rivals100 … first-team All-State selection by the Alabama Sports Writer Association … finalist for the ASWA 6A Lineman of the Year … played for head coach Scott Sharp at Huntsville High School … chose Alabama over Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Clemson and Mississippi State.

O.J. Howard
TE, 6-6, 235, Prattville, Ala. (Autauga Academy
O.J. Howard comes to Alabama the top tight end prospect in the class of 2013 … participated in the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game … arrived at Alabama as an early enrollee in January of 2013 … a five-star prospect is the No. 7 prospect nationally in the Rivals100 … is the outlet’s top-ranked tight end and No. 2 player in Alabama … 247Sports ranks Howard 20th in its Top247 with five stars while listing him as the No. 1 tight in and the No. 2 player in the state … the 247Composite lists him 14th nationally … No. 14 in the Scout300 and Scout.com’s top-ranked tight end … is ranked 45th in the ESPN150, the No. 2 tight end and No. 24 in the southeast region by ESPN … Sporting News’ No. 32 player in the nation … rated eighth nationally by MaxPreps (Tom Lemming) and is the No. 1 tight end … is the No. 13 player nationally by PrepStar, the publication’s No. 1 tight end and a member of the PrepStar Dream Team… three-time was first-team AISA All-State selection … missed part of his senior year due to injury, but amassed 854 of total offense and 12 touchdowns … accounted for 57 tackles on the defensive side of the ball in 2012 … named to the Alabama Sports Writers Association Super 12 team … AISA 2012 Lineman of the Year … as a junior in 2011 had 11 receiving touchdowns, eight rushing scores and also threw for three TDs … caught 41 passes for 926 yards while rushing for 487 yards … had 89 tackles with eight sacks and three forced fumbles on defense … as a sophomore in 2010, set the school record with 31 total touchdowns while also breaking the school’s receiving records … named the team’s defensive MVP after making 89 tackles with six interceptions and four sacks … coached by Chris Honeycutt at Autauga Academy … chose Alabama over Florida, USC and Auburn.

Eddie Jackson
DB, 6-0, 175, Lauderdale Lakes, Fla./Boyd Anderson
Eddie Jackson was key addition for the Crimson Tide in the secondary for the 2013 class … a four-star prospect by ESPN and 247Sports … ranks 157th in the Top247 and is the outlet’s No. 5 athlete … ranked as the No. 14 athlete in the 247Composite … also ranked 21st in the state of Florida by 247Sports … ESPN lists him as No. 54 wide receiver … also rated as a wide out by Rivals.com where he was listed 48th … the No. 48 wide receiver by Scout.com … caught 37 passes for 792 yards and touchdowns on the offensive side of the ball as a senior in 2012 … also contributed five interceptions, 66 tackles and one forced fumble on defense … returned two interceptions for touchdowns … coached by Wayne Blair at Boyd Anderson High School … chose Alabama over LSU, Florida State, Arkansas and Tennessee.

Tyren Jones
RB, 5-9, 215, Marietta, Ga./Walton
Tyren Jones is one of the more productive running backs in the class of 2013 … participated in the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl … consensus four-star prospect … ranked 63rd in the ESPN150 and the network’s No. eight running back … rated as the No. 9 player in Georgia and the No. 34 player in the southeast by ESPN … 64th in the Top247 and the site’s No. 6 running back nationally … in the 247Composite ranks 66th nationally, eighth at running back and sixth in Georgia … Rivals.com rates Jones as the No. 11 running back and 79th in the Rivals 100 … Rivals.com also lists him as the No. 5 player in the state of Georgia … the No. 91 player nationally by Scout.com and the No. 15 running back … a member of the PrepStar Dream Team as the No. 62 player nationally and the No. 9 running back … Tom Lemming of MaxPreps ranks Jones as the No. 5 running back nationally and the No. 79 overall recruit … rushed for 1,845 yards (6.46 yards per carry) and 18 touchdowns as a senior in 2012 … was a second-team All-State selection in Class AAAAAA by the Georgia Sports Writers Association … earned first-team GSWA All-State honors and was named the AAAAA Offensive Player of the Year as a junior in 2011 … rushed for 2,375 yards and 33 touchdowns while catching 15 passes for 205 yards and two more scores … also scored twice on returns while totaling over 400-return yards … coached by Rocky Hildalgo at Walton High School … chose Alabama over Georgia, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Oklahoma State, Tennessee and North Carolina.

Walker Jones
LB, 6-2, 234, Germantown, Tenn./Evangelical Christian
Walker Jones continues a family tradition, inking his scholarship papers with the Crimson Tide, joining Barrett and Harrison as members of the Alabama football team … a middle linebacker and running back in high school that projects to the defensive side of the football at Alabama … ESPN rates him as the No. 26 inside linebacker nationally and No. 11 in the state of Tennessee … the No. 8 prospect in the state by CBSSports.com … Rivals.com ranks him as the No. 22 linebacker and 11th in Tennessee … ranked 40th at his position by Scout.com … Tom Lemming of MaxPreps rates him as the nation’s No. 25 inside linebacker … invited to play in both the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl and the Semper Fidelis All-American bowl (unable to play due to basketball) … earned All-State honors from both the Tennessee Sports Writers Association and TNVarsity.com in both 2011 and 2012 … PrepStart All-Southeast Region selection and the publication’s No. 18 outside linebacker … Memphis Commercial Appeal Best of Preps in 2010, 2011 and 2012 … a finalist for Tennessee Mr. Football in 2012 when he captained Evangelical Christian to a state runner-up finish … All-Region selection in his final three seasons and the Region Defensive MVP in 2011 … set the school record for most tackles in a season and most tackles in a career … led team in tackles as a sophomore, junior and senior … scored 15 rushing touchdowns in 2011 and 10 in 2012 … Southern Prep Stars top linebacker in 2012 … helped lead his team to the State Championship on the basketball court in 2010 … … father, Rex, played basketball for Alabama … will join brother, Harrison, at the Capstone … oldest brother, Barrett, started on three Crimson Tide National Championship teams (2009, 2011 and 2012) … coached by Geoff Walters at Evangelical Christian School … chose Alabama over Tennessee, Arkansas, Nebraska, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State.

Alvin Kamara
RB, 5-10, 195, Norcross, Ga./Norcross
Alvin Kamara represents one of the nation’s top running backs with excellent versatility … the nation’s No. 2 all-purpose by Rivals.com and the No. 45 player in the Rivals100 … also ranked as the No. 6 player in Georgia by Rivals … selected to participate in the 2013 Under Armour All-American Game … No. 32 in the ESPN150 and the No. 4 running back … ESPN ranks Kamara as the No. 4 player in Georgia and No. 17 in the Southeast Region … 247Sports lists him as the No. 3 all-purpose back and the No. 7 player in Georgia, while ranking him 66th in the Top247 … is the No. 1 all-purpose back in the 247Composite, the No. 5 player in Georgia and the No. 42 player nationally … invited to “The Opening” in the summer of 2012 on the Nike campus in Oregon … the No. 69 player in the Scout300 and Scout.com’s No. 12 running back prospect … No. Sporting News’ No. 47 player in the nation … rushed for 2,264 yards and 26 touchdowns while averaging 7.5 yards per carry as a senior in 2012 … added 22 receptions for 286 yards and five scores … … second-team All-American as a running back by MaxPreps … earned Georgia Mr. Football honors from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution … was the Class AAAAAA Player of the Year and garnered first-team All-State honors from the Georgia Sports Writers Association … added 1,300 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior in 2011 … played for head coach Keith Maloof at Norcross High School … chose the Crimson Tide over Georgia, but also considered Florida State, Georgia Tech, Florida, Southern California, Clemson and Tennessee.

Dee Liner
DL, 6-3, 281, Muscle Shoals, Ala./Muscle Shoals
Dee Liner is one of the elite defensive line prospects in the 2013 signing class … a member of the first-team 2012 All-USA Football Team, chosen by USA Today … participated in the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game … ESPN rates Liner as the No. 4 defensive tackle in the nation and ranks him 26th on in the ESPN150 … also second in the state by ESPN and 14th in the southeast region … Tom Lemming of MaxPreps lists Liner as the nation’s No. 21 overall player, a five-star prospect and the No. 3 defensive tackle … No. 7 strongside defensive end by Rivals.com and ranked 61st in the Rivals100 … the No. 3 player in the state of Alabama by Rivals … listed as the No. 8 defensive tackle by Scout.com and No. 48 in the Scout300 … Sporting News’ No. 55 player in the nation … ranked 112th in the Top247, the site’s No. 10 defensive tackle and No. 7 player in the state … No. 46 nationally and the No. 4 defensive tackle in the 247Composite … first-team medium school All-American as a defensive lineman by MaxPreps and a second-team selection on the overall All-American team … was a 5A All-State selection by the Alabama Sports Writer Association … recorded 76 tackles with 18 tackles for loss as a senior at Muscle Shoals High School where he was coached by Scott Basden … made 83 tackles with 17 sacks as a junior in 2011 while also breaking up two passes, forcing five fumbles and recovering two fumbles – one for a touchdown … registered 81 stops with six sacks in 2010 … finished his high school career with over 200 tackles, 68 tackles for loss and 32 sacks … Alabama over Auburn, Georgia, Miami (Fla.), Southern California, Tennessee and Arkansas.

Cole Mazza
LS, 6-1, 246, Bakersfield, Calif./Liberty
Cole Mazza proved to be one of the best long snappers in the country and that was a priority for the Crimson Tide faced with the departure of three-year starter Carson Tinker … earned a five-star ranking as a sophomore in high school at the Rubio Long Snapping Camp … the nation’s No. 1 long snapper by 247Sports and the No. 1 long snapper nationally in the 247Composite … ESPN ranks Mazza as the No. 3 long snapper in the country … three-star prospect by Rivals.com and the No. 11 snapper … three-star prospect by PrepStar and the No. 8 long snapper nationally … also served as the starting center for head coach Tony Mills at Liberty High School in Bakersfield, Calif. … chose Alabama over UCLA, Washington State and Utah.

Parker McLeod
QB, 6-3, 190, Marietta, Ga. /Walton
Park McLeod comes to the Capstone as the nation’s No. 31 pocket passer according to ESPN … ranks 58th in Georgia by ESPN and 278th in the southeast region … arrived at Alabama as an early enrollee in January of 2013 … the No. 35 pro-style quarterback by Rivals.com … 247Sports lists McLeod as the No. 59 pro-style quarterback nationally in 2013 and No. 41 in its 247Composite rankings … Scout.com has him as the No. 63 QB nationally … as a senior in 2012 played in six games due to injury and threw for 541 yards with four touchdowns … threw for 1,619 yards as a junior in 2011, while completing 63.9 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns and just four interceptions … earned All-League and All-Metro honors as a junior … coached by Rocky Hildalgo … chose Alabama over Oklahoma State, Louisville, Maryland and Boston College.

Darius Paige
DL, 6-4, 314, Foley, Ala./Foley
Darius Paige a consensus four-star defensive line prospect out of Foley High School … the fourth-ranked defensive tackle by 247Sports and No. 55 in the Top247 … rated the No. 4 player in Alabama by 247Sports … No. 14 tackle in the 247Composite and 175th nationally … Rivals.com rates him as the No. 15 defensive tackle, No. 240 in the Rivals250 and No. 10 in the state of Alabama … ESPN ranks him 21st among defensive tackles and No. 239 in the ESPN300 … 10th in the Alabama by ESPN and 115th in the southeast region … Scout.com lists him as the No. 23 tackle and No. 221 in the Scout300 … played in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl for the East squad … PrepStar ranks him as the No. 18 defensive tackle and No. 176 nationally … earned honorable mention 6A All-State honors from the Alabama Sports Writers Association in 2012 at Foley … made 97 tackles with 32 tackles for loss and three sacks as a junior at Washington High School in Pensacola, Fla. … played for Todd Watson at Foley High School … chose Alabama over Florida State, Tennessee, LSU, Tennessee, and Louisville.

A’Shawn Robinson
DL, 6-4, 320, Fort Worth, Texas/Arlington Heights
A’Shawn Robinson is one of the elite defensive linemen in the 2013 signing class … member of the second-team 2012 All-USA Football Team, chosen by USA Today … played for the West squad in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl … a five-star prospect by 247Sports, Rivals.com and Scout.com … Scout.com ranks him as the nation’s No. 1 defensive tackle and the fifth-best player in the nation at any position … 247Sports lists Robinson as the country’s No. 3 offensive tackle, the 26th overall prospect in the Top247 and the No. 3 player in the state of Texas … the 247Composite has him as the No. 2 offensive tackle, the No. 33 overall player and the No. 4 athlete in Texas … Rivals.com ranked him as the No. 2 prospect in Texas, the No. 4 defensive tackle in the nation and was 33rd in the final Rivals100 … Sporting News’ No. 32 player in the nation … ranked 11th by ESPN at defensive tackle and 13th in the state of Texas … ESPN also listed him as the No. 13 player in the Midlands Region and 105th in the ESPN150 … rated 70th nationally by Tom Lemming at MaxPreps and the No. 4 defensive tackle … No. 30 on the 2013 PrepStar Dream Team … invited to the 2012 “The Opening” all-star event on the Nike campus in Oregon … recorded over 60 tackles with seven sacks and six forced fumbles as a junior in 2011 and graded out at over 85 percent on his blocking assignments at offensive tackle … coached by Todd Whitten at Arlington Heights High School … chose the Crimson Tide over Texas while also considering Southern California, LSU, Arkansas and Florida State.

Maurice Smith
DB, 6-0, 180, Sugar Land, Texas/Fort Bend Dulles
Maurice Smith is a consensus four-star cornerback … played in the Under Armour All-American Game … ranked as the No. 5 cornerback in the class of 2013 by Scout.com and listed 55th in the Scout300 … 247Sports ranks him as the No. 11 corner, rates him No. 121 in the Top247 and 14th in Texas while the 247Composite has him 84th nationally, the No. 9 cornerback and No. 111 in Texas … ranked 12th among corners by Rivals.com and 143 in the Rivals250 … ESPN has him as the No. 8 player in the state of Texas and No. 8 in the Midlands Region … No. 84 in the ESPN100 and the outlet’s No. 12 cornerback … PrepStar ranks him as the No. 7 corner and the nation’s No. 89 player … a member of the PrepStar Dream Team … the No. 15 cornerback by Tom Lemming of MaxPreps … recorded one interception as a senior in 2012 with 21 receptions for 389 yards and seven touchdowns … had 63 tackles and three interceptions as a junior in 2011 … played for head coach Jim Creech at Fort Bend Dulles High School … chose Alabama over Florida, Arkansas, Arizona State, Texas, LSU, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Nebraska and Michigan.

ArDarius Stewart
ATH, 6-0, 190, Fultondale, Ala./Fultondale
ArDarius Stewart was one of the top football players in the state of Alabama as a junior and senior … a consensus four-star athlete … ranked as the No. 3 athlete nationally by Rivals.com and No. 66 in the Rivals100 while being listed as the No. 4 player in Alabama … No. 67 in the Top247, the No. 3 athlete nationally and the No. 5 player in the state by 247Sports … No. 86 nationally in the 247Composite, No. 3 athlete and No. 5 in Alabama … ESPN rates him the No. 18 athlete and 181st in the ESPN300 … Scout.com lists him as the No. 10 wide receiver and 94th-best prospect in the nation … No. 59 in Tom Lemming’s MaxPreps Top 100 and the No. 1 athlete … a five-star prospect by PrepStar, which ranked Stewart as the No. 49 player in the nation and No. 3 athlete … first-team small school All-American as an all-purpose player by MaxPreps and a second-team selection on the overall All-American team at defensive back … The Birmingham News Player of the Year … a 2A All-State selection and Back of the Year by the Alabama Sports Writers Association in 2012 after scoring 52 touchdowns on passes, runs and returns in 2012 … had 1,923 yards rushing in 2012 after totaling 2,188 on the ground in 2011 … had 55 tackles with two interceptions in 2012 … also earned 2011 ASWA first-team 2A All-State honors … finished his career at Fultondale High School with 138 total touchdowns … coached by Keith Register at Fultondale High School … chose Alabama over Auburn, Clemson, Florida State and Utah.

Altee Tenpenny
RB, 6-0, 207, North Little Rock, Ark./North Little Rock
Altee Tenpenny comes to the Capstone as one of the best running backs in the nation and the consensus No. 1 player in the state of Arkansas … consensus four-star recruit … selected to play in the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl … 247Sports ranks him as the No. 5 running back in the nation and the top player in Arkansas … 51st in the Top247 … Rivals.com rates him as the No. eight running back and No. 53 in the Rivals100 as well as the No. 1 player in the state … Tom Lemming of MaxPreps No. 3 running back and No. 46 recruit nationally … Sporting News’ No. 47 player in the nation … Scout.com lists Tenpenny 84th in the Scout300 and as the nation’s No. 14 running back … a five-star player and member of the PrepStar Dream Team as the publication’s No. 33 player nationally and No. 7 running back … Sporting News’ No. 8 running back … first-team 7A All-State by the Arkansas High School Activities Association … rushed for 1,379 yards and 21 touchdowns as a senior in 2012 with seven receptions for 135 yards and two more scores … missed the 2011 season with a broken ankle … averaged 7.63 yards per carry as a sophomore with 15 touchdowns and 1,121 rushing yards … invited to “The Opening” in the summer of 2012 at the Nike campus in Oregon … coached by Brad Bolding at North Little Rock High School … chose Alabama over the in-state Razorbacks as well as Auburn, Oklahoma State, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Mississippi and Oklahoma.

Tim Williams
LB, 6-3, 235, Baton Rouge, La./University Lab
Tim Williams gives Alabama another top player out of the state of Louisiana … a consensus four-star prospect … selected to play in the Under Armour All-America Game … 36th in the ESPN150 and the No. five defensive end in the nation by ESPN … also ranked as the No. 1 player in the state of Louisiana and the No. 18 player in the Southeast Region by ESPN … Tom Lemming of MaxPreps rates Williams as the nation’s No. 35 player and the No. 4 outside linebacker … 247Sports lists him as the No. 2 weakside defensive end nationally, No. 73 in the Top247 and the No. 3 player in Louisiana … 82nd in the 247Composite … Scout.com has Williams as the nation’s No. 20 defensive end and No. 167 in the Scout300 … Sporting News’ No. 48 player in the nation … a member of the PrepStar Dream Team as the nation’s No. 85 prospect and the sixth-ranked defensive end … registered 115 tackles with 45 tackles for loss and 16 sacks as a junior in 2011 … a 2011 and 2012 first-team Louisiana Sports Writers Association All-State selection … second-team small school All-American as a defensive lineman by MaxPreps … named to the Baton Rouge All-Area team and was a Louisiana 2A All-State selection … coached by Chad Mahaffey at University Lab High School … chose Alabama over Miami, LSU, Auburn, Arkansas, Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Southern California and Texas A&M.

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No. 4 Oklahoma discovers stud RB during 45-33 victory over WVU

Samaje Perine

The Oklahoma Sooners haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2010 when DeMarco Murray eclipsed the benchmark. Freshman Samaje Perine looked like he could be the next Sooners running back to overtake the mark after his 242-yard performance Saturday against the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Oklahoma rode Perine to a 45-33 victory in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Perine got the start due to a foot injury to sophomore Keith Ford. After Perine’s 34-carry, four-touchdown performance, Ford may not have a starting job to come back to once he’s fully healthy in a couple weeks.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>Don't look now but my OU Sooners just discovered another Heisman quality back, Samaje Perine, freshman tank. Welcome to national stage, kid.</p>&mdash; Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) <a href=”https://twitter.com/RealSkipBayless/status/513528735417765888″>September 21, 2014</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>Bob Stoops on Samaje Perine: &quot;He's gonna be special.&quot;</p>&mdash; David Ubben (@davidubben) <a href=”https://twitter.com/davidubben/status/513528724050833408″>September 21, 2014</a></blockquote>
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The freshman running back helped establish an identity for the Sooners as the team sputtered on offense initially. The realization eventually came to the Sooners coaching staff that they had a 243-pound running back in the backfield who was gaining chunks of yards each time he was handed the ball. And once that realization was made, Perine took over the game.

Of course, any good running back has plenty of help from his offensive line. Oklahoma’s offensive line is highly talented and skilled. Three seniors — left guard Adam Shead, left tackle Tyrus Thompson and right tackle Daryl Williams — set the tone and dominated against West Virginia. Oklahoma ran for 301 total yards.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>Perine has been outstanding tonight, but Oklahoma's OL is bringing it, too. Making life a lot easier on him.</p>&mdash; David Ubben (@davidubben) <a href=”https://twitter.com/davidubben/status/513515930362466305″>September 21, 2014</a></blockquote>
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As Perine ran wild, it developed into the same old story for West Virginia. The Mountaineers are good enough on offense to win against talented opponents, but their defense continually disappoints.

Whereas Oklahoma showed it doesn’t have to play its best game to still win a game easily against a conference opponent.

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No. 24 Cornhuskers overcome emotions to defeat rival Hurricanes 41-31

AMEER ABDULLAH

Tensions were running high when the Nebraska Cornhuskers hosted the Miami Hurricanes Saturday in Lincoln. It wasn’t exactly the 1984 Orange Bowl, but the energy between both teams invoked the famous meeting between these two teams.

Bo Pelini‘s squad stood tall and proved it was capable of overcoming their emotions to earn a 41-31 victory. The win was a statement by the Cornhuskers and the Big Ten Conference.

Miami may not be the Hurricanes of old, but it’s still quality win for the Cornhuskers as the Big Ten searches for a program to lead the way this season.

As the Cornhuskers prepare for Big Ten play, three areas seen during the game will translate as the season progresses.

Nebraska will be able to run the ball on any team in the conference. Senior Ameer Abduallah is a dominate running back. Abdullah ran the ball 35 times for 229 yards and a pair of touchdowns. And along the way, he entered the annuls of Nebraska history:

In total, the Cornhuskers ran for 345 yards, and it’s often said a running game travels.

Abdullah isn’t the only superstar on Nebraska’s roster. Defensive end Randy Gregory, who is projected as a Top 10 pick in the 2015 NFL draft, was a terror off the edge. Gregory was a constant presence and got to Miami’s freshman quarterback, Brad Kaaya, multiple times throughout the game.

Gregory also brings attitude to the “Blackshirts.” Nebraska hasn’t had a player that dominated physically and mentally like Gregory since Ndamukong Suh left the program. Gregory was mixing it up with the Hurricanes all evening. His combination of talent, production and attitude influences the entire Nebraska defense.

While Nebraska established itself with a marquee win, Miami melted down. The attitude on the field is nothing new for this program, but its inability to compete with top problems continues to be a major problem for head coach Al Golden.

Nebraska and Miami are clearly going in different directions. The way theses two programs handled themselves Saturday night was a tell-tale sign of what they can achieve this season.

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Mississippi State’s 34-29 win over No. 8 LSU raises questions about both teams

Josh Robinson, Ronald Martin

There’s no other way to say this: this game was weird. Really, really weird. It was a game where Mississippi State legitimately blew out No. 8 LSU, but somehow there the Tigers were throwing into the end zone with a chance to win as time expired. The Bulldogs became the first non-No. 1 ranked team to win a night game at Tiger Stadium in the now 10-year Les Miles era of LSU, joining 2009 Florida and 2012 Alabama. And Mississippi State did it in an authoritative fashion those others couldn’t, building a 34-10 lead and 570 yards of offense before holding on to a 34-29 win.

How did LSU nearly crawl back and steal this thing? Mississippi State employed the ‘ol prevent offense, even passing on a field goal try that would have put them up 37-16, and backup quarterback Brandon Harris caught fire, completing 6-of-8 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns before throwing an interception at the goal line on a last gasp Hail Mary. Oh, and a snap that went over Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott’s head and into the arms of an LSU defender certainly helped, setting up LSU’s final touchdown as Mississippi State hoped to ice away what would have been a 34-23 win.

But despite the ugly ending, Mississippi State looked good tonight. Really good. Prescott looked every bit worthy of the offseason whispers entering him into the Heisman conversation, powering the Bulldogs’ running game with 22 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown and hitting 15-of-24 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Josh Robinson, a Louisiana native alongside his backfield mate, rushed for 197 yards and a touchdown – on 16 carries. It was shocking how many times Mississippi State got the ball in space.

The Bulldogs also contained LSU’s offense, limiting the Tigers to 89 rushing yards, and forcing starting quarterback Anthony Jennings out of the game after producing 157 yards on 26 attempts.

This game was not as close as the final score indicates. This was the Tigers’ worst home performance – especially on defense – since before Nick Saban came to town.

Which leads us to wonder: whom does tonight’s stunning result say more about, the winner or the loser?

On one hand, LSU could prove to be of the ilk of similar purple and gold teams in the past, the one that had never lost to a non-No. 1 ranked team at home under the lights in the past 10 seasons, and Mississippi State could prove to be a legitimate contender in the SEC West.

Or, there could prove to be a reason that LSU has now fallen behind 24-7 and 34-10 in the two games its played against Power Five competition, just as there could prove to be a reason the win moves Dan Mullen to 3-21 against Top 25 competition at Mississippi State.

Does this win prove how good Mississippi State really is, or how bad LSU might be?

The probable answer: it’s likely somewhere in between. One thing is certain, though. We’ll find out very soon. After taking next week off, the soon-to-be-ranked Bulldogs return to Starkville and host No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 5 Auburn.

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Clemson and its ferocious defense leading a battle of backup QBs at the half

Sean Maguire

Let’s go ahead and check in on backup quarterback-turned-emergency starter Sean Maguire‘s numbers through one half: 6-of-17 for 106 yards.

Well, why is Florida State throwing the ball 17 times with its backup quarterback? Let’s check the rushing stats, aaaand the ‘Noles have minus-22 rushing yards on 11 carries. Oh.

Considering Maguire has been sacked three times for a loss of 24 yards, Florida State’s 20 called passes have gained 82 yards, and its eight remaining rushes have produced a grand total of two yards. In short, Vic Beasley and the Clemson front are straight dominating No. 1 Florida State, and 22nd-ranked Clemson leads 10-3 at the half in Tallahassee.

Clemson has also turned to its backup quarterback, although in vastly different circumstances. After starter Cole Stoudt produced zero points in the first three drives of the game (including an unforgivable shortarm to an open tight end on third-and-goal), the Tigers rolled with freshman Deshaun Watson for the remainder of the first half, and he’s looked like the best quarterback on the field – at least the best one in shoulder pads. Watson has completed 8-of-12 passes for 132 yards, compared with Stoudt’s 40 passing yards and 24 rushing yards. C.J. Davidson has put in work for the Tigers on the ground, pounding out 37 yards on eight carries. Senior running back D.J. Howard has the game’s only touchdown, a one-yard plunge with 5:56 remaining in the half.

Meanwhile, Brent Venables’ defense has limited the opposition to 84 yards, four first downs, and 1-of-8 on third down. Florida State just can’t block them.

Florida State will receive the ball to start the second half, and needs an entirely new approach on offense or we’ll have a new No. 1 tomorrow morning.

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WVU’s Kevin White, OU’s Samaje Perine steal spotlight during first half

Oklahoma v West Virginia

When the Oklahoma Sooners meet the West Virginia Mountaineers, offensive fireworks are expected. Everyone still remembers the 50-49 shootout between the two teams during the 2012 season.

After a slow start, the teams are living up to expectations. West Virginia and Oklahoma are tied 24-24 after two quarters of play.

Two players proved to be the difference-makers for each team.

West Virginia’s Kevin White entered the contest as the nation’s second-leading receiver with 460 receiving yards during the first three games. White continues to add to his season total with a strong effort in the first half. The wide receiver already has four receptions for 111 yards. White also got the offensive fireworks started with a 68-yard touchdown reception to give West Virginia an early 7-3 lead.

Oklahoma, meanwhile, found its offensive groove during the second quarter once head coach Bob Stoops and his staff decided running the football with 243-pound freshman running back Samaje Perine was the team’s most effective strategy. Perine rumbled for 111 yards and exploited West Virginia’s soft defensive interior.

As impressive as White and Perine have been, there have been plenty of other explosive plays.

The Sooners scored their first touchdown courtesy of a reverse pass from wide receiver Durron Neal to quarterback Trevor Knight. And just when it looked like the Mountaineers would take a seven-point lead into halftime, Oklahoma’s Alex Ross returned a kick 100 yards for the tying score.

The teams combined to score five touchdowns in the final eight minutes and 58 seconds of the second quarter.

The second half game plan is simple for both teams — continue to score as much as possible. It’s a simple plan, but one defensive stop by either team may be enough to eventually claim the victory.

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Mississippi State nearly perfect over first half, leads No. 8 LSU 17-3

Dak Prescott

Through one half in Baton Rouge, it looks like Mississippi State may walk out of Death Valley alive. The Bulldogs put together what has to rank among the best halves they’ve ever played under Dan Mullen, and lead No. 8 LSU 17-3 at the break.

Mississippi State forced a three-and-out on its first possession, and swiftly moved 57 yards in six plays to take a 7-0 lead. After trading punts, LSU moved 52 yards to within three feet of Mississippi State’s goal line, but the Bulldogs mounted a goal line stand, stuffing LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings on an option play on fourth-and-goal. Mississippi State then raced down the field, moving 98 yards in five plays capped by a three-yard Josh Robinson run to take an unexpected and commanding 14-0 lead.

The teams exchanged field goals in the second quarter to bring us to a 17-3 score.

Dak Prescott has played near flawless for Mississippi State, hitting 8-of-11 throws for 141 yards and a touchdown. He did, however, have one ill-advised shovel pass while in the grasp of an LSU defensive lineman that nearly turned into a pick-six, but LSU’s Tre White dropped it. That’s the kind of night it’s been for both teams.

Fellow Louisiana native Robinson has rushed six times for 111 yards and the aforementioned touchdown to pace the Bulldogs’ ground game.

Jennings has completed 7-of-12 passes for 78 yards, but he’s not the type of quarterback that can dig out of 14-point holes on the strength of his arm. LSU needs a touchdown early to get back into this one.

Mississippi State will receive the ball to open the second half.

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B1G redemption? Indiana stuns Mizzou in Columbia

Nate Sudfeld, Tevin Coleman AP

Rightfully so, the Big Ten has been kicked around for its poor and embarrassing performances in 2014, looking very much like the Power Five conference that won’t have a seat at the College Football Playoff table at season’s end.

At least for one weekend, however, the skies were bright and sunny across the Midwest in general and in Columbia in particular.

In a stunning turn of events, Indiana took homestanding and defending SEC East champion Missouri to the carpet and headed back to Bloomington with an impressive 31-27 win.  The game-winning score came with 22 seconds left on a three-yard touchdown run from D’Angelo Roberts.

It’s the Hoosiers’ first win over a ranked opponent since 2006, a 31-28 victory over No. 15 Iowa.  It was the Tigers’ first loss for the 2014 season.

The defeat was not well-received by arguably the SEC’s biggest media cheerleader.

Tevin Coleman, who came into the nonconference matchup leading the nation in rushing yards per game, ran for 132 yards and a touchdown and caught three passes for another 57 yards in the win.  Coleman has now scored a rushing touchdown in 12 straight games, tying the school record set by Anthony Thompson in 1988-89.

The two teams were nearly identical statistically, with No. 18 Mizzou holding a slight 506-493 advantage in total offense.

The IU win was a microcosm for what was a wildly successful Week 4 for the Big Ten, especially going by the very low standards set through the first three weeks of the season.  Of the nine games involving B1G teams that have been completed, that conference has won all nine.  A 10th team, Minnesota, is up on Fresno State 17-7 late in the third quarter.

It’s not all puppy dogs and rainbows for the league, however, as Michigan is getting embarrassed 26-10 by Utah in the Big House in a game that’s been delayed by weather while Illinois is losing to Texas State 21-19.

Still, after the rough start, this was just the elixir needed for the wounded and bleeding conference.

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Lane Kiffin gets last laugh as Alabama rolls past Florida

Lane Kiffin

Love him or hate him, Lane Kiffin is making a positive contribution to the Alabama Crimson Tide offense.

No. 3 Alabama rolled up 645 yards of total offense during its 42-21 victory over the Florida Gators.

While Alabama has been known as a run-first, methodical offense during head coach Nick Saban‘s tenure, the team’s new offensive coordinator has his unit rolling during Alabama’s 4-0.

The performance was impressive on many levels.

First, Kiffin added tempo which created explosive plays for the Crimson Tide. Alabama had two touchdown passes of 79 yards or longer in the first quarter.

Second, the offensive coordinator is doing exactly what a good coach does. He’s putting his quarterback in a position to succeed. The tempo and overall play calling helped first-year starter Blake Sims post a career day with 445 passing yards and four touchdowns.

Third, Kiffin is getting the ball to his play-makers. Amari Cooper is arguably the best wide receiver in college football. The junior wide receiver was targeted numerous times and finished the game with 10 receptions for 201 yards, which was third-best effort in Alabama history. Cooper would have broken Julio Jones‘ single-game receiving record if he didn’t have two big plays called back due to penalties.

The wide receiver shouldn’t expect his load to decrease as the season continues, though:

Finally, Alabama is still a balanced attack. Members of the Crimson Tide ran the ball 52 times. And Kiffin found a way to distribute the ball between multiple talented running backs. Derrick Henry led the team with 20 carries for 111 yards. T.J. Yeldon also had 18 carries.

All of this was accomplished against a very talented Gators defense. Excellent play calling simply exploited Florida’s weaknesses. After this drubbing at the hands of Alabama, the temperature of Florida head coach Will Muschamp‘s hot seat continues to rise.

Kiffin, meanwhile, makes Alabama’s offense as dangerous as it has ever been under Saban.

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BYU keeps undefeated season, Playoff push alive, but reckoning day is coming

Taysom HIll

No. 21 BYU defeated Virginia 41-33 at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday, moving the Cougars to 4-0 and giving them a nice resume-builder over an ACC program that will almost certainly play in a bowl this December. When it comes time to fill the non-playoff New Year’s Six bowls, the selection committee running the College Football Playoff will like this one.

Impressive as this win was on the surface, it also highlighted why BYU won’t go undefeated and won’t be around when those Playoff discussions occur.

First, the obvious: penalties. BYU committed 12 of them, docking themselves 133 yards. This was an increase from the 10.7 flags per game the Cougars usually average, the second most in college football. These aren’t the 2001 Hurricanes. This team is not talented enough to overcome this kind of self-hatred.

The defense isn’t good enough, either. BYU allowed Virginia to run 111 plays (57 passes/44 rushes) and convert 10 of 22 third downs, meaning the Cavaliers sat on the ball for nearly 41 minutes on Saturday. Two quarterbacks played for the Hoos, and both were effective. Greyson Lambert started the game and threw for 188 yards and rushed for 49 more with a touchdown. After he left with a leg injury, Matt Johns entered the game and completed 14-of-23 pases for 139 yards and a touchdown, and sprinkled in three rushes for 22 yards.

Twice BYU needed one stop to effectively end the game, and twice Virginia scored touchdowns. The first came after a Taysom Hill touchdown pass put BYU up 34-19 with 10:17 to play. Virginia immediately marched 75 yards in 2:11 to pull within 34-26. Adam Hine took the ensuing kickoff 99 yards to make the score 41-26, but Virginia possessed the ball again with 5:21 to play, and methodically moved 98 yards in 13 plays to again pull within one score.

That’s not what championship (err, undefeated independent) defenses do.

Hill had an impressive day in the short time he was on the field, connecting on 13-of-23 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns while also leading the BYU ground attack with 17 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown. He remains a treat to watch, an all-terrain vehicle in shoulder pads.

Sadly enough, though, the team around him isn’t good enough or disciplined enough to send him to New York to watch someone else win the Heisman Trophy.

BYU takes next week off before hosting Utah State on Friday, Oct 3. It’s not clear when this team is getting beat, maybe by the Fighting Chuckie Keetons, maybe six days later at Central Florida, maybe at Boise State on Oct. 24, or maybe not until the finale at California on Nov. 29. Reckoning day is coming, though.

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Blake Sims quiets critics as Alabama leads Florida at halftime

Southern Miss v Alabama Getty Images

If one half of play is any indication, there is no longer a quarterback competition in Alabama.

The No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide are leading the Florida Gators 21-14 at halftime in a sloppy affair. In the first half, there were multiple fumbles, an interception, dropped passes and busted coverage.

But the play of Alabama’s senior quarterback, Blake Sims, was the bright spot.

Sims is 17-of-23 passing for 335 yards and three touchdowns. The Alabama quarterback made the right decisions throughout and capitalized on poor defensive play by the Gators. Sims found junior Kenyan Drake racing down the sidelines for an 87-yard touchdown connection. Later in the quarter, the senior signal-caller completed a 79-yard touchdown pass to the dynamic Amari Cooper.

Due to Sims’ outstanding play, junior Jake Coker didn’t see the field in the first half. Considering the current score and how well Sims is playing, no one should expect Coker to receive any repetitions in the second half.

Although, Alabama head coach Nick Saban wasn’t entirely thrilled with Sims play. The fiery coach tore into his quarterback when he fumbled the football in the second quarter.

Florida, meanwhile, isn’t getting close to the same level of play from their quarterback. Jeff Driskel. The Gators’ signal-caller is 5-of-17 passing for 53 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The Gators defense, though, made plays to keep the team in the game. If the Florida’s defense can prevent big plays in the second half, Florida has a chance to steal a game from Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Otherwise, Alabama has been the better team sans the turnovers. Saban surely tore into his team at halftime. We should all expect Alabama to play sound football during the second half.

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Virginia leads BYU 16-13 after mistake-filled first half

Greyson Lambert

No. 21 BYU’s quest to post an undefeated regular season and nab an at-large spot in the College Football Playoff appears to be standing on tenuous ground. The Cougars trail visiting Virginia 16-13 after a mistake-filled first half.

BYU has committed eight penalties for 85 yards, committing critical mistakes to both end its own drives prematurely and extend drives for the Cavaliers. In a related story, BYU has committed the second-most penalties in college football this season. For its part, Virginia is on pace to draw 11 flags for 100 yards.

Virginia opened the game with a 47-yard kickoff return by Darius Jennings. After (you guessed it!) a pass interference penalty on Virginia’s first snap and a 37-yard run by quarterback Greyson Lambert, Virginia was on the BYU 1-yard line less than 30 seconds into the game. Lambert punched it into the end zone two plays later.

It’s been a good first half for Lambert and the Cavs, but it could have been better. They settled for three Ian Frye field goals in the second quarter, the first after setting up a 1st-and-goal at the four and getting stuffed on third down from the one. Lambert hitting on 15-of-27 passes for 145 yards, but he closed the half by completing only four of his final 14 throws for 37 yards and an ugly interception. He’s added four carries for 48 yards and the Cavs’ only touchdown.

Taysom Hill has completed 7-of-11 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown and added seven rushes for 29 yards, but much of his progress has been deleted or negated by bad penalties. Like, multiple 15-yard flags on the same drive type of penalties. Or delay of game flags after dead ball situation penalties.

That Type of undisciplined play will get to Bronco Mendenhall and company at some point, possibly today.

BYU gets the ball to open the second half.

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Duke Blue Devils remain undefeated as ACC play looms

David Cutcliffe

The Duke Blue Devils continued their winning ways Saturday.

The reigning ACC Coastal champions are 4-0 after a 47-13 victory over the Tulane Green Wave in Durham, North Carolina. It’s the program’s first four-game winning streak since the 1994 campaign.

To put Duke’s accomplishment into perspective — the last time the Blue Devils started the season 4-0 Boyz II Men’s “I’ll Make Love to You” was the No. 1 single on Billboard’s Top 100.

And the Blue Devils have won in an impressive fashion. The combined score of Duke’s four victories is 174-46.

Despite the impressive start to the season, Tulane exposed a major weakness for Duke as the team prepares for ACC play next weekend.

The Blue Devils front seven didn’t hold up against Tulane’s massive offensive line and rushing attack. The Green Wave gained 215 yards on the ground. Duke was simply overwhelmed at the point of attack, and it’s clear the team sorely misses the presence of defensive captain and starting middle linebacker Kelby Brown, who tore an ACL during fall camp.

Green Wave receivers also dropped a pair of touchdowns, which could have made the game much closer than the final score indicated.

Even with these concerns, the Blue Devils are dynamic at the skill positions and physical along the offensive line. Senior Laken Tomlinson is one of the top guards in the nation, and wide receiver Jamison Crowder is undersized but impossible to cover in short areas.

How the team performs on a weekly basis usually falls on quarterback Anthony Boone. The senior signal-caller is a strong running threat, but he’s an inconsistent passer. Against Tulane, Boone was 15-of-27 passing for 181 yards and an interception.

A 4-0 start is yet another feather in coach David Cutcliffe‘s cap as he continues to build a strong foundation at Duke. Yet those four wins came against Elon, Troy, Kansas and now Tulane. Next week will be very different when Duke enters ACC play against the Miami Hurricanes and their dynamic running back Duke Johnson.

The schedule won’t get any easier for the Blue Devils this season, but Duke’s players can enjoy their unblemished start and the fact they accomplished something that hasn’t occurred in 20 years.

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Maryland heads to Big Ten play on a high note

Tim Harris, Stefon Diggs

Maryland will make its Big Ten debut next week with a road trip to Bloomington, Indiana to play the Hoosiers. The Terps will certainly be heading into their new conference schedule on the right foot after getting the big plays to go their way in defeating  Syracuse 34-20 on the road Saturday afternoon.

C.J. Brown passed for 271 yards and two touchdowns and Brandon Ross (97 yards, 1 touchdown) and Marcus Leak (93 yards, 1 touchdown) each came close to 100-yard days. Stefon Diggs may not have had a big stat game but was a key contributor as well with six catches for 56 yards and some work on special teams and the running game. The Maryland offense has shown some good things in non-conference play that should carry over to Big Ten play. But the Maryland defense is going to have to get better.

Despite losing, Syracuse piled up nearly 500 yards of offense against Maryland (roughly 115 more yards than Maryland accumulated). It was big plays that helped Maryland overcome the yardage battle. Maryland had a 90-yard touchdown (Brown to Ross) and an interception returned for an 88-yard touchdown by William Likely. Maryland avoided turning the football over and forced two turnovers in the game. For Syracuse, preventing costly mistakes will be a key area focused on in practice before getting ready to dive into ACC play.

Syracuse first needs to make sure they can count on quarterback Terrel Hunt throwing the football. He completed just half of his attempts against Maryland for 219 yards, but he also added a team-high 143 rushing yards and a touchdown. Syracuse also had a good day from running back Prince-Tyson Gulley with 138 rushing yards and an average of 9.9 yards per carry. The potential is there for Syracuse’s offense if they can put it all together.

Syracuse will face Notre Dame in MetLife Stadium next week, which sort of qualifies as an aCC game with Notre Dame’s relationship with the ACC. But the Orange will officially get started with ACC play the following week against the team that replaced Maryland in the conference, Louisville.

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Virginia Tech comes from ahead to lose

Georgia Tech v Virginia Tech Getty Images

It was just two weeks ago Virginia Tech was being praised for their effort against Ohio State in Columbus. Really, it was that recently the Hokies were ranked in the top 25 and looking like a strong contender in the ACC, or at least the Coastal Division. Two weeks later the Hokies have lost two straight games on their home field. Last week it was East Carolina holding on for a victory. This week it was the Hokies coughing up a fourth-quarter lead and going down in division play as Georgia Tech snuck out of Blacksburg with a 27-24 victory.

Virginia Tech lost the lead twice in the fourth quarter. Georgia Tech took its first lead since the opening score when Paul Davis returned an interception of Michael Brewer 41 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. The extra point gave Georgia Tech a 17-16 lead, but it lasted just a few minutes. On the ensuing possession, it was Brewer who got a lucky bounce on a fumbled football. Brewer had the loose ball find its way to him and he was able to run for a 21-yard touchdown with the defense mostly out of the picture. A two-point conversion gave the home team a 24-17 lead midway through the quarter.

Georgia Tech looked cooked on a 4th and 15 situation but pulled together a big first down play out of a timeout that seemed costly at the time. After completing the first down the Yellow Jackets again took to the air as Justin Thomas connected with DeAndre Smelter for a 31-yard touchdown with 2:03 to play. After converted a 4th and 15, why not go for broke, right? It paid off, and from there Georgia Tech’s defense waited for another mistake to pounce on. They got it on Virginia Tech’s next drive. Brewer made a poor decision on a pass and was picked off by D.J. White on the first play of the drive. The turnover gave Georgia Tech a free possession at the Virginia Tech 40-yard line. Using their time management to perfection, Georgia Tech methodically moved into field goal position for Harrison Butker. Butker sent a routine 24-yard field goal through the uprights as time expired, giving Georgia Tech the win and a spot in first place in the ACC Coastal Division.

Virginia Tech will play their third straight home game next weekend. Western Michigan will make the trip to represent the MAC, and Virginia Tech will return to ACC play with another key ACC Coastal Division battle the following week against North Carolina. The road trip to Chapel Hill kicks off a crucial three-game stretch for Virginia Tech in division play with games at North Carolina, at Pittsburgh and then at home against Miami. That could easily give Virginia Tech a chance to rebound and grab a firm hold of the division, which is something no team in this division has really been able to do in recent seasons. Georgia Tech is just getting started with their key division stretch. After taking next week off, Georgia Tech will host Miami and Duke before visiting North Carolina and Pittsburgh.

Georgia Tech is just getting started with their key division stretch. After taking next week off, Georgia Tech will host Miami and Duke before visiting North Carolina and Pittsburgh.

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QB change helps Iowa rally for road win at Pitt

Mark Weisman

Iowa’s (3-1) offense needed a spark in the second half. Perhaps a quarterback change was just what the Hawkeyes needed to avoid a second straight loss. C.J. Beathard replaced Jake Rudock in the second half in Pittsburgh and was effective and accurate as Iowa battled back form a double-digit halftime deficit to hand Pittsburgh (3-1, 1-0 ACC) its first loss of the season. Iowa held on for a 24-20 victory on ACC soil, getting a good afternoon started for the Big Ten.

Beathard breathed new life into the Iowa offense in the second half, but the Hawkeyes also managed to get an advantage on the ground at the line of scrimmage as well to muscle their way downfield at times. Mark Weisman carried the offense on the ground with 89 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Iowa did well spreading the ball around as well with 10 different players catching a pass and no player catching more than two passes.

Does this mean Iowa now has a quarterback controversy? That will be something to keep an eye on. It sure felt like this may have been a permanent change for Iowa, which will be aided by the fact Iowa escaped with a win. Had Iowa lost this game, Jake Rudock‘s job may not have been pulled just yet. And, in fairness, Kirk Ferentz may give Rudock another chance again next time out, perhaps with a shorter leash.

Pittsburgh running back James Conner led all players with 155 rushing yards, but when it came time to make a stop it was Iowa’s defense that forced the Panthers from counting on Conner and take to the air. James Conner led all players with 155 rushing yards, but when it came time to make a stop it was Iowa’s defense that forced the Panthers from counting on Conner and take to the air.

Next week will mark the opening of conference play for Iowa. The Hawkeyes will remain on the road to take on Purdue in another early kickoff. Pittsburgh will play one more non-conference game, again at home. The Panthers will welcome Akron, with the Zips making their second trip to Pennsylvania this season. Akron previously played on the road at Penn State in week two. Pittsburgh will return to ACC play the following week at Virginia.

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