Future Heisman candidates from the recruiting class of 2014


The recruits from the high school recruiting class of 2014 have signed their letters of intent, so it’s time to start thinking about what kind of impact they’ll make in college.

Not all of them are going to live up to their lofty recruiting rankings this season. Some will take time to adjust to the rigors of college life and go on to redshirt. Some will find ways to contribute as backups or on special teams. Others will be pressed into action due to injuries. Only a select few will become stars this fall.

That said, here are the recruits from 2014 who stand the best chance of competing for a Heisman in the future, according to HeismanPundit.com (in no particular order):

Keller Chryst, QB, Stanford — Chryst is the best quarterback prospect from the West Coast since Carson Palmer. He’s a big, strong, grown man (6-4, 230) with good athleticism who happens to throw lasers. He has first-pick-in-the-draft potential down the road and, if all goes right, he’ll be the latest Cardinal quarterback to make a legit run at the Heisman.

Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson — Think of how prolific Tajh Boyd has been in Chad Morris’s offense the past three seasons. Now replace him with an even more talented specimen like Watson and it’s not hard to imagine that the Gainesville, Ga., product is on his way to a special career. The 6-3, 195-pounder had over 17,000 yards of offense in high school.

Aaron Sharp, QB, UCLA — Sharp is very similar to Robert Griffin III coming out of high school due to his combination of track speed (21.19 200m) and raw football talent. It’s rare to have one of the fastest players in the country playing quarterback, but that’s what Sharp brings to the table. He also has a strong arm, good size and solid accuracy and with his skill set he should flourish in UCLA’s offensive scheme.

Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma — Mixon is a big, bruising downhill power back with good speed for his size (10.96 1oom at 6-1, 215 pounds). He is deceptively athletic and also exceptional as a receiver. He’s the best back signed by Oklahoma since Adrian Petersen. Like Petersen, he has an upright, attacking running style that makes him very tough to tackle in the open field. Though he’s no A.D. when it come to breakaway ability, he’ll play a lot as a freshman and eventually emerge as the latest star running back for the Sooners.

Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State — Rudolph is a perfect fit for the Cowboys offense. At 6-4, 210 pounds, he has a strong arm and is athletic enough to make plays with his feet. He is used to operating out of a shot gun attack. Like most of the quarterbacks who came before him in Stillwater, he’ll have excellent production in his career. But his overall physical ability separates him from previous OSU quarterbacks and could turn him into a potential Heisman candidate down the road.

Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU — Fournette is the consensus No. 1 running back in the country and some contend he is the best player overall. There’s no doubt he’s a physically gifted big back with very good speed for his size (10.95 at 6-1, 226) and he should play right away for the Tigers. The only question is whether he’ll get the chance to have the kind of production needed to challenge for a Heisman while playing for LSU. If given the carries, he should be a candidate sooner rather than later.

Elijah Hood, RB, North Carolina — This was an excellent year for high school running backs. Hood is another one of those big, physical backs who can kick it into an extra gear in the open field. It’s rare for a man this size to have such quick feet. Hood will start from Day One for the Tar Heels and have an outstanding career.

Racean Thomas, RB, Auburn — While Fournette, Mixon and Hood are power backs with speed, Thomas is an ultra-quick and shifty scatback with breakaway ability and a knack for staying on his feet. His vision is outstanding and his ability to stop and start and cut on a dime is the best I’ve seen in quite a while. It’s not hard to picture him gaining huge yardage in Gus Malzahn’s offense and, like Tre Mason, making it to New York one day.

Deshone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame — It’s only a matter of time before Brian Kelly finds the right quarterback to run his offense. Kizer could be that guy. He’s a very talented dual-threat with good size (6-4, 205) and athletic ability. A successful Irish quarterback is always a Heisman candidate, so Kizer stands a good chance to fulfill that promise.

Others to watch
Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Luke Rubenzer, QB, California
Reggie Bonnafon, QB, Louisville
De’Chavon Hayes, RB, Arizona State
Adam Choice, RB, Clemson
KD Cannon, WR, Baylor
DJ Gillins, QB, Wisconsin
Jarrod Heard, QB, Texas
Will Crest, QB, West Virginia
Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
Dalvin Warmack, RB, Kansas State

Photo courtesy of Rivals.com.

Dad of Alabama’s Matt Womack confirms starting RT son to miss spring practice after foot surgery

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Alabama will kick off spring practice later on Tuesday, but the reigning national champions will do so without an integral piece of its offensive line.

The father of the lineman, David Womack, confirmed to Rivals.com that Matt Womack will undergo surgery Wednesday to repair a broken bone in his right foot.  As a result, the rising redshirt junior will miss all of the Crimson Tide’s 15 spring practice sessions.

Per David Womack, his son suffered the injury while jumping boxes during workouts.

Recovery time is expected to be in the range of six weeks, which means that, barring a setback, he’ll be fully healthy for the start of summer camp in early August.

Womack started all 14 games at right tackle in the Tide’s run to its 17th national championship last season.  As a redshirt freshman the year before, Womack, a three-star member of UA’s 2015 signing class, played in nine games.

Kansas loses assistant coach… to the oil industry

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This might be the most Big 12 way ever to lose an assistant football coach.

According to both Rivals.com and the Lawrence Journal-World, Todd Bradford is leaving his post as Kansas’ linebackers coach.  The reason?  He’s returning to the oil business.

Bradford was fired as the defensive coordinator at Maryland in January of 2012, with that dismissal, and the health of his mother, leading to him leaving the coaching profession for a job in the oil field for the next four years.

“A guy that I was involved with and had business dealings when I was in the oil world before I was helping with my mom reached out to me,” Bradford told JayhawkSlant.com when it came to his decision-making process this time around. “He told me he had some companies that were doing really well and he needed someone to come in and help me run them. He asked if I was interested and I told him I was happy coaching.

“Then he called two more times after that and offered me the job after signing day. I turned it down twice. But each time the offer was getting a little bit better and by the third time financially it was oil world money.”

Bradford spent his first two seasons with the Jayhawks as linebackers coach.  The football program had previously confirmed that he would coach safeties in 2018.

NFL assistant Jake Peetz returning to Alabama as offensive analyst

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On the heels of an extended stint in the NFL, Jake Peetz is headed back to Tuscaloosa.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Peetz has taken a job as an offensive analyst at Alabama.  Peetz had been slated to serve as Josh McDaniels‘ offensive coordinator with the Indianapolis Colts before McDaniels abruptly opted to remain with the New England Patriots.

The 34-year-old Peetz is returning to a role he held with the Crimson Tide during the 2013 season.  His only other job at the FBS level came in 2007 as a defensive quality control coach at UCLA.

After his first stint with ‘Bama, Peetz spent the 2014 season as offensive quality control coach and wide receivers assistant with the Washington Redskins.  The past three years for Peetz have been spent with the Oakland Raiders, the last season as quarterbacks coach.

Army ‘will probably’ give RB Kell Walker a shot at playing QB

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With uncertainty surrounding Ahmad Bradshaw, Army will apparently leave no stone unturned when it comes to the triggerman for its offense.

While Bradshaw, the Black Knights’ starting quarterback the past three seasons, will be a cadet at the service academy this fall, it’s unclear — or even unlikely — that he’ll be permitted to play football in 2018.  In December of last year, the Army defended an internal investigation that concluded Bradshaw and a female cadet had a consensual sexual relationship.

“We are,” head coach Jeff Monken said according to the Times Herald-Record when asked if the football team is moving forward under the assumption that Bradshaw will not be available this season. “We kind of have to move in that direction because we don’t know what the status is going to be. Right now, we are just preparing for us to have a new quarterback.”

With that in mind, Monken also confirmed this week “that sophomore slotback Kell Walker ‘will probably’ get a look at quarterback when the Black Knights open spring practice Tuesday,” Sal Interdonato of HudsonValley.com wrote.  Walker, who was third on the Black Knights in rushing last season (629 yards) and led them in yards per carry at 7.3, has never played quarterback before at any level.

Army, of course, is unique in that its offense allows them to even attempt such an experiment as their run-heavy system resulted in just 65 passes in 13 games last season.  Conversely, they led the nation in rushing at 362.3 yards per game.

“We will probably play him there some just to see what he is capable of doing,” Monken said of Walker by way of the Herald-Record. “We obviously want to get the ball in his hands as often as we can. He’s a good player for us. I think that would be a way to do that. I just don’t know if he’s going to be the guy that can lead our offense.

“The leadership piece for the quarterback is maybe as important as anything. I think he’s a good leader whether he will be able to lead from that position I do not know.”

The potential loss of Bradshaw, though, can’t be understated.  As a junior last season, Bradshaw ran for a school-record 1,746 yards and accounted for 14 of the Black Knights’ 50 rushing touchdowns.

The Walker experiment notwithstanding, Kelvin Hopkins will likely head into the spring as the favorite to replace Bradshaw under center.  The sophomore was the only player other than Bradshaw to attempt a pass last season, throwing 18 times (six completions) for 76 yards, one touchdown and one interception.  He also carried the ball seven times for 40 yards.