Blake Countess

CFT 2015 Preseason Preview: Key Transfers

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Recruiting is what builds a college football program. Transfers are what patches holes still left to address. It seems as though the transfer game in recruiting has picked up notoriety in recent years, and this past offseason may have been one of the biggest.

This season two programs look to replace Heisman Trophy winners with potential Heisman candidates, while also keeping playoff plans on the table. Other playoff and conference title contenders look to add some key additions as well thanks to the transfer process. Here are some of the more notable transfers taking the field with new teams this fall.

EVERETT GOLSON, QB, FLORIDA STATE
Perhaps the most notable of the offseason transfers saw former Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson leave the Irish for Florida State. Golson is expected to replace former Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston. The addition of Golson helps keep Florida State in the running for another ACC title despite filling plenty of starting jobs from a season ago. Golson ran into some trouble with consistency last season but will now be surrounded by plenty of talent and athleticism, and the chance to redeem himself and put another team in the national title hunt will be one worth relishing.

VERNON ADAMS, QB, OREGON
Golson is not the only transfer replacing a former Heisman Trophy winner. Vernon Adams is making the jump from FCS power Eastern Washington to perennial Pac-12 and national title contender Oregon, vying to replace Marcus Mariota. Adams should fit well in Oregon’s system, assuming he wins the starting job in Eugene. Twice a finalist for the FCS equivalent of the Heisman Trophy, the Walter Payton Award, Adams already has a terrific resume. Now he looks for quite the storybook ending.

DEVONTE FIELDS, DE, LOUISVILLE
The former Big 12 freshman defensive player of the year is finally back on the FBS playing field. Now at Louisville, Devonte Fields has a chance to bring havoc in the trenches to opposing ACC offensive linemen and quarterbacks. The former TCU Horned Frog should play a huge role on Louisville’s defensive line. But Fields is not the only player looking to embrace a second chance on the Cardinals defense…

JOSH HARVEY-CLEMONS, S, LOUISVILLE
Former Georgia Bulldog safety Josh Harvey-Clemons landed in the Louisville nest last season but had to sit out the 2014 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Now he is eligible to play and leave an impact on what could be a very good Louisville defense. Harvey-Clemons was often among the best players on the field when he played at Georgia, and that could be the case once again at Louisville if he has not lost a step in his year away from the field.

ALVIN KAMARA, RB, TENNESSEE
Former Alabama running back Alvin Kamara is back in the SEC after a year of junior college. Kamara was one of the top junior college transfers this past year, continuing an impressive recruiting trail for the Vols under Butch Jones. Kamara was a monster at the JUCO level and should be put to work out of the Tennessee backfield along with Jalen Hurd.

CHAD KELLY, QB, OLE MISS
Ole Miss does not have many holes to fill this season with a ton of starters returning, but quarterback is one of them. Fortunately, replacing Bo Wallace should be fairly easy with former Clemson quarterback Chad Kelly in the mix. Kelly is one of many notable players seeking to take advantage of a second chance at the FBS level after being dismissed by Clemson last year. Kelly will have to stay in the good graces of head coach Hugh Freeze to hold down the starting job, but he should manage to come away with the job entering the 2015 season.

JOVON ROBINSON, RB, AUBURN
Auburn’s offense is expected to light up that giant new scoreboard in Jordan-Hare Stadium this season, and the top JUCO transfer Jovon Robinson could be a big part of the reason why. The former Army All-American dominated at Georgia Military Institute and should make for a powerful combo with running back Roc Thomas and quarterback Jeremy Johnson in Auburn’s backfield. Auburn also solidifies some holes in the defensive secondary with the additions of Michigan graduate transfer Blake Countess and former Georgia safety Tray Matthews.

MARQUAVIUS LEWIS, DE, SOUTH CAROLINA
South Carolina may not have another Jadeveon Clowney on its hands, but Marquavius Lewis is already earning a solid reputation with the Gamecocks. Lewis was named South Carolina’s defensive player of the spring and should help improve what was a weak area of concern for Steve Spurrier last season. The Gamecocks need help on the defensive line and the addition of Lewis could provide it as one fo the top JUCO transfers in the nation.

BAKER MAYFIELD, QB, OKLAHOMA
Oklahoma hired Lincoln Riley to be the new offensive coordinator, which means the Sooners are looking to open things up offensively through the air. Having a quarterback suited well in that offensive mindset is key, and Baker Mayfield may be the best option in Norman. A former Texas Tech walk-on, Mayfield showed glimpses of what he can do with the Red Raiders. Now the Sooners will hope he can take it to the next level. Mayfield will have to win the job from incumbent Trevor Knight, but that may not be too far-fetched of a goal.

After making weekend visit, Blake Countess decides on Auburn

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So much for making trips to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Blake Countess has apparently decided he saw enough this weekend to be sold on Auburn. Countess announced on his Twitter account Tuesday morning he will transfer to Auburn, where he will step immediately into an opportunity to perform under defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.

Countess visited Auburn this weekend and was reportedly planning on visiting Oklahoma and Oklahoma State before coming to a final decision. Before checking out Auburn, Countess previously visited Arizona and former Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez. At Auburn, Countess will compete for a starting job right away after the Tigers have lost five defensive backs from the roster this offseason.

Countess is a graduate transfer from Michigan. As such, he will be eligible to play right away this fall. He announced earlier this month his intention to play the 2015 season somewhere else instead of Michigan. His announcement came a day after Jim Harbaugh welcomed another graduate transfer to Ann Arbor, defensive backWayne Lyons from Stanford.

Former Wolverine Blake Countess checking out Auburn

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Cornerback Blake Countess has now graduated from Michigan, which means he can now take advantage of a graduate transfer to play one more season anywhere he chooses if given a spot on a roster. Auburn appears to be one team of interest.

After previously visiting former Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez and Arizona, Countess will reportedly spend this weekend at Auburn. Al.com also reports Countess intends to visit Oklahoma and Oklahoma State later this month. Should Countess wind up at Auburn, he will likely step into a key role on what could be a revamped defense under new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. Muschamp has been helping to increase the intensity on defense, something Gus Malzahn spoke about earlier this spring. Countess would have a good chance to grab a starting job in the secondary after the Tigers have lost five players in the defensive backfield since January.

Countess announced earlier this month his intention to play the 2015 season somewhere else instead of Michigan. His announcement came a day after Jim Harbaugh welcomed another graduate transfer to Ann Arbor, defensive back Wayne Lyons from Stanford.

Hoke: Veteran corners will be pressured by younger options

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Michigan head coach Brady Hoke seems to have a knack for suggesting there is a battle for a starting job at positions that likely already have the starters figured out. After trying to suggest there is a competition at quarterback this offseason, Hoke is also setting the tone for the defensive backs despite having a pair of players that combined for 10 interceptions last season. The message is clear though; there is room for improvement across the board in Ann Arbor.

Fall camps in college football should always be seen as an opportunity to take advantage of a clean slate across the roster, but Michigan has senior cornerbacks Raymon Taylor and junior Blake Countess the likely starters for the upcoming season, whether Hoke confirms that or not. Hoke sees these two players as leaders but goes on the record of saying “they’ve got to play every day.”

“I think Blake and Ray, they’re both older guys, who have played a lot,” Hoke said Friday, according to MLive.com. “Then you’ve got (sophomores) [Jourdan Lewis] and [Channing Stribling], guys who have done a nice job (developing). The leadership from Blake is going to be important, and from Raymon. But there’s also great competition. They’ve got to play every day. … They all know, they’d better have a day, every day.”

Why would Hoke shy away from just leaning on his upper classmen, including one earning first-team All-Big Ten honors last fall (Countess)? Simple. Michigan’s pass defense needs to improve and cut down on big plays by opposing offenses. Everybody on defense needs to step things up this season in order for Michigan to improve in the win total and Big Ten standings. If Michigan State has a no-fly zone in effect, all air traffic appears to be seeing clearer skies in Ann Arbor.

The Wolverines ranked seventh in the Big Ten in pass defense in 2013, the lowest conference ranking since Hoke was named head coach following the Rich Rodriguez era, which ended with Michigan ranked 11th (out of 11 teams at the time) in the Big Ten’s passing defense ranking. The 231 passing yards per game allowed last season by Michigan was the second highest total allowed dating back to 2007.

As for the quarterback situation, Hoke previously has said he plans to have a starter figured out early in camp. Spoiler alert: It will (most likely) be Devin Gardner.