The 2014 college football season has slowly come to an end and it was a season filled with surprise and new found knowledge, as we got to see how the College Football Playoff worked and how to fix it for the future.
The first annual College Football Playoff was a resounding success, as the primary goal of the newly found postseason tournament was to allow those fringe teams, who are the 3rd and 4th best teams in the nation, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to even compete for the national crown.
Ohio State won the National Championship this year.
And yeah, of course, they were a fringe team.
I brought this up because the Buckeyes are a perfect segway to my next point and first major offseason concept.
The Buckeye Quarterback Battle
The quarterback battle that will take place in Columbus during the offseason may be one of the best the college football has seen in quite a while. It will be between the championship-winning Cardale Jones, injured starter from the regular season J.T. Barrett, and Braxton Miller, assuming he doesn’t take off. Leaving Ohio State may be in Miller’s best interest, however, as he may only be able to play quarterback if he decides to pack his bags and end his colorful tenure for the Buckeyes.
My bold prediction for where Braxton is going to end up is back in his up and coming conference of the Big Ten. I think he is going to want to play Ohio State again, and the only two teams capable to go on a national championship run are two teams: the Buckeyes’ arc rival Michigan Wolverines and the team they just whooped in the conference championship game Wisconsin Badgers. Look for the former #5 in the grey and scarlet to transfer out and to a high-profile school, and if he doesn’t, his best best is to change positions, likely to receiver at Ohio State.
Now to analyze the actual battle, Cardale Jones has a real edge, as he will be receiving all first team snaps in the spring and part of summer practices while Barrett heals from the fractured ankle he suffered in the victory over Michigan in the final game of the regular season. That is a large reason why I think Jones will start opening day, but you have to remember that Jones has only played three college football games, and although they were a nationally televised glorious victories, its still only three ballgames. J.T. Barrett is more experienced, although younger, and is a more accurate, slimmer, and elusive signal-caller than the big, powerful Jones.
But in the end, the more reps in spring and summer ball on top of the magnificent victories to end the championship season for the Buckeyes, Cardale Jones gets the call from Urban Meyer.
The National Recruiting Landscape
Just because the SEC didn’t win the national championship, and wasn’t represented in the biggest stage, for that matter, doesn’t mean it isn’t still dominating national recruiting. As of now the SEC has nine teams in the top twenty of ESPN’s class rankings led by Alabama at number one, Georgia at number four, and Tennessee at number five. The other representatives on that list are Texas A&M, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Ole Miss. The SEC isn’t only dominating in the ESPN class rankings but according to Brett Edgerton of ESPN, the SEC has 69 players ranked in the top 150 at ESPN, a whole 47 more players than the next team, who happens to be the Big Ten with 22.
Notable recruits heading to SEC schools are defensive tackle Trenton Thompson, who is headed to Georgia, cornerback Kendall Sheffield who will play for the Crimson Tide next season.
What stands above all, in my opinion, is the fact that the Southeastern Conference boast the two top quarterback commits. Kyler Murray is the number one dual threat quarterback and is headed to College Station to represent the Aggies of Texas A&M, while the number one pocket passing signal-caller, Blake Barnett, is headed to Tuscaloosa to play for Nick Saban at Alabama. Other great recruits to touch on is Kerryon Johnson, an athlete who is headed to Auburn, and Calvin Ridley, a wideout prospect who will also play for Saban and the Crimson Tide faithful.
All in all, the SEC is dominating the country for the recruiting battle, and is a clear sign that they will not give up on their goal to once again obtain the supremacy over college football, even after a down season.
Which Players Will Step Up and Take Control of the Nation
Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, Melvin Gordon, and Amari Cooper are all gone. The six runnings that ran for over 1,500 yards last season only returns one star.
Who is going to step up during the 2015 season? Could it be a defensive star like Manti Te’o from two seasons ago? Or will quarterbacks once again reign dominant on college football’s best teams?
The quarterback capable of not only winning the Heisman, but taking his team to the College Football Playoff is Trevone Boykin of TCU. He had an impressive stat line of 3,901 yards passing while slinging 33 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. He also ran for707 yards and 9 scores. He will join other quarterback studs like Cody Kessler of USC, Dak Prescott of Mississippi State, Deshaun Watson of Clemson, and the Big Ten signal-callers: Connor Cook and whoever starts at Ohio State.
Heisman Watch List: Offseason Edition
1. QB Trevone Boykin, TCU
2. QB J.T. Barrett/Cardale Jones, Ohio State
3. QB Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
4. RB Nick Chubb, Georgia
5. QB Cody Kessler, USC
6. RB Ezekiel Elliot, Ohio State
7. QB Connor Cook, Michigan State
8. QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson
9. RB Royce Freeman, Oregon
10. QB Kyle Allen, Texas A&M
11. RB Corey Clement, Wisconsin
12. RB Leonard Fournette, LSU
13. QB Christian Hackenberg, Penn State
RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State
15. QB Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech
Others considered: QB Joshua Dobbs-Tennessee, QB Jared Goff-California, QB Jeremy Johnson-Auburn, RB D.J. Foster-Arizona State, and QB Anu Solomon-Arizona.
Surprised? Yeah there are no wide receivers like Amari Cooper who really have the ability to make some noise in the Heisman conversation and no defenders who will light up the stat lines, and even if there is, he will likely rarely be mentioned in Heisman context.
National Signing Day is on February 4th, where we will find out where all the top uncommitted recruits are headed and realize some surprising flips.
The 2014 college football season has come and gone, and it is already time to get ready for the 2015 football season.
I am currently a high school student in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Sports writing has become a passion for me and I hope to pursue it as a career down the road.