Peterson: Kyle Kempt's return gives Iowa State a top 3 Big 12 quarterback –


Iowa State quarterback Kyle Kempt is returning for another season.
Tommy Birch/The Register

If Will Grier doesn’t finish 2018 as the Big 12 Conference’s top quarterback, then he either became injured, his receivers dropped balls, West Virginia has what would be a surprisingly bad season, or…

Baker Mayfield’s replacement at Oklahoma is better than advertised.

While it’s not the Year of the Quarterback (for a change) in this league of offenses that still freely flow, guys at the position won’t exactly be horrible.

Grier already is mentioned as a high 2019 NFL Draft pick. There’s so much buzz around Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray that you wonder if he’s the second-coming of last season’s Heisman Trophy winner and 2018’s No. 1 draft selection.

Iowa State didn’t spend lots of time and energy to convince the NCAA that Kyle Kempt deserves an additional senior season just so he could signal in plays to Zeb Noland.

That Grier-Murray-Kempt trifecta — it rules the Big 12’s 2018 Top of the Quarterback Class.

As we enter another off-season devoid of expansion speculation and all the stuff misinformed outsiders use to incorrectly claim the Big 12 is a troubled league — what else is there to talk about?

For our purposes, it started a couple weeks ago with the Des Moines Register forecasting Oklahoma’s Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma State’s Justice Hill and Iowa State’s David Montgomery to be the Big 12’s top three running backs.

Now, our occasional series on position rankings focuses on Big 12 quarterback.


1.  WILL GRIER: The Big 12’s 2018 MVP?

Strong-armed. Mobile. Wonderful receivers. A rushing attack that’s not expected to set the conference afire…

There’s a reason Grier’s team follows Oklahoma in most 2018 rankings that are starting to hit the Internet.

At 6-foot-2 by 214 pounds, he’s a bit on the slight end of prototypical quarterbacks, but he makes up for it with mobility that allows him to pass outside the pocket.

He’s got Gary Jennings and David Sills staring at him on every passing play, and oh by the way, both were Top 10 Big 12 receivers last season. The Mountaineers are the only team with returning receivers like that — Jennings led the league in receptions and was fifth in yards, while Sills was ninth and eighth.

Therefore, something crazy must happen for Grier not to be the Big 12’s best.


2.  KYLER MURRAY: Oklahoma’s heir to Baker Mayfield

This guy’s not only versatile in what he does on the football field, he hit two home runs on the same day of Oklahoma’s spring football game.

The Texas A&M transfer didn’t get a lot of time last season while playing behind Mayfield, but when Murray saw the field, he was good.

He completed 18 of his 21 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns. He’s a solid runner, too, and expect a smooth transition after studying under coach Lincoln Riley and Mayfield the past two seasons.

What if Kyler Murray, an outfield power-hitter, is selected in a seductive round of the June 4-6 Major League Baseball Draft?

Riley told reporters at the spring game that he’s talked to Murray about his sports future. He was quoted as saying they’re “comfortable about where we’re at.”

What’s that mean?

Reporters close to the situation expect Murray to be OU’s starting quarterback in the season-opening game against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 1.


3.  KYLE KEMPT: Iowa State’s giant killer

He’s 5-3 as a Big 12 Conference starter since being thrust to the top of the depth chart before last season’s game against Oklahoma. His 66.3 percent completion rate last season was a school season record. He had at least one touchdown pass in every game he started.

And this forever will be etched in Cyclones football history: ISU 38, OU 31.

After throwing just two passes before that game, Kempt led Iowa State to what many considered the biggest win in school history — given the circumstances of the week and that the game was played at Oklahoma.

He doesn’t have the strongest arm in America. With big-play receivers like Hakeem Butler, Matthew Eaton and Deshaunte Jones, you don’t have to heave a 60-yarder in the air. Get the ball to those guys, and then let their quickness and athleticism take over.


4.  SAM EHLINGER: Texas’ hulking quarterback

He’s one of the sturdiest in the conference — and the 6-3, 230-pounder has the ability to use every bit of that while either passing or running. That size especially makes him a threat in the red zone.

His deal, however, is a stern early-season schedule that includes games at Maryland, at home against Southern Cal and TCU, at Kansas State and against Oklahoma in Dallas.

He wasn’t the most accurate passer in college football last season, connecting just 57.5 percent of his attempts. He threw seven interceptions, 11 touchdowns — and that’s not exactly a desirable ratio.

However, Ehlinger offset that by rushing 114 times for almost 400 yards — and there’s every reason to believe that he has improved significantly from 2017.


5. CHARLIE BREWER: Baylor sneaky-good sophomore

The 2017 true freshman was a highlight — probably the team’s highlight — during Baylor’s 1-11 season. He completed 68 percent of his passes for 1,152 yards and 11 touchdowns. He threw just four interceptions — and that’s not bad for anyone, and especially a rookie who many thought would redshirt.

He shared the postseason award given to the Big 12’s top freshman offensive player, so there’s also that.

Denzel Mims leads a solid bunch of receivers after catching 61 passes for 1,087 yards and eight touchdowns last season, so there’s that, as well.



Skyler Thompson, Kansas State; Shawn Robinson, TCU; Dru Brown, Oklahoma State; McLane Carter, Texas Tech; Peyton Bender, Kansas.

Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at or on Twitter at @RandyPete.

Memphis awarded Alliance of American Football team – The Commercial Appeal


Memphis football team does the Tiger Walk before spring game.
Evan Barnes/The Commercial Appeal

If the Memphis Tigers didn’t already excite football fans with a historic season last year, Friday saw another gift with the Alliance of American Football announcing the city was awarded a professional team for the league’s inaugural season in 2019.

Former Steelers wide receiver and Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward made the announcement on the league’s Twitter account in a short video, stating Memphis would be the league’s third franchise behind Atlanta and Orlando

Ward added he will be in Memphis next week to announce the team’s new coach. Memphis has not had a professional team since 1997 when the Tennessee Titans played at the Liberty Bowl following their relocation from being the Houston Oilers.

The Alliance of American Football, created by producer Charlie Ebersol and Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian, will feature eight teams over a 12-week season that kicks off February 9 on CBS and the championship will be held the weekend of Apr. 26-28.

Games will be featured on the league’s app, with one game played per week on CBS Sports Network.

The league has already made a splash with former Florida and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier coaching the Orlando franchise and former NFL coach Brad Childress will coach the Atlanta team. Atlanta will also have former NFL quarterback Michael Vick as its offensive coordinator.

Camden Catholic High School students protest Coach Nick Strom dismissal – Cherry Hill Courier Post


Camden Catholic students rally in front of Camden Catholic High School in Cherry Hill on Friday, May 4, 2018, in support of former football coach Nick Strom who was fired Monday after allegations of racial issues.
Chris LaChall/Staff Photographer

CHERRY HILL – Camden Catholic’s school week began with protests in the parking lot and a student walkout over the administration’s decision to get rid of football coach and teacher Nick Strom.

It ended in a similar fashion, four days after Strom attracted national attention over his jaw-dropping accusation that he was fired because he put too many black students on the football team. 

The school’s president says such allegations are “complete falsehoods” designed to “advance his own agenda.”

Strom’s attorney Kevin Costello responded Friday afternoon. 

“If that’s how the institution wishes to position itself, we will invite them to participate in litigation, take the appropriate oath to tell the truth and we’ll see what a jury decides,” Costello said. 

Around 20 students gathered on the high school’s front lawn Friday morning, dressed in their school-issued, green-collared shirts. The boys in khakis and the girls in plaid skirts  displayed a handful of signs to traffic on Cuthbert Boulevard that signified their support of Strom. 

“I feel like it’s important as a student to know like, that I have my own word and I don’t have to stand behind a school to express myself and express myself with other students,” 15-year-old sophomore Matthew Davis said. “I just want everybody to know if you’re a student, you can still speak out.”

Davis is on the football team, which had a 34-6 record during the four years Strom has coached. 

“Just to know our word is being heard is a great thing,” he said. “I just want people to know what’s behind it. We want Strom back as coach. I feel it’s what we need.”


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Strom received a notice April 27 that his contract as history teacher would not be renewed. Administrators also asked him to resign as football and golf coach.

On Monday morning, he refused to step down from those positions and was sent home. Later that day, the school terminated Strom from the coaching positions and placed him on administrative leave as a teacher.

Strom told the Courier-Post on Monday he believes his ouster may have been due to comments school President Mary Whipkey allegedly made to him “10 to 20” times that expressed concern about the football roster having too many black players.

One of 22 students who also walked out of school Monday, Davis said Whipkey met with that group of demonstrators upon their return.

“She told us to ask whatever questions we want to ask,” he said. “We asked some, but she said she can’t answer about personnel like she said in the news. She didn’t really answer many questions.”

Whipkey released statements Friday that addressed the protest and Strom’s allegations.

“We are proud that our students feel empowered to express their concerns to us,” she said. “We acknowledge their frustration at dealing with the loss of their coach and we hope throughout this week students have felt able to express their grievances. We would also like them to know that race or the racial makeup of our team played no factor in the decision to dismiss their coach.”

Whipkey said the school hopes to “take a united step forward to discuss what needs to change for the betterment of our student body … Beginning next week, we expect classes to resume uninterrupted so learning can continue. In the coming weeks, we will begin working with students in a more structured manner to address the important concerns they have raised.”

Whipkey also noted 40 percent of Camden Catholic students are minorities and Catholicism considers racism a sin that’s “incompatible with God’s design.”

“We are not going to allow Mr. Strom’s falsehoods to distract us from our mission of providing a high-quality education to our students,” she said.

A group of parents have mobilized in the wake. Some turned to attorney Lloyd D. Henderson on Thursday and retained him to represent their interests. Henderson gathered with 15 or so adult supporters in the school parking lot Friday as the teens protested.

“I’m here for the parents of the school, not just exclusively football players, but parents that are concerned about the football coach and the reasons for his termination,” Henderson said.

“We want justice and fairness, openness, accountability. We want the coach back. There’s no reason for the coach to be terminated. The principal (Heather Crisci), the dean of students (Douglas Wallace) and the president should be removed because they’ve shown they’re unfit for duty. There’s got to be a change in administration.”

Henderson found out about the issue from news reports. He said the group of concerned parents attempted to meet with the school administration to no avail. His priority is to organize such a meeting.

He also plans to reach out to the Diocese of Camden, which oversees the school.

From Camden Catholic parent John Kay’s perspective, the school went about ending Strom’s employment in the wrong manner.

A former Palmyra school board member and the father of an Irish football player, Kay was “devastated” to hear of not only Strom’s dismissal, but the coach’s accusations.

“I thought my son was at a great school and I don’t want to hear this,” Kay said. “I don’t think he would make these charges up. I don’t think that’s in his thinking. He grew up in a very diverse town and he’s seeing things different.”

Strom’s a Palmyra native. Kay said he’s known the family for a decade.

“Nick comes from our area, where if you pick on black kids on the football team, you pick on the white kids, too,” said Kay, who’s white. “He’s a great guy. He cares for the kids. He taught them respect.” 

Matthew Davis’ mother, Stephanie, encouraged her child make his voice heard.

“I want my son to learn that he has to stand up for what is right,” she said. “The bottom line is I’m raising my son to be a leader and not a follower.”

Costello said Strom appreciates the support. 

“Mr. Strom is certainly very grateful that the community feels so strongly that he was wronged for believing in and doing the right thing,” the coach’s attorney said. 

Stephanie Davis said she had an appointment with an administrator Monday to discuss her concerns about a lack of communication regarding demerits her son received. She said she’s met with the school on prior occasions over dissatisfaction about his treatment from certain teachers. Monday’s session with Crisci got postponed to Tuesday. 

Her husband’s raised concerns with the school about their son’s treatment with worries of discrimination because he’s black. She revealed that other parents at the school have expressed similar complaints.

“My child is fourth generation of Catholic school education; this is not new to me,” Stephanie Davis said. “I find it to be that it’s a situation where I think they ride the African-American students more in some cases.”

Matthew Davis said he has felt discriminated against by some teachers, but “there are some good teachers here.”

He also pointed to Crisci as an administrator who “looks out for me at times and I appreciate it.”

Strom also filled that role, he said.

“Coach Strom was always in our corner, no matter what happened,” Matthew Davis said. “He was always there for our grades. If we start slipping, he makes us get back on top.

“If we get in trouble, he’s always there to co-sign for us or advocate for us. I just feel like it was time for us to advocate for him. That’s why we’re here to protest.”

His mother described the week as hectic.

“It’s a burden. It’s an overall burden,” she explained. “Last night, my son couldn’t even sleep for this. So not only are you stressing the parents, you’re stressing the kids.

“Why are we here? As a matter of fact, why am I here today when I could be at work? This is three days in one week.”

Nick Cave expressed similar sentiments. 

“It’s a little hectic and confusing for the kids,” said Cave, the father of a Camden Catholic football player. “It’s almost like a wait-and-see kind of thing. I just try to tell him to stay focused on school.

“There’s always a chance, you know. Someone can come in and say: ‘Hey, let’s do the right thing. Let’s give this guy his job back, not only for the school but for these kids.’ We’re hoping and praying that happens.”

Matthew Davis’ recollection of Monday’s meeting indicated otherwise.

“They asked us the other day what type of coach would we like,” he said.

Mark Trible: @Mtrible; (856) 486-2424; 

Alleged hazing attack by high school football team caught on camera – ABC News

The parents of a high school freshman are demanding their son’s football coach be fired, saying their son was brutally beaten by members of his own football team in an alleged hazing attack caught on cell phone video.

Fourteen-year-old Rodney Kim Jr. suffered a broken arm, busted lip and bruises on his back in the incident that occurred Friday afternoon at Davidson High School, in Mobile, Alabama, his parents told ABC News. The freshman quarterback required surgery on his broken arm.

“He broke his radial bone in his forearm. His physician was able to realign his radial bone,” his mother Mary Kim told ABC News in an interview. “He’s been complaining of headaches so we took him to the hospital today, because we think he may have a concussion.”

In video obtained by ABC News, a group of students can be seen apparently pummeling, kicking, and jumping on Kim Jr. in an alleged hazing ritual after they learned the freshman had made the Davidson High varsity football team. After practice on Friday, a teammate pushed him into the locker room and onto the ground, where the attack began, according to Kim Jr.

PHOTO: A hazing attack on 14-year-old Rodney Kim Jr. at Davidson High School, in Mobile, Al. is seen in this still grab.Obtained by ABC News
A hazing attack on 14-year-old Rodney Kim Jr. at Davidson High School, in Mobile, Al. is seen in this still grab.

Kim Jr.’s parents say they first learned of the video after it was forwarded to his sister, a senior at the high school. After seeing the video, the victim’s father, Rodney Kim Sr. was enraged.

He told ABC that he first received a phone call from the school’s athletic trainer, informing him that his son had been injured at practice. He said that after further probing, the athletic director told him she believed the teen “may have been hazed” and that “a couple of guys jumped on him.”

Upon arriving at the school, Kim Sr. said, he found his son alone, with his arm wrapped in ice.

Kim Sr. said he brought his injured son to a local hospital, where he said a doctor later called the police to report the assault. Mobile Police arrived at the hospital later that evening, he said.

In a written statement dated May 3, 2018, Mobile Chief of Police Lawrence Battiste wrote, “The Mobile Police Department is aware of the incident that occurred at Davidson High School on April 27, 2018 where a 14-year-old male student was assaulted by several teammates in the locker room after practice. We are actively investigating to determine all individuals responsible for causing the student to sustain a broken arm injury. Today, we received the social media video post of the incident and it is being reviewed. Once the investigation has concluded, we will provide an update on those arrested and the charges.”

The Mobile County School District is cooperating with police and conducting its own investigation, Mobile County School District Superintendent Martha Peek told ABC News in a phone interview.

Peek says all parties are cooperating with the investigation, including the school’s football coach Fred Riley. Mobile County School district has suspended four students.

“It was very clear from the initial investigation that those four student were definitely involved,” Peek said. “They have been suspended. As the investigation goes on, with the police department and the school system, there could be other things that take place. There could be other people involved.”

Kim Jr.’s mother is calling for more arrests.

“Twenty children jumped my son and only four were suspended,” Kim said. “The police detectives told us today they are working on it, but to make more arrests, that’s up to the DA’s office.”

“We have not heard from the school system period. We feel like everyone has turned their backs on us,” she said.

PHOTO: A hazing attack on 14-year-old Rodney Kim Jr. at Davidson High School, in Mobile, Al. is seen in this still grab.Obtained by ABC News
A hazing attack on 14-year-old Rodney Kim Jr. at Davidson High School, in Mobile, Al. is seen in this still grab.

ABC News asked the school district whether they planned to reach out to the victim’s family. Mobile School District Superintendent Martha Peek responded, “We learned of this yesterday and have been working on it. It was our understanding that the student had undergone some surgery. We were trying to be mindful of that and make sure that everything had been taken care of, before any contact was made.”

Shortly after speaking with ABC, the Kim’s say they received a phone call from the school district.

The school district said they plan to find out exactly what happened in that locker room.

“We are trying to check out every detail and we don’t want to leave any stone uncovered,” Peek said. “It’s a bit of a complicated process to get in and get statements from everybody. But we are working on all of those things and are very disappointed that this happened.”

In the meantime, Kim Jr. will have to undergo physical therapy. He is currently recovering at home, suffering from constant pain and mental trauma, his parents said. His doctor is optimistic that he will be able to return to the football field possibly next winter.

“This has to stop before someone else gets injured,” Kim Sr. pleaded. “Thank God my son is here.”

The Kims said, that since the incident, other parents in the community have come forward and shared similar hazing stories involving their children.

“This has been going on year after year,” Kim said of the parents’ allegations. “My son just got the worst treatment.”

The school district said it is investigating those claims and the coach is cooperating.

Coach Riley phoned Kim Jr.’s parents the day after the incident to apologize, but Kim’s parents say it is not enough. They are demanding that he be fired. Kim is also calling for the Davidson High football team to forfeit their upcoming 2018-2019 season.

“If we retaliate, when is it going to stop?” Kim said. “We need to send a strong message that this is not tolerated in America. If the adults are not the ones sending a strong message, then these kids think it’s OK.”

Peek echoed similar thoughts: “When you have an incident like this, you regret it. You then need to emphasize that this is not acceptable and will not occur in the Mobile County School District again.”

The Kims told ABC their son will not be returning to Davidson High School.

Since the attack, three freshman players who say they did not participate in the alleged hazing incident have reached out to Kim Jr. and expressed their condolences. They plan to visit with Kim Jr. at his home.

Students from a nearby private school have reached out to Kim Jr. sending their best wishes and encouraging him to attend their school and play for their football team.

Coach Fred Riley was not available for comment.

Tom Keegan: Competitive football teams, not shiny stadiums, draw crowds – KUsports

Rendering of the University of Kansas football stadium, at completion of renovation project.

Rendering of the University of Kansas football stadium, at completion of renovation project.

“Raise the Chant” seems far too ambitious a slogan for the fundraising campaign aimed at giving David Booth company in trying to bring state-of-the-art upgrades to the Kansas football stadium.

One must crawl before walking, walk before jogging, jog before sprinting.

Given that progression scale as it relates to interest in the Kansas football program at the moment, “Raise the Murmur” might be a more appropriate rallying cry.

Anyway, in an effort to make potential donors feel included in the dream of a stadium renovation, a survey found its way into the email inboxes of many friends. I’m more than a little offended I didn’t receive one.

It starts with a warning that it will take 10 to 15 minutes to complete, far quicker than it took Kansas to get a first down at TCU last season, not to mention much easier on the eyes.

The survey features some beautiful photographs of stadium clubs at football powerhouses such as Texas A&M, etc.

Beaming Athletic Director Sheahon Zenger informs in the introductory letter that “Kansas Athletics has partnered with the Convention Sports & Leisure International to conduct a market survey to help guide the final design phase of this project.”

The whole thing could have been boiled down to one question: Would you be more likely to come to David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium to watch a football game if the stadium were renovated or if the team averaged significantly more than the 1.88 victories per season it has in the eight years since Mark Mangino (average of 6.25 victories in eight seasons) was shown the door?

Can you say 100 percent?

One question includes as one of the 22 answers “team performance”: Why do you not attend more home Kansas football games?

These answer options were not offered:

• Kansas is 3-33 under fourth-year coach David Beaty and 1-32 vs. FBS competition, and I have lost faith that the coach can reverse the trend.

• The Jayhawks are 10-62 overall and 5-61 vs. FBS schools under coaches hired by Athletic Director Sheahon Zenger, and I have lost faith in his ability to hire the right coach and oversee his recruiting direction.

Common sense dictates that the team’s performance, easily the worst among Power 5 schools, makes this the wrong time to try to excite the masses about a snazzy stadium.

Everybody knows shiny football stadiums don’t fill stadiums. Competitive football teams fill stadiums.

The active 10-62 record is the worst six-year mark in the history of the program, breaking the previous record (11-61 from 2011-16), which broke the previous record (12-60 from 2010-15).

The good news is that record-breaking streak likely will end after the 2018 season because only an 0-12 mark breaks it and KU appears to have upgraded its defensive depth with a number of solid junior college recruits, so a winless season is not likely. Usually by now, word would have reached me about two or three of the jucos being busts. Thus far, haven’t heard any negatives on them. They landed most of their top juco targets and seem to have done a nice job of evaluating which ones to pursue.

Even with such a thin offensive line that injuries there prevented Kansas from having a spring game, it’s difficult to imagine Kansas going 0-12 for what would be the second time in four seasons.

Then again, by FCS standards, Nicholls State is a pretty tough team, so the Jayhawks better not look past the Colonels, who visit David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on Sept. 1 for the season-opener.

Re-ranking college football's preseason top 25 after spring practice – USA TODAY


SportsPulse: Did your team make USA TODAY Sports’ college football post-spring top 25? Paul Myerberg breaks it all down.

Every team in the Football Bowl Subdivision got better this spring, if only because it’s hard to get worse during the first few months of college football’s dreary offseason.

But a few things have changed. Clemson and Alabama might have inched closer to settling their respective quarterback competitions. Penn State found its next running back. Michigan landed a five-star quarterback.

Now’s a good time to re-rank the USA TODAY Sports way-too-early Top 25 for 2018. That one had Clemson and Alabama at No. 1 and No. 2. This one does as well. But there are changes.

Each team is listed with its rank in January’s early Top 25 with either the team’s best asset or biggest question.

1. Clemson (previous rank: No. 1)

It’s a return trip to the College Football Playoff or bust for Dabo Swinney and Clemson, and the argument is there for the Tigers as the top team in the country entering the summer. 

MORE: The biggest shoes to fill at the end of spring practices

MORE: Shea Patterson’s job to lose? Michigan football QBs won’t back down

MORE: The misunderstood purpose of college football spring practices

MORE: ‘A good four years’ for Playoff; and no, it won’t expand to eight teams

Biggest question: The Tigers still need to settle a quarterback competition between incumbent starter Kelly Bryant and freshman Trevor Lawrence following Lawrence’s strong spring.

2. Alabama (No. 2)

The NFL draft may suggest that Alabama has a huge number of holes to fill on both sides, but that’s nothing new for Nick Saban and the Tide. 

Biggest question: It’s a good thing Saban is the best coach of defensive backs in all of football, because the Tide need to do some rebuilding without Minkah Fitzpatrick and several other key pieces.

3. Wisconsin (No. 5)

The offense is going to be Wisconsin’s best in years while the defense has just enough returning talent on the line and at linebacker to bridge the gap to a new cast in the secondary.

Best asset: An offensive line that brings back every single contributor from 2017 will pace the Badgers to a Big Ten Conference title.

4. Washington (No. 8)

The only thing brighter than Washington’s chances in 2018 is the program’s overall potential under Chris Petersen and his staff.

Biggest question: What the Huskies really need is increased production from senior quarterback Jake Browning, and to do that demands some retooling and development at receiver.

5. Ohio State (No. 3)

The Buckeyes are going to be challenged in the East Division, but Urban Meyer’s team simply looks too talented and too deep to be unseated.

Biggest question: With a new quarterback, the Buckeyes need to find new leaders at tackle and center along the offensive line.

Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm during the first half of the annual spring game. (Photo: The Associated Press)

6. Georgia (No. 4)

Some big names have left the building, from star linebacker Roquan Smith through the two-headed backfield combination of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb.

Best asset: The backfield as a whole remains a monster, with as many as five capable runners, a top-of-the-line starting quarterback in Jake Fromm and a capable backup in rookie Justin Fields.

7. Oklahoma (No. 7)

The Sooners don’t budge from their January ranking.

Best asset: OU’s greatest asset remains not specifically its quarterback — there will be a drop-off from Baker Mayfield to Kyler Murray — but head coach Lincoln Riley and his can’t-fail offensive scheme.

8. TCU (No. 22)

Re-evaluating TCU’s odds reveals a team loaded and ready at nearly every position, though the offensive line needs to round into form before September.

Biggest question: If unaddressed, an offensive line that needs to replace several multiple-year starters will be the Horned Frogs’ downfall.

9. Penn State (No. 6)

Replacing Saquon Barkley won’t be easy, but James Franklin has brought in enough talent to keep the Nittany Lions in the Playoff race.

Best asset: In a year short of elite quarterbacks, Trace McSorley gives PSU one of the nation’s best at the position.

10. Miami (Fla.) (No. 9)

The Hurricanes will keep inching up the ladder under Mark Richt and his staff.

Best asset: The Hurricanes need to shake off last year’s three-game losing streak, but the team’s biggest asset might be another offseason learning Richt’s system.

11. Auburn (No. 13)

Auburn has what it takes to win another SEC West Division title.

Best asset: Much like Penn State, the Tigers will have an advantage at quarterback with Heisman Trophy contender Jarrett Stidham.

12. Stanford (No. 12)

Washington looks tough, but Bryce Love alone gives Stanford a chance at another division title.

Biggest question: The Cardinal won’t reach their full potential unless quarterback K.J. Costello takes a step forward in 2018.

13. Michigan (No. 16)

The Wolverines move up three spots after Shea Patterson was made eligible for the 2018 season.

Best asset: Patterson’s a major deal, but what makes Michigan dangerous is what should again be one of the stingiest defenses in football.

14. Boise State (No. 14)

In terms of depth, experience and returning production, this looks like the best team in the Group of Five.

Biggest question: Now a senior, quarterback Brett Rypien needs to grab the reins and take full control of the  offense.

15. Michigan State (No. 10)

Nine wins is the baseline for the Spartans after last year’s bounce-back finish landed them tied for second in the Big Ten East.

Biggest question: The lack of proven defensive linemen is worrisome, though the Spartans’ track record up front eases some of those concerns.

16. Notre Dame (No. 15)

Notre Dame again is a threat for 10-plus wins and more, but almost everything hinges on quarterback play.

Biggest question: The Irish have options up front, but it’s hard to see the offensive line maintain its recent play without a pair of first-round picks on the left side.

17. Florida Atlantic (No. 21)

Lane Kiffin plus offense plus Twitter equals what should be another fun year for FAU.

Best asset: The Owls get another full spring, summer and fall camp to delve even deeper into Kiffin’s offense, which should worry the rest of Conference USA.

18. Virginia Tech (No. 11)

Tech slides seven spots from its January ranking amid some concerns over how well the Hokies can replace some defensive stars now off in the NFL.

Biggest question: The defense needs to find some playmakers along the front seven and particularly at linebacker.

19. West Virginia (N/A)

WVU storms into the Top 25 on the expectations that the defense will be improved and Will Grier will be among the most prolific passers in the country.

Best asset: Grier will be a preseason Heisman dark horse and perhaps even more than that should he lead the Mountaineers to non-conference wins against Tennessee and North Carolina State.

20. San Diego State (N/A)

Rocky Long and the Aztecs aren’t going anywhere.

Biggest question: The coaches have praised new running back Juwan Washington, but it’s fair to wonder whether the junior can match the impact Donnel Pumphrey and Rashaad Penny had at SDSU.

21. Mississippi State (No. 25)

The Bulldogs and first-year head coach Joe Moorhead move up four spots after a productive spring.

Best asset: Moorhead’s offense tore through the Big Ten and may achieve somewhat similar results in the SEC as quickly as this season.

22. Iowa State (No. 24)

After taking a major leap last season, Iowa State aims for another step up the Big 12 Conference ladder in 2018.

Biggest question: The receiver corps has a strong top option in junior Hakeem Butler, but the Cyclones need depth to effectively run Matt Campbell’s scheme.

23. Oklahoma State (No. 23)

Oklahoma State might not be the favorite in the Big 12, but it’s hard to see the Cowboys fall too far off the pace set by Oklahoma and TCU.

Biggest question: There’s a hole at quarterback and no sure answer coming out of the spring, though the competition will take on a new feel once freshman Spencer Sanders and Hawaii transfer Dru Brown hit campus this summer.

24. South Carolina (N/A)

The Gamecocks look like Georgia’s biggest threat in the SEC East.

Best asset: Will Muschamp has himself a quarterback in junior Jake Bentley, who looks ready to earn all-conference honors in 2018.

25. Southern California (No. 17)

There’s talent to burn, as always, but the transition from Sam Darnold to a new quarterback — I’m betting it’ll be true freshman J.T. Daniels — will have its share of hiccups.

Best asset: The Trojans can lean on the play of a top-level defense, though the staff needs to find some pressure off the edge.


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