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25 Bold Predictions for College Football Offseason

Alex SimsCorrespondent IIIJanuary 21, 2014

25 Bold Predictions for College Football Offseason

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    Don Ryan/Associated Press

    Just because the 2013 college football season has come to a close doesn't mean all the fun is done surrounding the sport.

    The 2014 offseason is here, which means it's time for recruiting season, the NFL draft, probably too many disciplinary issues and some thrilling spring battles.

    We have 25 bold predictions involving college football's best teams, including recruiting predictions for USC, Notre Dame and Michigan. We'll take an early crack at some of the SEC's quarterback battles, namely the fights to replace Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M and AJ McCarron at Alabama.

    Finally, we'll take an early look at what to expect at media days around the country, including in the newly realigned Big Ten, the crystal football-holding ACC, the crowded Pac-12 and the always wild Big 12.

     

    Note: All recruiting class and player rankings based on the 247Sports composite ratings, unless otherwise noted.

SEC Will Have 8 of the Top 14 Recruiting Classes

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The SEC's national title reign might have ended this season, but that won't mark the end of its recruiting dominance.

    When the 2014 recruiting class is in the books, the SEC will have eight of the best 14 classes in the 247Sports composite rankings.

    The league will hold three of the top-five classes, including the top group, which will be (guess who): Alabama.

    The Crimson Tide already hold the No. 1 class and are poised for a strong finish.

USC Will Land a Top-10 Class

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Welcome to Los Angeles, Steve Sarkisian.

    The new USC boss has already been tearing up the recruiting trail and will have his class among the top 10 in the nation at the end of the recruiting period.

    The Trojans are currently on the outside looking in at No. 19.

    Looking forward, they have a great shot at the nation's No. 1 cornerback and 5-star prospect Adoree' Jackson, 5-star linebacker John Smith and 4-star guard Damien Mama.

    They could also add 4-star athlete Michiah Quick, as well as several other prospects.

    If Sarkisian is going to bring USC back to the top, he's well on his way.

Notre Dame Won't Sign a Composite 5-Star

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    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    It may come as a surprise that Notre Dame, one of the biggest recruiting powers in college football, doesn't have a single composite 5-star in its 2014 class.

    That fate isn't sealed yet, as the Irish are in the running for several 5-stars, including USC targets Adoree' Jackson and John Smith.

    However, none of those will pan out in Notre Dame's favor, but that doesn't mean this class is a wash.

    Notre Dame's class ranks eighth nationally. The Irish boast 16 4-star commitments, which ties Tennessee for the most for 2014.

Jeff Jones Will Ditch Minnesota for Michigan

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    Under Armor All-American Jeff Jones is really the only thing for Minnesota to write home about in its 2014 class.

    The longtime Gophers commit has seen a spike in attention since his enormous performance at the Under Armor All-America Game, including offers from Florida and Michigan.

    The 4-star from Minneapolis has a bit of a puzzling situation, as evidenced by his 247Sports crystal ball, which has seen plenty of flopping between Florida, Minnesota and Michigan.

    However, with a visit to Ann Arbor coming on Jan. 31, Jones will be a Wolverine.

5-Star OT Damian Prince Is Heading out of State

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    Maryland has been pushing hard to keep 5-star offensive tackle Damian Prince, the top in-state prospect, inside state lines.

    As the Terrapins head to the Big Ten, they could use the push up front from the Under Armor All-American, but they won't have it.

    Prince's crystal ball forecasts him to head to UMD, but after late visits to Florida and South Carolina, he'll be headed to the SEC.

    Whether it's with the Gamecocks or the Gators, Prince is heading south.

Humphrey, Dupre and Carter Will Spurn FSU to Stay Home

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    Three of the top uncommitted prospects—corner Marlon Humphrey, receiver Malachi Dupre and defensive end Lorenzo Carterhave tough decisions coming.

    All three 5-stars are considering some top programs and are being pursued by sitting national champion Florida State.

    Humphrey (of Hoover, Ala.) appears to be down to FSU and Alabama, Carter (of Norcross, Ga.) will decide between Georgia, FSU and others, and Dupre (of New Orleans) will likely be going to either LSU or FSU.

    All three will chose to stay home and head to their in-state SEC schools rather than go to Tallahassee.

Johnny Manziel Will Be Drafted No. 1

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Johnny Manziel is the perfect pick for the Houston Texans.

    Houston desperately needs a quarterback, and Manziel is the most dynamic player at the position available.

    Of course, there are some questions about his behavior off the field, but let's be honest—it could be much worse. His conduct, which was a big deal while he was in college, will be pretty much irrelevant at the next level.

    If he's winning, no one will care if he's sitting courtside at the Rockets game, flashing money at a casino or partying with rappers.

    Extracurriculars aside, Manziel is a special football player. Whatever "it" is, he has it.

    Houston will make the astute decision with its first pick and keep Manziel close to home, where he already has a massive following.

No Running Backs Will Go in the First Round

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The 2014 draft class is stacked at running back with just about every type of back that a team could want.

    There are do-all runners like Ka'Deem Carey and Bishop Sankey, bruisers like Carlos Hyde and Jeremy Hill and speedsters like De'Anthony Thomas and Dri Archer. 

    With the position flooded with talent, no team will reach for a back in the first round when one just as good will be available in later rounds.

    The running back position at the NFL has become more about depth than having one star runner. With the shelf life and overall value of a single back at an all-time low, most running backs just aren't worth a first-round selection.

Teddy Bridgewater Will Be This Year's Geno Smith

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Last year, West Virginia's Geno Smith looked to be a first-round lock and was projected by some to be drafted No. 1 overall.

    However, the first round came and went, and Smith was never drafted.

    Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater is in a similar situation this season. Long thought to be the favorite to be picked No. 1 overall, he has seen his draft stock plummet.

    Smith is close to the same size (6'2", 221 pounds) as Bridgewater (6'3", 205 pounds), and those measurements could be even closer once Bridgewater goes through the combine.

    If Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, David Carr or others are taken ahead of Bridgewater early, he could slide all the way out of the first round, just like Smith did a year ago.

Derek Carr Will Go in the First Round

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    Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

    Derek Carr didn't finish his college career exactly how he had hoped.

    Fresno State was on its way to a BCS bowl but ended up falling to San Jose State, which ended those hopes. Then, after winning the Mountain West Conference title, the Bulldogs were blown out by USC in the Las Vegas Bowl.

    Still, there's a great chance that some NFL team will fall in love with Carr, just like the Houston Texans did with his old brother David when they selected him No. 1 overall in the 2002 draft.

    The younger Carr finished the season as the nation's only 5,000-yard passer. Some team is bound to nab the 6'3", 218-pound gunslinger in the first round.

A Heisman Contender Will Leave the Race

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Aside from recruiting and the draft, the college football offseason brings disciplinary issues and unfortunate injuries.

    Last season, potential Heisman Trophy contender Everett Golson exited the race when he left Notre Dame and missed the entire season.

    History will repeat itself this season—not necessarily with Golson, though.

    It might not even be the magnitude of Golson's departure, but somewhere, a Heisman hopeful will slip up and earn himself a suspension or suffer an injury.

    Even if it's just a game or two, that will be enough to sink someone's Heisman hopes.

Kyle Allen Will Win Texas A&M's Starting Job

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    Kyle Allen is doing all the right things.

    He was the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the nation, and after showing off his physical and mental skills at the Army All-American Bowl, he enrolled early at Texas A&M to take a head start on his college career.

    He has joined an Aggies squad that will have an opening at quarterback. The Scottsdale, Ariz., native will face some stiff competition from Matt Joeckel and Kenny Hill.

    It will be anyone's job through the spring and summer, but don't be surprised if Allen takes the job right away.

Cole Stoudt Won't Win Clemson's Starting Job

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    RICHARD SHIRO/Associated Press

    Cole Stoudt, the longtime backup to Tajh Boyd at Clemson, has paid his dues and appears to be the obvious choice to be the team's next starting quarterback.

    However, in the quarterback competition this offseason, he'll have two blue-chip signal-callers nipping at his heels.

    Chad Kelly, a 4-star from the 2012 class, and Deshaun Watson, a 4-star and the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback from the 2014 class, will both make strong runs at the job.

    Kelly will be a redshirt sophomore, and Watson has already enrolled at Clemson and is vying for the opening.

    Don't be surprised if Dabo Swinney goes with one of the young stars in what could be a rebuilding year for the Tigers.

David Cornwell Will Replace AJ McCarron

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    For the first time in a long time, there will be a wide-open quarterback competition at Alabama.

    With AJ McCarron departing to the NFL, several signal-callers will be in the mix to replace the Heisman finalist.

    Senior Blake Sims, who relieved McCarron last year, figures to be one of the front-runners.

    However, several others will be in the mix, including former 4-star All-American and redshirt freshman Cooper Bateman. But after the competition, the newest quarterback, 4-star David Cornwell will rise to the top.

    At 6'5", 241 pounds, he has a huge arm and the stature to survive in the SEC. The Cornwell era could be a long one, and it could start as early as this season.

Joe Mixon Will Be Preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year

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    Jan. 4 was a great day for Oklahoma.

    The Sooners watched No. 1 all-purpose back and 5-star Joe Mixon commit on national television right after he tore up the Army All-American Bowl.

    Surely, the Big 12 media was watching. He'll likely be the highest-rated freshman heading to the Big 12.

    Last year, West Virginia running back Charles Sims, a fifth-year senior transfer from Houston, was the preseason Big 12 newcomer of the year and went on to win the honor in the postseason as well.

    Mixon has the talent to do the same as a freshman next season.

Alabama, Not Auburn, Will Be Voted SEC Favorite

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Alabama will be losing its starting quarterback, while Auburn will be returning Nick Marshall under center.

    The Tigers are the defending SEC champions and represented the conference in the national title game, nearly pulling off the upset win.

    However, the Crimson Tide will still be the media darlings in the preseason.

    The SEC will be as closely contested as ever, but Alabama, not Auburn, will be predicted to win it all.

Ohio State, Not Michigan State, Will Be Picked to Win Big Ten

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    AJ Mast/Associated Press

    Michigan State overwhelmed Ohio State and won the Big Ten Championship last season and then further proved its might by taking down Stanford in the Rose Bowl.

    After an incredible finish to the season, the Spartans will be right back in the Big Ten title race, but the conference's media days might bring some controversy.

    The media will spurn the Spartans and pick OSU, which will bring back Braxton Miller, to win the conference.

    Michigan State will also return its quarterback and running back, but it'll lose several key players from its nasty defense, including Darqueze Dennard, Max Bullough and Denicos Allen.

    With that, the media will pull the trigger for the Buckeyes, whether they end up being right or not.

Baylor Won't Be Picked to Repeat

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The Baylor Bears were picked to finish fifth in the preseason Big 12 media poll last season, and they went on to win their first league crown.

    Even if they win their second next year, they won't be picked to do so in the preseason.

    The Big 12 media will be high on Oklahoma, which ended the season with a momentous Sugar Bowl win over Alabama.

    Meanwhile, the Bears fell off a bit late in the season, ending the year with a Fiesta Bowl loss to UCF.

    OU will ride that momentum into a No. 1 preseason ranking in the conference.

FSU Will Be the Unanimous Pick to Win the ACC

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Last season, the ACC media days were all about Tajh Boyd and Clemson.

    The actual season ended up being all about Jameis Winston and Florida State.

    Clemson and Boyd were massive favorites to win the conference title and its player of the year award.

    This time around, Winston will take Boyd's place, and the Seminoles will supplant the Tigers. Except this time, no other ACC team will garner a single vote to win the league.

    No, not even one hometown beat writer will pick against the 'Noles.

Pac-12 Voters Will Give Oregon Another Shot

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Oregon was picked to win the Pac-12 in the 2013 preseason poll but fell short, as Stanford took the league crown over Arizona State.

    The Pac-12 media, once again, will identify the Ducks as the preseason favorite, not the Cardinal.

    Oregon will return starting quarterback Marcus Mariota and several other key players on both sides of the ball.

    With a Heisman Trophy winner at the helm, Oregon will be picked to win the crowded Pac-12.

Wake Forest Will Be Picked Last in ACC Atlantic

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    Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

    Wake Forest didn't have a great 2013 season, finishing 4-8 and above only last-place North Carolina State in the ACC Atlantic Division.

    The Demon Deacons were just a few close losses away from bowl eligibility. Still, the ACC media will smite them and slate them at the bottom of the division in the preseason. 

    With head coach Jim Grobe gone, Wake will be selected even after NCSU, which finished last in the division without a league win last year.

Wisconsin Will Be Big Ten West Favorite

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    Andy Manis/Associated Press

    Mercifully, the Big Ten's dreadful "Legends" and "Leaders" divisions are out, and the traditional East and West are in as their replacements.

    The new divisions look like they'll come out evenly, with Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan headlining the East and Wisconsin, Nebraska and Iowa highlighting the West.

    The West will be competitive, but Wisconsin will be the favorite over Nebraska.

    The Badgers will be without rusher James White, but Melvin Gordon, Corey Clement and quarterback Joel Stave will return, which will make them the early favorite.

UCLA Will Be Overwhelming Pac-12 South Favorite

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    Victor Calzada/Associated Press

    UCLA's 2014 outlook hinged on the status of star quarterback Brett Hundley.

    When the 6'3", 222-pound redshirt sophomore decided to return to Westwood, the Bruins instantly became national title contenders.

    They'll still have to prove they can outscore Oregon to be the Pac-12 favorites, but they'll be favored to win the South Division.

    USC will be in the race, as will defending division champ Arizona State—but in the preseason, it'll be no contest. It'll be UCLA all the way.

Coaches Will Feud, Players Will Talk Trash at SEC Media Days

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    Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

    The SEC media days were a circus last year.

    Johnny Manziel was right in the thick of his offseason controversy. The crystal football sat on stage in Hoover, Ala., for the seventh straight year.

    Jadeveon Clowney added to the fun by calling out just about every quarterback in the league.

    Manziel, Clowney, the crystal football, AJ McCarron and several other characters will be gone—but the SEC media days will still be a can't-miss event.

    Look for more feuds between coaches and players to ensue. And if that isn't enough, Steve Spurrier will be there; he will make it worth watching by himself.

Jameis Winston Will Upstage Tajh Boyd's Singing at ACC Media Days

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Before Jameis Winston took college football by storm, Tajh Boyd was the king of the ACC.

    He showed it during ACC media days, where he took center stage and then sang for the reporters.

    Now that the charismatic Boyd has moved on, it'll be Winston's turn to be the don of the ACC media event. 

    Whether it's singing, dancing or juggling flaming chainsaws, Winston will take advantage of being at the forefront at ACC media days.

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