College Football 2016: Preseason Power-5 All-Conference Teams

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The upcoming NFL Combine will serve as a showcase for the top prospects in the 2016 NFL draft. Sadly, it will also serve as a reminder for college football fans about just how much star power departed for the pros this offseason.

Although many of the top performers from the 2015 season have left campus, fortunately, there’s still plenty of quality talent remaining at the collegiate level.

Returning standouts such as Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey, Clemson QB Deshaun Watson, Florida State RB Dalvin Cook, Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett and LSU RB Leonard Fournette have already ascended to star status and become household names. Plus, there are plenty of other young, up-and-coming potential breakout stars who are waiting to make a name for themselves as well this fall.

Here’s a look at the top impact players from each of the Power-5 conferences who are most deserving of preseason “All-Conference” accolades for the 2016 season.

Analyzing Myles Jack’s NFL Decision and Jim Mora’s Critical Comments

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The blossoming period commences at different times for every great college football player. Some take a year or a few to adjust and develop to the level of competition, while others are capable of coming in and immediately making a name for themselves by making an instant impact.

Myles Jack is a member of the latter group.

Back in 2013, Jack arrived on the UCLA campus as a heralded 4-star recruit from Bellevue, Washington. He wasted little time proving to the Pac-12 what a special talent he truly was.

In his stellar debut season, the versatile 6’1’’, 245-pound running back/linebacker became the first ever player in conference history to be named both the league’s Offensive and Defensive Freshman of the Year.

He followed that performance up with a solid sophomore campaign, for which he once again earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors.

The highly-skilled two-way weapon entered the 2015 season as a preseason All-American and one of the most talked-about players in all of college football. Many analysts felt he was destined to be a future first-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft.

Unfortunately, Jack suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice just a few days after making a game-clinching interception in the Bruins’ 24-23 win over BYU in Week 3.

After weighing his options, the standout junior came to the decision to leave UCLA and pursue his dream of playing in the NFL. He officially declared for the 2016 NFL draft with a gracious thank you message to the Bruin faithful posted on his official Twitter account.

The reaction from the UCLA fan base was one of largely positive support. However, Bruins head coach Jim Mora took a more cautious route in his comments. The former NFL coach was open and honest about how he felt Jack’s decision was “very risky.

He’s taking his chips and is shoving them in the middle. We hope that he draws a good hand. As a guy who spent half his life in the NFL, I would move with great caution. When you play in three games, and that’s all the tape they have on you your junior year, I have been in 25 draft rooms and I have never seen anybody taken off of that.

I think it is very risky to do this. Having been on that side, there is going to be a lot of speculation on exactly what he is and where he fits.

As I told Myles on Sunday, NFL teams are very, very conservative. If there is any question whatsoever, they are going to pass on you in a heartbeat. They’re going to take the sure thing. I explained that to [Myles and his mother], but I felt like they had already made their decision.

It’s not surprising that Mora tried to dissuade Jack from entering the NFL. Obviously, the UCLA defense would be much better off in 2016 with its star linebacker returning to the lineup. The fact that Mora seemingly went out of his way to characterize the decision as so risky is a bit odd, though.

There’s one quote in particular that sticks out: “When you play in three games, and that’s all the tape they have on you your junior year, I have been in 25 draft rooms and I have never seen anybody taken off of that.”

Mora may be speaking from his perspective and his personal experience in draft rooms. But there are an abundance of recent examples that dispel the overall point he’s trying to make.

In the 2015 draft alone there were numerous players who barely played or didn’t even play at all in their final collegiate seasons, as well as players who were rehabbing from serious injuries who still went on to be picked highly and earn contracts worth millions of dollars in guaranteed money.

Todd Gurley was picked 10th overall by the St. Louis Rams even though he played in just six games his junior year at Georgia and was rehabbing from a torn ACL.

Marcus Peters was picked 18th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs even though he played in just eight games at Washington before being dismissed from the program.

Cedric Ogbuehi was picked 21st overall by the Cincinnati Bengals even though he was rehabbing from a torn ACL he had suffered in Texas A&M’s bowl game.  

Dorial Green-Beckham was picked 40th overall by the Tennessee Titans even though he didn’t play in a single game as a junior after being dismissed from Missouri and denied the right to play after transferring to Oklahoma.

It’s certainly not a long shot for a player to be drafted highly even if his final season was abruptly cut short.

Just ask Sam Bradford.

After being limited to just three games during his junior season at Oklahoma due to a shoulder injury, Bradford went on to be selected No. 1 overall in the 2010 NFL draft. The six-year, $78-million contract he signed was the richest rookie contract in NFL history. In fairness to Mora, though, he was not in an NFL war room for the 2010 draft to witness Bradford going No. 1 overall, since he had been fired at the conclusion of the 2009 season after going 5-11 in his only season as the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks.

Ultimately, yes, it’s clearly somewhat of a risk for Myles Jack to declare early for the NFL draft after experiencing a serious season-ending injury. But it’s not nearly the kind of against-all odds-type of risk that his now former head coach tried to paint it as.

The injured linebacker has over six months between now and the 2016 draft weekend to rehab his knee and gain back the type of dynamic speed and athleticism that made him a standout on the field.

Jack gave Mora and UCLA 29 games of great football, and he would have given the Bruins even more if it wasn’t for an unfortunate injury. The least Mora could have done is show more support for his star player’s decision to chase his dream by giving him a more positive, less critical sendoff.

USC Football: Ranking the Top 10 Trojans for 2015

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The bad news for Steve Sarkisian and the rest of the USC coaching staff is that they’re going to have to figure out how to replace three highly productive underclassmen: DE Leonard Williams, WR Nelson Agholor and RB Buck Allen, as all three made the decision to leave school early for the 2015 NFL draft.

The good news for Sarkisian is that the Trojans are welcoming back plenty of potential difference-makers on both sides of the ball. In fact, you could easily make the argument that the 2015 squad will be one of the most talented overall teams in all of college football.

QB Cody Kessler is the big star and the unquestionable face of the program. Kessler is a top Heisman contender, an All-American candidate and he’s well on his way to becoming an early pick in the 2016 NFL draft.

Kessler isn’t going to enter the upcoming season with the same level of fanfare that Matt Barkley had surrounding him in 2012. However, the Trojans’ talented signal-caller should end up developing into an even better all around pro prospect than his predecessor.

The early loss of Williams, Agholor and Allen is a tough blow, but USC has enough talent to still recover and thrive.

Here’s a look at the team’s top 10 overall players for the 2015 season.

Pac-12 Football: 5 Players Who Are Ready to Become Stars in 2015

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Scooby Wright, Devontae Booker, Su’a Cravens, Hau’oli Kikaha, Royce Freeman, Ishmael Adams and Nelson Spruce are just a few of the Pac-12 players who put together a breakthrough performance in 2014.

As we now turn our attention to the 2015 season, it’s time to begin forecasting which players are primed to have their own breakout campaigns this fall.

Here’s a look at five players who seem bound for stardom in 2015.

Pac-12 Football: Picking Every Team’s MVP For 2015

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The Pac-12 ended this past season on a disappointing note, when conference champion Oregon proved to be overmatched in a lopsided 42-20 loss to Ohio State in the national championship game.

The loss was certainly a tough pill for the league to swallow. Still, just the fact the the conference had a representative in the title game for just the second time since 2005 is encouraging enough.

Although the Pac-12 lost many of its biggest stars from 2015 such as Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley, Javorius Allen, Leonard Williams, Danny Shelton, Shaq Thompson and Nelson Agholor, the league still returns plenty of intriguing talent.

Here’s a look every team’s most valuable player for the 2015 season.

Tony Corrente, Pac-12’s Officiating Coordinator, Resigns

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According to a statement released by the Pac-12 late Wednesday night, Tony Corrente, the conference’s coordinator of officiating, has resigned.

Pac-12 commisioner Larry Scott had this to say about Corrente.

“Under Tony’s leadership, our program made great strides in improving the quality, accountability and consistency. While it’s unfortunate that Tony has decided to leave us at this time, I want to express my appreciation for his contribution, and for leaving our officiating program strong and headed in the right direction.”

Jim Blackwood will serve as interim coordinator for the remainder of the season.

There have been numerous notable gaffes by the conference’s officials over the last few seasons, including a recent questionable taunting penalty against Oregon in the Ducks’ loss to Arizona. However, Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News says that Corrente was not forced out.