Bulldogs back at No. 1 in updated Top 25
The calendar turns to July next week, leaving a little more than two months until the 2008 season kicks off.
If your favorite team made headlines during the past two months, the news probably wasn't good. Off-field problems and arrests have littered the college football landscape since spring practice ended, affecting many of the country's top teams.
Georgia and Ohio State remain atop the preseason Top 25 poll for 2008, although the Bulldogs and Buckeyes have flipped top spots since the May 9 edition.
And in what should be a surprise for many college football fans, Notre Dame debuts at No. 25 -- even after last season's 3-9 disaster.
Brannan Southerland, one of the country's best lead blockers, will miss the first five games with a foot injury. Possible starting defensive end Jeremy Lomax and offensive lineman Clint Boling have pending legal problems; Lomax was arrested on concealed weapons charges and Boling was charged with DUI. But QB Matthew Stafford and RB Knowshon Moreno keep the expectations high in Athens.
Todd Boeckman better stay healthy after backup Antonio Henton transferred to Division I-AA Georgia Southern. Henton's departure opens the door for highly regarded freshman Terrelle Pryor, who might be utilized like Florida's Tim Tebow was used as a freshman.
Patrick White, who said his team "wanted it more."
4. USC TrojansA video of USC assistant coach Brennan Carroll putting walk-ons through a tryout was yanked off YouTube after some viewers objected to the coach's foul language. Trojans coach Pete Carroll said the video was a spoof and his program was only trying to have fun. What's not funny: The NCAA is poking around alleged rules violations involving former Trojans basketball star O.J. Mayo -- and is still trying to get to the bottom of the Reggie Bush scandal.
Percy Harvin is ahead of schedule in his recovery from offseason heel surgery. Gators coach Urban Meyer believes his offense might be better than it was a year ago, when Florida led the SEC in scoring with 42.5 points per game. Just don't ask Meyer if quarterback Tim Tebow will run the football less often in 2008; that subject remains taboo in Gainesville.
Jason Gwaltney to rejoin the team, but he won't be eligible to play during the 2008 season.
Kobey Lewis from the team for an unspecified violation of team rules. Lewis, who ran 50 times for 189 yards and two touchdowns in 2007, left spring practice in a four-player battle for the starting job. Shannon Woods, Baron Batch and Aaron Crawford will continue the competition during preseason camp. Safety Steven Harris, a special-teams standout, also was suspended for the 2008 season.
Danario Alexander, who caught 37 passes for 417 yards and two touchdowns last season. Alexander underwent surgery earlier this month to repair damage in his left knee. There is good news for Missouri coach Gary Pinkel. Tight end Chase Coffman is fully recovered from surgery to remove bone spurs from his ankle.
10. Auburn TigersNew offensive coordinator Tony Franklin still hasn't settled on a starting quarterback, so offseason workouts will be very important for Chris Todd and Kodi Burns. Todd, a JC transfer, seems to have a better understanding of Franklin's spread offense, but he was plagued by shoulder problems during spring practice. Burns is a better runner, but Franklin wants to see more consistency from the sophomore.
11. Texas LonghornsBackup quarterback John Chiles will spend the summer trying to get a better grip of the offense. With the Longhorns trying to replace tailback Jamaal Charles, coach Mack Brown said he intends to use starting quarterback Colt McCoy and Chiles on offense. Look for Texas to be more creative on offense, incorporating some of the trick plays it used in a 52-34 victory over Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl.
12. LSU TigersAll eyes are on LSU's quarterbacks this summer, after heir apparent Ryan Perrilloux was dismissed from the team during the spring. Tigers coach Les Miles hinted during speaking engagements this spring that junior Andrew Hatch, a Harvard transfer, might have the edge over redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee. Highly regarded freshman Jordan Jefferson joins the competition during preseason camp.
13. BYU CougarsThe Cougars have their sights set on a BCS bowl invitation, but they'll have to do it without top fullback Manase Tonga. The senior was ruled academically ineligible and will miss the 2008 season. Tonga ran for 305 yards and eight touchdowns and caught 27 passes for 248 yards last season. He also was a great lead blocker for Harvey Unga, who last year became the first BYU freshman to run for more than 1,000 yards in a season.
Jonathan Crompton is throwing again after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow in late April. Crompton and the Volunteers' returning receivers will need summer workouts to iron out the offense installed by new offensive coordinator Dave Clawson. The Vols are holding their collective breath while waiting to see if junior running back Montario Hardesty fully recovers from a stress fracture in his lower leg.
Rudy Carpenter has fully recovered after undergoing surgery on his right thumb following spring practice. Erickson said Carpenter is in better physical condition and showed better mobility. Michael Jones, the Sun Devils' most experienced receiver, was selected in the 29th round of the amateur baseball draft by the New York Yankees earlier this month.
Allan Evridge wasn't named the Badgers' starting quarterback after spring practice, but the fifth-year senior has the edge over less experienced candidates. Coach Bret Bielema hopes Evrdige will take control of the team during voluntary summer workouts, but junior Dustin Sherer remains in the hunt for the starting job. Sherer has spent three seasons in the Wisconsin program, attempting only three passes.
17. Kansas JayhawksJuco running back Jocques Crawford arrived in Lawrence for summer school and immediately turned heads. Crawford ran for nearly 2,000 yards and 19 touchdowns at Cisco (Texas) Junior College. The national JC player of the year is expected to share carries with junior Jake Sharp in the Jayhawks' spread offense this coming season.
Kyle Hudson, who caught 12 passes for 127 yards and one touchdown last season, will forgo his final season of eligibility. Hudson, a two-sport star, was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the fourth round of the amateur baseball draft earlier this month.
Maurice Williams, the Panthers' most impressive receiver during spring practice, has been ruled academically ineligible for the 2008 season. Williams, who caught five passes for 100 yards last season, was battling Oderick Turner for the starting split end job. Williams plans to remain in school and would have three seasons of eligibility remaining.
Darren Evans has a better summer than their previous starting tailback did. Evans, a former Indiana Mr. Football, emerged as the leading contender to start at tailback after Branden Ore was dismissed from the team. Evans had a slight edge over redshirt freshman Josh Oglesby after spring practice. Juniors Kenny Lewis Jr. and Jahre Cheeseman were sidelined by injuries during the spring.
21. Oregon DucksCan Oregon's quarterback competition get any more crowded? The Ducks figure to have at least six players battling for the right to replace Dennis Dixon when preseason camp opens. Sophomore Nate Costa, who had knee surgery last fall, left spring practice as the favorite. Sophomore Justin Roper, who starred in the Sun Bowl victory over South Florida, is probably his closest competitor. Two freshmen -- Darron Thomas and Chris Harper -- enrolled at Oregon before spring drills, and JC transfer Jeremiah Masoli joins the battle this summer. Junior walk-on Cade Cooper also is competing for the job.
Jimmy Clausen. The Irish schedule includes four home games in the first five weeks of the season, and Charlie Weis might have the right mix to get Notre Dame back into a bowl game.
Mark Schlabach covers college football and men's college basketball for ESPN.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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