After slipping from 12-1 in 2012 to 9-4 this past season, the Fighting Irish will have new play callers on both sides of the ball this coming season. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly is going to call the offensive plays, after former offensive coordinator Chuck Martin left to become the Miami (Ohio) coach. Kelly hired former Georgia and Auburn defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder, who was most recently the New York Jets' linebackers coach. The Irish might bring back seven starters on offense, after junior tailback George Atkinson III
and tight end Troy Niklas
entered the NFL draft. Quarterback Everett Golson
, who missed the 2013 season while on academic suspension, has enrolled in classes and is expected to re-assume his starting job. Junior defensive tackle Louis Nix III
and end Stephon Tuitt
also turned pro, leaving gaping holes in Notre Dame's defensive front.
For more on how the Irish will look in 2014, check out Notre Dame's recruiting profile and ESPN RecruitingNation's class rankings.
Besides LSU, the Trojans were hit harder than any other program by early defections to the NFL draft. Five juniors -- All-American receiver Marqise Lee
, tight end Xavier Grimble
, center Marcus Martin
, defensive end George Uko
and safety Dion Bailey
-- are forgoing their final college seasons. Steve Sarkisian's first season as USC's coach won't be easy, especially since the Trojans are still feeling the effects of scholarship reductions from NCAA sanctions. The good news? Quarterback Cody Kessler
and receiver Nelson Agholor
are coming back, along with tailbacks Javorius Allen
, Tre Madden
and Justin Davis
. New defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox also inherits eight returning starters on defense, including end Leonard Williams
and safety Su'a Cravens
For more on how the Trojans will look in 2014, check out USC's recruiting profile and ESPN RecruitingNation's class rankings.
After going from 4-8 to 8-4 this past season, the Hawkeyes might be ready to move back to the upper echelon of the Big Ten. But coach Kirk Ferentz is going to have to replace three very productive linebackers and two starting defensive backs from a unit that ranked in the top 10 in scoring defense, allowing only 18.9 points per game. On offense, quarterback Jake Rudock
returns after throwing for 2,383 yards with 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He looked more comfortable in a hurry-up offense in the middle part of the season. Tailback Mark Weisman
is also coming back after running for 975 yards with eight scores, and left tackle Brandon Scherff
decided to return for his senior season, instead of entering the NFL draft. Like Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes should benefit mightily from an unbalanced Big Ten schedule. Iowa doesn't play Michigan, Michigan State or Ohio State during the regular season.
For more on how the Hawkeyes will look in 2014, check out Iowa's recruiting profile and ESPN RecruitingNation's class rankings.