Winners and losers from college football fall camps


For players, coaches and teams around college football, the preseason brought fortunes both good and bad in August. With the season set to open Thursday night, College Football 24/7 takes a look both sides of the fall-camp ledger.


Braxton Miller: For a guy who aspired, just a few months ago, to return to his arguably rightful place as Ohio State's quarterback, things have worked out beautifully for the fifth-year senior. At H-back, he's playing the position he most likely would have to adjust to in the NFL anyway, and he'll have a proven quarterback throwing to him whether it's Cardale Jones or J.T. Barrett. He has the athleticism to make an easy transition, and with his rushing exploits expected to be part of the OSU offense as well, Miller is poised to be an offensive cornerstone for the defending national champions.

Christian Hackenberg: For all the hype that has surrounded Penn State's quarterback as a potential early NFL draft pick the last few weeks, one would think he's been playing games all month instead of practicing. Expectations are accordingly high for a guy who struggled last season, but Hackenberg was a high-profile recruit who started as a freshman -- expectations aren't new to him.

Everett Golson: A little less than a year ago, Golson found himself playing for a coach in Notre Dame's Brian Kelly whose confidence in him had worn thin due to a rash of turnovers. Thanks to the graduate-transfer rule, Golson has a fresh start at Florida State. He has been selected to start in the season opener, and there is more offensive talent to work with at FSU than there was in South Bend.

Ole Miss: Ole Miss has several points of momentum entering the season opener, including a healthy Laquon Treadwell at receiver, a talented defense that avoided any serious injuries in fall camp, and a quarterback in Chad Kelly who will upgrade the Rebels' offense from a year ago. And remember the Laremy Tunsil turmoil? Barring any issues with the star left tackle's eligibility, Kelly won't spend much time on the turf.

Texas A&M's defense: The defensive shortcomings that had so much to do with the Aggies losing 11 games in their first three years in the SEC finally have their hero, and it's not Myles Garrett. New defensive coordinator John Chavis is the best in the business, and word from College Station is that Texas A&M could finally be poised to tighten up on that side of the ball. If Chavis' impact is truly felt in Year 1, TAMU football will be on a different level.

Adoree' Jackson: USC's star cornerback was dynamic as a freshman last season, but he's about to take it to the next level. He's expected to play a larger role as a wide receiver this fall as, potentially, the game's purest two-way player. Throw in his kick-return skills, and Jackson will be an even better reason to watch USC football than star quarterback Cody Kessler.


Steve Sarkisian: Sarkisian's standing as USC's head coach has obviously taken a hit after he was directed into a treatment program by athletic director Pat Haden. There's no way to know exactly how much job security he lost with his embarrassing display at the "Salute to Troy" event that triggered his treatment program, but it's safe to say he has some ground to make up. Haden, for his part, showed a level of confidence in Sarkisian's ability to rebound in leaving him in charge of a team with championship potential. Still, the coach's personal progress could play as much of a role in his future at USC as his program's progress on the field.

Baylor: The question of what Baylor knew about Sam Ukwuachu's past before it accepted him as a transfer is a point of controversy. As well, the school's much-maligned investigation into a sexual-assault charge for which Ukwuachu was found guilty, and the Baylor internal inquiry that will now follow, will undoubtedly be a distraction for a team that enters the season with the highest of on-field hopes.

UCLA: When fall camp began, UCLA lost a four-star recruit (Cordell Broadus) who decided to walk away from football. Later in August, Bruins starting cornerback Ishmael Adams was arrested on suspicion of robbery. In between, a true freshman in Josh Rosen emerged as the starting quarterback. Yes, Rosen was an elite recruit who could prove to be a catalyst for the Bruins' offense. But until he shows it, he's just a true freshman with certain growing pains ahead.

Teams that lost a key player: If you lost a starter for the season before the season even started, fall camp was definitely a losing proposition. Some teams that were hurt most: Arkansas (Jonathan Williams), Arizona (Cody Ippolito), East Carolina (Kurt Benkert), Michigan State (Ed Davis), Ohio State (Noah Brown), Tennessee (Marcus Jackson), and Washington (Dexter Charles).

Trevor Knight and Jeff Lockie: The Oklahoma and Oregon quarterbacks both lost out to a transfer for the starting role in fall camp. Is it better to have had and lost, or never to have had at all? Knight was OU's starter for most of last year and has a Sugar Bowl victory on his resume. Lockie waited behind Marcus Mariota for three years -- and now will have to wait again.

Jalen Mills: The LSU defensive back made a tough decision to return to college for the 2015 season rather than join LSU cornerback Jalen Collins as an early draft entry. Now, Mills could miss as much as a month of the season with a fractured fibula. As long as he plays to his previous form, his draft stock shouldn't suffer. But it's a tough way to begin his last college season, and a tough early season loss for one of the nation's best secondaries.

*Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter **@ChaseGoodbread*.

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