Spring practice is in the books, and now the long, frustrating wait for the 2014 college football season (and inaugural four-team playoff) begins.
While spring practice is generally a time in which coaches like to build depth and avoid injuries, there were a few significant developments around the country.
Projected top-25 teams like Clemson, Nebraska and USC named starting quarterbacks, but teams like Alabama, LSU, North Carolina, Texas A&M and Wisconsin didn't, leaving their competitions open through the summer and into preseason camp.
Oregon lost its best wide receiver to injury, while Georgia welcomed back a handful of players from ailments.
Defending BCS national champion Florida State remains No. 1 in our fourth edition of the 2014 Way-Too-Early Top 25. Alabama remains No. 2, Oklahoma and Auburn have moved up a couple of spots, and Oregon and Michigan State dropped a few notches.
Say hello to Texas Tech, Kansas State and Nebraska and goodbye to Texas, Central Florida and Washington.
Here is the Post-Spring Way-Too-Early Preseason Top 25:
Jameis Winston at quarterback, the Seminoles expect to have five seniors starting on the offensive line, which is always a recipe for success, as well as tight end Nick O'Leary and receiver Rashad Greene. FSU has to replace key contributors on defense, including tackle Timmy Jernigan and cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, but it has recruited well on that side of the ball for the past few years. Defensive linemen Mario Edwards and Eddie Goldman and defensive backs Ronald Darby, Jalen Ramsey and P.J. Williams might each be a potential NFL first-round pick in the future.
Jacob Coker is still enrolled at FSU and won't transfer to Alabama until this summer. Coker, who was Winston's backup last season, is expected to graduate from FSU next month and then join Alabama's team for offseason workouts. He will be the man to beat in the battle to replace AJ McCarron when preseason camp opens. Blake Sims was the No. 1 quarterback during the spring game, completing 13 of 30 passes for 178 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown. Alabama's offensive line, which was a surprising trouble spot last season, looked better with freshman Cameron Robinson at left tackle and junior college transfer Leon Brown at right guard. Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart is still searching for two reliable cornerbacks and more pass-rushers.
Trevor Knight took control of the OU offense this spring as he tries to build on his breakout performance against Alabama in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. With former quarterback Blake Bell moving to tight end and Kendal Thompson transferring to Utah, Knight was the only experienced quarterback on OU's roster this spring. Texas Tech transfer Baker Mayfield, a walk-on who joined OU this winter, is ineligible to play this coming season because of NCAA transfer rules. Knight completed only 5 of 14 passes for 53 yards with one interception in the spring game but otherwise performed well during the spring. The Sooners still have unresolved issues at tailback, where Keith Ford and Alex Ross battled for the job in the spring. Incoming freshmen Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine might have a chance to win the job during preseason camp.
Nick Marshall looked much more comfortable throwing the ball during the spring, completing 13 of 22 passes for 236 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions in the spring game. Junior college transfer D'haquille "Duke" Williams was impressive this spring and might emerge as another big-play weapon on offense. The wide receiver caught five passes for 88 yards with one touchdown in the spring game. Sophomore Shon Coleman emerged as the projected starter at left tackle, where he might replace Greg Robinson, a potential first-round pick in Thursday's NFL draft. Corey Grant and Cameron Artis-Payne emerged as the top contenders to replace departed tailback Tre Mason.
Darqueze Dennard, Max Bullough, Denicos Allen and Isaiah Lewis. The Spartans also lost starting defensive tackles Tyler Hoover and Micajah Reynolds, who were underrated contributors to one of the country's best defenses in 2013. Sophomore Darian Hicks emerged as a potential starter at cornerback during the spring, and junior Taiwan Jones was the No. 1 middle linebacker, where he will have the not-so-envious task of filling Bullough's shoes. The good news: Quarterback Connor Cook looked to be in complete control of the offense, and tailback Jeremy Langford is back after running for 1,422 yards with 18 touchdowns last season. The Spartans must replace three starters from what was a very good offensive line last season.
Joey Bosa, Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington and tackle Michael Bennett coming back, the Buckeyes should be even better up front defensively this coming season. New co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash, a former coordinator at Arkansas and Wisconsin, also is making his mark in the secondary, where the Buckeyes were more aggressive and fundamentally sound during the spring. Quarterback Braxton Miller missed the spring while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, but he is expected to be ready by the start of preseason camp. Ohio State's biggest concern is its offensive line, where Meyer has named only two starters: left tackle Taylor Decker and guard Pat Elflein. Alabama transfer Chad Lindsay could provide immediate help at center once he enrolls this summer.
Hutson Mason taking control of the offense and tailback Todd Gurley finally looking healthy, Georgia seems to be fine on offense heading into the offseason. The Bulldogs believe their offensive line should be better, especially with tackle John Theus finally recovering from a wrist injury that prevented him from doing much in the weight program the past couple of seasons. Gurley, who was dogged by groin and ankle injuries last season, looked explosive in the spring and will enter the 2014 season as a leading Heisman Trophy candidate. Tailback Keith Marshall, who missed much of last season with a torn ACL in his right knee, is expected to be at full strength by June. Georgia's defense, however, remains a big concern under first-year coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. The Bulldogs have three legitimate All-SEC candidates in linebackers Jordan Jenkins, Leonard Floyd and Ramik Wilson. But Pruitt complained about many of his defensive linemen being overweight and out of shape, and Georgia's secondary was inconsistent throughout the spring. The Bulldogs might have to count on junior college transfer Shattle Fenteng and a trio of incoming freshmen for immediate help.
Connor Shaw's production and toughness, but Dylan Thompson looked more than ready to take over the offense during the spring. He will play behind what many believe will be Steve Spurrier's best offensive line at USC, and tailback Mike Davis is back after running for 1,183 yards with 11 touchdowns last season. South Carolina's biggest concerns are on defense, where it has to replace star end Jadeveon Clowney, the potential No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, and linemen Kelcy Quarles and Chaz Sutton. The secondary also has two big holes with cornerbacks Vic Hampton and Jimmy Legree departing. Safety Brison Williams is solid, but the Gamecocks might have to look at a handful of incoming freshmen to fill holes in the secondary during preseason camp.
Trent Murphy, Shayne Skov, Ben Gardner and Ed Reynolds, as well as coordinator Derek Mason, who left to become Vanderbilt's head coach, Cardinal coach David Shaw has to like the way his defense performed this spring. End Henry Anderson emerged as Stanford's next great pass-rusher, and Blake Martinez and Joe Hemschoot are battling to replace Skov. Converted wide receiver Kodi Whitfield will have a chance to start next to Jordan Richards at safety. On offense, quarterback Kevin Hogan had a good spring and might be ready to take the next step as a passer, especially with so many receivers returning. Kelsey Young and Barry Sanders, son of the NFL legend, are battling to replace Tyler Gaffney, who ran for 1,709 yards with 21 touchdowns last season. Stanford must replace four starting offensive linemen -- left tackle Andrus Peat is the only returning full-time starter -- but perhaps no school has done a better job of recruiting linemen over the past four years.
Joel Stave missing much of the spring with a shoulder injury, former junior college transfer Tanner McEvoy might have put himself in position to win the starting job in preseason camp. McEvoy, who redshirted at South Carolina in 2010 and then transferred to a junior college in 2011, started three games at safety for the Badgers last season. He moved back to quarterback this spring and brings more mobility to the position. In 2012, McEvoy passed for 1,943 yards with 25 touchdowns while running for 414 yards with six touchdowns at Arizona Western College. Wisconsin's receiver corps remains a big concern, especially after it lost star wideout Jared Abbrederis, so coach Gary Andersen might prefer a more mobile quarterback to pair with tailbacks Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement. Regardless, the Badgers figure to rely heavily on their star tailbacks once again this coming season.
Marquise Williams, who passed for 1,698 yards with 15 touchdowns and six interceptions last season, still seems to be the favorite, although freshman Mitch Trubisky is still in contention. The Tar Heels are stacked at running back with T.J. Logan and Khris Francis and at receiver, where Quinshad Davis, Ryan Switzer and Bug Howard are big-play threats. If UNC is going to contend for an ACC Coastal Division title, it will have to improve mightily on defense after finishing last in the ACC in rushing defense last season, allowing 182 yards per game.
Malik Zaire played well enough in spring to keep Golson motivated during the summer and preseason camp. As we've seen over the past couple of seasons, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly isn't afraid to rotate quarterbacks, although Golson seems tailor-made to run his offense. The most encouraging sign during spring was the development of tailback Greg Bryant, who redshirted last season because of a knee injury. Bryant, who was the No. 2 running back in the 2013 recruiting class according to ESPN's RecruitingNation, might be the workhorse the Irish have desperately needed in the backfield. New defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder spent his first spring trying to find pass-rushers to replace Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt without much luck.
Davis Webb coming back. Webb completed 28 of 41 passes for 403 yards with four touchdowns in the bowl game, and he is the only returning scholarship quarterback after Baker Mayfield transferred to Oklahoma and Michael Brewer transferred to Virginia Tech. Keeping Webb healthy this coming season will be paramount to Texas Tech's success. The Red Raiders also have to find new big-play receivers after losing Jace Amaro and Eric Ward. Keep your eye on Jakeem Grant, D.J. Polite-Bray and Devin Lauderdale. Senior Kenny Williams, who led the Red Raiders with 497 rushing yards last season, moved to linebacker and is a projected starter. He might play on both sides of the ball, as well as special teams, this coming season.
Jake Waters' rapid improvement. He threw for 271 yards with three touchdowns against the Wolverines and looked to have even better command of the offense this spring. The Wildcats solidified their offensive line by moving All-Big 12 guard Cody Whitehair to left tackle. Dalvin Warmack, a touted incoming freshman, might have a chance to become the No. 1 tailback during preseason camp.
Tommy Armstrong Jr. won the starting quarterback job, and he will get plenty of help from a deep running back core, which includes Ameer Abdullah and bruising runner Imani Cross. The offensive line figures to be better with left guard Jake Cotton and left tackle Alex Lewis (Colorado transfer) bringing a degree of toughness that has been missing. Nebraska's front seven on defense should be stout, led by end Randy Gregory and tackle Vincent Valentine.
Devin Gardner struggled last season, but it certainly didn't help that he was sacked a whopping 34 times. Even worse, Michigan lost All-Big Ten tackle Taylor Lewan and right tackle Michael Schofield. New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier wants the Wolverines to run the ball downhill, so finding five capable starters on the line will be a priority in preseason camp. Wide receiver Freddy Canteen, a midyear enrollee, was perhaps the biggest surprise of the spring and might give UM a much-needed deep threat in the passing game.