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Biggest positive spring takeaway for every top-25 team

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Buckeyes ramping up passing game (0:49)

Dan Murphy shares how new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson is making strides to improve Ohio State's passing game, much to the pleasure of Urban Meyer. (0:49)

The college football season is still about four months away, but post-spring hopes are running high across the country.

Here's a look at the biggest reasons for optimism for each team in Mark Schlabach's post-spring top 25.


1. Ohio State

The Buckeyes threw seven touchdown passes in their spring game and all but one went 18 yards or farther. A year after finishing 91st nationally in long passing plays, Urban Meyer hired former Indiana coach Kevin Wilson to add some home run power to the offense. Wilson is off to a good start with works in progress at receiver like K.J. Hill, Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin. -- Dan Murphy


2. Florida State

Dalvin Cook is gone, but the running back might not be missed as much as we all assumed. Cam Akers appears to be the real deal, and while it's unfair to expect him to fill the void left by Cook completely, his strong spring offered a taste of what might be in store. Given FSU has some other solid backs on the roster and another ESPN 300 runner on the way this summer in Khalan Laborn, expect the Seminoles' offense to pick up more or less where it left off. -- David M. Hale


3. Alabama

Jalen Hurts says he's more comfortable throwing from the pocket, and coach Nick Saban agrees, checking off what he called the No. 1 priority of the spring. With more than 300 yards passing at A-Day, Hurts showed off a deep ball that went missing late last season. -- Alex Scarborough


4. USC

With WRs JuJu Smith-Schuster and Darreus Rogers (and cornerback Adoree' Jackson) off to the NFL, the Trojans entered the spring needing to assess the development of the players in line to replace them. It was an encouraging process. Michael Pittman Jr., Velus Jones Jr. and Tyler Vaughns, all of whom are from the Class of 2016, showed they have the ability to make a meaningful impact next year playing alongside presumed No. 1 receiver Deontay Burnett -- Kyle Bonagura


5. Penn State

Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley are in the conversation for top backfield duo in college football in 2017, but it doesn't stop there for the Nittany Lions. Coach James Franklin said he was impressed with backup quarterback Tommy Stevens throughout spring. Former blue-chip running back Miles Sanders has added 20 pounds of muscle after averaging 7.4 yards per carry as a freshman. Toss in a couple of playmakers at receiver, Penn State's offense might topple some program records this fall. -- Murphy


6. Oklahoma State

The Cowboys gained steam as a potential Big 12 favorite after the addition of cornerback Adrian Baker from Clemson and offensive tackle Aaron Cochran from Cal as graduate transfers. Another newcomer, LSU transfer Tyron Johnson, made an impact in spring practice at wide receiver. Plus, as you may have heard, Oklahoma State returns a lot from last year. -- Mitch Sherman


7. Clemson

That freshman Hunter Johnson ended the spring as arguably Clemson's hottest quarterback is both a positive and a negative for the Tigers. On the plus side, Johnson has oodles of talent and made some significant strides in his first three months on campus. He didn't look great in the spring game, but he had perhaps the best throw of the day and a few others that were dropped. On the downside, that the kid who just arrived on campus is already a strong contender to win the starting job is a bit concerning, particularly after a spring game in which the offenses looked shaky at best. Still, Johnson's ceiling is high, and if he continues to mature over the offseason, Clemson could be in the remarkable position of replacing Deshaun Watson with another All-America-caliber quarterback. -- Hale


8. Oklahoma

The cornerback position opposite Jordan Thomas was a disaster for much of last season for the Sooners, until Jordan Parker helped stabilize the spot late as a freshman. But with Parker out this spring with a foot injury, Parnell Motley shined at his spot. Suddenly, after having only one for much of last season, the Sooners have three corners they feel confident with going into the season. -- Jake Trotter


9. Washington

Word of QB Jake Browning's shoulder injury in January was concerning, but by the end of spring practice, Browning told reporters he was pain-free, and coach Chris Petersen said his recovery might be a little bit ahead of schedule. The Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year was limited throughout the 15 practices, but so long as he's healthy, that shouldn't matter. -- Bonagura


10. Auburn

No one is naming QB Jarrett Stidham the starter, but right now that feels like nothing more than a formality. With Sean White sidelined, the former Baylor transfer played exceptionally well during Auburn's spring game, showing off an accurate, strong arm that could make the Tigers contenders in the West. -- Scarborough


11. Wisconsin

A third defensive coordinator in three years doesn't seem like it will negatively impact the Badgers. Jim Leonhard takes over a group that has finished among the top five run-stoppers in three of the past four seasons. All six players on the defensive line's two-deep chart return from last year, and younger guys Garrett Rand and Isaiahh Loudermilk finished spring with a burst that foretells good things for the pass rush. -- Murphy


12. LSU

The LSU defense still looks good. After "getting its butt kicked all spring" -- Ed Orgeron's words -- the defense was dominant in LSU's spring game against new offensive coordinator Matt Canada's shift-heavy offense. That's encouraging, considering the Tigers were missing their best defensive player this spring (Arden Key was out for personal reasons). -- Sam Khan Jr.


13. Georgia

Kirby Smart wasn't ready to crown his receiving group anything special, but despite having no go-to or even dominant receiver, this group did a 180 from last year. Terry Godwin is looking more and more like the potential No. 1 receiver. True freshman Jeremiah Holloman showed flashes of being a deep threat, and former juco transfer Javon Wims seems to have developed some nice chemistry with QB Jacob Eason. Outside of Isaiah McKenzie, no Georgia receiver hit 400 yards last year. -- Edward Aschoff


14. Michigan

There's still work to be done in replacing three starters from last season's starting offensive line, but Michigan showed this spring that it has the potential to control the line of scrimmage if its linemen are playing at their best. Hiring former Indiana assistant Greg Frey to join offensive coordinator Tim Drevno in the trenches may already be paying some dividends. -- Murphy


15. Miami

The Hurricanes are expected to have an elite defense this season, but the one area of concern is the secondary. The good news is Miami found some answers there this spring, with Sheldrick Redwine establishing himself at safety, and Malek Young and Michael Jackson showing more growth. Help is on the way to bolster depth this offseason, so the coaches feel better about this group headed into the fall. -- Andrea Adelson


16. Stanford

The heir apparent to running back Christian McCaffrey, Bryce Love, did not practice this spring, but his absence allowed for the team's lesser-known backs to get some valuable work. With Cameron Scarlett, Trevor Speights and Dorian Maddox, the Cardinal appears to be set at the position for years. -- Bonagura


17. Louisville

Lamar Jackson looked comfortable and confident taking snaps from under center throughout the spring, picking up the skill rather quickly. The Cards hope to integrate more of that into the offense this season, not only to take pressure off Jackson and get the backs more involved, but to do more play-action as well. -- Adelson


18. Kansas State

The presence on the sideline and around team activities of coach Bill Snyder bolstered spirits and inspired the Wildcats to up their offseason intensity. Snyder underwent treatment for throat cancer this winter but remained on the job and appeared to gain strength as the spring progressed. -- Sherman


19. USF

Quarterback Quinton Flowers had to learn a new offensive scheme this spring, and he seemed to make the adjustment well, picking up the quicker pace and passing elements that are involved. In the backfield, D'Ernest Johnson had a nice spring. So did receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling. -- Adelson


20. West Virginia

Quarterback Will Grier was awesome in West Virginia's spring game, completing 12 of 18 passes for 202 yards. The Mountaineers have some retooling to do elsewhere. But if Grier can still be the quarterback he was on track to be at Florida, then West Virginia could be a load this season. -- Trotter


21. Florida

The Gators were thrilled with the play of their wide receivers this spring, but seeing the positive development of quarterback Feleipe Franks was the most important takeaway for Floirda's staff. He can stretch a defense with the deep ball, and his knowledge of the offense has grown tremendously. Is he ready to start every weekend in the SEC? Maybe not, but he made positive strides and looked every bit the part during the latter part of the spring. His competition with Kyle Trask isn't over, and more quarterbacks, including last year's starter, Luke Del Rio, will enter the fray during fall camp. -- Aschoff


22. Virginia Tech

The Hokies' biggest worry isn't quarterback. Sure, coach Justin Fuente told us that before the spring, but did we really believe him? As it turns out, Josh Jackson, A.J. Bush and freshman Hendon Hooker all looked pretty good this spring. Sure, there are some bigger questions about who'll fill in the supporting cast, but in the wake of Jerod Evans' surprise departure, it sure looks like the Hokies have some options for his replacement. -- Hale


23. Texas

Quarterback Shane Buechele capped a strong offseason with a sterling performance in Texas' spring game, throwing for 369 yards and three touchdowns while completing 23 of 39 passes. For the Longhorns to contend in the Big 12, Buechele needs to take a step forward in his sophomore season. -- Trotter


24. Boise State

Injuries caused eight projected starters to be limited or miss spring completely, but the Broncos were able to take that negative and make the best of it. Several younger players were able to receive more reps than they would have otherwise, which should help bolster the team's depth. Running back Ryan Wolpin, specifically, took advantage of his opportunities, as did receivers Sean Modster, A.J. Richardson and Bryan Jefferson. -- Bonagura


25. Washington State

The Cougars have to replace the top two receptions leaders in school history (Gabe Marks and River Cracraft) and saw good progress from rising sophomores Dezmon Patmon and Isaiah Johnson-Mack. Junior Tavares Martin Jr. and senior Robert Lewis provide a good starting place, and any concerns about depth were somewhat alleviated over the past few weeks. -- Bonagura