Posted on: March 4, 2012 6:56 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 7:04 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Click here for day one updates
ROSWELL, Ga. -- Despite windy, chilly conditions on the outskirts of Atlanta, 7-on-7 team Pro Impact lived up to their number one seed and won the first New Level Athletics Elite tournament of the year. The national competition drew teams from Michigan, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, South Carolina and Georgia to feature some of the top recruits in the country making a run at the large NLA trophy at the end.
The Jacksonville, Fla.-based Pro Impact had nearly half the team made up of underclassmen but the group was composed throughout their run to the title game and acted like seasoned veterans.
"It was a lot of fun," wide receiver Isaiah Ford said. "I looked forward to going against some of the top prospects, top performers in the country and seeing how I matched up.
"It's just amazing. It's even better to win."
The 6-foot-2, 170-pound rising junior was one of the top players on the team and had several impressive catches over the middle. Wearing a pair of white-and-black striped socks, Ford and Pro Impact were remarkably consistent on offense, moving the ball down the field before taking shots at the end zone when needed. The team ran into a similarly talented Team Georgia in the final but was able to pull out a win and good seed for NLA 7-on-7 Nationals in a tough double overtime victory.
"I had fun," Marietta (Ga.) running back and Alabama commitment Tyren Jones said. "I met some new people, it was a good thing and a great experience. Everybody was great, we just have to get the chemistry right and we'll win nationals.
"I think we represented (Georgia) well."
Both teams will have a chance to take home a national 7-on-7 title in the middle of June after earning automatic qualification on Sunday.
Langley enjoys trip to Athens
There was one new face at Centennial High School for the tournament phase of the NLA event on Sunday that only added to the star power at the stadium. Marietta (Ga.) defensive back Brendan Langley was on an unofficial visit to Georgia and missed Saturday's action but his return immediately boosted the secondary for a Goon Squad team that was knocked out in overtime.
"It was pretty fun. I wish I would have been able to come out yesterday," Langley said. "Just from this one game it was a fun experience. Hopefully I'll be able to travel with the team to Pittsburgh and Vegas."
The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder played mostly at safety during the event, using his long reach to break up passes when quarterbacks dared to throw to his area. It doesn't take long to see why Langley is one of the top players in the state and a natural defensive back based on how fluid he is in coverage. His skill set is one reason he has a double-digit number of offers and headed up to Athens for what was nicknamed Very Important Dawg (VID) Day.
"It was nice. I tell you, it's different going up there just as a prospect and going up there with an offer is two totally different things," he said. "I went up there for the first Junior Day on the 28th of January and they didn't show me nearly as much love as they did yesterday.
"I brought a friend up there, Josh Fuller, he plays corner. Shaquille Wiggins, Tray Matthews - I was in a DB meeting with them. Tremel Terry was also a friend of mine there. It was fun."
The short drive from home to see the campus and get to know the coaching staff better certainly left an impact on Langley, who had notable excitement in his voice when talking about the trip. Although he did not commit to the program on the way back, it's clear the Bulldogs are certainly a favorite to land one from him at the moment.
"I can't say they are the leader but I can say it's between them and Alabama for the top spot," Langley said. "I think they might be recruiting me just as hard as the other. Yesterday, (Will) Friend the offensive line coach, he had offensive linemen blowing up his phone but he was with me the whole time. It's things like that that I notice."
With almost all of the SEC schools extending an offer and several coaches recruiting him hard, Langley has a difficult decision ahead. He is trying to take in each school and view the positives and negatives with each program before eventually sitting down and making his commitment sometime later this year.
"The number one thing is development," he said. "Where they're going to get me and not just in football, where they're going to get me in the future. It's something I definitely look for."
The only visits Langley has taken is to Tuscaloosa and Athens and figures to return to each for a spring practice or two in addition to a few other stops over the next few months.
"Right now I'm just going day-by-day," he said. "Hopefully I can maybe get down to Gainesville to see Florida, up to South Carolina and up to Knoxville (for Tennessee) and then make a decision after that. I don't want to make any irrational decision right now being that I've only been to Georgia and Alabama."
Mizzell shows off speed to burn
One of the neat parts of events like the NLA Elite 7-on-7 is to see players from different parts of the country play against top-flight competition. Virginia Beach (Va.) running back Taquan Mizzell is one of the top players in the state and came down to Georgia determined to prove he belonged in the conversation as a top recruit.
"This was really a chance for me to better myself and get other people recruited," Mizzell said. "I really wanted to work on my route running and catching abilities, getting up the field faster and things like that."
The speedster did it all for his Team Virginia as they made it all the way to the semifinals before losing to eventual champion Pro Impact. Mizzell was an impact player, using his quickness to pull away from defensive backs and showed soft hands out of the backfield and on routes. Given his performance, it's easy to see why he's grabbing offers just about every week.
"The most recent offer is the University of Cal," he said. "It caught me a little off guard so I was very excited about that one. Watching college football growing up, their running back Jahvid Best used to be my favorite back. I used to watch his highlight tape all the time. Once they told me they were offering me I was kind of surprised but so happy about it."
While the Bears are a big offer on Mizzell's table with plenty of them on there, a big Midwest power could be the next to pull the trigger.
"I have 13 right now," he said. "The 14th one is basically Notre Dame. They told me they wanted to offer me a scholarship but all I have to do is send my transcript. Once they see that and everything is good, they'll confirm it."
The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder has been hearing from several schools across the country but the recent one to show him extra attention is Ohio State. The Buckeyes have already developed quite a reputation for their recruiting prowess under new head coach Urban Meyer and it appears that Mizzell is the latest the coaching staff is going after with vigor.
"(Running backs coach Stan Drayton) saw my film and said it was a no-brainer to offer me and that I was a guy for them," he said. "They wanted to get me up to the school. They basically want to build up a relationship and offer me a scholarship. Once we talked and he told me what it was, I talked to the head coach (Meyer) and the receivers coach (Zach Smith).
"It was kind of how they recruited Percy (Harvin) out of Virginia and how they used him at Florida. They would use me similarly. Also how they used Chris Rainey."
The success Harvin had in Meyer's offense is a big selling point for Ohio State and the fact that he is from the same area as Mizzell is an important one for the 2013 back because Harvin is one of his role models.
"I always want to see players from our area and Virginia do well," Mizzell said. "I look up to Percy and how he's in the NFL. My old teammate (Virginia cornerback) Demetrious Nicholson was very successful too. Running back-wise, I used to try and be like Jahvid Best but right now, I'd have to say like (LeSean) McCoy."
Mizzell plans to compete in several stops in the spring and summer camp circuit, including the NLA event in Pittsburgh. Although he's not sure what other school visits he'll take, he knows a few things that he is looking for each program when he does wind up on a campus.
"I just want a good education," he said. "I also want a chance to impact the team early on. Transportation, that's no problem because I know wherever I go my family will support me as long as I get a good education. If I can get on the field, that's good because I can try and make it to the next level."
757's future is promising with underclass talent
Mizzell wasn't the only player from Team Virginia to impress at the event. With seven underclassmen on the squad looking to make a name for themselves, no body stood out physically and with their play than Virginia Beach (Va.) defensive back Quin Blanding.
"I just wanted to show people that the 757 has all the talent," Blanding said. "We came in to play our game. Where we come from is the same as everybody else."
The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder roamed the secondary quite well on Saturday and Sunday. It's easy to see why the 2014 prospect is already drawing plenty of interest from schools across the country.
"Most recent is North Carolina," he said of his offers. "All the colleges that have offered me, I just look at them the same. I'm not thinking about them as my sophomore year finishes but when my junior year comes around, I'll start going through the process. I've got seven right now: Virginia, Virginia Tech, UConn, UNC, N.C. State, ECU and Vanderbilt.
"Most coaches want me to play safety. I prefer to play that… I like to hit. I had a lot of tackles last year and like seven or eight interceptions. I played receiver too."
Despite the attention almost two years before when he can sign a letter of intent, there are two programs who Blanding wouldn't mind hearing from in the coming months.
"I grew up a Florida State fan with my dad and watching them," he said. "Now I'm an Oregon fan. I just like that fast-paced offense and defense that keeps moving and moving. They haven't show any interest but I look forward to it."
In the meantime, Blanding has plans to go to several camps but hasn't yet figured out his schedule.
Paris impresses once again at NLA Elite
At this point, Mansfield (Texas) defensive back Edward Paris a wiley old veteran of 7-on-7 competitions despite being just a rising junior. Already looking physically like a college player and with 4.4 speed, it's no surprise to hear that colleges are already recruiting him as much as they can in hopes of landing one of Texas' top defenders.
"I just recently got offers from Georgia Tech and Washington State," Parris said. "I think USC is close to offering and Alabama too."
Before this week, LSU and SMU had already extended offers and are two of the schools Paris has been hearing from for some time.
"I'm hearing a little more from LSU and UCLA," he said. "I'm interested in all schools right now. I'm just looking for a school that I can fit in socially and that has a really good education."
The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder is adept at playing either safety or corner but could continue to grow and wind up as an outside linebacker at the next level.
"I think a lot of them see me as a very physical guy on and off the line," he said. "I also have make-up speed in case I get beat."
Right after the tournament ended, Parris was taking advantage of the trip home by making his way West for two unofficial visits with programs who have been recruiting at a high level and have shown interest.
"After this tournament, we're going to go to Auburn and Alabama for a visit," he said. "I'll go to the Alabama camp and the LSU camp again and maybe Florida also."
Paris figures to have plenty of other opportunities on the travel team Goon Squad over the coming months and could be well beyond the double-digit offer mark by the end of the summer.
Tags: 2012 NLA, Alabama, Auburn, Brendan Langley, Cal, California, Chris Rainey, Demetrious Nicholson, East Carolina, Edward Paris, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Isaiah ford, Jahvid Best, LeSean McCoy, LSU, N.C. State, New Level 7-on-7, New Level Elite, New Level Elite 7-on-7, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Percy Harvin, Quin Blanding, SEC, Shaquille Wiggins, SMU, South Carolina, Stan Drayton, Taquan Mizzell, Tennessee, Tray Matthews, Tremel Terry, Tyren Jones, UCLA, UConn, Urban Meyer, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Washington State, Will Friend, Zach Smith
Posted on: March 3, 2012 11:52 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2012 11:55 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
ROSWELL, Ga. -- The recruiting landscape shifted into a higher gear on Saturday as hundreds of players from as far away as Michigan descended upon Centennial High School in suburban Atlanta for the first New Level Athletics Elite 7-on-7 tournament of the year. With 18 teams taking part, the event drew some of the top talent from across the country to show off their skills and allowed several to make a name for themselves, hoping that will translate into scholarship offers down the road.
One player who needed no introduction was Marietta (Ga.) running back and Alabama commitment Tyren Jones. Easily among the 10 best players in the state after a terrific junior year, the speedster was the focal point of Team Georgia's offense as they fought their way out of the round-robin format that made up day one.
"Some people might know who I am but I'm not really worried about it," Jones said. "I just want to go out here and help my team win."
Although he is a multi-purpose back, Jones lined up at receiver for the day and looked like a natural. Though he looks like more a guy that would be utilized out of the slot, he typically was found on the outside against the opposition's top cornerback and still had little trouble finding soft spots in coverage or beating his man deep.
"I just want to prove that I can catch the ball well," he said. "I'm lining up to play receiver even though I'm a running back."
The 5-foot-9, 200-pounder's commitment to the Crimson Tide came after attending a recent Junior Day in Tuscaloosa and picking up an offer from head coach Nick Saban. While the timing surprised a few folks, Jones liked what the program was offering and feels his talents will mesh extremely well within the offense.
"It wasn't really a pitch, they just told me that I fit really well into their system and their system really fits me," he said. "They said I'm an all-purpose running back and that's what they need at Alabama. They watched film and saw me split out some an basically said I'm going to come out of the backfield and catch the ball."
Jones was particularly impressed with the facilities and was sold on how well the program took care of the players in terms of nutrition and weightlifting. Although some might be deterred at Alabama signing the top recruiting class seemingly every year, the tailback is looking forward to the competition and thinks the class of 2013 might come in as the best of the past few years anyway.
"I think it's something special this year," Jones said. "We can win some more national championships. They don't really brag about (winning national titles) but they know they have the talent and the recruiting to win another.
Still, that hasn't stopped a few programs from continuing to make their pitch with plenty of time between now and Signing Day.
"Purdue, Florida and I'd say Georgia," he said of programs still recruiting him hard. "They're all still talking to me and sending letters."
Jones' 7-on-7 teammate - and Georgia commit - Shaquille Wiggins was not with the squad because he was in Athens for the Bulldogs' Junior Day but will return for the championship round on Sunday. The addition not only gives the group a top cornerback but somebody that has been very open about his program being the one everybody should be looking at. Although Jones' recent pledge to Alabama is strong, he still hears it from Wiggins despite him being a bit of a recruiter himself.
"Not really, I talk to him every once and a while but it's not too much," Jones said. "I'm really (recruiting teammate) Brandon Kublanow to come down with me. Other than that, I'm talking to friends and trying to make sure Reuben Foster stays (committed). He's real excited but it sounds like he's going to stay with Alabama."
While recruiting will sort itself out for others, Jones will turn his attention to the field on Sunday with hopes of doing something he's planning on doing a lot in college: winning.
Kamara is cold and hot at the same time
One of Michael Jordan's most memorable games in a career full of them was Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals. Most remember it simply as 'The Flu Game.'
While the stakes were significantly (significantly) less on the fields Saturday, Norcross (Ga.) running back Alvin Kamara was channeling his inner-Jordan. Under the weather with flu-like systems he was still one of the fastest players at the event and helped contribute several big plays and victories for Georgia Elite.
"I'm trying to hang in there I'm so sick," Kamara said. "I dropped a few balls. But I'm bouncing back, we'll have to see with these next games."
On top of a fever and his skin a few shades lighter than what it normally is, the cheerful Kamara also was dealing with the opposition's best shot. As one of several players with multiple FBS offers, he had a bit of a target on his back while he was running routes and catching passes.
"A little bit," he said. "Some guys see me and say, 'Oh he's got all these offers and blah, blah, blah.' But that's just going to make me play harder."
The cold and windy conditions in the Atlanta area were pretty much the opposite of Kamara's recruitment. Holding just a single offer, from Syracuse, at the Rising Seniors Bowl right before New Year's, the 5-foot-10, 190-pounder has turned into one of the hottest prospects in the country.
"It's been crazy," he said. "From one to eleven. It's just crazy."
HIs most recent offer came from the opposite coast and USC, with plenty of other schools close to extending an one. He doesn't have a top group of schools but there have still been a few that have stuck out in his mind and are recruiting him the hardest.
"Alabama and Georgia are up there," he said. "Everybody heard the story about Alabama. With Georgia, their coaches keep up with me real well."
'The story' about Alabama stems from the fact that the school sent him 105 recruiting letters. In one day.
The memorable recruiting strategy certainly left a mark in the running back's mind even if he held the Crimson Tide in high esteem beforehand.
"It was wild, they just fell out of my mailbox and I wasn't even expecting it," Kamara said. "My mom went wild. She was like, 'Can they do that?'"
Kamara doesn't have any unofficial visits planned and isn't counting on going to any junior days in the next few weeks either. In many ways, he's just going with the flow of the recruiting process that he's seen pick up very quickly. Wisconsin and Oklahoma State might be close to adding to his total of offers and while he will add them to his growing pile, Kamara is evaluating all of them based on what he's looking for in a program before making a commitment.
"Just a school that feels like home, coaches that I get along with and somewhere I can just feel like I belong," he said. "I want to fit in. I'm going to make my decision whenever it feels right. I don't have a time frame."
While his timetable for a commitment is still up in the air, Kamara is interested in seeing things outside of his hometown and that means he'll take visits even if he knows where he wants to go.
"I want to get to everywhere I can and see everything," he said. "I don't want to miss anything. Even if I (commit), I definitely will take (official visits)."
Cheek checks in with Cal
Lawrenceville (Ga.) defensive back Trevellous 'Tre' Cheek was one of the standouts from the first day of competition at the NLA Elite 7-on-7. His play between the lines might have had something to do with his good day outside of them after picking up his first offer from California.
"I've always wanted to go to a (school like) Cal," Cheek said. "They're a great school and great at football too. I have family about an hour away."
While it might sound strange for a Georgia corner to be familiar with the Bears and hold them in high regard, there's a reason he is already planning on a visit out West. Cheek has talked with several members of the team already in order to get to know the program better, including McDonough (Ga.) defensive back Avery Sebastian, a 2011 signee from the area. As a result of being the first to offer, Cal has a slight edge at the moment over other schools - including his childhood favorite.
"I grew up a Florida fan since I can remember. I was brought up that way," Cheek said. "Cal beat them (with an offer) though. That first offer is kind of special. Coach (Ashley) Ambrose is a good guy."
The 5-foot-10, 165-pound Cheek attended Kentucky's Junior Day last week and enjoyed the trip to see what the Wildcats had to offer. On his way back home, he stopped by Louisville, where their Junior Day had already ended but the coaching staff waited around for his arrival and to talk to him. Cheek believes both are close to offering and is hearing more from Clemson and Arkansas. He will head to the Tiger's April 14th Junior Day and based on the amount of attention schools are giving him, it figures that won't be the only visit Cheek will take this spring.
"West Virginia is close, coach (Daron) Roberts has been talking to me," Cheek said. "Tennessee (receivers coach Darin Hinshaw) said they'll offer me but he was waiting for Coach (Derek) Dooley to sign off on it and it might take a little time. But I'm looking forward to that one."
Though there were no really big wide receivers at the event, Cheek handled just about everyone with ease on Saturday. He often played press coverage and had no problem turning to run after getting a good jam on the line of scrimmage. His ability to play up close to the offense, Cheek said, is one of the reasons several coaching staffs have been talking to him quite a bit.
"Just about everybody is talking to me as a corner," he said. "Most of the coaches I spoke with said that I've very physical and they haven't seen cornerbacks like that. They think that since I'm a very physical corner, they can teach the coverage part. They can teach that, they can't teach the (physicality)."
With an offer from Cal in his back pocket and plenty more sure to come, Cheek's recruitment should be one to follow on the road to Signing Day. At the moment, he has no issues leaving the state to play college football and is looking more at the school than its location.
"Oh no," he said with a big smile and laugh. "As long as I'm getting an education. I want to major in physical therapy and minor in broadcasting or communication."
Tags: 2012 NLA, Alabama, Alvin Kamara, Arkansas, Ashley Ambrose, Avery Sebastian, Brandon Kublanow, Cal, California, Clemson, Darin Hinshaw, Daron Roberts, Derek Dooley, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisville, Michael Jordan, NBA, New Level 7-on-7, New Level Elite, New Level Elite 7-on-7, Nick Saban, Oklahoma State, Purdue, Reuben Foster, Rising Seniors Bowl, Shaquille Wiggins, Syracuse, Tennessee, Tre Cheek, Trevellous Cheek, Tyren Jones, Tyren Jones, USC, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Posted on: February 21, 2012 2:29 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 7:30 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
I have the tab still open, ready to go at a moment's notice, with a commitment story about Scottsdale (Ariz.) athlete Davonte Neal. I don't know when I'm going to be able to post it or what school will ultimately follow "committed to" in the opening paragraph, but it's there.
In case you haven't heard, the Scottsdale Chaparral receiver/defensive back left plenty of people confused and, in an apt metaphor for the situation, standing at the altar Tuesday morning. He was supposed to announce his commitment on FoxSportsArizona.com in front of thousands on the Internet and a couple of hundred elementary kids in his hometown. He didn't show up but instead showed us a little bit about the drama of the modern day recruiting process. The way things are going, you half expect TNT to sign him up to commit on their air tomorrow.
Neal has waited 20 days after Signing Day because he wanted to take his time, make the right decision for himself and his family and commit to a school he truly wants to be at. At the heart of the issue, according to reports and sources, is the head-strong Neal clashing with his equally head-strong father over where exactly he'll be signing papers to play at. Most say the recruit wants to go to Arizona to play close to home and fit in Rich Rodriguez' spread offense while his dad Luke has pushed for Notre Dame. Arkansas and North Carolina are also considered finalists, followed by Stanford and Ohio State.
And for all that has surrounded Neal's recruitment, this will all come down to a decision by a talented young athlete. It will be made, people will move on and we'll see how he does this fall and for the next four years.
People follow recruiting not because they are really interested in the player but because the impact they can have on programs - especially their own. Recruitniks see the circus surrounding Neal and shrug their shoulders, filing the story away as just another one in the long list of unexpected twists that happen year after year. Columnists and beat writers, who check in a few times a year to write about recruiting, wave their fists. Fans get upset, angry and a select few might raise an eyebrow but couldn't give a damn. Hopefully they'll all learn that this is recruiting and it's not abnormal but very much part of the norm nowadays.
We've seen recruits delay their decision after Signing Day before. We've seen hat dances and live animal acts. Clothes have been ripped off and players rushed to a nearby car after making a crowd angry with their decision. Some kids see it as a game and enjoy their 15 minutes of fame and they're going to use every last second of it. They're wanted as recruits, they're just a number - with some expectations attached of course - when they step on campus. Nobody is at fault except those that care far too much about the whims of a teenager.
The ground the game is played on is still shifting. Major media companies are making investments in recruiting coverage which means more players and storylines in the spotlight. Twitter and Facebook has changed what information gets passed around and how quickly it gets from 1 to 100 to 1,000. It's fun, it's exciting, it's trying and above all interesting. Heck, coaches are offering athletes on Twitter and not-so-smartly tweeting out their cell phone numbers as well. Shaq Thompson enjoyed toying with fans during the Army All-American Bowl and extended the drama when he had the opportunity to assess things differently after top recruiter Tosh Lupoi went from Cal to Washington.
It's a bold new era and like it or not we're all just going to have to roll with the punches.
Neal is a talented player and many think he can be a dynamic scorer on offense in college or a very good corner on defense. He is smart, nice and a competitor with a drive to be a great player. Across the country last summer, Neal showed up for camps and only wanted to go against the best in order to prove he was the best. No matter what happens, that will serve him well as a player and young man.
Don't place blame for the saga on Neal, he will eventually do what he has to do. What he did Tuesday will be part of his story but it doesn't have to define him. We'll see where he winds up committing to soon and figure out what it means then. For now we'll just wait.
The elementary students at Neal's no-show were no doubt happy to miss class this morning. Based on the looks on their faces, they were probably more disappointed in having to go back to class than not seeing a football player make a decision.
They did end up learning a lesson, as did everybody watching - recruiting means turns when you're expecting twists and drama when you least expect it. Don't fret, just nod, at least it's not you on the other side of the lens.
Update: Neal committed to Notre Dame
Photo by Chris Pondy
Posted on: February 10, 2012 7:34 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2012 7:36 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
High profile recruits have increasingly waited until after Signing Day to commit to a school in recent years and with the class of 2012 it was Olney (Md.) athlete Stefon Diggs who kept coaches, fans and recruits wondering which program he would wind up at.
The answer finally came Friday night as the five-star athlete put on a Maryland cap at a local restaurant and committed to the hometown Terps.
Diggs took official visits to California, Florida, Auburn and Ohio State but saved his final trip to Maryland for after Signing Day. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder is the nation's No. 14 overall recruit according to MaxPreps and ranked as the third-best athlete in the class.
One of the fastest players in the country, Diggs runs in the 4.4 range in the 40-yard dash and can play on either side of the ball as a wide receiver or defensive back. The five-star will likely end up on offense in college after accounting for 1,443 all-purpose yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior, leading Our Lady of Good Counsel to a Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title last season.
Much of the credit in Maryland landing Diggs goes to new offensive coordinator Mike Locksley. The former head coach at New Mexico and offensive coordinator at Illinois is well-known for his connections in the Washington, D.C. area as a recruiter. In addition to Diggs, teammate and the country's 10th-ranked running back Wes Brown signed with the program. Though the commitment is not enough to put Maryland in the top 25 class rankings, it does give head coach Randy Edsall and the program a marquee recruit in 2012.
"On the field he's one of the nation's most exciting ball players, an elite prospect and a difference maker," analyst Tom Lemming said of Diggs. "Exceptional with the ball in his hands, he's a high school superstar be it running with the ball, catching the ball, or picking off a pass. He seems to do everything with ease and is a natural, all around athlete."
The Maxpreps All-American gives Maryland 23 commitments in the class of 2012.
Photo by Jim Stout
Posted on: February 9, 2012 9:46 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
As usual, expect lots of commitments at Texas' Junior Day.
Urban Meyer calls the Big Ten's gentlement's agreement "nonsense" and Lane Kiffin defends him.
Defensive tackle Deadrin Senat has a big future ahead of him at Florida State.
Georgia may add a "mystery" football recruit.
The final rankings tell the story of how Oregon's past recruiting classes fared.
Alabama has their eye on Georgia's prized quarterback commit.
For Oklahoma and others in the state, recruiting is very much a junior-driven thing.
Ross Els is getting busy as Nebraska's new recruiting coordinator.
Some video fo Tosh Lupoi talking his departure from Cal and recruiting at Washington.
Hawaii had a late add to their 2012 class in Juco defensive end Quenton Brown.
Posted on: February 3, 2012 9:05 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2012 9:18 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Tags: Andrus Peat, Arik Armstead, Arizona, Arizona State, C.J. Doier, Cal, California, Chip Kelly, Colorado, Cyler Miles, D.J. Foster, Ellis McCarthy, Gabriel Marks, Isaac Seumalo, Jeff Lindquist, Jim Mora, Mike Leach, Nelson Agholor, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac-12, Shaq Thompson, Signing Day Grades, Stanford, Tosh Lupoi, Travis Wilson, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State, Yuri Wright, Zach Kline
Posted on: February 2, 2012 10:53 am
Edited on: February 2, 2012 11:17 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
It's time to pick up the wrapping paper, survey the damage and get excited to play with your new toys as Signing Day - i.e. Christmas in February for college football coaches and fans - has come to a close. Here's a broad overview of what happened from coast-to-coast.
Houston, we have a five-star
If there was one big - to borrow a metaphor from another sport - curve ball on Signing Day that made everybody scratch their head in disbelief it was word that Fresno (Calif.) wide receiver Deontay Greenberry had surprisingly signed with Houston during the middle of the day. It's normally a bit unusual when a program like UH signs anybody from outside the states of Texas or Louisiana and even more puzzling when they sign a highly rated player. But Greenberry? In addition to becoming the highest-ranked recruit the program has ever inked, the switch was cause for celebration inside the football office for a coup of epic proportions.
In short: Houston stole a five-star recruit on the week before Signing Day from Notre Dame.
This wasn't a local big time kid, this was the state of California's best wide receiver and somebody the Irish were counting on to play early and often with the departure of guys like Michael Floyd. The Cougars were not only closer to a BCS game than the storied program but they picked their pockets for one of their top recruits. It should have been a big day for Brian Kelly to trumpet guys like number two overall player and Columbus (Ind.) quarterback Gunner Kiel or Greenberry's cousin, cornerback Tee Shepard. Instead it was Kelly who was trying to spin the loss during his annual press conference.
"It is hard for me to feel disappointed about something I have never had, or someone I have never coached," Kelly said. "I'm more excited about the 16 who did sign."
The reason the 6-foot-3, 187-pound wide out flipped was primarily due to Houston receivers coach Jamie Christian, who came over from Arizona State. Christian had kept the Sun Devils in the running (Greenberry took a visit in October and considered them as late as December) despite a commitment to Notre Dame until Dennis Erickson's staff was fired and deserves the lion's share of the credit for getting Greenberry on campus last weekend and for ultimately landing a top-ranked guy. Cougars' head coach Tony Levine has developed some very successful wide receivers over the past several years and it appears he's got somebody a lot more talented than he's ever coached coming in with the class of 2012.
One in January, another in February
Texas coach Mack Brown has picked up the title Mr. February due to his penchant for winning a recruiting title but lack of success in translating that into a national title. After the run Nick Saban has had at Alabama recently, it might be time to find something that accurately describes his dominance in the first two months of the year because he's not limited to one or the other. As expected, the Crimson Tide took home the top recruiting class in the country in 2012 but perhaps the only thing that was surprising about it was that it wasn't, well, surprising.
"We knew exactly pretty much what we were gonna get," Saban said. "We didn't really have any surprises."
The only thing that even registered on the meter was when defensive tackle Korren Kirven decided to go away from home and play for the Crimson Tide (part of the reason why a numbers crunch led to some like defensive tackle Darius Philon signing at Arkansas). All told, 28 players will be considered part of yet another recruiting title for a program that seems to land any recruit they want, including an impressive six top 100 players.
The headliner is Geismar (La.) defensive back Landon Collins, who signed sans drama Wednesday and even seems to have patched things up with his mother following the bizarre reaction she had when he committed at the Under Armour All-American Game early last month. A ball-hawk who isn't afraid to lower the shoulder and stick the ball carrier, Collins is bound to find a role early on in the secondary. This class didn't really load up on offensive lineman but filled out just about everywhere else was stacked. The front seven in particular could see plenty of recruits turn into All-Americans, led by the impressive Reggie Ragland and Dillon Lee. Offensively there are some speedsters at wide out and T.J. Yeldon might be the best running back coming into the conference.
The Tide, it appears, just can't stop rolling.
Though the news had broken that the country's top overall player in the class of 2012 would likely be headed to Columbia, nobody was truly sure until the the 6-foot-6 Dorial Green-Beckham put on the Missouri hat and officially sent his LOI in. The announcement seemed a little ho-hum despite the nearly 1,000 people watching locally and the national television audience but that's mainly a testament to the reserved Green-Beckham himself.
With many analysts calling him the second coming of Randy Moss, there's immense pressure on the top-ranked wide receiver and for good reason. There are few prospects as impressive physically as Green-Beckham and though he doesn't have great hands and needs some polish, the underlying natural talent is a good reason why he was highly regarded and highly recruited. Missouri has had success building around taller, bigger pass catchers in their offense and it looks like they'll have three years to see what kind of eye popping numbers
It can't be understated how big this is for a program like Mizzou. Landing the top recruit in the country is not just about getting a good player, it's about adding a level of prestige to the program. A talent like DGB only comes along once in a generation and for the Tigers to keep him at home is understandably huge, especially with the move to the SEC. Gary Pinkel has had plenty of success over the past several years even if it hasn't resulted in a championship and everybody understands that the competitions is about to be ratcheted up several notches going forward. With the signature of Green-Beckham, Pinkel and Mizzou proved that even if guys like Mack Brown, Bob Stoops and Nick Saban really want a kid, the Tigers can compete off and - hopefully - on the field in their new league going forward.
Nerd Search 2012
Outside of alumni and those that have to write about the Pac-12, there weren't too many mentions of Stanford on Signing Day every year.
My how times have changed.
Not only did the Cardinal tie for the national lead with six top 100 prospects, but they landed multiple five-stars and had people talking less about Andrew Luck and more about the fact that maybe this program can indeed sustain excellence going forward. There's no denying that it was one of the best years for talent on the West Coast in some time and the big reason why was the number of elite offensive lineman. If this were a few years ago, many of them would be penciled in to go to USC or Oregon or out of the area to programs like Notre Dame but instead it was Stanford who reeled the majority of the elite guys in this year (Josh Garnett, Andrus Peat, Kyle Murphy). If you were to call this the best offensive line class in recent recruiting history, you wouldn't find too many who would argue. That's just how much of a difference the school was this year and the coaches' efforts were rewarded with a top 10 class ranking.
It wasn't just an academic powerhouse like Stanford who made waves either. Northwestern landed a pair of top players in Malin Jones and Ifeadi Odenigbo. Vanderbilt brought in what some called the best class in school history. Duke landed a lightly recruited guy who, according to recruiting coordinator Matt Lubick on the CBSSports.com Signing Day Central Show, runs a sub-4.3 40 yard dash. Lots of recruits talk about wanting academics but it appears they're finally following up.
Pocket squares and pads seem to be the latest thing on the recruiting trail.
More recruiting SECcess
It wasn't quite the banner year for the league that it could have been but 2012 certainly was a great Signing Day for the best conference in the country. Eight of the SEC's 14 teams finished in the final top 25 class rankings, highlighted by Alabama at the top and both of the league newcomers turning in great first efforts. Texas A&M ended up stealing defensive tackle Edmund Ray from Missouri and added wide receiver Thomas Johnson, a former Texas commitment, to a group that finished 14th. Florida was a top five class despite missing out on some guys and even a few programs that have recently struggled did well with Georgia, Tennessee and Auburn grouped together from 20-22.
The Bulldogs had to land just about every target left on their board and they did ok, notably beating Florida State late for linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons despite a little issue with his grandfather not signing his letter of intent until Thursday. The Bulldogs missed out on Juco wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (who went to Tennessee) and offensive tackle Avery Young (to Auburn) but also landed five-star offensive lineman John Theus and what might be the best one-two punch at running back in the class with Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley. It wasn't a "Dream Team" but Georgia still showed you can have a very good class and it only be alright in such a deep league.
Kentucky brought in what might be the top quarterback in the state this year in Patrick Towles and took advantage of Alabama's number crunch in grabbing running back Justin Taylor. The state of Georgia was a big producer of talent for a lot of the league's schools and is quickly becoming the go-to state for most FBS programs after the big three of California, Texas and Florida. The theme this year was even if a school didn't pick up a commitment from a kid, there's a high chance he went to another SEC school.
Quality over quantity
This was finally the year that we'd see NCAA sanctions limit USC and Lane Kiffin had to be creative in how he managed the numbers on top of grabbing the best talent available. Even though the Trojans missed out on linemen Peat and Murphy, it was still a good haul with Zach Banner, Jordan Simmons and Max Tuerk on top of skill position talent like five-star Nelson Agholor, linebacker Jabari Ruffin, end Leonard Williams and wide receiver Darreus Rogers. Given the way the staff has recruited over the past two years, it's looking more likely that the school can get through harsh NCAA sanctions better than was previously thought. Missing out on three guys may seem like a lot but it should help next year by giving Kiffin those scholarships to use for early enrollees in 2013.
FYI to coaches across the country, if Urban Meyer starts circling your recruits, you better be prepared to bring your A+++ game if you want to land them. The master recruiter took Ohio State's class from middling prior to his hire to tying the nation's lead with six top 100 recruits and a number three overall class ranking. This was, mind you, with only two months on the job to recruit with a program that just got slapped with a bowl ban from the NCAA. Meyer really attacked the defensive line and looks like he'll be importing a high quality, SEC-caliber defensive line with Se'Von Pittman, Tommy Schutt, Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington. He's already jumped on several top 2013 players and if this year was any indication, it could be a long couple of years for his Big Ten counterparts.
Mark Stoops is the defensive coordinator at Florida State and he might be the happiest man in the state of Florida. As good as Ohio State's defensive line class was, FSU's might be the best in the country. Though they lost Dante Fowler Jr., they still signed Chris Casher, Mario Edwards, Eddie Goldman, Justin Shanks and should get Dalvon Stuckey in a year or two after he goes to a Juco. The thing about the Seminoles is that they don't need every guy to come in and play right away but each is talented enough to make an impact in certain situations. Edwards has the pedigree and drive to become a high first round draft pick with his skill set and Stoops should use him in multiple spots. Adding guys like Ronald Darby and P.J. Williams are also huge gets for the program in the secondary. Whoever plays the best defense likely has a leg up in the ACC and it appears that's where Florida State did the best on Wednesday.
The early indication that things would be going Miami's way came when one of the country's top uncommitted recruits, Miramar (Fla.) cornerback Tracy Howard, flashed the "U" sign on national television and made, to some, the surprising decision to stay home and play for the Hurricanes. Although Howard's recruitment was a bit difficult to read, it appeared there was only a slim chance that he'd leave the state and most were predicting he was Florida's to lose down the stretch.
Much like Stanford this year, there weren't a whole lot of recruits the program missed out on that they were after hard - a remarkable accomplishment given what's swirling around Coral Gables. The loss of linebacker Reggie Northrup hurts because he could play multiple positions and is easily one of the top linebacker prospects in the state. That he switched to archival Florida State stung a little but that was one of the rare occasions were the Hurricanes were slowed down. This was the largest class in the country and plenty of the recruits should see early playing time with guys like Duke Johnson making an impact from the moment they step on campus. Al Golden had to climb a mountain but did a great job grabbing the guys he did.
Not sure any assistant had a greater impact on multiple programs than new Washington coach Tosh Lupoi. California's class imploded, Washington landed the #5 player in the country in Shaq Thompson, UCLA added Jordan Payton and Oregon picked up Arik Armstead due to the uncertainty. One wonders if Lupoi had been hired earlier how much more impact he would have had for the Huskies' class but it's clear he shifted the recruiting trail in the conference in just a few short weeks.
In addition to Washington, USC, Stanford, plenty of other Pac-12 programs landed strong classes in what was a very, very good year for talent West of the Rockies. Oregon managed to flip several recruits, such as wide receiver Chance Allen from Oklahoma State and a terrific pick up in Bralon Addison from Texas A&M (who took a late visit and should fit perfectly in Chip Kelly's system). Though many were skeptical of the hire initially, Jim Mora grabbed a terrific class and fellow newcomers Rich Rodriguez and Mike Leach also had good first efforts. There really wasn't a "bad" class among the bunch and even lowly Colorado landed a top 100 player.
Texas being Texas
The Longhorns finished in a familiar spot right at the top of the class rankings and even though they couldn't push Alabama off the top spot, this has some major players who can play early and often. Malcom Brown is a beast at defensive tackle and Manny Diaz' defensive staff pulled one of the big surprises in taking Torshiro Davis away from LSU. The class has the top running back in the country with record-setter Johnathan Gray and the state's top wide out in Cayleb Jones. Mack Brown also closed very well, grabbing speedy Daje Johnson and linebackers Dalton Santos and Bryce Cottrell in addition to Davis. It will be a young Texas team in 2012 but with this class and the current roster, it will certainly be a talented one.
Tags: Adolphus Washington, Al Golden, Alabama, Andrew Luck, Andrus Peat, Arik Armstead, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Avery Young, BCS, Big Ten, Bob Stoops, Bralon Addison, Brian Kelly, Bryce Cottrell, Cal, California, Cayleb Jones, Chance Allen, Chip Kelly, Chris Casher, Colorado, Cordarrelle Patterson, Daje Johnson, Dalton Santos, Dalvon Stuckey, Dante Fowler Jr., Darius Philon, Darreus Rogers, Dennis Erickson, Deontay Greenberry, Dillon Lee, Dorial Green-Beckham, Duke, Duke Johnson, Eddie Goldman, Edmund Ray, Florida, Florida State, Gary Pinkel, Georgia, Gunner Kiel, Houston, Ifeadi Odenigbo, Jabari Ruffin, Jamie Christian, Jim Mora, John Theus, Johnathan Gray, Jordan Payton, Jordan Simmons, Josh Garnett, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Justin Shanks, Justin Taylor, Keith Marshall, Kentucky, Korren Kirven, Kyle Murphy, Landon Collins, Lane Kiffin, Leonard Williams, LSU, Mack Brown, Malcom Brown, Malin Jones, Manny Diaz, Mario Edwards, Mark Stoops, Matt Lubick, Max Tuerk, Miami, Michael Floyd, Mike Leach, Missouri, NCAA, Nelson Agholor, Nick Saban, Noah Spence, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Oregon, P.J. Williams, Pac-12, Patrick Towles, Randy moss, Reggie Northrup, Reggie Ragland, Rich Rodriguez, Ronald Darby, Se'Von Pittman, SEC, Shaq Thompson, Signing Day Wrap, Stanford, T.J. Yeldon, Tee Shepard, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Thomas Johnson, Todd Gurley, Tommy Schutt, Tony Levine, Torshiro Davis, Tosh Lupoi, Tracy Howard, UCLA, Under Armour All-American Game, Urban Meyer, USC, Vanderbilt, Washington, Zach banner
Posted on: January 31, 2012 7:54 am
By Joe Davidson for MaxPreps
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - At long last, a decision and peace.
MaxPreps U.S. Air Force All-American safety/running back Shaq Thompson of Grant (Sacramento, Calif.) announced via text and Twitter that he will accept a football scholarship to Washington, thus ending a whirlwind recruitment that included twists, turns and a Tosh factor.
Said Thompson in his text, "It's where my heart is; second highest grad rate in Pac-12; love the coaches."
One of those coaches is Tosh Lupoi, the former Cal defensive line coach and highly regarded national recruiter who had been hot on Thompson's heels for two years. The two had formed a bond, not uncommon for the popular Lupoi, a former Cal player from the Bay Area.
Thompson was set for Cal with a verbal commitment to the Bears in early January at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, though he admitted later that Washington was a close second and it still wildly intrigued him since his close friend and ex-Grant teammate James Sample was there and for myriad other reasons: tradition, academics, football upside, etc.
He also tweeted Monday night, "Just committed to the UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON #HUSKYNATION," shortly after 10:15 p.m. PST.
Things started to really turn against Cal when Lupoi made a visit to Thompson's home on Jan. 15, telling him he could very well wind up coaching with Washington. The next morning, Jan. 16, Lupoi was indeed headed to the Pacific Northwest with a substantial pay raise. Washington was able to pluck a prime recruiter from under the blue rug of Cal, and the domino effect means Cal ultimately lost Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove, Calif.) All-American lineman Arik Armstead and Thompson.
Thompson said after he met with Lupoi, he was torn. Even though Lupoi doesn't coach defensive backs, Thompson felt a close connection, and it was enough to make that "50-50" dead heat into a Huskies advantage.
Washington coaches had a home visit with Thompson last week. What really settled it for Thompson, the No. 5 recruit nationally, was an unofficial recruiting trip to Washington over the weekend.
Joe Davidson has covered prep sports at The Sacramento Bee since 1988. Follow him on Twitter: sb_joedavidson