Tag:South Carolina
Posted on: April 16, 2011 5:36 am
Edited on: April 16, 2011 2:51 pm
 

Nkemdiche stars at Georgia Nike Camp

Posted by Bryan Fischer

ATHENS, Ga. -- Hundreds of players from all over the Southeast braved an oncoming thunderstorm to showcase their skills at the University of Georgia in the latest edition of the Nike Football Training Camp and Elite 11 Quarterback Competition Friday night.

Once again, Georgia had a strong display of BCS-caliber talent at the camp and the state continues to show why recruiters from across the country are anxious to get a look at the next wave of talent coming out of the Peach State. The class of 2012 is loaded with talent along the defensive line and several of the state's 33 recruits with FBS offers made their way down to the camp.

While many of the highly regarded juniors flashed their skills during drills, it was not hard to see that Grayson (Ga.) sophomore defensive end Robert Nkemdiche was not only the most talented of the group, but easily the top player at the camp.

"They called me out and I did it," Nkemdiche said matter of factly. "It felt good."

His home state might end up sending close to 50 players to an FBS school from the defensive line come February but you'd be hard pressed to find someone who looks as good as Nkemdiche does at first glance. The 6-foot-4, 265 pound end was a physical specimen, showing up fit and ready to dominate older competition.

On top of a quick initial burst, he displayed several polished pass rush moves that even much older college players don't have. Making the most of a lightning quick spin move or just relying on a straight speed rush, Nkemdiche was impossible to stop in one-on-ones all night long. Thought he will continue to grow and mature at the position, the gifted pass rusher is already thinking ahead at what he wants to work on the rest of the summer.

"I want to work on my speed," Nkemdiche said. "I real fast right now, like a 4.5 (40 yard dash) but I want to drop my time. I want to be the best I can be and the coaches want that too."

Nkemdiche's high school coaches also want to win, which is why he'll also try his hand at running back next season for Grayson. As terrifying as it might be to some opposing players to see someone of his size and skill running at them, Nkemdiche is equally excited at getting the chance to run over (and past) a few defenders to reach the end zone on offense.

"I can't wait," he said. "It's going to be great."

In spite of having almost two years before inking his signature on a letter of intent, the talented sophomore is already sitting on multiple scholarship offers. Given his unique blend of size, speed and pass rushing ability, it's easy to see why some schools feel the need to extend an offer early in hopes of making Nkemdiche's recruitment a quick one.

"Auburn was the last offer I got, maybe late January or early February," he said. "I don't know how many but I have over ten.

"Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and that's all I know off the top of my head right now."

Several programs' annual Spring Game is Saturday and Nkemdiche was planning on going to Alabama's "A-Day" but will instead catch most of the day's action at home. He'll continue to exploit offensive linemen on Sunday however, when he'll head to the Atlanta Under Armour Camp.

Utilizing his unique skill set is something Nkemdiche will continue to do throughout the summer and has already planned out a few unofficial visits and camp stops between now and the end of July.

"In the summer I'm going to go to a couple schools," he said. "LSU, Alabama and Auburn's camps. Just (visit) as many schools as I can."

Nkemdiche was one of only two sophomore to walk off the field as a position MVP but based on his performance Friday night, he might as well have been holding the title of top recruit in the Southeast for 2013.

And you'd find few who would be willing to argue if he snagged it either.

Alexander, Eligwe share the spotlight

Just as impressive as the defensive line group, the linebackers in attendance received their share of publicity and right fully so. With eight players holding multiple BCS offers, there might not have been a better position group all year. In fact, many of the camp instructors had a hard time thinking of a better group of linebackers in the decade long history of the Nike Camps.

Fittingly, the position MVP award was one of the toughest decisions of the night so the coaches ended up making Oxford (Ala.) stud Kwon Alexander and Stone Mountain (Ga.) linebacker Ukeme Eligwe co-MVPs.

"I feel like I did great and showcased my talent," Eligwe said. "There was a lot of great players out here today."

"I really just wanted to do my best and learn from everybody," said Alexander.

Eligwe made the case to be the top linebacker in the state - if he wasn't already - thanks to his size and very good quickness. He opened his hips well and hardly let anything get past him during drills. A top performer in all of the one-one drills, the 6-foot-2, 220 pounder also wouldn't mind an extra rep or two against Alexander to settle who really was the top linebacker at the event.

"That would be nice," Eligwe said with a smile. "He's a good player also so I don't feel different, it's all good. I came out here to have fun and do what I have to do."

The speedy Alexander was quite confident who would eventually prevail and would have loved to see another play to decide top dog.

"Yeah I want another," he said with a grin. "I want to be the best out there."

Both players have seen the amount of offers rolling in slow to a trickle due mostly to the fact that they have a scholarship awaiting from pretty much every major school in the country. Alexander is known for his speed out on the field and is mainly focusing on track this offseason and keeping recruiting in the outside lane for the time being. Despite being 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, Alexander runs an 11.2 second 100 meters and also stars in the 200 meters. All of the time spent on the track working to shave off a few seconds means the bulk of his recruitment will come during the summer and into the fall.

"There's no one standing out right now," he said. "Everybody's still the same. After track season I'm going to do a few unofficial (visits) and then once the season starts I'll do my official visits.

"I'll take all five official visits. I'm going to take one to Oregon, USC, UCLA. I'll take a couple of them down (in Alabama)."

Eligwe isn't as involved with track as Alexander and as a result is able to narrow down his list of suitors somewhat.

"My most recent offer was last week but I can't really remember," he said, adding that they've all blended together a bit. "Florida State's standing out. More than likely I'll be at their Spring Game."

Florida and Georgia are also standing out according Eligwe, who received an early morning phone call Friday from South Carolina's staff on the first day of the May Evaluation Period. With so many schools vying for his attention Eligwe is starting to look a bit closer to home as to where he might attend college.

"More than likely yes but I wouldn't just say I'm going to stay in the area," he said. "Those are just some of my top schools right now"

Alexander also received an early morning phone call Friday and the SEC staff who made it ended up making an impression on the talented linebacker.

"Arkansas called me about six," he said. "It was good because they were the first team that called me. I didn't know that today was there time to call me so that surprised me when they called. They just asked what's up and everything."

The Hogs are not the only school who is in hot pursuit of Alexander, though. Several schools from both the Pac-12 and the SEC are heavily recruiting him.

"Oregon, Auburn, Alabama, USC, LSU," Alexander said. "I don't mind where I go, it's just where it makes me feel a part of a family."

No stranger to campus, Elder looks solid at the camp

There are few players who actually are defensive backs. You have safeties, you have corners and a few times you even find a nickel corner among the bunch. College Park (Ga.) defensive back Chaz Elder however, lives up to the label.

The 6-foot-2, 290 pound Elder played a bit of both Friday during drills and one-on-ones and displayed the speed and agility to excel as either a big corner or a prototypical safety. Even he didn't get caught up in what position he ran out on to the field for, it was all about the reps.

"I actually have no idea, I just play," Elder responded when asked which position he's better at.

It's hard to disagree, especially if you're a college coach. Holding a double-digit offer list, Elder has his pick of the litter and has schools recruiting him at both safety and corner.

"Some colleges say I'll be a good-sized corner,” he said. “Others say I'd be good at safety. It doesn't matter to me. Again, I just want to play."

Elder recently picked up another offer, the latest being from Southern Miss. Even though the offers keep rolling in, the Georgia native is starting to narrow down his list and sees three schools separating from the pack.

"It's between Illinois, Clemson and Georgia," Elder said. "It's mostly Clemson and UGA because I've visited them the most. I came up (to Georgia) for one of the spring practices. At Clemson, it's mainly the coaches and the people (I like)."

Despite his top two being pretty close to home, Elder added that he would have no reservations about heading off aways for school if he found the right fit.

Notes

- Position MVPs were McDonough (Ga.) defensive back D.J. White, Florida-bound running back Mike Davis of Stone Mountain (Ga.), Alexander and Eligwe at linebacker, Lithonia (Ga.) offensive lineman Joe Harris and Nkemdiche on the defensive line.

- Gainesville (Ga.) wide receiver C.J. Curry was looking forward to going up against Tallahassee (Fla.) defensive back Travis Blanks and the two did not disappoint, waging several good battles during one-on-ones.

"I'm not going to make any excuses, he got me," Curry said. "He had a good day and worked hard to get the W today."

A Georgia commit, Curry also didn't mind bringing up the Bulldogs to a few of more well known recruits at the camp.

"It's always fun," Curry said. "I was trying to talk to Blanks (about Georgia). Other than going against him, I didn't really see him though."

With Georgia's class of 2011 nicknaming themselves the “Dream Team,” Curry said he was working on a nickname for the class of 2012.

- It was not a particularly strong group of quarterbacks for either the Nike Camp or the Elite 11 and the howling winds and light rain didn't help things either. Orlando (Fla.) quarterback Nick Patti showed off his arm again and continues to impress on the camp circuit. If it were not for his height (5-foot-10) he'd be getting offers from a lot of BCS programs. Cleveland (Tenn.) signal caller Chad Voytik also impressed with his accuracy and was probably the top guy at the event but did not participate in the Nike Camp portion. The finals of the Elite 11 were cut off due to inclement weather.

- Buford (Ga.) offensive tackle Vadal Alexander, who has offers from just about everybody, was one of several recruits to get a 6 A.M. phone call from the USC coaching staff. Alexander said he spoke to Ed Orgeron and James Cregg for several minutes and was surprised by the call. At this point, he has already been to LSU, Alabama and Auburn but says all schools are in the race to land his services.

- If you were looking for Louisville commit Larry Jefferson, you wouldn't find him catching passes Friday night. Although he is being recruited at tight end, Jefferson made the trip to Athens to learn a few new tricks for his other position.

"I'm a tight end but I went to defensive end because I play D-end in high school too," he said. "I just wanted to learn more stuff about the position."

When asked why he wants to play on offense in college, Jefferson was quite honest with his answer.

"I love getting the ball," he said with a nice laugh. "I like scoring touchdowns and everything. I'm committed and done, stress is off my shoulders."

- A few others who impressed were linebacker Dillon Lee out of Buford (Ga.), Powder Springs (Ga.) offensive tackle Kofi Amichia, Dublin (Ga.) 2013 linebacker Johnny O'Neal, Stepheson (Ga.) linebacker Raphael Kirby, Norcross (Ga.) receiver Jason Croom, 2013 defensive end Reginald Carter out of Stephenson (Ga.), Hillgrove (Ga.) athlete Kenyan Drake, 2013 Autauga (Ala.) tight end O'Terrius Howard and Charlotte (N.C.) linebacker Nick Dawson among others.

Posted on: April 11, 2011 11:51 am
Edited on: April 11, 2011 11:52 am
 

South Carolina nabs linebacker for commit #2

Posted by Bryan Fischer

A busy weekend at South Carolina was capped off with the commitment of Atlanta (Ga.) linebacker T.J. Holloman Sunday night. The Gamecocks' annual Spring Game was Saturday and Holloman was on hand to take in the exhibition as part of an unofficial visit to the school. 

"I came back from the visit and talked with my family about it all day (Sunday)," Holloman told TheBigSpur.com. "They told me they were in love with it and they liked everything that (USC head coach) Steve Spurrier and his program had to give. I was in love with it. I just felt like a decision was made already and why not do it today."

The 6-foot-3, 220 pound linebacker also had scholarship offers from Louisville, Illinois and N.C. State with several others showing interest. However there were several factors that ultimately led Holloman to choose the Gamecocks and end his recruitment early.

"The graduation rates at South Carolina are real high," he said. "They get players to the NFL. I really like Spurrier's focus. His first focus is on schoolwork. They won a lot of games last year, were 6-1 at home and won the SEC East. I think they are an up and coming program and I want to be part of a good program both on and off the field."

Holloman is the second commit for South Carolina's class of 2012. He is also a high school teammate of five-star cornerback Geno Smith.

Posted on: April 10, 2011 12:58 am
Edited on: April 10, 2011 1:01 am
 

Dewey shines at TCU Elite 11

Posted by Bryan Fischer

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Some of the top quarterbacks from Texas and the Midwest descended upon TCU's campus for the second stop in the 2011 edition of the Elite 11 Regional Quarterback Camp Saturday afternoon.

Although several quarterbacks impressed on a slightly windy but otherwise picturesque spring day, Austin (Texas) quarterback Preston Dewey threw a tight spiral and displayed a strong and accurate arm to take home the Golden Gun Award as the top signal caller at the camp.

"It felt really good, all the hard work I've been doing paid off today," Dewey said. "I just came out here to do what I can do and show everybody that I can play at the next level."

Dewey might have been the best quarterback at either Elite 11 camp this year in terms of being a complete player. He had good footwork and never got off balance too much when throwing. He held the ball tight and has a good release that gets the ball to where he wants it quickly. Dewey has a very good arm that can make all the throws.

The 6-foot-3, 210 pound quarterback is as intriguing off the field as he is on it. Previously at Austin-area powerhouse Westlake High, Dewey transferred to local private school St. Andrew's Episcopal. Taking advantage of transfer regulations, he reclassified to the class of 2012, giving him an extra year of high school.

"A couple people have done it and it's not real common," he said. "Brock Mansion did it at Cal and T.J. Millweard did it at (private Fort Worth school) All Saints. I checked out all the NCAA stuff and if I can be eligible and I can. There's no problem with that. I want to be where I am right now and I want to be recruited by who I am right now instead of going to a smaller school or walking-on."

The 18-year-old Dewey is using the extra time at the prep level to his advantage. Not only did the transfer allow him to start right away at quarterback, it also meant that he could have more time learning from St. Andrew's head coach and Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Ty Detmer.

"It's awesome," Dewey said. "With his background, he has all the knowledge in the world. He's helped me out a ton. I think I've learned more about football this past year than I have my entire life just because of everything he knows about the game. I couldn't have asked for a better coach."

As a result of a strong "junior" season last year under Detmer, Dewey is seeing his recruiting picking up. He is up to four scholarship offers, including two from the Pac-12.

"UCLA I actually had never talked to (until recently)," he said. "I was in school and my dad texted me that UCLA just offered. I was like, 'Are you serious?' That was my first big offer.

"Utah and Wyoming both sent me an email and said call them. So I did and they both offered me on the same night. It's pretty exciting knowing Norm Chow and Rick Neuheisel, guys who have been around the game and know what they're looking for in a quarterback, have offered me a scholarship. It's humbling and gives me a lot of confidence."

Because his offers are from schools located around the country, Dewey realizes he will probably be leaving the state to play college football. He was hoping to play for Texas A&M, where his father played football, but the Aggies already have a quarterback for the class of 2012 in San Antonio (Texas) signal caller Trevor Knight. Texas showed some interest but backed off after picking up a commitment from Scottsdale (Ariz.) quarterback Connor Brewer.

"I still want to go to a big school that can compete for a national championship," Dewey said. "I've kind of accepted the fact that I'm going to have to go out of the state and pretty far from home. I really don't have a problem with it."

Dewey says he would like to make a commitment at the end of the summer or right before the start of the season. He's already taken unofficial visits to several schools, including Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Clemson and South Carolina.

Tech commit Nicholas looks sharp

Abilene (Texas) quarterback Clayton Nicholas was one of the few campers in attendance who actually had already committed to a school. A Texas Tech pledge, he preformed well throughout the session and displayed a strong arm but wasn't perfect as he readily admitted.

"I did alright, I missed a throw here or there but you've got to learn from it," Nicholas. "You've got to get the ball downfield and do what you have to do."

The 6-foot-3, 200 pound Nicholas had a very quick drop back and delivery but tended to drop his arm angle at times. He needs to work on throwing over the top a bit more which will should translate into improved accuracy for his otherwise strong arm. Nicholas understood that the camp was also an opportunity to work on things mentally in order to improve as a quarterback.

"I really come out here to work on leadership, command, knowing what all the players are doing what the route is, everything," he said. "All the things an Elite 11 quarterback would work on."

While it is almost common place for verbal commitments to continue to look around as part of the recruiting process leading up to Signing Day, Nicholas seems to be sold on the Red Raiders and firmly committed.

"I am solid with them," Nicholas said. "They're the only school really talking with me and they're the only school I'm looking at. It's a good school for me and they like to throw it around which is what I'm made for.

"All of the offensive coaches have been really good to me."

Nicholas was unsure if he was going to show up Sunday for the TCU Nike Camp but if he did, he might do a little recruiting for the Red Raiders.

Other quarterbacks of note

Underclassmen who made an impression at the event were 2013 quarterback Kenny Hill of nearby powerhouse Southlake Carroll High and 2014 quarterback Jerrod Heard. Seniors-to-be Brady Burgin of Highland Park (Texas), Houston (Texas) quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe and Allen (Texas) quarterback Alec Morris also stood out. Grand Prairie (Texas) quarterback Jared Johnson also looked good and was very accurate but will likely be recruited as an athlete due to his height (about 5-foot-10). Virginia Tech commit and local quarterback T.J. Millweard did not show up.

Posted on: April 9, 2011 10:56 am
 

Top 100 Offers and Leaders: 11-20

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Tom Lemming's Top 100 for 2012 List was released this week and it has some of the most talented recruits in the country for the upcoming class. In an ongoing series, we'll take a look at who they have offers from and who might be the leader for their commitment.

11. Running back Rushel Shell (Aliquippa, Pa.)

Offers: Alabama, Auburn, Cincinnati, Colorado, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio State, Penn State, Pitt, Tennessee, UCLA, Virginia, West Virginia.

Possible leader: Pitt.

12. Offensive lineman Zach Banner (Lakewood, Wash.)

Offers: Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Boise State, Cal, Florida State, Georgia Tech, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon, Oregon State, Penn State, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State, Wisconsin.

Possible leader: Washington.

13. DT Jarron Jones (Rochester, N.Y.)

Offers: Alabama, Boston College, UConn, Florida, Florida State, Iowa, Louisville, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, USF, Syracuse, Tennessee.

Possible leader: Notre Dame.


14. Athlete Stefon Diggs (Olney, Md.)

Offers: Alabama, Cal, Cincinnati, Colorado, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Pitt, Rutgers, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, West Virginia.


Possible leader: Florida State.

15. Offensive tackle D.J. Humphries (Charlotte, N.C.)

Offers: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Duke, East Carolina, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, N.C. State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, South Carolina, USF, Tennessee, Texas, UCF, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest.

Possible leader: Tennessee.

16. DB Travis Blanks (Tallahassee, Fla.)

Offers: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Louisville, LSU, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, South Carolina, USF, Southern Miss, Stanford, Syracuse, Tennessee, USC, Vanderbilt, West Virginia.

Possible leader: Alabama.

17. OT Andrus Peat (Tempe, Ariz.)

Offers: Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Cal, Clemson, Colorado, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Kansas, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oregon, Oregon State, San Diego State, Stanford, Texas, UCLA, USC, Wake Forest, Washington.

Possible leader: USC.

18. DT Eddie Goldman (Washington, D.C.)

Offers: Alabama, Auburn, Cal, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Iowa, LSU, Miami, Nebraska, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State, Rutgers, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA, Virginia Tech, West Virginia.

Possible leader: Alabama.

19. DB Geno Smith (Atlanta, Ga.)

Offers: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Louisville, LSU, Memphis, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, North Carolina, N.C. State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Purdue, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech.

Possible leader: Georgia.

20. WR Shaq Roland (Lexington, S.C.)

Offers: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina. 

Possible leader: Clemson.

Posted on: April 6, 2011 5:58 pm
Edited on: April 6, 2011 6:05 pm
 

Top 100 Offers & Leaders: 1-10

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Tom Lemming's Top 100 for 2012 List was released today and it has some of the most talented recruits in the country for the upcoming class. In an ongoing series, we'll take a look at who they have offers from and who might be the leader for their commitment.

1. WR Dorial Green-Beckham (Springfield, Mo.)

Offers: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Illinois, Iowa, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas, UCLA, USC, Wisconsin.

Possible leader: Alabama.

2. QB Gunner Kiel (Columbus, Ind.)

Offers: Alabama, Cincinnati, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Purdue, TCU, Tennessee, USC, Wisconsin.

Possible leader: Notre Dame.

3. WR Cayleb Jones (Austin, Texas)

Committed to Texas.

4. DE Noah Spence (Harrisburg, Pa.)

Offers: Auburn, Boston College, Cincinnati, UConn, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, N.C. State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, South Carolina, Stanford, Syracuse, Tennessee, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech.

Possible leader: Penn State.


5. DE Mario Edwards (Denton, Texas)

Committed to Florida State.

6. OT John Theus (Jacksonville, Fla.)

Offers: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Rutgers, South Carolina, Texas, UCF.

Possible leader: Georgia.

7. DT Ellis McCarthy (Monrovia, Calif.)

Offers: Arizona, Cal, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Tennessee, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State.

Possible leader: USC

8. RB Johnathan Gray (Aledo, Texas)

Offers: Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Colorado, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, USC.

Possible leader: Texas.

9. DB Landon Collins (Geismar, La.)

Offers: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Tennessee, Texas A&M, USC.

Possible leader: LSU.

10. RB Barry Sanders Jr.

Offers: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Auburn, Colorado, Florida State, Ole Miss, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Stanford, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Tulsa, UCLA.

Possible leader: Alabama.

Posted on: April 5, 2011 10:12 am
Edited on: April 5, 2011 10:18 am
 

2012 Defensive Backs to Watch

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Geismar (La.) star Landon Collins is the top defensive back in the nation according to CBS Sports/MaxPreps Recruiting Analyst Tom Lemming but there's a lot of football to be played between now and Signing Day. Here's five other players - in alphabetical order - who you need to keep an eye out for this year. Each of them has a chance to move Collins off the top spot and become the top defensive back for the class of 2012.

Travis Blanks (North Florida Christian, Tallahassee, Fla.)

Height: 6-foot-2 
Weight: 200 pounds 
Offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Louisville, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, South Carolina, USF, Tennessee, USC, Vanderbilt

What's to like: Blanks has good height and projects best at safety but can play nickel corner or on the outside. He can turn his hips very quickly and can overpower smaller receivers at the line of scrimmage.

Needs to work on: Blanks is athletic but we're unsure of the competition he is going against. We'd like to see him against some top flight receivers and see how he does. He needs to get stronger as well.

Jordan Diggs (Bishop Verot High, Fort Meyers, Fla.) 

Height: 6-foot-1 
Weight: 195 pounds 
Offers from Auburn, Boston College, UConn, Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Maryland, Ole Miss, Nebraska, Ohio State, Purdue, South Carolina, USF, Tennessee, UCF, Vanderbilt, West Virginia

What's to like: Diggs certainly looks the part of a Division-I safety with or without the pads. He has a physical upper body and can come in and lay a big hit. He closes on the ball quickly and is quite cerebral on the field, directing teammates to where they need to be. The best part about Diggs is his passion for the game and willingness to learn about the position.

Needs to work on: Diggs still needs to work on his quickness and at times seems a bit stiff in his hips.

Tee Shepard (Central East High, Fresno, Calif.)

Height: 6-foot-1 
Weight: 175 pounds 
Committed to Notre Dame

What's to like: Shepard will be a bigger corner at the next level and his length will give opposing receivers issues. He is one of the best in terms of covering a player one-on-one and does a good job of knowing where the ball is at all times. He also has surprisingly good hands for a defensive back.

Needs to work on: Thompson is not one to lay a huge hit on an opponent and real seems to hang out on the outside. He'll pursue players but really won't attack them at the line of scrimmage.

Geno Smith (St. Pius X School, Atlanta, Ga.)

Height: 6-foot 
Weight: 170 
Offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Ole Miss, Notre Dame, Ohio State, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech

What's to like: Smith can turn and run with the best of the wide receivers out there and he sticks to them closely. He plays the ball in the air well and is a surprisingly willing and able tackler. He closes on the ball well and could play early on at the nickel corner spot.

Needs to work on: He needs to get stronger and could also work on his press in Cover-2.

Shaquille Thompson (Grant Union High, Sacramento, Calif.) 

Height: 6-foot-1 
Weight: 195 pounds 
Offers from Auburn, Cal, Oregon, UCLA, UNLV, USC

What's to like: Thompson is the younger brother of former All-American corner Syd'Quan Thompson and you can tell that the family knows how to play the defensive back position. The younger Thompson is a terrific athlete and one of the better tacklers in this class. He closes extremely quickly and does well when in press coverage as well. He will likely play safety but he as the ability to play corner as well.

Needs to work on: Thompson still needs to beef up a little as he would be a bit thin at safety in college. There are times when he seems a bit unsure of what he's doing and just reacts but playing a single position in college will help him focus on getting better.

Posted on: April 5, 2011 10:12 am
Edited on: April 5, 2011 10:18 am
 

2012 Defensive Backs to Watch

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Geismar (La.) star Landon Collins is the top defensive back in the nation according to CBS Sports/MaxPreps Recruiting Analyst Tom Lemming but there's a lot of football to be played between now and Signing Day. Here's five other players - in alphabetical order - who you need to keep an eye out for this year. Each of them has a chance to move Collins off the top spot and become the top defensive back for the class of 2012.

Travis Blanks (North Florida Christian, Tallahassee, Fla.)

Height: 6-foot-2 
Weight: 200 pounds 
Offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Louisville, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, South Carolina, USF, Tennessee, USC, Vanderbilt

What's to like: Blanks has good height and projects best at safety but can play nickel corner or on the outside. He can turn his hips very quickly and can overpower smaller receivers at the line of scrimmage.

Needs to work on: Blanks is athletic but we're unsure of the competition he is going against. We'd like to see him against some top flight receivers and see how he does. He needs to get stronger as well.

Jordan Diggs (Bishop Verot High, Fort Meyers, Fla.) 

Height: 6-foot-1 
Weight: 195 pounds 
Offers from Auburn, Boston College, UConn, Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Maryland, Ole Miss, Nebraska, Ohio State, Purdue, South Carolina, USF, Tennessee, UCF, Vanderbilt, West Virginia

What's to like: Diggs certainly looks the part of a Division-I safety with or without the pads. He has a physical upper body and can come in and lay a big hit. He closes on the ball quickly and is quite cerebral on the field, directing teammates to where they need to be. The best part about Diggs is his passion for the game and willingness to learn about the position.

Needs to work on: Diggs still needs to work on his quickness and at times seems a bit stiff in his hips.

Tee Shepard (Central East High, Fresno, Calif.)

Height: 6-foot-1 
Weight: 175 pounds 
Committed to Notre Dame

What's to like: Shepard will be a bigger corner at the next level and his length will give opposing receivers issues. He is one of the best in terms of covering a player one-on-one and does a good job of knowing where the ball is at all times. He also has surprisingly good hands for a defensive back.

Needs to work on: Thompson is not one to lay a huge hit on an opponent and real seems to hang out on the outside. He'll pursue players but really won't attack them at the line of scrimmage.

Geno Smith (St. Pius X School, Atlanta, Ga.)

Height: 6-foot 
Weight: 170 
Offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Ole Miss, Notre Dame, Ohio State, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech

What's to like: Smith can turn and run with the best of the wide receivers out there and he sticks to them closely. He plays the ball in the air well and is a surprisingly willing and able tackler. He closes on the ball well and could play early on at the nickel corner spot.

Needs to work on: He needs to get stronger and could also work on his press in Cover-2.

Shaquille Thompson (Grant Union High, Sacramento, Calif.) 

Height: 6-foot-1 
Weight: 195 pounds 
Offers from Auburn, Cal, Oregon, UCLA, UNLV, USC

What's to like: Thompson is the younger brother of former All-American corner Syd'Quan Thompson and you can tell that the family knows how to play the defensive back position. The younger Thompson is a terrific athlete and one of the better tacklers in this class. He closes extremely quickly and does well when in press coverage as well. He will likely play safety but he as the ability to play corner as well.

Needs to work on: Thompson still needs to beef up a little as he would be a bit thin at safety in college. There are times when he seems a bit unsure of what he's doing and just reacts but playing a single position in college will help him focus on getting better.

Posted on: April 4, 2011 2:12 pm
 

2012 Linebackers to Watch

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Oxford (Ala.) star Kwon Alexander is the top linebacker in the nation according to CBS Sports/MaxPreps Recruiting Analyst Tom Lemming but there's a lot of football to be played between now and Signing Day. Here's five other linebackers - in no particular order - who you need to keep an eye out for this year. Each of them has a chance to move Alexander off the top spot and become the top linebacker for the class of 2012.

Deaysean Rippy (Sto-Rox High, McKees Rocks, Pa.) 
Height: 6-foot-2 
Weight: 210 pounds 
Offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Colorado, UConn, Florida, Florida State, Iowa, LSU, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State, Pitt, South Carolina, Syracuse, Temple, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, Wisconsin

What's to like: It's no surprise to see Rippy become one of the most recruited athletes in the country after watching his film. He has been on the radar since his sophomore year and is a really versatile player as an outside linebacker. His pass rush skills are exceptional and he is fast enough to even be a safety at the next level. Rippy is one of the best players in coverage among this group of linebackers.

Needs to work on: Rippy is still a bit undersized if he wants to play outside linebacker in a 4-3 and could add a bit of weight.



Noor Davis (The Villages High, The Villages, Fla.) 
Height: 6-foot-4 
Weight: 225 pounds 
Offers from: Alabama, Boston College, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Louisville, Miami, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Pitt, Purdue, USF, Stanford, Syracuse, Tennessee, UCF, UCLA, USC, Virginia

What's to like: Davis is an exceptional prospect at the outside linebacker position and it's hard not to like what you see when you see him in person or on film. He is a smart player on the field who reads the play quickly and almost always takes a good angle to make the tackle. It's almost funny to see him standout on the field due to his size and the way he hits.

Needs to work on: Davis needs to learn some of the nuances of playing outside linebacker and move beyond a pass rusher from the outside.



Jabari Ruffin (Downey High, Downey, Calif.) 
Height: 6-foot-3 
Weight: 245 pounds 
Committed to USC

What's to like: Ruffin certainly looks the part and is probably the best linebacker west of the Mississippi. He looked sharp at the recent LA Nike Camp and his athleticism jumps out at you when you realize he played offense last season. Not only does he have speed to burn but his explosiveness is really apparent when you see him get ready to deliver a big hit.

Needs to work on: There's not a whole lot more that Ruffin needs to do to be successful but he should benefit from playing only linebacker in college. Becoming a read and react player instead of relying mostly on his athleticism to make plays is the next step for him to become a great player.



Reggie Ragland (Bob Jones High, Madison, Ala.) 
Height: 6-foot-4 
Weight: 235 pounds 
Committed to Alabama

What's to like: Ragland's size and speed make him a very, very good prospect manning the middle linebacker position. He's instinctive and when he reads his keys is one of the best in the country. He fills gaps very well and usually ends up blowing people up rather than just tackling them. He also does a good job of engaging a defender and then getting said defender out of his way.

Needs to work on: Ragland is a bit of a lose cannon at times and sometimes tries to do too much. He'll need to improve his coverage skills as well, especially if he's to be a middle backer in a Cover-2 scheme that requires him to run down the field.

Cassanova McKinzy (Woodlawn High, Birmingham, Ala.) 
Height: 6-foot-2 
Weight: 230 pounds 
Committed to Auburn

What's to like: McKinzy's name first of all. Beyond that though, there's plenty of things that Auburn coaches saw in McKinzy, including great size and speed at outside linebacker. He's very athletic and could play running back at the next level if he wanted to. McKinzy wraps up very well when tackling and is very instinctive.

Needs to work on: McKinzy may have all the measurables but he is still a bit raw at linebacker. He'll need to refine his coverage skills and improve his ability to read and react.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com