Tag:Ed Orgeron
Posted on: January 26, 2012 12:58 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 1:11 pm
 

Pac-12 Signing Day Overview



Posted by Bryan Fischer


National Signing Day is almost here and recruits across the country are gearing up for plenty of last-minute pitches and school visits as head coaches look to shape their program for years to come. There was some head coaching turnover in the Pac-12 and a few interesting moves in terms of assistants which makes 2012 a very interesting year in the conference. Combined with the fact that this is the best year in a while for talent on the West Coast and there some buzz about what is going on in the Pac-12.

MaxPreps.com Top 25 Team Rankings, Big Ten
College Commits Top 100 Moving
10. California 18 3
17. USC 12 3
21. Oregon 18 2
25. Stanford 17 2

Top storylines

1. What's the fall out from Tosh Lupoi leaving for Washington?

The departure of Lupoi, Cal's best recruiter, might end up a seismic shift in the Pac-12 recruiting landscape. He was responsible for getting the Golden Bears into the top 10 in the team rankings and was on the verge of landing another five-star defender to give him an impressive three on defense. Instead plenty of Cal recruits and commitments have decided to take late official visits and only a handful can be considered solid verbal pledges. Lupoi might not be able to have a huge impact on the Huskies class but they're in the running for a few top players late in the process. Needless to say, this is a big move and one that might have a huge impact in 2012 and beyond.

2. How high does Oregon go?

The near departure of head coach Chip Kelly threw many recruits for a loop but it looks like, despite some negative recruiting by other schools, the current class will remain intact with the Ducks also in the running for some elite five-star guys on the West Coast come Signing Day. Oregon currently sits just outside the top 20 but if they land one or two of the guys that are left on their board, it's very possible to find them in the top 15 with one of the most talented classes headed to Eugene in a long time.

3. Roster management in Los Angeles

It's a good thing both head coaches in Los Angeles have NFL experience because they're going to have to do some good ol' fashioned roster management - something that does happen outside of the SEC - albeit for different reasons. Lane Kiffin and USC are finally starting to feel the effects of sanctions and have to be careful to not only sign 15 or fewer recruits on Signing Day but come in under the NCAA-imposed  limit of 75 scholarship players by the fall. The Trojans are in the running for some top talent and, with early enrollees, will actually bring in more than 15 players so it will be interesting to see what the team looks like going forward. Across town, this was expected to be a small UCLA class of 17 or so recruits but the Bruins currently have 25 commits. There are some creative things Jim Mora can do so it will be interesting to see who winds up on the roster come the fall.

4. Which new coach winds up with the best class?

The massive coaching turnover in the Pac-12 has made things interesting among the conference's middle class. Rich Rodriguez had an early head start but it took awhile to get his full staff on board and that might have cost him some. Todd Graham has to deal with a lot of negative recruiting thanks to the way he left Pitt but has managed to do better than tread water and could land one of the state's top players. Meanwhile, Mike Leach has done a remarkable job of remaking the Wazzu class to fit his offense and aggressively get players who might have been overlooked by others but are simply players when it counts on the field. Finally, Jim Mora has done a great job getting some elite talent to get excited about UCLA. Should be an interesting finish.

Most impressive class: California

Most underrated class: Oregon State

Work left to do: Arizona

Top Players to Watch
Name Pos Committed
5. Shaq Thompson DB California
6. Ellis McCarthy DT UCLA
8. Andrus Peat OL Uncommitted
13. Nelson Agholor ATH Uncommitted
16. Arik Armstead OL/DT Uncommitted
21. Zach Banner OL Uncommitted
26. Josh Garnett OL Uncommitted
30. D.J. Foster ATH Uncommitted
37. Jordan Simmons OL USC
41. Aziz Shittu DT Uncommitted
 

Assistant recruiters of note:

Robert Anae, Tony Gibson and Calvin Magee, Arizona
Mike Norvell, Arizona State
Marcus Arroyo, Ron Gould and Todd Howard, California
Eric Bieniemy, Darian Hagan and Bobby Kennedy, Colorado
Jerry Azzinaro, Gary Campbell, Mark Helfrich and John Neal, Oregon
Mark Banker, Brent Brennan, Mike Cavanaugh and Danny Langsdorf, Oregon State
Lance Anderson, Pep Hamilton and Mike Sanford Jr., Stanford
Adrian Klemm, Demetrice Martin, Noel Mazzone and Angus McClure, UCLA
James Cregg, Clay Helton, Kennedy Pola and Ed Orgeron, USC
Brian Johnson, Morgan Scalley and Kalani Sitake, Utah
Eric Kiesau, Tosh Lupoi, Johnny Nansen and Peter Sirmon, Washington
Mike Breske, Jeff Choate and Jim Mastro, Washington State

Head coach under pressure: Jeff Tedford, California

Top Pac-12 class prediction: California

Top Pac-12 signee: Shaq Thompson

Pac-12 school-by-school
North Division Commits Top Players Notes
- Team page
- Commitment list
18 QB Zach Kline
OL Freddie Tagaloa
DB Shaq Thompson
WR Bryce Treggs
This is a top 10 class for now. The emphasis is added because the departure of Lupoi to Washington has really thrown this group for a loop and caused several, such as Thompson, to look around before signing.
- Team page
- Commitment list
18 DE DeForest Buckner
RB Byron Marshall
QB Jake Rodrigues
WR Dwayne Stanford
Chip Kelly's flirtation with the NFL has thrown some for a loop but it looks like the Pac-12 champs will only add to a very good 2012 class. Marshall and Rodrigues are perfect fits on offense
- Team page
- Commitment list
24 WR Malik Gilmore
DB Tyler Hasty
OL Isaac Seumalo
This might be one of Mike Riley most talented classes during his time in Corvallis. Seumalo is one of the top offensive linemen on the West Coast and Gilmore is very underrated at the wide out spot. There are plenty of players who could play as freshmen or sophomores from this group.
- Team page
- Commitment list
17 OL Nick Davidson
LB Noor Davis
RB Barry Sanders
DT Jordan Watkins
It's not often you find the Cardinal in the top 25 in recruiting but things are rolling on the Farm. This is linemen heavy and has several recruits who should see early playing time. Stanford is also in the mix for elite offensive linemen Josh Garnett and Andrus Peat.
- Team page
- Commitment list
20 QB Jeff Lindquist
QB Cyler Miles
DE Damion Turpin
You wonder if this class could have been even better had Lupoi been hired earlier but as is, it's a very good effort out of Steve Sarkisian and staff. They failed to land the top OL's in the state but picked up two very good QB's to build around in Lindquist and Miles.
- Team page
- Commitment list
23 RB Robert Lewis
WR Gabriel Marks
OL Alex Mitchell
Mike Leach's hire has certainly turned heads on the Palouse and the recruiting trail. He's hit California for some players who were overlooked by other programs but are great fits for his system and done a good job in a short time span.
South Division Commits Top Players Notes
- Team page
- Commitment list
17 QB Javelle Allen
LB C.J. Dozier
WR Trey Griffey
Even though he was hired early in the process,  Rodriguez hasn't made a huge splash in recruiting. But with new facilities and his staff finally in place, that will come. Allen is a very good fit for RichRod's offense.
- Team page
- Commitment list
19 ATH Randall Goforth
OL Evan Goodman
OL Stephon McCray
Former head coach Dennis Erickson had assembled one of the better classes in the conference and while it has taken some hits, Todd Graham has mostly kept it together.
- Team page
- Commitment list
25 DB Kenneth Crawley
QB Shane Dillon
DB Yuri Wright
Landing Wright is a risk but there's no doubt he's a talented player who can contribute early on. This class should add depth across the board despite not having a big time impact player.
- Team page
- Commitment list
25 DB Ishmael Adams
DT Ellis McCarthy
QB T.J. Millweard
DB Marcus Rios
Jim Mora answered all the questions people had about an NFL guy recruiting in college with this effort. Landing McCarthy is a program-changer because big West Coast DT's don't exactly grow on trees.
- Team page
- Commitment list
12 WR Darreus Rogers
LB Jabari Ruffin
OL Jordan Simmons
OL Max Tuerk
This is the first class truly limited by NCAA sanctions but that doesn't mean Lane Kiffin hasn't been able to pull in some great players. The Trojans are also in the running for elite, top 20 players on Signing Day too.
- Team page
- Commitment list
22 ATH Chase Hansen
OL Cedrick Poutasi
QB Travis Wilson
Kyle Whittingham has talked about what a plus the move to the Pac-12 has been for recruiting and this class is one example of getting better players by being in a BCS conference.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Adrian Klemm, Alex Mitchell, Andrus Peat, Angus McClure, Arik Armstead, Arizona, Arizona State, Aziz Shittu, Barry Sanders, Barry Sanders Jr., BCS, Bobby Kennedy, Brent Brennan, Brian Johnson, Bryce Treggs, Byron Marshall, C.J. Dozier, Cal, California, Calvin Magee, Cedrick Poutasi, Chase Hansen, Chip Kelly, Clay Helton, Colorado, Colorado, Cyler Miles, D.J. Foster, Damion Turpin, Danny Langsdorf, Darian Hagan, Darreus Rogers, DeForest Buckner, Demetrice Martin, Dennis Erickson, Dwayne Stanford, Ed Orgeron, Ellis McCarthy, Eric Bieniemy, Eric Kiesau, Evan Goodman, Freddie Tagaloa, Gabriel Marks, Gary Campbell, Isaac Seumalo, Ishamel Adams, Jabari Ruffin, Jake Rodrigues, James Cregg, Javellle Allen, Jeff Choate, Jeff Lindquist, Jeff Tedford, Jerry Azzinaro, Jim L. Mora, Jim Mastro, Jim Mora, John Neal, Johnny Nansen, Jordan Simmons, Jordan Watkins, Josh Garnett, Kalani Sitake, Kennedy Pola, Kenneth Crawley, Kyle Whittingham, Lance Anderson, Lane Kiffin, Malik Gilmore, Marcus Arroyo, Marcus Rios, Mark Banker, Mark Helfrich, Max Tuerk, Mike Breske, Mike Cavanaugh, Mike Leach, Mike Norvell, Mike Riley, Mike Sanford Jr., Morgan SCalley, NCAA, Nelson Agholor, NFL, Nick Davidson, Noel Mazzone, Noor Davis, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac-12, Pep Hamilton, Peter Sirmon, Pitt, Randall Goforth, Rich Rodriguez, Robert Anae, Robert Lewis, Ron Gould, Shane Dillon, Shaq Thompson, Signing Day Overview, Stanford, Stephon McCray, Steve Sarkisian, T.J. Millweard, Todd Graham, Todd Howard, Tony Gibson, Tosh Lupoi, Tosh Lupoi, Travis Wilson, Trey Griffey, Tyler Hasty, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State, Zach Banner, Zach Kline
 
Posted on: December 17, 2011 3:15 am
Edited on: December 17, 2011 3:53 am
 

OL Max Tuerk 100% committed to USC

Posted by Bryan Fischer

CARSON, Calif. -- One of the top offensive linemen in Southern California, plenty of doubters thought offensive lineman Max Tuerk's Santa Margarita (Calif.) team didn't deserve to play for the state championship. For awhile, late Friday night at the Home Depot Center, Tuerk was one of them.

That was until the Eagles started marching down the field, putting together a eight-play, 79-yard drive that had them inches from the lead on 4th down. It was every linemen's dream to have the game - and a title - on the line in that situation and thanks to quarterback Johnny Stanton's keeper with seconds left on the clock, Tuerk's came true.

"It was the best game of my life," he said after Santa Margarita's 42-37 win over Bellarmine Prep (Calif.). "I didn't even think we were going to win, I was kind of scared to be honest. But we pulled it out. The underclassmen really played great and it was a great game."

The 6-foot-6, 254-pounder is ranked as the 17th-best offensive tackle in the country by MaxPreps but played at multiple spots along the line in the win. Tuerk helped pave the way for the do-everything Stanton, who finished with 306 yards passing and six total touchdowns.

"I like moving around," he said. "It's fun to get a little guard work in.

"We played pretty good today. There were a couple of sacks we gave up but we played pretty well when it came down to it."

Tuerk is Santa Margarita's top recruit in the class of 2012 but the young team features two underclass linemen receiving early interest from FBS programs in Erik Bunte and Riley Sorenson. Bunte holds an early scholarship offer from SMU and figures to gain a long look from UCLA now that former offensive line coach Adrian Klemm has moved to Westwood. While Tuerk departs a California Division I state champion, the affable tackle hopes it's just the beginning of a run for the school.

"We want to keep the tradition going," he said. "They're all studs, Coach (Marty) Spalding is an awesome coach, we owe all our credit to him."

"There are probably three or four D-1 guys on that line," Stanton said. "You don't get many O-lines like that in the entire United States in high school. It's huge having those guys and all of them support each other and us."

Tuerk had a solid junior season in 2010 but didn't see heavy interest from scholarships until the following spring. He committed to USC in late May and recently received an in-home visit from the coaching staff to check in on him.

"Coach (Ed) Orgeron did a couple of weeks ago," Tuerk said. "(I'll visit) January 13th."

Several members of the Trojans coaching staff were on hand last week to see Tuerk battle one of Southern California's other top tackles, Kyle Murphy, in the CIF Southern Section Championship. With a coaching staff change across town at UCLA, many are looking for signs of waffling among the nine USC commitments. With offensive line coach James Cregg among those in attendance Friday night, Tuerk remains firmly committed despite other schools' interest in getting his signature before Signing Day.

"They tried talking to me but I'm 100% USC," he said. "Nobody's really (coming after me), I've told them I'm 100% USC."




Posted on: December 5, 2011 11:31 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2011 11:36 pm
 

National Notes: Top assistants to keep an eye on

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Welcome to December, otherwise known as closing time. Bowl practices and holidays make things a little more complicated for some coaches but others enjoy the grind as they hit the home stretch two months out from Signing Day. Here's a list of four recruiters in each part of the country to keep an eye on in each part of the country.

West

Ed Orgeron, USC

Does any recruiter have a better reputation than Ed Orgeron? Probably not. The Trojans defensive line coach has been relentless in the recruiting trail and instrumental in helping manage the program's numbers situation with limited scholarships to hand out. He's hit SoCal hard and been a big reason why plenty of offensive (Max Tuerk, Jordan Simmons) and defensive (Ellis McCarthy, Noah Spence) are committed to, or looking at, USC. Also note that linebackers coach Joe Barry has done a great job with his position group, Orange County (Calif.) and Arizona during his time in LA.

Tosh Lupoi, California

It's been pretty amazing to see Lupoi's rise as a recruiter and coach at Cal but you can see why when looking at his handiwork. He's a younger Orgeron but is quickly becoming his equal after landing players such as Brennan Scarlett and Viliami Moala last year. As a Bay Area-native, he's done a great job of getting talent close to home while also going national and bringing players in. Though the Bears class is somewhat small, expect it to grow in a cover as Lupoi enters the home stretch. His top target right now is five-star Arik Armstead.

Demetrice Martin, Washington

The Huskies staff has lots of Southern California connections but Martin has been a great closer down the stretch with kids. He's relatable as a young guy and knows many of the high school coaches in the area. Don't be surprised if he lands some skill position talent for UW's class this year from the LA area.

John Neal, Oregon

One of the Ducks' ace recruiters, Neal has hit other areas of the country with success and does well in the cities. He landed nearby athlete Oshay Dunmore and had a hand in defensive backs Eric and Stephen Amoako committing from the Dallas-area. Several athletes from the East and Southern California are in contact with him and don't be shocked to hear his name come up some more.

South

Dameyune Craig, Florida State

Not sure anybody has gone into another powerhouse's backyard and raided it like Craig has Alabama's. The big star was quarterback Jameis Winston but he's also been instrumental in landing Chris Casher and Justin Shanks. There's a few more targets on the Seminoles board and don't be surprised if Craig is the one helping get them to Tallahassee.

Mike Bobo, Georgia

It's funny but Bobo's on the field duties have caused a few Georgia fans to want him out of the program but his time spent in recruits' homes and on the trail has been a big asset to the Bulldogs. He was one of the people behind last year's 'Dream Team' and has managed to sell stability at a program that only got it with 10 straight wins during the regular season. This year appears to be another time for him to shine with in-state recruits once again.

Tee Martin, Kentucky

That Martin has done a good job as a recruiter should surprise no one but given that he the former Tennessee star has done it at Kentucky is a little bit. He managed to get a huge surprise last Signing Day in wide out Daryl Collins and might be able to pull off the same magic again this year. Martin has done a great job in Alabama in particular and the only question seems to be if he can resist heading back to Knoxville with a staff opening there.

Frank Wilson, LSU

Last year he was a machine, with a hand in landing offensive tackle La'El Collins, defensive tackle Anthony Johnson and running back Kenny Hilliard among others (all three saw plenty of playing time in LSU's run to New Orleans). Easily the Tigers' best recruiter, Wilson has been one reason why there's a figurative fence around the state of Louisiana. Linebacker Trey Granier was one of his big gets with the 2012 group and don't be surprised if he gets a few others as well.

Midwest

Tony Alford, Notre Dame

Don't be surprised if Alford can snag a big fish for Notre Dame late in the process. He got a commitment from Justin Ferguson out of Florida and appears to be focusing his time on the state to land a few others. With some issues at Florida, he could be one person to take advantage given his ties in the northern part of the state.

Fred Jackson, Michigan

The Wolverines have put together the best class of 2012 in the country and Jackson is a big part of it. He's mainly an in-state guy and lucky for him he's got a great group coming out and done an even better job of keeping them home. He's plucked two out of Farmington Hills (Mich.) in Devin Funchess and Mario Ojemudia and played a role in Royce Jenkins-Stone's pledge. He's been at the school a long time and knows how to sell Michigan to players.

Adrian Klemm, SMU

Klemm is not a household name by any means but should be based on what he's done this year. Though SMU isn't exactly a powerhouse, June Jones has engineered a turnaround in Dallas and Klemm has been a big part as recruiting coordinator. Though the school is located in a talent-rich area of a talent-rich state, the former New England Patriot has done a great job getting talented Los Angeles-area players to come East. Six SoCal natives are committed to the Mustangs class of 2012 at the moment and more could be coming. With rumors of Jones taking the Arizona State job, expect Klemm to come along to really ramp up the LA ties.

Urban Meyer/Luke Fickell, Ohio State

Yes, Meyer's not an assistant coach. But he hasn't really assembled his staff at this point and thus is going a significant share of the recruiting himself. He has certainly been active and because Fickell is remaining on staff, we'll count these two as one super-recruiter. Though recruiting hasn't been up to Ohio State standards with the 2012 group, that was to be expected given the turnover at head coach and NCAA violations in Columbus. Fickell landed Curtis Grant and Ryan Shazier last year and did a good job with Adolphus Washington this year. The two are going to be a very good asset despite what amounts to a false start with the upcoming class. Things have already paid off dividends and the Buckeyes are in the running for defensive end Noah Spence.

Davis decommits from Florida

Been a wild few days down in the South. Stone Mountain (Ga.) running back Mike Davis was one of the recent invites to the Army All-American Bowl and had the jersey ceremony for himself and fellow teammate Raphael Kirby on Thursday. At the time, rumors started to surface that he was having issues with the staff and would soon decommit.

Over the weekend he went on an official visit to Tennessee and finally on Sunday night, he made the new official that he was no longer a Florida pledge.

"My mind right now is open," Davis told Rivals. "My recruitment has opened back up. I've talked to my parents, my mom, my brother, all my family. Right now it's Florida State, South Carolina, Alabama and Miami. But things can change."

From the sounds of things, the 5-foot-9, 190-pounder is completely wide open and will not be considering the Gators despite being in their 2012 class since February and one of their biggest supporters.

"I can't really talk about it," he said cryptically. "Some things happened that I don't want to comment on between me and the coaches. All I'll say is that it was a miscommunication between them, me and my brother. Some things that weren't supposed to happen." 

Ranked as the 10th-best running back in the country by Maxpreps, losing Davis is big blow to Florida as the new staff tries to remake the team using more of a pro-style offense. One of the central pieces of the class and expected to compete early on for some playing time as a change of pace guy, Charlie Weis is now down to just Matt Jones at running back in 2012. With their top 2013 target off the board to Georgia in Derrick Henry, Florida now has to scramble to get another player back into the fold at the position.

Busy week for Armstead

After decommitting from USC, the recruitment of Pleasant Grove (Calif.) lineman Arik Armstead has steadily picked up. He's been going on several official visits the past few weeks and has kept his phone close by.

USC and Notre Dame are among the schools that have already stopped by for an in-home and several more are lined up over the next few days. Among the scheduled ones this week are Washington, Oregon and Auburn. He'll be making the short trip to Cal at some point during the weekend. Also keep in mind that Armstead wants to play basketball and that will be a factor in his decision.

Video of the week



Posted on: November 30, 2011 8:54 pm
Edited on: November 30, 2011 9:03 pm
 

Top 2013 defensive lineman Bigelow commits to USC

Posted by Bryan Fischer

After crushing crosstown rival UCLA on Saturday, head coach Lane Kiffin had just one thing on his mind as USC served out the final year of their bowl ban: recruiting.

The win over their rival sent the Trojans out on a high note as the staff hit the road to recruit the next day and it's already paying dividends as Bear (Del.) defensive lineman Kenny Bigelow committed Wednesday night, giving the program its first 2013 pledge and one of the nation's top players in the class.

“It’s a beautiful place out there,” Bigelow told 247Sports. “I really liked the environment. Just to be out in California for the weekend and seeing the sights, it’s a really great place. Seeing the alumni come out of USC, and not just football greats, but actors like Will Ferrell and movie producers is amazing.”

Likely to be one of the top players at his position once the rankings come out, the 6-foot-3, 260-pounder already held scholarship offers from Auburn, UConn, Rutgers, Oklahoma and Illinois among others. Bigelow took an unofficial visit to the Coliseum over the weekend to see the win over UCLA and with the Trojans entering scholarship reductions due to NCAA sanctions in 2012, he sees an opportunity for playing time and the chance to learn from the best in line coach Ed Orgeron.

“I think I can go into that football program and standout immediately,” Bigelow said. “They have a great defensive line, I saw a lot of defensive ends, but I didn’t see a lot of defensive tackles. I think I could go there and compete for a starting position and make that defense a lot better.”

Bigelow is USC's first commitment for the class of 2013 and the Trojans have just two defensive ends committed in 2012. He racked up 20 sacks this season while playing on the same high school team as quarterback David Sills, also a Trojan commitment but in the class of 2015.

Photo credit Jim Stout/MaxPreps.com






Posted on: July 8, 2011 12:17 am
Edited on: July 11, 2011 4:37 pm
 

The Opening Day Two Notebook

Posted by Bryan Fischer

BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Day 2 of "The Opening" didn't finish up with a bang like day one did with a national champion being crowned in the SPARQ rating. Instead, some of the top players in the country took to the fields of the Nike campus for what amounted to a regular Nike camp in the middle of the day before getting chance to hang out for several hours before selecting 7-on-7 teams.

No more testing for some of the finest recruits in the country, it was time to get into the actual football part of the camp.

"It's been great. Playing against the top recruits, competing against each other, having fun in the lounge, it's great," Aledo (Texas) running back Johnathan Gray said.  "I expected everything. If you've got the top 150 kids in the country, you expect nothing but the best. That's what you get (from Nike). They're treating us like superstars out here. We're just enjoying our time."

When not outrunning linebackers (he out ran them all on Thursday afternoon), Gray spent a good chunk of the afternoon in the players' lounge relaxing and mingling with other recruits. As one of several players committed to Texas at the event, the 6-foot, 200-pounder has been able to spend some quality time with his future teammates and the bonding they are doing is something Gray hopes will pay off later.

"There's a couple of us here from Texas just playing and going through the drills," he said. "It's fun, I met them earlier so being up here with them, it's fun being with your fellow commits and building that team chemistry up."

Ranked as the best running back in the country and eighth overall in the class of 2012 by MaxPreps, Gray knows there are plenty of eyes on him while he's going through drills, perhaps even more than on his fellow commitments. Despite the added outside pressure, he is saying focused on the task at hand.

"I don't really look at is as number one and all that stuff, I just come out here to have fun and compete," he said. "That's what this is about. Doing your best."

A solid verbal commitment to the Longhorns, there's not much Gray has on his docket football-wise between now and when his high school begins fall camp in August. With an outside shot of breaking the national rushing record, the upbeat running back is just looking to focus on getting better over the coming month.

"This will be the last camp I do," he said. "I'll just go back to my high school and go workout and go through conditioning drills and stuff to get ready for the season."

While 40-yard dashes and weight room sessions will take up a good chuck of his time in the near future, he won't be limiting himself to the football field. Though his high school team qualified for the Texas state 7-on-7 tournament next week at Texas A&M, Gray will be somewhere where there's plenty of lights, action and air conditioning.

"I'll be in Vegas for a basketball tournament," he said. "It's going really good, the team is doing good and they're winning. This will be my first time back with them since surgery and track and all that. I'm waiting to meet up with those guys.

"I'm a defensive guy, they put me in to stop the best player on the other team."

When asked if one of the greatest offensive threats on the football field is like former NBA defensive specialist Bruce Bowen on the court, Gray takes a second to think about it.

"Yeah," he said with a laugh. "You can call me that."

Everybody is recruiting Alexander

As one of the top linebackers in the country with scholarship offers from just about every school, Kwon Alexander knows all about the recruiting process. It follows him everywhere, from his phone to his email to, it appears, The Opening.

"Kwon's a good kid, I love him," Stephenson (Ga.) running back and Florida commit Mike Davis says while wrapping his arm around Alexander. "I just hope he comes to Florida. I'm recruiting him."

"They're up there," Alexander confirms within earshot of Davis. "They're in my top ten."

Such is life for the Oxford (Ala.) five-star linebacker. Luckily Alexander is aware that he can't be as open about schools as he once was. As a result of it getting closer and closer to the season, he has started to narrow down his list and dial in on just a few schools in the recruiting process.

"Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, LSU, Oregon, USC, Ole Miss," he said. "Distance is not a factor.

"I'm looking for a family. I'm looking for good academics, a great team, some good people to be around and to just play ball."

With one of the schools he is strongly considering just down the highway from Nike's campus in Oregon, Alexander acknowledges that the situation involving the NCAA is making him a little hesitant about the Ducks but not enough to eliminate them.

"I'm still looking at them," Alexander said. "I mean, it's Oregon. They still look good."

While the two West Coast programs are receiving attention, there's still plenty of schools closer to home that are trying hard not to let Alexander get away from the region. With plenty of SEC powerhouses chasing after him, he knows that things are only just beginning to pickup among is selected few schools.

"Of the local schools, probably Auburn is recruiting me the hardest," he said. "Then probably Alabama after that. LSU is coming after me."

It often takes a unique approach to land the signature of an athlete of Alexander's caliber and there's at least one school who has thrown something different at him.

"Ole Miss offered me in basketball," he said. "That stuck out because that's my first offer in basketball. I haven't really thought about (playing both sports). It's nice but I don't know.

"I know it would be a lot of stress and stuff from playing both sports. I know I wouldn't have time to do a lot of things so I really just don't know yet."

Alexander plans to narrow his list down again before the season starts with a decision coming next year.

McCarthy down to five

Monrovia (Calif.) defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy isn't planning on making a final decision on a school until the U.S. Army All-American Bowl but that hasn't stopped him from narrowing down his list to five. With all of that time before making a decision, the top interior defensive lineman in the country is using it to his advantage and taking in a few of the schools on his list.

“Right now, it's USC, Cal, Oregon, Washington and Florida,” McCarthy said. “(Unofficals) to just the close ones like USC. I went to UCLA a couple of weeks ago. It went really well, I just talked to the coaches and they showed me around campus."

With constant contact between him and all five of the schools, the 6-foot-4, 300-pounder is mainly looking for one thing in the recruiting process.

“When I talk to all those coaches, they make me feel comfortable,” McCarthy said. “When I went to Cal, they made me feel reel comfortable with all the players and stuff like that. When I talk with the USC players, they make me feel that way.

“I haven't talked to the (USC) coaches lately. After I get home, I might call them. At USC I talk to Coach “O” (Ed Orgeron). At Cal I mainly talk to coach Tosh (Lupoi).”

Ranked seventh overall in the MaxPreps Top 100 for 2012, McCarthy realizes he's a target for plenty of schools as an uncommited player ranked so highly. While it's hard for him to say if a school is standing out, it doesn't take him that long to come up with an answer to who is recruiting him the hardest.

“Probably Cal,” he said. “It's between Cal and USC.”

McCarthy is planning on taking official visits to four of the five schools on his list. The local school, USC, will likely not receive an official visit during the season because he has been to the Coliseum for plenty of games over the years. While on any of his visits however, McCarthy has a few things that he will be looking for and checking off once he gets there.

“I just want to go to a place where I feel comfortable and if I weren't playing football I could stay for four years,” he said. “I want to major in business. It's really important, I might want to go to a really big business school.”

Aziz Shittu is ready for action

With day two of The Opening marking the transition into actual football drills, there was perhaps no player who was happier to stop running 40-yard dashes and start doing some field work than Buhach (Calif.) defensive lineman Aziz Shittu.

"With the testing, I wasn't coming out here looking forward to the testing," Shittu said. "I'm a football player-type of guys, I play football. It was fun though."

The Opening is a unique camp because players will be in football pads, which should make for some great action along the trenches. Count Shittu as one of those that can't wait for full speed, one-on-one drills. In fact, he's already picked out one of the five-star offensive linemen at the event he wants to compete against.

"I'm looking forward to going against Zach Banner," Shittu said. "For reasons he should know. If he sees this, it's Zach Banner."

One of the more outgoing players at the event, the 6-foot-4, 275-pounder is making friends at the event just as quickly as he get to the quarterback.

"Oh yeah, it's great getting acquainted," Shittu said. "Me, I'm a talkative guy. Ellis McCarthy is my roommate, Korren Kirven, Luke (Kaumatule), I'm talking to everybody."

It's not to often you'll find McCarthy and Shittu more than 20 feet away from each other when they are at the same event. The two California defensive lineman have competed before at Nike Camps and it appears the two close friends are looking to ensure that their friendship lasts well through college.

"We're going to go to the same school," Shittu said. "That's the plan, that's what we talk about. 

"Me and Ellis, we just chill. I'll be telling jokes and he'll be laughing and I'll be telling jokes and he'll be laughing. We're just compatible."

On the recruiting front, Shittu recently decommitted from Stanford because it was just too soon in the process for him to be locked into one school. Though the Cardinal are still under consideration, the door is open for several other schools to jump on the talented defensive lineman.

"Stanford is still in the mix," he said. "Everybody is kind of standing out in my top 10. Cal, USC, UCLA, Washington, all those schools are standing out, just to name a few."

Shittu doesn't have any visits planned and is looking to schedule his official visits after week two of the college football season once he gets a better idea of what teams he wants to visit and for what games.

Bivins doesn't mind getting schooled by a legend

Everybody knew he run some routes from the moment they saw that NFL legend Jerry Rice had on cleats and gloves. Rice was much more selective on day two of The Opening however. Though he was mainly a teacher Thursday, coaching many of the wide receivers on how to get a better release off the line for example, everybody knew he'd run a route or two against the defensive backs. 

The only question was who would he go against?

"I was with him at first," Gainesville (Fla.) cornerback Chris Bivins recounted. "But then he ran like a 20-yard comeback. It was the longest comeback I've ever had to guard."

Bivins got the opportunity of the lifetime to defend against Rice. Though the former All-Pro managed to catch the ball, the 6-foot, 170-pound Bivins did a good job of staying close for most of Rice's route before the 'oohs' and the 'ahhs' came from the crowd after he caught it.

"I can tell why he was beating everybody back in the day," Bivins said. 

A South Florida commitment, Bivins fought and clawed his way to the event with a very impressive run during the spring and summer camp circuit. One of the hardest workers in the defensive back group, the talented corner ended up with a great reward for all that he put in over the past few months.

"He only did one rep and that was with me," he said. "It was a real good experience. One of the best to ever play the game."

Posted on: May 27, 2011 1:50 pm
 

Not all bad for USC as they add commitment #8

Posted by Bryan Fischer

This week was not the greatest for the USC football program. The school found out it's appeal was denied Wednesday and had to go through the rigors of explaining what was next on Thursday. Things were not all bad this week however, as the Trojans picked up a commitment from Santa Margarita (Calif.) offensive tackle Max Tuerk after recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron stopped by his high school to evaluate him in person.

"Coach 'O' was by my practice watching me," Tuerk told USCFootball.com. "He told coach (Lane) Kiffin about me and it went from there. (Wednesday) morning I was called out of class to talk to (Kiffin) on the phone and that was when they offered me. I have had dreams of going to 'SC and I knew it was literally the perfect fit for me."

Tuerk is one of the top offensive linemen in Southern California in what is a very strong year for the position. He held offers from just about every Pac-12 school and from out of state schools such as Michigan, Nebraska and Notre Dame. Still, the offer that mattered most was from his nearby childhood favorite.

"My first though was this is unreal," Tuerk of the USC scholarship offer. "It was the most exciting moment of my life to this day."

The 6-foot-6, 295-pound tackle is the eighth commitment for the Trojans in the class of 2012. Due to NCAA sanctions, the school can sign a maximum of 15 players to a scholarship for the next three years and cannot have their roster exceed a total of 75 players on scholarship.

Posted on: April 18, 2011 11:40 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 10:58 am
 

Florida State Nike Camp Notebook

Posted by Bryan Fischer

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Perhaps it was no surprise but several Florida State commitments performed well during the latest stop in the Nike Football Training Camp tour just a few miles where they will one day play college football.

The camp was another opportunity for some of the South's best talent to showcase their skills and get discovered but it was Seminole commit Dante Fowler who ended up stealing the show - for the second year in a row.

"It was real good. I'm blessed to get MVP for the second year," Fowler said. "I'm working hard and making sure everybody still remembers who I am."

The St. Petersburg (Fla.) defensive end was not the tallest or biggest defensive lineman at the camp but he did have the best motor. Fowler never lost a rep and seemed to get to the quarterback in one-on-one drills quicker than just about anybody. Part of the reason Fowler did so well was the camp offering the opportunity to go full bore.

"I turn it up a lot," he said. "My offensive linemen in practice want a lot of work and everything but sometimes I just don't want to hurt them. There's a lot of stuff I do out here that I don't do school. But when we get in pads, I'm going to really show everyone what's up."

Fellow Florida State commit and defensive end Chis Casher was also impressive and was Fowler's closest competition for position group MVP. The talented duo of commitments ended up pushing each other to do better throughout the day.

"I think that's the reason neither of us didn't lose any battles," Fowler said. "It was a competition and we didn't want to lose. We were going to get the MVP award and see who the best is. Chris Casher, he's really good. I tip my hat to him."

The 6-foot-2, 230 pound Fowler says he is still committed to the Seminoles but is still picking up offers and being recruited by several schools across the country. His most recent offer is also the one that intrigues him the most.

"The newest offer that I got was USC," Fowler said. "Coach Monte Kiffin and Coach (EdOrgeron are real energetic. They really want me to come out and we'll see about doing that. They called me at 6:15 AM (Friday) and I was still asleep. I left the house around 6:45 and when I came home, I saw that the phone (caller ID) said USC. It shows that they're really interested in me even though I committed to a school. I'm going to show USC some respect."

The recruiting process will continue throughout the spring and summer for Fowler. The talented end is still planning on taking several unofficial visits but will likely save most of his long distance travel for official visits.

"If I do take any unofficials, I'm going to stay in Florida," he said. "Probably Florida and Miami and USF, I've got to show my hometown some love. If I take my official visits, it will be Florida State, USC, Miami and USF."

The weekend also offered the chance for Fowler to get a glimpse at what awaits him once he arrives as a full time student in Tallahassee. The Seminoles Garnet and Gold spring game was not the only thing he did on Saturday however.

"Florida State is a great school and I like what they're doing with their program," Fowler said. "I was at the Spring Game and it was good seeing a lot of people I'm going to be playing with. Seeing some of the recruits that might commit to Florida State, I tried doing a little bit of recruiting. It was nice."

Casher a close second but primed to dominate

One of the players who certainly passed the eye test this weekend was Mobile (Ala.) defensive end Chris Casher. Also a Florida State commitment, he came to this year's Nike Camp determined to use the techniques he learned last year to dominate the competition.

"I had fun. Last year when I went to the Nike Camp, the thing I wanted to work on was my hand technique in tight quarters," Casher said. "In one-on-ones today, I saw it pay off and I did real good at that."

The 6-foot-4, 240 pound end had no problem going up against the plethora of offensive linemen but it was his fellow FSU commit that was his toughest competition on the day. The friendly rivalry - coupled with a few laughs and a bit of boisterous applause - was one of the highlights for the future defensive line mates.

"I feel as though me and Dante were the two best as far as D-line," Casher said. "We're friends but we still compete against each other, he wants to beat me and I want to beat him."

Like Fowler, Casher is still receiving attention from college recruiters who feel they're not out of it yet. Despite the communication that goes on between him and colleges, Casher says he's still sold on Florida State being the place for him.

"Oh yeah," he said. "On Friday's my coach gives me a pile of letters. But I'm solid, I'm not going anywhere.

"I've always sort of been a fan and when I got on campus, it felt like family. I wanted to be a part of that. It was just a connection. I watched and rooted for them because my dad is a Florida State fan. When I got up in age and schools started recruiting me and when Dameyune Craig was going to talk to me, I jumped on it. When I wanted to commit my dad wanted to make sure that I wasn't doing it just because he was a fan and I told him no."

Like many other commitments, Casher attended the Seminoles' spring game and liked what he saw of his future battery-mates.

"The defense was solid, they were real solid," he said of the spring game. "I'm looking forward to being able to join the team and get that jersey. I was looking at (quarterback E.J. Manuel) and E.J. might be bigger than me. I talked with Coach (Jimbo) Fisher too."

Hicks impresses at end but could see future on offense

One of the more intriguing prospects at the camp was Blackshear (Ga.) athlete Quayvon Hicks. A compact but explosive player, Hicks was one of the tougher match ups during one-on-one drills thanks to a quick first step and the ability to bull rush using his tremendous upper body strength.

"I think I did pretty good today," Hicks said of his day. "I wanted to learn how to use my hands better against the offensive line."

As one of over 30 players from the state of Georgia who will be heading to a FBS school, Hicks was determined to not only get better but also prove himself against some of the best in the region.

"I think it makes me better as an athlete to come out here and compete against some of the best athletes in my class and even other classes," he said. "Dante Fowler and an FSU commit (Casher) in my class were out here and we're all going at it. I went at both inside and outside and was just trying to do my thing."

Already holding offers from Georgia, Georgia Tech, Miami and Tennessee, more than one school is close to offering according to Hicks.

"A lot of SEC schools are evaluating film and what position I'll play at the next level," he said. "I think some will come through in the spring and see me."

The schools that are close to offering are evaluating him at mainly at fullback and defensive end. The May Evaluation Period will be key for some of them to get a chance to see what skills he has and where he might fit in best. Despite not really knowing where he might play, Hicks is receiving plenty of attention from schools as his recruitment is starting to pick up.

"Auburn, Alabama, Florida State and Georgia," he said were his top schools. "I might play fullback or something until my body grows. So after the first year or second year, I think most of them are going to move me to defense."

Hicks is mainly looking at the school and not necessarily the position he will play in college. That said, he does have a position of preference and based on what he showed at the Nike Camp, it's easy to see why.

"I love to rush the quarterback, that's what I live for," he said. "But I wouldn't mind playing where I'm needed at."

The 6-foot-2, 255 pound bowling ball is planning on taking a few unofficial visits in the months leading up to when he can officially visit. Though he didn't have an exact date nailed down in terms of a commitment, he said he wanted to make sure he has seen several schools to get an understanding of everyone that is recruiting him. Alabama and Auburn are two schools who will be receiving a visit in the near future.

Laith more than impressive at tight end

It's often hard for a tight end to stand out at an event like the Nike Camp outside of his size given the abundance of wide receivers and other skill position talent. That said, it wasn't too surprising to see Tallahassee (Fla.) tight end Laith Harlow make play after play against competition he's generally not used to seeing.

"Coming out here meant a lot today because it's the top of the top of the top," Harlow said. "You want to come where you get the most experience and get shown the most. I had a lot of fun out here today and I felt like I got better and worked with the top and competed and overall today was a good day for me."

With well over 20 offers, Harlow is not quite ready to start narrowing down his list. Still open to just about everybody, expect schools to extend an offer if they haven't already done so once they size up Harlow when they stop by Godby High this spring.

"I've got quite a few offers already," he said. "I'm just focused on high school right now and I love every college right now and I'm taking everything into consideration. There's nobody who really stands out or is recruiting me harder than the other."

Because he's still open to just about everybody, Harlow is flexible as far as when he makes a verbal commitment. Right now he has it tentatively pegged for the first Wednesday in February but there's no timetable at the current moment.

"It doesn't really matter to me, I'm not set on Signing Day being the day, I may commit early," he said. "It's whenever you feel that home feeling, that, 'this is it' right now, that's when you commit."

The 6-foot-5, 240 pound tight end looked like he could be a major addition in any offense thanks to his size and flexibility as a blocker in addition to being able to flex out and run routes. Harlow is deceptively fast and runs crisp, precise routes. Although he hasn't started to really begin unofficially visiting schools, he did manage to make a trip all the way to Eugene to visit Oregon this past weekend.

"Oregon was a lot of fun, they showed me a lot of love up there," Harlow said. "It was a good time, the coaches were really nice, the players were really cool and down to earth. Real nice campus and I'm not really afraid of leaving home so that's not a problem for me."

Miller eyes a few SEC schools

It was a strong group of offensive linemen at the camp and the player with the best looking frame was Palm Beach (Fla.) tackle Patrick Miller. You can tell Miller used to play a bit at tight end not because of his height but due to the way he moves his feet. He held his own during limited reps during one-on-ones but didn't live up to his own high expectations for the day.

"Not as well as I wanted to," Miller said. "I just came out to show what I have to offer and check out what Florida State has to offer. I have some friends from here so it was kind of a little vacation too."

The Seminoles are one of several schools who have already offered and Miller used the day before the camp to check out the Garnet and Gold spring game and see just what the school has to offer despite them not recruiting him heavily.

"I went in at the beginning for the tour and then I left and watched the spring game with some of my friends," he said. "I have an offer from FSU but I think they're pretty good on lineman and need a left tackle as much as some other schools."

There are several schools that are looking for a top-flight offensive tackle among the double digit list of offers Miller has. Unlike many players who are just starting to look closely at the recruiting process, the 6-foot-7, 270 pound Miller is primarily looking at schools in the SEC.

"Florida, Auburn, LSU are the three that keep repeating, those are my top three" he said. "Who knows. I just got an offer from Alabama too. They offered me and my quarterback Faton Bauta."

The Florida State visit was not Miller's first nor was it his last. Although he won't travel extensively, he hopes to narrow things down before the season starts so he can take just a select few official visits.

"I've taken a few unofficial visits," he said. "Whenever the time comes around I'll take three officials and I'll just do the top three schools and keep it simple. I know all these schools can show you a good time and try to persuade you but you've got to be smart."

While being in the SEC seems to be requirement number one for the talented offensive lineman, there are a host of other qualities Miller is looking for before he eventually makes a verbal commitment later in the year.

"I'm looking for someone who needs a left tackle," he said of his preference for early playing time. "I'm looking for a good college town to have fun but also able to work hard. Playing time and other people at my position are factors. I want to see a bunch of offensive linemen who are just like me that like to work hard. I don't care where I go, I'll go wherever but I'm trying to stay in the SEC."

Competing is just the name of the game for Patti

If there's a football camp or competition in the South, the chances are good that Orlando (Fla.) quarterback Nick Patti will be there and ready to throw the ball to wherever an open receiver is.

"Coming in and measuring yourself going up against some of the best competition in the country," he said. "I always keep a chip on my shoulder because I'm always proving myself to people. But I love it and it's what I want to do."

Height is always an issue with Patti, who is about 5-foot-10. Despite his small stature, he can sling the football around with the best of them and was one of the most accurate quarterbacks at the event. It's clear that all Patti does is love to compete and he performed well enough in Tallahassee to be named position group MVP.

"It means a lot. Tyler Cameron was out here and I think a lot of him, he's good quarterback," Patti said. "It's good to come out on top every once and awhile."

There is budding interest in the Central Florida signal caller who currently holds offers from Louisiana Tech, Indiana and UCF. Patti expects USF to visit his school to see him on Thursday and has been told some 50 schools will stop by Dr. Phillips to see him and a host of other FBS-level recruits.

"I'm talking to a lot of people right now, pretty much it's UCF, Indiana, Boise State and USF," he said of schools standing out. "I'll be at Boise State on Tuesday and I just got back from Indiana last week. I loved Indiana, I was real surprised about it. It's a real college town, it's old and has a lot of history and you can just feel it. I loved the coaches, Coach (KevinWilson, you can just tell he has a good thing going there and he's going to do great things."

The trip up to Boise offers Patti a chance to see a school that, much like him, is all about playing against bigger competition and often coming out on top.

"They're a hidden gem," he said. "They're like me, they constantly want to prove people wrong and play the big dog and beat the big dog. That's what I want to do."

There's not a throw Patti cannot make and he was one of the most sound quarterbacks mechanically at the event. Although it seems as though his height is an issue, his grit and determination seem to make up for any shortcomings. As more and more schools start to jump in to the picture, Patti is comfortable in his own skin and just looking for a system that allows him to succeed.

"Somewhere where I can come in and play," he said. "I think I can play in any system, whether it's pro-style, spread, option, anything really. I think I can do it and I just want a system where the coach wants me the most."

Notes

- In addition to Patti and Fowler winning their respective position group MVPs, Citra (Fla.) running back Jamie Gilmore, Orlando (Fla.) receiver Drico Johnson, Lake City (Fla.) offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, Fleming Island (Fla.) linebacker Cameron McCurry and Tallahassee (Fla.) defensive back Travis Blanks also took home an MVP award.

- In addition to Blanks, cornerback P.J. Williams was particularly impressive at defensive back and made several plays while never seeming to let his man get out of half an arm's reach. Williams sported a Florida State hat that he has frequently worn at events and didn't mind answering any questions fellow recruits had about the local team. Still, he was overshadowed by Blanks, who lived up to his billing as the Maxpreps' top ranked defensive back. Not only did he have an interception after savvily baiting a quarterback and dropping into his zone like a veteran, but Blanks rarely had any receiver even get a look from a quarterback just because he was on him.

- Although the sidelines at the event were quite crowded, there was one parent who stood out from the crowd and it wasn't just because he was taller than most in attendance. Ken Griffey Jr., yes that Ken Griffey Jr., came to support his son Trey, a 6-foot-3 wide receiver who impressed those at the camp regardless of his last name. He has a good frame and runs routes well. He has soft hands and they're so big, you'd think he has on one of his dad's mitts instead of receiver gloves. He recently transferred to Orlando powerhouse Dr. Phillips and if he has a big season, look for him to grab a few BCS offers. Several schools are already interested in him but he is staying grounded thanks to his father.

"He teaches me what i need to do and what I should and shouldn't say," the younger Griffey said. "He wants me to take the SAT and that's the one thing he puts emphasis on. SAT and the ACT and always try your hardest, never give half effort."

- Jupiter (Fla.) quarterback Tyler Cameron was one of the other standouts in the quarterback group that was much better overall than at the Athens Nike Camp (which Cameron also attended). Cameron is getting looks from several quality programs and already holds offers from Boston College, Illinois, Louisville and Rutgers among others. He has the size you look for and was pretty accurate, spinning the ball well throughout the camp. Florida isn't known for producing a ton of great quarterbacks but Cameron could fight to have his name be under consideration as the top guy in-state. He needs to work on getting his arm angle up however because at times he'd get a little lazy and drop it on short to intermediate routes.

- It wasn't a huge surprise to see Jamie Gilmore perform well at this event given it really suits his skillet. He once again showed off quick feet and really seemed to keep his center of gravity low while exploding in and out of breaks. He holds a few offers from Big East and ACC programs but given his production, it might be just a matter of time before teams overlook his height and realize he's a playmaker.

- Although Chris Casher was impressive physically, Yulee (Fla.) 2013 running back Derrick Henry gave him a run for his money. Muscular for someone his age, the 6-foot-3, 230 pound Henry was the SPARQ MVP award winner after putting up eye-popping numbers, including a 4.53 40-yard dash. He looked a little bit stiff as a running back and ran a bit upright but several programs have extended offers, including most of the in-state schools. You could end up seeing Henry as an H-back or on defense as a linebacker or defensive end.

- Several of the local recruits had a good day but Lincoln High teammates Raphael Andrades and Ronald Butler were particularly impressive. Andrades is a 6-foot, 200 pound wide receiver who is well built and is a sleeper prospect as a slot guy. He runs crisp routes and has great hand. The best thing about Andrades is he's pretty polished, looking the ball in at all times, tucking it away quickly and knowing just how to run his routes. He holds offers from Illinois and Stanford at the moment but he should see his list start to grow quickly. Butler performed well at quarterback and was very sharp in all phases. He had a quick drop back and threw a very nice deep ball, turning over a sweet spiral.

- Lake City (Fla.) offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil is an up-and-comer but looked good doing drills and in one-on-ones. He has the requisite size and a great frame to add weight. He is just a sophomore so his impressive showing means he's one to watch once the season rolls around. Several schools have already taken notice as he claimed offers from USC, USF, Florida and Arkansas.

- Others who impressed were Orlando (Fla.) offensive lineman Duaron Williams, Jacksonville (Fla.) quarterback Nathan Peterman, Gainesville (Fla.) cornerback Chris Bivins, Tampa (Fla.) quarterback Greg Windham, Birmingham (Ala.) tight end Canon Smith, Southlake (Fla.) receiver James Brooks and Palm Beach (Fla.) defensive tackle Mike Minns among others.

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.

 
 
 
 
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