Posted on: February 21, 2012 1:01 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 1:14 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
The class of 2012 is, with one notable exception, signed and done with. That means it is time to turn everybody's attention to the class of 2013 and keep it there. Here are a few storylines to follow on the road to the first Wednesday in February next year - in no particular order.
1. Will Nick Saban be able to close on the country's top prospect?
Nick Saban has certainly earned the title of the country's top recruiter after pulling in the top overall class (or close to it) since arriving in Tuscaloosa. The one thing he hasn't done, however, is land the nation's top recruit. In the class of 2012, he went after Dorial Green-Beckham but couldn't make the final cut. A year before Saban narrowly lost out on Jadeveon Clowney to South Carolina. Is the third time the charm in Grayson (Ga.) defensive end Robert Nkemdiche?
One of the top athletes to play the position coming out of high school, Nkemdiche can play multiple positions in college and has something that you rarely see in some recruits - the drive to be great. At this point, most expect him to sign with the Crimson Tide but in recruiting, as in life, things sometimes have a way of making an unexpected turn. His high school head coach played on an Alabama national championship squad and Nkemdiche has gotten the full court press from the staff for a while. Still, he's listed other schools, taken visits to some like Georgia and has his brother at Ole Miss. It looks good for Saban but we won't find out for sure until next February.
2. Who wins the battle of the Midwest behemoths?
The past year has seen Midwest recruiting go from some yawns and a few eyebrow raises to must-read headlines on a daily basis thanks to Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer recruiting like mad. Hoke had the country's top recruiting class before ever coaching a game and Meyer was able to land an impressive class doing the same. It's been an interesting transformation in the Big Ten over the past few months and turned the conference into two programs and a cloud of dust.
Both are off to a very solid start with the class of 2013 with plenty of momentum from signing top five classes earlier this month. The Buckeyes have landed elite guys like Trotwood (Ohio) linebacker Cam Burrows and are certainly in the mix for plenty of top 100 players. The Wolverines had a monster recruiting weekend to power them to a total of 11 commits, and have a headliner (and one of the top quarterbacks in the country) in Shane Morris. Should be a fun few months as each program jockey's to out do the other on the recruiting trail.
3. Is this the class where being in the SEC really comes into play for Missouri and Texas A&M?
There's no doubt the move to the SEC played a role in the Aggies landing a top 15 class and the Tigers getting a commitment from the number one player in the country but the class of 2013 can really be a selling point for both staffs. More than anything, it gives recruits a chance to watch A&M play Alabama and Florida, see how their fans travel, what the coverage of the team is like and if Mizzou's James Franklin can top Vanderbilt's James Franklin.
Already Kevin Sumlin has jumped out to a big start and has more commitments than anybody in the country right now. He's gotten quality as well as quantity to boot. What remains to be seen is what happens if things take a turn for the worse this season on the field. Will doubts creep into recruits' minds if either school has issues and struggles to get wins? It's something to keep an eye on but, for the moment, things are looking good as each joins the best conference in the country.
4. How will realignment help/hurt West Virginia?
Realignment has made the Mountaineers very interesting on the recruiting trail. There was a lot to like about Dana Holgorsen's first year, capped off with a blowout win in the Orange Bowl and Geno Smith likely entering 2012 as a legitimate Heisman candidate. The staff had a solid effort in recruiting and really got some speedsters out of Florida and from close by (such as Deontay McManus to the right) to sign up for the ride to the Big 12. Yet it's clear that there will be a emphasis on recruiting Texas and the South more with the change in conferences.
As my colleague Bruce Feldman pointed out to me yesterday, all but one of the assistants on staff has ties to the Big 12 footprint and several know the back roads in Oklahoma and Arkansas very well too. Holgorsen's wide open offense will no doubt be a good selling points for kids running the spread across the South and maybe, by hiring defensive staff members with area ties the recruits on the other side of the ball will take a look at the Mountaineers in this cycle as well. Should be an interesting look at how the program handles playing in the Big 12 this year and going forward and whether that translates in terms of recruiting as well.
5. How many does USC sign in year two of scholarship cuts?
If you doubted Lane Kiffin's ability to recruit, well, you must not pay a ton of attention. Despite getting slapped with deep scholarship cuts, the oft-bashed head coach enters 2012 with a preseason top two team and just signed a top 10 class with some elite talent. A pair of All-Americans at wide out were no deterrent to Nelson Agholor, who was lured to USC from Florida. There were a few offensive line targets that the Trojans missed out on late - they still signed a great class at the position - but that might turn out to be a blessing in disguise because they can take a few early enrollees to boost numbers.
Bottom line, who and how many Kiffin's staff sign will be a storyline worth following on the West Coast.
6. Who emerges during the spring and summer camp circuit?
One of the reasons why recruiting evaluation have tended to improve over recent years is the rise in getting a look at top players competing against other top players on the offseason camp circuit. It's also allowed those in the industry to discover more guys who don't back down from a challenge and have the speed and skills to be FBS-caliber talent. Because recruits are not in pads, we don't get a complete picture of a player but we can find out even more about how they play and how their recruitment is going. In many ways, the camps and combines that happen across the country from late February through early July will allow everybody to see who's an elite recruit and who we need to keep an eye on when the pads come on during the fall.
7. What impact will social media have on the class of 2013?
Ask any of the class of 2012 about Twitter and Facebook and they'll say it's changed recruiting. Players from across the country are getting to know each other more and more, going beyond just texting back and forth to DMing and Wall posting as early commitments explain to others why their school is the place to be. Recruiting is becoming more and more interconnected and there is no doubt that the 2013 group will be at the forfront of the new wave of change.
Forget hat dances, keep an eye on how many top 100 guys commit via Twitter. Should be a lot more than last year.
8. Who is the top quarterback nationally?
Upside, production, measurables, arm strength... there are plenty of things that go into deciding who the top quarterback in the country is. The candidates are out there and it will likely boil down to one of Max Browne, Tyrone Swoopes, Shane Morris, Ryan Brurns, Kevin Olsen and a handful of others competing to be the top signal-caller in the final rankings. It's important to keep in mind that quarterback is one position that should see plenty of movement as players go through spring ball, camps, 7-on-7, Elite 11 competitions and finally their senior season.
Olsen, Burns and Browne are your typical pro-style quarterbacks with the size coaches look for and big arms to boot. Swoopes is a dual-threat who some have compared to Robert Griffin III or Vince Young because of how electric he is with the ball in his hands. Morris is the rare lefty that is vying for top billing. Several others are hot on their heels in order to be considered part of the elite QB group in 2013 and will be interesting to see how each does as the pressure mounts each passing week.
9. Can Stanford keep things going?
When was the last time you talked about Stanford recruiting? Prior to the class of 2012: rarely if ever (provided you are not the type that tailgates with wine). All the Cardinal did this year was snag a top 10 class and land one of the best group of offensive line recruits in the modern recruiting era. But can the program keep the momentum going with out Andrew Luck leading the charge on the field? That's a question everybody is asking and at first glance, the answer appears to be yes.
Since David Shaw, a former Stanford player himself, returned to Palo Alto as an assistant under Jim Harbaugh, the program has had a remarkably high success rate when recruiting. If an offer goes out and that player qualifies, there's a very good chance that player will end up signing. The hit rate for Stanford the past few years has been nothing short of remarkable considering the restrictions the staff is under but there's no doubt the education, new stadium, major league and BCS-level success that has happened in the Bay Area has turned the program from doormat to door opener. Should be fun to follow over the next few years.
10. Does somebody finish their class before the season?
Michigan, Texas A&M, Florida and Texas are off to hot starts. The Longhorns are taking a very small class this year so they could wind up filling up with only limited room for recruits based on who leaves for the NFL early. The other schools are recruiting at a pace that will have local analysts taking a vacation much earlier than normal. So, we're left to wonder, could somebody actually get 90% or more of their commitments before the season starts?
Tags: Alabama, Andrew Luck, Big 12, Brady Hoke, Bruce Feldman, Bryan Fischer, Cam Burrows, Dana Holgorsen, David Shaw, Deontay McManus, Dorial Green-Beckham, Elite 11, Florida, Geno Smith, Jadeveon Clowney, James Franklin, Jim Harbaugh, Kevin Olsen, Kevin Sumlin, Lane Kiffin, Max Browne, Michigan, Missouri, Nelson Agholor, NFL, Nick Saban, Ohio State, Orange Bowl, Robert Griffin III, Robert Nkemdiche, Ryan Burns, SEC, Shane Morris, South Carolina, Stanford, Texas, Texas A&M, Tyrone Swoopes, Urban Meyer, USC, Vince Young, West Virginia
Posted on: February 2, 2012 12:25 am
Edited on: February 2, 2012 12:26 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Stanford's future backfield. We don't want to say anyone could succeed at quarterback or tailback behind a line featuring Andrus Peat, Kyle Murphy, and John Garnett. Dame Helen Mirren would fail, probably. We wouldn't like Bill Nye, the Science Guy's odds. Most 12-year-olds would struggle.
But when we're talking about an offensive line class David Shaw said "could be one of the best in college football history" without hyperbole, it's hard to rule anyone out. And when it comes to players like potential 2012 quarterback starter Brett Nottingham or new running back signee Barry J. Sanders, we think the chances of success are so sky-high as to be nearly guaranteed. Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck might be gone, but if the results of National Signing Day are any indication, the Cardinal as a program aren't going anywhere.
The checkbooks of future Pac-12 assistants. The conversions of five-star Shaq Thompson (pictured) and receiver Jordan Payton to Washington from Cal (even if the latter was only temporary) were already evidence enough for the impact of ace recruiter Tosh Lupoi's move from Berkeley to Seattle. The Huskies capping their late surge by stealing away USC commitment Pio Vatuvei and fending off a late challenge from the Trojans for quarterback Cyler Miles was just beating a dead horse, really.
Which is why any coach with bona fide West Coast recruiting connections is likely about to find himself a much hotter commodity than they were before Signing Day began. The Huskies aggressively pursued Topoi, doubled his salary at Cal with their new conference media money, and saw immediate, dramatic dividends. Topoi might have been the first coach to have his wallet fattened overnight by Larry Scott's TV negotiations, but with results like these, he won't be the last.
Jim L. Mora. To silence the doubters for good, Mora will have to win on the field as well as the recruiting trail. But there's little doubt that Mora has at least done the latter. With another high-profile Cal exile safely in the fold in Ellis McCarthy, the Bruins spent Signing Day polishing up an already impressive haul with a pair of blue-chip receivers in Payton and Javon Williams--an area of sore need with Nelson Rosario gone.
Lane Kiffin's pied piper flute. Around mid-afternoon, this was shaping up to be a typical Signing Day for college football's most notorious late-game recruiter; sure, Vatuvei had gon to the Huskies, but Kiffin had also managed to pull both high-upside end Leonard Williams and No. 1 athlete Nelson Agholor (pictured) out of Florida despite each's various Sunshine State suitors. With Miles, Peat, Murphy, and Shittu all considering the Trojans and Murphy's late announcement rumored to be potentially affected by Peat's, another matching set of Signing Day coups appeared within reach.
Instead, the Cardinal swept the big linemen while Miles stuck with the Huskies. Those decisions didn't exactly make the Trojan class a disappointment--far from it, given that it finished 9th in the country while boasting just 16 (uniformly outstanding) recruits. But it does mark the first time that Kiffin wasn't able to simply snap his fingers on Signing Day and come away with a bushel of five-stars; it will be interesting to see if, in 2013, Kiffin doesn't leave things quite so late.
Cal. It's not that the Bears' class wasn't solid, maybe even better than solid; Tom Lemming ranked it 15th despite only having 17 signees, and the Bears did an excellent job of filling needs at both offensive line and wide receiver. It's that it was so close to being a game-changing, program-momentum-turning, spectacular class before Lupoi's defection took the air out of the sails.
Tedford is right that the commitments at the Army All-American game from Thompson, McCarthy, and Payton didn't mean anything on the Bears' bottom line, but it's silly to think they didn't mean the Bears had a clearcut opportunity to sign all three (and others) they couldn't take advantage of. It's debatable, too, when that kind of opportunity will come again for Tedford.
Oregon State's secondary. Want another example of the impact of position coaches on current Pac-12 recruiting? Look no further than the Beaver defensive backfield, which saw no less than four players decommit after OSU secondary coach Keith Heyward -- like Lupoi -- defected to Washington. (One of them was highly regarded corner Devian Shelton, who did get Kiffined away to USC.) The Beavers recovered to still sign four defensive backs, but when even Mike Riley was admitting there were holes at corner that went unfilled, it's safe to say things didn't go as planned.
Maxpreps photos by Gary Jones and Margaret Bowles.
Tags: Andrew Luck, Andrus Peat, Aziz Shittu, Barry J. Sanders, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Brandon Beaver, Brett Nottingham, Brett VanderVeen, Bryce Treggs, Cal, Caleb Smith, Cyler Miles, David Shaw, Devian Shelton, Devin Fuller, Ellis McCarthy, Freddie Tagoloa, Helen Mirren, Isaac Seumalo, Ishmael Adams, Javon Williams, Jaydon Mickens, Jerry Hinnen, Jim Harbaugh, Jim L. Mora, Jordan Payton, Jordan Simmons, Josh Garnett, Keith Heyward, Kyle Murphy, Larry Scott, Leonard Williams, Mike Riley, National Signing Day, National Signing Day Winners and Losers, Nelson Agholor, Nelson Rosario, Oregon State, Pac-12, Pete Carroll, Pio Vatuvei, Shaq Thompson, Stanford, Stanford, Tosh Lupoi, UCLA, USC, Washington, Zach Banner, Zach Kline
Posted on: February 1, 2012 4:54 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2012 6:28 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
After Jim Harbaugh left Stanford for the San Francisco 49ers following the 2010 season, there were plenty of people openly wondering about how successful the program would be, even with Andrew Luck returning for another season. The Cardinal responded to any doubters by returning to the program's second consecutive BCS bowl.
Now that Andrew Luck will be taking his talents to the NFL, there are even more doubters about what Stanford will be on the football field in the future. While we won't know for sure for another seven months, if National Signing Day is any indication, the Cardinal are going to be just fine.
Stanford put the finishing touches on one of the best recruiting classes in the country on Wednesday, a class that is currently ranked #11 in the CBS Sports National Signing Day Top 25.
Throughout the day big name recruits like Andrus Peat (pictured above in black), Aziz Shittu, Alex Carter, Kyle Murphy, Noor Davis, and Barry Sanders sent their signatures through a fax machine on their way to Palo Alto. The signatures of football players who should go on to prove that Stanford football is much more than just Andrew Luck or Jim Harbaugh.
The biggest reason this signing class will have such a positive impact on the program is because of the biggest players -- literally -- that were a part of it. The Cardinal signed six of the top offensive lineman in the country in Peat, Murphy, Joshua Garnett, Graham Shuler, Nick Davidson and Brandon Fanaika.
Stanford head coach David Shaw said his offensive line class "could be one of the best in modern football history," and I'm inclined to agree with him.
Matt Hinton of Yahoo's Dr. Saturday blog joked on Twitter Wednesday that Stanford's haul of offensive lineman was so impressive that whoever ends up playing quarterback behind it will have enough time to finish their homework while standing in the pocket. While that may be true, Stanford's identity the last few seasons, the one that has led them to BCS bowl games, has not been that of a passing team.
No, this is a squad that likes to line up their big men against yours and ram the ball down your throat with a power running game.
A tradition that should continue thanks to this newest class of offensive lineman, plus the running back skills of Barry Sanders. Yes, this Barry Sanders happens to be the son of the running back of the same name who dazzled football fans at both Oklahoma State and in the NFL with the Detroit Lions. So we know of the talent that flows in his blood.
Of course, the Cardinal didn't just pay attention to needs on offense, as it added players like defensive lineman Aziz Shittu, linebacker Noor Davis and defensive back Alex Carter. Three premiere recruits at each level of the defense. The type of defensive playmakers that are needed in a Pac-12 conference that seems ready to explore the very edges of what college offenses are capable of.
So if you were one of the people that were ready for Stanford to fall back to the 2-10 seasons of old and fade from national relevance, it looks like you're going to be waiting a bit longer.
Photo of Andrus Peat by Marc Estrada
Keep up with all the latest from National Signing Day at CBSSports.com's National Signing Day Central.
Posted on: January 27, 2012 3:50 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2012 3:57 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
One of the most famous names -- and better quarterbacks -- in the class of 2012 has reportedly decided to head for the SEC.
Gator Country has reported that Skyler Mornhinweg, son of current Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator and former Detroit Lions head coach Marty Mornhinweg, has pledged to sign with Florida over Penn State. Skyler originally committed to Stanford as a rising sophomore at St. Joseph's Prep in Philadelphia, but switched to the Nittany Lions last summer when Jim Harbaugh left the Cardinal.
New Gator offensive coordinator Brent Pease and Marty Mornhinweg played together at Montana, potentially giving Pease a window in which to make his pitch to Skyler after the recent coaching transition at Penn State. Skyler visited Florida's campus last weekend, Gator Country reports.
At 6'3" and 190 pounds, Mornhinweg has been among his class's more highly-prized pro-style quarterbacks, with reported offers from programs like Tennessee and Illinois as well as Stanford, Penn State, and the Gators. Tom Lemming writes this in his evaluation of Mornhinweg:
He impresses you with his arm strength, poise, smarts, and overall game. You can tell he's the son of a coach, I watched him throw down in Phoenix last December and was impressed with his quick setup and even quicker release. Shows great poise and field vision, not a sprinter but he can escape the rush and buy time with his feet. A winner with a great attitude.
Mornhinweg becomes the 21st commitment --and only quarterback -- of Will Muschamp's impressive 2012 class. The Gators currently rank fourth in the Maxpreps team recruiting rankings.
Posted on: September 13, 2011 6:19 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Ever since former head coach Jim Harbaugh turned around the Stanford program, the Cardinal has started to make waves nationally with their recruiting. The school made a big splash Tuesday morning, as David Shaw added another playmaker from the southeast with College Park (Ga.) lineman Jordan Watkins verbally committing over in-state school Georgia.
“I was thinking Sunday night that I know who my top school is, I know where I am going, so why wait any longer to commit," Watkins told Scout. "I decided the then that I was going to go ahead and commit to Stanford."
A monster presence in the middle at 6-foot-4, 270-pounds, Watkins also held offers from Alabama, Auburn, LSU, and plenty of other top programs around the country. The four-star prospect is ranked 80th overall in the class of 2012 but found the combination of academics and athletics in Palo Alto to be the best choice for him.
“I am very happy to be finished with the recruiting process," he said. "I visited out there back in July and I loved it. They have great academics, but they have more than that. I like where the football program is going and when I was out there, it just felt right. It was an automatic fit for me."
Watkins finished up his junior season with 61 tackles and five sacks while playing on both sides of the ball. Listed as the sixth-best interior lineman in the country by Maxpreps, the Cardinal is getting a good one from the South.
"He gets off the ball quickly, shows good pass rush moves, and a relentless style of play," analyst Tom Lemming said. "He has proven to be an exceptional short area run defender at the point of attack, he consistently beats blockers, and shows decent strength and a low base, which allows him to hold his ground."
Stanford now has 13 commitments for the class of 2012 from nine different states.
Posted on: May 21, 2011 2:00 am
Edited on: May 24, 2011 12:59 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The sixth and final stop of the Elite 11 quarterback competition turned out to be one of the best stops of the entire spring camp circuit. Three of the top four quarterbacks in the MaxPreps Top 100 for 2012 showed up and just about everyone met or exceeded expectations.
Hueytown (Ala.) signal caller Jameis Winston had the longest trip out of just about everyone who showed up Friday afternoon but came out throwing and looked sharp throughout the two and a half hour throwing session.
“I think it was a productive day. I did some good things, I could have done better on some things but I don't think I did anything bad,” Winston said.
Ranked as the second best quarterback in the class of 2012 by MaxPreps, the 6-foot-4, 195-pounder threw a very nice ball and was exceptional on fade routes where he could show off his arm. Winston was light on his feet during drills, moving well and showing off improved footwork – one area of his game where he felt he could have improved on even more.
“Drops,” he zeroed in on. “I'm not that comfortable with the five step drops, the seven step drops. When I'd hitch, I was on my back leg a lot. My arm made up for it but I've got to get better at it.
“What people don't know is that my whole life I was a Wing-T quarterback. I've only had two years in a spread system. I've really only had two years throwing the football.”
A true dual-threat quarterback who can beat a team with his arm and his legs, Winston admits he is still a little more comfortable when he's throwing on the run outside of the pocket.
“Well, god gave me the legs to do it,” he said with a smile. “I am comfortable running just because I have more space but I'm more comfortable in the pocket as well.”
Winston doesn't really have a preference for what type of system he plays in college and certainly has his pick of whichever spread or pro-style system suits him best. With well over 25 scholarship offers with his name on it headed to Hueytown once coaches can send written offers, Winston is only beginning to pare down his recruiting.
“I'm starting to narrow it down, but not quite (all the way down) yet,” Winston said. “I plan on committing in July. I've just got to get out more, my parents haven't been out with me a lot.”
The trip to Ohio State for the Elite 11 will afford Winston the opportunity to take an unofficial visit to see the Buckeyes. He'll be visiting with the coaching staff and see all the school has to offer on Saturday before returning home.
“I hope Terrelle Pryor is up there so I can meet that big guy,” he said, only half-joking. “I just want to meet with the coaches, talk with coach (Jim) Tressel a little bit. This is a dream, being up here. I'm practicing on the same field as people like Eddie George and all those guys.”
An unofficial visit to LSU is in the cards for next week and there are several more penciled in on the calendar as Winston looks to keep to his schedule and commit in July.
“I've got to take my parents down to Florida State, I've got to take them down there because that's a place where I could see myself playing at,” he said. “LSU, Florida State and Oklahoma too. Oklahoma is my favorite school growing up so I'm going to try and get down there. And Vanderbilt, I like Vanderbilt a lot too. I'm going to try and go out west and visit schools like UCLA and Stanford.”
Both in-state schools, Alabama and Auburn, are also heavily pursuing the star QB. Winston says he's open to leaving home however, and is searching for a school that meets his criteria because he isn't worried about staying too close to home.
“First of all, people say academics but I actually am looking at academics,” Winston said. “I have a good GPA, I'm at a 4.1 right now. So I'm looking for academics but I'm also looking for players around me that want to win, that's the main thing.”
A two-sport star, Winston is one of the top high school baseball players in the country. A five-tool player who stars in the outfield, at shortstop and as a pitcher, several baseball scouts think he could go in the first three rounds of the upcoming MLB draft. While he is leaving the football/baseball decision for another day, wrapping up spring football at his high school last week means it's time for him to shift gears and go grab his glove.
“Baseball is going great,” he said. “I start summer ball next week. I'm going to be out there hitting home runs and striking people out.”
Winston said Alabama's baseball program is recruiting him the hardest and if he were to redshirt his first year in college football, he'd try and focus on baseball before competing to be the starting quarterback in the spring. While the strength of a school's baseball programs seems to be secondary to that of its football program in terms of Winston's recruitment, it is still a factor.
Based on the way he threw the ball around the Elite 11 however, it would seem that his future belongs on the gridiron first and the diamond second.
Pike not pleased with his performance
Five-star quarterback Zeke Pike came into the Elite 11 excited to prove that he was one of the top quarterbacks in the nation. After nearly three hours of throwing in the humid Columbus air however, the talented player didn't feel like he brought his “A” game to the competition.
“I did alright,” Pike said. “I didn't throw the ball as well as I thought I would. I'm kind of sore, I've been working real hard this week because it's the last week of summer ball. No excuses but I did preform the way I wanted to.
“That's part of being a quarterback, you're going to have a good game and you're going to have a bad game and you've got to bounce back.”
The Edgewood (Ky.) quarterback struggled at times during the competition, usually with his accuracy. He tended to overstride a little and didn't throw as tight a spiral as he normally does. There might be a little bit of truth to his arm being just a little bit tired as he has had a non-stop schedule since the beginning of the year. On top of leading a 7-on-7 travel team, Pike's high school just wrapped up spring practices right before he made the trip up.
“It's going good, we finished our last thing yesterday,” he said. “We're done for the rest of the school year and then we'll start back up June 1st so it's exciting.
“I'm going to 7-on-7 in Dallas later this summer. I'll probably go down to (Auburn's summer camp) and throw. I'll probably go down there a few more times but we'll see.”
As Auburn's only commitment in the MaxPreps Top 100 for 2012 – he's 30th overall – Pike is the cornerstone in the Tigers' recruiting class. He plans on doing a bit of recruiting for the school at Saturday's Nike Camp and talked glowingly about his connection with the school and the coaching staff.
“It's a place I kind of fell in love with,” he said. “It's where I knew I'd be happy and I'd love going to school there for four or five years. When it all comes down to it, it's about more than just football. It's about where you'll be happy at, where you can be successful at and I felt it there and that's where I felt the most comfortable at too.”
While he's a solid verbal commitment to the Tigers, that hasn't stopped several schools from continuing to pursue the him.
“They still send me a lot of mail and emails and messages,” Pike said. “I don't really read them anymore. I don't talk to as many coaches anymore but I try to keep the lines open with a couple coaches just in case anything ever happens, you never know. But I'm committed to Auburn and I'm going to be loyal to them.”
Kempt an underclassman to keep an eye on
The Elite 11 events are always a good time to see how underclassmen perform against top competition. Massillion (Ohio) quarterback Kyle Kempt was one of several at the event to catch the eye of observers and with good reason as he flashed all the tools he needed to be successful at the next level.
“I felt very good. I felt like I did very well in the drills,” Kempt said. “I was pretty accurate and I didn't try and do something I couldn't do. I just did everything I could to make it a catchable ball for the receiver and come out and show what I've got.”
The 6-foot-5, 190 pound Kempt throws a very catchable ball in a tight spiral. He seemed a bit neverous at the beginning but grew more comfortable as the event went on and was sharp when throwing routes to wide receivers.
“In reality, you're just competing against everybody,” he said. “It's a lot of fun. You have some of the best quarterbacks in the nation here and it's awesome to be able to come out here and compete with them.”
Kempt performed at the Elite 11's first stop, in Orlando, but decided to come back and go through the ringer once again. It's all part of his strategy to go to as many camps as possible to both learn from instructors on how to be a better quarterback and also show off what he can do in hopes of picking up more scholarship offers.
“For college camps, we're going down to Alabama, we're going to go to USC, hopefully Stanford, then Oregon State and Washington.” He continued, “Then we're going to come back here and go to Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan. We're going to do Notre Dame and Boston College and any other area camps we can find.”
Just a rising junior, Kempt already holds a verbal scholarship offer from Stanford and plenty of other schools are giving him a look.
“There are other schools showing interest,” he said. “I'm just going out and trying to prove myself and prove that they need to show a lot of interest in me.”
The offer from the Cardinal was a significant one for Kempt, not only because it was a major Division-I offer from a prestigious school, but because of the coach who saw something in him while he was just a sophomore.
“It meant a lot to me,” Kempt said. “Stanford is a great academic school. The guy who offered me was Coach (Jim) Harbaugh and (the offer) is still standing. Just to get it from him, from an NFL guy, it really meant a lot.”
Kempt is originally from Portland (Ore.) and moved to Ohio almost a year ago. While he now has roots in both the Midwest and the West Coast, where he eventually goes to school doesn't matter as much as some of the other criteria he is looking for in a program.
“A great campus, great academics,” he said. “I'm more of a pro-style offense quarterback so that's definitely the type of school I'm looking for. I really want a coaching staff that I can relate to and that I know I can go to for anything.”
Kempt's older brother was a backup quarterback at Oregon a few years ago and while he has talked with the Ducks a little, their spread system isn't the best fit for him so it's unlikely he'll head to his brother's alma matter. He is, however, already knee deep in the recruiting process and is able to go through it with ease thanks to the experience the family had with his brother.
“I've made an unofficial to Oregon State, I've made an unofficial to Washington,” he said. “I was actually here (at Ohio State) when they played Penn State and that was a great game. It was awesome, great atmosphere and some of the nicest people you'll meet.”
Based on his performance on the Ohio State practice fields Friday, don't be surprised to hear Kempt's name come up more and more as he makes his way around the country.
- Another underclassman who caught just about everyone's eye was Warren (Mich.) quarterback Shane Morris. While it probably had something to do with the way he was spinning the ball during the competition, he made sure everybody knew who he was by wearing a bright yellow Michigan shirt and cap. The recent commit to the school has good size and has an accurate arm. He plans on doing a bit of recruiting for the maize-and-blue at Saturday's Nike Camp.
- The country's top-ranked quarterback and number two overall player Gunner Kiel showed up and did not disappoint. He had to leave as soon as the camp was over but he was impressive from the first snap to the last. He's got a cannon for an arm and throws a really tight spiral. Kiel was the best looking quarterback at any of the Elite 11 stops and was extremely accurate in all phases.
He has plus footwork and physically looks ready to play at the next level immediately at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds. He can shave a few ticks off his release but it's pretty good as is. His downfield throws were beauties, turning over the nose of the ball perfectly. Mechanically sound, he kept the ball high and should be a great pickup for whatever school lands him.
- North Canton (Ohio) quarterback Austin Appleby already has a double digit offer list but should see increased interest from BCS-level schools in the near future. He's got great size and a very strong arm. His release is a little long but has the makings of a BCS-level signal caller. His most recent offer was from Miami of Ohio and he's receiving heavy interest from Michigan State, Michigan and others.
“We really covered a lot of Big East schools during the spring,” Appleby said. “Louisville, Syracuse, Connecticut they all said I'm very high on their board. In the SEC, Vanderbilt seemed very impressed. A lot of them are real close and they say they it's just going to take a camp date (to get an offer).”
- Monroe (Conn.) quarterback Casey Cochran was sharp in yet another camp and should continue to get more interest as the year goes on. He just picked up an offer from Boston College and plans to go to camps at UConn, Temple and Syracuse among others.
- Buffalo (N.Y.) quarterback Chad Kelly can really move and has the arm to throw it around the field, he was sharp all day and can really spin it.
- A few others who impressed were TCU commit Tyler Matthews, Matt Alviti from Park Ridge (Ill.), Sean Maguire of West Orange (N.J.) and Brian Blackburn from Detroit (Mich.).
Tags: Alabama, Auburn, Austin Appleby, Big East, Boston College, Brian Blackburn, Casey Cochran, Chad Kelly, Eddie George, Elite 11, Florida State, Gunner Kiel, Jameis Winston, Jim Harbaugh, Jim Tressel, Kyle Kempt, Lemming Top 100, Louisville, LSU, Matt Alviti, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Ohio State Elite 11, Ohio State Nike Camp, Oklahoma, Oregon, Oregon State, Penn State, Sean Maguire, SEC, Shane Morris, Stanford, Syracuse, TCU, Temple, Terrelle Pryor, Tyler Matthews, UCLA, UConn, USC, Vanderbilt, Washington, Zeke Pike
Posted on: May 13, 2011 3:53 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Stanford recruiting paralleled the program's rise under former head coach Jim Harbaugh but it appears to be reaching new heights with David Shaw's first full recruiting class. The Cardinal picked up their third commitment for the class of 2012 Friday afternoon from big time The Villages (Fla.) linebacker Noor Davis.
"I just knew for the past few days that Stanford was the right place for me," Davis told Rivals. "All of the schools that recruited me were great options, but Stanford had what I was looking for on and off the field. It is just a great opportunity to grow as a person."
The 6-foot-4, 225 pound Davis selected the school over his other finalists Alabama, Florida, Notre Dame and USC. The biggest draw for Stanford was the coaching staff, whom he developed a close relationship with during the recruiting process.
"I developed a great rapport with my coaching staff," Davis said. "Coach Shaw, Coach (Derek) Mason, Coach (Jason) Tarver, Coach (Lance) Anderson, and numerous other coaches. I just feel there is no better place where I can further my education than a world class university like Stanford. They are also fourth in the nation in football."
Davis, who carries a 4.3 GPA in high school, was sold on competing at a high level on and off the field in Palo Alto. Comfortable with the staff and his choice, he decided to move up his commitment announcement to this week instead of at the Under Armour All-American Game in January.
"It is a combination of many factors," Davis said. "I have a strong desire to return my life back to normalcy. I want to protect my senior year in high school, both academically and athletically."
The talented outside linebacker had 97 tackles and eight sacks last season as a junior. All three of Stanford's early commitments are on the defensive side of the ball and each is among the top players at their position.
Posted on: April 3, 2011 1:31 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Stanford is one of the few schools who truly recruits nationally and they proved it once again by getting a commitment out of Ashburn (Va.) defensive back Alex Carter Saturday afternoon.
"I was at Stanford today on campus watching practice and told them I wanted to commit," he told Rivals. "They were pretty excited. At the end of practice, they pulled all the guys around and made an announcement. Everyone was happy for my decision and it felt pretty good."
The trip out West was actually Carter's third visit to see the Cardinal in person. Being on campus and seeing Palo Alto again only served to reinforce his decision to commit this weekend.
"I've been pretty heavy on Stanford for awhile. I knew before that I wanted to come here and there is no point in dragging out the process, why not end it now," Carter said. "I couldn't find a better school than what Stanford had, athletically, academically and the beautiful weather."
The talented cornerback had been recruited by Stanford for some time and in the end, the recent coaching change did not have much of an affect Carter's recruitment.
"Their coaching staff is still for the most part the same," he said. "Coach (David) Shaw is a bit different from Coach (Jim) Harbaugh, but I love Coach Shaw. I'm happy with him, it's great."
Carter is the second commitment for Stanford in the class of 2012.