Tag:June Jones
Posted on: January 27, 2012 10:54 am
Edited on: January 27, 2012 11:19 am
 

Non-BCS Signing Day Overview



Posted by Chip Patterson


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. For a snapshot of the Non-BCS recruiting scene, we will take a close look at independents Notre Dame and BYU, as well as the five schools headed to the Big East in 2013: Boise State, Houston, San Diego State, SMU, and UCF.


MaxPreps.com Top 25 Team Rankings, Non-BCS
College Commits Top 100 Moving
14. Notre Dame 17 4

Top storylines

1. How quickly will Gunner Kiel see the field at Notre Dame?

One of the storylines of Gunner Kiel's recruitment was the star quarterback's inability to make up his mind. Some have suggested that playing time is a big concern for Kiel, and there is no guarantee on when he may take the starting position. The first-string quarterback spot is there for the taking, but head coach Brian Kelly has already shown a happy trigger finger when it comes to switching signal-callers. How is Kiel, who seemed to be always eyeing greener grass, going take it if and/or when he is sent to the pine.

2. Will there be an effect from the assistant coach changeover at Boise State?

2012 kicked off with Chris Petersen losing two valuable members of his coaching staff to BCS schools. Will Muschamp tapped offensive coordinator Brent Pease to join his staff in Florida, then special teams coach Jeff Choate left to join Mike Leach's staff at Washington State just a week later. Both coaches played a big role in recruiting the 2012 class, and there was some concern that the staff shakeup could have an effect in recruiting. A firm commitment from QB Nick Patti after Pease's move to Florida was a good sign for Boise State. This class still stacks up well against previous groups, but you wonder if/when we will start seeing an on-field effect of this assistant exodus.

3. Schools on the move

Navy recently added themselves to the group of schools headed towards the Big East, leaving Army, BYU, and Notre Dame as the last FBS independents after 2015. The Black Knights have been fairly grounded in their independent status, but both the Irish and Cougars have flirted with the notions of joining one of the power conferences. In announcing their move to the Big East, Navy school officials mentioned the scheduling difficulties associated with being an independent. As more schools hold future dates for conference play, it had become increasingly difficult to assemble a competitive schedule without that built-in slate of opponents. If the Big 12 comes calling again to BYU, Navy's move might have the Cougars reconsidering their options.


Top Players to Watch
Name Pos Committed
2. Gunner Kiel QB Notre Dame
13. Nelson Agholor ATH Uncommitted
16. Arik Armstead OL/DL Uncommitted
22. Jarron Jones OL/DL Notre Dame
27. Ron Darby ATH Uncommitted
30. D.J. Foster RB/DB Uncommitted
39. Tee Shepard CB Notre Dame
45. Deontay Greenberry WR Notre Dame
116. Ronnie Stanley OL Notre Dame
119. Sheldon Day DL Notre Dame
123. Troy Hinds DE BYU
148. Elijah Shumate RB/S Notre Dame
164. Tanner Mangum QB BYU
175. Justin Ferguson WR Notre Dame
 

Assistant recruiters of note:

Bob Diaco and Mike Denbrock, Notre Dame
Sean Beckton, UCF
Carlton Hall, Houston
Tony White, San Diego State
Jeff Reinebold, SMU

Non-BCS school-by-school
School Commits Top Players Notes
- Team page
- Commitment list
16 QB Nick Patti
LB Ben Weaver
OL Travis Averill
The Broncos have been able to hold on to most of their prized prospects, despite the changeover of assistants.  CB Anthony Standifer is still on the radar, and could strengthen the secondary for the Class of 2012.
- Team page
- Commitment list
15 DE Troy Hinds
QB Tanner Mangum
LB Butch Pauu
The Elite 11 MVP Tanner Mangum headlines a solid class for Bronco Mendenhall.  Hinds is a tall, athletic pass rush specialist and was considered by many the best prospect in the state of Utah.
- Team page
- Commitment list
20 DT Donald Hopkins
DT Tomme Mark
RB Terrence Taylor
Not a lot of star power, but still one of the best classes in Conference USA.  The strength of the group is along the offensive and defensive lines.  Left on the board for Tony Levine is Oklahoma State de-commit OL Tim Hines.
- Team page
- Commitment list
16 QB Gunner Kiel
OL/DL Jarron Jones
CB Tee Shepard
WR Deontay Greenberry
It was already a nationally ranked class, and then Kiel flipped from LSU to make it one of the best in the land.  Lots of talent at the skill positions and at 6-foot-6, 295 pounds; Jones is one of the most impressive linemen in the class.
- Team page
- Commitment list
17 DB Kendrick Mathis
OL Kwayde Miller
OL Austin Maass
 It's a good thing the Aztecs are welcoming some new transfers, because head coach Rocky Long's class is looking a little thin compared to last year's class.  Mathis is a dynamic in-state prospect (Ventura, CA), who also spent time playing quarterback in high school.
- Team page
- Commitment list
23 DB Daniel Roundtree
OL Seaver Myers
LB Damien Neroes
LB Prescott Line
JUCO prospect Daniel Roundtree has enrolled and will be ready to contribute almost immediately, while June Jones' primary goal is to keep Myers from flipping to Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M at the final hour.
- Team page
- Commitment list
15 QB Jonathan Wallace
WR Taylor Oldham
TE Blake Davis
Wallace, a 6-foot-2, 203 pound dual-threat quarterback from Alabama is the prized recruit in George O'Leary's class.  Wallace will be joined by a host of talented in-state prospects, including a pair (Davis and OL Kelly Parfitt) from the same school in Delray Beach.




Posted on: January 3, 2012 7:13 pm
Edited on: January 3, 2012 7:50 pm
 

Record-setting WR Dieter commits to SMU

Posted by Bryan Fischer

PHOENIX -- Record-setting South Bend (Ind.) wide receiver Gehrig Dieter was one of several players to announce a commitment from the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl and it was no surprise that he pledged to his long time leader.

"I'm going to go to SMU," Dieter told a national audience on CBS Sports Network.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound wide out was also heavily considering one of his few BCS scholarship offers from Kansas and head coach Charlie Weis but will instead head to Dallas to play for the pass-happy June Jones and his run-and-shoot offense.

Dieter amassed 447 receiving yards, setting a new national record in his high school team's 63-10 win over Elkhart Central (Ind.) in early September. He was named a MaxPreps first team All-American following the season.

"A powerful runner, he's quick off the line, runs precise routes, knows how to get open, and has proven to be a very difficult tackle," analyst Tom Lemming said. "As reliable as they come, he has also proven to be an excellent downfield blocker. A very good athlete, he can track the deep ball over his head and if it's within reach he'll catch it. He also shows very good moves after the catch."

The talented Dieter burst onto the scene over the summer before his senior year during 7-on-7 competitions and continued to rise on many recruiting boards. He'll wind up at SMU as the Mustangs' 20th commitment for the class of 2012.


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: September 6, 2011 11:26 am
Edited on: September 6, 2011 11:28 am
 

2013 quarterback Printz commits to SMU

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Despite an opening season loss to Texas A&M on national TV, SMU head coach June Jones received some good news to cheer him up shortly thereafter as Marietta (Ga.) quarterback Eddie Printz committed to the Mustangs to become the program's first 2013 verbal.

"I committed to SMU today and I am 100 percent committed to them," Printz told Scout. "I wanted to commit early once I knew which program I liked the best. They wanted me and after I visited them, I knew it was a very strong school to consider."

The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder already held offers from Cincinnati, Kentucky, N.C. State and Purdue with plenty of other BCS programs showing interest. The Mustangs have been recruiting the talented Georgia for some time however, and that made a difference later on.

“They’ve been on Eddie for quite some time,” his father, Ed Printz, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Eddie visited over the summer and really liked it. The coaches made it clear that it was a ‘committable’ scholarship offer. They are very high on Eddie and think he can do big things there. After watching SMU’s game on TV, Eddie said he wanted to commit, and I gave him my blessing.”

Jones and the Mustangs do not have a commitment from a quarterback in the class of 2012 and Printz is the first recruit in 2013. He had 2,142 yards and 18 touchdowns as a sophomore in less than a full season as a starter. He also racked up three touchdowns and 323 yards last week as his Lassiter team moved to 2-0 on the year.


Posted on: August 23, 2011 4:01 pm
 

Ranking the Conference USA recruiting classes

Posted by Bryan Fischer

1. SMU

The Mustangs have gone out-of-state a lot for their 2012 commitments and received several verbals from the state of California. With a solid base of Texas talent, especially on defense, to go with skill position players from out-of-state, SMU is doing well under June Jones on the recruiting trail.

2. Tulsa

There's a trio of solid wide receivers coming in 2012 for an offense that is without offensive coordinator Chad Morris (who's now at Clemson) so it will be interesting to see if they can eventually put up numbers like those in the past. Running back Quinton White is small but quick and a good fit at Tulsa.

3. Southern Miss

Offensive lineman Caleb Peterson is the headliner of this class as Southern Mississippi snatched him away from Auburn (the city that is). This is a good mix of players that fills needs while also bringing in good size and speed at the skill positions.

4. Memphis

This class would be a lot higher if they had more commitments but keeping dual-threat quarterback Will Gross at home is big for a program without a lot of success the past few years. Corner Sheldon Dawson is another local player the Tigers have picked up who is going to contribute early.

5. Houston

No surprise to see the Cougars grab several local commitments given the depth of talent in the Houston area. Steven Aikens is an underrated linebacker who has size and speed to play at a high level in college.

6. Rice

A smaller class but one that relies on underrated Texas talent. Darrion Pollard is a really speedy, sharp wideout and the program should continue to receive a few verbals once they have a chance to evaluate players during their senior season.

7. Tulane

It's rare for a program like Tulane to get a player as fast as Walker Van Hooser but the 5-foot-11 wide receiver will bring 10.6 100-meters speed to the team in 2012. Plus his nickname is "Fudge" so that's worth at least a little bump in the rankings.

8. UAB

Pretty quiet on the recruiting front for UAB with a class relying mostly on Alabama and Georgia for recruits. Kelton Brackett is a solid pick up at the corner spot.

9. Marshall/ECU/UCF/UTEP

All four of these schools have fewer than five commitments so it's tough to do anything but lump them together at the bottom of the conference rankings.
Posted on: July 15, 2011 11:37 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 11:40 pm
 

SMU reels in another Californian in WR Marks

Posted by Bryan Fischer

SMU head coach June Jones has a backyard full of talent but that hasn't stopped him from reaching into the state of California for a few commitments. He added another Thursday afternoon when Venice (Calif.) wide receiver Gabriel Marks decided to verbally commit after unofficially visiting the school earlier in July.

"I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders," Marks told PonyPride.com. "This whole time, I have been wondering where to go but all along I felt like SMU was right. I just felt like this is what I wanted to do the whole time so I did it."

The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Marks is the third Californian to join the Mustangs' upcoming recruiting class. One of the key reasons why the talented receiver was comfortable leaving the area for school was SMU recruiting coordinator Adrian Klemm.

"If he can get some more of the kids that we have out here, and I know he can because he is a great recruiter, we will have something special at SMU," Marks said. "I think that we will be good."

Marks is the eighth overall commitment in 2012 for the Mustangs, five of whom are from outside the state of Texas.
Posted on: July 3, 2011 11:10 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 10:21 am
 

Badger Sports 7-on-7 Nationals Day 2 Notebook

Posted by Bryan Fischer

DALLAS – Right before the championship game, Keyshawn Johnson was hoping this would be his team's moment.

Since starting the 1925 All-Star 7-on-7 team with former NFL veteran Brian Kelly a little over two years ago, his team fell short of the national title last year and had yet to break through and win even a regional title this year.

Sunday afternoon was indeed Johnson's moment however as 1925 got over the hump and finally hoisted a trophy, winning the Badger Sports/New Level Athletics 7-on-7 National Championship at SMU's Gerald Ford Stadium.

“Being in it two years and winning a championship (is great),” said Johnson, a former USC wide receiver, before joking, “I told one of the kids who is going to Notre Dame, I told him if you go to Notre Dame you won't be winning one of these.”

“We were going to championships and we were losing,” said running back Mike Davison. “But nationals were the one we wanted and that's what we need to win. That's the one that matters and I'm glad we won because we're national champs and we've got the bragging rights.”

1925 lost three players due to injury before the tournament but still managed to run through the championship bracket undefeated using plenty of FBS-bound athletes. One of the keys to the team though was actually the smallest player on the field, the 5-foot-3 Davison, and one of the few who didn't hold a major scholarship offer.

“It was a great experience, it was fun. We were working hard at it and I knew we were going to get it done,” he said. “It's very important to me too. I'm trying to get more offers, more exposure. I'm glad I was a big factor in this so now colleges can say this guy can do it. Hopefully I can go D-1.”

Davison holds an offer from Alabama State with several other schools on the verge of offering the speedy scatback. Able to cut a full speed and stop a dime, he was easily the most elusive player on the roughly 115-degree turf the past two days.

Known by his nickname of “Mike-Mike,” Davison was often imitated but no one could come close to the real thing. After a player on the team from Louisiana made a few quick cuts against the 1925 defense, Notre Dame commit and 1925 athlete Deontay Greenberry yelled out, “You're not Mike-Mike!”

After battling the eventual runner up, Team Houston, to a tie at the end of the first of their two games, 1925 failed to complete a play in the sudden-death, longest-yard overtime. As a result, all Team Houston had to do was get a yard on a running play to win the game but it ended up being Davison who saved the day for 1925.

“They were like, 'Mike get on the field' because the other team just needed one play to win the game,” he said. “I ran on to the field and they said 'hike' and I just sprinted into the back field and tackled him. Then we won the game when I got the draw and got a couple of yards.”

Croom down to two

Although his team got knocked out early, Norcross (Ga.) wide receiver Jason Croom put together an impressive two days worth of catches. Using his big 6-foot-5 frame, he was a weapon in the end zone and also made some tough catches in traffic to solidify himself as one of the best options on the Goon Squad.

Scheduled to make a decision later next month, Croom has narrowed down his recruiting list to just two schools as he wraps up a very productive run on the spring and summer camp circuit.

“It's between Mississippi State and Tennessee,” he said.

Croom has already made it down to Knoxville for an unofficial visit and had plenty of good things to say about the Volunteers.

“I really like everything,” said Croom. “I like the coaching staff. When I went down there, I liked the facilities a lot and the academics. That's the most important part, they have a good APR rating and they push you on and off the field. They told me I can make a big impact and all I'll have to do is go down there and show what I can do.”

While Croom wouldn't leave any hints about which school he was leaning towards, it's clear he has a special connection with Mississippi State and that could be a major factor in to his decision.

“I've had a good relationship with them for the longest time because they were my second offer,” he said. “I've been talking to them throughout this whole thing so I've got a good relationship with basically the whole coaching staff. When I went down there I met some of the players and they were real cool, they treat you like family and joke around and stuff. But when I went down there they were also working real hard in the weight room and stuff and I know they help their players academically. They make sure they finish their classwork before they do anything else.”

Croom will commit on August 18th, which is right before his senior season gets underway. He's narrowed his choices down to two and will only take an official visit to whichever program he ends up verbally committing to next month.

Miami, they were in my top three but they're out of it now.” he said. “I'll just take one (official) because I've already got my decision made.”

Marks enjoys his time in Texas

In addition to 1925 capturing the championship, the other California All-Star team, B2G, was very impressive over the two day event. Los Angeles (Calif.) wide receiver Gabe Marks impressed with his route running ability, hands and was savvy enough to know where holes were in the defense. Despite being a fairly polished receiver, he came out to help his team win and improve between the lines.

“I really want to work on my routes and my releases,” Marks said. “I'm just trying to win some games and go against some of the top competition.”

Working alongside Ventura (Calif.) quarterback Marc Evans and teaming up with Upland (Calif.) receiver Kenny Lawler, B2G had quite a day on offense before running out of gas late. For the most part though, the group was clicking in large part because they had been playing with one another throughout the summer.

“We work out with each other all the time and we do all of the events together,” Marks said. “We definitely have a good chemistry. We like sticking with one quarterback so we don't have to worry about that transition if a new guy plays with us.”

Holding offers from several Pac-12, Mountain West and Conference USA programs, Marks is beginning to focus on just a handful of programs to allow time for him to compete during his senior season in high school.

“I'm starting to narrow down my list of schools, I've got SMU, Utah and UCLA as my top three.” he said. “Then I have Colorado and Boston College to finish out my top five.”

The trip to Dallas has allowed him a chance to get an in-depth look at what it would be like if he committed to SMU. Outside of adjusting to the extremely hot weather – especially for someone who lives just a few miles from the beach – the experience was a good one overall.

“SMU is a great school, they're definitely one of the nicer schools I've seen,” said Marks. “The one thing would be the weather, that'd take some getting used to. But I love the coaches, they're great and it's a great system that would be a good fit for me.”

One of the big drawing points for the private school on the field is head coach June Jones' Run and Shoot offense, which has allowed receivers similar to Marks put up big numbers. Off the field, there's a lot of positives as well.

“Their academics are top notch,” he said. “You can have a good career after football and that's what I'm using football for. If I don't make it to the league, I want something to fall back on.”

If Marks is looking to stay closer to home, UCLA offers that option and the Bruins have plenty going for them as they try to land the 6-foot, 170-pounder.

“Their academics and the fact they're so close to home,” Marks said when asked what he liked about the school. “You grow up watching the coaches and the team so they're the hometown school.”

Marks will likely make a decision in December after taking official visits. At the moment, he has already planned three visits, to Utah, SMU and UCLA, during the season.

Liggins looking to stay in the SEC

One of the biggest – if not the biggest – players on the field was actually Oxford (Miss.) quarterback Jeremy Liggins. The 6-foot-3, 270-pound signal caller was sharp for most of day two of the tournament and made several nice throws into tight windows.

“I felt like we did pretty good,” Liggins said. “Keyshawn Johnson's team though, he brought in some ballers. We just kind of threw a team together and we didn't have a practice or anything. I felt like if we practiced, we could come out and compete with these boys.”

Playing for the Louisiana team, Liggins led an overachieving squad that made a very nice, deep run in the double-elimination event. Developing some timing with his newfound receivers was key to moving the ball on Sunday after a bit of a slow start the day before.

“It's pretty hard because I'm not used to how these guys run,” he said. “But after the first game yesterday, we kinda started to connect and I felt pretty comfortable with those guys (today) because I know that once I put the ball out there, they're going to go make plays on the ball.”

Liggins holds several scholarship offers already and figures to pick up more once the season begins. If there's one thing he's locked into with the recruiting process, it's a certain brand of southern football.

“I've got a lot of offers but I'm really just looking at the SEC,” he said. “I've got ones from Florida, South Carolina and others.”

With his size and speed, Liggins knows that plenty of coaches are looking to move him to other positions. He could wind up as a defensive lineman in college at first glance but he's also trying to make it clear that he wants a shot behind center first.

“In 10th grade, they were looking at me as an athlete but now a lot want me at QB,” Liggins said. “I want to play QB. I feel like if I get the right training, I can be a good quarterback. But if I have to move somewhere (to another position) to help a team win, that's what I'll do.”

After a busy spring evaluation period and a summer full of unofficial visits, Liggins has already narrowed down his list of schools in anticipation of making a decision later this year.

“I'd say my top four is LSU, Alabama, Ole Miss and Mississippi State,” he said. “I've been to all of them. I like them because they're all pretty nice campuses. Playing with Alabama and LSU, you know you're going to compete for a national championship every year and that's what I'm looking for. And I know they're a pipeline for the NFL.

“Playing time, playing QB and the school. All of it. I'm looking for a school that has good tradition and that put good students out and have a good graduation rate.”

Hutchinson excited to be building at Auburn

While there were plenty of commitments playing in the tournament, it was somewhat rare to have two on the same team. Such was not the case with the Goon Squad, which featured a pair of future Auburn Tigers in Dadeville (Ala.) tight end Darrion Hutcherson and Edgewood (Ky.) quarterback Zeke Pike. The two connected on plenty of throws over the weekend and even when one player hit a rough patch, the other was able help turn things around.

“If I'm struggling, he'll pick me up and if he's struggling, I'll pick him up,” Hutcherson said. “That's just how it is.”

The bond the two developed over the past few months on the 7-on-7 circuit is something Hutcherson expects to have dividends when the two eventually end up on the Plains.

“It definitely allows us to build that relationship early,” he said. “We're going to have a strong relationship at Auburn because we're out here doing (7-on-7). This is just like a vacation and getting extra work in.”

The 6-foot-6, 250-pound tight end is aware that Auburn is losing several pieces from their magical run to the BCS championship last year but believes the current group of 2012 commitments can be part of another big run in a couple of years.

“You just have to go somewhere where your heart feels comfortable at,” Hutcherson said of why he picked the school. “Auburn had a great year with Cam Newton and Nick Fairley coming in and winning all the awards and the national championship. They've got a great coaching staff and now they're on a rebuilding year. Me and Zeke are going down there to start the number one recruiting class to get Auburn back rolling like they used to be.”

Hutcherson mentioned that he will an official visit to nearby Auburn and will possibly schedule one to Utah just to visit the school.
 

 
 
 
 
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