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: March 12, 2011 3:04 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
ORLANDO, Fla. - The annual ESPN RISE Elite 11 quarterback competition kicked off at Central Florida Saturday morning with several of the top quarterbacks from the state of Florida and elsewhere showing up to display their arms.
One of the top quarterbacks at the event was Plant City (Fla.) signal caller Bennie Coney. Despite having to throw into the wind most of the day, Coney displayed a strong arm and very smooth delivery, throwing a perfect spiral on just about every ball. On top of competing against top flight competition, the senior-to-be came into the day just looking to get better.
"Just basic stuff, footwork, progression and learning how to read the field faster," Coney said. "I felt like I did good, accomplished a lot. "I just felt like I got better overall."
The 6-foot-2, 215 pound quarterback was physically the most impressive looking player at the competition. Already drawing scholarship offers from Auburn, Boston College, Florida State, Michigan and Virginia Tech among others, Coney recently picked up two more from two intriguing programs.
"Cincinnati and USF," he said. "I checked out (Cincinnati's) roster and they're low on quarterbacks. Florida State, LSU, Notre Dame are all good schools too. In the summer I know I'm going to take a lot of unofficial visits."
Coney will not make the short drive over to the Badger Sports 7-on-7 in Tampa this weekend but he is scheduled to attend the Josh Freeman Football Camp in a few weeks.
Other quarterbacks impress
After impressing everyone at the Rutgers Badger Sports 7-on-7, Wayne (N.J.) quarterback Kevin Olsen continued to show why he's in the mix to be the top quarterback in the class of 2013. Displaying a strong arm, he had several very nice looking throws on outs and to the flat. The younger brother of Chicago Bears tight end Greg Olsen, Kevin stood out as one of the few quarterbacks who was a passer and not a thrower at the position.
Miami commit Gray Crow was also one of the better quarterbacks at the event. The Clearwater (Fla.) native displayed a slightly above average arm but was fairly accurate throughout the day. His footworks and mechanics are very sound and the 6-foot-2, 210 pound Crow was easily one of the more polished passers in attendance.
We'll have more on the Orlando Elite 11 competition and the Badger Sports 7-on-7 at USF later today.
Posted on: February 28, 2011 10:29 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - The Badger Sports Elite 7-on-7 started it's 2011 campaign on the campus of Rutgers this past weekend and many of the top prospects from across the Northeast were looking to make an impression over the course of the two-day event.
Here's just a few of the players who stood out from the crowd.
Casey Cochran, 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, Monroe, Conn.
One of the top quarterbacks on day one, Cochran was an impressive signal caller. He lacks ideal height but makes up for it with a very strong arm that can make every throw. He has a good release and throws a very pretty, catchable ball to his wide outs. He's ok on the move and can work on his weight transfer and keeping his feet closer together when in the pocket. The ball just jumps out of his hand though and he should be adding to his only offer from Boston College.
Blake Rankin, 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, Bloomsburg, Pa.
Rankin has ideal size for a pro-style quarterback and had a very nice deep ball, putting just the right amount of touch on most of them. He doesn't have the strongest arm but is very accurate and could develop into a very well-rounded quarterback. He currently has an offer from Rutgers.
Max Ward, 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, Steelton, Pa.
One of the impressive things about Ward was his tight spiral on just about every ball he threw. A gunslinger, he has a cannon on his shoulder and that makes up for what he might lack in ideal height. He currently has an offer from Akron.
Kevin Olsen, 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Wayne, N.J., class of 2013
Despite being younger than many of the quarterbacks in the competition, Olsen was near or at the top. He has an excellent frame but needs to add a few pounds to it. He was a little indecisive with some throws but he also had a very quick release and above average footwork. The younger brother of Chicago Bears tight end Greg, several programs are showing interest early on.
David Sills, 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, Bear, Del., class of 2015
Sills was the big name at the event as the large number of cameras trained on his every drop back would attest. The first thing you notice is his impressive size for just an eighth grader. He had a good understanding of what the defense was doing but still tried to force a few throws. He wasn't as accurate as he has been at other competition but he was maybe the most vocal leader. Seeing him go through an event like this shows why Lane Kiffin offered him a scholarship as a eighth grader.
Brandon Napoleon, 6-foot, 175 pounds, Jersey City, N.J.
Napoleon is being recruited as an athlete but he was impressive as a quarterback at the event. He threw a nice ball with some zip and a spiral every time. He's light on his feet and can make every throw on the field. Holding double digit offers, Rutgers, Virginia Tech and North Carolina among them.
Ryan Burns, 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, Ashburn, Va., class of 2013
A big quarterback with a decent drop back, he showed off a very big arm and quick release better than most of the older quarterbacks. His feet get too wide at times which causes him to use almost all arm on some throws. That said, he can throw the ball into any window and already has an offer from Boston College.
Deontay McManus, 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Baltimore, Md.
One of the top players at the competition, McManus is being pursued by just about every program in the country. A long-strider when he gets going, McManus is more fast than quick. He displayed some impressive ball skills and attacked the ball in the air, rarely letting anything get by him that was thrown his way. Despite his skills at wide receiver, it wouldn't be too surprising to see him move to safety or even outside linebacker in college. His double digit offer list includes Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State and Tennessee among others.
Stefon Diggs, 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, Olney, Md.
Diggs was easily one of the top receivers in the competition and was explosive everywhere he went. One of the fastest players on the field with great feet that allowed him to turn on a dime, Diggs was very aware of where the defenders were and would slow it down in order to find open spots in zone coverage. An Army All-American Bowl invitee, he has offers from Alabama, Cal, Florida, Georgia, Miami, Notre Dame and others. He said he will likely pick a school outside of the northeast.
Anthony Cooper, 6-foot, 180 pounds, Virginia Beach, Va.
A speedy wide out on a team full of them, Cooper stood out with his impressive ability to catch and run. He also plays defensive back and had a very nice back pedal and good change of direction. Local programs Virginia and Virginia Tech have already offered.
Romond Deloatch, 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, Hampton, Va.
Physically the most impressive receiver at the event, Deloatch was a nightmare for opposing defensive backs to cover. He's still a bit raw but displayed quick feet and a good ability to turn on a route quickly. Very fluid while running routes, he's a bit reminiscent of class of 2011 receiver Quinta Funderburk. During one play, he snatched the ball out of a corner's hand on a fade route. He has offers from Florida State, North Carolina and Virginia.
Charles Tapper, 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, Baltimore, Md.
One of the most physically imposing recruits at the event, Tapper didn't play too much. He will likely be a defensive end or outside linebacker in college but he did flash some potential at tight end. He just picked up an offer from Oklahoma and should be receiving more as the weeks go on.
Kalief Joyner, 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, Middle Village, N.Y
More of a receiving tight end in this event and likely at the next level, Joyner has good height and does a solid job of getting off the line. He's not super fast or quick but he does go over the middle and finds spots in zone coverage. He has great hands and several programs are on the verge of offering.
Devin Funchess, 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, Farmington Hills, Mich.
A very tall target, Funchess needs to start packing on the pounds to play tight end. He doesn't have great speed as a receiver but could be very good at tight end with his hands and moves in space. Michigan and Michigan State are among the schools to offer.
Brandon Banks, 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, Brandywine, Md.
An impressive performance over the weekend from Banks, who might have been the top corner on the field this weekend. A bit skinny, he still wouldn't give up any ground to opposing wide receivers. Fast and smooth, he sinks well when playing in cover-2 and excelled in man coverage. He got to top speed quickly and no receiver was able to create much separation. He currently has an offer from Maryland but should be collecting more soon.
Ronald Darby, 6-foot, 180 pounds, Oak Hill, Md.
Darby was one of the top players at the event and has seen just about every program send out an offer to him. One of, if not the, fastest players running around the field, he played mostly on defense at safety before eventually playing on both sides of the ball. He was very impressive in coverage with a good backpedal and quick turn to break on the ball. He holds offers from Miami, Florida State, USC, Notre Dame and others and has five-star potential at multiple positions.
Devin Fuller, 6-foot, 185 pounds, Old Tappan, N.J.
Fuller played on both sides of the ball but stayed mainly in the secondary. He could play a number of positions in college, from quarterback to cornerback to receiver and is being recruited as such. He has very quick feet and reacts well to what is being thrown at him. He was very fluid at cornerback and safety and might be best suited there. He currently has offers from Michigan, Florida State, Maryland, Rutgers and Penn State among others.
Dorian O'Daniel, 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Olney, Md., class of 2013
A running back and linebacker, O'Daniel looked a tad better playing on defense for the Maryland Speed. He has excellent closing speed but did tend to guess a little bit after his initial drop into coverage. He's very physical and despite being just a sophomore, already holds offers from Maryland, N.C. State, Pitt and Virginia.
Eli Ankou, 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Easily the best player at the event from north of the border, Ankou turned a few heads with his size and agility. He was pretty good side-to-side and played on the balls of his feet. His hips are a bit stiff in coverage but he runs well enough to chase faster players down.
Kenny Bigelow, 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, Bear, Del., class of 2013
He will play defensive end at his size but he came out and competed at linebacker at this event. He was a little too upright and needs to bend at the hips more when standing up but for a young defensive end, did pretty well. At his size, he could develop into a strong side defensive end or slim down and play outside linebacker if needed. He has an offer from Auburn already and is very impressive for a sophomore.
Abner Logan, 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, Salem, Mass.
One of the best linebackers in coverage, he could be a great fit at outside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme. He was a tad stiff at times but he has a great base and is very fluid when moving around. He might be a name that starts to receive offers by the bucketload as the summer progresses based on what he showed over the weekend.
Jazzmar Clax, 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, Freehold, N.J.
Already on the 2012 All-Name team, Clax looked like a good fit as an inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. He was above average on his coverage drops and opened his hips nicely to turn and run. He has an offer from Rutgers.
Tags: Abner Logan, Akron, Alabama, Anthony Cooper, Auburn, Badger Sports, Blake Rankin, Boston College, Brandon Banks, Brandon Napoleon, Cal, Casey Cochran, Charles Tapper, Clemson, David Sills, Deontay McManus, Devin Fuller, Devin Funchess, Dorian O'Daniel, Eli Ankou, Florida, Florida State, Geogia, Jazzmar Clax, Kalief Joyner, Kenny Bigelow, Kevin Olsen, Lane Kiffin, Maryland, Max Ward, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Romond Deloatch, Ronald Darby, Rutgers, Rutgers Badger Sports, Ryan Burns, Stefon Diggs, Tennessee, USC, Virginia, Virginia Tech
Posted on: February 27, 2011 12:49 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - They came from far and wide (and even from north of the border). They came to throw. They came to pass.
But mostly, the over 700 players that attended the first Badger Sports 7-on-7 tournament came to compete.
The 32 team field that converged on Rutgers’ indoor practice facility had some of the most talented players from Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Canada. One of the most competitive groups of the day took place late in the afternoon, headlined by Red Lion Christian Academy and USC quarterback commit David Sills and defensive end Kenny Bigelow.
Despite the hype on Sills - he’s not even a freshman but has been committed to USC for over a year - Monroe (Conn.) class of 2012 quarterback Casey Cochran was the most impressive signal-caller of the group with a strong arm, quick release and a cannon on his shoulder.
“After the state championship game, I hurt my ankle so I really couldn’t do a lot of things,” Cochran said. “This feels great coming out here and working things. I try not to go crazy, I want to stay with my progressions. A lot of guys, they come out and they try and force some balls. That’s the biggest things, try not to force balls and go through your progressions.”
Cochran already holds a scholarship offer from Boston College while Rutgers and Connecticut could be on the verge of extending an offer soon. The 6-foot-1, 200 pound quarterback was particularly impressed with what the new UConn coaching staff has said. Cochran displayed good anticipation when throwing but does need to work on his balance, as he throws off his back foot and leans back sometimes.
Sills was nevertheless one of the top quarterbacks to throw Saturday. His 6-foot-3 frame is impressive and he certainly fits into the USC mold of pro-style quarterbacks. Most impressive is Sills’ knowledge of the passing game and leadership skills. Though he was easily one of the youngest players at the competition, he was calling out plays and making sure his receivers were properly aligned.
The one flaw in Sills’ game Saturady was that he forced several balls into coverage and threw three interceptions as a result - which may be, as Cochran said, a product of 7-on-7 competitions. It's easy to understand the hype around him when you see him throw (as the four or five cameras he almost hit with every dropback would attest).
Looking like a very good year for Northwest quarterbacks
After several down years for producing quarterbacks, 2012 is shaping up to be quite nice if Saturday's competition is any indication.
The PA Playmakers team actually had two of the better quarterbacks throwing in Bloomsburg (Pa.) Blake Rankin and Steelton (Pa.) Max Ward. The 6-foot-4, 200 pound Rankin certainly has the build of a pro-style quarterback and had good touch on several of his deep balls. His arm is not the strongest however, while Ward’s seemed like he was firing balls out of a rifle. Impressive wide receiver Greg Garmon caught most of what was thrown his way. Although he's not the fastest wide out, he does have good body control and attacks the ball when it is in the air.
2013 quarterback Kevin Olsen also stood out from the crowd. The younger brother of Chicago Bears tight end Greg Olsen, the 6-foot-3, 210 pound signal-caller could be one of the top quarterbacks in the nation, if not the Northeast. A little thin and somewhat hesitant in the pocket, Olsen was still one of the most accurate QB's in attendance. If he can refine his throwing motion into something a little more compact, he could be someone who racks up offers in the coming months.
Jersey City (N.J.) athlete Brandon Napoleon was also sharp in the pocket. Holding offers from North Carolina and Rutgers, he threw a nice, tight spiral and had a very powerful arm. Because of his size (6-foot, 170 pounds) he will likely be offered as an athlete at BCS-caliber schools but it wouldn't be surprising if he were giving a shot at quarterback in the right system.