Posted on: March 3, 2012 11:52 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2012 11:55 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
ROSWELL, Ga. -- The recruiting landscape shifted into a higher gear on Saturday as hundreds of players from as far away as Michigan descended upon Centennial High School in suburban Atlanta for the first New Level Athletics Elite 7-on-7 tournament of the year. With 18 teams taking part, the event drew some of the top talent from across the country to show off their skills and allowed several to make a name for themselves, hoping that will translate into scholarship offers down the road.
One player who needed no introduction was Marietta (Ga.) running back and Alabama commitment Tyren Jones. Easily among the 10 best players in the state after a terrific junior year, the speedster was the focal point of Team Georgia's offense as they fought their way out of the round-robin format that made up day one.
"Some people might know who I am but I'm not really worried about it," Jones said. "I just want to go out here and help my team win."
Although he is a multi-purpose back, Jones lined up at receiver for the day and looked like a natural. Though he looks like more a guy that would be utilized out of the slot, he typically was found on the outside against the opposition's top cornerback and still had little trouble finding soft spots in coverage or beating his man deep.
"I just want to prove that I can catch the ball well," he said. "I'm lining up to play receiver even though I'm a running back."
The 5-foot-9, 200-pounder's commitment to the Crimson Tide came after attending a recent Junior Day in Tuscaloosa and picking up an offer from head coach Nick Saban. While the timing surprised a few folks, Jones liked what the program was offering and feels his talents will mesh extremely well within the offense.
"It wasn't really a pitch, they just told me that I fit really well into their system and their system really fits me," he said. "They said I'm an all-purpose running back and that's what they need at Alabama. They watched film and saw me split out some an basically said I'm going to come out of the backfield and catch the ball."
Jones was particularly impressed with the facilities and was sold on how well the program took care of the players in terms of nutrition and weightlifting. Although some might be deterred at Alabama signing the top recruiting class seemingly every year, the tailback is looking forward to the competition and thinks the class of 2013 might come in as the best of the past few years anyway.
"I think it's something special this year," Jones said. "We can win some more national championships. They don't really brag about (winning national titles) but they know they have the talent and the recruiting to win another.
Still, that hasn't stopped a few programs from continuing to make their pitch with plenty of time between now and Signing Day.
"Purdue, Florida and I'd say Georgia," he said of programs still recruiting him hard. "They're all still talking to me and sending letters."
Jones' 7-on-7 teammate - and Georgia commit - Shaquille Wiggins was not with the squad because he was in Athens for the Bulldogs' Junior Day but will return for the championship round on Sunday. The addition not only gives the group a top cornerback but somebody that has been very open about his program being the one everybody should be looking at. Although Jones' recent pledge to Alabama is strong, he still hears it from Wiggins despite him being a bit of a recruiter himself.
"Not really, I talk to him every once and a while but it's not too much," Jones said. "I'm really (recruiting teammate) Brandon Kublanow to come down with me. Other than that, I'm talking to friends and trying to make sure Reuben Foster stays (committed). He's real excited but it sounds like he's going to stay with Alabama."
While recruiting will sort itself out for others, Jones will turn his attention to the field on Sunday with hopes of doing something he's planning on doing a lot in college: winning.
Kamara is cold and hot at the same time
One of Michael Jordan's most memorable games in a career full of them was Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals. Most remember it simply as 'The Flu Game.'
While the stakes were significantly (significantly) less on the fields Saturday, Norcross (Ga.) running back Alvin Kamara was channeling his inner-Jordan. Under the weather with flu-like systems he was still one of the fastest players at the event and helped contribute several big plays and victories for Georgia Elite.
"I'm trying to hang in there I'm so sick," Kamara said. "I dropped a few balls. But I'm bouncing back, we'll have to see with these next games."
On top of a fever and his skin a few shades lighter than what it normally is, the cheerful Kamara also was dealing with the opposition's best shot. As one of several players with multiple FBS offers, he had a bit of a target on his back while he was running routes and catching passes.
"A little bit," he said. "Some guys see me and say, 'Oh he's got all these offers and blah, blah, blah.' But that's just going to make me play harder."
The cold and windy conditions in the Atlanta area were pretty much the opposite of Kamara's recruitment. Holding just a single offer, from Syracuse, at the Rising Seniors Bowl right before New Year's, the 5-foot-10, 190-pounder has turned into one of the hottest prospects in the country.
"It's been crazy," he said. "From one to eleven. It's just crazy."
HIs most recent offer came from the opposite coast and USC, with plenty of other schools close to extending an one. He doesn't have a top group of schools but there have still been a few that have stuck out in his mind and are recruiting him the hardest.
"Alabama and Georgia are up there," he said. "Everybody heard the story about Alabama. With Georgia, their coaches keep up with me real well."
'The story' about Alabama stems from the fact that the school sent him 105 recruiting letters. In one day.
The memorable recruiting strategy certainly left a mark in the running back's mind even if he held the Crimson Tide in high esteem beforehand.
"It was wild, they just fell out of my mailbox and I wasn't even expecting it," Kamara said. "My mom went wild. She was like, 'Can they do that?'"
Kamara doesn't have any unofficial visits planned and isn't counting on going to any junior days in the next few weeks either. In many ways, he's just going with the flow of the recruiting process that he's seen pick up very quickly. Wisconsin and Oklahoma State might be close to adding to his total of offers and while he will add them to his growing pile, Kamara is evaluating all of them based on what he's looking for in a program before making a commitment.
"Just a school that feels like home, coaches that I get along with and somewhere I can just feel like I belong," he said. "I want to fit in. I'm going to make my decision whenever it feels right. I don't have a time frame."
While his timetable for a commitment is still up in the air, Kamara is interested in seeing things outside of his hometown and that means he'll take visits even if he knows where he wants to go.
"I want to get to everywhere I can and see everything," he said. "I don't want to miss anything. Even if I (commit), I definitely will take (official visits)."
Cheek checks in with Cal
Lawrenceville (Ga.) defensive back Trevellous 'Tre' Cheek was one of the standouts from the first day of competition at the NLA Elite 7-on-7. His play between the lines might have had something to do with his good day outside of them after picking up his first offer from California.
"I've always wanted to go to a (school like) Cal," Cheek said. "They're a great school and great at football too. I have family about an hour away."
While it might sound strange for a Georgia corner to be familiar with the Bears and hold them in high regard, there's a reason he is already planning on a visit out West. Cheek has talked with several members of the team already in order to get to know the program better, including McDonough (Ga.) defensive back Avery Sebastian, a 2011 signee from the area. As a result of being the first to offer, Cal has a slight edge at the moment over other schools - including his childhood favorite.
"I grew up a Florida fan since I can remember. I was brought up that way," Cheek said. "Cal beat them (with an offer) though. That first offer is kind of special. Coach (Ashley) Ambrose is a good guy."
The 5-foot-10, 165-pound Cheek attended Kentucky's Junior Day last week and enjoyed the trip to see what the Wildcats had to offer. On his way back home, he stopped by Louisville, where their Junior Day had already ended but the coaching staff waited around for his arrival and to talk to him. Cheek believes both are close to offering and is hearing more from Clemson and Arkansas. He will head to the Tiger's April 14th Junior Day and based on the amount of attention schools are giving him, it figures that won't be the only visit Cheek will take this spring.
"West Virginia is close, coach (Daron) Roberts has been talking to me," Cheek said. "Tennessee (receivers coach Darin Hinshaw) said they'll offer me but he was waiting for Coach (Derek) Dooley to sign off on it and it might take a little time. But I'm looking forward to that one."
Though there were no really big wide receivers at the event, Cheek handled just about everyone with ease on Saturday. He often played press coverage and had no problem turning to run after getting a good jam on the line of scrimmage. His ability to play up close to the offense, Cheek said, is one of the reasons several coaching staffs have been talking to him quite a bit.
"Just about everybody is talking to me as a corner," he said. "Most of the coaches I spoke with said that I've very physical and they haven't seen cornerbacks like that. They think that since I'm a very physical corner, they can teach the coverage part. They can teach that, they can't teach the (physicality)."
With an offer from Cal in his back pocket and plenty more sure to come, Cheek's recruitment should be one to follow on the road to Signing Day. At the moment, he has no issues leaving the state to play college football and is looking more at the school than its location.
"Oh no," he said with a big smile and laugh. "As long as I'm getting an education. I want to major in physical therapy and minor in broadcasting or communication."
Tags: 2012 NLA, Alabama, Alvin Kamara, Arkansas, Ashley Ambrose, Avery Sebastian, Brandon Kublanow, Cal, California, Clemson, Darin Hinshaw, Daron Roberts, Derek Dooley, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisville, Michael Jordan, NBA, New Level 7-on-7, New Level Elite, New Level Elite 7-on-7, Nick Saban, Oklahoma State, Purdue, Reuben Foster, Rising Seniors Bowl, Shaquille Wiggins, Syracuse, Tennessee, Tre Cheek, Trevellous Cheek, Tyren Jones, Tyren Jones, USC, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Posted on: February 23, 2012 1:37 pm
By MaxPreps' Dave Krider
Entering his freshman year at San Antonio Christian, Corey Robinson wanted to try out for football so he could play with his brother, David Robinson Jr., who had played wide receiver the previous year as a sophomore.
Corey, who is the middle son of former NBA superstar David Robinson Sr., told MaxPreps, "I used to throw with him and go to his games. It was a chance to play with him. I went to tryouts, but my older brother wasn't there. I came home and asked him where he was. He said, 'I don't like the game and I'm not going to play anymore.' I was stuck."
Actually, Corey wasn't stuck. He was just on his way to making a name in a sport other than basketball, which enabled his famous father to fashion a Hall of Fame career.
Corey pointed out, "He (his brother) kept quiet. He knew I could catch the ball. I would not have played for sure (if he had known he wouldn't be playing with his brother)."
If he ever was going to quit football, Corey would have done it the first year. Playing on the JV team with freshmen and a couple sophomores, he took his lumps.
"That was brutal," he confessed. "We just got physically out-matched.
"God really blessed me to see potential in myself. I knew I was going to get bigger and faster. There are a couple more inches in me," added the 6-fioot-4, 195-pound junior wide receiver who runs 40 yards in 4.6 seconds and has a vertical leap of 31 inches.
Click here to read more on MaxPreps
Posted on: October 13, 2011 11:08 am
Edited on: October 13, 2011 11:49 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Twitter and recruiting are two things that Pete Carroll was well known for during his days at USC and even though he has moved on to the Seattle Seahawks, it appears he is still using a few of the tricks he learned in college.
Currently locked out of the NBA, Miami Heat forward LeBron James kicked off a series of events by sending a Tweet to ESPN reporter John Clayton in which he jokingly asked about the NFL deadline for signing free agents. James is familiar with playing football; in his sophomore year of high school he was named first-team all-state in Ohio as a wide receiver. At 6-foot-8, 250-pounds though, he would probably be a tight end or defensive end if he were playing now. His inability to finish games though, would probably hold him back from getting a fifth star.
CBSSports.com NFL Insider Mike Freeman said in his Daily Shoutout that some in the league have told him James could be a Pro Bowl tight end if he worked at it. Freeman, like just about everyone, believes it wouldn’t happen and won't happen.
It would be a disaster because of the contact. It's been a while since James was hit and the last time that happened was in high school for him. And don't give me the NBA is physical. The only thing that rivals the NFL in terms of physicality are the fighting sports.
That's not stopping the rambunctious Carroll from at least making a pitch. After first asking if James knew what the NFL rookie minimum is (about $375,000 in 2011), the unemployed basketball star responded that it was still more than he was making now (unlikely, especially considering that he made $16 million from the Heat alone last season, but I digress).
That didn't deter Carroll from continuing his pitch, offering to set up a tryout at Miami, where his son Brennan is the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator. He also sent a long a present should James be interested:
Now, if Carroll were still in college and James were a recruitable athlete, what he did would make up several NCAA violations. Of course, he's somewhat familiar with those. Regardless, the head coach's frequent saying of 'Always Compete' continues to come across as 'Always Recruit' to this blog.
And based on this simulation of King James in the video game Madden, it's easy to see why Carroll thought the locked out basketball player was worth pursuing on the gridiron.
(Hat tip to the Eye on Football blog)
Posted on: July 8, 2011 12:17 am
Edited on: July 11, 2011 4:37 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Day 2 of "The Opening" didn't finish up with a bang like day one did with a national champion being crowned in the SPARQ rating. Instead, some of the top players in the country took to the fields of the Nike campus for what amounted to a regular Nike camp in the middle of the day before getting chance to hang out for several hours before selecting 7-on-7 teams.
No more testing for some of the finest recruits in the country, it was time to get into the actual football part of the camp.
"It's been great. Playing against the top recruits, competing against each other, having fun in the lounge, it's great," Aledo (Texas) running back Johnathan Gray said. "I expected everything. If you've got the top 150 kids in the country, you expect nothing but the best. That's what you get (from Nike). They're treating us like superstars out here. We're just enjoying our time."
When not outrunning linebackers (he out ran them all on Thursday afternoon), Gray spent a good chunk of the afternoon in the players' lounge relaxing and mingling with other recruits. As one of several players committed to Texas at the event, the 6-foot, 200-pounder has been able to spend some quality time with his future teammates and the bonding they are doing is something Gray hopes will pay off later.
"There's a couple of us here from Texas just playing and going through the drills," he said. "It's fun, I met them earlier so being up here with them, it's fun being with your fellow commits and building that team chemistry up."
Ranked as the best running back in the country and eighth overall in the class of 2012 by MaxPreps, Gray knows there are plenty of eyes on him while he's going through drills, perhaps even more than on his fellow commitments. Despite the added outside pressure, he is saying focused on the task at hand.
"I don't really look at is as number one and all that stuff, I just come out here to have fun and compete," he said. "That's what this is about. Doing your best."
A solid verbal commitment to the Longhorns, there's not much Gray has on his docket football-wise between now and when his high school begins fall camp in August. With an outside shot of breaking the national rushing record, the upbeat running back is just looking to focus on getting better over the coming month.
"This will be the last camp I do," he said. "I'll just go back to my high school and go workout and go through conditioning drills and stuff to get ready for the season."
While 40-yard dashes and weight room sessions will take up a good chuck of his time in the near future, he won't be limiting himself to the football field. Though his high school team qualified for the Texas state 7-on-7 tournament next week at Texas A&M, Gray will be somewhere where there's plenty of lights, action and air conditioning.
"I'll be in Vegas for a basketball tournament," he said. "It's going really good, the team is doing good and they're winning. This will be my first time back with them since surgery and track and all that. I'm waiting to meet up with those guys.
"I'm a defensive guy, they put me in to stop the best player on the other team."
When asked if one of the greatest offensive threats on the football field is like former NBA defensive specialist Bruce Bowen on the court, Gray takes a second to think about it.
"Yeah," he said with a laugh. "You can call me that."
Everybody is recruiting Alexander
As one of the top linebackers in the country with scholarship offers from just about every school, Kwon Alexander knows all about the recruiting process. It follows him everywhere, from his phone to his email to, it appears, The Opening.
"Kwon's a good kid, I love him," Stephenson (Ga.) running back and Florida commit Mike Davis says while wrapping his arm around Alexander. "I just hope he comes to Florida. I'm recruiting him."
"They're up there," Alexander confirms within earshot of Davis. "They're in my top ten."
Such is life for the Oxford (Ala.) five-star linebacker. Luckily Alexander is aware that he can't be as open about schools as he once was. As a result of it getting closer and closer to the season, he has started to narrow down his list and dial in on just a few schools in the recruiting process.
"Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, LSU, Oregon, USC, Ole Miss," he said. "Distance is not a factor.
"I'm looking for a family. I'm looking for good academics, a great team, some good people to be around and to just play ball."
With one of the schools he is strongly considering just down the highway from Nike's campus in Oregon, Alexander acknowledges that the situation involving the NCAA is making him a little hesitant about the Ducks but not enough to eliminate them.
"I'm still looking at them," Alexander said. "I mean, it's Oregon. They still look good."
While the two West Coast programs are receiving attention, there's still plenty of schools closer to home that are trying hard not to let Alexander get away from the region. With plenty of SEC powerhouses chasing after him, he knows that things are only just beginning to pickup among is selected few schools.
"Of the local schools, probably Auburn is recruiting me the hardest," he said. "Then probably Alabama after that. LSU is coming after me."
It often takes a unique approach to land the signature of an athlete of Alexander's caliber and there's at least one school who has thrown something different at him.
"Ole Miss offered me in basketball," he said. "That stuck out because that's my first offer in basketball. I haven't really thought about (playing both sports). It's nice but I don't know.
"I know it would be a lot of stress and stuff from playing both sports. I know I wouldn't have time to do a lot of things so I really just don't know yet."
Alexander plans to narrow his list down again before the season starts with a decision coming next year.
McCarthy down to five
Monrovia (Calif.) defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy isn't planning on making a final decision on a school until the U.S. Army All-American Bowl but that hasn't stopped him from narrowing down his list to five. With all of that time before making a decision, the top interior defensive lineman in the country is using it to his advantage and taking in a few of the schools on his list.
“Right now, it's USC, Cal, Oregon, Washington and Florida,” McCarthy said. “(Unofficals) to just the close ones like USC. I went to UCLA a couple of weeks ago. It went really well, I just talked to the coaches and they showed me around campus."
With constant contact between him and all five of the schools, the 6-foot-4, 300-pounder is mainly looking for one thing in the recruiting process.
“When I talk to all those coaches, they make me feel comfortable,” McCarthy said. “When I went to Cal, they made me feel reel comfortable with all the players and stuff like that. When I talk with the USC players, they make me feel that way.
“I haven't talked to the (USC) coaches lately. After I get home, I might call them. At USC I talk to Coach “O” (Ed Orgeron). At Cal I mainly talk to coach Tosh (Lupoi).”
Ranked seventh overall in the MaxPreps Top 100 for 2012, McCarthy realizes he's a target for plenty of schools as an uncommited player ranked so highly. While it's hard for him to say if a school is standing out, it doesn't take him that long to come up with an answer to who is recruiting him the hardest.
“Probably Cal,” he said. “It's between Cal and USC.”
McCarthy is planning on taking official visits to four of the five schools on his list. The local school, USC, will likely not receive an official visit during the season because he has been to the Coliseum for plenty of games over the years. While on any of his visits however, McCarthy has a few things that he will be looking for and checking off once he gets there.
“I just want to go to a place where I feel comfortable and if I weren't playing football I could stay for four years,” he said. “I want to major in business. It's really important, I might want to go to a really big business school.”
Aziz Shittu is ready for action
With day two of The Opening marking the transition into actual football drills, there was perhaps no player who was happier to stop running 40-yard dashes and start doing some field work than Buhach (Calif.) defensive lineman Aziz Shittu.
"With the testing, I wasn't coming out here looking forward to the testing," Shittu said. "I'm a football player-type of guys, I play football. It was fun though."
The Opening is a unique camp because players will be in football pads, which should make for some great action along the trenches. Count Shittu as one of those that can't wait for full speed, one-on-one drills. In fact, he's already picked out one of the five-star offensive linemen at the event he wants to compete against.
"I'm looking forward to going against Zach Banner," Shittu said. "For reasons he should know. If he sees this, it's Zach Banner."
One of the more outgoing players at the event, the 6-foot-4, 275-pounder is making friends at the event just as quickly as he get to the quarterback.
"Oh yeah, it's great getting acquainted," Shittu said. "Me, I'm a talkative guy. Ellis McCarthy is my roommate, Korren Kirven, Luke (Kaumatule), I'm talking to everybody."
It's not to often you'll find McCarthy and Shittu more than 20 feet away from each other when they are at the same event. The two California defensive lineman have competed before at Nike Camps and it appears the two close friends are looking to ensure that their friendship lasts well through college.
"We're going to go to the same school," Shittu said. "That's the plan, that's what we talk about.
"Me and Ellis, we just chill. I'll be telling jokes and he'll be laughing and I'll be telling jokes and he'll be laughing. We're just compatible."
On the recruiting front, Shittu recently decommitted from Stanford because it was just too soon in the process for him to be locked into one school. Though the Cardinal are still under consideration, the door is open for several other schools to jump on the talented defensive lineman.
"Stanford is still in the mix," he said. "Everybody is kind of standing out in my top 10. Cal, USC, UCLA, Washington, all those schools are standing out, just to name a few."
Shittu doesn't have any visits planned and is looking to schedule his official visits after week two of the college football season once he gets a better idea of what teams he wants to visit and for what games.
Bivins doesn't mind getting schooled by a legend
Everybody knew he run some routes from the moment they saw that NFL legend Jerry Rice had on cleats and gloves. Rice was much more selective on day two of The Opening however. Though he was mainly a teacher Thursday, coaching many of the wide receivers on how to get a better release off the line for example, everybody knew he'd run a route or two against the defensive backs.
The only question was who would he go against?
"I was with him at first," Gainesville (Fla.) cornerback Chris Bivins recounted. "But then he ran like a 20-yard comeback. It was the longest comeback I've ever had to guard."
Bivins got the opportunity of the lifetime to defend against Rice. Though the former All-Pro managed to catch the ball, the 6-foot, 170-pound Bivins did a good job of staying close for most of Rice's route before the 'oohs' and the 'ahhs' came from the crowd after he caught it.
"I can tell why he was beating everybody back in the day," Bivins said.
A South Florida commitment, Bivins fought and clawed his way to the event with a very impressive run during the spring and summer camp circuit. One of the hardest workers in the defensive back group, the talented corner ended up with a great reward for all that he put in over the past few months.
"He only did one rep and that was with me," he said. "It was a real good experience. One of the best to ever play the game."
Tags: Alabama, Auburn, Aziz Shittu, Bruce Bowen, Cal, Chris Bivins, Ed Orgeron, Ellis McCarthy, Florida, Florida State, Jerry Rice, Johnathan Gray, Korren Kirven, Kwon Alexander, Like Kaumatule, LSU, Mike Davis, NBA, NCAA, NFL, Ole Miss, Oregon, Stanford, Texas, Texas, Texas A&M, The Opening, The Opening 2011, Tosh Lupoi, UCLA, USC, Washington, Zach Banner
Posted on: June 13, 2011 10:06 am
Edited on: June 13, 2011 10:36 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Congrats to the Dallas Mavericks on winning the NBA Championship. Now a long wait until the beginning of the college football season.
- A few nuggets on Arkansas' two-day camp, which begins today.
- Illinois offered offensive tackle Adam Pankey.
- Wide out JaQuay Williams has narrowed it down to Auburn and Ohio State.
- Plenty of ACC recruiting links to look over.
- Colorado filled their class of 2011 to the brink.
- A few updates on Michigan targets Eric Olsen and Se'Von Pittman.
- Linebacker Blake Rodgers was offered by Washington.
Posted on: June 6, 2011 9:09 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
There's been plenty of talk about how important game three is in the NBA final. While June game three and isn't considered as important in the recruiting game, with school camps underway, the month can certainly set up some schools later on down the road as coaches build relationships with players and extend offers.
- One columnist thinks Al Golden and Miami should use the Heat's success in their recruiting efforts.
- MaxPreps/CBSSports analyst Tom Lemming thinks that the state of Alabama is loaded with players this year.
- A couple of updates on Michigan targets Jehu Chesson, Eric Olson and Jarron Jones.
- Kansas extended an offer to cornerback Hugs Etienne.
- Safety Seth Jacobs visited Arkansas on Sunday and came away impressed.
- Defensive end Michael Moore is considered a Virginia lean but he could wind up with Florida.
- Washington signee Kasen Williams has stated his case to be the number one athlete in the country.
- Don't forget about the kickers and punters in the class of 2012.