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Tag:Temple
Posted on: January 18, 2012 11:25 am
Edited on: January 18, 2012 11:22 pm
 

O'Brien gets first recruit at Penn State

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Even though he's been busy leading the New England Patriots to the AFC Championship Game, new Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien has been working the phones and watching tape in his free time to help cobble together a recruiting class. It paid off on Tuesday with his first commitment in Worcester (Mass.) safety Jordan Lucas, who nearly enrolled at Temple before O'Brien entered the picture.

"I never really thought about it until I heard somebody say it, but that's big. I'm glad to be his first commit,'' Lucas told the Altoona Mirror. "Coach O'Brien accepted this as a challenge, and I take it as a challenge, too. I think that program is going to keep rising. He wants to take the program to the top and keep the tradition going, and I want to be a part of that. That's why I picked Penn State.''

The 6-foot, 190-pounder was also drawing interest from schools like Rutgers but the Nittany Lions were the first BCS school to extend an offer. He was set to enroll at Temple as early as Tuesday but will head to State College in the summer.

"I was surprised. It was nothing I was expecting. I was getting ready to go to Temple for a week here, and they came out of nowhere late in my recruiting process. I'm glad I waited,'' he said.

Lucas picked off one pass on defense and had over 500 yards rushing and 13 total touchdowns on offense during his senior year. He becomes Penn State's 15th class of 2012 commitment and joins fellow recruit Armani Reeves from the state of Massachusetts.

Posted on: June 24, 2011 6:16 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 7:43 pm
 

Three commits in three days for Maryland

Posted by Bryan Fischer

If new Maryland coach Randy Edsall's first few summer camps are any indication, Terrapin fans should enjoy getting commitments in bunches in the future. The program added three verbal pledges this week over three days, with the first coming from Locust Grove (Ga.) cornerback Alvin Hill after he picked up an offer at the camp on Tuesday.

“I took a couple of days to think about it; I talked with my family and my brother and they all felt like it was a good opportunity,” Hill told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I called Maryland and they were a little surprised that I committed within two days. I told them that they had showed me a lot of love and I was comfortable with my decision. They were really excited about coming there.”

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound defensive back selected Maryland over interest from Tennessee, Mississippi State and Georgia. He had 42 tackles and 6 interceptions last season and is the younger brother of Virginia Tech cornerback Detrick Bonner.

Hill was only the beginning for the new staff however. Greer (S.C.) quarterback Caleb Rowe committed to the school after throwing at the summer camp and taking in campus to see all the school had to offer him.

"I really wasn't sure about Maryland until I got here," Rowe told TerrapinTimes.com. "But I got to campus early and took a tour of the campus and I really liked the facilities and the atmosphere up there. The coaches were great, and I like how excited Coach Edsall was."

The offer from Maryland was Rowe's first from a FBS-level school. He threw for 27 touchdowns and nearly 2,700 yards last season as a 6-foot-2, 190-pound field general and is the second quarterback to join the team's recruiting class of 2012.

"When I got the offer, I just felt like I needed to commit," he said. "All my dad said to me is to pick a school that's good for me and where I can get a good education and play football for a good coach."

Friday afternoon was when the Terrapin staff received the good news that they picked up yet another pledge when Harrisburg (Pa.) linebacker Brock Dean committed.

"I love the overall atmosphere," Dean told TurtleSportsReport.com. "Each time I visited, I got the feeling that this is where I need to be. It is where I belong. It is a great atmosphere with great people and just the best overall fit for me. Academically, I want to major in Entrepreneurship and Maryland is ranked ninth in the nation for that specific major. That just reaffirmed to me that it was a perfect fit.”

Playing for Pennsylvania powerhouse Bishop McDevitt, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound rising senior had 93 tackles and four sacks last season. Dean selected Maryland over offers from Arkansas, Pitt and Temple.

The trio gives Maryland seven verbal commitments for the class of 2012.
Posted on: June 21, 2011 11:22 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 11:27 pm
 

Heath Evans 7-on-7 Notebook

Posted by Bryan Fischer

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Plenty of top players from high school teams all over the state of Florida were in action this past weekend at the 6<sup>th</sup> Annual Heath Evans Foundation 7-on-7 Tournament. Featuring two teams from MaxPreps' Preseason Top 25 for 2011 and several members from Tom Lemming's Top 100 for 2012, the fields at the King's Academy were filled with fast paced action and plenty of scoring.

One of the standouts was Tampa (Fla.) wide receiver Austin Aikens, who helped propel his team to the title and was one of the top players at the event.

"It felt real good,” Aikens said on Saturday. “I was out there making plays my team needed during the clutch."

While Plant High ended up taking the taking the title for the first time, it was just as satisfying toppling last year's state champion St. Thomas Aquinas, which beat Plant for the championship last fall. Aikens knows, however, that beating Aquinas in the summer is a different matter from beating them in the fall and he's trying to step his game up as a result.

"I'm looking to gain some more weight and polish off my route running and catching skills that I've got as a receiver so I can help my team,” he said. “We're pretty much getting there, we're starting to gel together and become one team and know what each other is thinking. Players are starting to step up when we need them to step up."

Events like Heath Evans are designed not only to give players an outlet to compete but also to showcase their skills. With the spring evaluation period over and the summer camp schedule picking up, Aikens already holds several scholarship offers and is starting to see plenty of attention from college coaches.

"It's going good,” he said. “I have offers from Missouri, Vanderbilt, Cincinnati, Western Kentucky, Temple, Boston College. So it's going pretty well for me. I'm still wide open."

While the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder is still sorting out his offer list, he maintains he'll likely make a decision after the football season is over. He recently took an unofficial visit to several schools in North Carolina and could be leaning towards heading out of state for college.

"About four weeks ago I went up and visited Duke, North Carolina, N.C. State and Wake Forest,” Aikens said. “It was good, I really liked North Carolina's campus and facilities. North Carolina has some interest in me too."

Bauta shines in race to become starter

Palm Beach (Fla.) athlete Faton Bauta is trying to shed the label of “athlete” and get people used to calling him a quarterback. The dual-threat signal caller certainly impressed on the field during the tournament, showing off a strong arm and hitting some tight windows on some of his throws. The transfer from New York is not assured of the starting job just yet so the extra time with his teammates leading up to the season was crucial to developing some chemistry before the pads come on in August.

"It's going very well just being out here with them and competing with them,” Bauta said. “I like the way these guys play and I enjoy throwing the ball to them.

"I usually throw with them a lot on weekends or whenever we get the chance during the week. But out here, it's definitely good to work on the timing, there's more real game situations because you have
defenders."

Dwyer High, ranked 17<sup>th</sup> in the country by MaxPreps, is breaking in several new players into the mix and face the added challenge of moving into a new classification this season. Bauta knows the team needs to gel in the offseason if they want to go from good to great during the regular season.

"We look great but obviously we have a lot to work on,” he said. “We're working towards perfection and we still have a lot of work to do but hopefully we'll be a great team this season. Hopefully we'll win that state championship."

Bauta already holds offers from Alabama, Louisville, Miami and West Virginia among others and a few recent unofficial visits netted him some more.

"Georgia and UCF, that's about it,” he said. “(Georgia) was huge, I went on a pretty big SEC tour and went there and threw for them. They like be a lot and they offered me, I sat down with coach (Mark) Richt and he's a great guy. All of the coaches were great. They're a great school and have top of the line everything. It was great to go out there and see what they're all about."

While several schools continue to recruit Bauta as an athlete, he's a quarterback at heart and that's what he wants to play at the next level.

“That's why I went on the tour, just to show these guys I can throw the ball,” he said. “Hopefully I can show the guys out here that I can throw the ball."

Bauta participated at the Florida State camp on Sunday after wrapping up things in Palm Beach at the Heath Evans tournament. While he doesn't have an offer from the Seminoles at the moment, it's possible they could break into his recruiting with one. Right now however, he's starting to narrow down his list based on a few of his big offers.

"I have a top seven and if you looked at the offers I have, you'd be able to figure it out,” Bauta said. “I'm really just keeping my options open right now in case something pops up with a school. I'm just seeing who likes me and who has the best chance of winning and having the most success during the four years I'm there. I want to get the best connection to the coaches and the players."

Howard makes plays on both sides of the ball

Cornerback Tracey Howard of Miramar (Fla.) knows he doesn't have much left to prove after a stellar junior year and a very good offseason on the all-star travel team South Florida Express. But there he was out in the heat, running routes on offense and playing receivers tight on defense.

"I think it's good because I'm out here with my team rather than as an individual,” Howard said. “I'm on my team getting better, developing chemistry on my team is a good feeling."

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound corner is working on getting stronger in the offseason and wants to improve his tackling before the season begins. At the same time he's looking to get better as an individual, Howard constantly has to fight off college recruiters looking to land his services.

"It's picking up,” he said. “It's getting kind of crazy right now but I try to stay humble about it and stay focused about it. I get help from my coaches and my family.

"I'm just staying open with the process. I won't say I have a long time to think about it like a year but I'm just trying to stay open.”

Howard plans on visiting Miami and Florida State soon and has already visited the other in-state power, Florida, for a spring practice. He plans on committing during the middle of the season or on Signing Day, depending on how his visits work out and if he's comfortable with a certain school. In the mean time, he's just doing what's asked of him to help his team win.

"It was good to play some receiver and make plays for my team,” Howard said. “I don't really play offense but I'm out here with my team having fun."

Notes

- One of the underclassmen who had an intriguing blend of size and speed was Tampa (Fla.) linebacker Paris Bostick of Plant High. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder looks like a big safety but he could continue to grow into an outside linebacker. Schools are already interested with him playing safety and while he doesn't have any offers yet, is looking to have a big season after concentrating on getting better this offseason.

"Just get faster and bigger,” Bostick said. “I'm in the weight room a lot with the team but I like to work harder than everybody else. I see people trying to up their game so I'm going to try and up my game more than them and keep my head on and not get into any trouble."

- Virginia Tech commit Donaldven Manning was sporting his future college's logos on some eye black.

- Booker T. Washington was a team full of underclassmen who impressed. They made it to the championship game against Plant but fell just short. Former Miami director of football operations “IceHarris is the head coach at the school now.

Posted on: June 11, 2011 1:51 pm
Edited on: June 11, 2011 1:53 pm
 

Miami picks up Pennsylvania athlete

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Al Golden has been tasked with turning Miami back into a national power and while he has a terrific talent base in South Florida, he's still going to go after some recruits nationally. Golden and the Hurricanes added one such national recruit this past week as Doyletown (Pa.) athlete Jake O'Donnell committed to the school after going through the coach's summer camp in Miami.

"I told him `I'm ready to be a Hurricane,' and he was very excited," O'Donnell told CaneSport.com. "I picked Miami because of the legacy of the football program. That stands out in the college football world. And what Al Golden did at Temple, he really turned that program around and I'm sure he'll do the same if not better at Miami."

The 6-foot-6, 240-pound O'Donnell not only was familiar with what Golden did at Temple, but actually attended one of his camps there. Primarily a defensive end/tight end in high school, he played a little linebacker and offensive tackle last year as well. Although it's uncertain what position O'Donnel will play at Miami, he's glad the recruiting process is over and he's found his school.

"It really felt right," he said. "People tell you once you go to the school you're meant to be at you'll know. And I knew. After I got back to Pennsylvania I took some time to think it over. The more and more I thought about it the more and more it made sense to go there."

O'Donnell racked up 43 tackles, four sacks and one forced fumble on defense as a junior and selected Miami over offers from Temple, Syracuse, North Carolina and West Virginia. He becomes the Hurricanes' 13th commitment for the class of 2012.
Posted on: May 21, 2011 2:00 am
Edited on: May 24, 2011 12:59 am
 

Winston, Kiel impress at Ohio State Elite 11

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.

Notes

- 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.).

Posted on: May 16, 2011 9:42 am
 

5/16 Recruiting Roundup

Posted by Bryan Fischer

- An overview of Oklahoma State recruiting with needs and targets for the class of 2012.

- Thoughts from offensive lineman and Ohio State commit Kyle Kalis growing up with a dad who played in the NFL.

- Sophomore Adam Breneman is already up to four scholarship offers.

- Linebacker Justin Horton received an offer from Temple.

- Colorado has their man in Shane Dillon.

- Linebacker Dillon Lee is set to pick a school tonight and will choose either Alabama, USC or Florida State.
Posted on: April 28, 2011 4:50 pm
 

Rutgers gets number two in 2012

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Rutgers added a second member to its class of 2012 Thursday afternoon in Warminster (Pa.) running back Desmon Peoples, who selected the Scarlet Knights at a ceremony in his high school.

"Kids at school today were asking me all day where I was going," Peoples told ScarletNation.com. "I told them, you'll see at 1:30 in the library."

The 5-foot-7, 160 pound back had been involved with several schools at this point in the recruiting process but a recent trip to Piscataway allowed Peoples to feel comfortable with pulling the trigger on a commitment.

"I went to the practice, I liked the tempo, all the hype, rah rah stuff," he said. "I feel like every Division 1 program that wants to win a national championship needs that. I felt that I was going to commit. I told my dad about it and he said just wait until Saturday and see what campus life is like and you can go from there. After Saturday, I was like, 'I love it.'"

Peoples selected Rutgers over his other finalists UCLA, Pitt and Temple. He joins wide receiver Ruhann Peele in the Scarlet Knights' class of 2012.

Posted on: April 4, 2011 2:12 pm
 

2012 Linebackers to Watch

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Oxford (Ala.) star Kwon Alexander is the top linebacker in the nation according to CBS Sports/MaxPreps Recruiting Analyst Tom Lemming but there's a lot of football to be played between now and Signing Day. Here's five other linebackers - in no particular order - who you need to keep an eye out for this year. Each of them has a chance to move Alexander off the top spot and become the top linebacker for the class of 2012.

Deaysean Rippy (Sto-Rox High, McKees Rocks, Pa.) 
Height: 6-foot-2 
Weight: 210 pounds 
Offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Colorado, UConn, Florida, Florida State, Iowa, LSU, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State, Pitt, South Carolina, Syracuse, Temple, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, Wisconsin

What's to like: It's no surprise to see Rippy become one of the most recruited athletes in the country after watching his film. He has been on the radar since his sophomore year and is a really versatile player as an outside linebacker. His pass rush skills are exceptional and he is fast enough to even be a safety at the next level. Rippy is one of the best players in coverage among this group of linebackers.

Needs to work on: Rippy is still a bit undersized if he wants to play outside linebacker in a 4-3 and could add a bit of weight.



Noor Davis (The Villages High, The Villages, Fla.) 
Height: 6-foot-4 
Weight: 225 pounds 
Offers from: Alabama, Boston College, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Louisville, Miami, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Pitt, Purdue, USF, Stanford, Syracuse, Tennessee, UCF, UCLA, USC, Virginia

What's to like: Davis is an exceptional prospect at the outside linebacker position and it's hard not to like what you see when you see him in person or on film. He is a smart player on the field who reads the play quickly and almost always takes a good angle to make the tackle. It's almost funny to see him standout on the field due to his size and the way he hits.

Needs to work on: Davis needs to learn some of the nuances of playing outside linebacker and move beyond a pass rusher from the outside.



Jabari Ruffin (Downey High, Downey, Calif.) 
Height: 6-foot-3 
Weight: 245 pounds 
Committed to USC

What's to like: Ruffin certainly looks the part and is probably the best linebacker west of the Mississippi. He looked sharp at the recent LA Nike Camp and his athleticism jumps out at you when you realize he played offense last season. Not only does he have speed to burn but his explosiveness is really apparent when you see him get ready to deliver a big hit.

Needs to work on: There's not a whole lot more that Ruffin needs to do to be successful but he should benefit from playing only linebacker in college. Becoming a read and react player instead of relying mostly on his athleticism to make plays is the next step for him to become a great player.



Reggie Ragland (Bob Jones High, Madison, Ala.) 
Height: 6-foot-4 
Weight: 235 pounds 
Committed to Alabama

What's to like: Ragland's size and speed make him a very, very good prospect manning the middle linebacker position. He's instinctive and when he reads his keys is one of the best in the country. He fills gaps very well and usually ends up blowing people up rather than just tackling them. He also does a good job of engaging a defender and then getting said defender out of his way.

Needs to work on: Ragland is a bit of a lose cannon at times and sometimes tries to do too much. He'll need to improve his coverage skills as well, especially if he's to be a middle backer in a Cover-2 scheme that requires him to run down the field.

Cassanova McKinzy (Woodlawn High, Birmingham, Ala.) 
Height: 6-foot-2 
Weight: 230 pounds 
Committed to Auburn

What's to like: McKinzy's name first of all. Beyond that though, there's plenty of things that Auburn coaches saw in McKinzy, including great size and speed at outside linebacker. He's very athletic and could play running back at the next level if he wanted to. McKinzy wraps up very well when tackling and is very instinctive.

Needs to work on: McKinzy may have all the measurables but he is still a bit raw at linebacker. He'll need to refine his coverage skills and improve his ability to read and react.

 
 
 
 
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