Tag:Under Armour All-American Game
Posted on: February 2, 2012 10:53 am
Edited on: February 2, 2012 11:17 am
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Signing Day Coast-to-Coast Wrap



Posted by Bryan Fischer


It's time to pick up the wrapping paper, survey the damage and get excited to play with your new toys as Signing Day - i.e. Christmas in February for college football coaches and fans - has come to a close. Here's a broad overview of what happened from coast-to-coast.

Houston, we have a five-star

If there was one big - to borrow a metaphor from another sport - curve ball on Signing Day that made everybody scratch their head in disbelief it was word that Fresno (Calif.) wide receiver Deontay Greenberry had surprisingly signed with Houston during the middle of the day. It's normally a bit unusual when a program like UH signs anybody from outside the states of Texas or Louisiana and even more puzzling when they sign a highly rated player. But Greenberry? In addition to becoming the highest-ranked recruit the program has ever inked, the switch was cause for celebration inside the football office for a coup of epic proportions.

In short: Houston stole a five-star recruit on the week before Signing Day from Notre Dame.

This wasn't a local big time kid, this was the state of California's best wide receiver and somebody the Irish were counting on to play early and often with the departure of guys like Michael Floyd. The Cougars were not only closer to a BCS game than the storied program but they picked their pockets for one of their top recruits. It should have been a big day for Brian Kelly to trumpet guys like number two overall player and Columbus (Ind.) quarterback Gunner Kiel or Greenberry's cousin, cornerback Tee Shepard. Instead it was Kelly who was trying to spin the loss during his annual press conference.

"It is hard for me to feel disappointed about something I have never had, or someone I have never coached," Kelly said. "I'm more excited about the 16 who did sign."

The reason the 6-foot-3, 187-pound wide out flipped was primarily due to Houston receivers coach Jamie Christian, who came over from Arizona State. Christian had kept the Sun Devils in the running (Greenberry took a visit in October and considered them as late as December) despite a commitment to Notre Dame until Dennis Erickson's staff was fired and deserves the lion's share of the credit for getting Greenberry on campus last weekend and for ultimately landing a top-ranked guy. Cougars' head coach Tony Levine has developed some very successful wide receivers over the past several years and it appears he's got somebody a lot more talented than he's ever coached coming in with the class of 2012.

One in January, another in February

Texas coach Mack Brown has picked up the title Mr. February due to his penchant for winning a recruiting title but lack of success in translating that into a national title. After the run Nick Saban has had at Alabama recently, it might be time to find something that accurately describes his dominance in the first two months of the year because he's not limited to one or the other. As expected, the Crimson Tide took home the top recruiting class in the country in 2012 but perhaps the only thing that was surprising about it was that it wasn't, well, surprising.

"We knew exactly pretty much what we were gonna get," Saban said. "We didn't really have any surprises."

The only thing that even registered on the meter was when defensive tackle Korren Kirven decided to go away from home and play for the Crimson Tide (part of the reason why a numbers crunch led to some like defensive tackle Darius Philon signing at Arkansas). All told, 28 players will be considered part of yet another recruiting title for a program that seems to land any recruit they want, including an impressive six top 100 players.

The headliner is Geismar (La.) defensive back Landon Collins, who signed sans drama Wednesday and even seems to have patched things up with his mother following the bizarre reaction she had when he committed at the Under Armour All-American Game early last month. A ball-hawk who isn't afraid to lower the shoulder and stick the ball carrier, Collins is bound to find a role early on in the secondary. This class didn't really load up on offensive lineman but filled out just about everywhere else was stacked. The front seven in particular could see plenty of recruits turn into All-Americans, led by the impressive Reggie Ragland and Dillon Lee. Offensively there are some speedsters at wide out and T.J. Yeldon might be the best running back coming into the conference.

The Tide, it appears, just can't stop rolling.

M-I-Z-D-G-B

Though the news had broken that the country's top overall player in the class of 2012 would likely be headed to Columbia, nobody was truly sure until the the 6-foot-6 Dorial Green-Beckham put on the Missouri hat and officially sent his LOI in. The announcement seemed a little ho-hum despite the nearly 1,000 people watching locally and the national television audience but that's mainly a testament to the reserved Green-Beckham himself.

With many analysts calling him the second coming of Randy Moss, there's immense pressure on the top-ranked wide receiver and for good reason. There are few prospects as impressive physically as Green-Beckham and though he doesn't have great hands and needs some polish, the underlying natural talent is a good reason why he was highly regarded and highly recruited. Missouri has had success building around taller, bigger pass catchers in their offense and it looks like they'll have three years to see what kind of eye popping numbers

It can't be understated how big this is for a program like Mizzou. Landing the top recruit in the country is not just about getting a good player, it's about adding a level of prestige to the program. A talent like DGB only comes along once in a generation and for the Tigers to keep him at home is understandably huge, especially with the move to the SEC. Gary Pinkel has had plenty of success over the past several years even if it hasn't resulted in a championship and everybody understands that the competitions is about to be ratcheted up several notches going forward. With the signature of Green-Beckham, Pinkel and Mizzou proved that even if guys like Mack Brown, Bob Stoops and Nick Saban really want a kid, the Tigers can compete off and - hopefully - on the field in their new league going forward.

Nerd Search 2012

Outside of alumni and those that have to write about the Pac-12, there weren't too many mentions of Stanford on Signing Day every year.

My how times have changed.

Not only did the Cardinal tie for the national lead with six top 100 prospects, but they landed multiple five-stars and had people talking less about Andrew Luck and more about the fact that maybe this program can indeed sustain excellence going forward. There's no denying that it was one of the best years for talent on the West Coast in some time and the big reason why was the number of elite offensive lineman. If this were a few years ago, many of them would be penciled in to go to USC or Oregon or out of the area to programs like Notre Dame but instead it was Stanford who reeled the majority of the elite guys in this year (Josh Garnett, Andrus Peat, Kyle Murphy). If you were to call this the best offensive line class in recent recruiting history, you wouldn't find too many who would argue. That's just how much of a difference the school was this year and the coaches' efforts were rewarded with a top 10 class ranking.

It wasn't just an academic powerhouse like Stanford who made waves either. Northwestern landed a pair of top players in Malin Jones and Ifeadi Odenigbo. Vanderbilt brought in what some called the best class in school history. Duke landed a lightly recruited guy who, according to recruiting coordinator Matt Lubick on the CBSSports.com Signing Day Central Show, runs a sub-4.3 40 yard dash. Lots of recruits talk about wanting academics but it appears they're finally following up.

Pocket squares and pads seem to be the latest thing on the recruiting trail.

More recruiting SECcess

It wasn't quite the banner year for the league that it could have been but 2012 certainly was a great Signing Day for the best conference in the country. Eight of the SEC's 14 teams finished in the final top 25 class rankings, highlighted by Alabama at the top and both of the league newcomers turning in great first efforts. Texas A&M ended up stealing defensive tackle Edmund Ray from Missouri and added wide receiver Thomas Johnson, a former Texas commitment, to a group that finished 14th. Florida was a top five class despite missing out on some guys and even a few programs that have recently struggled did well with Georgia, Tennessee and Auburn grouped together from 20-22.

The Bulldogs had to land just about every target left on their board and they did ok, notably beating Florida State late for linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons despite a little issue with his grandfather not signing his letter of intent until Thursday. The Bulldogs missed out on Juco wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (who went to Tennessee) and offensive tackle Avery Young (to Auburn) but also landed five-star offensive lineman John Theus and what might be the best one-two punch at running back in the class with Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley. It wasn't a "Dream Team" but Georgia still showed you can have a very good class and it only be alright in such a deep league.

Kentucky brought in what might be the top quarterback in the state this year in Patrick Towles and took advantage of Alabama's number crunch in grabbing running back Justin Taylor. The state of Georgia was a big producer of talent for a lot of the league's schools and is quickly becoming the go-to state for most FBS programs after the big three of California, Texas and Florida. The theme this year was even if a school didn't pick up a commitment from a kid, there's a high chance he went to another SEC school.

Quality over quantity

This was finally the year that we'd see NCAA sanctions limit USC and Lane Kiffin had to be creative in how he managed the numbers on top of grabbing the best talent available. Even though the Trojans missed out on linemen Peat and Murphy, it was still a good haul with Zach Banner, Jordan Simmons and Max Tuerk on top of skill position talent like five-star Nelson Agholor, linebacker Jabari Ruffin, end Leonard Williams and wide receiver Darreus Rogers. Given the way the staff has recruited over the past two years, it's looking more likely that the school can get through harsh NCAA sanctions better than was previously thought. Missing out on three guys may seem like a lot but it should help next year by giving Kiffin those scholarships to use for early enrollees in 2013.

Meyer Mayhem

FYI to coaches across the country, if Urban Meyer starts circling your recruits, you better be prepared to bring your A+++ game if you want to land them. The master recruiter took Ohio State's class from middling prior to his hire to tying the nation's lead with six top 100 recruits and a number three overall class ranking. This was, mind you, with only two months on the job to recruit with a program that just got slapped with a bowl ban from the NCAA. Meyer really attacked the defensive line and looks like he'll be importing a high quality, SEC-caliber defensive line with Se'Von Pittman, Tommy Schutt, Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington. He's already jumped on several top 2013 players and if this year was any indication, it could be a long couple of years for his Big Ten counterparts.

Seminole DLight

Mark Stoops is the defensive coordinator at Florida State and he might be the happiest man in the state of Florida. As good as Ohio State's defensive line class was, FSU's might be the best in the country. Though they lost Dante Fowler Jr., they still signed Chris Casher, Mario Edwards, Eddie Goldman, Justin Shanks and should get Dalvon Stuckey in a year or two after he goes to a Juco. The thing about the Seminoles is that they don't need every guy to come in and play right away but each is talented enough to make an impact in certain situations. Edwards has the pedigree and drive to become a high first round draft pick with his skill set and Stoops should use him in multiple spots. Adding guys like Ronald Darby and P.J. Williams are also huge gets for the program in the secondary. Whoever plays the best defense likely has a leg up in the ACC and it appears that's where Florida State did the best on Wednesday.

More on Signing Day
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Dennis Dodd

Urban strikes gold right away; stigma of Tressel scandal already gone



Brett McMurphy

Forget suspense and excitement, it's just another 'Bama Signing Day
Related links
The Golden Touch

The early indication that things would be going Miami's way came when one of the country's top uncommitted recruits, Miramar (Fla.) cornerback Tracy Howard, flashed the "U" sign on national television and made, to some, the surprising decision to stay home and play for the Hurricanes. Although Howard's recruitment was a bit difficult to read, it appeared there was only a slim chance that he'd leave the state and most were predicting he was Florida's to lose down the stretch.

Much like Stanford this year, there weren't a whole lot of recruits the program missed out on that they were after hard - a remarkable accomplishment given what's swirling around Coral Gables. The loss of linebacker Reggie Northrup hurts because he could play multiple positions and is easily one of the top linebacker prospects in the state. That he switched to archival Florida State stung a little but that was one of the rare occasions were the Hurricanes were slowed down. This was the largest class in the country and plenty of the recruits should see early playing time with guys like Duke Johnson making an impact from the moment they step on campus. Al Golden had to climb a mountain but did a great job grabbing the guys he did.

Tosh.Ohhh

Not sure any assistant had a greater impact on multiple programs than new Washington coach Tosh Lupoi. California's class imploded, Washington landed the #5 player in the country in Shaq Thompson, UCLA added Jordan Payton and Oregon picked up Arik Armstead due to the uncertainty. One wonders if Lupoi had been hired earlier how much more impact he would have had for the Huskies' class but it's clear he shifted the recruiting trail in the conference in just a few short weeks.

In addition to Washington, USC, Stanford, plenty of other Pac-12 programs landed strong classes in what was a very, very good year for talent West of the Rockies. Oregon managed to flip several recruits, such as wide receiver Chance Allen from Oklahoma State and a terrific pick up in Bralon Addison from Texas A&M (who took a late visit and should fit perfectly in Chip Kelly's system). Though many were skeptical of the hire initially, Jim Mora grabbed a terrific class and fellow newcomers Rich Rodriguez and Mike Leach also had good first efforts. There really wasn't a "bad" class among the bunch and even lowly Colorado landed a top 100 player.

Texas being Texas

The Longhorns finished in a familiar spot right at the top of the class rankings and even though they couldn't push Alabama off the top spot, this has some major players who can play early and often. Malcom Brown is a beast at defensive tackle and Manny Diaz' defensive staff pulled one of the big surprises in taking Torshiro Davis away from LSU. The class has the top running back in the country with record-setter Johnathan Gray and the state's top wide out in Cayleb Jones. Mack Brown also closed very well, grabbing speedy Daje Johnson and linebackers Dalton Santos and Bryce Cottrell in addition to Davis. It will be a young Texas team in 2012 but with this class and the current roster, it will certainly be a talented one.



Category: NCAAF
Tags: Adolphus Washington, Al Golden, Alabama, Andrew Luck, Andrus Peat, Arik Armstead, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Avery Young, BCS, Big Ten, Bob Stoops, Bralon Addison, Brian Kelly, Bryce Cottrell, Cal, California, Cayleb Jones, Chance Allen, Chip Kelly, Chris Casher, Colorado, Cordarrelle Patterson, Daje Johnson, Dalton Santos, Dalvon Stuckey, Dante Fowler Jr., Darius Philon, Darreus Rogers, Dennis Erickson, Deontay Greenberry, Dillon Lee, Dorial Green-Beckham, Duke, Duke Johnson, Eddie Goldman, Edmund Ray, Florida, Florida State, Gary Pinkel, Georgia, Gunner Kiel, Houston, Ifeadi Odenigbo, Jabari Ruffin, Jamie Christian, Jim Mora, John Theus, Johnathan Gray, Jordan Payton, Jordan Simmons, Josh Garnett, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Justin Shanks, Justin Taylor, Keith Marshall, Kentucky, Korren Kirven, Kyle Murphy, Landon Collins, Lane Kiffin, Leonard Williams, LSU, Mack Brown, Malcom Brown, Malin Jones, Manny Diaz, Mario Edwards, Mark Stoops, Matt Lubick, Max Tuerk, Miami, Michael Floyd, Mike Leach, Missouri, NCAA, Nelson Agholor, Nick Saban, Noah Spence, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Oregon, P.J. Williams, Pac-12, Patrick Towles, Randy moss, Reggie Northrup, Reggie Ragland, Rich Rodriguez, Ronald Darby, Se'Von Pittman, SEC, Shaq Thompson, Signing Day Wrap, Stanford, T.J. Yeldon, Tee Shepard, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Thomas Johnson, Todd Gurley, Tommy Schutt, Tony Levine, Torshiro Davis, Tosh Lupoi, Tracy Howard, UCLA, Under Armour All-American Game, Urban Meyer, USC, Vanderbilt, Washington, Zach banner
 
Posted on: January 24, 2012 1:01 am
 

Wide receiver Trey Griffey commits to Arizona

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Orlando (Florida) wide receiver Trey Griffey knows most people will take one glance at his name and recognize his famous father. Of course, while Ken Griffey Jr. accomplished plenty in a hall of fame-caliber baseball career, the younger Griffey is looking to blaze his own trail in a different sport and took the next step in doing so by committing to Arizona late Monday night.

“My parents said, ‘It’s up to you, you got to do what you want to do ... what you feel is right,'” Griffey told the Orlando Sentinel. “I’m going to the University of Arizona. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound receiver recently competed with some of the best players in the country at the Under Armour All-American Game and held a double-digit number of scholarship offers from programs across the country. Griffey has very good hands and is a savvy route runner with excellent ball control skills who caught passes most of his senior season from Boise State-bound quarterback Nick Patti. The talented pass catcher settled on new coach Rich Rodriguez and the Wildcats after taking an official visit to Tuscon over the weekend.

“I feel great … it was basically just the atmosphere and I loved everything about it,” Griffey told the paper. “It was just a great, enjoyable trip to Tucson.”

Griffey's commitment gave Arizona the program's 16th for the class of 2012, and third wide receiver, with National Signing Day just over a week away. He racked up almost 900 yards and 11 touchdowns receiving in addition to playing safety and returning kicks this past year.

Posted on: January 9, 2012 3:20 pm
 

2012 All-star game top performers


Posted by Bryan Fischer

The three major all-star games are over and the recruits are all on their way back home as they settle into a big three week stretch before Signing Day rolls around. As the last high school competitions of the 2011 season, the games also gave us a chance to see how players do against future FBS talent. Based on the performances during the Semper Fi game, Under Armour All-American game and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, here's a few standouts at each position.

QUARTERBACK

Jeff Lindquist, committed to Washington
Semper Fi game

The Huskies commits shined during all-star game week and Lindquist started things off by being the best QB in the Semper Fi game, tossing two touchdowns and keeping some plays alive with his feet when needed. He's got great pocket awareness and a strong arm, perfect fits in his future college system.

Cyler Miles, committed to Washington
Army All-American Bowl: 7-of-8, 155 yards, two total touchdowns

The co-MVP of the game, Miles was a savvy signal-caller who got the start for the West and was on point most of the game. He took some sacks but generally got the ball out quickly and was accurate in hitting his receivers. He throws a great deep ball and hit Dorial Green-Beckham for the play of the game on the longest touchdown pass in bowl history in the 2nd quarter.

Jameis Winston, committed to Florida State
Under Armour All-American game: 8-of-9, 178 yards and two touchdowns

The MVP, Winston is best described as a gamer. He wasn't perfect but used his legs to escape a collapsing pocket several times and nearly turned in some Michael Vick-esque plays. He was accurate in the passing game and delivered a beautiful deep ball to hit his target in stride for a 75-yard touchdown. If he sticks to football, the sky's the limit based on how good he is despite being raw.

RUNNING BACK

Mike Davis, undecided
Army All-American Bowl: six carries for 16 yards, two catches for 31 yards

Davis showed a great blend of speed and power and had the burst to get out of the hole and into daylight. He had a nice move that he bounced to the sideline for a 26 yard gain and was one of the few East offensive players who could get things going.

Randy 'Duke' Johnson, committed to Miami
Under Armour All-American game: nine carries for 50 yards, three catches for 18 yards, 161 all-purpose yards

It's pretty clear who the best back in the state of Florida is after Johnson put his moves on display for a national audience. His ability to weave in and out of tackles is remarkable and he's got the vision and moves to take advantage of even the smallest amount of space. His 83-yard kick return had him cutting across the field at least three times before being pushed out just short of the end zone. Johnson is clearly a threat to score every time he has the ball in his hands.

T.J. Yeldon, committed to Alabama
Army All-American Bowl: five carries for 16 yards, three catches for 39 yards

The Tide get another great back in Yeldon, who seemed to kick it in an extra gear whenever a defender came near him. He's got great athleticism and showed it off with a leaping try for the endzone that came up just short. He is an every down back with the way he can come out of the back field to catch passes or run between the tackles.

WIDE RECEIVER

Marvin Bracy, committed to Florida State
Under Armour All-American game: two catches for 56 yards and a touchdown

Need speed? Bracy has plenty of it and flaunted it by getting behind several defensive backs as a deep threat. His touchdown came on a 32 yard catch that was easily one of the highlights of the week as he twisted around to grab the ball and held on for the score.

Amari Cooper, committed to Alabama
Under Armour All-American game: two catches for 95 yards and a touchdown

Cooper produced a play to start off the game for the White with a 75-yarder from Winston that set the tone in the Under Armour game. He ended up snagging the ball in stride over a defender and was off to the races after that. His blend of good hands and speed make him one of the top players in the country and underrated by anybody who doesn't think he can make a big impact in Tuscaloosa.

D.J. Foster, undecided
Semper Fi game

Foster was a multipurpose tool during the game and played at receiver, running back and took some snaps as a wildcat quarterback. He's a solid guy who can take the ball downhill while using his speed and quickness in the open field.

Dorial Green-Beckham, undecided
Army All-American Bowl: two catches, 88 yards and a touchdown

Green-Beckham had a pair of drops but the one-handed, record-setting grab he had in the first half was enough to overcome them. The first thing that stands out is his size, dwarfing anybody but one or two offensive linemen, and speed (definite two-stepper) that are some of the reasons why he's the top player in the class of 2012. He's still raw but his physical tools are unmatched by any wide out.

Jaydon Mickens, undecided
Semper Fi game

Mickens caught a touchdown and was named the MVP after doing just about everything he could in the West's victory. He nearly had a touchdown pass but the ball went off the receiver's hands but had several nice catch-and-runs to make up for it. He's shifty in traffic and if he's in open space, good luck catching him.

DEFENSIVE LINE

Jonathan Bullard, committed to Florida
Army All-American Bowl: one sack, three tackles

Bullard surprised with his strength and size from the end spot and gave the tackles trouble all game long. He was able to apply a constant stream of pressure and played the run well - a rarity in some of these games. He committed to Florida during the game and should be someone who plays early given how ready he looks for college.

Jordan Jenkins, uncommitted
Under Armour All-American game: eight tackles, two for loss, two sacks

Jenkins was playing out of position at tackle but made an impact with his quickness to get by offensive linemen with ease. He moved outside for a play or two but the ability to handle the interior line like he did was just another sign of a great player.

Noah Spence, committed to Ohio State
Under Armour All-American game: seven tackles, four for a loss, three sacks

There's a reason he's the number one defensive end in the nation as he was quick off the snap, had the power and agility to pass rush and could play the run well. Spence filled the stat sheet and was in the backfield just about every play. With his size at the moment combined with polished pass rush moves, it won't be too long before every Big Ten quarterback knows his name and number.

Adolphus Washington, committed to Ohio State
Army All-American Bowl: two tackles, two sacks

Another great performance out of Washington is one reason why the Buckeyes' defensive line class looks absolutely frightening in 2012. He displayed a terrific first step and chased players down from the backside like a man on a mission. Though the West offensive line was pretty solid, Washington was a thorn in their side all game long.

Channing Ward, committed to Ole Miss
Under Armour All-American game: seven tackles, three for a loss, two sacks

Ward was unblockable and terrorized opposing quarterbacks all night long so much that the coaches need to take him out to give the other team a chance. He led the White team defense in every category and had even more pressure than what showed up in the box score. He looked an awful lot like DeMarcus Ware against some talented offensive linemen down in Tampa.

LINEBACKER

Joe Bolden, committed to Michigan
Under Armour All-American game: seven tackles, one for a loss

Bolden wasn't the most impressive linebacker at the even but he was extremely solid and among the most sound defensive players at the game. He racked up seven tackles and fit the gap well after recognizing run plays.

Reggie Ragland, committed to Alabama
Under Armour All-American game: seven tackles, half for a loss

The first thing that stands out is Ragland's size and ability to be just an absolute load coming downhill. He'll fit in well as an inside linebacker playing the run as I didn't see too much of him in coverage.

DEFENSIVE BACK

Landon Collins, committed to Alabama
Under Armour All-American game: four tackles, interception

Collins is one of the top players in the country and proved it against all-star competition. He can hit - delivering a touchdown-saving, loud hit at the goal line - and cover. He's instinctive and beyond all else hits another level once the bright lights come on.

De'Vante Harris, undecided
Under Armour All-American game: seven tackles

Harris made waves after the game by decommitting from Oklahoma but that shouldn't overshadow his performance on the field. He was able to play wide receivers well and came up to tackle well when needed in run support. What really impressed were his instincts, knowing just when to come off his man and when to sink back.

Tracy Howard, undecided
Army All-American Bowl: one tackle

Howard is as close as it gets to being a shutdown corner for this class and opposing quarterbacks rarely looked his way during the game. What stands out about him is how fluid he is in coverage and the ability to play his man while reading the quarterback. He's savvy and understands the game better than most.

Marcus Maye, committed to Florida
Under Armour All-American game: seven tackles, fumble recovery

Normally a safety, Maye slid up and played linebacker in the game and impressed with how well he did in traffic. He was flying all around and used his speed to track down some speedy players. He was, naturally, solid in coverage and showed plenty of range that will serve him well at safety. He did a great job of turning his hips and changing directions quickly too.

Kendall Sanders, committed to Texas
Army All-American Bowl: two tackles, two interceptions

Sanders picked off two passes during the game and was roaming around like a ball-hawk that he could be. His position isn't set in college but based on the Army Bowl, cornerback or nickelback is a good start when he arrives in Austin. He turns his hips well and did a good job of sinking off his man into the throwing lane.

Tee Shepard, committed to Notre Dame
Semper Fi game

Shepard locked down his opposing receiver and was rarely tested by opposing quarterbacks all night. He's so lengthy that he can play the press coverage well or back off and roam a little to play ball-hawking corner. He turns his hips so well that he can change directions quicker than a receiver can sometimes.

Shaq Thompson, committed to Cal
Army All-American Bowl: five tackles, two for loss

Thompson was all over the field on Saturday and backed up his number five overall ranking with his play against some of the best in the country. His size stands out but he can run and was a hard hitter that you didn't want to go over the middle in front of. He led the West in tackles and was the enforcer in the secondary.

Posted on: January 8, 2012 6:05 pm
 

Ifeadi Odenigbo commits to Northwestern

Posted by Bryan Fischer

It's not everyday that Northwestern lands a top tier recruit but that was the case on Saturday as the Wildcats landed Dayton (Ohio) defensive end/linebacker Ifeadi Odenigbo, according to multiple reports.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder is a pass rushing specialst off the edge and can play at either defensive end or as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

"He shows a remarkably quick first step, superior pass rushing skills, great balance, the ability to bend off the edge, and he's been blessed with strong hands and very quick feet," said analyst Tom Lemming. "A versatile ball player who can play DE, ILB or ILB. He has already made an impact as a pass rusher and shows the tools to do the same at the Division I level. He can make plays from sideline to sideline, is excellent in pursuit, shows good recognition skills and displays playmaking ability."

Odenigbo participated in the Under Armour All-American game last week and recorded two sacks after a solid week of practice. He held offers from schools like Ohio State, Michigan and UCLA put picked Northwestern over his other finalists, Stanford and Notre Dame.

The four-star is ranked as the 49th player in the class of 2012 by Maxpreps.
Posted on: January 6, 2012 1:20 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 1:20 am
 

Under Armour game features plenty of drama



Posted by Bryan Fischer


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Talented recruits from across the across the country descended on Tropicana Field for the fifth-annual Under Armour All-American Game and just like past events, there was plenty of drama.

Off the field.

The verbal commitments that take place at the game, televised nationally on ESPN, are one of the draws of the event but the focus is usually on how well the two squads of four- and five-star recruits perform against each other. With a blowout win for Team Blur, 49-16, putting the game in the books well before halftime, attention naturally turned to the biggest announcement of the evening in Blur and Geismar (La.) safety Landon Collins.

Ranked by MaxPreps as the #1 safety in the country and #12 player overall in the class of 2012, the talented Collins was expected to end a tough battle between national title contenders Alabama and LSU.

"I'm going to go Roll Tide Roll," Collins said, putting on an Alabama hat. "I just love the coaches and the coaching staff."

What happened next however, was yet another 'only in recruiting' stories. Collins mother, April, visibly was not happy with the decision and gave an extremely awkward interview following her son's commitment.

"I feel that LSU is a better place for him to be," April Collins said. "LSU Tigers #1. Go Tigers."

The interview overshadowed the 6-foot-1, 205-pound safety's great performance on the field. Collins intercepted BYU commit Tanner Mangum's pass in the middle of the second quarter and racked up four tackles on the night, including a vicious hit that stood up running back and Maryland commit Wes Brown at the goal line to prevent a touchdown.

Collins, on and off Tropicana Field, produced some of the only highlights for Team Highlight. Clad in black uniforms, the squad got off to a bad start by allowing a 75-yard touchdown pass from Florida State-bound quarterback Jameis Winston to speedy Alabama commit Amari Cooper.

"Practice was great and going up against this great competition was just another way to get better before college," Cooper said after the game.

Team Highlight had issues on offense all night, turning the ball over five times and finishing with just 260 yards of offense.

Part of the problem was their lack of quarterback play. Texas commit and top 100 signal-caller Connor Brewer suffered a mild concussion and Miami-bound quarterback Preston Dewey was held out to an injury suffered earlier in the week. As a result, Mangum ended up switching teams at halftime and donning a black #20 jersey with 'Under' on the nameplate.

"That's my new name for the week I guess," Mangum said with a smile. "It was pretty interesting to play for both teams but you just try to go with the flow and do the best that you can."

Mangum finished 5-of-8 for 60 yards and an interception for Team Blur and 2-of-7 with two picks for Team Highlight. Though the final stat line wasn't pretty - he was under siege by the defensive lines most of the night - the opportunity to be the all-star, all-time quarterback was a pretty special experience.

"I guess you could say that," he said. "I didn't expect that when I woke up this morning."

Recent Georgia pledge Keith Marshall led Blur in rushing with 37 yards and added a touchdown while Miami commit Randy Johnson led Highlight with 50 yards on the ground. Winston was named team MVP after completing 8-of-9 for 178 yards and two touchdowns while Mangum was named MVP on the other side.

Oklahoma commit De'Vante Harris was one of four players on Team Blur to have seven tackles, tied with recently committed Ole Miss defensive end Channing Ward who also added two sacks to his total. Playing out of position at defensive tackle, uncommitted recruit Jordan Jenkins led all defenders with eight tackles and had two sacks. Teammate and future Ohio State Buckeye Noah Spence was a terror at the defensive end position and finished with seven tackles and three sacks.

"Both of them are really good," Mangum said, with emphasis, when asked to compare the two defenses. "They have really good players and it didn't really matter what team I was on. It was fun to be here in this environment though."

Cooper added a 93-yard punt return early in the 4th quarter to get the near-record crowd on its feet. The return set the record for the longest punt return for a touchdown in the game's history and tied teammate and Florida-bound cornerback Brian Poole’s 93-yard interception return as the longest touchdown play.

Mangum, who will go on a two-year Morman mission and was playing in his last football game for at least that long, the experience was a once and a lifetime opportunity and one he'll remember for years to come.

"it was a great learning experience that I can take back and learn from," he said. "It was a great test and I'll take a lot from it." 

Including, perhaps, to keep your mother happy.


Posted on: January 5, 2012 10:38 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 12:23 am
 

Top safety Landon Collins commits to Alabama

Posted by Bryan Fischer

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- There's nothing harder to do in recruiting than pull a highly ranked player out of LSU's back yard but it appears that's just what Nick Saban has done. Geismar (La.) safety Landon Collins made things official at the 2012 Under Armour All-American Game and surprisingly committed to Alabama.

"I'm going to go Roll Tide Roll," Collins said. "I just love the coaches and the coaching staff."

"It's a big weight off.

Things were slightly awkward after the top safety put on the crimson Alabama hat on national television however. Collins mother, April, verbally disagreed with the decision and said that the Tigers were the number one team and where he should be committing to.

"My mom is not going to affect my decision," he said. "I made up my mind two years ago."

Collins informed his mother the decision last week but kept it a secret beyond immediate family members. This included coaches from both schools, undoubtedly watching from New Orleans, with Saban and his staff likely much, much happier than his mother.

"It was kind of funny to me since I knew how she felt already when I told her," Collins said. "She felt kind of bad. She wasn't about to come (to the game) because of my decision. She's genuinely upset, it's not a show."

When asked if his mother could talk him out of the decision by Signing Day, the answer was quite blunt from the top safety.

"No," he said. "Maybe (she'll try). Probably."

April Collins isn't likely to be the only person in the home state upset with the decision. The Tigers have typically had top players on lockdown and rarely do they end up someplace other than Baton Rouge - one of the few notable examples was when number one overall player Joe McKnight left for USC. Collins is confident in his decision though and knows that the support will still be there from those that know him best.

"I'm expecting a lot of backlash," Collins said. "But a lot of people said they'd support me wherever I'd go. I'm not really worried about it, it's my life and my decision and I'm going to have to live it and not them."

Collins was one of the top performers at the annual all-star game, picking off a pass and making a big hit near the goal line to prevent a score. Just days away from the national championship, plenty of Alabama fans were able to get a glimpse of someone who they're hoping can get them back to the title game and make a similar impact - as soon as next season.

"I'm getting playing time no matter what," Collins said. "I'm going to play safety and if I do my thing, I'm going to be a starting safety. I'm planning on going to start at nickel."

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound defensive back took in the 'Game of the Century' between the two schools in November on an official visit to Tuscaloosa and went to LSU in early December. It was pretty much a race between just the two programs for most of the year with the Tide ending up with the talented Louisiana safety.

"I love the place, I always felt at home when I went there," he said. "I love the coaching staff, I love the players and I just wanted to get out of Louisiana I guess.

"I wanted to go to LSU at one point but I decided to go to Alabama to get out of town and see something new."

Collins was selected as the state's 'Mr. Football' after a senior campaign which featured 45 tackles and four interceptions (two for touchdowns) on defense and over 1,200 yards and 21 touchdowns as a running back on offense.

“He’s just a special athlete," Dutchtown coach Benny Saia told MaxPreps. “He makes big things happen.”

Ranked as the top safety in the country by MaxPreps, the five-star is 12th overall in the class of 2012. Collins becomes Alabama's 26th commitment with less than a month to go before Signing Day. Athlete Cyrus Jones committed to the Crimson Tide earlier in the evening.



Posted on: January 5, 2012 10:31 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 12:10 am
 

Top 100 athlete Cyrus Jones selects Alabama

Posted by Bryan Fischer

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Baltimore (Md.) athlete Cyrus Jones was one of several athletes to announce Thursday Night at the 2012 Under Armour All-American Game in front of a national audience and didn't surprise many by picking Alabama over Virginia Tech.

"The people down there really care about you and I felt most comfortable there," Jones said. "I'm ready to go spend four years there and make my dreams come true and get to the next level.

"Alabama is just a place that I fell in love with right off the bat. Great people, great coaches and great guys going to the school already. I'm ready to get down there and get the knowledge from the coaches already to make my dreams come true and play in the NFL."

The 5-foot-10, 195-pounder will likely head to college as a slot receiver but is versatile enough to play just about any skill position. Jones had offers from just about every program in the country but will head to Tuscaloosa as part of a huge recruiting haul for the Tide.

"I'm going to be playing slot, kind of what Marquis Maze is doing right now," he said. "I'm going to do punt returns and kick returns, stuff like that. Running routes and taking sweeps too, just trying to be explosive and use my talent. I want to make the best of my opportunity."

Jones informed the Alabama staff about a month ago of the decision and though he kept it a secret from just about everybody, is another great addition to the program's upcoming class.

"He's another ball player who can play on either side of the ball, return kicks and has proven to be a sure-handed and instinctive ball player with excellent leaping ability, timing and anticipation," analyst Tom Lemming said. "A big play receiver who seems to possess all the tools for future stardom. He's remarkable in the open field and once he latches onto the ball, look out. He turns up field quickly and shows good moves and superior speed. Quick as a cat, he can get in and out of his breaks like no one's business, he dominates most games, and must be double teamed at all times."

Jones is ranked as 7th best athlete in the class of 2012 by Maxpreps and 88th overall. He rushed for 948 yards and 13 touchdowns his senior season in addition to catching 39 passes for 635 yards and six touchdowns.

Posted on: January 5, 2012 9:43 pm
 

Defensive back Chaz Elder commits to S. Carolina

Posted by Bryan Fischer

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- College Park (Ga.) defensive back Chaz Elder was one of the top uncommitted players in the South and had two SEC programs going after his services hard. Elder disappointed one staff and fan base on Thursday by announcing he was going to South Carolina at the 2012 Under Armour All-American Game.

"I like everything about the (program)," Elder said. " The DB's, they have five of them on the field at the same time."

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Elder was also seriously considering Georgia but had the Gamecocks in front during most of his recruitment. He is ranked by Maxpreps as the the 15th best safety in the country but can also play safety.

"Chaz shows good instincts and anticipation," analyst Tom Lemming said. "Loose-hipped, he can turn and run and is known for his hard hitting style of play. Not yet a super but shows flashes of brilliance. He needs to become more consistent.."


 
 
 
 
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