Tag:Jason Croom
Posted on: May 3, 2011 3:22 pm
Edited on: May 3, 2011 3:39 pm
 

Alabama Badger Sports 7-on-7 Notebook

Posted by Bryan Fischer

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- If one championship was lucky, a second confirms what the South Florida-based Footballers Fire 7-on-7 team thought all along, that they were one of the most talented teams in the country.

Composed mostly of players who were cut from the elite South Florida Express travel team, the Footballers Fire ended up beating them for a title in Tampa and ran through the competition over the weekend to grab their second title on the campus of Samford University.

The group ended up taking three vans from Miami to Birmingham, a trip that lasted over 13 hours. The long drive was the furthest thing from their mind when they held up the championship trophy though.

"Everybody was excited about getting out of Florida and coming to Alabama," Pompano Beach (Fla.) cornerback Adrian Burton said. "The difference between Tampa and here is we came up here undefeated. We didn't lose one game in this tournament and we won outside of our elements. We wanted to prove we were college-ready and came to play outside of our elements by playing in another state."

The team was the most vocal of any of the 15 teams that came to the event from all over the South. Part of the hooting and hollering after every play was strategy, especially once they reached the championship game and kept quiet in order to throw the other team off.

"The competition was really good," Gainesville (Fla.) corner Chris Bivins said. "We talked a bunch throughout the day but we decided to calm it down for the championship game and make them think we weren't playing. We were quiet and things started clicking."

Bivins is not full-time member of Footballers Fire but decided to come along on the trip and play with several of his friends on the team. He deferred to other members of the team in terms of playing time but still managed to make an impact in the secondary, playing both slot and outside receivers.

Burton, on the other hand, was in for nearly every play on defense and picked off two passes during the tournament, one more than he had in Tampa. Grabbing an extra pick wasn't as meaningful for the talented corner as grabbing a second title however.

"It meant a lot to me personally," Burton said. "We heard on ESPN that there was no way we can repeat, it was a fluke. Honestly we don't take that too lightly. We went from the cut list (from the South Florida Express) to winning two 7-on-7 championships. What more can we say?"

Texas Tech is one school showing a lot of interest in Burton but has yet to offer him a scholarship. Defensive backs coach Otis Mounds is the coach recruiting him and Burton had good things to say about the former South Florida high school coach.

"He has to be one of the coolest guys I've met who is a recruiter," Burton said. "He talks about real stuff, real situations, he doesn't actually talk that much about football. In his words, there's only two things they want us to come to Texas Tech for, to play ball and get your education. Education and football, I'm glad he pointed that out and it's not just football."

Bivins is also seeing his recruitment pick up with the May Evaluation period in full swing and already holds five offers, including ones from Utah and USF. He picked up his first SEC offer from South Carolina on Thursday and is excited about what the Gamecocks bring to the table.

"They've been contacting me lately. Coach (Steve) Spurrier Jr. came to school but I wasn't there because I had a track meet," Bivins said. "I called him on the phone and he said they were going to offer me a scholarship because they love big corners with long arms and speed."

Both players will head to the Badger Sports National 7-on-7 Tournament in Dallas over Fourth of July weekend.

Ward drops into coverage

Aberdeen (Miss.) defensive end Channing Ward didn't show up for Day One of the tournament and many thought he had taken an unofficial visit or just stayed home for the weekend. Turns out he had a good excuse as he was anchoring Aberdeen High's 4x100 and 4x200 track team and ended up running a 11.3 second 100 meters at a hefty 6-foot-2, 250 pounds.

The big and fast defensive end ended up playing linebacker for much of Day Two of the tournament and did so mainly to get better with his footwork and show off a little bit more to observers.

"It was a good challenge," Ward said. "I had to keep my feet moving. I think it will make me a better defensive end because I have to keep my feet moving. I felt ok."

Ward recently picked up another offer to add to his growing list that is sitting at 16 and includes Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Ole Miss and Notre Dame among others.

"I picked up an offer from Miami last Friday," Ward said. "I have interest in them."

There are also several schools close to extending a scholarship and Ward offered up one school who might be the next to pull the trigger.

"Florida State. The've been writing me a lot and told me to come to their camp," Ward said. "I'm going this summer. I'll also probably go to LSU and Auburn (camps). I've been to both of them to watch a game and on Junior Day."

Alabama and Mississippi State are the two schools recruiting him the hardest with Crimson Tide assistant Jeff Stoutland being his primary recruiter and one of the few who are recruiting him as a hybrid defensive end/linebacker. He still hasn't narrowed down his list of schools but looking for a few things in his future school.

"Graduation rate, good vibe from the coaches," he said.

Ward has offers from just about every SEC schools and projects more as a defensive end than linebacker in college.

Dural doesn't live up to his own high standards

One of the few commitments participating in the tournament was Beaux Bridge (La.) wide receiver Travin Dural. The LSU commitment didn't get too many balls thrown his way and had trouble meshing with his teammates he met just two days before on their way from Louisiana.

"I didn't feel like I played my best, I kind of had an off weekend," Dural said. "I did alright in some games but just didn't really get it going."

Although he didn't live up to his own high standards, Dural did compete against some of the best defensive talent he's seen and he felt he measured up well despite having an off weekend.

"I wanted to play with the best and see how I do," he said. "They say these are some of the best players in the country so I wanted to see how good I really am. I kind of showed that I can compete with them."

Firmly committed to LSU, his commitment was pretty open and shut as soon as the Tigers became interested in the in-state prospect.

"When I got the offer," he said of when he committed. "That was the school I wanted to go to ever since I was little. That helped because I wanted to go there and didn't have to worry about committing when I wanted to go there."

The 6-foot-2, 170 pound Dural is still receiving mail from several programs but isn't being actively recruited by anybody. Many schools will stop by to see him when spring football starts in two weeks but putting on the pads isn't something Dural is looking forward to.

"No," he said with a grin. "It's going to be hot out there. I'm in track right now so I'm not even in football shape. I do the 200 and high jump, long jump and 4x200 (relay). I've got the state track meet next weekend at LSU. Last week at regionals, our relay team ran the seventh fastest time in the nation."

Gross looks good at quarterback

There were not a lot of high caliber quarterbacks in Birmingham but Memphis (Tenn.) signal caller Will Gross was one of the top two or three at the event, throwing a good spiral and really showing some velocity on throws. He's already received offers from Louisville, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt and picked up a big one last week after a few schools stopped by during the evaluation period.

"Memphis, Wake Forest, Alabama and UConn," Gross said of the schools that came by Melrose High. "Alabama offered Thursday. I'm blessed. I'm glad the coaches see something in me. They have a good program and get you ready for the NFL. They have a great staff. I'm going to visit next month."

While some schools are recruiting him as an athlete, Alabama is recruiting him as quarterback. The 6-foot-1, 175 pound Gross wants to play quarterback in college and that will be an issue he'll bring up to those schools pursuing him.

"Mississippi State and Arkansas State," he said of schools that are recruiting him the hardest. "It doesn't matter where I go. I'm very patient and want to take my time. I might commit during the season."

Gross has already taken a few unofficial visits and will take some time over the next few weeks to plan where he'll go next. He won't limit his planning to just unofficial visits though, he plans on taking all five of his official visits and is already trying to figure out when and where to go.

"I don't know them all," he said. "I know three, Louisville, Kentucky and Alabama. Those are my top three right now."

Alabama's recent offer appears to make them the co-leader along with Louisville for Gross but he remains open until taking his visits.

Recruitment of Kimbrow heating up

A few miles away from Gross, running back Brian Kimbrow is becoming a hot name for recruiters. The city of Memphis is always a must stop for coaches on their way around the south and Memphis East is becoming the first destination in the city thanks in large part to Kimbrow.

"Duke stopped by, Western Kentucky, Tennessee and some more coaches are supposed to come by next week," Kimbrow said. "Notre Dame has come by. Lots of people."

The 5-foot-9, 170 pound scat-back recently picked up offers from Maryland and Wake Forest to put his total number of offers at close to 30. With so much attention being shown at this point in the recruiting process, Kimbrow is just taking everything as it comes and keeping a level head.

"It's hard to say right now because I'm being patient. I don't want to rush into recruiting and end up going somewhere that doesn't fit me," he said.

So far Kimbrow is taking unofficial visits like most top recruits and is starting out local before heading out to schools outside of the region this summer.

"I've been to Tennessee, Memphis and I have plans to go to Cincinnati and Vanderbilt," he said. "I have plans to go to Notre Dame. I've also been to Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Miss."

Kimbrow has no set timetable for when he makes his commitment but the talented athlete, who also could be a slot receiver in college, is looking to stay focused on his high school team before worrying about where he'll end up in college.

"More than likely it will be after the season so I can focus on that during the season," he said of a commitment date. "Right now though, I'd say Tennessee and Vanderbilt and Cincinnati are standing out though.

"It doesn't matter where I go, I just want a place that fits me."

Notes

- Talented Lemming Top 100 linebacker Deaysean Rippy didn't play too much this weekend due to nagging injuries but did mention he was hearing a lot from Florida and that the Gators are at the top of his list at the moment. He was planning on taking more unofficial visits over the next few months so that might change.

- Marietta (Ga.) sophomore quarterback Eddie Printz did not have a very good first day, struggling to throw a spiral and get things going for Team Georgia. He came back much sharper on day two however, really spinning the ball well while leading his team to the championship game. He had some serious talent to throw to at wide out and while they saved him on day one, Printz made them look good on day two with some very nice deep balls.

- One of Printz's wide outs was Norcross (Ga.) athlete Jason Croom. He was the top receiver at the event and was a nightmare to cover with his 6-foot-5, 230 pound frame. At this point, he's a bit of a hybrid receiver/tight end until he fills out but he certainly has some very good pass catching skills. Georgia might be close to offering which might change things in his recruitment but it looks like Miami might be the team to beat at the moment. Georgia commit C.J. Curry was also on the team and played well but it was Croom who was the best receiver at the event.

- Justin Combs, son of Sean "Diddy" Combs, picked up offers Middle Tennessee and Wyoming recently and took an unofficial to UAB after the tournament. He has family in Alabama and one of his coaches said he is looking to step out from his dad's shadow but doesn't mind going to a smaller school to play football.

- Memphis (Tenn.) running back Jovon Robinson has a bit of a rivalry with Kimbrow in terms of who will be the top running back in the city and certainly showed he was capable of the top spot in terms of pass catching and quickness. His most recent offer was from Penn State and he said several SEC schools who have already offered stopped by to evaluate him further last week.

- Olive Branch (Miss.) wide receiver De'Arthur Cowan was one player who impressed from the Mississippi team. He said he had five offers, including ones from Arkansas and Mississippi State. Ole Miss visited his school last week and could be the next to offer. Cowan displayed good hands and ran nice routes but he needs to add some weight to his very skinny frame.

- Footballers Fire quarterback Ghierry Van der Kuyp has a very unusual sidearm throwing motion but he managed to be the most accurate quarterback at the event. He is being recruited by several programs as a wide receiver and the Hialeah (Fla.) athlete is close to getting offers from Miami and Florida. A commitment to Miami might follow if they offer because both of his parents are Miami fans. When Footballers Fire went up big on Team Georgia in the championship game, Van deer Kuyp played some wide receiver but badly injured his ankle and had to be taken off the field.

Posted on: May 3, 2011 10:31 am
 

5/3 Recruiting Roundup

Posted by Bryan Fischer

- Wide receiver Jason Croom, who shined at this weekend's Badger Sports 7-on-7, might be getting an offer from Georgia soon.

- Michigan appears to have wrapped up recruiting the linebacker position.

- Wide receiver Brandon Sheperd picked up an offer from Missouri and Top 100 player Durron Neal added a few too.

- Florida State linebacker commit Markus Eligwe will take trips to make sure the school is right for him.

- The state of Georgia is quickly becoming a pipeline for Kentucky.

- There's a lot of NFL longsnappers from Arizona and Ben Bernard is the reason why.
Posted on: April 16, 2011 5:36 am
Edited on: April 16, 2011 2:51 pm
 

Nkemdiche stars at Georgia Nike Camp

Posted by Bryan Fischer

ATHENS, Ga. -- Hundreds of players from all over the Southeast braved an oncoming thunderstorm to showcase their skills at the University of Georgia in the latest edition of the Nike Football Training Camp and Elite 11 Quarterback Competition Friday night.

Once again, Georgia had a strong display of BCS-caliber talent at the camp and the state continues to show why recruiters from across the country are anxious to get a look at the next wave of talent coming out of the Peach State. The class of 2012 is loaded with talent along the defensive line and several of the state's 33 recruits with FBS offers made their way down to the camp.

While many of the highly regarded juniors flashed their skills during drills, it was not hard to see that Grayson (Ga.) sophomore defensive end Robert Nkemdiche was not only the most talented of the group, but easily the top player at the camp.

"They called me out and I did it," Nkemdiche said matter of factly. "It felt good."

His home state might end up sending close to 50 players to an FBS school from the defensive line come February but you'd be hard pressed to find someone who looks as good as Nkemdiche does at first glance. The 6-foot-4, 265 pound end was a physical specimen, showing up fit and ready to dominate older competition.

On top of a quick initial burst, he displayed several polished pass rush moves that even much older college players don't have. Making the most of a lightning quick spin move or just relying on a straight speed rush, Nkemdiche was impossible to stop in one-on-ones all night long. Thought he will continue to grow and mature at the position, the gifted pass rusher is already thinking ahead at what he wants to work on the rest of the summer.

"I want to work on my speed," Nkemdiche said. "I real fast right now, like a 4.5 (40 yard dash) but I want to drop my time. I want to be the best I can be and the coaches want that too."

Nkemdiche's high school coaches also want to win, which is why he'll also try his hand at running back next season for Grayson. As terrifying as it might be to some opposing players to see someone of his size and skill running at them, Nkemdiche is equally excited at getting the chance to run over (and past) a few defenders to reach the end zone on offense.

"I can't wait," he said. "It's going to be great."

In spite of having almost two years before inking his signature on a letter of intent, the talented sophomore is already sitting on multiple scholarship offers. Given his unique blend of size, speed and pass rushing ability, it's easy to see why some schools feel the need to extend an offer early in hopes of making Nkemdiche's recruitment a quick one.

"Auburn was the last offer I got, maybe late January or early February," he said. "I don't know how many but I have over ten.

"Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and that's all I know off the top of my head right now."

Several programs' annual Spring Game is Saturday and Nkemdiche was planning on going to Alabama's "A-Day" but will instead catch most of the day's action at home. He'll continue to exploit offensive linemen on Sunday however, when he'll head to the Atlanta Under Armour Camp.

Utilizing his unique skill set is something Nkemdiche will continue to do throughout the summer and has already planned out a few unofficial visits and camp stops between now and the end of July.

"In the summer I'm going to go to a couple schools," he said. "LSU, Alabama and Auburn's camps. Just (visit) as many schools as I can."

Nkemdiche was one of only two sophomore to walk off the field as a position MVP but based on his performance Friday night, he might as well have been holding the title of top recruit in the Southeast for 2013.

And you'd find few who would be willing to argue if he snagged it either.

Alexander, Eligwe share the spotlight

Just as impressive as the defensive line group, the linebackers in attendance received their share of publicity and right fully so. With eight players holding multiple BCS offers, there might not have been a better position group all year. In fact, many of the camp instructors had a hard time thinking of a better group of linebackers in the decade long history of the Nike Camps.

Fittingly, the position MVP award was one of the toughest decisions of the night so the coaches ended up making Oxford (Ala.) stud Kwon Alexander and Stone Mountain (Ga.) linebacker Ukeme Eligwe co-MVPs.

"I feel like I did great and showcased my talent," Eligwe said. "There was a lot of great players out here today."

"I really just wanted to do my best and learn from everybody," said Alexander.

Eligwe made the case to be the top linebacker in the state - if he wasn't already - thanks to his size and very good quickness. He opened his hips well and hardly let anything get past him during drills. A top performer in all of the one-one drills, the 6-foot-2, 220 pounder also wouldn't mind an extra rep or two against Alexander to settle who really was the top linebacker at the event.

"That would be nice," Eligwe said with a smile. "He's a good player also so I don't feel different, it's all good. I came out here to have fun and do what I have to do."

The speedy Alexander was quite confident who would eventually prevail and would have loved to see another play to decide top dog.

"Yeah I want another," he said with a grin. "I want to be the best out there."

Both players have seen the amount of offers rolling in slow to a trickle due mostly to the fact that they have a scholarship awaiting from pretty much every major school in the country. Alexander is known for his speed out on the field and is mainly focusing on track this offseason and keeping recruiting in the outside lane for the time being. Despite being 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, Alexander runs an 11.2 second 100 meters and also stars in the 200 meters. All of the time spent on the track working to shave off a few seconds means the bulk of his recruitment will come during the summer and into the fall.

"There's no one standing out right now," he said. "Everybody's still the same. After track season I'm going to do a few unofficial (visits) and then once the season starts I'll do my official visits.

"I'll take all five official visits. I'm going to take one to Oregon, USC, UCLA. I'll take a couple of them down (in Alabama)."

Eligwe isn't as involved with track as Alexander and as a result is able to narrow down his list of suitors somewhat.

"My most recent offer was last week but I can't really remember," he said, adding that they've all blended together a bit. "Florida State's standing out. More than likely I'll be at their Spring Game."

Florida and Georgia are also standing out according Eligwe, who received an early morning phone call Friday from South Carolina's staff on the first day of the May Evaluation Period. With so many schools vying for his attention Eligwe is starting to look a bit closer to home as to where he might attend college.

"More than likely yes but I wouldn't just say I'm going to stay in the area," he said. "Those are just some of my top schools right now"

Alexander also received an early morning phone call Friday and the SEC staff who made it ended up making an impression on the talented linebacker.

"Arkansas called me about six," he said. "It was good because they were the first team that called me. I didn't know that today was there time to call me so that surprised me when they called. They just asked what's up and everything."

The Hogs are not the only school who is in hot pursuit of Alexander, though. Several schools from both the Pac-12 and the SEC are heavily recruiting him.

"Oregon, Auburn, Alabama, USC, LSU," Alexander said. "I don't mind where I go, it's just where it makes me feel a part of a family."

No stranger to campus, Elder looks solid at the camp

There are few players who actually are defensive backs. You have safeties, you have corners and a few times you even find a nickel corner among the bunch. College Park (Ga.) defensive back Chaz Elder however, lives up to the label.

The 6-foot-2, 290 pound Elder played a bit of both Friday during drills and one-on-ones and displayed the speed and agility to excel as either a big corner or a prototypical safety. Even he didn't get caught up in what position he ran out on to the field for, it was all about the reps.

"I actually have no idea, I just play," Elder responded when asked which position he's better at.

It's hard to disagree, especially if you're a college coach. Holding a double-digit offer list, Elder has his pick of the litter and has schools recruiting him at both safety and corner.

"Some colleges say I'll be a good-sized corner,” he said. “Others say I'd be good at safety. It doesn't matter to me. Again, I just want to play."

Elder recently picked up another offer, the latest being from Southern Miss. Even though the offers keep rolling in, the Georgia native is starting to narrow down his list and sees three schools separating from the pack.

"It's between Illinois, Clemson and Georgia," Elder said. "It's mostly Clemson and UGA because I've visited them the most. I came up (to Georgia) for one of the spring practices. At Clemson, it's mainly the coaches and the people (I like)."

Despite his top two being pretty close to home, Elder added that he would have no reservations about heading off aways for school if he found the right fit.

Notes

- Position MVPs were McDonough (Ga.) defensive back D.J. White, Florida-bound running back Mike Davis of Stone Mountain (Ga.), Alexander and Eligwe at linebacker, Lithonia (Ga.) offensive lineman Joe Harris and Nkemdiche on the defensive line.

- Gainesville (Ga.) wide receiver C.J. Curry was looking forward to going up against Tallahassee (Fla.) defensive back Travis Blanks and the two did not disappoint, waging several good battles during one-on-ones.

"I'm not going to make any excuses, he got me," Curry said. "He had a good day and worked hard to get the W today."

A Georgia commit, Curry also didn't mind bringing up the Bulldogs to a few of more well known recruits at the camp.

"It's always fun," Curry said. "I was trying to talk to Blanks (about Georgia). Other than going against him, I didn't really see him though."

With Georgia's class of 2011 nicknaming themselves the “Dream Team,” Curry said he was working on a nickname for the class of 2012.

- It was not a particularly strong group of quarterbacks for either the Nike Camp or the Elite 11 and the howling winds and light rain didn't help things either. Orlando (Fla.) quarterback Nick Patti showed off his arm again and continues to impress on the camp circuit. If it were not for his height (5-foot-10) he'd be getting offers from a lot of BCS programs. Cleveland (Tenn.) signal caller Chad Voytik also impressed with his accuracy and was probably the top guy at the event but did not participate in the Nike Camp portion. The finals of the Elite 11 were cut off due to inclement weather.

- Buford (Ga.) offensive tackle Vadal Alexander, who has offers from just about everybody, was one of several recruits to get a 6 A.M. phone call from the USC coaching staff. Alexander said he spoke to Ed Orgeron and James Cregg for several minutes and was surprised by the call. At this point, he has already been to LSU, Alabama and Auburn but says all schools are in the race to land his services.

- If you were looking for Louisville commit Larry Jefferson, you wouldn't find him catching passes Friday night. Although he is being recruited at tight end, Jefferson made the trip to Athens to learn a few new tricks for his other position.

"I'm a tight end but I went to defensive end because I play D-end in high school too," he said. "I just wanted to learn more stuff about the position."

When asked why he wants to play on offense in college, Jefferson was quite honest with his answer.

"I love getting the ball," he said with a nice laugh. "I like scoring touchdowns and everything. I'm committed and done, stress is off my shoulders."

- A few others who impressed were linebacker Dillon Lee out of Buford (Ga.), Powder Springs (Ga.) offensive tackle Kofi Amichia, Dublin (Ga.) 2013 linebacker Johnny O'Neal, Stepheson (Ga.) linebacker Raphael Kirby, Norcross (Ga.) receiver Jason Croom, 2013 defensive end Reginald Carter out of Stephenson (Ga.), Hillgrove (Ga.) athlete Kenyan Drake, 2013 Autauga (Ala.) tight end O'Terrius Howard and Charlotte (N.C.) linebacker Nick Dawson among others.

Posted on: February 11, 2011 8:28 pm
 

Friday Offer Tracker

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The recruiting news is a bit slow heading into a weekend full of camps and combines. That hasn’t stopped a few schools from sending out (well, actually informing via phone) a few scholarship offers today. Here’s a quick look at a few that went out today.

- Stone Mountain (Ga.) linebacker Markuss Eligwe grabbed offers from Illinois and Florida.
- Pinellas Park (Fla.) Jeremi Powell added offers from SEC teams Florida and South Carolina.
- Encino (Calif.) offensive lineman Jordan Simmons picked up a Pac-12 offer from Colorado.
- After getting lineman Aundrey Walker out of Glenville (Ohio) from the class of 2011, USC offered defensive back Devan Bogard, in addition to Ohio State. USC also offered Detroit (Mich.) corner Terry Richardson.
- Orchard Lake (Mich.) linebacker James Ross snagged an offer from Illinois.
- Kaysville (Utah) defensive end Troy Hinds picked up an offer from Oklahoma.
- Edgewood (Ky.) quarterback Zeke Pike added offers from Miami, Michigan and Florida State.
- Mississippi State left an offer for Norcross (Ga.) wide out Jason Croom.

 
 
 
 
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