Tag:Landon Collins
Posted on: November 1, 2011 6:32 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 6:38 pm
 

Examining LSU's recruiting class

Posted by Bryan Fischer

In case you haven't heard there is a, well, epic match up on CBS this week between Alabama and LSU in Tuscaloosa. As part of extensive coverage of both teams on CBSSports.com and CBS Sports Network, the Eye on Recruiting will be breaking down the biggest reason each team is thinking BCS national championship this year: the players they are recruiting.

Today we'll take a look at what Les Miles is doing on the trail. The Tigers currently have 20 commitments for the class of 2012.

Team Ranking: 6th overall, 3rd in the SEC
Number of recruits: 20
Number of five-stars: Zero. Three four-star recruits.
Best position:
Offensive line. Vadal Alexander, Derek Edinburgh, Reid Ferguson, Patrick Miller.
Weakest position:
Quarterback, zero commitments.
Top recruit:
#54 Vadal Alexander (left)
Sleeper:
Defensive end Danielle Hunter.
Top target:
#9 overall recruit Landon Collins.

Under Nick Saban a few years ago and now under Miles, LSU has consistently been near the top of the SEC and overall team recruiting rankings. Though they have rarely landed the top overall class in the country, they have done a great job of locking up every good player in the state of Louisiana and then hand-picking talent from Texas and the rest of the South to put together a strong run on the recruiting trail. In fact, there may not be a more consistent program in the country than the Tigers over the past decade, thanks in large part to a great talent base that has consistently churned out quality SEC and eventual NFL players year after year.

This year's class is really build around both lines with a handful of skill position talent that should be able to redshirt and develop given the youth already present on the team. Alexander is the top player and could be either a guard or a tackle while Miller is a prototypical left tackle that only needs to pack on a few pounds before he can jump in and play. On the defensive side, Torshiro Davis is a lightning quick speed rusher at outside linebacker/defensive end while Hunter is someone who isn't a highly rated guy but can develop like so many great defensive linemen have in Baton Rouge. Others, such as corner Jalen Mills, could contribute early on special teams while learning from the veterans ahead of them.

The one glaring need for this class is probably at quarterback. Though two signal-callers signed last year, the Tigers will be losing two seniors in Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee. A lot of players have already committed so LSU might look at taking a chance on someone under-the-radar knowing they'll likely redshirt with two players in front of them. They will also target another couple of players on defense.

Two priorities for Miles' staff are first and foremost keeping their current group together through Signing Day and landing in-state defensive back Landon Collins. One player who is openly looking around is Avery Johnson, younger brother of LSU all-everything Patrick Peterson. It's no surprise that he has plenty of programs recruiting him given who he's related to but Johnson is a dynamic receiver who can fit in just about any offense and make plays. While it wouldn't be shocking if Johnson ended up closer to home, it would be big news if Collins went anywhere but up the road a few miles to Baton Rouge. The staff should be busy working on those two as they find another player or two to fill out their class between now and February.

When the purple and gold walk out onto the field in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, they won't be at a talent disadvantage with Miles' keen eye for recruiting and developing SEC players. He's got another great group coming his way in 2012 in what should continue to be one of the biggest games in the SEC West, SEC and nationally for years to come.


Posted on: July 20, 2011 10:32 am
Edited on: July 20, 2011 10:38 am
 

VIDEO: The Opening Day 1

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The Opening took place two weeks ago up at Nike's headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., featuring more than a hundred of the top high school football recruits in the country. Here's some highlights from Day 1, which included SPARQ testing and the SPARQ Combine National Championship.

Image for MaxPreps Video.

Posted on: July 16, 2011 11:53 pm
 

Loaded DeSoto team takes home Texas 7-on-7 title

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Bryson Echols just couldn't help himself.

Minutes after winning the Texas state Division I 7-on-7 championship, the longtime Texas commitment threw up the 'Hook 'em' sign at Texas A&M's Kyle Field with a very large grin on his face.

"It's very good," Echols said. "I know what they're missing out on.

"It's even better that we won at A&M."

Echols' fellow DeSoto (Texas) teammates were just as happy after the team ran through the competition at one of the biggest events in the state undefeated and in the process, accomplished one of their many team goals.

"It's exciting, we worked hard all summer for this," fellow corner Jalen Mills said. "Now we've got to go out and win the real state championship."

The Eagles were one of the most athletic teams at the event and used their quickness and speed to blow through the rest of the field in impressive fashion. It meant a little bit more to many members of the team after they fell just short of grabbing a medal last year.

"It's special because last year I thought we were going to win it for sure," Echols said. "This year I had a few doubts but we won and that's all that matters."

"It's a rush because you're playing against the best athletes in the state of Texas," Mills added. "You have to bring it every game."

The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Echols played well for the second consecutive week after participating in Nike all-star event The Opening in Oregon. While there were not a ton of prospects for him to recruit for the Longhorns at the state tourney, he has been active for the school for several others.

"At The Opening, I was whispering in everybody's ear," he said. "There was the safety, Landon Collins, him. And a running back, he's a sophomore, (Altee) Tenpenny."

Echols is one of two players from DeSoto headed to Austin next fall and one of several FBS-level recruits on a loaded team primed for a run at state later this year. Mills is one of the few uncommitted players on the team and has seen his recruitment pick up following a good summer at 7-on-7 tournaments. 

"I have offers from Pitt, Virginia, Baylor, Houston, Tulsa, UTEP, Louisiana Tech, Memphis and a couple of others," he said. "Coach Norwood at Baylor and Coach Henson at Virginia are coming after me the hardest. And Coach Norvell at Pitt."

Mills says he'll head to Florida State next week and that defensive coordinator Mark Stoops is recruiting him and may offer him soon if he performs well at the Seminoles camp next Tuesday. An offer from the school will certainly change things but at the moment he remains wide open and really only has two schools he knows will make his short list.

"I know I want to visit Virginia and Pitt, those two colleges for sure," said Mills. "Probably later in the season is when I'll end up making my decision."

Given his offer list, it appears the 6-foot, 180-pounder is headed outside the state to play college ball but that isn't a problem for Mills, who says distance is not a factor in his recruitment.

"Not at all," he said. "I just want to go to where the team plays the top level competition every game and goes out there and wins."

Davis enjoying time in Aggieland

If there was one player who really gave it his all this weekend, it was Houston (Texas) quarterback Matt Davis. Ranked 73rd overall in the country by MaxPreps, Davis showed he was fully recovered from a knee injury last season by playing both quarterback and safety for his Klein Forest team in every game despite it being roughly 100 degrees two days in a row.

"It's pretty hot but I'm doing what's best for the team," Davis said. "It's all about athleticism. Anything that comes in the air, we try and snatch it up. We just try and make plays."

The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder is a Texas A&M commitment and represented the Aggies well, throwing a nice spiral and really spinning the ball well in the 7-on-7 setting. Being able to grab some wins in the fields near where he will one day play was an experience and just one of the reasons why he'll eventually make his way up to College Station.

"It's great," he said. "I'm always looking back over there at Kyle Field."

"I talked with Coach Williams yesterday, he was just asking how we did. I told him we won all three and had a game tomorrow. He's great."

Though he holds offers from Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, Oklahoma State and others, Davis is a very solid commitment to Texas A&M because of that relationship with the current staff.

"That's the main reason why I committed," Davis said. "They have great coaches here, great fans, great recruits."

In between games and even during them, the four-star signal-caller is one of several Aggie recruiters, hoping to lure the next wave of talent to the program.

"There's a kid on Plano's team, a 2013 kid, so I told him to come to the A&M camp tomorrow," Davis said. "There's a lot of kids out here. I know there's a kid from Arlington, (linebacker) Sam Douglas, they say he's a player. In between possessions, I may talk to him a little bit."

Notes

- Texas A&M, Oregon, USC, Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and others have shown interest in Rosenberg Terry High wide receiver Derrick Griffin. The 2013 prospect was dominant Saturday, powering his team to a consolation game win and using his 6-foot-5, 210-pound frame to shield the ball from defenders. Griffin is already well known from playing AAU basketball (he already holds an Oklahoma offer) but it not surprising when he said he'll likely be playing both sports in college after his performance at the 7-on-7 tournament. He has already camped at Oklahoma and Texas Tech.

- Baylor commit Kiante Griffin played both ways for his team and looked good when observed. He could succeed at the next level at either but it still seems like he'll wind up on offense.

- TCU pledge Kolby Listenbee had on an Oregon shirt Saturday but not to worry TCU fans, he didn't have a Horned Frogs shirt and the Ducks shirt was all that he had in his bag after returning from The Opening last week.

- Texas Tech quarterback commit Clayton Nicholas had a very good tournament, leading his team to the consolation game final and looked very sharp. He was named to the All Tournament team over several other deserving players but easily earned the honor.

- One 2013 player that caught just about everyone's eye was Austin (Texas) Lake Travis wide receiver Dannon Cavil. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound rising junior impressed with size and speed but he has a very good pair of hands. Several colleges are already interested and pursuing him.

Posted on: July 16, 2011 11:53 pm
 

Loaded DeSoto team takes home Texas 7-on-7 title

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Bryson Echols just couldn't help himself.

Minutes after winning the Texas state Division I 7-on-7 championship, the longtime Texas commitment threw up the 'Hook 'em' sign at Texas A&M's Kyle Field with a very large grin on his face.

"It's very good," Echols said. "I know what they're missing out on.

"It's even better that we won at A&M."

Echols' fellow DeSoto (Texas) teammates were just as happy after the team ran through the competition at one of the biggest events in the state undefeated and in the process, accomplished one of their many team goals.

"It's exciting, we worked hard all summer for this," fellow corner Jalen Mills said. "Now we've got to go out and win the real state championship."

The Eagles were one of the most athletic teams at the event and used their quickness and speed to blow through the rest of the field in impressive fashion. It meant a little bit more to many members of the team after they fell just short of grabbing a medal last year.

"It's special because last year I thought we were going to win it for sure," Echols said. "This year I had a few doubts but we won and that's all that matters."

"It's a rush because you're playing against the best athletes in the state of Texas," Mills added. "You have to bring it every game."

The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Echols played well for the second consecutive week after participating in Nike all-star event The Opening in Oregon. While there were not a ton of prospects for him to recruit for the Longhorns at the state tourney, he has been active for the school for several others.

"At The Opening, I was whispering in everybody's ear," he said. "There was the safety, Landon Collins, him. And a running back, he's a sophomore, (Altee) Tenpenny."

Echols is one of two players from DeSoto headed to Austin next fall and one of several FBS-level recruits on a loaded team primed for a run at state later this year. Mills is one of the few uncommitted players on the team and has seen his recruitment pick up following a good summer at 7-on-7 tournaments. 

"I have offers from Pitt, Virginia, Baylor, Houston, Tulsa, UTEP, Louisiana Tech, Memphis and a couple of others," he said. "Coach Norwood at Baylor and Coach Henson at Virginia are coming after me the hardest. And Coach Norvell at Pitt."

Mills says he'll head to Florida State next week and that defensive coordinator Mark Stoops is recruiting him and may offer him soon if he performs well at the Seminoles camp next Tuesday. An offer from the school will certainly change things but at the moment he remains wide open and really only has two schools he knows will make his short list.

"I know I want to visit Virginia and Pitt, those two colleges for sure," said Mills. "Probably later in the season is when I'll end up making my decision."

Given his offer list, it appears the 6-foot, 180-pounder is headed outside the state to play college ball but that isn't a problem for Mills, who says distance is not a factor in his recruitment.

"Not at all," he said. "I just want to go to where the team plays the top level competition every game and goes out there and wins."

Davis enjoying time in Aggieland

If there was one player who really gave it his all this weekend, it was Houston (Texas) quarterback Matt Davis. Ranked 73rd overall in the country by MaxPreps, Davis showed he was fully recovered from a knee injury last season by playing both quarterback and safety for his Klein Forest team in every game despite it being roughly 100 degrees two days in a row.

"It's pretty hot but I'm doing what's best for the team," Davis said. "It's all about athleticism. Anything that comes in the air, we try and snatch it up. We just try and make plays."

The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder is a Texas A&M commitment and represented the Aggies well, throwing a nice spiral and really spinning the ball well in the 7-on-7 setting. Being able to grab some wins in the fields near where he will one day play was an experience and just one of the reasons why he'll eventually make his way up to College Station.

"It's great," he said. "I'm always looking back over there at Kyle Field."

"I talked with Coach Williams yesterday, he was just asking how we did. I told him we won all three and had a game tomorrow. He's great."

Though he holds offers from Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, Oklahoma State and others, Davis is a very solid commitment to Texas A&M because of that relationship with the current staff.

"That's the main reason why I committed," Davis said. "They have great coaches here, great fans, great recruits."

In between games and even during them, the four-star signal-caller is one of several Aggie recruiters, hoping to lure the next wave of talent to the program.

"There's a kid on Plano's team, a 2013 kid, so I told him to come to the A&M camp tomorrow," Davis said. "There's a lot of kids out here. I know there's a kid from Arlington, (linebacker) Sam Douglas, they say he's a player. In between possessions, I may talk to him a little bit."

Notes

- Texas A&M, Oregon, USC, Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and others have shown interest in Rosenberg Terry High wide receiver Derrick Griffin. The 2013 prospect was dominant Saturday, powering his team to a consolation game win and using his 6-foot-5, 210-pound frame to shield the ball from defenders. Griffin is already well known from playing AAU basketball (he already holds an Oklahoma offer) but it not surprising when he said he'll likely be playing both sports in college after his performance at the 7-on-7 tournament. He has already camped at Oklahoma and Texas Tech.

- Baylor commit Kiante Griffin played both ways for his team and looked good when observed. He could succeed at the next level at either but it still seems like he'll wind up on offense.

- TCU pledge Kolby Listenbee had on an Oregon shirt Saturday but not to worry TCU fans, he didn't have a Horned Frogs shirt and the Ducks shirt was all that he had in his bag after returning from The Opening last week.

- Texas Tech quarterback commit Clayton Nicholas had a very good tournament, leading his team to the consolation game final and looked very sharp. He was named to the All Tournament team over several other deserving players but easily earned the honor.

- One 2013 player that caught just about everyone's eye was Austin (Texas) Lake Travis wide receiver Dannon Cavil. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound rising junior impressed with size and speed but he has a very good pair of hands. Several colleges are already interested and pursuing him.

Posted on: July 10, 2011 1:34 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 4:28 pm
 

The Opening: Day 4 closes out all-star event

Posted by Bryan Fischer

BEAVERTON, Ore. -- As things wrapped up on Day 4 of The Opening, one couldn't help feeling a tinge of sadness on behalf of the nearly 150 athletes at the event. Knowing the end was coming and that they soon would have to hop on a plane home, many players couldn't believe the all-star event had come to a close. 

"It's a very humbling, lifetime experience," Yulee (Fla.) running back Derrick Henry said. "I'll never forget it. All this competition, the whole 150, it's a blessing. It's nice getting guys' prospectives on different colleges and stuff like that, it's been good."

As one of three sophomores at the event, Henry was just trying to soak in the event. Playing with some of the top players in the country, The Opening was a chance to learn from the best in anticipation of coming back next year as the elder statesman.

"This is my first time coming up here, and I'm starting to enjoy the whole thing," he said. "But next time it's going to be business."

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Henry was one of the most impressive athletes, physically, at the event. Though he plays running back in high school, if he continues to grow, he might develop into a tight end -- a position he got reps at during the 7-on-7 portion of the event.

"It just gives me a chance to get out there and catch some balls and get some touchdowns," he said. "I'll do anything to get my team the win."

Though he was split out catching passes instead of running down hill, there's no question what position he wants to play at the next level.

"Oh running back, that's what I play," Henry said. "I'm just doing this because it's 7-on-7. You've got to do what you've got to do to get the ball."

The Opening also gave Henry a chance to talk with plenty of older, heavily recruited athletes such as Nelson Agholor, Terry Richardson and Dillon Lee just on his 7-on-7 team. Already solidified as one of the top players in the Class of 2013, Henry has been picking up scholarship offers at a good clip over the past few months.

"I got an offer from Stanford, North Carolina, Tennessee and some others," he said. "I know I'm over 50. It's a humbling experience. I thank god everyday for this opportunity. I just use it as motivation to keep working hard in the weight room and the classroom and the field. Hopefully I can give back to my teammates by using my talent and my name to get them opportunities for the young guys who are under (the radar)."

Although many had considered him a Florida State lean early on, it's another in-state program that has moved out in front nearly a year and a half before he eventually signs a letter of intent.

"Florida is my leader, then Georgia, Florida State and Alabama," Henry said. "I'm open to any school; it's just where I feel comfortable and at home at, that chemistry I have with the coaches and where my family likes."

Reeves down to two

With so many talented players on the fields at the Nike campus, tempers were bound to flare given the level of competition. But, surprisingly, things were mostly limited to some good-natured trash talking because of the bond the players had formed over the past few days.

"It's very competitive out here,” defensive back Armani Reeves said. “But they're all good guys. When we go inside the lounge in there, we're all family and have a good time. But when we come out to (the fields), that's the time to compete and that's what we do.”

Things have been competitive on the recruiting front for the Roxbury (Mass.) corner. Reeves recently narrowed down his list of schools to two and talked about both, starting with Notre Dame.

"They're a great school academically," he said. "Coach (Bob) Diaco, Coach (Brian) Kelly, they're trying to turn that program around and make it a championship school. When they talked they had a lot to offer. When they showed me around, the campus was beautiful and I got to hang out with a bunch of the players. I had a good time there.”

The Irish are not the only program in the running for Reeves' services, as the Nittany Lions are neck and neck with them in Reeves' eyes.

"As far as Penn State goes, it feels like home," he said. "Coach (Joe) Paterno, I talk to him every time I see him. We even Skype now. All of those coaches treat me like family and express how much they want me. I'm just enjoying the process and trying to think about everything."

Several recruits have reported they have Skyped with the coaching legend and like the others, Reeves feels it's a unique connection to one of college football's icons thanks to a bit of modern technology.

"Yeah it's pretty cool," Reeves said. "He was cracking jokes with me. He's new to the whole thing so when you have an old guy like him doing something like Skype, it's just fascinating. He was just talking and we forgot about recruiting, telling me stories and stuff. It was really fun, I had a good time."

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound defensive back returned from unofficial visits to both schools shortly before heading to Oregon for The Opening. While he is officially down to two schools, a timetable for a decision on which one he will commit to is up in the air.

"Hopefully I'll make a decision soon but if not, I don't mind waiting," he said. "I just came back from those visits like two or three weeks ago so I'm just taking this time enjoying my time out here with these fellas."

Elder getting closer to decision 

Proving that defensive backs can also have a pair of good hands, College Park (Ga.) corner Chaz Elder made one of the defensive plays of the day when he caught a beautiful over the shoulder interception in the end zone to prevent a touchdown.

“My teammate told me to watch for the corner,” Elder said. “So I went over to try and get over the top. I got over there a little to late, but luckily the wide receiver missed it and I was able to catch it.”

Coming a long way from home and making plays is something new for Elder, but the overall experience in Portland has been a rewarding one for the talented cornerback.

“It's been great,” he said. “This is the furthest I've ever been outside of Georgia. I like it. (The plane ride) is kind of long. It's very long but it's alright.”

One of the top players in a deep pool of talent in Georgia this year, Elder has more than 25 scholarship offers from major powerhouses, but he has narrowed his list to three schools.

“With (Georgia), I like the fact that me and Coach Mark Richt have a good relationship,” Elder said. “South Carolina, I like the fact that they're known for having good DB's. Plus I like the defense they run because it's similar to what I run now in high school. With Vanderbilt, they're upcoming and I could help change the face of the program.”

Vanderbilt is making news in the recruiting world by picking several major commitments, including one from Top 100 running back Brian Kimbrow. The momentum the school has under new coach James Franklin is something that matters to Elder.

“That's a big factor,” he admitted. 

Elder won't open up as to which of the three programs is out in front but plans to make a decision soon, likely in August before his senior seasons begins. 

Howard staying open

There were plenty of players who had fun at The Opening, but it was hard to top the excitement about the event that Miramar (Fla.) defensive back Tracy Howard had following a 7-on-7 win.

“It's been one of the best experiences of my life,” Howard said. “To come way out to Portland, Oregon, I know I haven't been this far from home. The only place I've been is the Bahamas on a cruise. It's definitely a blessing to get out here with the top talent and compete against those guys.”

A talkative player on the field, Howard doesn't mind finding a player on the opposing team and talking a little trash to back up his coverage skills

“Oh Sean Price,” Howard responds almost instantly about who he talks the most trash with. “We're good friends, it's not bad talk, we're just getting each other better.”

Though Howard has been leaning toward Florida for a good portion of the recruiting process, he's narrowed his list of schools he's considering and looking at all of the options equally.

“I'm just staying open right now,” he said. “I'm down to a few: Miami, Florida, Florida State, Alabama, LSU, South Carolina and Notre Dame.”

Notes 

-- Very impressive day by defensive linemen Sheldon Day and Ellis McCarthy. Though Day was named position group MVP, McCarthy was unblockable during one-on-ones and went around and through his man, all on a bad ankle. Aziz Shittu rebounded from a sub-par day Friday to perform well. Curtis Riser was the top offensive lineman of the group on Saturday to go with good performances from Vadal Alexander and Issac Seumalo.

-- No matter what position he played, Fresno (Calif.) athlete Deontay Greenberry was a flat-out player. From skying on jump balls in the end zone to intercepting passes during limited time on defense, the Notre Dame-bound Greenberry was consistently a top performer over all three days of competition.

-- Geismar (La.) safety Landon Collins was named the 7-on-7 MVP and overall MVP of The Opening. He was everywhere on the field and quite literally had too many interceptions to count over the two days of 7-on-7. He more than lived up to his billing as a top 10 player in the class of 2012 and might even be underrated based on what he has done this summer.

-- Another defensive back that stood out was Clemson commit and Tallahassee (Fla.) safety Travis Blanks. Blanks had two interceptions in the opening game Saturday (and nearly had two more) and continued his stellar play throughout the day. He is one of the most versatile defensive backs in that he's equally good as a safety and cornerback.

-- There weren't many of them, but the walking wounded on the sidelines generally sported cardinal and gold. USC commits Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick (stitches) and Jabari Ruffin (fractured wrist) were both out of action Saturday.

-- Team Alpha Talon, with honorary coaches Josh Freeman and Dwayne Bowe, won the 7-on-7 tournament. The team featured Bralon Addison, Nelson Agholor, Deon Bush, Landon Collins, Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick, Trae Elston, Justin Ferguson, Derrick Henry, Germone Hopper, Chad Kelly, Duke Johnson, Dillon Lee, Kaiwan Lewis, Steven Longa, Lamar Louis, Marcus Maye, Armani Reeves, Terry Richardson and Randy Uzoma.  

-- The overall offensive line MVP was Vadal Alexander while Sheldon Day took home the same honors on the defensive line. Offensive tackle Kyle Murphy and defensive end Jamal Marcus were one-on-one champions.

-- The 7-on-7 All-Tournament team was Travis Blanks, Cyrus Jones, Johnathan Gray, Deontay Greenberry, Marcus Maye, Bryce Treggs and Tee Shepard.

Posted on: July 9, 2011 1:17 am
Edited on: July 11, 2011 4:33 pm
 

The Opening: Day 3 -- Pads and 7-on-7

Posted by Bryan Fischer

BEAVERTON, Ore. – Day three of The Opening could not have turned out any better for the assembled campers as wall-to-wall 7-on-7 action and a lineman challenge took place on a picturesque day at the Nike campus.

After NFL players and Nike coaching staff members drafted teams from the nearly 150 players at the event on Thursday night, the pressure was on to gel quickly during round-robin play all day Friday. One of the consistent playmakers at the event with his blazing speed, fluid routes and soft hands was Tampa (Fla.) athlete Nelson Agholor.

A threat at multiple positions on the field, the talented Floridian was a touchdown threat every time he touched the ball on offense. Despite standing out on the field, it was hard to get him to talk about himself off it as he personified the definition of a team player.

"Yeah, I hope we have a good one the next day. We're ready to go and play hard," Agholor said. "We've got a great team."

NFL stars Josh Freeman of Agholor's local team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Kansas City Chiefs wideout Dwayne Bowe were the honorary coaches of “Team Alpha Talon.” The 7-on-7 setting provided the players they picked a chance to spread the field and allow players such as Agholor to go up and make plays.

"We were blessed with two great coaches that put a bunch of athletes on the team," Agholor said. "We're going to do well. There's not one bad guy on our team. Everyone on our team is really good."

Featuring quarterback Chad Kelly (committed to Clemson), receiver Bralon Addison (Texas A&M) and  running back Duke Johnson (Miami) among others, Agholor's team was one of the best in the field. Boasting players from 10 states, the all-star squad was an opportunity for Agholor and others to bond with players they had only heard about.

"These are guys you want to compete against everyday,” he said. “They say everyone around the nation is getting better, these are the guys that they're talking about. Now we're all together having fun and winning together."

Ranked 22nd overall in the MaxPreps Top 100, schools such as Florida, Florida State, Miami, Texas and USC are heavily pursuing the talented athlete as both a receiver and defensive back. With so much attention on the recruiting trail, Agholor is almost to the point where he narrows his list down to a more manageable five to 10.

"I have sort of an idea of a shorter list," he said. "That's between me and my coaches and parents right now. We're going to work something out and hopefully narrow it down soon.

"There's many things I'm looking for. When I first started recruiting, it was all about people and their morals, that was always number one. Academics is number two because I feel like there's a degree out there for everyone, it's up to you to go get it."

In terms of a decision, that will be awhile for the five-star athlete.

"I think I want to sign on National Signing Day," Agholor said. "I really want to think this all through. Schools know, who I'm in contact with, they know what type of interest is coming in and if not, I'm going to make it a little bit clearer soon."

Miller enjoys getting some pad work

While most of the skill position athletes were playing games, the big fellas down in the trenches were also having some fun and it came in something unique to The Opening: pads.

"It was fun, I haven't put pads on in awhile since I didn't play in the spring game," West Palm Beach (Fla.) offensive tackle Patrick Miller said. "It was sweet, I got a little hitting time in."

Armed with full shoulder pads and helmets, the one-on-one drills between the offensive and defensive linemen were one of the highlights of the camp. For some players, such as Miller, who have largely been without contact, it did take a bit of an adjustment.

"Definitely, you're getting the cob webs out," he said. "You kind of forget how to pass set or something like that. But you're with all these great coaches and stuff and you get your technique back to where it was and everything. It's just part of getting ready for the season."

Working with former NFL lineman LeCharles Bentley among others, the 6-foot-7, 270-pound Miller has been able to pickup plenty of small tips and tricks that should serve him well going into his senior year.

"There's just so many small, miscellaneous things," Miller said. "I mean a pro tells you, and you're like, alright and you listen to him then. The only people I like to listen to is my head coach, my position coach but obviously, if an NFL player says it, you know it's right."

As one of the top offensive tackles in South Florida, Miller has offers from just about every SEC school, as well as Notre Dame, Florida State, Miami and others. He has taken several unofficial visits recently and will likely take a few more between now and trimming his list down.

"I think I'm going to narrow it down in the middle of the season," Miller said. "I know I'm going to visit Oklahoma and North Carolina. I've already visited Auburn, LSU and Tennessee and Florida too. I liked them all a lot, I liked Auburn a lot obviously. After taking these visits, I definitely was thinking I wanted to commit somewhere but now I realize I just want to wait and weigh my options. There might be something better out there for me."
 
Mangum sharp again in 7-on-7 setting

If you wanted to have a good 7-on-7 team at an event like this, you needed to pick a good quarterback. Noted quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr., who has worked Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Newton among others, was in charge of drafting “Team Vapor Carbon” with rookie Patrick Peterson. It's no surprise that Whitfield's acumen was on the money as Eagle (Idaho) quarterback Tanner Mangum was the top signal caller throughout the day.

"I'm just doing my best to make them look good," Mangum said. "I know they're talented, they're playmakers, so I'm just doing my best to make good decisions and keep up with them. It's an honor to be playing with them so I don't want to make them look bad."

Mangum team featured Notre Dame-bound receiver Deontay Greenberry, Florida-bound running back Mike Davis and plenty of other impressive skill position players. Being able to throw to such a talented group was nice for the 6-foot-3, 200-pound quarterback but that wasn't the biggest take away from the event.

"There's so many things but I think it's forming relationships with these guys," Mangum said. "These are the top players from across the country and you wouldn't have any other chance to meet them but here. It's an honor to be considered among them and it's been even better getting to know them."

As a BYU commitment for several months, Mangum is one of several players who are already dead-set on their college of choice. With 11 players on his team who have not made a commitment and plenty more at the event, there has surprisingly not been many conversations asking him for advice on the recruiting process.

"Not too much," he said. "Everyone here is pretty set in where they're going, there's a few guys that aren't committed. There aren't any here, but I'm doing my best to recruit some guys to get to the "Y." Dylan Collie and I are working together to get some guys to BYU. There's some big recruits that have committed there and I think that 2012 recruiting class will be pretty good."

The recruiting class that the pair is apart of is the Cougar's first as a football independent. The opportunity to go out on their own and the advantages with that are a big draw for several recruits according to Mangum.

"I think it's helping a lot, it's a big positive," he said. "It allows us to play some big time teams on national television and I think guys draw to that and want to play for that. It's helping out a lot."

The Opening is not the only national competition Mangum is taking part in. He will head down to Pepperdine in a little over a week for the prestigious Elite 11 quarterback camp, something he lights up when asked about it.

"I'm very excited," Mangum said. "I've grown up watching that since I was a kid and it's always been a dream of mine. So it's a dream come true for sure."

Dawson sees two recruiting him hard

One of the more physically imposing defenders on the field was 6-foot-3, 230-pound linebacker Nick Dawson. Flying across the country from Charlotte (N.C.) to the Nike campus was no problem for the talented athlete as he's having a blast so far at The Opening.

"Everything's great," Dawson said. "It's so unique it doesn't make sense. And every day it gets better and better. I'm just out here to compete with the top 150 and I'm doing going good."

Like many players, the opportunity to interact and learn from NFL players has been a moment that often leaves Dawson in awe as he receives tips from the best of the best.

"I'm just getting coached up, you can't ask for any more than this,” he said. “Aaron Curry is out here coaching the linebackers Ray Rice with the running backs. Dwayne Bowe with the receivers, there's just so many unique athletes out here."

Holding offers from schools such as Arkansas, Auburn, Miami, USC and others, Dawson is trying to begin the arduous task of narrowing down his list of programs he is considering.

"Everything is going great with my recruiting," he said. "I'm trying to narrow it down but I don't really have a top five right now."

Just because it's tough to limit his options going forward, doesn't mean a few schools aren't standing out.

"Louisville and Clemson are recruiting me the hardest," he said. "I went to Clemson's camp and Louisville's also. They were great, everything was great. Both of the schools were perfect. I'm just trying to figure out which one is the best, best, best for me. I'm in the process of doing that right now."

Dawson had entertained thoughts of committing during The Opening but could not decide on a school enough to give his verbal pledge. He said he was unsure when he would eventually pull the trigger and commit.

Notes:

- It wasn't a great day of football for USC commitment Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick. He banged his head against another player while making a play for a ball and ended up having to sit out most of the day (against his wishes it should be noted) after receiving stitches above his eye.

"Four. It wasn't too bad," Cope-Fitzpatrick said before getting to the bad news. "If football doesn't work out, I'm trying to be a model for Nike."

- Oregon commit Jake Rodrigues struggled mightily during 7-on-7, tossing more interceptions than touchdowns and misreading the defense a few times. He was able to throw the ball better as the day went on but he just wasn't as sharp as he was yesterday.

- USF-bound tight end Sean Price has performed well in 7-on-7 events before and did so once again Friday afternoon. He was able to use his big frame and speed to create mismatches and was a nice target in the red zone.

- All-around athlete Cedric Dozier is really rangy as a defensive back. He grabbed quite a few interceptions, including a nice one off Cal commit Zach Kline. Top ten defensive back Landon Collins also impressed in the secondary.

-  Number one ranked running back Johnathan Gray is a special back. Known for his rushing skills, he was explosive out of the backfield and displayed some soft hands. He lined up next to future Texas teammate Connor Brewer and the pair definitely had some chemistry out on the field.

- Tight end Taylor McNamara, headed to Arizona, had a really nice day and went up and caught some throws that very few people could get to. Ray Rice jokingly started calling him Todd Heap after making so many plays.

- The play of the day came from receiver Jaydon Mickens. The USC-bound athlete took a short pass and turned it into a 40+ yard touchdown by traversing the field three times and leaving several defenders unable to move. Even speedy Dwayne Bowe was impressed and quite excited about the play.

Posted on: July 7, 2011 10:23 am
Edited on: July 11, 2011 4:39 pm
 

"The Opening" Day One Notebook

Posted by Bryan Fischer

BEAVERTON, Ore. -- With 150 of the best high school football players in attendance and several NFL players and Hall of Famer Jerry Rice looking on, Geismar (La.) safety Landon Collins knew what had to be done and, on the campus of Nike headquarters, embodied the company's motto and simply went out and did it. 

The eventful first day of “The Opening” was capped by Collins winning the Nike SPARQ national championship and hosting a trophy so large that even he admits he'll have trouble getting it home.

“I don't know,” Collins said with big grin. “I don't even know if I can make it to the gates with this.”

Collins, a 6-foot, 210-pound defensive back, ran, jumped and tossed his way to taking home the prize, which awards all-around athleticism. That he beat a majority of the top 100 players from the Class of 2012 came of no surprise to the always confident Collins.

“No I wasn't surprised,” he said. “My fastest time was a 4.39, and I knew I had it in me. After coming out and running a 4.5 (initially), I was like, 'I have to do better than this.'”

Ranked ninth overall in the Class of 2012 by MaxPreps, Collins has started to narrow down his recruiting and is focused mainly on in-state power LSU and powerhouses Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and Texas.

“It's a beautiful place,” Collins said of the Longhorns. “It's got all the academics at that spot. The team is great, they always have a chance for the BCS. (Tennessee) same thing. They're coming up with a new strategy for their DBs. They have everything they're looking for. I like Alabama, it's a beautiful place, in Tuscaloosa. I love the coaches. Florida is in a great city, me and my brother came up from there not to long ago. They greeted us with open arms and wanted us to play there.

“Distance will not be a factor for me. I've been on my own at home and when I'm on my own I do everything by myself.”

Collins plans to make his decision at January’s Under Armor All-American game. Despite all of the attention that's surrounded his life over the past year or so, he tries to stay humble in the face of constant pressure from others.

“My parents keep me well trained, they keep me doing everything a kid should be doing and not getting in trouble,” he said. “Not get a big head like most people do.”

Rodrigues staying a Duck

Rocklin (Calif.) quarterback Jake Rodrigues was more excited than most of the other campers to head up to Oregon. As a future commitment to the Ducks, he found The Opening offered him a chance to experience the state where he'll eventually end up moving to.

“It's been great, we're up here in beautiful Oregon and there's a lot of good guys out here, that's for sure,” Rodrigues said. “We're competing and having fun. It's great with all these guys, we all have the same goals, same things we have to worry about and same things we have to work on.

“It's cool that we're up here in Oregon, knowing that I'm going to live here the next four, five years of my life. It's just really cool and the fact that we're up here together having fun is even better.”

Rodrigues is aware of the rumors swirling around the Oregon program about a NCAA investigation. Despite the possibility there could be issues down the road, Rodrigues is sticking with his verbal pledge.

“All that is going on doesn't matter. I'm a Duck and I'm going to be a Duck for life,” he said. “That's where I stand.”

Firm in his commitment, Rodrigues has been able to proudly wear the Green and Yellow around the Nike campus and is turning into a mini-recruiter for the program with so many talented players in town.

“My roommate, Eugene Lewis, just got offered last week, so I'm trying to hit him up,” Rodrigues said. “I'm just talking good about the Ducks because they're the greatest and that's what it's all about.”

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound signal-caller will likely visit Eugene once more before the season and then take an official visit to Oregon for a game later this fall. For the moment, however, he's focused on getting better at an event filed with great coaching. 

“It's not really about stacking up; it's about getting better out here,” he said. “That's why I'm out here. I've been blessed with the talent to play football. Nike was great and they invited me out here and I'm glad to be out here because I want to get better everyday. These guys have been there before and they know what they're talking about.”

Simmons representing the West

Though Encino (Calif.) offensive guard Jordan Simmons lives nearly three hours by plane from Beaverton, the gorgeous weather during the first day of competition at The Opening wasn't too shabby for him and reminded him a bit of Los Angeles.

“It's pretty good, I love it out here,” Simmons said. “It feels like home a little. It's better (weather) than home right now. There's no weather changes in L.A.”

As one of the top offensive lineman on a West Coast region full of them, Simmons is excited to perform against defensive lineman outside of the area and prove he's the best of the best nationally. 

“Going against the guys from Georgia and Florida and comparing myself against the south,” he said of what he is most looking forward to. “West vs. South, that's all. I've already been against all the West dudes out here so I want to see where I stand against everybody.

“For me, it's not a rivalry, I just like to compete. If I do good, then I do good. It lets me know where I'm at and I can always get better.

Recruiting-wise, the 6-foot-5, 320-pounder is close to narrowing his college options. Holding offers from just about every program in the country, Simmons will cut his list after delaying a decision for roughly two weeks on which programs stay in contention. At the moment, he does know some schools that will make the list for sure.

USC, Oregon, Washington,” he said. “I'll be (at Oregon) on Sunday. I don't really know what to expect. They always have something new so I don't know what to expect. It's a pretty nice campus.”

Simmons is taking the better late than never approach.

“Next week, for sure,” he said. “It's been postponed for two weeks already.”

As someone considering Oregon and programs like Ohio State, the fact that the NCAA might hit the schools with penalties is something in the back of his mind when he is looking at where he wants to play college football.

“A little bit,” Simmons said. “A lot of schools are having NCAA problems that I stopped looking at because of it. Ohio State is still up there though.”

Keeping calm, Murphy enjoying experience

It takes something special for San Clemente (Calif.) offensive tackle Kyle Murphy to truly get excited, but the experience so far at the Nike campus has been good enough to qualify.

“It's just a cool experience with all the top players in the country trying to get better,” Murphy said. “We're just having fun. It was great flying out here to the Nike complex. There's a whole game room, and they're feeding us well and getting us all that cool stuff. It's pretty surreal. They're showing us a bunch of new products, giving us a preview of that stuff.”

With scholarship offers from most of the Pac-12, Michigan, Notre Dame and plenty of others, Murphy is just beginning to take a long look at each of his options and move toward a more manageable four or five schools.

“I'm trying to look at all that,” he said. “I'll probably have a top list pretty soon. I'm not sure who will be on it yet.”

Though he remains open to just about every school, a few of them are already standing out, and for the most part, the programs are not too far from home.

Stanford's always coming after me pretty hard, along with Cal," Murphy said. “USC, Florida too. I've visited USC, Cal, Stanford and Oregon and they all pressed me pretty well.” 

As one of the top offensive tackles who haven't selected a school, the 6-foot-7, 280-pound Murphy has become a target of sorts for plenty of the committed players, who aren't shy talking about why he should join them at their school. 

“There's plenty of guys that are committed and joking around and that stuff,” Murphy said. “Nothing too bad though.”

Adolphus Washington

Cincinnati (Ohio) defensive end Adolphus Washington is a bit of a perfectionist. That's why he wasn't truly happy with the 4.87 40-yard dash he ran during testing Wednesday evening. 

“It could have been a lot better,” Washington said. “I'd like it to be at least a 4.7, 4.6. I just have to get somebody to work with me on it, that's all.”

Taking part in the inaugural “The Opening” is a source of pride for the talented Ohioan. In addition to representing his school, his state and the Midwest, Washington is excited to be part of the initial group to go through the all-star camp.

“It feels good to be the first,” he said. “We're the first to get this thing started. If some of us make it to the league, maybe some of us can come back like (Ndamunkong) Suh and them did and talk to the kids. It could be pretty cool.

“This was a really nice experience to see all of the competition and all the rankings and stuff like that. It's cool to see who's ranked higher and who's where and how they actually look in person.”

On the recruiting trail, things can change daily but as of the moment there's one program that seems to be out in front in Washington’s mind.

“It's going good; I'm really liking Michigan State right now because I've been talking to Se'Von (Pittman),” he said. “Me and him really like the same kind of things so I'm going to start listening to them heavily.”

In addition to being close to Pittman, Washington is very close with Taft High teammate and wide receiver Dwayne Stanford. The two are planning on taking most of their official visits together and the possibility they play at the same college remains high.

“We're definitely trying to go to the same school,” Washington said. “We're probably going to take an official to Alabama. I'm probably going to go to Michigan State but I'll have to talk to him to see if he wants to go. We'll probably take an unofficial to Kentucky and stuff like that.”

With well over 15 scholarship offers from programs around the country, the visits should help the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Washington trim his list but as of the moment, it remains hard to put his finger on the schools standing out.

“Probably by the middle of the football season,” he said. “Then I'll probably make my decision after the football season. There's really not anybody standing out.”

Like plenty of other prospects who are from the state of Ohio, the ongoing NCAA mess in Columbus will have an affect on his decision to consider the school but it is such a deep-rooted connection that the Buckeyes will still be considered.

“I still love Ohio State,” he said. “I just want to see how the probation thing is going to work out. I haven't really been talking to them about it because I don't want to make them seem like I'm not interested anymore. I just talk to them to see how they're doing.”

Posted on: April 6, 2011 5:58 pm
Edited on: April 6, 2011 6:05 pm
 

Top 100 Offers & Leaders: 1-10

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Tom Lemming's Top 100 for 2012 List was released today and it has some of the most talented recruits in the country for the upcoming class. In an ongoing series, we'll take a look at who they have offers from and who might be the leader for their commitment.

1. WR Dorial Green-Beckham (Springfield, Mo.)

Offers: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Illinois, Iowa, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas, UCLA, USC, Wisconsin.

Possible leader: Alabama.

2. QB Gunner Kiel (Columbus, Ind.)

Offers: Alabama, Cincinnati, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Purdue, TCU, Tennessee, USC, Wisconsin.

Possible leader: Notre Dame.

3. WR Cayleb Jones (Austin, Texas)

Committed to Texas.

4. DE Noah Spence (Harrisburg, Pa.)

Offers: Auburn, Boston College, Cincinnati, UConn, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, N.C. State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, South Carolina, Stanford, Syracuse, Tennessee, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech.

Possible leader: Penn State.


5. DE Mario Edwards (Denton, Texas)

Committed to Florida State.

6. OT John Theus (Jacksonville, Fla.)

Offers: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Rutgers, South Carolina, Texas, UCF.

Possible leader: Georgia.

7. DT Ellis McCarthy (Monrovia, Calif.)

Offers: Arizona, Cal, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Tennessee, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State.

Possible leader: USC

8. RB Johnathan Gray (Aledo, Texas)

Offers: Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Colorado, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, USC.

Possible leader: Texas.

9. DB Landon Collins (Geismar, La.)

Offers: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Tennessee, Texas A&M, USC.

Possible leader: LSU.

10. RB Barry Sanders Jr.

Offers: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Auburn, Colorado, Florida State, Ole Miss, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Stanford, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Tulsa, UCLA.

Possible leader: Alabama.

 
 
 
 
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