Posted on: July 20, 2011 2:30 am
Edited on: July 20, 2011 2:38 am

Winston evolving into complete QB at Elite 11

Posted by Bryan Fischer

MALIBU, Calif. -- With everybody settled into their picturesque surroundings at Pepperdine University during day two of the Elite 11, the throws were sharper, the completion percentage was up and - perhaps just as important - so was the level of competition.

"It's been good out here with all these great quarterbacks," Bessemer (Ala.) quarterback Jameis Winston said. "I'm just out here competing, that's the main thing."

The 6-foot-4, 185-pound signal-caller was the top performer Tuesday and was really spinning the ball well during a brisk morning throwing session. Despite the effort he put in on each throw, Winston understands that he's still evolving from an athlete into a quarterback and that there are several parts of his game that he can work on.

"Drops," he identifies immediately almost before the question is even asked. "I want to also work on my hips more. I have to get my hips open more so I don't hurt anything down low. So I just have to work my hips more and get open. I've got to get better everyday."

Winston was almost like a little brother on the field to college counselor E.J. Manuel out of Florida State. The two have similar builds (though Winston is much thinner) and a similar throwing motion. Often conversing between snaps, the college starter had no problem mentoring the high school star.

"E.J. helps me a lot on making sure I'm staying on top of the ball and not squeezing the ball," Winston said. "He's helped me a lot and he's at one of my final schools, Florida State."

Down to three schools in his recruitment, Maxpreps' second ranked quarterback and 21st overall player in the class of 2012 is considering the Seminoles and hasn't been shy about asking Manuel about the program.

"I've asked him about Florida State and their program," Winston said. "He's been pretty real with me. He's told me the ups and downs - there's not many downs but he told me some."

The other finalists for the five-star quarterback are both SEC powerhouses, one close to home and the other a few hours away by car. With distance not a huge factor for Winston, he's had to look closer at what each program brings to the table for him.

"Alabama is the home school," he said. "I mean, there's no place like home. I've been there a million times, just over and over. LSU, it's just a great competitive atmosphere and I want to be in that competitive atmosphere wherever I go, especially with baseball and football."

Winston is a top high school baseball player in addition to his success on the gridiron. While Florida State and LSU are perennial contenders at the College World Series, the success of the baseball program at any of the three schools he's considering is only a small factor in his decision.

"Yes," he says before cautioning," but Alabama's baseball program is coming up."

Projected by some to go as high as the first round draft in next year's MLB Draft, Winston knows it's possible he'll have to make a decision similar to Nebraska quarterback and Kansas City Royals first round pick Bubba Starling.

"Yes I've followed him," Winston said. "I'm going to consider (going pro). I don't know right now because I'm not as advanced as he is. He got there this year and I'm just considering it. Thinking about it but trying to have fun. It's in the back of my mind."

Slated to make one fan base very happy when he ultimately picks a school on August 3rd, Winston revealed that he's already decided where he'll play his college ball - football and baseball - but didn't offer any hints as to where that might actually be.

"I know where I'm going," he said. "The coaches know."

Kline reps the West Coast

Danville (Calif.) quarterback Zach Kline had one of the shortest commutes to the Elite 11 from the Bay Area and though he is used to going down to the beach or enjoying a cool summer day, the experience with 23 other top quarterbacks at the Elite 11 has been eye-opening for him.

"It's been awesome," Kline said. "Nothing is like it, ever. It's the best thing I've ever been to and you have the best players here."

The California kid was sporting a Rafael Nadal-like look on Tuesday with long hair and a headband. Though he was one of the most outgoing and relaxed players on the field, that masked his workman-like approach to learning as much as he could from the coaches and counselors at the event.

"A lot of things like making every throw count and the little things matter the most," he said about what he learned. "Even the smallest thing down to a drop, the fake on the play action matters more than anything and is the difference between a completion and an interception. And just kind of getting to know these guys and the things that they see."

In between meals and film sessions, the Cal commit has been able to take time to bond with his fellow campers, many of whom he is already close with.

"I know these guys real well," Kline said. "Connor Brewer I've been friends with for awhile, for a couple of years. Jake Rodrigues I've been friends with for a long time as well. Tyler Matthews same deal. Gunner Kiel, I was at the Elite 11 last year as a ball boy with him. He's the man, he's a great quarterback and just a cool dude to hang around with. Same for all of those guys, every single one of them."

Regarded by many as the top quarterback on the West Coast, the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder is confident in himself and showed that he can make all the throws on the field, going neck-and-neck with other highly ranked players like Winston and Kiel. Still, despite actually belonging with the best in the nation, Kline knows there's still something left for him to prove.

"Definitely," he says before identifying the biggest reason why. "Tanner Mangum is giving me a run for my money. He's good, a great quarterback and a great dude too. He's a good friend of mine as well and he's going to do big things at BYU, just an awesome quarterback, can't wait to watch him."

Appleby stars in the classroom

While Mangum wore a yellow jersey for being the winner of the Golden Arm competition on the field Monday, North Canton (Ohio) quarterback Austin Appleby sported a red jersey on Tuesday after taking home honors for best performance in the classroom. The chance to show off his quarterback IQ was a welcome one for someone who had prepared to do so for quite some time.

"I got a chance to get up in front on the board, in front of everybody, and impress Coach (Trent) Dilfer," Appleby said. "I put a lot of time and preparation coming into this. I've been hours upon hours into knowing this playbook and I take pride in being the most prepared at this camp."

With so much teaching on and off the field from instructors, Appleby made an apt analogy to schoolwork when talking about what specifically he'll take back to his high school.

"It's graduate level stuff," he said. "In my offense, I'm a little more advanced and making those checks and making those slide protections, or any audible I need too. So having this knowledge and understanding of how it's really supposed to work is really going to broaden my skill level from a mental aspect as well from the coaching we're going to get from a fundamental aspect."

The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder looks like he's physically ready to play on Saturdays and appears fully recovered from a knee injury he suffered last year. He throws a very catchable ball but can really put some spin on it if required. Even having the opportunity to showcase his quarterback skills alongside the other campers has been quite the experience for Appleby.

"It's awesome, there's no better place than to be here right now," he said. "The talent level is unbelievable. It's the top 24 for a reason and as the days go by and we get near the end, the elite will rise towards the top. Then we'll see who's number one and I have full intentions of being that number one."

Committed to Purdue, Appleby is in constant contact with the Boilermakers staff to keep them updated on his progress at the Elite 11.

"I'm going to be in contact with them and at the end of the day, I kind of update them with what's going on," he said. "It's kind of tough with the time zone, I keep forgetting how late it is over there. But I tell my high school coach as well and we're going to all together get better."

Clearly advanced mentally and physically, the senior to-be is undecided if he'll enroll early and take part in spring football with Purdue next year.

"I don't know at this point," he said. "We're looking into it but I don't know the details at this point."


- Tanner Mangum won the Golden Arm competition for the second day in a row. After proudly sporting the yellow jersey on Tuesday, he will do so again during Wednesday's throwing sessions.

- Utah commit Travis Wilson has the frame to put on a few pounds of muscle but the 6-foot-6 quarterback has all the tools to make it at the next level. His release might be the best part of his game, as the ball comes out quickly and effortlessly.

- One of the surprises of day two was North Carolina commit Patton Robinette. He came in a close second behind Mangum in the Golden Arm competition but was sharp throughout practice. He did a good job hitting the receivers in the right spot and knowing just how much to put on the ball. Robinette also did a good job on throws to the outside and could really drive the ball on out routes.

- After a rough week at The Opening, Oregon verbal Jake Rodrigues has bounced back nicely at the Elite 11. It still seems like he gets a little bit too wide of a base but he was accurate and was able to get good power on just about every one of his throws.

- If there's anyone who could be labeled Mr. Consistent, it would be Bart Houston. He doesn't wow you out of the gate but he's got the perfect mix of arm strength, frame, throwing motion and accuracy to know he'll be a perfect fit at Wisconsin.

Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:47 am
Edited on: July 15, 2011 12:49 am

Speedy wide receiver Bracy heads to Florida State

Posted by Bryan Fischer

There's football speed and there's track speed. Some players have one but not the other. Orlando (Fla.) wide receiver Marvin Bracy has both and he'll be running around Tallahassee in the future after making his commitment to Florida State Thursday afternoon.

"I picked FSU because that was the school I honestly felt comfortable with from the very beginning," Bracy told Warchant.com. "I have a great relationship with the entire staff and I know for both football, track I can make a solid impact."

Bracy chose the school over his other finalists Texas A&M, LSU and Florida.

"FSU has everything. I couldn't ask for a more perfect fit for me," he said. "From the very start FSU offensive line coach Rick Trickett treated me as a person so we developed a strong bond. Every time I was there for a visit I didn't want to leave."

The 5-foot-10, 165-pound Bracy is one of the fastest players in the country and will run track and play football for Florida State. He is the Seminoles 14th commitment and, surprisingly, is their first wide receiver in the upcoming class.
Posted on: July 13, 2011 9:44 am
Edited on: July 13, 2011 9:45 am

7/13 Recruiting Roundup

Posted by Bryan Fischer

- I joined the In The Bleachers podcast to talk about The Opening so be sure to listen in.

- Top 100 quarterback Jameis Winston won't pass up first round money if he's drafted high. 

- The top returning high school passers for this upcoming season from Maxpreps

- There are plenty of factors going into the decision of number one recruit Dorial Green-Beckham.

- A look at the ACC Coastal division's recruiting classes.

 Florida put together two really good recruiting classes this past decade. Wide receiver Jeremy Glinton could commit to their current class.

 Miami has been very aggressive in their recruiting under Al Golden


 Virginia Tech recruiting is doing well after the Hokies added another receiver.

 UCLA added a defensive end from Delaware. 

It's no surprise but Colorado picked up a commitment from another player from Texas. 

 Another new Husky for Washington's recruiting class.
Posted on: July 11, 2011 11:31 am
Edited on: July 11, 2011 3:10 pm

High school teammates pledge to Miami

Posted by Bryan Fischer

There were six Miami commitments at The Opening this past week at the Nike Campus in Oregon. Competing with the best of the best, the group represented the Hurricanes with a variety of hats, shirts and even eye black with the "U" on it.

On top of all of that, they were also Al Golden's recruiters on the road and did a pretty good job if you consider the results: Fellow Opening players and high school teammates James Burgess and Herb Waters both made verbal commitments to Miami upon returning home from the event Sunday.

"I couldn't feel any better," Waters told CaneSport.com. "Today was the best day of my life becoming a family with the rest of the kids and knowing we have a championship to win."

Waters had scholarship offers from Ohio State, Florida State, UCF and others before selecting Miami. His Homestead High teammate Burgess said the pair literally selected the 'Canes over their other offers on the way back from The Opening.

"We decided today at the airport when we landed," Burgess told the site. "We decided on the plane. When we got settled we called coach Golden. We talked to him for 10 minutes. He was out of town, said best of luck and welcome to the U family."

The pair give the Hurricanes 22 commitments for the Class of 2012. Burgess finished last season with 132 tackles and an interception; Waters played multiple positions as a junior, including quarterback, receiver and running back.
Posted on: July 8, 2011 9:55 am
Edited on: July 8, 2011 10:06 am

7/8 Recruiting Roundup

Posted by Bryan Fischer

On to Day 3 of The Opening at the Nike headquarters, be sure to catch the notebooks that have tons of nuggets from the top players in the country. Here's a list of the 7-on-7 teams that will be in action today.

Michigan State is in no rush to fill out its recruiting class just yet.

Notre Dame's options at quarterback this class are starting to dwindle.

Top underclassmen Derrick Henry says Florida is on the top of his list.

Running back Roshard Burney picked up an offer from Purdue.

-- Plenty of top players not in Oregon are at the Southwest Elite 7-on-7 event, including Dorial Green-Beckham.

-- A nice snapshot of how recruiting is going for the ACC Atlantic division.


Maryland added tight end P.J. Gallo to its recruiting class as commit No. 12.

Iowa lands "a house with feet" to its class in Jaleel Johnson.

Arizona State received a commitment from a junior-college offensive lineman.
Posted on: July 5, 2011 9:07 am
Edited on: July 5, 2011 9:13 am

7/5 Recruiting Roundup

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Hope everyone had a great 4th of July. Now back to the recruiting grind with plenty of links:

- The Sporting News has released their list of 125 of the top recruits from the class of 2012 and starts out with Nos. 125-76.

- Depth at offensive tackle is one of the things this year's recruiting class has that last year's didn't.

Defensive back Chaz Elder is down to Georgia, South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

Maryland wide receiver commit Malcolm Culmer is a speedy deep threat for the Terps.

Oklahoma State has lost several commits and that's something Mike Gundy calls 'disappointing.'

Texas and Texas A&M seem to be out front nationally according to some analysts.

  Some updates on Michigan targets Josh Garnett, Aziz Shittu and Jordan Payton. The Wolverines still need some help at defensive tackle.


Defensive back Julian Whigham committed to Syracuse.
Posted on: July 2, 2011 8:22 am

7/2 Recruiting Roundup

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Headed out to the Badger Sports 7-on-7 National Finals to check out some of the top talent in the country. Full report on the blog later tonight. In the mean time, some recruiting links:

 James Franklin is turning Vanderbilt's academics into a big recruiting tool.

 For Georgia commit C.J. Curry, football is a family game.

Former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr talked about the success Brady Hoke is having on the recruiting trail.

 Alton 'Pig' Howard has narrowed his college choices down to six schools, with Tennessee standing out.

Georgia Tech's new indoor facility will provide the school with an edge.


Miami added commit number 10 in linebacker Josh Witt.
Posted on: June 29, 2011 2:03 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2011 2:52 pm

Miami's latest commit defines the term athlete

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Miami's 19th and latest commitment might be the most intriguing verbal pledge the school picks up in the class of 2012. Tallahassee (Fla.) athlete Brandon Holifield makes for an interesting story not because he's a football player but rather because he isn't.

He's a basketball player who averaged 12 points per game last season.

He's an excellent high jumper, clearing the 6-foot-10 mark at the state track and field meet.

He is not, however, a football player. At least not yet.

The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Holifield certainly matches the description of an athlete but he's actually never played football. As in, not a single down of football. Yet, his performance during a few summer camps led to a scholarship offer from Al Golden and shortly thereafter, he was a Hurricane.

"Yeah, I'm surprised a little," Holifield told The Orlando Sentinel. "With my natural size and athleticism, though, it came pretty easy. I was just looking to get more exposure and everything. It surprises me, but I know I'm blessed …and I'm pretty good at it."

For those that have seen him play - in any sport - the fact that Holifield was able to snag a major FBS scholarship offer was no surprise based on his natural abilities.

"I'm only surprised because he's never played football," Holifield's basketball coach, Andy Colville, told The Tallahassee Democrat. "I'm not surprised because of his athletic ability. He's a freak. He runs like a deer. He high-jumps 6-10. He can do anything he sets his mind to do. He's gifted."

With no football film to speak of, all the Miami staff has to rely on are the instincts and ability Holifield has shown this summer at the tight end position. While it's likely he'll pick up more than a few more scholarships to play football, he jumped at the chance to play in Coral Gables once the Miami offer was extended.

"It feels great. I knew once they offered I was going to probably commit. I was just waiting on the offer," he told the Sentinel. "[The wait] paid off… I thought they'd offer me but I didn't think it would be so soon. I thought it would be later in the season, but since I got the offer I decided I should take advantage of the opportunity."

With the recruiting process over and the camp schedule winding down, Holifield will have plenty of time off between now and Godby High's fall camp.

Perhaps he can take the time to learn to get a little more acquainted with the game of football.
Category: NCAAF
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