Alabama Crimson Tide: Clemson Tigers

IMG Southeast Regional notebook 

March, 31, 2014
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BRADENTON, Fla. -- South Florida has always been known for producing top talent and elite seven-on-seven teams but it was two teams from Jacksonville (Fla.) that battled in the finals of the IMG 7v7 Southeast Regional Championships on Sunday.

The Pro Impact team, led by LSU commit and the No. 3-ranked player in the ESPN Junior 300 Kevin Toliver II and defensive back Derwin James Jr., a Florida State commit, upset River City, which featured FSU quarterback commit De’Andre Johnson and South Carolina commit Sherrod Pittman, 23-14.


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ATLANTA -- Jawon Pass was sitting at a stoplight recently when he looked to his left and saw a Georgia Bulldogs bumper sticker. Then he turned to his right and saw a South Carolina Gamecocks logo staring at him from a window of another car. Then directly in front of him were vehicles with Tennessee Volunteers and Clemson Tigers license plate frames.

Pass, a highly regarded 2016 quarterback from Columbus (Ga.) Carver, has lived in 10 different cities while growing up, but when he arrived in Georgia six years ago, he immediately noticed things were different.

“There are fans from everywhere here,” said Pass, who already has scholarship offers from Clemson, Florida, Mississippi State, North Carolina, NC State, Notre Dame and Texas A&M. “Georgia is the heart of college football. Georgia fans are all over. But you’re also going to see a lot of Clemson, Auburn, Alabama fans and everybody else. It’s like nowhere else I’ve lived before. Georgia is the melting pot of college football, if you ask me.”


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Atlanta NFTC awards 

March, 24, 2014
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The NFTC tour continued to roll on with a stop in Atlanta this past weekend. The event featured a very strong roster of talent, including a pair of top-five prospects in the ESPN Junior 300. No group was lean on talent, with plenty of promising 2015 and even 2016 prospects to evaluate. It's tough to name everyone who competed and did well. Below are some of the event's top and most notable performers in the latest addition of the Recruiting Nation NFTC Awards.


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Atlanta NFTC notebook 

March, 23, 2014
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ROSWELL, Ga. -- The Atlanta Nike Football Training Camp is generally one of the most impressive groups of high school football players you will find in the country. This year’s camp didn’t disappoint. Eight invites were handed out to The Opening, a prestigious invite-only camp held in Beaverton, Ore., in July.


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1. The NCAA Football Rules Committee tabled the 10-second rule, and Alabama coach Nick Saban says the pace of play needs a closer look, which means we are in the exact same place as we were before the committee ready-fire-aimed its way toward passing the 10-second rule three weeks ago. That is, save for everyone on both sides being a lot more riled up. Until the data shows this is a player-safety issue, it’s a style-of-play issue. Those rules are tougher to pass, if only because trends in the game develop slowly.

2. In a discussion on the ESPNU Football Podcast on Wednesday, my colleague Matt Fortuna made an interesting point in favor of the idea that Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has established himself as a success in South Bend despite having had only one BCS-bowl season. Three of Kelly’s coordinators have been hired as head coaches: Charley Molnar (UMass), Chuck Martin (Miami of Ohio) and Bob Diaco (UConn). Here’s another point in Kelly’s favor: he is in year five in South Bend without questions surrounding his job security. Since Dan Devine retired in 1980, only Lou Holtz has passed the five-year threshold.

3. Has it occurred to anyone else that this is the golden age of college football in the state of South Carolina? The Gamecocks have finished 11-2 and in the top 10 in the last three seasons; Clemson has done both in the last two seasons. This from the flagship programs of a state best known in recent years for exporting its talent to national powers such as Florida State and Penn State. What Steve Spurrier and Dabo Swinney have achieved gets lost because they have one conference title between them in their present jobs. But the state of South Carolina stands behind only Alabama in recent success.

Early Offer: 2015 begins now 

February, 7, 2014
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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: The ink was barely dry on the letters of intent for 2014 class when one of the best for the 2015 class came off the board; and what schools and recruiters have jumped out of the gate with success with players that won’t sign for another 360-plus days.


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One of the fastest-rising juniors in the Southeast is ESPN Junior 300 outside linebacker Roquan Smith (Montezuma, Ga./Macon County).

The 6-foot-2, 204-pound 2015 Under Armour All-America Game selection has brought coaches from several big-time programs in the region to small town Montezuma in the last couple weeks, including Auburn's Gus Malzahn and Ole Miss' Hugh Freeze.


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Top 2015 CB taking things slow 

January, 22, 2014
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HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- If there was any doubt about the potential of junior cornerback Tarvarus McFadden (Plantation, Fla./America Heritage High), that can be put to rest.


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ESPN's Ivan Maisel, SEC blogger Chris Low and ACC blogger Heather Dinich look back at Oklahoma's stunning upset of Alabama in the Allstate Sugar Bowl and preview the Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl and the big matchup between Florida State and Auburn in the VIZIO BCS Championship.

You can listen here.
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s Early Offering is coming to you from the Under Armour Combine in St. Petersburg, Fla. Here’s a look at who stood out among the 150-plus competitors.

Campbell steals the show
George Campbell (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) showed why he is ranked as the No. 2 player in the ESPN Junior 300. The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Campbell tested off the charts with a 4.36-second time in the 40-yard dash and a 4.06 shuttle. He then backed it up with a strong performance in the one-on-one and seven-on-seven portion of the combine. Defensive backs lined up to face him and, in most cases, he burned them with either his speed or his ability to go up get the ball at its highest point. “I felt good about what I did today,” Campbell said. “I wanted to test myself against the best-of-the-best.” Consider the test passed. On the recruiting front, Campbell recently backed away from his commitment to Michigan and said at Wednesday’s registration he’s slowing down the process.

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Trio regroups after McMillan decision 

December, 16, 2013
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Where will they turn now?

Five-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County) is the top-ranked inside linebacker in the country and was a key target for all four of his final schools -- Alabama, Auburn, Clemson and Ohio State. The Buckeyes were able to secure a commitment from the No. 12-ranked player in the country on Monday, leaving the other three schools searching for a viable replacement.

Here’s a closer look at where each school stands and where it will go next:

Alabama


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Early Offer: Malone’s big day 

December, 4, 2013
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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Josh Malone, one of the nation’s best receivers, will announce his decision today, so will he be singing Rocky Top, calling the Dawgs or heading to Clemson? In-home visits are taking place all over the country and social media is providing us with an inside look at life on the trail; and we’re less than a week away from finding out where the top player in Pennsylvania will end up.

Will Rocky Top be home sweet home?
Four-star receiver Josh Malone, the nation’s No. 48 player out of Gallatin (Tenn.) Station Camp, has already signed financial aid agreements with Tennessee, Georgia, Clemson and Florida State, but he will announce his decision at noon ET Wednesday on NBC Sports Network. The RecruitingNation Hot Board has Malone projected to select Tennessee. The Volunteers were smart and were the first to use the signing of the financial aid paperwork as a tool in the recruiting process. Because he was technically “signed” UT coaches were able to have regular contact with him. Shortly after, the three other schools followed suit.

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UA Game jersey tour: Raekwon McMillan

November, 16, 2013
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Five-star inside linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County) was presented his honorary game jersey Friday at his school during the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the 2014 Under Armour All-America High School Football Game. The event was part of a three-month selection tour.

Raekwon McMillan
Courtesy of IntersportRaekwon McMillan is ranked No. 12 in the ESPN 300.
McMillan, who has made official visits to Georgia, Ohio State and Alabama, is one of 90 players selected to compete in the seventh annual Under Armour All-America Game, a nationally televised game featuring the country’s top high school seniors. The 2014 game is set for 4 p.m. ET Jan. 2 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and will be televised on ESPN.

“I just want to say thank you to everybody who came out today,” McMillan said. “Thank you to my mom, my parents, my coaching staff, the staff at this school, every one of my classmates, everyone at Liberty County high school for supporting me; and I would also like to thank God.”

Liberty County coach Kirk Warner says his star linebacker is a great player and a great person.

“I just can’t say enough about what it’s meant to me to coach this young man. Whoever gets him on that dotted line is going to not only get a great football player, but a great person.”

On Jan. 2, McMillan says he will be living out a dream he has had since junior high.

“Ever since I was a freshman, even in middle school, I’ve dreamed about playing in the Under Armour All-America Game. I was offered by both [major all-star games], but it was hands down that I was going to take the Under Armour All-America Game. I am looking forward to competing against some of the best guys in the nation that I've been going to camps with over the last three or four years, and being coached by some of the best coaches in America. It's a great honor to be invited to the Under Armour All-America Game. Some of the best football players in the nation played in the Under Armour All-America Game, and it's just a blessing and an honor to be able to play in it, too."

The 6-foot-2, 242-pound McMillan is the No. 12 prospect in the ESPN 300 and the No. 1 inside linebacker in the class. He is considering Ohio State, Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Florida.

20 Questions: Raekwon McMillan 

November, 12, 2013
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One of the top uncommitted prospects in the Class of 2014 is No. 12 overall Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County High). The five-star inside linebacker is considering five schools with official visits to Georgia, Ohio State and Alabama already in the books and Clemson and Florida scheduled for the last two weekends in November.

With a mid-December decision a strong possibility, the Under Armour All-American sat down to talk about his recruitment from start to finish.

20. Is there a coach or school you aren’t considering that really impressed you during the process?

You know, Auburn. Coach [Gus] Malzahn and Coach Ellis Johnson, Auburn has a great staff. I visited them one time with some of my teammates, but it wasn’t the school for me. They are an awesome staff. When my teammates went with me for the visit, they showed my teammates as much love as me, and I liked that.

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3-point stance: Why Clemson is No. 3

September, 20, 2013
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1. Good teams are good in all three phases of the game. That’s not breaking news, but we saw what it means at North Carolina State on Thursday night. The Wolfpack got to Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd early and the pressure disrupted his rhythm. He didn’t find it until late in the third quarter. But the Tigers’ defense and special teams kept the Wolfpack in check. Once Boyd found his game, Clemson easily pulled away to a 26-14 victory. The Tigers look like No. 3.

2. The Texas regent who called Jimmy Sexton about Alabama head coach Nick Saban reminds me of the Sports Illustrated expose on Oklahoma State. That’s probably not the only phone call that Sexton received that week about a client of his from another school. What has that got to do with Oklahoma State? Both cases are an inside look at how business gets done. Saban said on his radio show last night that he’s “too damn old to start over.” He and Terri are happy in Alabama, and they have learned the hard way how important that is.

3. Three weeks into the season, 22 FBS schools have scored on every trip into the red zone, but only four of them have scored touchdowns on every trip: Oklahoma State, Texas State, Georgia State and Hawaii. Oklahoma State has the most trips, with 15, and winless Hawaii the least -- just one. A special shout out to Dennis Franchione’s Bobcats, who also lead the FBS in red zone defense, allowing only one touchdown and one field goal in seven trips. Texas State plays at No. 25 Texas Tech on Saturday night.

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