Alabama Crimson Tide: UCLA Bruins

The state of Georgia is loaded in both the 2015 and 2016 classes.

In the 2015 class, the linebacker position is one of strength, as a number of rangy, athletic prospects -- highlighted by ESPN 300 prospects Adonis Thomas and Roquan Smith -- are available.

Five schools made the final cut on Thursday night for Thomas, one of the nation's top prospects.

The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Many observers of football in Texas agree the SEC’s impact on the recruiting trail in the Lone Star State is going to only grow in the future. However, not every SEC team is making a beeline to Dallas, Houston and East Texas to recruit. Plus, both USC and UCLA did their best to impress one of the nation’s top corners recently.


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REDONDO BEACH, Calif. -- Thirty athletes from the West region in the ESPN Junior 300 met at Redondo Union (Calif.) High School on Sunday morning for the first Nike Football Training Camp of the spring. With hundreds of recruits in attendance, it wasn't surprising that many of the top prospects coming into the event stood out.


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Top position classes: LB 

February, 17, 2014
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With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes. For the full series, click here.

Nationally (and SEC)
The Alabama Crimson Tide’s 2014 class fill just about every need on the board, and that includes linebacker. With designs on addressing pass rushing and the ability to play in space on the edge at outside 'backer in Nick Saban’s 3-4 scheme, Alabama signed the Nos. 1 and No. 2 outside linebackers in the country in No. 48 overall Christian Miller (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley) and No. 52 overall Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn), who is pound for pound of the best pure athletes in the 2014 cycle. The Crimson Tide added two more talented linebackers in ESPN 300’s No. 102 Shaun Dion Hamilton (Montgomery, Ala./Carver) and No. 281 Keith Holcombe (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Hillcrest). Hamilton is an MLB.

The Crimson Tide had the nation’s best linebacker class; here’s which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:


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Early Offer: Signing day is here 

February, 5, 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 Class of 2014 will go down as one of the wildest recruiting rides in recent memory. With so many players switching commitments and some elite prospects still left on the board, here are five things to keep an eye on heading into recruiting’s biggest day.

Does Bama have the best class ever?


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Early Offer: A winning attitude 

January, 31, 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: Coaches say things like size and speed are important when determining whether or not they will pursue a recruit, but one ACC head coach has something else that’s vital in his team’s evaluation process; Les Miles and Nick Saban were in the home of the nation’s No. 1 receiver prospect on Thursday.

Overlooked part of evaluation


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Recruit breakdown: Marlon Humphrey 

January, 28, 2014
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This is part of a series on the nation's top uncommitted recruits leading up to signing day. Click here for the full series.


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Early Offer: Trojans get their QB 

January, 27, 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: Steve Sarkisian and USC landed a major building block for their future this past weekend when a blue-chip 2015 quarterback committed; a longtime Texas commit flipped to rival Texas A&M on Sunday; and a five-star cornerback said he will narrow his list to four schools early this week.


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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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EVANS, Ga. -- At the beginning of the high school season last fall, Class of 2015 safety Rashad Roundtree (Evans, Ga./Lakeside) was regarded as a future Division-I football player by those close to the Lakeside program.


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Early Offer: Big weekend for USC 

January, 24, 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: If USC is going to close strong, landing some of this weekend’s 11 official visitors are key; even though neither are going to land him, Alabama and Oregon earned high praise for their recruiting efforts with offensive lineman Braden Smith’s coach; and Lorenzo Carter has become priority No. 1 for several of the Southeast's top teams.

11 recruits set to visit USC


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This is part of a series on the nation's top uncommitted recruits leading up to signing day. Click here for the full series.

The term “two-sport star” is thrown around a lot in recruiting.

There are many prospects that have the desire to play football and run track or play basketball in college, but few actually possess the talent to play two sports at a collegiate level and handle the demands it takes.

[+] EnlargeMalachi Dupre
Courtesy of IntersportESPN 300 receiver Malachi Dupre has planned upcoming official visits to Florida State and UCLA.
One of those rare talents is the nation’s No. 1 wide receiver, Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian).

Not only does the No. 17 prospect have elite ball skills and leaping ability on the football field, but that skill set carries over to track and field, as well.

The 6-foot-3, 187-pound Dupre burst onto the scene as a sophomore taking home the LHSAA state indoor high jump title with a leap of 6-7.25, breaking the 2A state record.

“His 10th-grade year, Malachi had a basketball game on a Friday night,” Dupre’s father, Mike, said. “Then, he had to go high jump the next day at the indoor state meet in Baton Rouge. He went home after the basketball game and iced his legs. He got up early the next morning and we went to Baton Rouge and he won the high jump, and set a state record.”

Dupre followed that with another 2A state title in the triple jump (45-6.25) that spring, and three gold medals in the spring of his junior year on the track.

Last May, he took home state titles in the long jump (23-5.76), high jump (6-6) and triple jump (44-2.75).

If Dupre focused on the jumps, there is little doubt he has the ability to develop and compete at the major college level.

But Dupre is different. He's narrowing his focus to football at the next level.

A Shift To Football

For Dupre, it was his freshman year when the gravitation to football began in full.

“I did football, basketball and track, and I liked baseball too growing up,” Dupre said. “I liked football and basketball the most as I got older ... It was probably sophomore year when I realized football was the best fit for me. I have point-guard height in basketball, and realized my athletic ability would be best in football ... but I didn’t realize I would turn out this good.”

As a former college athlete at Southwest Louisiana, Mike Dupre knew football was his son's future.

“I always said football was the one,” Mike said. “Basketball is tough because you only have 12 or 13 players, and in football you have 85. You could always see his athleticism in basketball, but he didn’t have the height to play forward or the handles to play point guard. His athleticism and size carried over to the football field.”

Making The Decision

Dupre has gone from a relative unknown as an underclassman to the top of the rankings at his position.

It’s even more impressive considering his high school, John Curtis Christian, is primarily a running team in a day and age when high school receivers are putting up monster statistics in spread offenses.

The sure-handed wide receiver, who runs a 4.58-laser-timed 40-yard dash, takes another route when looking at his rise.

Though his stat sheet pales in comparison to others, he understands the program he been a part of has helped shape him.

“The offseason preparation and mental toughness that we have to go through at Curtis definitely helps prepare me,” Dupre said. “College coaches, when they come through and talk to me, say Curtis practices are the closest thing to a college-level practice they have seen. ... I knew the talent I had, and it’s more than stats and catches.”

Dupre has also seen, as teammates got recruiting, just how to deal with the pressure-packed process.

“Seeing how their process went, and how they handled it has helped me," he said. “Friends that have done this before and friends that are already in college that I can trust in is the probably the best advice you can get. Somebody that has gone through it recently, and can tell me what to look at and look forward too is big.”

While LSU, Alabama, Florida State and UCLA are still in the running for Dupre’s services, there is pressure to stay in state.

And while Dupre has received advice from family and former teammates, the final decision will be his alone.

“Wherever Malachi goes, he will face adversity,” Mike Dupre said. “It’s very important for him to make that decision of where he wants to be, so when that adversity hits, he doesn’t want to immediately transfer or have a sense of negativity. If it’s the place he truly wants to be, then that will help him respond to the adversity that he will face.”

The words of wisdom from his parents will be a big part of Dupre being comfortable with his decision, which will be announced live on ESPNU during on national signing day on Feb. 5.

“When I sit down to make that decision, it will be my mom, dad and my brothers, Vernon and Matthew. It will come down to where I’m the most comfortable,” Dupre said.

Recruit breakdown: WR Malachi Dupre 

January, 21, 2014
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This is part of a series on the nation's top uncommitted recruits leading up to signing day. Click here for the full series.


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ESPN 300 LB Evans down to three

January, 13, 2014
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One of the top performers at the Under Armour All-America Game and practices was ESPN 300 outside linebacker prospect Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn). The No. 84-ranked prospect overall in the Class of 2014 has had a top three of UCLA, Auburn and Alabama in recent weeks, but that hasn’t kept Georgia and Ole Miss from still scrapping to get an official visit.

On Monday afternoon, the 6-foot-3, 217-pound ultra-athletic Evans left no doubt he was down to three when asked if he was officially visiting Alabama on Jan. 17, Auburn Jan. 24 and possibly Georgia Jan. 31.

“Georgia will not be on the 31st,” Evans said via text. “I kicked them out. And no Ole Miss either.

“It’s just Auburn, UCLA and Bama left,” he added.

Georgia's chances certainly took a hit with the departure of defensive coordinator Todd Grantham to Louisville, even though the Bulldogs were thought to be on the outside looking in already after being on top of Evans’ list early in the season.

“Yeah, I would say that hurt them,” Evans said.

Evans is currently the No. 3-ranked outside linebacker in the class but is poised for a jump in the final 2014 ESPN 300 that will be released on Tuesday. He totaled more than 70 tackles as a senior, along with more than 40 tackles for loss and 18 sacks.

Alabama continues to have the nation's top-ranked recruiting class, while Auburn currently checks in at No. 10 and UCLA sits at No. 33.

John Smith makes a name for himself 

January, 9, 2014
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As an assistant coach and head coach at Long Beach (Calif.) Poly, Raul Lara has seen more than his share of talented football players. Willie McGinest, DeSean Jackson, Marcedes Lewis, Winston Justice, Jurrell Casey, Manuel Wright, Darnell Bing, Samie Parker, Kareem Kelly and Derrick Jones have all passed through the halls as Jackrabbits during Lara's tenure.

It's probably fitting that in Lara's final season as head coach of the Jackrabbits, he was able to go out with a player who has the potential to turn into the best that Poly has ever produced.

John Smith's game is as diverse and electric as his name isn't. Though, that was taken care of rather quickly, as Smith became JuJu at an early age -- a nickname bestowed upon him by his aunt after John John refused to take.

Now, Smith has accomplished enough at the high school level that JuJu has made its way into the lexicon of virtually every football fan in Southern California. And now college football fans are hoping that JuJu finds his way onto their school's roster this fall. The 6-foot-1, 206-pound athlete is the nation's No. 38 prospect overall and its No. 3 prospect in the athlete category, holding offers from Alabama, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, UCLA, USC and just about every school in between.


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