Alabama Crimson Tide: TCU Horned Frogs

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When it comes to running backs, the state of Texas is loaded. Ten running backs represent the Lone Star State in the ESPN 300. Of those 10, five are committed. A total of seven running backs in the state have reported FBS commitments.

ESPN 300 RBs from the state:

No. 50 Ronald Jones II: Ranked the nation’s No. 3 running back, Jones is an explosive, game-changing back who -- as scary as it might sound -- will only get better. Jones committed to Oklahoma State on April 6 and finished his junior season with more than 2,400 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns.


As expected, Day 2 at the Under Armour All-America practices were smoother, more concise and much more productive. The players are now starting to think less and play more. Natural ability is starting to come to the forefront, which allows for them to be more productive. There have been fewer dropped passes, fewer misses by the QBs and the offensive lines are starting to jell quicker than expected. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this group is there have not been any true letdowns. They have stepped up and been as advertised almost top to bottom for both squads. Let’s hit the highlights of the day:

Top performers

WR Cameron Sims (Monroe, La./Ouachita Parish): Sims might not wow anyone with his 40-yard dash time, but it may not matter. Sims is so similar to Mike Evans at Texas A&M. He just makes plays. He has extremely long arms and is outstanding when in contested matchups. The ball will look like it is uncatchable and then next thing you know he jumps out of nowhere, extends and makes a play and the defender is left scratching his head. When it comes down to it, the QBs for Team Highlight can trust that if they need to throw it up, Sims will make a play. The most basic thing about the position is catching the football and Sims has no problem doing that.


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Video: Outside the hashmarks -- Week 1

August, 28, 2013
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Mark Schlabach looks over the games in Week 1 that will have the biggest impact in the race for the national championship.
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FORT WORTH, Texas -- The nation’s No. 2 safety, ESPN 300 Laurence Jones (Monroe, La./Neville), was in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex on Thursday and Friday, taking in all that TCU had to offer.

When he left, he had a new perspective on a school not named LSU or Alabama. In fact, it was enough to make him think about a third school in regards to his recruiting process.


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MONROE, La. -- Who is Laurence Jones? Most people know him as the top football recruit from Neville High School, ranked No. 23 in the ESPN 300 -- and No. 2 among safeties -- with scholarship offers from elite programs across the country. But those closest to him know him better as 'Hootie,' a nickname he received from his late grandmother when he was just months old.

“When I was younger and I was a baby, my eyes were so big like an owl, like a hoot owl, so they just started calling me 'Hootie,' ” Jones said.

[+] EnlargeLaurence Jones
Greg Ostendorf/ESPNESPN 300 safety 'Hootie' Jones doesn't talk much about his recruitment, but he did say Alabama is one of his favorites.
The nickname stuck. His friends now call him that. His coaches call him that. Even his teachers refer to him at Hootie during school. When Neville head coach Mickey McCarty first met Jones as a 7th grader, he was introduced to him not as Laurence but as Hootie. McCarty didn’t ask questions. He just went with it. Eventually, he too heard the story.

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While many top college prospects are traveling across the country to take unofficial visits, attend camps and find ways to visit schools that they're interested in, ESPN 150 offensive guard Braden Smith (Olathe, Kan./Olathe South) is taking a different approach, according to his head coach.

The 6-foot-6, 285-pound prospect, who is No. 118 in the ESPN 150, is focusing on offseason workouts and not recruiting currently.


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LONGVIEW, Texas -- Zaycoven Henderson has been committed to TCU for more than three months, but he’s still curious to know what other opportunities are out there.

That’s why the Longview (Texas) defensive tackle pledge already is turning his attention to his fall official visits.


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The Big 12-SEC dream games

May, 17, 2013
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The SEC and Big 12 announced an annual challenge on the basketball court, but colleague Edward Aschoff wondered what it would look like if that challenge extended to the football field.

There are already two games on the schedule this season -- between TCU and LSU, and Oklahoma State and Mississippi State. What else would I like to see?

Let me start by saying that renewing the Texas-Texas A&M and Missouri-Kansas rivalries are a given. I'm omitting those matchups, but I'd love to see them.

Let's get started:

Oklahoma State vs. Alabama: OSU narrowly missed out on playing for the national title back in 2011, and both are among their conference favorites again in 2013. When the BCS "snubbed" the Pokes after the 2011 regular season, OSU coach Mike Gundy half-jokingly suggested these two play for the right to play LSU in the title game. It would be fun to see this one finally played out on the field.

Baylor vs. LSU: Straight up offense vs. defense. That's the Big 12 vs. SEC debate at its heart. Baylor just might be the Big 12's best offense, and LSU will put together another strong defense. These are the matchups we want to see. The Big 12 has faltered on the big stage, helping the SEC stretch its run of national titles, but seeing Bryce Petty sling it around against an athletic defense would be a lot of fun.

Texas vs. Arkansas: Arkansas' exit from the Southwest Conference helped usher in the birth of the Big 12 after the SWC crumbled. Texas has bigger rivals like Oklahoma and Texas A&M, but these two played some of the greatest games in college football history, and as an Arkansas native, I've seen up close how much Razorbacks fans detest the Longhorns to this day. The result would be a great game and a hyped atmosphere.

TCU vs. Texas A&M: Texas A&M fans take exception to the idea that TCU was an on-field "upgrade" over the Aggies in the Big 12. The Aggies largely struggled in the Big 12 after some early success and a Big 12 title under R.C. Slocum. Since leaving for the SEC, the Aggies have gone nowhere but up, and ended 2012 as the hottest team in college football. Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel has a Heisman Trophy. Could he shred the Frogs? Want to prove TCU is not an upgrade? Beat TCU on the field.

Kansas State vs. Florida: Kansas State is perpetually underrated and wins with a bunch of junior college guys, and high school players overlooked by major programs. Florida won big under Urban Meyer, but has been largely overrated since Meyer left and was whacked by Louisville to end 2012. The Gators would be suiting up an army of recruiting stars, but could Bill Snyder, the Manhattan Magician, grab a win for the Big 12?
Oklahoma vs. Georgia: Mark Richt and Bob Stoops have one big thing in common: Neither fan base truly appreciates what their coach has accomplished. Consider this an opportunity for both to quiet the hot-seat talk. It's been a lot more intense for Richt, who endured a 6-7 season back in 2010, but he's won the SEC East in each of the past two seasons. Stoops has averaged just over 10 wins a season at Oklahoma, and Richt has averaged just under 10 wins. Call this the "Underappreciated Bowl."

Gladewater (Texas) High School defensive tackle Daylon Mack felt confident in where his recruitment was headed.

Having picked up offers from the two most well-known programs in his home state, visiting both campuses and dissecting it all, he felt certain that he was ready to make a commitment to one of them.

Then Alabama extended the 2015 prospect a scholarship offer and Mack took a step back. Now, the 6-foot-2, 307-pound prospect intends to take his time when it comes to decision-making in the recruiting process.

"It really came out of nowhere," Mack said about getting his offer from the Crimson Tide. "Getting an offer from them, it showed me that I really need to go ahead and slow things down and take my time with it all."

Mack seemed all but certain to end up committing to Texas A&M sooner rather than later. He recently told GigEmNation that he was likely going to "shut it down" after a trip to SMU to check out the Mustangs, which was originally scheduled for Saturday.

His offer list currently includes Oklahoma, SMU, TCU, Texas and Texas Tech in addition to A&M and Alabama. Before the reigning BCS champions swooped in on Friday, Mack had it narrowed to Texas and Texas A&M with the Aggies pulling ahead after his visit to College Station, Texas for the Maroon-and-White spring game.

Now his timeline has changed.

"To be honest, before that offer I probably would have committed [to Texas A&M] this weekend," Mack said. "After having that [Alabama offer], I think I'm going to slow it down. I probably won't even think about committing. I think I'm going to enjoy this ride."


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HOUSTON, Texas -- After a busy track and field season, ESPN Watch List linebacker Zach Whitley Jr. is turning his attention back to football.

The 2014 prospect's time on the track for this season is complete and on Tuesday at Houston North Shore, the soon-to-be-senior was out at Galena Park ISD Stadium, barking out calls to his defensive teammates during 7-on-7 sessions as he and the Mustangs prepare for the 2013 season.


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IRVING, Texas -- Oklahoma is waiting on a decision from top quarterback target Justice Hansen. So is Foster Sawyer.


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The Twitter account for Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/Martin) tells half truth.

Garrett’s bio reads, “The big silly guy who plays football? Yea thats me,” and those who know Garrett know he enjoys to laugh and joke around. What the Twitter page doesn’t tell is just how athletically gifted the ESPN Watch List defensive end is. In fact, in addition to being the silly guy, friends have a nickname for him that seems to fit.

Myles Garrett
Max Olson/ESPN.comDefensive end Myles Garrett says he has no favorites right now, but he is visiting Texas A&M soon.
“They call me Superman,” Garrett said. “I guess it’s cool. It makes me laugh.”

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Nobody is pressuring ESPN Watch List running back Samaje Perine (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson) to make a decision, but Perine might be close to making one.


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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- ESPN Watch List running back Samaje Perine (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson) grew up in Alabama as a fan of the Crimson Tide, so it came as no surprise that he was elated to receive a big scholarship offer.


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Big 12 school leads for 2014 RB 

February, 20, 2013
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PFLUGERVILLE, Texas -- Adrian Peterson suffered a torn ACL and MCL in December 2011. So did Samaje Perine.

One of them went on to win the NFL's MVP award and nearly broke the all-time rushing record. The other? Well, he had a pretty good comeback year, too: 2,017 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.


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Notable Movers In ESPN 300 Update
National recruiting director Tom Luginbill explains why three ESPN 300 prospects saw their rankings rise in the most recent update.
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