Alabama Crimson Tide: denver kirkland

SEC All-Freshman team

December, 12, 2013
12/12/13
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Every SEC team has representation on the SEC All-Freshman team, which was released on Thursday.

The team was selected by the league's coaches, and coaches could not vote for players on their own team. Arkansas, Ole Miss and South Carolina led the way with four players each on the squad. Here it is in its entirety:

Offense:
TE:
Hunter Henry, Arkansas
OL: Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss
OL: Andrew Jelks, Vanderbilt
OL: Alex Kozan, Auburn
OL: Denver Kirkland, Arkansas
C: Jon Toth, Kentucky
WR: Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss
WR: Marquez North, Tennessee
QB: Maty Mauk, Missouri
RB: Alex Collins, Arkansas
RB: Kelvin Taylor, Florida
AP: Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina

Defense:
DL:
Chris Jones, Mississippi State
DL: A'Shawn Robinson, Alabama
DL: Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
DL: Darius Philon, Arkansas
LB: Darian Claiborne, Texas A&M
LB: Leonard Floyd, Georgia
LB: Skai Moore, South Carolina
DB: Vernon Hargreaves, Florida
DB: Tony Conner, Ole Miss
DB: Tre'Davious White, LSU
DB: Cameron Sutton, Tennessee

Special teams:
PK:
Elliott Fry, South Carolina
P: Johnny Townsend, Florida
RS: Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina

SEC recruiting mailbag

August, 16, 2013
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It’s time to dip into the SEC recruiting mailbag and answer your questions. Because of the amount of questions we’ve received, we won’t be able to get to all of them today -- but we encourage you to ask again next week by tweeting your questions to @DerekTysonESPN.

@csull31: Can I get a comment on the direction Arkansas is headed with their new coaching staff?

Derek Tyson: Up -- that is the direction the Razorbacks are headed. New head coach Brett Bielema will have his work cut out for him to compete with the big boys from the SEC West, but it appears he is up to the challenge. Last recruiting cycle, in just a few short months on the job, Bielema was able to pull ESPN 300 prospects Denver Kirkland and Alex Collins out of Florida. This year, the Razorbacks already have a top 40 class, including 11 commits who are ranked as three-star prospects or higher. The SEC is a line-of-scrimmage league, and the Razorbacks were able to get one of the top junior college offensive lineman in the country, Jermaine Eluemunor, to switch his pledge from UCLA to Arkansas. It may take a few years for Arkansas to get to where Bielema wants his team to be, but it certainly appears as if the Razorbacks are headed in the right direction.

@QueBarbaro34: Who do you think will have the top 3 recruiting classes in the SEC after NSD?

DT: There are six teams in the top 11 of the team recruiting rankings, so a case could be made for several teams, but if I had to select three teams that would have the top three classes in the SEC, it would be LSU, Alabama and Georgia. Alabama already has the No. 1-ranked class in the country and still has several big targets such as Leonard Fournette, Cameron Robinson, Lorenzo Carter, Marlon Humphrey and Elisha Shaw remaining on its recruiting board. LSU, meanwhile, is in a similar situation. With prospects like Fournette, Robinson, Speedy Noil, Trey Quinn, Malachi Dupre, Gerald Willis III, Clifton Garrett and Laurence Jones left on their board, the Tigers could make a huge run as the recruiting season plays out. Tennessee has a very strong class and is currently ranked as the No. 3 class in the country, but that's including 24 commits. Georgia, on the other hand, has only 16 commits and it is ranked only two spots lower at No. 5. If the Bulldogs can land a few more prospects such as Carter, Raekwon McMillan or Josh Malone, Georgia could certainly find itself in the top three. Florida is another school that could make a big run toward the end. The Gators are limited in scholarships, but with prospects such as David Sharpe, Adoree' Jackson, Jamal Adams and Travis Rudolph left on their board, they could make a big run, too.

@SEC_Logo: How do recruits view all these new football facilities, how big of an impact do you think they play?

DT: In my opinion, facilities do play a role in a recruit's decision. Most of these top high school prospects want to attend a place that will prepare them for the next level. So if a school has top-notch training facilities, it only makes sense that a prospect would be more interested in that school. However, I think facilities are just one of many factors, such as on-the-field performance, proximity to home, chances of early playing time, academics and relationships with coaches, that ultimately determine which school a prospect will attend. If I had to rank the importance of each factor, I would say facilities would be near the bottom of that list.

Just for fun, I asked SEC blogger Edward Aschoff to tell me which schools have the top facilities in the conference. In no particular order and based on what he has seen, Aschoff said Alabama, Tennesee, Florida, Texas A&M, Georgia and LSU have arguably the top facilities among the SEC schools. It's interesting to note that all of those schools he mentioned are in the top 11 of the team recruiting rankings.

@THE_BOOMSTEIN: How do the 3 recruits from this past week set up the #Gators for other South Florida guys? #SEC

DT: By landing ESPN 300 defensive backs Chris Lammons and Quincy Wilson and wide receiver Ermon Lane, the Gators hit the jackpot in South Florida on Monday. Add in top 25 running back Dalvin Cook and ESPN 300 defensive tackle Khairi Clark, and the Gators have done exceptionally well in the area. It certainly can't hurt Florida's chances of landing other South Florida prospects such as wide receivers Travis Rudolph or Johnnie Dixon, but I think more importantly, it will help Florida in the future. The Gators already have a commitment from the No. 1-ranked wide receiver Da'Vante Phillips out of Miami Central and are in the mix for several other top 2015 recruits such as running back Jordan Scarlett, wide receiver Torrance Gibson, tight end Devonaire Clarington, cornerback Tyrek Cole, safety Kendrell McFadden and cornerback Tarvarus McFadden. By developing a pipeline in the talent-rich area, it will certainly help the Gators recruit younger prospects who see their friends leave South Florida and go on and have success in Gainesville.

@rbarguia: Where do Jamal Adams and Tony Brown land?

DT: With Brown, Alabama, Texas, LSU, Florida State and a few other schools are in the mix, but it's hard to ignore the fact that his older sister is headed to LSU to run track. There is still a ways to go in his recruitment, but as of now it looks like the Tigers could be the team to beat. If that is in fact the case, LSU could wind up with a top two or three class when all the pieces fall in to place. As for Adams, Florida, Texas A&M and Texas are all near the top of his list. The Gators might have the slight advantage because his godfather, Joker Phillips, is the receivers coach at Florida.

Recruiting pitches: SEC

May, 10, 2013
5/10/13
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Inspired by Florida's "#ComePlayWRFortheJoker" campaign, our recruiting writers looked at other ways schools can sell themselves on the trail. Here's a look at recruiting pitches for the SEC:

Alabama Crimson Tide
What they are selling:
What's not to sell? Alabama is coming off back-to-back national championships, and the Crimson Tide had nine players taken in April's NFL draft, including three in the first round. For the critics who say you won't play early at UA, ask T.J. Yeldon and Amari Cooper how much they contributed as freshmen.

What they are missing: Although they won a national championship, the Tide didn't generate much pass rush last fall, and they had trouble containing freshman sensation Johnny Manziel. Also, they need to rebuild the offensive line, a unit that anchored the offense last year.

Arkansas Razorbacks
What they are selling:
New head coach Bret Bielema runs a completely different offensive system than the previous two Arkansas coaches. The Razorbacks are selling an opportunity for freshmen to come in and earn playing time early in their careers.

What they are missing: The Razorbacks signed only one offensive lineman, Denver Kirkland, who was rated a four-star prospect or higher last year. In this run-heavy system, look for Arkansas to focus on landing talented players along the offensive line.

Auburn Tigers
What they are selling:
It's a new regime for Auburn, but there's a familiar face running the show. New head coach Gus Malzahn knows the program from his days as offensive coordinator. He's already shown the ability to recruit, stealing ESPN 150 linebacker Tre Williams away from the Tide. There's a sense of excitement on The Plains again.

What they are missing: Malzahn filled out his first recruiting class with playmakers, but Auburn needs to build up front on the offensive and defensive lines. No matter what offense you run, if you want to win in the SEC, you need to be able to compete up in the trenches.

Florida Gators
What they are selling:
With no proven wide receivers on the perimeter, Florida is attempting to sell early playing time at the position. A chance to play for one of the best defensive minds in college football in Will Muschamp is another selling point to defensive prospects.

What they are missing: Production on offense. After finishing 114th nationally in passing offense, it will be hard to sell playing time to wide receivers without an explosive passing game in place.

Georgia Bulldogs
What they are selling:
Freshmen, if they're good enough, play early at Georgia. From running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall to offensive tackle John Theus to defensive end Jordan Jenkins, several freshmen Bulldogs made major contributions on a team that was a few yards away from making the national championship game.

What they are missing: Georgia has brought in four top-12 recruiting classes in the last four years. Depth might become an issue for some recruits, but Georgia has certainly shown a willingness to play younger players.

(Read full post)

NSD TV announcement schedule

January, 31, 2013
1/31/13
3:40
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National signing day is just around the corner on Feb. 6. That day, a number of the nation’s top football recruits will announce their college destinations and 18 ESPN 300 prospects are scheduled to do so on ESPNU.

Below is the full schedule of announcements on ESPNU, which kicks off with the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect, Robert Nkemdiche, making his long-awaited decision at 7:30 a.m. ET.

Note: All times are Eastern

#UAGame practice: Day 4 notebook 

January, 3, 2013
1/03/13
5:47
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video

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- With just a player walk-through Thursday, things were relatively easy in Day 4 of practice at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports. A four-star defensive tackle gave further explanation about his decision to decommit from an SEC school, several players talked about who impressed them the most, and an ESPN 150 safety changed his decision date.

Hackenberg, Olsen earn UA Game starts

January, 3, 2013
1/03/13
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Black Team offense

Quarterback: Christian Hackenberg (Penn State)

Running back: Alvin Kamara

Receiver: Alvin Bailey (Florida), Robert Foster (Alabama), Damore'ea Stringfellow (Washington)

Tight end: O.J. Howard (Alabama)

Offensive tackle: Darius James (Texas), Denver Kirkland

Offensive guard: Grant Hill (Alabama), Joas Aguilar (Texas A&M)

Center: Hunter Bivin (Notre Dame)

Captains: Kelvin Taylor, Hunter Bivin, Robert Nkemdiche, Ben Boulware

Black Team defense

Defensive end: Robert Nkemdiche, Elijah Daniel

Defensive tackle: Greg Gilgmore (LSU), Kennedy Tulimasealii (Hawaii)

Inside linebacker: Ben Boulware (Clemson)

Outside linebacker: Alex Anzalone (Notre Dame), Matthew Thomas

Safety: Keanu Neal (Florida), Leon McQuay III

Cornerback: Vernon Hargreaves III (Florida), Tarean Folston (Notre Dame)

Black Team special teams

Long snapper: Tyler Kluver (Iowa)

Kicker/punter: Sean Covington (UCLA)

(Read full post)

A tale of two Florida RBs named Henry 

November, 30, 2012
11/30/12
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Derrick HenryDerek Tyson/ESPN.comDerrick Henry's run to the history books has enthralled the town of Yulee in much the same way as another running back named Henry generated excitement in Frostproof, Fla., 16 years ago.

In 1996, former NFL running back Travis Henry was chasing a national single-season record at Frostproof (Fla.) and ripping through the first three rounds of the Class 3A playoffs.

There are some parallels between what Travis Henry did 16 years ago and what Derrick Henry (Yulee, Fla./Yulee) is doing in 2012. While physically they are quite different – Travis Henry was 5-foot-9 and close to 200 pounds while Derrick Henry is roughly 6-3, 248 – they both became larger-than-life figures in small, football-crazy communities.

Frostproof is a community of about 3,000 on the southern edge of Polk County in central Florida. It’s the sort of place where high school football brings everyone together and it seems like a star comes through the area once a decade. Alvin Harper played there in the 80s. USC cornerback Nickell Robey did as well from 2005-2008. The Frostproof Bulldogs have won a couple of football state titles through the years and before the turn of the century they were an automatic lock for the state playoffs.

Travis Henry was different, though. He put a national spotlight on Frostproof as he chased this record held by Ken Hall of Sugar Land, Texas. Most of the time he wasn’t comfortable with the attention placed on the record, his recruitment and his personal life. It was a lot for an 18-year-old to handle. However, there was little doubt of where he was comfortable – the football field – and it was there that his pride for representing Frostproof football shined.

Derrick Henry’s hometown of Yulee is a little bigger with a population of over 11,000, but it’s a little less established in football. The Alabama commit has emerged at a major celebrity in the area just north of Jacksonville. Wherever Henry goes it seems like there’s a pack of fans behind him waiting to cheer his next big run or touchdown.

Much like Travis Henry, Derrick Henry seems a little overwhelmed by the attention, but the coverage of high school football and recruitment has changed so much in 16 years that Derrick Henry has been dealing with the media since he was a freshman. While Derrick Henry might not be comfortable with the attention, he has learned to embrace it like Travis Henry never could.

Both players have eye-popping statistics. Travis Henry finished his senior season with 4,089 yards and 42 touchdowns. Henry has 3,944 yards and 51 touchdowns going into Friday’s playoff game against Jacksonville (Fla.) Bolles.

Travis Henry saved his best performances of his senior year for the playoffs. He rushed for 364 yards and a little more than a half in the 3A quarterfinals against Ransom Everglades. In the state semifinals against Pahokee, he needed all 273 yards and five touchdowns to lift Frostproof to a 45-27 victory. In the 3A championship game against Lake Butler (Fla.) Union County, Travis Henry accounted for 328 rushing yards, 65 receiving yards, four touchdowns and three two-point conversions.

But Union County whipped them 67-30.

The game was pretty much out of reach at halftime and by the third quarter Travis Henry’s chase at the national record looked bleak until Union County quarterback Andrew Zow, who led Alabama to an SEC championship and an Orange Bowl victory in 1999, started throwing deep passes in the second half to run up the score. Finally, on Frostproof’s last possession Travis Henry busted off a 60-yard run that gave him the record – something that he said was no consolation for suffering such a large defeat.

Derrick Henry already has a 400-yard game in the 2012 Class 4A playoffs, his third game this season of 400 yards or more. On Friday he’ll need just 146 yards to pass Travis Henry’s season total and the common thinking is he’ll need another 400-yard game for Yulee to hold off the Bolles machine and advance to the state championship game in Orlando.

Travis Henry chose Tennessee over Alabama, and it was announced when the Frostproof principal told the mayor, who told the local papers. Derrick Henry chose Alabama over Tennessee and Georgia on ESPNU’s "College Football Daily." Travis Henry was part of a BCS championship team in 1998. Derrick Henry will be expected to part of at least one BCS championship team while at Alabama. Travis Henry’s NFL career with the Buffalo Bills and Denver Broncos was productive at times but ultimately overshadowed by mistakes in his personal life. One can only hope Derrick Henry doesn’t fall into the same traps.

However, if you stop in Frostproof and mention Travis Henry’s name, the first thought that comes to the locals’ mind is their memories of the 1996 season. What Derrick Henry has done in 2012 appears to have left the same long-lasting impression to the people of Yulee.

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Same three at top for 5-star LB Thomas 

November, 15, 2012
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Don’t talk with five-star linebacker Matthew Thomas (Miami, Fla./Booker T. Washington) too much about recruiting right now.

It’s playoff time and the 6-foot-3, 205-pound senior does not want to think about anything else.

"I really haven’t put much thought in recruiting lately," Thomas said. "I have been to a few games this season but I was just going to check out the games. I’ve been trying to just focus on the team."

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- ESPN 150 linebacker Matthew Thomas (Miami/Booker T. Washington) knows he should be thinking about his recruitment while camping at Florida State on a muggy Thursday morning.

[+] EnlargeMatthew Thomas
Corey Long, ESPN RecruitingNationESPN 150 LB Matthew Thomas (Miami/Booker T. Washington) says last year's state-title-game loss motivates him during camp season.
But the 6-foot-3, 205-pound senior still can't get December out of his mind. Some of his teammates, many of whom took the trip to FSU with him, have moved on and tried to focus on the future.

For Thomas, however, a loss to Jacksonville (Fla.) Bolles in the Class 4A state championship still stings hard. For three quarters, Thomas was clearly the best player on the field -- flying to the football, blocking a punt, forcing two fumbles and recording three tackles for loss. But something happened in the fourth quarter. Booker T. Washington took its foot off the pedal and Bolles capitalized to turn a 25-13 deficit into a 33-25 victory. Thomas is still shocked by what happened.

That's why Thomas, the No. 13 prospect in the nation who said at The Opening his two top schools are Alabama and Florida State, is sweating through Jimbo Fisher Camp in mid-July while many of the nation's other top prospects have shut things down for a few weeks. Thomas doesn't want to take anything for granted. Not on the field, not in recruiting, not in life.

Read the full story here.

2013 OL Denver Kirkland has four offers 

December, 13, 2011
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It was a disappointing Saturday night for Booker T. Washington (Miami, Fla.) junior offensive lineman Denver Kirkland.

After dominating the Class 4A championship game for three quarters, Booker T. Washington struggled in the fourth and gave up 21 points in a stunning 33-25 loss.

“I feel at some points we played good but we didn’t do enough, and we left them with too many opportunities,” Kirkland said. “We’ll try again next year when I’m a senior. I thought we had (it) and everyone might have let up a little.”

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