Florida Gators: Virginia Cavaliers

CLIFTON, Va. -- Five-star defensive tackle Tim Settle, No. 10 in the ESPN 300, will not be making an early commitment, that much has been known from the start. What is also known about Settle is that he intends to go through the entire process and take all five of his official visits.

What wasn’t known is that Settle has started to think about what schools will make the cut.

“I’m going to trim it down in August to 14,” said Settle, who earned an invitation to The Opening Saturday after a stellar performance at the Nike Football Training Camp at Centreville High School in Clifton, Va. “The reason I’m going to trim it down in August is two-a-days and getting ready for the season. I don’t want a lot of pressure on me. I just want to play and have fun my senior season.

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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Florida State already has one of the best 2015 classes in the nation, but after a key prospect says he's ready to commit, it's about to get even better. South Carolina quarterback prospect Kelly Bryant continues to be a hot target with recruiters this spring, but Bryant says only five schools are on the top of his list.


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Army Bowl notebook: Dec. 31 

December, 31, 2013
12/31/13
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SAN ANTONIO -- The second day of practice for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl -- on the last day of 2013 -- has come to a conclusion. Here is Tuesday’s notebook featuring some of the nation’s elite athletes:

LB Williams: Law and order equals '98 percent'


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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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Manziel or Winston? Prospects weigh in

December, 29, 2013
12/29/13
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- There are many topics of conversation among prospects playing in the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game. One of them centers around the past two Heisman Trophy winners.

On Saturday, upon checking in for the prestigious game, a number of prospects weighed in on a hot topic involving Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and Florida State's Jameis Winston.

If they had to choose between the two, who would the players take as their college quarterback? Here are their responses:

[+] EnlargeMarlon Humphrey
Courtesy of IntersportNo. 9 overall prospect Marlon Humphrey likes how Johnny Manziel makes others around him better.
Five-star cornerback Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Al./Hoover High): Ah man, I think I’m going to have to go with Johnny Manziel. I just feel like he kind of made a team out of nothing. Jameis Winston is a great quarterback too, but he doesn’t have the scrambling skills that Manziel has. This year, you could tell that his teams defense wasn’t that good, the players around him weren’t as good, but he kept making his team better. He’s has the fight in him I would want on my team.

Florida commit and No. 20-ranked Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central High): I would say Jameis Winston. He’s really a pure quarterback, and I think he sets up things more for a running back than Johnny Manziel does.

Auburn running back commit Racean Thomas (Oxford, Al./Oxford High): I would probably pick Jameis Winston. The reason behind that is because he is more of a leader for a young quarterback, and I think he can make his team a more mature team. I really think he would be a great quarterback to play with.

Florida wide receiver commit and No. 28 Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead Senior High): Whew, I don’t know. I think Jameis Winston. I look at how both of them played as a freshman, and I like how Jameis Winston leads his team. He is also more pro-ready than Manziel.

Texas defensive end commit and No. 78-overall Derick Roberson (San Antonio, Texas/William J. Brennan High): I guess I would say Johnny Manziel. I like how he plays with his swagger and confidence the most, so I would probably say him.

Notre Dame commit and No. 76-ranked Tyler Luatua (la Mirada, Calif./La Mirada High): I would take Manziel just because of the way he plays. If he doesn’t have a wide receiver open, he can make plays himself. He can get the ball to his players if and when he wants to, but can also do it on his own when he needs to.

No. 38 overall John Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Polytechnic High School): That’s a hard one. As of right now, I would go with Jameis Winston. Overall, he’s a great player. I think Winston has an awesome football IQ. Johnny had his year too, but I think Winston is just a great player. Outstanding.

Dylan Sumner-Gardner: Jameis Winston, man. I feel comfortable with Jameis Winston as my quarterback because he’s smart and accurate. Johnny is accurate too, but Johnny is Johnny. How he runs around, people may get nervous. I would just feel more comfortable with Jameis as my quarterback.

No. 22 overall Laurence Jones (Monroe, La./Neville High): That’s a hard one right there. Let me think ... maybe Johnny Manziel because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a white boy get down like that. It would have to be Johnny Manziel.

Penn State wide receiver commit Chris Godwin (Middletown, De./Middletown High): I think Jameis Winston. I think overall he’s a better passer. I want a quarterback back there that can get me the ball on a consistent basis, but Johnny Manziel is a great player, too. I’m actually a big fan of both of them.

Five-star and Virginia defensive tackle commit Andrew Brown (Chesapeake, VA
Oscar Frommel Smith High)
: Dang, that’s a good question, man. I would go with Jameis Winston. His leadership qualities, coming in as a freshman and doing the things he is doing is definitely uncommon. It just foreshadows what he is going to do in the future, too. He’s already established a great foundation for himself, and I would definitely take him in the future.

Maryland commit Will Ulmer (Washington, D.C./Saint John’s High): I’m going with Johnny Manziel. I think he’s more dynamic, and more of a game-changer. Jameis Winston is a great quarterback too, but you have to think about all the dudes he has around him at FSU -- all the great receivers and good running backs. I would go with Manziel because if you put him on the Florida State team, or a stacked team like that, it would be a scary sight.

Carolinas event loaded with top prospects 

December, 16, 2013
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- The Carolinas consistently have proved to be one of the top areas in the nation to find gridiron talent. These two states in recent years have produced players like current Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green, South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney, the No. 1 overall player in the 2011 class, and Georgia RB Todd Gurley. For the 2014 class, 22 players from these two states are represented in the ESPN 300, and several of them are taking part in the annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas here this week.


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ACC predictions: Week 2

September, 5, 2013
9/05/13
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Not a bad start to the season for the ACC or us bloggers. Heather Dinich and I each went 11-1 with our picks. Hopefully another strong week awaits.

FRIDAY

Wake Forest (1-0) at Boston College (1-0), 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2. The Eagles opened as an early favorite, which is somewhat surprising considering the Deacons have the better team. Both squads had some ups and downs in their openers against FCS competition last week, but from my seat, the Wake defense looked much better than BC's. The Deacs produced six turnovers, including an interception return for a touchdown. That is why I give Wake the advantage in this game.

AA picks: Wake Forest 20, Boston College 17

HD picks: Wake Forest 24, Boston College 20

SATURDAY

No. 12 Florida (1-0) at Miami (1-0), noon, ESPN. The Hurricanes have an excellent opportunity to make a statement against their former archrivals in the final scheduled regular-season meeting between the programs. Miami has the best offensive player on the field in Duke Johnson, but he will be playing against a formidable defense -- perhaps the best he will see all season. I do not think Miami can physically match up on the offensive and defensive lines and will get worn down as the game goes on. Florida might not have as many explosive players on offense, but its defense will rise to the occasion.

AA picks: Florida 23, Miami 17

HD picks: Florida 31, Miami 24

Middle Tennessee (1-0) at North Carolina (0-1), 12:30 p.m., ESPN3. The Tar Heels had a disappointing performance in a loss to South Carolina, especially from their defense. UNC's defensive front got no pressure on the quarterback and could not stop the run. The secondary got beat on several long passes downfield. Middle Tennessee upset Georgia Tech last season, but I don't see a similar outcome in this one. North Carolina will get a much better game out of Bryn Renner and its defense.

AA picks: North Carolina 44, Middle Tennessee 20

HD picks: North Carolina 42, Middle Tennessee 21

South Carolina State (0-1) at No. 4 Clemson (1-0), 12:30 p.m., ESPN3. The Tigers have to guard against the letdown factor after such an emotional win over Georgia last week. They now have their highest ranking since 1988, and the nation will be expecting a blowout against an FCS team. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris wants the offense to play faster, so that is one key to watch.

AA picks: Clemson 63, South Carolina State 7

HD picks: Clemson 55, South Carolina State 0

Western Carolina (0-1) at Virginia Tech (0-1), 1:30 p.m., ESPN3. The Hokies have all sorts of issues to work out on offense and special teams. Coach Frank Beamer promises changes to correct the mistakes that allowed Alabama to score twice on kick returns last week. Receivers have got to do more to help out Logan Thomas. One injury note: Virginia Tech hopes to have running back J.C. Coleman available. This is a team the Hokies should dominate. Now, they have to do it.

AA picks: Virginia Tech 41, Western Carolina 3

HD picks: Virginia Tech 35, Western Carolina 3

No. 2 Oregon (1-0) at Virginia (1-0), 3:30 p.m., ABC. Oregon makes its first trip to ACC country on Saturday, becoming just the third top-three nonconference team to play in Charlottesville. The UVa defense looked strong in its Week 1 win over BYU, but the Ducks present quite a different challenge given the pace and production they get out of their offense. Oregon rolled up 772 yards last week in a win over Nicholls State. Gulp. Simply put, the Hoos just do not have the personnel on offense and defense to keep up.

AA picks: Oregon 45, Virginia 17

HD picks: Oregon 45, Virginia 17

Old Dominion (0-1) at Maryland (1-0), 4 p.m., ESPNews. The Terps hope to build off an impressive performance in Week 1. C.J. Brown was terrific in his return to the field, and we all saw what this offense is capable of with Stefon Diggs and Deon Long. Taking a peek ahead, the schedule sets up for Maryland to go 4-0 in nonconference play.

AA picks: Maryland 48, Old Dominion 10

HD picks: Maryland 42, Old Dominion 7

Duke (1-0) at Memphis (0-0), 4:30 p.m., ESPN3. This is not going to be a walk-over for the Blue Devils. Memphis is a much improved team than it was several seasons ago. And much improved over the team Duke beat at the start of last season. The Tigers have a new quarterback but return a majority of their starters, including two standouts on the defensive line in Johnnie Farms and Martin Ifedi. This will be a good early road test for the Blue Devils.

AA picks: Duke 35, Memphis 20

HD picks: Duke 38, Memphis 24

Syracuse (0-1) at No. 19 Northwestern (1-0), 6 p.m., Big Ten Network. The Orange dropped a heartbreaker to Northwestern to open last season. Now they hit the road to face them again after a disappointing loss to Penn State. Syracuse has some problems to fix on offense, and it needs a better effort out of quarterback Drew Allen in this game. The Orange also have to do a better job of establishing the run if they are going to have any chance to win.

AA picks: Northwestern 28, Syracuse 21

HD picks: Northwestern 35, Syracuse 17

Richmond (1-0) at NC State (1-0), 6 p.m. ESPN3. The Spiders are one of the best teams in FCS and have notched wins over Duke in the past, so this is not a team that should be taken lightly -- especially after the FCS upsets in Week 1. Quarterback Pete Thomas gets his shot to start, but keep an eye on the running back rotation now that Shadrach Thornton returns to the lineup. Freshman Matt Dayes had a big game last week against Louisiana Tech, so coach Dave Doeren says he will use a three-man rotation with Tony Creecy, Thornton and Dayes.

AA picks: NC State 38, Richmond 13

HD picks: NC State 41, Richmond 10

The Early Offer: Florida’s best meet 

September, 4, 2013
9/04/13
5:30
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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's latest feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Plenty of elite talent will be on hand for Saturday’s Florida-Miami game, but Will Muschamp knows it’ll take more than one Saturday to make a difference; Virginia, Virginia Tech and Ohio State recruits showcased on national broadcast, and 2016 running back target Robert Washington taking a national tour this fall.

Sunshine State showdown
Everybody who is anybody in the Florida recruiting world will be at Saturday’s Florida-Miami game. Miami is going to have a large group of visitors, including ESPN 300 prospects Dalvin Cook, Joe Yearby, Travis Rudolph, KC McDermott and Anthony Moten. The Canes will also be hosting four-star receiver Braxton Berrios on an official visit. Berrios was at Oregon this past weekend, and UM is right in the thick of things with him. Miami will also host Torrance Gibson, Jordan Scarlett, Devante Peete, Devonarie Clarington and CeCe Jefferson, who all rank in the top 10 of Florida for the 2015 class. While the game and atmosphere certainly will make an impression, Florida coach Will Muschamp knows it will take more than that to reel in the elite players. “I would hope that a recruit isn’t making a decision about where they go to school on who wins a specific game,” Muschamp said. “While a recruit might have an emotional swing, based on the outcome of any game, they should consider what the best fit is for them academically, athletically, socially and for their future. We feel strongly that what we have to offer there is bigger than just one Saturday.”

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- ESPN 300 defensive tackle Tim Settle (Manassas, Va./Stonewall Jackson) already has 17 offers, but the main schools he’s considering are the ones that he’s been to. That’s why it was so important for Alabama to get him on campus this week.

Settle visited Tuscaloosa on Sunday and Monday, where took part in the Crimson Tide’s camp.


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RN Top 10: Best of The Opening 

July, 4, 2013
7/04/13
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The RN Top 10 will appear throughout the camp and combine season and rank prospects based strictly on their on-field performance at that particular event. It does not reflect their overall prospect rankings.

BEAVERTON, Ore. -- The Opening put 162 of the top prospects in the nation in one place to battle to see who really is the best. During individual drills, one-on-one matchups, 7-on-7 play and even tug-of-war, the elite recruits competed to beat the best.

Every player in attendance was a standout player, but there were some who stood out above the rest. RecruitingNation takes a look at the top players throughout The Opening.

10. Jacob Park
Goose Creek (S.C.) Stratford | QB-DT | 6-4, 206
While other quarterbacks saw their play go up and down through the Elite 11 and The Opening 7-on-7, Park, a Georgia commitment, stayed consistent. He was singled out by Elite 11 head coach Trent Dilfer time after time after time.

“He’s immensely talented,” Dilfer said. “And he gets stuff.”

The only time that Park got dinged by Dilfer was when he tried to force the ball into tight spots, but honestly that happened very little throughout the week. UGA fans will be excited the 6-4, 206-pound four-star quarterback is heading to Athens, because he’s got a pretty complete package. -- Jeremy Crabtree


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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- While bigger-name prospects come and go on unofficial visits to Florida's summer camp, 2014 defensive end Justus Reed (Clearwater, Fla./Central Catholic) stood out on Thursday by actually participating.

Reed showed up for the afternoon session, warmed up with a couple hundred other campers and did position drills under the watchful eyes of Florida head coach Will Muschamp and defensive line coach Brad Lawing.


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#BlueChipBattles: Nov. 9

November, 9, 2012
11/09/12
11:52
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Max Redfield, Leon McQuayTom Hauck for ESPN.comMax Redfield is out at USC -- is Leon McQuay in?
Think USC was left reeling after Max Redfield (left) decommitted this week? Not really. The Trojans appear to be zeroing in on Leon McQuay III (right). And then there's the nation’s No. 1 recruit, Robert Nkemdiche, who decommitted Thursday. It's an open market in this week’s #BlueChipBattles Insider.

You can also rank the battles this week in SportsNation.

Joel Embiid's recruitment gaining steam 

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
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The last time he had a national audience, center Joel Embiid (Cameroon/The Rock) was on the wrong side of a clinic at the hands of Brandon Ashley. Then a junior center for Montverde, Embiid was given the unenviable task of trying to slow down a grooving Ashley. He didn’t and Montverde succumbed to Findlay Prep in the NHSI championship.

[+] EnlargeJoel Embiid
Paul BiancardiCenter Joel Embiid is currently not ranked in the ESPN 100, but expect him to have a major impact down the line at Kansas.
A lot has changed since last March. For starters, Embiid is no longer at Montverde. The near 7-footer transferred to The Rock in Gainesville, Fla. With Dakari Johnson (New York/Montverde) gobbling up court time, Embid might not have seen as much playing time as he would have liked, so he bolted.

“He is a surprise to me and a pleasant one at that,” The Rock coach Justin Harden said. “He’s every bit of 6-11. He can do a lot of good things with the ball. He’s only been playing 18 months. Was a volleyball player before that.”

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The Experts discuss the top matchups from Week 2 of the college football season. Travis Haney talks Georgia-Missouri, Mike Bellotti discusses Florida-Texas A&M, Matt Stinchcomb breaks down Penn State-Virginia, Charles Arbuckle has UCLA-Nebraska and the group also assesses LSU-Washington.

2014 DB Blanding humble in spotlight 

July, 29, 2012
7/29/12
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Defensive back Quin Blanding (Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside) was one of only two 2014 prospects to compete at the Champion Gridiron Kings this weekend at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports, and the talented safety more than held his own.


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