With such a talented group of players on one list, the Ultimate ESPN 300, it was difficult to narrow things to three favorites. After all, these are some of the best ever to play college football. With that being said, here are three of my favorites:

[+] EnlargeJadeveon Clowney
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesFew players have come off the edge like Jadeveon Clowney in his South Carolina heyday.
1. I've covered recruiting for several years, but watching defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (No. 1) go up against offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio at the 2011 Under Armour All-America game and practices was something I'll never forget. Clowney is the best athlete I have seen, and watching him go up against another five-star prospect was incredible.

Kouandjio more than held his own that week against the top player in the country, but there was no doubt Clowney was on another level. Clowney went on to have an incredible career at South Carolina, and who could forget the devastating hit he laid on Michigan running back Vincent Smith in the Outback Bowl?

2. Quarterback Tim Tebow (No. 2), with his unusual throwing mechanics and bruising style of play, had his doubters coming out of high school. Tebow, however, went on to have one of the most prolific careers in the history of college football by winning two national championships, two SEC championships and a Heisman Trophy.

To sum up Tebow's leadership ability and team-first mentality, I recall watching Tebow's high school team, Nease, play in the Florida state championship game against Armwood High School. Armwood had the ball and was driving for what would have been the go-ahead touchdown and a defensive lineman for Nease had to leave the game because of an injury. Tebow races out to the field and lines up at nose tackle. Though he didn't make the play, Nease won, and it displayed what kind of person he was. He was willing to do whatever it took to help his team win, and that's how he played throughout his college career.

3. Running back Derrick Henry's (No. 202) high school team, Yulee, didn't play in a very strong division in Florida, so the ridiculous stats (11,182 rushing yards and 153 rushing TDs) Henry put up in his high school career seemed to be somewhat inflated.

Henry's senior season, I had a chance to watch Yulee take on Belle Glade Glades Day School, which had Kelvin Taylor (No. 174), another five-star running back. I assumed that because of Henry's size (6-foot-4, 235 pounds) he would likely move to another position on the next level. But after watching him play in person and seeing how athletic and nimble he was, Henry convinced me he had the tools to be a top running back. Watching both running backs rush for more than 200 yards on the night and seeing two future stars at their brightest was one of the most memorable games I've ever had a chance to cover.
BRADENTON, Fla. -- In the 2015 class, IMG Academy had 12 prospects sign with FBS programs, including eight spread over four of the Power 5 conferences. That was a mere warmup compared to the Class of 2016.

The junior class at IMG Academy features a whopping eight prospects in the ESPN Junior 300, headlined by No. 2 Shavar Manuel and No. 3 and Florida State quarterback commit Malik Henry, along with No. 19 Saivion Smith and Florida State commit Isaac Nauta. Add in cornerback Khalil Ladler, outside linebacker Rahshaun Smith, No. 128 and Clemson wide receiver verbal Tavares Chase and Ohio State pledge Tyler Gerald and the quickly growing football program is officially among the nation's elite.

On Monday, RecruitingNation spent a few hours on campus to get the latest.

Clutch when it matters

February, 18, 2015
Feb 18
3:09
PM ET
video

The Ultimate ESPN 300 is RecruitingNation's ranking of the best prospects since our evaluation of high school athletes began in 2006. Within that list are five players who came up big when it mattered most in championship games. Here are the Ultimate ESPN 300 championship heroes.

1. Ezekiel Elliott | Ohio State

Reggie Jackson earned the nickname Mr. October for his heroics in Major League Baseball's postseason, and after Elliott sparked Ohio State's magical run to the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship presented by AT&T, maybe he should be called Mr. January. Elliott, who comes in at No. 286 on the Ultimate 300, rushed for 220 yards in the Big Ten title game against Wisconsin and then had 230 yards against Alabama in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, but he saved his best for last in the championship game against Oregon. Elliott was unstoppable against the Ducks, finishing with 246 yards and four touchdowns. He made Oregon's fast defense look like it was standing still, and when speed didn't work, he bowled over them like a wrecking ball. It was a sight to see and a performance for the ages.


(Read full post)


Some players flipped their commitments while other’s had memorable signing-day moments. Here is a closer look at the five most intriguing recruitments from the SEC.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

The Ultimate ESPN 300 is RecruitingNation's ranking of the best prospects since 2006, when we began evaluating high school athletes. As is always the case with recruiting, there are some surprising and shocking decisions by prospects, as well some that are tough for the home teams to swallow.

Here are five from the ACC, both positive and negative.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

The program-changing recruits

February, 17, 2015
Feb 17
4:10
PM ET

The Ultimate ESPN 300 is RecruitingNation's ranking of the best prospects since our evaluation of high school athletes began in 2006. Within that list are 10 players who forever changed their program and whose impact can be felt even today.

1. Robert Griffin IIIBaylor
While Griffin didn't win a Big 12 championship at Baylor, there's little doubt that without his career in Waco, Texas, the Bears would not have won 2013 and 2014 league titles. After earning Big 12 freshman of the year honors in 2008, RG III officially put Baylor back on the map with a 2011 season that saw the Bears enter the Associated Press poll for only the third time in the previous 15 seasons. He led Baylor to a 10-3 record that season and also captured the Heisman Trophy after throwing for 4,293 yards and 37 touchdowns. Griffin's success helped coach Art Briles attract more high-caliber recruits and made it cool to turn down traditional in-state powers Texas and Texas A&M to play in Waco. He paved the way for the Bears' back-to-back title runs and national championship aspirations in 2015. Folks in Central Texas will also tell you there's no way the Bears' new $250 million riverfront football stadium would have gotten built without Griffin.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

video

National recruiting coordinator Craig Haubert joins ESPN's Phil Murphy to explain the ESPN Ultimate Class Rankings, Alabama's top billing and which program made a significant climb in 2014.

Ultimate ESPN 300: Top surprises in the SEC 

February, 17, 2015
Feb 17
10:00
AM ET
video
When the Ultimate ESPN 300 was released on Monday, there were some noticeable surprises. Some players shot to near the top of the list early on in their careers, while other players weren’t ranked high coming out of college but now appear on this prestigious list. Here’s a closer look at some of the top surprises in the SEC.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

video
COCOA BEACH, Fla. -- When the top prospects get together at an even such as the Pylon 7-on-7, there are always a number of interesting topics on the recruiting front to be discussed. In particular, last weekend’s 7-on-7 featured many of the top skill prospects in Broward, Dade and Palm Beach counties and that meant the Miami Hurricanes were a topic of discussion.

When talking about Miami in it’s current state, the main question is when or if The U will be back among the nation's elite.

After a 9-4 season in 2013, the Hurricanes took a step back in 2014, finishing 6-7, albeit with a talented freshman quarterback in Brad Kaaya who certainly provides Miami fans hope for 2015 and beyond. That means the 2015 season is a make-or-break one for Al Golden and staff with the rival Florida State Seminoles winning and recruiting at a very high level and the Florida Gators sure to get the recruiting bounce in 2016 after a coaching change and the ability to sell a vision for the future to top prospects in the Sunshine State.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Ultimate ESPN 300: 15 things to know

February, 16, 2015
Feb 16
10:00
AM ET
video

The Ultimate ESPN 300 is RecruitingNation's ranking of the best prospects since we began evaluating high school athletes in 2006. That means there are many names on the list known to college football and recruiting fans since coming out of high school. The list can also provide glimpses of which states have been top producers since 2006 and which teams have done the best and worst jobs of evaluating prospects and producing players.

Here are 15 things to know about the Ultimate ESPN 300:

15. Some classes turn out better than others, and that is true of the 2009 class. There are 45 players from the class in the Ultimate ESPN 300, the most of any class, including 15 that became first-round NFL draft selections. That includes four who signed with Alabama: Trent Richardson, Dre Kirkpatrick, D.J. Fluker and Chance Warmack.

14. Bob Stoops recruited and coached 13 players on the list. Of the 13, four were first-round NFL draft selections led by Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and 2008 Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford. Nine of the 13 were also members of the Sooners team that lost to Florida for the 2009 BCS National Championship.

13. The teams that played for the 2012 BCS National Championship, Alabama and LSU, were supremely talented. There are 22 players from those rosters in the Ultimate ESPN 300, including 14 for the Crimson Tide.

12. Quite possibly the most important part of the recruiting process for coaches is keeping the best at home. Well, only 137 of the Ultimate ESPN 300 stayed in state to play college football. One important aspect of this stat is that not every player on the list had the option to stay in state.

11. The teams from the 2014 BCS title game are well represented on the list. Twenty-three players from Florida State and Auburn make the list, with the Seminoles accounting for 18.

10. NCAA FBS single-game-rushing record holder Samaje Perine enters the list after a freshman season of 1,713 yards and 21 touchdowns for the Oklahoma Sooners. His 427 yards against Kansas in 2014 broke the record a week after Melvin Gordon had set a new mark.

9. The 2011 class is special. That class has 41 players in the Ultimate ESPN 300, including 12 first-round NFL draft picks with more possible, including Marcus Mariota, La'El Collins and Shane Ray. The Sunshine State led the way in the 2011 class with first-round picks: Sammy Watkins, Teddy Bridgewater, Ryan Shazier, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Kelvin Benjamin with more possible to be added to the list.

8. As expected, the state of Florida leads the way with 52 players on the list. Texas is second with 35, and California third with 28. Georgia follows with 18. Only 23 of the 52 from the Sunshine State stayed in state for college, but 19 of those players left college with national championship rings.

7. There are 15 players who signed with USC on the list, including Jarvis Jones, who would later transfer to Georgia. That's the most from a school on the list that hasn’t won a national championship since 2006. Notre Dame is second on that list with 12.

6. There are six quarterbacks from the state of Texas in the Ultimate ESPN 300, and only one was recruited heavily and offered early by the University of Texas: Matthew Stafford. The five who weren’t offered or recruited as quarterbacks by the Longhorns: Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Johnny Manziel, Ryan Mallett and J.T. Barrett.

5. There are 17 players on the list recruited by Urban Meyer. The impressive list includes Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin, along with Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott and J.T. Barrett from 2015 national champion Ohio State.

4. St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is the high school with the most players on the list with six. That includes NFL running backs Gionvani Bernard and James White, who were members of the same backfield.

3. Nick Saban has recruited 25 players to Alabama on the prestigious list. Of those 25, 11 have been first-round NFL draft selections, with that number to hit 13 in a couple of months with Amari Cooper and Landon Collins projected to be 2015 first-rounders.

2. South Florida's Dade and Broward counties are the two most talented counties in the country that neighbor each other. To illustrate that fact, 22 members of the Ultimate ESPN 300 are from the otherworldly talented counties, including five NFL first-round draft picks, with that number expected to jump to seven or eight in April. Add in Palm Beach County, which neighbors Broward, and that number jumps to 29 of the 300, including seven first-round picks, with that number sure to hit double digits in two months. If one is a Miami (Fla.) fan, time to turn away, as only four of the 22 from Dade and Broward counties played for the Hurricanes.

1. How do you win three national championships in six years? Jimmys and Joes are where it must begin, and Alabama has the most of any school on the list with 27. More than half of the 27 have been or will be first-round draft selections after this year's draft. Both Florida and Florida State have 18 apiece on the list.
COCOA BEACH, Fla. -- The 2015 Pylon 7-on-7 tournament at Cocoa Beach High drew many of the top prospects in Florida in the 2016 class Saturday. More than 15 skill players in the ESPN Junior 300 competed throughout the day, including nationally recruited juniors such as Trayvon Mullen, Darnell Salomon and quarterback Ervin “Woody” Barrett.

Here are notes on some of the top players in attendance:


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

COCOA BEACH, Fla. -- The Pylon 7-on-7 2015 tournament at Cocoa Beach High drew many of the top prospects in Florida and beyond in the 2016, 2017 and even 2018 classes Saturday. More than 15 skill players in the ESPN Junior 300 competed throughout the day, including nationally-recruited juniors such as Trayvon Mullen, Dredrick Snelson and quarterback Ervin “Woody” Barrett.

Here is the latest on several Sunshine State prospects.

Eli Stove, WR
ESPN Junior 300 ranking: No. 80


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Texas head of underachievers list

February, 13, 2015
Feb 13
11:19
AM ET

Success on the field in college football generally goes hand-in-hand with success on the recruiting trail. For the fourth consecutive season, the Alabama Crimson Tide signed the No. 1 class, according to ESPN RecruitingNation rankings. In fact, coach Nick Saban has brought in a top-3 class for eight straight seasons, and those elite recruits have led the Tide to three national championships and a berth in the inaugural College Football Playoff in that span.

The best players don't always guarantee success, of course, and many programs struggle on the field despite the fact their rosters are loaded with talent. We calculated program profiles for each team based on multiple years of recruiting rankings and compared those rankings with every FBS game result of the past five seasons. In total, the team that fielded a more talented roster beat the less talented opponent 65 percent of the time.

On Thursday, we chronicled the overachievers who routinely do more with less.

The five teams on today's list of underachievers have not been able to consistently translate prospective talent into wins on the field. Each school signed a number of new potential stars last week, but each still needs to prove that it can consistently win games against less-loaded rosters.

Texas Longhorns

Five-year record as more talented team: 36-28 (.563)

2015 RecruitingNation class rank: 9

From 2009 to 2012, the Longhorns signed four consecutive classes ranked in the top 5 in ESPN's RecruitingNation ratings. Those classes did not meet expectations, however, as they posted two losing seasons in the past five years and never lost fewer than four games in a season in that stretch. In the same span, the Longhorns plummeted from the No. 2 overall team in our program ratings to outside the top 40.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES

SEC players featured on Kiper's Big Board
Mel Kiper Jr. discusses SEC players and their NFL combine performances.
VIDEO PLAYLIST video