Florida Gators: Chad Thomas

The pressure is on for the class of 2014. The last weekend of visits is a wrap, and signing day is just two days away. For those who are 100 percent solid with their pledges, resting easy and rehearsing the national letter of intent signature is the order of the day. For those who are still second-guessing commitments, it’s pressure-packed days and sleepless nights full of family and high school coach discussions while trying to keep the remainder of the noise surrounding a decision to a minimum.

Here are five prospects in the ESPN 300 who have had second thoughts and are on flip watch as #SigningDay quickly approaches.


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The annual Florida-Florida State game is usually one of the top games in the country. This year, with Florida’s disappointing season, the game seems to have lost some luster. Florida State, however, is fighting for a chance to make it to the BCS National Championship game in January. The Gators would like nothing more to ruin their archrival’s season, especially in front of several top recruits. Here’s a closer look at which recruits will be watching this weekend.


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UA Game jersey tour: Ermon Lane

October, 13, 2013
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Senior wide receiver Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead High) was presented his honorary game jersey on Friday during the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the 2014 Under Armour All-America High School Football Game. The event at his school was part of a three-month selection tour.

Lane, a Florida commitment, is one of 90 players selected to compete in the seventh annual Under Armour All-America Game, a nationally televised competition spotlighting the country’s top high school seniors. The game is set for 4 p.m. ET Jan. 2 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and will be televised on ESPN.

"First of all I want to thank God, my family, my teammates, my coaches and all the people that have been there since Day 1," Lane said. "You know, all this hard work is paying off, and I'm just glad to be selected to play in the All-American game."

Homestead High coach Larry Coffey said Lane's love for competition stands out, and is among the reasons his star player is in position to play in the Under Armour All-America Game.

"I think he's played football for quite a long time growing up as a kid, and he's got a strong football background and he just loves to compete. That puts him in position to do the kinds of things that he's done, to be in a position that he's in right now … as well as being recognized as the No. 1 receiver in the country and having the opportunity to go to Florida or basically any place in the country he wants."

Lane decided on the Under Armour All-America game because of friends, future teammates and the ability to play on the big stage on ESPN.

" … I wanted to play with the guys that I knew. Chad Thomas, Joseph Yearby, and Dalvin Cook told me they were going to accept it, so I did the same since I'm going to college with some of those players. At the end of the day, I'm excited to showcase my talent to the world on the big stage because I know a lot of people are going to be watching the Under Armour All-America Game."

The 6-foot-2, 196-pound Lane is the No. 28 ranked prospect overall, and the No. 2 wide receiver in the class. Lane committed to Florida over offers from Florida State, Miami (Fla.), Alabama, Auburn and a number of others.
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's latest feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings.

Zack Darlington
Tom Hauck for Student SportsNebraska coach Bo Pelini has to make a tough decision after 2014 QB commit Zack Darlington got injured.
Today's offerings: With questions about Zack Darlington’s future lingering, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has to make a tough decision about recruiting another quarterback in the 2014 class. There’s still plenty of meat left on the bone for the 2014 class; and the Miami Central-Miami Booker T. Washington game will showcase seven Cane and Gator recruits.


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ESPN 300 defensive end Trent Harris (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park) committed to Miami (Fla.) on Monday afternoon. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound athlete announced his decision on a live webcast with the Orlando Sentinel. The No. 114-ranked player in the country also had offers from Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia and Florida, among many others.

Harris said he was relieved to make his decision.

"It's a big relief now," he said on the webcast. "I just want to go play football now."

The four-star end admittedly grew up a Florida fan, but he said the Hurricanes presented a better opportunity for him.

"It was difficult," he said. "That was my dream as a kid. But I grew up and I got to realize what's going to help me the most in my future and that's the University of Miami.

The Hurricanes are picking up an explosive pass rusher.

"Harris is a prospect with some good natural tools," his Recruiting Nation scouting report reads. "He has the ability to explode off the ball and good things can come with that. Can be a tough run defender and with some development and refining can be a disruptive pass rusher. Lacks in ideals in some areas, but initial quicks and strength will catch attention and could allow him to be a very productive college defender. "

The Hurricanes have 24 commits, including 10 in the ESPN 300. Miami is No. 7 in the RecruitingNation class rankings. Harris will join Miami Booker T. Washington teammates Chad Thomas and Demetrius Jackson as defensive end commits for the Hurricanes.
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BEAVERTON, Ore. -- The Opening has concluded and it did not disappoint. The top prospects in the nation were invited to Nike headquarters to display their ability and compete against the best of the best.

RecruitingNation was on hand for every event to take in the happenings throughout the week. Here are a few storylines:

Who committed

Florida State landed two in-state prospects during the final day of The Opening on Wednesday: four-star offensive tackle Corey Martinez (Tampa, Fla./Tampa Catholic) and three-star safety Trey Marshall (Lake City, Fla./Columbia). Marshall was a finalist for the SPARQ national championships where he posted a 40-yard-dash time of 4.34 seconds. ESPN 300 linebacker Dillon Bates (Ponte Vedra, Fla./Ponte Vedra), son of former Tennessee Volunteers and Dallas Cowboys safety Bill Bates, verbally committed to the Vols. Four-star linebacker D.J. Calhoun (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) verbally committed to USC over UCLA.


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The Opening, presented by Nike, will feature 162 of the best high school football players in the country. The event, which will include linemen, 7-on-7 and SPARQ testing competitions, is set to run from June 30 to July 3 at the Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore.

The following events from The Opening will be televised on ESPNU:

July 1: SPARQ Rating National Championship, 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. ET

July 2: 7-on-7 Pool Play, 9 p.m.-11:30 p.m. ET

July 3: Linemen Challenge Finals and 7-on-7 semifinal and championship games, 9 p.m.-midnight ET

The players will be divided in to six teams -- Alpha Pro, Apocalypse, Field Generals, Land Sharks, Super Bad and Vapor Carbon. Here is a closer look at how the teams match up.

Team: Alpha Pro
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Jordan Palmer, defensive coordinator Hardy Nickerson

The Alpha Pro team will have plenty of targets to spread the ball around. Ermon Lane and Tyler Luatua, the No. 1-ranked receiver and tight end in the country respectively, bring size and playmaking ability to the passing game. ESPN 300 athletes Corey Holmes, Jalen Hurd, John "JuJu" Smith, Ja'Von Harrison, and Derrell Scott are all explosive offensive weapons.

Defensively Alpha Pro is led by Andrew Brown, the No. 1-ranked defensive tackle in the country, ESPN 150 cornerback Damon Webb, defensive end Andrew Williams, Ohio State linebacker commit Dante Booker and LSU cornerback commit Chris Hardeman.

Complete Alpha Pro roster.

Team: Apocalypse
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Adam Tafralis, defensive coordinator Donovin Darius

The first thing that jumps out about team Apocalypse is the talent in the defensive front seven. Team Apocalypse will be led by five-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand and inside linebacker Raekwon McMillan. Hand, from Woodbridge, Va., is the No. 4-ranked player in the country, while McMillan was recently bumped up to a five-star linebacker. Joining Hand and McMillan along the front seven are ESPN 300 defensive linemen Anthony Moten and Ainuu Taua, and linebackers D.J. Calhoun and Rashaan Evans.

Offensively, team Apocalypse has no shortage of playmakers. ESPN 300 wide receivers Artavis Scott, K.D. Cannon and Michiah Quick will provide explosiveness in the passing game, while athletic running backs Joe Mixon and Royce Freeman will provide athletic and reliable targets out of the backfield.

Complete Apocalypse roster.

Team: Field Generals
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Charlie Frye, defensive coordinator Michael Fletcher

Seven-on-seven events are always geared towards the offense, but with five-star defensive back Adoree' Jackson, No. 3-ranked safety Jamal Adams, and ESPN 300 cornerback Adarius Pickett in the secondary, the Field Generals should more than hold their own. New Ohio State defensive end commit Jalyn Holmes and the No. 6-ranked defensive end in the country, Solomon Thomas, will be two to watch along the defensive line.

Offensively, the Field Generals are led by ESPN 300 offensive guard Damien Mama, ESPN 300 wide receivers Austin Roberts and Thaddeus Snodgrass and explosive Notre Dame running back commit Elijah Hood.

Complete Field Generals roster.

Team: Landsharks
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Craig Nall, defensive coordinator Keith Bulluck

The Landsharks have some big-time talent along each line of scrimmage. Led by five-star offensive tackle Cameron Robinson, the Landsharks also feature ESPN 300 offensive guard Corey Martinez. ESPN 300 defensive linemen Gerald Willis III and Thomas Holley, as well as ESPN 300 defensive end Chad Thomas, will form a very physical and athletic defensive line.

In the secondary, the Landsharks will have three defensive backs -- Arrion Springs, Chris Lammons and Tony Brown -- that are ranked among the top 85 players in the country. The defense also features ESPN 150 linebacker Nyles Morgan.

Offensively, explosive running backs Dalvin Cook, a Florida commit, and Racean Thomas form a dangerous tandem out of the backfield, and wide receivers Travis Rudolph and Jalen Harvey are solid receiving threats.

Complete Landsharks roster.

Team: Superbad
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Dennis Gile, defensive coordinator Harold Nash Jr.

The Superbad defense line is led by five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter and ESPN 150 defensive tackle Bijhon Jackson. The linebacking corp is stacked with three ESPN 300 members, including Clifton Garrett, Christian Miller and Edwin Freeman. Cornerback Jalen Tabor is the No. 19-ranked player in the country.

Offensively, Superbad has a huge advantage with the No. 1-ranked prospect in the country, running back Leonard Fournette. This team is loaded on offense, with wide receivers Drake Harris, Josh Malone and Speedy Noil all in the mix.

Complete Superbad roster.

Team: Vapor Carbon
Coaches: Offensive coordinator George Whitfield, defensive coordinator Chris Gizzi.

Vapor Carbon will be tough to throw against with defensive backs Quin Blanding, Naijiel Hale and Ed Paris roaming the field. The linebacker group is just as impressive, with Ohio State commit Kyle Berger, Kain Daub and Dillon Bates all leading the way.

The offense for Vapor Carbon could be lethal with running back Joseph Yearby and Nick Chubb in the backfield. Spreading out wide receivers T.V. Williams, Justin Brent and tight end Ian Bunting on the outside could prove to be an awesome combination for this squad.

Team Vapor Carbon has a lot of pieces to make a long run in the 7-on-7 tournament, but then again, every team is stacked in this competition.

Complete Vapor Carbon roster.

Lessons Learned: Miami NFTC 

March, 18, 2013
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MIAMI, Fla. -- The 2013 Nike Football Training Camp tour continued in Miami on Saturday as several top players from South Florida showcased their skills at West Orange High School. The wide receiver and offensive line position groups were loaded and several players earned invitations to The Opening.

Recruiting Nation writers Derek Tyson and Kipp Adams attended the camp. Here is what they learned:

Wide receivers stand out
As impressive as the wide receivers group was at the Orlando NFTC on Saturday, the Miami NFTC was even better. The talented group of pass-catchers was led by Watch List prospects Johnnie Dixon (Palm Beach, Fla./Dwyer), Travis Rudolph (Miami/Cardinal Newman) and Corey Holmes (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas). Just a day after impressing in Orlando, receiver Ryan Sousa (Orlando, Fla./Lake Nona) traveled to Miami and again competed and impressed with his performance. De'Vante Phillips (Miami/Central) and Devonaire Clarington (Miami/Southridge), both 2015 prospects, proved they belonged with the other top players. The group, as a whole, consistently won most of the one-on-one matchups and were the best position group at the camp.

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Florida home to 53 Watch List recruits 

September, 27, 2012
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There are several things that stand out about the 53 2014 prospects from Florida included on the ESPN Watch List.


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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Defensive end Chad Thomas (Miami, Fla./Booker T. Washington) said he enjoyed himself at Florida's Friday Night Lights and got good feedback from the coaching staff, but that's nowhere near enough get him to move the Gators up on his list.

Florida State and Miami remain the front-runners for the 6-foot-5, 223-pound 2014 defensive end, but he said he's got plenty of time to make his decision. And he did admit that the Gators still have a chance.

"I always like (Florida) a little bit," Thomas said. "But I've got my top two schools. I'm not even close to picking."

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