Florida Gators: Tarean Folston

Hackenberg, Olsen earn UA Game starts

January, 3, 2013
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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)

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#UAGame practice: Day 1 notebook 

December, 31, 2012
12/31/12
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -– Team Nitro and Team Highlight took to the fields at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports on Monday for Day 1 of practice for Friday’s Under Armour All-America Game (5 p.m. ET, ESPN). Two powerhouse programs in the Southeastern Conference look to battle it out for one of the standout running backs, and one of the top uncommitted offensive linemen is out with an injury.

Tide and Dawgs at top for RB Kamara

The Under Armour All-America Game boasts a bevy of talented running backs, and after the first practice ESPN 150 prospect Alvin Kamara (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) drew comparisons to one of the best.

[+] EnlargeAlvin Kamara
Miller Safrit/ESPN.comESPN 150 RB Alvin Kamara says Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and Georgia running backs coach Bryan McClendon have been key to his recruiting process.
“They say I play like Percy Harvin,” Kamara said.

The 5-foot-10, 192-pound tailback has made a name for himself as a home-run threat out of the backfield or lined up in the slot, which makes it no surprise that programs across the country are pining for his commitment. Two from the SEC are in the lead.

“Alabama and Georgia are the front-runners, but I am still looking at Oregon -- and Tennessee too, with Butch Jones being there now,” Kamara said.

The nation's No. 4 running back has yet to set any official visits, but plans to do so after he gets home from the UA Game. A decision will likely come after his visits.

“This is not going to be a busy month so much as it is just something I need to buckle down and do,” Kamara said. “I am going to take these visits and base my decision off of that.”

One factor in his decision will be the relationship he has with the coaches recruiting him. The Tide could have a slight advantage because they made first contact with Kamara.

“Kirby Smart and I are really close,” Kamara said. “He was the first coach to ever talk to me. He snuck me his card after practice and I could not believe it. For a coach of his stature to be the first coach to talk to me is great. We have been in contact ever since, and we have a great relationship.”

Georgia might counter that with their running backs coach being Kamara’s recruiter of record.

“Coach [Bryan] McClendon and I have a great relationship too,” Kamara said. “With him being my position coach, I could see myself playing for him. We are on a friend level and we do not even talk about football most of the time.”

The in-state Bulldogs also have a few people in Kamara’s ear this week, though he admits they have been putting the pressure on him for quite some time.

“Even when we are not in a big event like this, guys like Shaq Wiggins, Brice Ramsey, even Reuben [Foster], even though he is not committed, are always asking where I am going,” Kamara said. “They are joking, but they are on me pretty hard sometimes.”

Newsworthy: OL Crowder deals with injury, sets officials

ESPN 150 offensive lineman Tyrone Crowder (Rockingham, N.C./Richmond) will be unable to play in Friday's UA Game after aggravating a hand injury he sustained a few weeks ago at the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas. While he is disappointed, Crowder said today he is looking forward to the home stretch of his recruitment and choosing from one of two programs.

“It is Clemson No. 1 and Georgia No. 2, and I will decide on signing day,” said Crowder, ranked the No. 2 OG in the country.

The Tigers have been after the 6-foot-1, 330-pound offensive lineman for more than three years now, and they have location and familiarity working in their favor.

“Clemson has been recruiting me since I was in ninth grade,” Crowder said. “I like what they have going on and I have built a strong relationship with them. It is close to home and I have some family close to Clemson. I will take my official there Jan. 11.”

Crowder has not been to Athens for six months, but he has fond memories of his visit.

“Georgia is a great powerhouse team in the SEC,” Crowder said. “When I went down there during the summer I really liked the campus and enjoyed meeting the coaches. I spoke to them two weeks ago and set an official visit Jan. 18.”

Trending

It was only the first day of practice, but Team Highlight (Black team) quarterbacks got off to an impressive start.

Florida playoffs will provide big stage 

November, 16, 2012
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The Florida high school football playoffs have officially started.

The five-week stretch of games has proven to be a great opportunity for some under-the-radar prospects to make a final push in their recruitment. The playoffs have also provided a platform for several known prospects to establish themselves as elite talents.

In this year’s ESPN 150, there are several players who have made their biggest impact during playoff time.

The nation’s top-rated running back, Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glade, Fla./Glades Day), has saved some of his best performances for the playoffs. He rushed for 213 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman in the Class 1B state championship game against South Daytona (Fla.) Warner Christian.

A year later, Taylor faced the same Warner Christian team and rushed for 248 yards and five touchdowns before being ejected for excessive celebration (he went to his knee after scoring his fourth and fifth touchdowns and was flagged for both).

Four-star running back Greg Bryant (Delray Beach, Fla./American Heritage), rated 27th nationally, had his breakout performance in last year’s Class 3A state title game against Madison (Fla.) County, rushing 39 times for 243 yards (both career highs).

Wide receiver Jordan Cunningham (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School), ranked 51st nationally, caught three touchdowns as a sophomore in the Class 2B state championship game against Ocala (Fla.) Trinity Catholic.

There’s a good chance Taylor, Bryant or Cunningham will return to the finals in 2012 (of course, Bryant and Cunningham could see each other in a week for the highly anticipated game between American Heritage and University School if their team’s advance), but there will be other class of 2012 prospects that could really see their stock rise with a strong playoff run.

BREAKOUT PLAYERS

Juwan Brown, QB, Largo (Fla.) -- The two-star prospect has been on a tear this season and is likely the Player of the Year for the Tampa Bay area. He’s accounted for nearly 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns and hasn’t thrown an interception all season. Brown’s biggest challenge could come in Week 1 when Largo hosts a talented but underachieving Seffner (Fla.) Armwood squad.

Alton Meeks, QB, Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips -- If Meeks, a soft Cincinnati commit, is fully recovered from a broken leg suffered in September, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound senior will be a difference-maker in the playoffs. He’s become a more accurate passer this season and provides a power-running element that Dr. Phillips hasn’t had.

Lorenzo Woodley, RB, Miami Christopher Columbus -- If Daryl Chestnut’s injury keeps him sidelined, the 5-11, 200-pound Woodley will be asked to carry a full load. On Thursday, he rushed for more than 100 yards and three touchdowns in a 49-9 victory over Miami Dr. Krop.

Shykeem Pitts, QB/ATH, Davenport (Fla.) Ridge Community -- Pitts is back at quarterback after flirting with other positions on the offense. In three weeks, Pitts led Ridge to from obscurity to a district championship. The speedy athlete is most dangerous with the ball in his hands and will take every snap for as long as Ridge is alive in the postseason.

Janarion Grant, ATH, Dade City (Fla.) Pasco -- Grant missed the first six games with a hand injury and scored five touchdowns in his return game. In the last two weeks, the 5-11, 185-pound senior has scored eight touchdowns four different ways (rushing, receiving, special teams, defensive). A strong playoff run could lift Grant to top-tier status in the state.

Antwan Lee, RB/DB, Cocoa (Fla.) -- Although most of the attention goes to ESPN 150 athlete Tarean Folston it’s been a shared backfield with the 5-8, 165-pound Lee, who has rushed for 1,035 yards and seven touchdowns this season. Lee also has two interceptions on defense.

Shaquille Johnson, TE, Lake City (Fla.) Columbia -- Columbia has been a popular pick to make it to the Class 6A finals. And if the Tigers can get to Orlando, it will give the 6-4, 225-pound Johnson several more opportunities to have that breakout game that observers have been waiting to see for the past two years.

PLAYOFF-OPENERS

Did you miss last night’s playoff games? Here’s a quick set of links for them:

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Florida recruiting: weekend preview 

September, 7, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida head coach Will Muschamp and offensive line coach Tim Davis were on hand to watch Florida wide receiver commit Chris Thompson and his Gainesville (Fla.) High School teammates defeat Lake City (Fla.) Columbia and their five-star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil 17-14 on Thursday night.

The victory was bittersweet for Gainesville, however, as Thompson left the game early with a lower leg injury. There is no word yet how serious the injury is.

The Gainesville victory over Columbia was just the start to a packed weekend full of great games involving Florida commits. Here's a closer look at some of the games to keep an eye on this upcoming weekend.

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Notes from South Florida Camp, 7-on-7 

June, 18, 2012
6/18/12
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The University of South Florida held the first session of its Sling & Shoot 7-on-7 tournament over the weekend and a one-day prospect camp today. The Bulls coaching staff will be involved with the program's padded-team camp this week leading into their SuperBull Showcase on Saturday.

" Lakeland (Fla.) Christian's top underclassmen, freshman quarterback Christian Alexander and junior running back T.J. Simmons, both worked out in the morning session. Lakeland Christian head coach Wayne Peace took them to Florida over the weekend, where both players met with the Gators coaches.

"Christian worked out with coach [Brent] Pease for about 45 minutes and then T.J. worked out with Coach [Brian] White for about 45 minutes," Peace said. "After working out they had a chance to go to the coaching office and meet with Coach [Will] Muschamp. They were both very excited."

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Defending Class 7A state champion Manatee (Bradenton, Fla.) was forced to adjust its schedule after a proposed game with Skyline (Sammamish, Wash.) fell through.

Unfortunately, the Hurricanes will not have the opportunity to take a cross-country trip to Seattle and take on a team that features ESPN 150 quarterback Max Browne.

However, Manatee head coach Joe Kinnan didn’t want to replace Skyline with just any opponent and was able to get in contact with Class 6A state runner-up Miami Central for a game on Sept. 15.

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ATH Folston to try out new position 

May, 2, 2012
5/02/12
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ESPN 150 athlete Tarean Folston (Cocoa, Fla./Cocoa) will be adding a new element to his game this spring -- quarterback.

"We're using him at quarterback this spring because our regular quarterback isn't going to be eligible," Cocoa head coach John Wilkinson said. "He's going to do some different things out of the shotgun and give us a new wrinkle."

In the fall, expect Folston to spend more time at running back with Antwan Lee.

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UF has plenty of options with state RBs 

February, 10, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- At the top of Florida's list of recruiting needs is instant impact at the offensive skill positions. The Gators couldn't have had much better timing with their home state bursting with talented playmakers in the class of 2013.

The running back position at UF is particularly thin. Florida will have just two scholarship tailbacks at the end of this year, when rising senior Mike Gillislee moves on. That's why it's critically important the Gators find a way to sign three running backs in their next class.

On Thursday, GatorNation's Derek Tyson previewed the state's top wide receivers. Here are Florida's best running backs:

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Recruiting Nation 411: 2013 offense

February, 7, 2012
2/07/12
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In this episode of RecruitingNation 411, we focus on the offensive side of the ball in the 2013 recruiting class. Our experts tell you which prospects are primed to be the stars of the 2013 class, and which ones have already given a verbal commitment.

GatorNation recruiting mailbag 

December, 21, 2011
12/21/11
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It’s time to dip in to the GatorNation recruiting mailbag and answer the questions you want to know. 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 your questions on our Insider fan forum, "The Chompions Club."

@someguynamedkev
: With South Carolina losing Ellis Johnson to Southern Miss, do you think the Gators have a decent shot with Tyriq McCord?

A: It certainly doesn’t hurt Florida that Johnson has left the Gamecocks. McCord said after his visit to Gainesville for the FSU game that he felt closer with the players at South Carolina than he did at Florida. The loss of Johnson shouldn’t change that, but if South Carolina goes to a completely new defense, it is something McCord will have to think about.

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Florida loaded with 2013 RBs 

December, 7, 2011
12/07/11
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Gators wanted to land two top running backs in the 2012 recruiting cycle, and it appeared Florida had their guys with Matt Jones (6-foot-3/215 pounds, Seffner, Fla./Armwood) and Mike Davis (5-10/195, Stone Mountain, Ga./Stephenson). But with Davis decommitting from Florida this past week, the Gators may not end up with two backs in this class.

UF may have to look forward to the 2013 class to add depth and talent at the position. Luckily for the Gators, the state of Florida is absolutely loaded with running backs in 2013. Here’s a closer look at some of the top backs for next year:

Adam Lane (5-7/206, Winter Haven, Fla./Winter Haven HS)

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Notes from Florida road trip: Part 2 

November, 3, 2011
11/03/11
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COCOA, Fla. -- For a player midway through his junior season Cocoa (Fla.) running back Tarean Folston has accomplished a lot.

He already has two state championships, has played two games at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas and one at Ohio Stadium in Columbus.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder has carried Cocoa through a rough schedule. The three-time defending state champions are normally dominant but with competition that included Colerain (Cincinnati), Skyline (Dallas) and Miami Central, the Tigers are 4-4 going into their final district game this weekend.

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