Florida State Seminoles: Alabama Crimson Tide

video Kerryon Johnson, the No. 26 player in the ESPN Junior 300, committed to the Auburn Tigers on Tuesday over Florida State and Alabama. Here’s what his pledge means:


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IMG Southeast Regional notebook 

March, 31, 2014
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BRADENTON, Fla. -- South Florida has always been known for producing top talent and elite seven-on-seven teams but it was two teams from Jacksonville (Fla.) that battled in the finals of the IMG 7v7 Southeast Regional Championships on Sunday.

The Pro Impact team, led by LSU commit and the No. 3-ranked player in the ESPN Junior 300 Kevin Toliver II and defensive back Derwin James Jr., a Florida State commit, upset River City, which featured FSU quarterback commit De’Andre Johnson and South Carolina commit Sherrod Pittman, 23-14.


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Birmingham NFTC notebook 

March, 30, 2014
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HOOVER, Ala. -- The state of Alabama is home to four of the last five national championships, and there was no shortage of talent on hand Sunday as the Nike Football Training Camp made a stop in the Yellowhammer State. By the end of the day, seven players from four different states earned their invite to The Opening.

New offers pique Payne’s interest

The top-ranked player at the event was defensive tackle Daron Payne, a local product, ranked No. 23 overall in the ESPN 300. He didn’t make the list of players invited to The Opening, but based on the media coverage, he was still the center of attention, both on and off the field.


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Atlanta NFTC notebook 

March, 23, 2014
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ROSWELL, Ga. -- The Atlanta Nike Football Training Camp is generally one of the most impressive groups of high school football players you will find in the country. This year’s camp didn’t disappoint. Eight invites were handed out to The Opening, a prestigious invite-only camp held in Beaverton, Ore., in July.


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ALBANY, Ga. -- The recruitment of defensive tackle Trenton Thompson continues to take shape. The No. 5-ranked prospect in the ESPN Junior 300 has been sitting on offers from nearly every top program in the nation for over a year now, and while once thought to be an early pledge for home-state Georgia, his recruitment has slowed down a bit with the rush of the spring evaluation period around the corner.

While the Bulldogs remain the team to beat at this point, there is stiff competition coming from the region's best. On Wednesday, the 6-foot-3, 311-pound Thompson gave the latest, which includes his top five.


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Top position classes: OL 

February, 20, 2014
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With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes. For the full series, click here.

Nationally (and SEC)
Not only did Alabama put together the best offensive line class in the 2014 cycle, but it's also one of the best in recent memory. The Crimson Tide inked early enrollee and five-star offensive tackle Cameron Robinson (Monroe, La./West Monroe) and also got top-ranked junior college offensive tackle Dominick Jackson (San Mateo, Calif./College of San Mateo). On the interior, the nation's top two centers, No. 168 overall Josh Casher (Mobile, Ala./Saint Paul’s Episcopal) and No. 190 J.C. Hassenauer (Woodbury, Minn./East Ridge) signed, as did No. 3 guard Ross Pierschbacher (Cedar Falls, Iowa/Cedar Falls). A second guard in the class is three-star Montel McBride (Plant City, Fla./Plant City), who could also play nose tackle at the next level.

The Crimson Tide had the nation’s best offensive line class; here’s which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:


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Top position classes: LB 

February, 17, 2014
Feb 17
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With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes. For the full series, click here.

Nationally (and SEC)
The Alabama Crimson Tide’s 2014 class fill just about every need on the board, and that includes linebacker. With designs on addressing pass rushing and the ability to play in space on the edge at outside 'backer in Nick Saban’s 3-4 scheme, Alabama signed the Nos. 1 and No. 2 outside linebackers in the country in No. 48 overall Christian Miller (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley) and No. 52 overall Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn), who is pound for pound of the best pure athletes in the 2014 cycle. The Crimson Tide added two more talented linebackers in ESPN 300’s No. 102 Shaun Dion Hamilton (Montgomery, Ala./Carver) and No. 281 Keith Holcombe (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Hillcrest). Hamilton is an MLB.

The Crimson Tide had the nation’s best linebacker class; here’s which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:


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1. Back to football on Michael Sam for a moment. Even as SEC Defensive Player of the Year, the Missouri defensive end is projected as a middle-round pick because he hasn’t shown the flexibility or the lateral movement that NFL scouts want at that position. From what I am told of his work at the Senior Bowl, he had trouble changing direction. Sam’s strengths: good hands, which are critical to his demonstrated ability to get off blocks.

2. What a year the California Golden Bears have had: a new coach and a new coaching staff, a 1-11 record, with the victory coming against an FCS team, an average losing margin of 28 points in the Pac-12, a revamped coaching staff, massive debt, dwindling crowds, and all of that pales in comparison to the death of defensive end Ted Agu after he collapsed during conditioning on Friday. It simply has to start getting better.

3. The graduate-and-transfer rule that Jacob Coker (Florida State to Alabama) and Max Wittek (USC to …?) are using is eight years old, and it seems to me that football coaches are finally accepting it. I like what North Carolina State head coach Dave Doeren said when graduate quarterback Pete Thomas decided to transfer. “I have really enjoyed coaching him and want him to be successful as a player and in life. Going forward I will do anything I can to help him through his transition as a transfer.” Here’s hoping Thomas has as much success as the last Wolfpack quarterback to use the rule: Russell Wilson.

Early Offer: 2015 begins now 

February, 7, 2014
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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: The ink was barely dry on the letters of intent for 2014 class when one of the best for the 2015 class came off the board; and what schools and recruiters have jumped out of the gate with success with players that won’t sign for another 360-plus days.


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1. Local recruits might be a program’s bread and butter, but it sure seems as if more schools are looking outside their geographic comfort zone. UCLA signed five players east of the Rockies. National champion Florida State reached beyond the local bounty to sign players from 11 other states. Alabama signed recruits from 14 states, not to mention linebacker Rashaan Evans from enemy country (Auburn [Ala.] High). Evans narrowed it down to Alabama, Auburn … and UCLA.

2. Here’s another way of making the same point: Jake Trotter, our Big 12 reporter, said on Paul Finebaum’s radio show Wednesday that the best players in the conference states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Iowa signed with SEC schools. Texas A&M’s move into the SEC opened the doors of the state to the conference. Ten SEC schools, including every Western Division program, signed at least one Texas recruit.

3. It’s great to see Ralph Friedgen return to coaching. The 66-year-old Fridge, after three years of golf and hanging around, will help Rutgers move into the Big Ten as the offensive coordinator for head coach Kyle Flood. Friedgen, who went 75-50 in 10 seasons at Maryland, returned for the same reason that Dennis Erickson and Tom O’Brien are now assistants: to coach young men. That’s why these guys got in the business. After all the years and the money and the fame, that’s why they’re still here.
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: The Class of 2014 will go down as one of the wildest recruiting rides in recent memory. With so many players switching commitments and some elite prospects still left on the board, here are five things to keep an eye on heading into recruiting’s biggest day.

Does Bama have the best class ever?


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3-point stance: Notre Dame luxuries

January, 31, 2014
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1. It took Notre Dame 67 years to perform its first facelift on Notre Dame Stadium in 1996. It took 17 years for the university to announce plans for a new iteration of The House That Rockne Built. The new construction will give Notre Dame the club seating and the suites that every other major stadium has. My favorite part of the news release: Father John I. Jenkins, the university president, said that he didn’t think raising $400 million to fund the construction would be an issue. With that fan base, he’s dead right.

2. The good and bad of Twitter: the travel nightmare endured by Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman in Atlanta, when he spent 19 hours stuck on an icy interstate, is only a slight exaggeration of the road-warrior sagas that FBS recruiters go through every January. Herman used Twitter as lifeline and diary during his overnight stay. Then there’s Syracuse coach Scott Shafer, who, unaware of how serious conditions were, tweeted that Atlantans were “softnosed.” Shafer meant it as a chain-jerk, but it was a classic ready-fire-aim use of the medium. We’ve all been there.

3. Alabama has a commitment from kicker J.K. Scott of Denver Mullen High, which rings a bell for anyone who remembers Wide Right I and II. After Florida State lost to Miami in consecutive seasons, knocking itself out of the race for No. 1, Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden had enough. In Feb. 1993, he signed the best high school kicker in the nation, Scott Bentley, also from the Denver area. Less than a year later, Bentley kicked the field goal that gave Bowden the 1993 national championship.
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Coaches say things like size and speed are important when determining whether or not they will pursue a recruit, but one ACC head coach has something else that’s vital in his team’s evaluation process; Les Miles and Nick Saban were in the home of the nation’s No. 1 receiver prospect on Thursday.

Overlooked part of evaluation


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Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.

The answer to that question depends on what the criteria is for five-star cornerback Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover), the No. 15 player in the ESPN 300. What does he value most? Is it the school or the program or the academics or the social environment? Or, is it an individual relationship?

As much as we would all like to believe that there is proper substance to a prospect's decision of where to attend school, the reality is most prospects have married themselves to a particular coach throughout the process. Depending on Marlon Humphrey’s relationship with Jeremy Pruitt himself, in comparison to other established relationships that are still in place at FSU, this could certainly give cause for Humphrey to re-evaluate.

I would not believe at this time that Pruitt’s move has removed FSU from its status as a finalist. I think Humphrey is smarter than that and has liked FSU all along.

Time will tell, but relationships developed over the course of a player's recruitment do play a huge role.
video
This is part of a series on the nation's top uncommitted recruits leading up to signing day. Click here for the full series.

The Iron Bowl. It’s arguably the greatest rivalry in college football. If there was any doubt about its place before this season, Chris Davis sealed it with his 100-yard field goal return for a touchdown from the back of his own end zone on the game’s final play. The two teams, Alabama and Auburn, played in the last five BCS title games, winning four of them.

It’s no wonder every young football player in the state dreams of playing for one of the two SEC rivals, and it’s why, if offered, the majority of the state’s top prospects end up choosing either the Crimson Tide or the Tigers.

There’s no pipeline out of Alabama. The path leads directly to Auburn or Tuscaloosa.

[+] EnlargeMarlon Humphrey
Miller Safrit/ESPNThe recruitment of five-star cornerback Marlon Humphrey is expected to come down to Alabama or Florida State.
Don’t tell Marlon Humphrey that. The five-star cornerback from Hoover (Ala.) High School is the state’s No. 2 prospect and will decide between Alabama and Florida State on national signing day. Mississippi State and UCLA are also in the mix, but it looks as if the decision ultimately will come down to the Tide and the Seminoles.

If you were a betting man, you’d probably bet on Nick Saban and Alabama. Humphrey just returned from his official visit to Tuscaloosa. He lives less than an hour from UA’s campus, and his father, Bobby, was an All-American running back for the Tide back in the 1980s. It all makes sense for him to stay in state.

That’s not Humphrey, though. He doesn’t care what he "should" do.

“In our society today, he’s kind of a true man,” Hoover coach Josh Niblett said. “He’s a true guy’s guy. He knows what makes him happy. He knows what makes him tick. He knows what makes him go. He knows what makes him want to compete harder. And there’s a lot of people in this world who don’t know that.

“He’s not going to go somewhere where somebody says, ‘Hey, this is where you need to go or this is where your dad went to school or your dad didn’t go to school there.’ He’s going to go where he best feels like he fits what’s going on and where he can best be an asset to the program.”

What makes Humphrey tick is different from most. He has a unique personality, and, when it comes to recruiting, he has his own approach. This past April, he was invited to spring games at Alabama and at Auburn, but he instead chose to stay home and play video games, his own idea of "spring gaming."



This summer, Humphrey missed The Opening, an elite camp featuring the nation’s top recruits, to instead take a trip to Ukraine to compete in the IAAF World Youth Championships. While there, he finished second in the world in the 110-meter hurdles. He nearly skipped his official visit to Florida State earlier this month for a track event in Iceland but decided at the last minute to stay and take the trip.

It’s not that he doesn’t care about recruiting and all that comes with it. He’s just not into it as much as some of the kids in this day and age.

“People see him as being cocky, but he’s more than that,” Humphrey’s teammate and 2015 running back Braderick Shaw said. “He’s a leader. He understands the game, and he just loves that he can compete. He wants to be great.

“At practice, he goes 100 percent every time. We’ll be doing special teams at practice, and he goes all out. He never slows down.”

It’s ultimately what has made Humphrey the player he is today. It’s why he can basically pick the school of his choice and why he’s choosing between the past two BCS national champions.

Humphrey declined to be interviewed for the story, as did his father, as the two are staying away from any interviews until after Humphrey makes his college choice, but that decision came as no surprise to his coach. As outspoken as Humphrey can seem on various social media sites, he has a reserved side, too. A more driven side.

“He just wants to go about his business, do what he’s got to do and be great at what he does,” Niblett said.

That’s why, when it comes time to make a decision, Humphrey won’t do it on television. He reluctantly agreed to do a ceremony at his high school with the rest of his teammates who are signing that day.

“We are trying to make this as normal as it has always been,” Hoover athletic director Myra Miles said in a report from AL.com. “He wants this day to be about everybody here at Hoover and not just himself.”

That’s Humphrey.

Will he continue the family legacy, follow in his dad’s footsteps and play for the Tide? Or will he buck the trend, leave the state of Alabama and sign with Florida State?

Only Humphrey knows.

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Scene and Heard: Top 10 Predictions
In a conversation with ESPN's Antonietta Collins, national recruiting reporter Gerry Hamilton breaks down the recruiting momentum building at Auburn and offers predictions for where the top 10 recruits will commit.Tags: Trenton Thompson, Kerryon Johnson, Jeffery Holland, Martez Ivey, Torrance Gibson, Cece Jefferson, ESPN 300, RecruitingNation, high school football recruiting, Gerry Hamilton
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