Florida State Seminoles: Arkansas Razorbacks

States of strength: Texas RBs 

May, 15, 2014
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When it comes to running backs, the state of Texas is loaded. Ten running backs represent the Lone Star State in the ESPN 300. Of those 10, five are committed. A total of seven running backs in the state have reported FBS commitments.

ESPN 300 RBs from the state:

No. 50 Ronald Jones II: Ranked the nation’s No. 3 running back, Jones is an explosive, game-changing back who -- as scary as it might sound -- will only get better. Jones committed to Oklahoma State on April 6 and finished his junior season with more than 2,400 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns.

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The state of Florida has always been known for producing some of the top athletes in the country. The term "athlete" is sometimes looked at as a negative term, but it really means our scouts believe these talented prospects could play more than one position in college. Here is a closer look at some of the top athletes from the Sunshine State in the 2015 class.

ESPN 300 athletes from Florida

No. 8 Torrance Gibson: Gibson is a skilled athlete who can make plays on offense. The five-star athlete led his high school, Plantation American Heritage, to the state championship game. In the game, he had a touchdown run of 80 yards and also a long touchdown pass that was among the "SportsCenter" Top 10 plays. He wants to play quarterback on the next level, but he’s the most talented wide receiver on his South Florida Express 7-on-7 team. Whatever position he chooses, Gibson has a bright future ahead of him.


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Early Offer: Signing day is here 

February, 5, 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 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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Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

January, 27, 2014
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Less than two weeks remain until national signing day, and this was the second-to-last official visit weekend before Feb. 5. There were a couple of big decommitments, a few commitments and several key official visits. Here’s a closer look at all the latest recruiting news around the SEC.


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Army Bowl notebook: Dec. 31 

December, 31, 2013
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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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Take two: Hampton set to make decision

December, 20, 2013
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MERIDIAN, Miss. -- As C.J. Hampton (Meridian, Miss./Meridian) walked through his high school gymnasium Tuesday night, he received what many would consider the celebrity treatment. There were no autographs or pictures taken, but it was clear that everybody knew who he was. He was greeted by each and every person he passed. He was the center of attention.

The basketball game featured Malik Newman, the nation’s No. 1 hoops prospect for the class of 2015, but all eyes were still on Hampton. It’s been that way all week for the ESPN 300 safety.

“I can’t really say it’s been a hard because at the end of the day, it’s an honor,” Hampton said. “People calling, just wanting to contact you. [They] want to talk to talk to you about playing at their school. It gets stressful at times, but I look at it more like there’s a lot of guys that want to be in this position. I just take it all in.”

Hampton, one of the more coveted football prospects in the Southeast, will make his college decision Friday at 5:30 p.m. CT, choosing between Alabama, Arkansas, Florida State and Ole Miss.

“I’ve been to all four of them,” he said. “Every time I go, there’s a lot of love shown there. They’re all top programs, and they’re surrounded by good people, great athletes and a great coaching staff.”

It’s not an easy decision, but it’s a decision that he’s made before. He originally committed to Ole Miss during the summer before his junior year.

At the time, it seemed like a no-brainer. The Rebels were the first to offer, and he had already built a strong relationship with the new coaching staff.

“Ole Miss was his favorite school,” said Hampton’s father, Calvin Hampton Sr. “Even when he was younger, he said he wanted to play baseball at Ole Miss. It was just always his favorite.”

Once Hampton was committed, the recruitment process began to take off. He started receiving offers from Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee and even Stanford, but it was an offer from Alabama, the two-time defending national champion, that made him question his initial pledge.

When he visited Tuscaloosa for camp in June, the UA staff made it clear that he was the No. 1 safety on their board.

“With C.J., they were like a bunch of wolves on a piece of meat,” Hampton Sr. said. “They were on him, and it was very sincere.”

Hampton never made it public, but he said it wasn’t long after his trip to Alabama that summer that he decided to reopen his recruitment.

“It always felt like you’re letting somebody down, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to do what’s best for you and your family for the next couple of years,” Hampton said.

Now it’s once again time to make a commitment to the school of his choice, but this time it’s final. He plans to enroll in two weeks, so there’s no going back now. Alabama and Ole Miss are both very much in the mix along with Arkansas and Florida State.

On Tuesday, the ESPN 300 star watched the basketball game with his Florida State hat on and a matching Seminoles’ lanyard hanging out of his pocket. It would seem as though he’s leaning towards the ACC champion if it wasn’t the fourth school he had represented that week.

“It matched the shoes," he said.

Hampton likes to keep people guessing, but the world will know his decision come Friday.

“I’m just ready for everything to be settled, for everyone to know what it is and to just chill out some," he said.

Early Offer: Difficult dilemma for U-M 

November, 27, 2013
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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: A five-star Michigan commit said Tuesday the equivalent of "I think we should start seeing other people,” and Miami could be in position to flip one of the nation’s top running backs.


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Cornell, No. 1 in 2015 class, narrows list 

November, 20, 2013
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Jashon Cornell (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin Derham-Hall), the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2015, has narrowed his top list. After much deliberation, Cornell has cut the list of schools in the running down to 15.

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Programs off to fast start in 2015 

November, 19, 2013
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While recruiting is undoubtedly a marathon and not a sprint, that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with a good start.

The key for any program is being able to sustain and finish strong, and only time will tell which programs will be able to do that, but what we do know is which teams are off to a fast start in the Class of 2015. Below are the five programs that are leading the pack early for 2015, as well as a few other notable fast starters:


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Froholdt narrows list to three teams 

November, 18, 2013
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Defensive lineman Hjalte Froholdt (Warren, Ohio/Warren G. Harding), the No. 14 ranked prospect in the ESPN Jr. 300, has narrowed his list to three teams after a recent trip to the United States to take visits.

“My top three is Arkansas, Michigan and Florida State, in no order,” he said.


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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: Billy Napier has a great reputation as a recruiter and is proving it this season for the Crimson Tide; despite a season-ending injury, running back Shai McKenzie received good news from schools recruiting him; Auburn could be the team to watch in the SEC if the Tigers continue to win ball games.


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Freshman QB phenom ready for circus 

September, 9, 2013
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Danny ClarkBrad Bournival/ESPNCollege attention is already evident for Danny Clark of Massillon, Ohio, one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2017 class.
Danny Clark (Massillon, Ohio/Washington) should be scared, but he's not.

He's a varsity starting quarterback as a freshman, but he's not fazed.

He plays his home games in a stadium that seats 16,600, a facility that has signs everywhere celebrating its 22 state championships. Massillon is where Chris Spielman, Justin Zwick, Devin Smith and Willie Spencer played, where Paul Brown and Earle Bruce coached. Harry Stuhldreher -- one of the famed Notre Dame four horsemen -- was a Tiger before he played for the Fighting Irish.

None of that frightens him, either.

OK, then. Let's add the fact he's the first freshman nonkicker to ever start for the Tigers, according to Massillon historians. Then let's put his debut on television on a statewide cable network.

Still not just a bit frightened, Danny?

"I’m not thinking about all the other stuff,” Clark said. “I know we have to win; we can’t let this town down. If I do what I’m taught to do, we’ll win every game.

“I don’t like to think about the pressure. One of the biggest things was staying calm and not letting the stadium, the lights and the fans get to me. When I’m out here I feel like I’m with my brothers. It means the world to me.”


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SEC Power Rankings: Week 1

September, 3, 2013
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The first week of college football is in the books, and it's time to see where we think all 14 SEC teams stack up in our weekly power rankings:

1. Alabama (1-0; LW: 1): OK, Alabama isn't perfect. Contrary to what AJ McCarron said, the offensive line looked ugly for most of the night in Alabama's win over Virginia Tech. It has to get better in a hurry. But when your defense and special teams are clicking like they were on Saturday, who needs offense?

2. South Carolina (1-0; LW: 4): Two players I've been saying to keep an eye on since the spring: Mike Davis and Shaq Roland. Both looked pretty good, especially Davis, in that opening win, and both will be fun to watch this weekend. The defensive front looked great, but can someone please give Jadeveon Clowney some vitamin C and an extra Gatorade?

3. LSU (1-0; LW: 6): Don't sleep on these Tigers. They're undervalued, but were very impressive in their 37-27 victory over a ranked TCU team in their own backyard. The defense still looks fast, and the offense racked up nearly 450 yards behind some explosive plays. The return of running back Jeremy Hill should make this team even better.

4. Texas A&M (1-0; LW: 2): Johnny Manziel looked good when he was actually playing football Saturday. He went through his progressions and didn't think "run" first. But his antics have to stop (just ask Kevin Sumlin), and that defense has to get much, much, MUCH better before Alabama rolls into town in two weeks.

5. Florida (1-0; LW: 5): It doesn't look like the Gators will miss much of a beat defensively after they suffocated Toledo and that uptempo offense. The offense? Well, it did look more polished and the passing game actually moved down the field, but the Gators were very vanilla. Expect that to change against Miami.

6. Georgia (0-1; LW: 3): We knew the defense would struggle against Clemson's high-octane offense, but the Bulldogs looked really bad in the tackling department. This group has to go back to the basics, and that isn't a good thing with physical South Carolina coming to town this weekend. Also, that offensive line has to protect Aaron Murray better because Todd Gurley can't do it all himself on offense.

7. Ole Miss (1-0; LW: 8): The future certainly looks bright in Oxford, Miss., but this program is hoping the present is just as bright. The Rebels kicked off the college football season with an electric, back-and-forth win over Vanderbilt. This offense looks built to go the distance, but depth is still a major concern. Health is key.

8. Vanderbilt (0-1; LW: 7): The Commodores lost a heartbreaker to the Rebels at home, but this team still looks as explosive as it was last year. The defense has some things to clean up, but defensive coordinator Bob Shoop should make sure that happens. Jordan Matthews has star status, but not having Chris Boyd on the other side of him hurts the offense.

9. Auburn (1-0; LW: 9): The Tigers had quite a fun opener. Both the offense and defense were up and down, but it had to be nice for Gus Malzahn to see his running game put up 295 yards on Washington State. The pass defense has some work to do and injuries won't help.

10. Missouri (1-0; LW: 11): The 58-point, 694-yard performance from the Tigers' offense looked more like what people in Columbia, Mo., expected to see more often last year. Granted, it was against Murray State, but that sort of outing will build some confidence within this group. It was good to see James Franklin and Henry Josey on the field and healthy again.

11. Arkansas (1-0; LW: 13): By looking at the box score, you'd think Bobby Petrino's offense was back in Fayetteville, Ark., after the Hogs put up 522 yards on Louisiana-Lafayette. The Hogs could run and pass, and the defense held the Ragin' Cajuns to just 274 yards. The Hogs still have a couple of cupcakes to face before things get interesting at Rutgers.

12. Tennessee (1-0; LW: 12): We really don't know what to take from Tennessee's thumping of a very overmatched Austin Peay team, but the Vols looked to have some real legs in the running game. How long that will last is a mystery, but it was a good start. Things get tougher this weekend when Western Kentucky and Bobby Petrino visit Rocky Top.

13. Mississippi State (0-1; LW: 10): That was a bad offensive performance by the Bulldogs in their 21-3 loss to Oklahoma State. Mississippi State was 2-for-16 on third downs and Tyler Russell threw for only 133 yards against a defense that ranked 113th nationally in pass defense last year. The Bulldogs held the Cowboys to just 146 passing yards, but allowed nearly 286 rushing yards.

14. Kentucky (0-1; LW: 14): That was not the opener Mark Stoops wanted or needed. The Wildcats looked overmatched against Western Kentucky and are still struggling mightily to find playmakers in the passing game. What had to really upset Stoops was that his defensive line, which was supposed to be this team's best unit, didn't get enough pressure up front and allowed the Hilltoppers to rush for more than 200 yards.

The List: Most important SEC recruits 

August, 20, 2013
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Whether it's on-field production or friendships that recruits develop with other recruits, some prospects just have a desire to play with other top prospects. Here's a closer look at the most important committed player for each SEC school.

Alabama

ATH Bo Scarbrough (Bradenton, Fla./IMG Academy)
6-foot-2, 215 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 20
The 20th-ranked player in the country has been committed to the Crimson Tide for nearly a year and is the highest-ranked Alabama commit. With his size and athleticism, Scarbrough could play either running back or linebacker. Alabama is targeting at least three players in the ESPN 300 top 10, including RB Leonard Fournette, OL Cameron Robinson and CB Marlon Humphrey, and Scarbrough is the type of star player with whom other big-name recruits want to play.


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BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Running back Shai McKenzie (Washington, Pa./Washington) doesn't yet have a clear picture of which school he would like to attend, but he's hoping that starts to sort itself out in the near future. The three-star running back has a top list in order but said nothing is final just yet.

"I'm at a top five, in order: Florida State, Pitt, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Arkansas," he said. "I know July 13 I'm going to visit Virginia Tech and July 20 going to Arkansas, so that order could change. Those are my top five for now, but I could fall in love with one of those schools and switch it."

At 5-foot-11, 213 pounds, McKenzie has some big-time offers outside his top five, including Oklahoma, North Carolina, Michigan State, Penn State, South Carolina and Tennessee among others. Despite saying that his order could change, the Seminoles have a firm grasp on the top spot for now with a slight advantage in its corner.

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Georgia Flips, Signs ESPN 300 FSU Commit
National recruiting coordinator Craig Haubert talks about ESPN 300 defensive end Michael Barnett's decision to sign financial aid papers at Georgia. Barnett had previously been committed to Florida State and Virginia Tech.
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