Florida State Seminoles: Kentucky Wildcats

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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.

Signing day winners and losers

February, 5, 2014
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The ceremonies have concluded, the ink has dried and the fax machines have been turned off once again. And with that, the Class of 2014 is mostly in the books. As is the case annually, there were a number of winners but also some losers on national signing day. Here is a look at a few schools that excelled -- and a couple others that didn't.

THE WINNERS

LSU: The Tigers began the day at No. 3 in the RecruitingNation class rankings and ended with 2014's No. 2 class. The reason is simple: Les Miles and staff got the prospect they had to have in the nation's No. 1 wide receiver, Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian). The Tigers lost both Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson to the NFL, making defensive tackle a key position of need, and they inked a pair of talented tackles in ESPN 300 Travonte Valentine (Hialeah, Fla./Champagnant Catholic) and four-star Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio, Texas/Earl Warren). Under the radar but significant is three-star defensive end Sione Teuhema (Keller, Texas/Keller), who flipped from Texas to LSU. Teuhema’s younger brother Maea Teuhema (Keller, Texas/Keller) is the No. 38 junior in the ESPN Junior 300 and has pledged to LSU as well. Holding off Auburn and UCLA to keep ESPN 300 defensive end Davon Godchaux (Plaquemine, La./Plaquemine) was another win on Wednesday.

Florida State: The Seminoles entered signing day with the No. 4-ranked class but were poised to close with a vengeance, and Jimbo Fisher and staff did just that. While the Seminoles moved up only one spot to No. 3, the hits on Wednesday are significant. Leading the way was No. 2-ranked wide receiver Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead). The Noles weren’t done at receiver either, as Fisher and staff flipped Virginia Tech commit and No. 117 overall Ja'Von Harrison (Lakeland, Fla./Kathleen). No. 158 Roderick Johnson (Saint Louis, Mo./Hazelwood Central) and No. 253 Derrick Nnadi (Virginia Beach, Va./Ocean Lakes) were key gets at offensive tackle and defensive tackle, respectively. Three-star offensive tackle Derrick Kelly Jr. (Quincy, Fla./East Gadsden) was another key win over rival Florida.

USC: The Trojans stood to have a big signing day, and Steve Sarkisian and staff certainly delivered. Not only did USC win the hotly contested battle for five-star athlete Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra), but the Trojans won the race for ESPN 300 No. 24 Juju Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and signed No. 67 overall Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) as expected. More than the names and rankings, Wednesday was a huge perception win for the Trojans and Sarkisian. USC jumped to No. 14 from No. 24 in the RecruitingNation class rankings.

Georgia: The Bulldogs didn’t have a big day in terms of number of commits, but quality ruled the day. Mark Richt and staff signed the player they had to have in five-star outside linebacker/defensive end Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross). While Carter’s announcement was the big one Wednesday afternoon, the morning started off with a bang for Georgia with the signing of No. 286 overall Isaiah McKenzie (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage), who was first offered on Monday and never even visited Athens. Those two big signings kept the Bulldogs in the top 10 at No. 9.

South Carolina: One of the big movers in the class rankings on Wednesday was the Gamecocks. Not only did South Carolina make a jump from No. 27 to No. 19 throughout the day, but the Gamecocks also addressed major areas of need. Steve Spurrier and staff had key areas of need at cornerback and along the defensive front, and they delivered by picking up a pair of ESPN 300 corners in No. 87 overall Chris Lammons (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Plantation) and No. 120 Wesley Green (Lithonia, Ga./Martin Luther King), as well as flipping ESPN 300 defensive tackle Dexter Wideman (Saluda, S.C./Saluda) from Florida State and three-star defensive end Blake McClain (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) from Nebraska. Fighting off the late January runs by Alabama and Georgia for ESPN 300 linebacker commit Bryson Allen-Williams (Ellenwood, Ga./Cedar Grove) has to be included in the huge wins in recent days.

Kentucky: Sure, Kentucky plucked only one key target on Wednesday in three-star former Vanderbilt and Penn State defensive end commit Lloyd Tubman (Louisville, Ky./Seneca), but it was still a huge day at the finish line for the Wildcats. The 2014 class marks the first time in the nine years that ESPN has ranked recruiting classes that the Wildcats have finished with a top 25 class, and that includes a big win over Alabama for in-state four-star defensive tackle Matt Elam (Elizabethtown, Ky./John Hardin). Signing six defensive backs fills a huge need as well.

Michigan State: The Spartans had a near dream season on the field, and followed it up by closing strong in recruiting. Not only did Michigan State jump nine spots in the class rankings from No. 38 to No. 29 on Wednesday, but it did so while filling a big need on the defensive front with big-time talent. ESPN 300 defensive end Malik McDowell (Southfield, Mich./Southfield) was a big win over Ohio State, Florida State and Michigan, while flipping four-star defensive tackle Craig Evans (Sun Prairie, Wis./Sun Prairie) from Wisconsin earlier in the week was another huge win for the Spartans.

Pac-12: The conference as a whole was quite possibly the big winner on signing day. Of the 13 live commitments on ESPNU throughout the morning and afternoon, seven committed and signed with Pac-12 programs. The winner within the Pac-12 was USC, but Stanford also enjoyed a big day with No. 25 overall Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell) and three-star corner Terrence Alexander (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian).

THE LOSERS

UCLA: Along with USC and South Carolina, the UCLA Bruins came into today with the most to gain. While Jim Mora and staff scored with four-star linebacker Kenny Young (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian), it was mostly misses throughout the day. Jackson and Smith picked crosstown rival USC, while Dupre opted for home-state LSU. At defensive end, the Bruins missed out twice on Wednesday with Thomas selecting Stanford and Godchaux sticking with LSU. And finally, No. 52 overall Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) stayed in state by picking Alabama over Auburn.

Ole Miss: It’s difficult to place the Rebels' No. 17 class with the losers on signing day, but that was the case in Oxford, Miss. Not only did Ole Miss drop a spot in the class rankings, but it also came up dry with explosive ESPN 300 receiver and return man Isaiah McKenzie (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage), after Hugh Freeze and staff worked the Under Armour All-America Game standout all the way up until Wednesday morning before McKenzie announced for Georgia. While Dupre was a long shot, he was yet another prospect who went elsewhere. The Rebels also lost out on Alexander, who selected Stanford over Notre Dame. The bright spot for the Rebels on Wednesday was signing former Notre Dame transfer and No. 22 in the ESPN JC 50, Tee Shepard

Early Offer: A winning attitude 

January, 31, 2014
Jan 31
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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: 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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The ACC will once again play one of the toughest nonconference schedules in the country in 2014, but that should not be the biggest takeaway from Wednesday.

Difficult out-of-conference slates have become the norm for a league that has stepped it up more than any other power-five conference in the scheduling department. Games against Georgia, Oklahoma State, UCLA, Nebraska, USC and Ohio State in 2014 compare to games played against Penn State, Oregon, Alabama, BYU and Florida in 2013 (Georgia and USC were nonconference opponents last year, too).

What truly stood out with the complete ACC schedule release is what the league is attempting to do with the final weekend of the regular season. An idea tossed around to make it a “rivalry weekend” across the entire league appears to have come to fruition, at least for now.

[+] EnlargeTelvin Smith
Don Juan Moore/Getty ImagesThe annual Florida State-Florida matchup is getting some rivalry company on the ACC's schedule for the final weekend of the 2014 season.
In addition to longtime rivalry games Florida State-Florida, Clemson-South Carolina, Georgia-Georgia Tech and Virginia-Virginia Tech, the league has scheduled Boston College-Syracuse and Miami-Pitt to close the season for the second year in a row, and has added NC State-North Carolina, Wake Forest-Duke and Louisville-Kentucky to the mix.

One more highlight: Virginia and Virginia Tech will play in Blacksburg, Va., on Thanksgiving Friday for the first time since 1996 to kick off the weekend.

Give the ACC credit for trying to make the final weekend of the regular season even more meaningful. Not only are there now important out-of-conference games against SEC opponents -- always a huge measuring stick for the league -- there are now hugely significant conference games that should draw even more attention to the ACC.

Wake Forest and Duke will play for the 95th time this season; NC State and North Carolina will play for the 104th time, the fourth-most-played series in the ACC. While the argument can be made that bunching these games all together could detract from some of them, the bigger picture must be considered.

The ACC has taken heat for some of its scheduling decisions now that the league has grown to 14 teams and Notre Dame is in the mix for five games a year. Some teams will go years and years between meetings under the current scheduling format (Duke and NC State will not play again until 2020, for example).

Indeed, future conference scheduling will be a hot topic of discussion during the league’s winter meetings next week.

But at least the ACC is taking a step here to showcase its major rivalry games on one weekend. The ACC and SEC asked Louisville and Kentucky to move its rivalry game from the first month of the season to the last weekend for this reason; BC-Syracuse and Miami-Pitt were together in the Big East. We all know how the North Carolina schools feel about one another.

And there is the rub. Rivalries are part of what make college football so special. So many of them have gone away thanks to conference expansion, leaving some fans to wonder whether too much has been lost at the expense of big business.

The ACC should be commended for trying to make something like this work. Yes, Miami and Pitt have bigger rivals inside the ACC, but at least these teams have a history of playing one another. Their matchup here might seem a bit odd, but it works in the big picture. College football could use more rivalries.

More rivalries bunched together on one weekend ratchets up the excitement and interest. What could possibly be wrong with that?

SEC recruiting storylines: Dec. 19 

December, 19, 2013
12/19/13
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Here are five things to watch over the holidays in the SEC:

Fournette set to announce

The nation’s top ranked prospect, running back Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine), is scheduled to announce his decision during the Under Armour All-America Game Jan. 2, which will be on ESPN at 4 p.m. ET. Fournette has made official visits to Texas, LSU and Alabama.

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Carolinas event loaded with top prospects 

December, 16, 2013
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- The Carolinas consistently have proved to be one of the top areas in the nation to find gridiron talent. These two states in recent years have produced players like current Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green, South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney, the No. 1 overall player in the 2011 class, and Georgia RB Todd Gurley. For the 2014 class, 22 players from these two states are represented in the ESPN 300, and several of them are taking part in the annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas here this week.


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Early Offer: Mixon all mixed up 

November, 7, 2013
11/07/13
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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: Just when it seemed clear on what four-star running back Joe Mixon was thinking, an official visit to Florida State has seemingly brought his decision back to square one; two of the top recruits in Ohio were hoping to make a decision in early January, but the success of their high school teams might change those plans; Missouri and Tennessee made nice climbs in the latest RecruitingNation class rankings.

Mixon mixed up

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SEC Power Rankings: Week 1

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
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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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PRATTVILLE, Ala. -- Four-star running back Kamryn Pettway might have flipped his commitment from Florida State to Auburn earlier this year, but that hasn’t stopped the Seminoles from recruiting the Prattville High School star.

“They’re still recruiting me pretty hard, and they still say there’s a spot for me down there,” Pettway said.


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Handicapping the race for Wiggins 

May, 13, 2013
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The long wait is finally almost over. Andrew Wiggins (Thornhill, Ontario/Huntington Prep), the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2013, will announce his college decision at approximately 12:15 p.m. ET Tuesday.

Wiggins is down to Florida State, Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky. During the long course of his recruitment, each team has at various times seemed like the front-runner and the dark horse. Not only has his decision come down to the wire, it also appears to be a photo finish.

To try to make some sense of it all on the eve of his decision, we’re here to handicap the race, complete with why Wiggins would and wouldn’t pick each school and our unofficial final odds on each program’s chances of landing him.

[+] EnlargeAndrew Wiggins
Courtesy of McDonald'sOn the eve of his decision, the race for No. 1 recruit Andrew Wiggins still appears wide open.
Florida State Seminoles
Odds of landing Wiggins: 35 percent


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What Wiggins would mean for ... 

May, 13, 2013
5/13/13
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On Tuesday at approximately 12:15 p.m. ET, No. 1 recruit Andrew Wiggins (Thornhill, Ontario/Huntington Prep) will finally make his college decision known in a small ceremony at his school in front of classmates, family and friends. Wiggins is down to Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina. Whichever school he chooses, he’ll be an instant-impact, program-changing player thanks to his amazing athletic ability and skills.

So before he ends the suspense and makes one college program very happy, let’s break down what landing Wiggins would mean for each of his four finalists.

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Editor's note: This story originally ran on Feb. 28. With Andrew Wiggins' college decision on tap for Tuesday afternoon at 12:15 p.m. ET, here is a complete breakdown of his game from RecruitingNation's Paul Biancardi.

By now, you probably know that Andrew Wiggins (Thornhill, Ontario/Huntington Prep) is an extra-special prospect. The best high school basketball recruit in the country, Wiggins is the kind of player who doesn’t come around very often. He’ll make an immediate impact in college and then likely go on to a long, successful NBA career.

It’s no wonder some of college basketball’s best programs -- he’s down to Kentucky, Florida State, North Carolina and Kansas -- are salivating at the chance to get him on campus.

But what exactly makes him such an amazing prospect? Here’s a full scouting report of his game, complete with strengths, areas for improvement and what his ultimate potential could be.

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No. 1 recruit Wiggins set to announce

May, 13, 2013
5/13/13
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The top-ranked senior and only uncommitted ESPN 100 prospect is finally ready to make his decision.

Small forward Andrew Wiggins (Thornhill, Ontario/Huntington Prep) will announce his college choice at 12:15 p.m. ET on Tuesday at a small event at his high school. Huntington Prep coach Rob Fulford tweeted Sunday night that Wiggins will not hold a press conference ceremony but will instead sign in front of classmates, family and friends.

Wiggins, who will decide between Florida State, North Carolina, Kentucky and Kansas, was named the 2013 Gatorade National Player of the Year after averaging 23.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 2.5 assists per game this season for Huntington Prep.

RN Top 10: IMG SE Regional 

April, 22, 2013
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BRADENTON, Fla. -- Some of the top prospects at the skill positions took to the fields at the IMG Academy over the weekend to participate in the 7-on-7 Southeast Regional. Here are 10 players who really stood out based upon their performances alone.

10. Kyle Gibson
Seffner (Fla.) Armwood | ATH | 6-foot, 180 pounds

The safety wasn't flashy over the course of the two-day event, but Gibson consistently seemed to be in good position to knock down pass attempts. The four-star prospect continually took the right angles on deep balls and came up aggressively on underneath routes. On day one, Gibson helped Team Tampa beat the South Florida Express Elite, which consisted of big-time wide receivers Ermon Lane and Florida State commit JoJo Robinson. Vanderbilt and Louisville are two schools standing out for Gibson. He has no timeframe on making a decision.


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