Florida State Seminoles: Auburn Tigers

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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video Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.

MIAMI -- South Florida has always been a recruiting hot bed and this year is no different. Out-of-state schools will flock to the talent-rich area to try and land some of the top prospects in the country. Prospects like ESPN Junior 300 defensive back Tarvarus McFadden and his teammate Torrance Gibson are two of the highly-ranked recruits that are getting that attention in this class.

McFadden, the No. 58-ranked player in the country, is considering the big in-state schools -- Florida, Florida State and Miami -- and handful of out-of-state schools like Ohio State, USC, LSU, Georgia, Auburn and Tennessee.


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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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video Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- For most highly-rated defensive line prospects coming out of high school, the word "technique" is rarely used. Not because the prospects don’t want to learn, but because proper technique is something that is seldom taught or even required at the high school level. Top defensive line prospects generally rely on brute strength or superior speed to beat the offensive linemen they face. But for ESPN Junior 300 defensive end Byron Cowart, who is the No. 68-ranked prospect in the country, technique has been his sole focus during the offseason.


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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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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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SWANSEA, S.C. -– ESPN Junior 300 linebacker Johnathon Sutton (Swansea, S.C./Swansea High) is one of the top juniors in South Carolina.

The talent level of the 5-foot-11, 215-pound Sutton can truly be felt now. After going down with a torn ACL and MCL in the third game of the season, some prospects might have seen offers disappear or phone calls from schools not returned.


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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: If USC is going to close strong, landing some of this weekend’s 11 official visitors are key; even though neither are going to land him, Alabama and Oregon earned high praise for their recruiting efforts with offensive lineman Braden Smith’s coach; and Lorenzo Carter has become priority No. 1 for several of the Southeast's top teams.

11 recruits set to visit USC


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APOPKA, Fla. -- Martez Ivey (Apopka, Fla./Apopka), the No. 7-ranked prospect in the ESPN Junior 300, is one of the hottest commodities in recruiting.

The 6-foot-6, 270-pound tackle prospect walks into the Blue Darters weight room every day and has college coaches waiting to watch him lift weights or just make sure the physically imposing prospect knows they are at the school.


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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A trio of Jacksonville Trinity Christian underclassmen decided to announce their college destinations on Thursday morning. ESPN Junior 300 defensive tackle Kendrick Norton made his pledge to the national champion Florida State Seminoles, while 2015 safety Deontai Williams gave his pledge to Florida. Sophomore running back Jalin Buie joined in on the action by giving his commitment to Auburn.

Norton said his comfort level with FSU was a primary reason for his decision.

"I just felt the most at home there,” Norton said. "They are the school that recruited me the hardest. All of my family is up there and that’s where I’m from so it was just very comfortable for me.”

Deontai Williams, Kendrick Norton, Jalin Buie
Derek Tyson/ESPNDeontai Williams, Kendrick Norton and Jalin Buie have committed to Florida, FSU and Auburn, respectively.
The 6-foot-2, 275-pound athlete, who’s the No. 118-ranked 2015 player in the country, can play either offensive guard or defensive tackle on the next level.

"I prefer defensive line and that’s what they are recruiting me for,” Norton said, "but they said I could play either side of the ball.”

Florida, meanwhile, received a surprise Thursday morning when, ESPN 300 cornerback Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C./Friendship Academy) announced that he would enroll at Florida on Monday. The Gators got more good news when Williams, too, joined the Gators.

Williams, who also held offers from Louisville, Mississippi State, North Carolina and Memphis, decided to end the process early.

"I’ve been a Florida fan since a very young age,” the hard-hitting safety said. "I grew up as a Florida fan. I bleed orange blue so that’s why I committed to Florida. Their season didn’t matter. I bleed orange and blue.”

Buie, a 2016 prospect, said he was impressed with how Tre Mason was used in Auburn’s offense and could see himself in a similar role.

“Well really I just felt comfortable with coach [Gus] Malzahn,” Buie said. “He runs the ball a lot and his offense does a lot of what we do. They run a lot of dives and I like how they use their running backs.”

Holland, Ford name favorites

Jeffery Holland, the No. 8-ranked junior in the country, has narrowed his choices down to six: Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Ohio State, Alabama and UCLA.


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1. Auburn tailback Tre Mason ran for 195 yards on 34 carries, which is impressive enough. But the Heisman finalist rushed for 94 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries in the fourth quarter alone. The Tigers have prided themselves on winning like Stanford, with a running game that just pounds away until the defense wears down. That didn’t happen Monday night because the Auburn defense and special teams faltered. But Mason held up his end of the deal.

2. Over the years, as ticket prices have risen and colleges have looked for more pricey inventory, press boxes have been shifted toward the end zone, or up so high that oxygen masks will drop in case of emergency. The Rose Bowl built two new press boxes, one on each end of the west side of the stadium, much higher than the old stadium. Yet somehow, the seats are better. Maybe because they provide a better view of the San Gabriel Mountains. From where I sit, anyway, the prettiest venue in American sports somehow got prettier.

3. In the final championship game of the BCS era, did you notice how Florida State scored the winning touchdown on a drive that reprised two of the greatest hits of the past 16 years: there was the pass interference call (Miami, 2003); the winning touchdown in the same end zone where Vince Young won the race to the pylon (Texas, 2006). The playoff is next, and after a veerrrry slow start, the BCS set a high standard for the playoff to meet.

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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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