Georgia Bulldogs: Stanford Cardinal

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?

Recruit breakdown: DE Solomon Thomas 

January, 16, 2014
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This is part of a series on the nation's top uncommitted recruits leading up to signing day. Click here for the full series.

Solomon Thomas, the No. 25 player in the ESPN 300, is one of the nation's top players still on the board. Thomas is looking at Stanford, Texas, UCLA and others. What will he bring to the school that lands him?


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Week 6: Close calls and contenders

October, 8, 2013
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Aaron Murray, J.J. GreenJim Brown/USA TODAY SportsGeorgia may have celebrated the win, but the Vols were in it until the last minute.
For four months, ESPN The Magazine will follow the march to the Vizio BCS National Championship, moment by moment, culminating in our Story of the Season double issue Dec. 27. Every Tuesday, Mag senior writer Ryan McGee will pick the previous week’s biggest moments and tell you why they’ll have the most impact on potential BCS title matchups. If you disagree, send a tweet to @ESPNMag and tell us why your moment matters more, using the hashtag #StoryoftheSeason. Who knows? Your moment (and tweet) might just end up in our issue.


COACHES HATE a “statement loss.” So do fans, players and anyone else whose lives are built around a team’s record. (Well, OK, that’s everyone.) As former Clemson coach Danny Ford once said, “Moral victories only feel good if you don’t know how good an actual victory feels.”

Week 6 of the season was packed with moral victories, from TCU’s 20-17 near-miss in Norman to Northwestern’s closer-than-the-score, 40-30 loss to Ohio State. None of those games felt good for the losers, but they may have all signified something larger over the horizon. Sure, there’s the far-flung notion of program-building, but Saturday’s efforts might also have a much-larger-than-expected impact on the not-so-distant future, ultimately altering the BCS title march. That could either happen by way of an actual win over the next would-be BCS bowler, or simply damaging the image of the team that won on the scoreboard but could now be vulnerable for its next top-shelf opponent.

“We won and we’ll take it,” Georgia coach Mark Richt admitted after defeating Tennessee 34-31 in overtime, the Bulldogs’ second consecutive three-point, nail-biting W. “But this is the kind of win that you are likely to feel some effect from for a while down the road. The LSU game had some effect this week. Now you hope this doesn’t add on to that.”

Those words sounded a little like what was coming out of the mouths of Tennessee faithful after the heartbreaking defeat: We didn’t win, but we made them earn it! That’s the message that was being rained down upon the Vols as they left the field on Saturday night. They were still reeling from the emotional about-face of thinking receiver Pig Howard’s corner dive toward the pylon had been perhaps the game-winning score to learning that, via the replay booth, it was actually a fingertip fumble and touchback. Moments later, they lost.

As Neyland Stadium emptied, a group of orange-clad fans crowded their way into the first rows that overlook the entrance to the north end zone tunnel, where their gray-clad team was beginning to file through en route to the locker room. They shouted encouragement to the players, but were waiting on the coach.

Butch Jones doesn’t typically walk off the field. He runs. He jogs. He at the very least speed-walks. But as the Vols first-year coach turned toward the tunnel at Neyland Stadium, he was walking. Exhausted, covered in sweat, and with only a wisp of his perpetually hoarse voice remaining. The famously exuberant coach had been fearless during the game, going for it on fourth down three times in the fourth quarter, twice in his own territory and converting all three with perfect play-calling. But he looked beaten down. Moments earlier, his undermanned Vols had Georgia on the ropes. Now as he strode toward the tunnel, the scoreboard on the giant video screen behind him read “34-31 F OT.”

“They knew we were here, coach!” the fans shouted down, drawing a halfhearted thumbs up. “Brick by brick! Brick by brick!”

On paper, it will look like just another big-game loss for Tennessee, which still hasn’t defeated a top-10 team since 2006 and extended its winless streak against ranked opponents to 19. The Vols will face at least two more ranked teams (Alabama, South Carolina) and possibly a third (Missouri) this season. But the reality is that the Vols were in the game until -- actually during -- the last minute. They also hit hard, inflicting injuries to four key Georgia players and adding the likes of Keith Marshall, Michael Bennett and Justin Scott-Wesley to an already too-long list of wounded stars.

That might make this week’s game in Athens against undefeated largely unknown Missouri much more of a contest than previously expected.

“I’m not really in the celebrating mood so much,” Richt said. His finger was bleeding, having just been cut on his postgame news conference chair. During the game he’d been knocked to the turf when a play ran over the sideline. “I’m just thankful to escape here with a victory, considering what happened.”




Nearly 2,500 miles west of Neyland Stadium’s tunnel, Stanford Stadium’s walkways were also filled with dejection.

“There’s no awards for losing.”

Those were the words of Steve Sarkisian, coach of the then-No. 15 Washington Huskies, whose chances of knocking off the fifth-ranked Cardinal came down to one final fourth-down play. That’s when electrifying quarterback Keith Price scrambled ... and then scrambled again ... to fire an on-the-run pass that was so close to being a first down catch that it was ruled a catch by the on-field officials, but was overturned by the instant replay booth, which ruled that it was an incomplete pass, having squirted out and touched the turf. Washington turned the ball over on downs and lost 31-28.

“It's unfortunate the game had to come down to a judgment call like that,” Sarkisian said. “That part was unfortunate, because it was two good football teams battling and competing with one another, and I wish the game would have gotten won on the field and not in the booth upstairs with some guy that didn't get to feel the emotion and the hard-fought football game that that game was.”

Stanford coach David Shaw (who admitted he also believed it was a catch until his press box coaches convinced him otherwise) was asked to address the same concerns expressed by Richt earlier in the evening. What would be the mental and physical cost of a win like Saturday night's, especially with the Cardinal’s brutal upcoming Pac-12 schedule, starting with a trip to Utah? But instead of worrying about damage, he turned the conversation back toward toughness.

“This is what we’re built for. All we talk about is the fourth quarter. About being finishers. Every day we have a finisher at the end of the day. Every week we have a finisher at the end of the week. We train ourselves to be at our best in the fourth quarter.”




Coach Sark’s rant about the replay booth, a job that he also compared to playing a video game, is threatening to become a shared chorus. Most of the weekend’s biggest games, including Washington-Stanford and Georgia-Tennessee, hinged on replay rulings.

The contentious tone surrounding game-deciding calls, on the field and in the booth, has built throughout the season, from the bizarre finish of Wisconsin-Arizona State to the in-or-out sideline ruling at Clemson-NC State. But the decidedly testier feelings on replay that were shown throughout Week 6 were put into motion by Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads, who after Thursday night’s 31-30 loss to Texas unleashed one of the coolest postgame coaching rants of all time. It ranked alongside Tommy West’s 2009 post-firing directive on how to rebuild the Memphis football program. (“Give the next guy a fighting chance.”)

Texas running back Johnathan Gray had the football ripped away just short of the goal line, and it appeared Iowa State had possession before the whistle blew. Game over. But the officials ruled Gray down by contact. The booth upheld the call.



Keep in mind, Rhoads’ speech is not a CTRL+C of Sarkisian’s comments, which came 48 hours later: “What you saw tonight were a couple of teams playing their hearts out. You could argue both deserve to win the football game.” Then, his voice rising: “And to make a play ... on the 1-yard line ... with their backs against the wall ... clear to everybody ... and have it taken away from them! That’s hard to express. You don’t just put your arm around a guy and tell him that’s OK ... if that’s just happened to him!”

It’ll be even harder to do that if one of those calls ends up determining who does or doesn’t get to play for the BCS championship in January.

That’s nearly happened already, at least three times -- and it’s not even the second weekend of October.

ESPN The Magazine

ESPN.com's preseason power rankings

August, 9, 2013
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College Football Power Rankings illustrationESPN IllustrationTBD BY EDITORIAL


Not surprisingly, the back-to-back BCS champions are again preseason favorites and top ESPN's power rankings. But a number of elite programs are ready for their chance to dethrone the king.

Top 15 breakdown
No. 1 Alabama
No. 2 Ohio State
No. 3 Oregon
No. 4 Stanford
No. 5 Texas A&M
No. 6 (tie) Georgia
No. (tie) South Carolina
No. 8 Louisville
No. 9 Clemson
No. 10 Florida
No. 11 Florida State
No. 12 LSU
No. 13 Notre Dame
No. 14 (tie) Michigan
No. 14 (tie) Texas

#AskLoogs: Crafting the perfect QB

August, 8, 2013
8/08/13
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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.



Sure, we’ll give this a try with QB’s in the current 2014 class with the categories below…

Arm strength: Georgia commit Jacob Park (Stratford/Goose Creek, S.C.). This was close, could have put Alabama commit David Cornwell (Norman North/Norman, Okla.) here as well. The ball jumps out of Park's arm with velocity, power and RPMs to drive the ball vertically and into tight spots.

Accuracy: Stanford commit Keller Chryst (Palo Alto/Palo Alto, Calif.). Chryst shows terrific ball placement and timing with the ability to change ball speeds and drop the ball in over coverage to small windows. His ability to anticipate allows him to throw to a spot before the receiver breaks.

Delivery: Purdue commit David Blough. Is is an uncoachable trait, in my opinion, and one that is highly coveted. Blough pops the ball out of his hand with a lightning quick stroke. It is tight, compact and smooth.

Running ability: Florida commit Will Grier. He is a true dual-threat only when needed. If asked to be an integral part of the running game, Grier can really hurt you with his legs and is not a guy you want to let out of the pocket.

Mental toughness: Chryst. This is where his aptitude and upbringing (his uncle is Pitt coach Paul Chryst) come into play. Chryst is mature and capable of handling the ups and downs of the position having grown up around the game in ways few prospects have.

Competitiveness: LSU commit Brandon Harris. This was close; Texas A&M pledge Kyle Allen also fits the bill. Harris wants to be great and is willing to do what it takes to make it happen. He had received limited exposure and offers in the spring, but proved himself on the camp and combine circuit.

Poise: Clemson commit Deshaun Watson. Calm, cool and collected. Watson has a quiet swagger and calming pocket presence that exudes confidence and control. He weathers the peaks and valleys of the game with an even keel.

Instincts: Oklahoma commit Justice Hansen. Hansen and Grier could swap categories here. Hansen is just one of those guys that knows when to pull the trigger and is at his best when improvising and on the move. He has a sixth sense about where pressure is coming from, can evade defenders and keep plays alive instinctively.
NORCROSS, Ga. -- ESPN 150 defensive end Lorenzo Carter seems to never stop grinning, even on the football field. His 100-megawatt smile calls to mind another affable defensive end, Michael Strahan, complete with the trademark gap. Even a shoving match with a teammate resulted in Carter falling down laughing about it later.

During the Norcross spring game on Friday, Carter and offensive tackle Horatio Walker tangled as they went at each other in the trenches. Walker held Carter’s jersey and was rewarded with a shot to the helmet.

“Well it was a run, and I don’t think Horatio respects me on the run yet, but it is all good,” Carter said between guffaws. “He tried to bully me around, but I was not having that so I had to hit him back. I was having fun out there.”


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By mid-July, one of the top players in the country will have a pretty good idea as to where he will be playing his college football in 2014.

Paramus (N.J.) Catholic cornerback Jabrill Peppers, No. 2 in the ESPN 150, will visit Stanford in July. Following that trip, he will have his future program in mind.

“Definitely after I visit Stanford I should have it pretty clear where I want to go,” Peppers said.

The five-star cornerback is coming off April trips to LSU, Michigan and Ohio State, and while Peppers did not tip his hand, people close to the dynamic two-way athlete say Michigan has a sizeable lead of those three. He has listed Stanford as his No. 1 for several months and will visit Palo Alto before officially dropping them from the top of his list.


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#BlueChipBattles: ESPN 150 release edition

April, 19, 2013
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Speedy Noil, Adoree Jackson, Da'Shawn HandStudent Sports, ESPN, ESPNSpeedy Noil, Adoree Jackson and Da'Shawn Hand are three of the most coveted recruits in the Class of 2014.
#BlueChipBattles Insider: RecruitingNation summoned its writers from around the country to outline the recruiting battles for the ESPN 150's top 10 prospects.

Plus, rank the battles in SportsNation.

#TopFBMixtapes: Athlete mixtapes are all the rage in this highlight-crazed era of sports. We reached out to our Twitter followers to find out which 2014 football stars had the best highlight reels on YouTube, then had our staff rank and comment on the top submissions.

Tom Luginbill writes Insider: After talking to many coaches across the country and hearing their frustrations, here are their five biggest complaints about homemade highlight videos.
BUFORD, Ga. -- ESPN Watch List defensive end Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) credits his blindingly pink socks and highlighter yellow shoelaces with helping him win the defensive lineman MVP award at the Atlanta NFTC on Saturday.

The award came with a brilliant gold dog tag that complemented his outfit. But what really caught Carter’s eye, and fashion sense, was the big gold box that he was handed that contained his invitation to The Opening.


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Top five emerging for RB Hilliman 

April, 5, 2013
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A top 10 has emerged for touted running back Jonathan Hilliman (Jersey City, N.J./St. Peter’s Prep), and now some separation is starting to take place among those schools.

“The top five has definitely broken apart but not severely far,” Hilliman said. “I’m not counting out the other schools, depending on what they bring to the table -- if it's academics or great environment or great coaching staff.”


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ATHENS, Ga. -- For most high school players, the end of practice means they get a break from the incessant nagging and ceaseless instruction of their coaches. They go home, eat dinner, study and enjoy the respite until the whistles start blowing next time. For ESPN Watch List safety Quincy Wilson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School), that is not the case.

Wilson’s father is the defensive coordinator and the defensive backs coach at the University School, so Wilson jokes that he gets no respite.

“Oh no, there’s no break, there’s no break,” Wilson said. “Monday through Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Yeah, I get it at practice, before practice, after practice, in the car, at the dinner table ...”

The talented junior laughed about the nonstop instruction but he also credited his father with making him the player he is today -- one of the most coveted safeties in Florida.


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Dawgs sixth in Way-Too-Early Top 25

January, 8, 2013
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Alabama CheerleadersStreeter Lecka/Getty ImagesAlabama, with three of the past four national titles, is No. 1 in the Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2013.

There are still seven months before the start of the 2013 season, and the teams and their order figure to change frequently, but it's never too early to take a look at the Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2013.

And with three national championships in the past four years, there's no reason to change the team that's on top. Georgia, with Aaron Murray and a potent offense returning, is No. 6.

Also see:

Top five uncommitted: Georgia 

September, 18, 2012
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In what is now widely considered to be the fourth-best state as far as FBS football talent is concerned, the 2013 class in Georgia could be the deepest group of talent to come out of the Peach State. More than 200 prospects are claiming offers at the moment, which would easily surpass the 170-180 FBS signees the state has averaged over the last three years. In this feature, RecruitingNation takes a look at the top five remaining uncommitted prospects in Georgia.

[+] EnlargeMontravius Adams
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comMontravius Adams has official visits to LSU, Oregon and USC in the works.
Montravius Adams, DL, Vienna (Ga.) Dooly County, 6-foot-3, 300 pounds
No. 3 prospect in Georgia
Front-runner: Auburn

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Top five uncommitted: North Carolina 

September, 13, 2012
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More than 50 prospects in North Carolina signed with FBS programs in the 2012 class, and more than 60 already claim offers in the 2013 class. In this feature, RecruitingNation takes a look at the top five remaining uncommitted prospects in North Carolina.

Tyrone Crowder, OL, Rockingham (N.C.) Richmond, 6-foot-2, 325 pounds
No. 1 prospect in Nouth Carolina
Frontrunner: Clemson

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Oklahoma SG Juwan Parker picks UGA

August, 19, 2012
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Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox didn’t get the first Parker brother he went for -- but 13 years later, he got a crack at another one. He got his man this time around.

Shooting guard Juwan Parker (Tulsa, Okla./Booker T. Washington) announced Sunday he has verbally committed to Georgia.

“This feels awesome right now,” Parker said. “I’ve been recruited by so many schools for such a long time. It feels good to have this done.”

(Read full post)

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