LSU Tigers: Miami (FL) Hurricanes

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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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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HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- Not every top prospect in attendance at Saturday’s South Florida Express tryout was taking part on the field.

One talented player who was there to support teammates and watch the action was Class of 2014 defensive tackle and No. 164 overall Travonte Valentine (Palm Bay, Fla./Champagnat Catholic).

The 6-foot-3, 330-pound athletic defensive tackle is down to LSU and Miami. Official visits are scheduled for Baton Rouge on Friday and Coral Gables on Jan. 31.

“Both recruiting classes are looking very good,” Valentine said. “Both have classes ranked in the top 5, the Miami coaches and LSU [defensive line] Coach Brick [Haley] stopped by on Thursday. Coach Brick said what he had to say, and Miami said what they had to say, and it was great talking with them."


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Al Golden has yet to leave his post at Miami, but uncertainty surrounding the Hurricanes coach has led to the first decommitment for Miami.

Following the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday, ESPN 300 defensive tackle Travonte Valentine (Hialeah, Fla./Champagnat Catholic) told The Times-Picayune (New Orleans) he was no longer committed to Miami.

"Since Miami ain't looking so good now, until further notice, I'm decommitting from Miami University because I'm not sure about Al Golden so far," Valentine told The Times-Picayune. "I'm just going to weigh my options for right now.”

Valentine, No. 170 in the ESPN 300 and a top-10 tackle, was already wavering on his commitment, which he made in July. Kentucky and LSU were making pushes for Valentine, who finally decided to reopen his commitment following news that Golden was reportedly interviewing with Penn State on Saturday.

Golden played at Penn State under Joe Paterno and was previously an assistant for the Nittany Lions.

An official visit to Miami is still slated for Jan. 31, although he will first make visits to LSU (Jan. 17) and Kentucky (Jan. 24). He told The Times-Picayune the Tigers are his new No. 1 school. LSU has been considered the school Valentine would most likely end up at if he reneged on his Canes commitment.

"For right now yes, until I take that official visit, LSU is number one," Valentine said. "All of the commotion about Penn State and this and that right now. Al Golden is a great coach. He told me I was going to see things that I've never seen before. So for right now, I'm decommitting."

Miami now has 28 commitments in its 2014 class, which is No. 4 nationally. The Canes had one of the country’s best defensive line hauls with Valentine in the fold, although they still have three ESPN 300 linemen. Miami has four remaining defensive tackles committed, including ESPN 300 prospect Anthony Moten (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) and ESPN JC 50 lineman Calvin Heurtelou (Springvale, N.Y./Scottsdale Community College).
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As expected, Day 2 at the Under Armour All-America practices were smoother, more concise and much more productive. The players are now starting to think less and play more. Natural ability is starting to come to the forefront, which allows for them to be more productive. There have been fewer dropped passes, fewer misses by the QBs and the offensive lines are starting to jell quicker than expected. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this group is there have not been any true letdowns. They have stepped up and been as advertised almost top to bottom for both squads. Let’s hit the highlights of the day:

Top performers

WR Cameron Sims (Monroe, La./Ouachita Parish): Sims might not wow anyone with his 40-yard dash time, but it may not matter. Sims is so similar to Mike Evans at Texas A&M. He just makes plays. He has extremely long arms and is outstanding when in contested matchups. The ball will look like it is uncatchable and then next thing you know he jumps out of nowhere, extends and makes a play and the defender is left scratching his head. When it comes down to it, the QBs for Team Highlight can trust that if they need to throw it up, Sims will make a play. The most basic thing about the position is catching the football and Sims has no problem doing that.


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SEC recruiting storylines: Dec. 19 

December, 19, 2013
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videoHere 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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Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

December, 16, 2013
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The dead period in recruiting is now upon us and official visits will shut down until after the holidays. College coaches have done all they can as far as in-home visits and setting up and hosting official visits until after the dead period is over. Here is a closer look at some of the important in-home and official visits that have taken place recently.


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ORLANDO, Fla. -- On Saturday, Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian won the FHSAA class 3A state championship game 34-7 over Clearwater Central Catholic.

Louisville wide receiver commit Isaiah Ford, had a big day with two touchdowns, but for the most part, Trinity was led by several talented junior prospects including two, Kevin Toliver II and Jeffery Holland, that are ranked in the top 10 of the ESPN Junior 300.


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Canes DE commit Thomas to take visits 

December, 8, 2013
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- ESPN 300 defensive end Chad Thomas (Miami/Booker T. Washington), a Miami verbal commitment since July, ended his high school career on Saturday night with a 40-21 victory over Jacksonville (Fla.) Bolles in the FHSAA class 4A state championship game.

The 6-foo-5, 240 pound defender said after the game he will likely take all five of his official visits before signing day on Feb. 5.

The No. 70 prospect in the country, who was visited by Alabama offensive line coach Mario Cristobal this past week, said the Crimson Tide will get one of his visits next month.


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When looking at the list of top juniors in the state of Florida, it doesn’t take long to get to Shawn Burgess-Becker (Coconut Creek, Fla./Monarch).

The list of programs standing out to the 6-foot-1, 185-pound defensive back and wide receiver is impressive as well.


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Movers, shakers in updated ESPN 300

October, 29, 2013
10/29/13
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The Class of 2014 has had two months to show what it’s made of on the field. How are the nation’s elite prospects faring as we approach signing day? Here’s a look at the biggest names and notes from the most recent update of the ESPN 300:

The Big Movers

No. 37 Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South), ILB
Prior ranking: No. 59
The 6-foot-2, 224-pound Garrett jumped more than 20 spots in the rankings as he has added bulk to his frame, and at the same time retaining quickness and his fast-filling, downhill ability. Garrett has impact-type ability with a blend of lateral quickness, discipline and a nose for the ball.

Davion Hall
Max Olson/ESPNAthlete Davion Hall, who is committed to Baylor, jumped 30 spots in the latest update of the ESPN 300.
No. 45 Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau), ATH
Prior ranking: No. 75
The 6-2, 194-pound Hall is one of the most impressive athletes in the class. He has a long, stoutly-built frame, is explosive, has physicality filling the alley at safety and very good ball skills at receiver. When he settles into one position at the next level, his upside is very high.

No. 64 Nick Chubb (Cedartown, Ga./Cedartown), RB
Prior ranking: No. 106
The Georgia commit is putting together a sensational senior campaign with more than 2,000 yards and 29 touchdowns through eight games. The 5-11, 217-pound tailback continues to add strength to his compact body structure while maintaining his speed, overall athleticism and ability to bend.

No. 70 Chad Thomas (Miami/Booker T. Washington), DE
Prior ranking: No. 125
The Miami commit has flashed his high-ceiling ability, even though he is playing inside more than half the snaps as a senior. His combination of first-step quickness, arm length and the ability to play with low pad level sets him apart from most ends in the class.

No. 84 Rashaan Evans (Auburn Ala./Auburn), OLB
Prior ranking: No. 150
The 6-3, 217-pound Evans has filled out physically, and displays the quick-twitch burst and speed combination to be a factor off the edge. Evans has been dominant off the edge as a senior with double-digit sacks.

No. 92 Markell Pack (Purvis, Miss./Purvis), WR
Prior ranking: No. 144
The Florida State commit continues to flash the initial quickness, ability to get to top-end speed quickly, ability to play the ball in the air and elusiveness that makes the 6-2, 180-pound wideout one of the top playmakers in the class.

No. 128 Brad Kaaya (Hollywood, Calif./Chaminade College Prep)
Prior ranking: No. 171
The 6-4, 213-pound Miami commit is one the fastest rising quarterbacks in the class. Has added bulk to his tall frame, and continues to show the foot quickness, foot work and quick release that will be demanded of him at the next level.

Other Big Movers

WR Josh Malone (Gallatin, Tenn./Station Camp): From No. 99 to 49.
Texas A&M ATH commit Nick Harvey (Richmond, Texas/William B. Travis): From No. 101 to 60.
RB Joe Mixon (Berkeley, Calif./Freedom): From No. 100 to 72.
Georgia QB-DT commit Jacob Park (Goose Creek, S.C./Stratford): From No. 157 to 94.
Oregon RB commit Royce Freeman (Imperial, Calif./Imperial): From No. 154 to 99.
RB Derrell Scott (Havelock, N.C./Havelock): From No. 176 to 108.
Ole Miss S commit C.J. Hampton (Meridian, Miss./Meridian): From No. 201 to 134.
Alabama C commit J.C. Hassenauer (Woodbury, Minn./East Ridge): From No. 246 to 188.
Georgia DT commit Dontavius Russell (Carrollton, Ga./Carrollton): From No. 266 to 201

ESPN 300 debuts
No. 89 Frank Iheanacho (Houston/Westbury), WR
The 6-6, 215-pound pass catcher returned to the football field as a senior after playing only basketball as a junior, and has quickly become one of the most coveted uncommitted prospects in the country featuring deceptive initial quickness, and the high-point timing and size to win 50-50 balls in the air.

No. 287 Darrion Owens (Orange Park, Fla./Oakleaf), OLB
The 6-3, 220-pound Owens has transitioned from safety to outside linebacker as a senior without skipping a beat. Long, rangy and with edge-rush ability, the Miami commit is a top senior riser.

No. 295 Shakenneth Williams (Macon, Ga./Rutland), WR
The 6-1, 196-pound Georgia commit was a standout at Mark Richt Camp in June. Williams is blessed with straight-line speed, change-of-direction ability, strong hands and the physicality and strength to play through contact.

[+] EnlargeJoe Mixon
Tom Hauck for Student SportsTailback Joe Mixon is ranked No. 72 in the latest update of the ESPN 300.
More Who Moved Into The ESPN 300

Ohio State ATH commit Curtis Samuel (Brooklyn, N.Y./Erasmus Hall): No. 148.
LSU DE commit Deondre Clark (Oklahoma City/Douglass): No. 298.
Baylor WR commit Ishmael Zamora (Alief, Texas/Elsik): No. 245
Alabama OLB commit Keith Holcombe (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Hillcrest): No. 284.
DT Derrick Nnadi (Virginia Beach, Va./Ocean Lakes): No. 257.
DT Matt Elam (Elizabethtown, Ky./John Hardin): No. 292.
Minnesota RB commit Jeff Jones (Minneapolis/Washburn): No. 181.
Virginia Tech DT commit Ricky Walker (Hampton, Va./Bethel): No. 299.

Injured Reserve

David Cornwell (Norman, Okla./Norman North), QB
The Alabama commit suffered a season-ending knee injury. The 6-5, 241-pound Under Armour All-American is No. 44 after being 32nd previously.

Jalen Hurd (Hendersonville, Tenn./Beech), RB
The Tennessee commit suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the opener, requiring a second shoulder operation in less than a year. The 6-4, 222-pound Hurd is now No. 62 after being 39th.

Drake Harris (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian), WR
The 6-3, 172-pound Harris hasn't played this season due to a lingering hamstring issue. The Michigan commit checks in at No. 85 after previously being 72nd.

Elisha Shaw (Tucker, Ga./Tucker), DT
The 6-6, 295-pound Shaw has been sidelined with a neck injury this season. He checks in at No. 186 after a prior ranking of 82nd.

Sharieff Rhaheed (Fort Pierce, Fla./Fort Pierce Central), OLB
The 6-2, 202-pound Rhaheed missed the first six games of the season before returning to the field in late October. The former LSU commit is No. 260 after being ranked 133rd previously.

Kyle Berger (Cleveland/Saint Ignatius), OLB
The Ohio State commit was sidelined his senior season with an ACL tear. He dropped out of the ESPN 300 after being ranked No. 281.

Treyvon Paulk (Milton, Ga./Milton High), RB
The Tennessee running back commitment recently suffered a season-ending knee injury. He dropped out of the ESPN 300 after previously being ranked No. 294.

Early Offer: Banner day for Miami 

October, 23, 2013
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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Wednesday's offerings: Tuesday was a big day for Miami, as the Canes were able to finally put the lingering questions about NCAA sanctions to bed and also land a commitment from highly regard junior college defensive tackle Michael Wyche; recruiting fans will get a chance on Thursday to see why Marlon Humphrey is one of the nation's best prospects.

Hurricanes put questions in rear-view mirror
Miami has had to answer questions from recruits for nearly four years about what might happen when the NCAA finally handed down penalties from the Nevin Shapiro scandal. Those questions were finally answered on Tuesday, as Miami will not face any additional bowl bans and lose three scholarships annually over the next three years. The news was huge for the Canes’ recruiting efforts moving forward. It allows UM to put the entire matter to rest, and Al Golden and Co. no longer have to sit in the living room of recruits and talk about “what ifs.” The Canes are also through having to deflect negative recruiting that has gone on for years by other schools. As expected, Miami recruits were absolutely giddy when discovering the news, including four-star receiver commit Braxton Berrios, who said Miami is “full speed ahead now.”

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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: Oregon State coach Mike Riley launched a new Twitter campaign on Tuesday to help the Beavers connect with recruits across the country; LSU’s Frank Wilson didn’t make the first edition of the ESPN recruiting power rankings, but he could be leading the poll by signing day; and a question and answer session on Wednesday helped identify what topics are most important with recruiting fans today.

#SmartRecruitingTool
Oregon State coach Mike Riley has more than 18,900 followers and is great communicating with fans on Twitter. So it was no surprise to see him launch a campaign Tuesday called “Tweet Film Tuesday” where he asked recruits to send him links to their film, and he and his staffers will then select 10 recruits to evaluate each week. With only 140 characters to work with, Riley didn’t explain how he and his assistants would pick the 10 recruits to evaluate, but the idea is ingenious. Not only does it help Riley and the Beaver coaches communicate with prospects in a way they’re already familiar with, it also allows the OSU coaches to find prospects they might not have been familiar with who are truly interested in the program. Also with Riley’s track record of uncovering hidden talent, you can all but guarantee there will be a story a few years down the road where the Beavers found a sleeper through this approach.

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With just about four months until national signing day there are still some very good prospects available and among that group are some who, at one point during the process, were verbally committed to a program, but have since reopened their recruitment. For 2014 we have already seen dozens of decommitments, and while some have already recommitted, several have since remained open. Here are the best from that group:

Alin Edouard (Hialieah, Fla./Hialeah): Of the top thirty quarterbacks in this class, regardless of classification, Edouard is the only one among that group that remains uncommitted. After decommitting from Miami, which still holds commitments from two other QB prospects, Edouard is a promising prospect. A good athlete that could potentially play another position in college, he possesses very good arm strength, a quick release and the tools to develop at the QB position. With most of the top QB prospects committed at this stage, the four-star dual-threat signal caller became a key target for programs still looking to add a QB to their 2014 class.

Wesley Green (Lithonia, Ga./MLK): Back on the market, Green is still not amongst the top five available CBs, but he is a good prospect and is a tough loss for South Carolina’s class. He doesn’t possess elite speed, but the ESPN 300 defender is simply a good football player. Possessing good length, deceptive playing strength, good footwork and ball skills, he can offer some scheme versatility and be effective as both a man and zone corner. Georgia could benefit from the in-state four-star decommitting, but the Gamecocks could still potentially bring the talented DB back into the mix as well.

Sharieff Rhaheed (Fort Pierce, Fla./Central): A one-time LSU verbal, Rhaheed reopened his recruitment a few months ago and is currently the top-rated uncommitted OLB in the 2014 class. The ESPN 300 defender is an athletic and tough prospect at the position with promising upside. He will need further coverage experience but he demonstrates the tools to quickly find and get around the football and make plays. A new verbal doesn’t look imminent, but the four-star could still end up in the SEC when he does commit again.

Josh Casher (Mobile, Ala./St. Paul’s): Of the top ten center prospects, only Casher remains open after decommitting from Auburn. At 6-foot-1, the ESPN 300 prospect lacks ideal height, but is tough and has very good playing strength. He can use his shorter stature to consistently win the leverage battle and has good feet. Casher can get the job done in both run and pass blocking. If Casher possessed more ideal height he could be rated even higher amongst the top interior prospects in this class, but the four-star can still be a very good guard or with more experience, center.


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No. 2 CB Sheffield Talks Recruiting
Fort Bend Marshall cornerback Kendall Sheffield landed at No. 12 in the new ESPN 300. That's good enough to earn him the top spot in Texas. Sheffield spoke about the ranking, a recent trip to LSU and his decision date with ESPN's Phil Murphy.Tags: Kendall Sheffield, Fort Bend Marshall, RecruitingNation, ESPN 300, high school football recruiting, Phil Murphy
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