Oklahoma Sooners: Clemson Tigers

Getting to know DaMarkus Lodge 

April, 17, 2014
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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.

DESOTO, Texas -- With all the multiple camps, combines and special events happening each spring, DaMarkus Lodge chooses not to be a regular on the circuit.

It’s not that Lodge is against them, or that he thinks he’s above them. The ESPN 300 receiver has simply prioritized his life as a student-athlete. The camp circuit happens to be a middle-of-the-pack priority.


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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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Top position classes: TEs 

February, 13, 2014
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With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes. For the full series, click here.

Nationally (and Big 12)
Oklahoma addressed many needs with its top-15 recruiting class, and that certainly includes the tight end position. Coach Bob Stoops and his staff signed a trio of tight ends, including ESPN 300s No. 277 Carson Meier (Tulsa, Okla./Union) and No. 295 Mark Andrews (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain), as well as three-star junior college prospect Isaac Ijalana (Mount Holly, N.J./Pierce College). All three players have terrific size of at least 6-foot-5, and Meier and Andrews possess the frame to add mass and strength. Meier has good initial burst and above-average ball skills, while Andrews has excellent hand-eye coordination and the ability to beat linebackers and safeties with regularity.

The Sooners had the nation’s best tight end class; here’s which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:


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Top position classes: RBs 

February, 11, 2014
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With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes. For the full series, click here.

Nationally (and SEC)
Tennessee went into the 2014 class with a gigantic future need at running back, and coach Butch Jones and staff delivered for Volunteers fans in a big way. The Vols' running back haul includes not only ESPN 300 backs Jalen Hurd (Hendersonville, Tenn./Beech) and Derrell Scott (Havelock, N.C./Havelock) but also four-star Treyvon Paulk (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton). With different body types, styles and strengths, Tennessee added talent and depth for years to come as well as many different skill sets within the position. Hurd is tall, lean and chock-full of speed, athleticism and versatility, and Scott is a slasher with excellent ball skills out of the backfield. Paulk is a compact, downhill back with leg drive and power.

The Volunteers had the nation's best RB class; here's which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:


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ESPN's Ivan Maisel, SEC blogger Chris Low and ACC blogger Heather Dinich look back at Oklahoma's stunning upset of Alabama in the Allstate Sugar Bowl and preview the Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl and the big matchup between Florida State and Auburn in the VIZIO BCS Championship.

You can listen here.

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
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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.

#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.
Is the Class of 2014 crop of in-state talent the best Oklahoma has seen since 2006? With six recruits in the ESPN Watch List, it’s shaping up to be a busy recruiting year in the Sooner State. For the next three weeks, SoonerNation is going to profile the OKPreps’ 14 for ’14: a look at some of the top names and where they stand with OU.

WR Jeffery Mead (Tulsa, Okla./Union, 6-7, 168)
2012 stats: 33 catches for 614 yards with 7 touchdowns.


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OKPreps 14 for '14: LB Gyasi Akem 

February, 19, 2013
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Is the Class of 2014 crop of in-state talent the best Oklahoma has seen since 2006? With six recruits in the ESPN Watch List, it’s shaping up to be a busy recruiting year in the Sooner State. For the next three weeks, SoonerNation is going to profile the OKPreps’ 14 for ’14: a look at some of the top names and where they stand with OU.

Watch List OLB Gyasi Akem (Broken Arrow, Okla./Broken Arrow, 6-2, 210)
2012 stats: 58 tackles, 5 sacks.

When OU announced its original junior day of Jan. 11 with an invite to Akem, it came as a bit of a shock. Not because Akem isn’t worthy but because the Sooners hadn’t really spent that much time looking into the Watch List prospect.


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All eyes were focused on one in-state recruit for Oklahoma’s junior day. ESPN Watch List quarterback Justice Hansen (Edmond, Okla./Santa Fe) has been a top priority for the Sooners for a long time.

Wide receiver Jeffery Mead (Tulsa, Okla./Union) has not.


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Q&A: 2014 S Dylan Sumner-Gardner 

January, 30, 2013
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Just because Dylan Sumner-Gardner committed to Clemson last June doesn’t mean the 2014 safety is shutting down his recruiting process. Far from it, in fact.


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For a while it has looked like Watch List linebacker Gyasi Akem (Broken Arrow, Okla./Broken Arrow) was going to get an Oklahoma State offer.


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Q&A: 2014 Texas athlete Armani Watts 

January, 16, 2013
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It was a good junior season for athlete Armani Watts (Forney, Texas/North Forney). Not so much in the wins and losses with his team finishing at 2-8, but in other ways.

Watts, the epitome of versatility, did whatever was asked of him. He threw for 756 yards with three touchdowns. He rushed 162 times for 1,017 yards with seven scores and had eight receptions for 188 yards and two touchdowns. He also played defensive back.

That versatility has led to offers from UCLA, Clemson and North Texas. He was all set to attend OU’s junior day until the Sooners postponed it last week.

Now getting ready for his senior season, Watts said he is anxious to get back on the field.

SoonerNation: What did you learn about yourself from last season?

Armani Watts: I learned a lot. I learned I can be a leader for my team, and I learned how it takes doing all the little things for the big things to happen.

SN: You were a jack-of-all-trades last season, did that ever wear you down?

Watts: No, I’m used to it. The only time I got off the field was when we were kicking. I have a lot of versatility to my game, and I like that.

SN: Speaking of that, is there a position where you feel the most comfortable?

Watts: I feel very comfortable at safety and at wide receiver. UCLA and most schools see me as a safety. Texas Tech sees me as a receiver. And then other schools like OU see me as an athlete.

SN: When you’re looking at schools, what factors are going into your decision?

Watts: Environment, academics and immediate playing time. I want to make an impact. I want to study business management. One thing I don’t care about is distance.

SN: Was there a game that stood out to you this season?

Watts: The Terrell game [40-10 win]. I didn’t have to play quarterback, and I caught two touchdowns on offense and had like five tackles, an interception and a forced fumble on defense..


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Sooners 17th 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. Oklahoma will try to make it back to the top from the No. 17 spot.

Also see:

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