Oklahoma Sooners: Virginia Tech Hokies

1. Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell is moving to tight end, which makes the Sooners coaching staff the absolutely last people to look at the 6-6, 252-pound Bell and think, “Isn’t this guy out of position?” The truth is Bell remained Oklahoma’s best option at quarterback until Trevor Knight matured enough to take the job. Knight answered that question at season’s end. Bell’s move, taken with the Sooners’ great close to recruiting season, means Oklahoma is a step closer to ending that three-year Big 12 title drought.

2. That said, Sooners coach Bob Stoops almost didn’t win Best Recruiting Class in his family. Kentucky coach Mark Stoops, 2-10 last season, signed the No. 20 class. Mark Stoops said Facebook and Twitter deserve a big assist in overcoming the stigma for the Wildcats, who have lost 16-straight SEC games. “I think it's easier in some ways because of all the social media that you have,” he said. “These players understand what we're doing….(W)e're working right now for 2015, and the 2015 recruits know what's going on with 2014. That has an effect. Again, it's all this information they get very quickly.”

3. They might not be playing championship football in the state of Virginia, but they’re creating some kind of a story. Virginia, also coming off a 2-10 season, signed a top-25 recruiting class. Is that strictly because Mike London and his staff can still recruit? Is it because Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer has entered the retirement spiral (15-11 the last two seasons) as he moves toward 300 wins (266 and counting)? This has gotten fun.

Movers, shakers in updated ESPN 300

October, 29, 2013
10/29/13
9:00
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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.

#BlueChipBattles: ESPN 150 release edition

April, 19, 2013
4/19/13
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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.
A lot of Class of 2014 prospects have been hitting the road in the last couple of months for junior days and spring practices. But quarterback Zack Darlington (Apopka, Fla./Apopka) has taken a different approach.

His plan is to sit back patiently, and attack more in the future. He’s in no rush. Darlington, who is 6-foot-1 and 198 pounds, is the younger brother of Oklahoma sophomore center Ty Darlington.

Zack Darlington
Tom Hauck for Student SportsClass of 2014 signal-caller Zack Darlington said he hasn't heard from the Sooners recently.
It was always the dream for Ty to play for the Sooners. Zack doesn’t have that same dream and is keeping his options open. And he’s adding more options by the day with offers from Ole Miss, North Carolina State and Nebraska, among others.

SoonerNation: The offers are starting to roll in for you. What’s the latest in terms of visits and your recruitment?


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When offer No. 31 came in for Washington (Pa.) running back Shai McKenzie last week, he figured it was time to start cutting his list. It sounds simple, but McKenzie had a harder time when it came to putting pen to paper.

“He struggled to make a list,” Washington coach Mike Bosnic said. “He’s really unsure.”


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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 QB David Cornwell (Norman, Okla./North, 6-5, 215)
2012 stats (at Jones, Okla.): 191-of-338 for 2,742 yards with 27 touchdowns, 8 interceptions. 128 rushes for 755 yards, 6 touchdowns.


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Four-star offensive tackle Avery Young (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) updated the Sun-Sentinel on the current status of his recruitment.

"I know [I'll visit] Florida, Georgia, Auburn and Oklahoma. That's a solid ... I feel good about those four right there."

Young previously included Alabama and Virginia Tech in his group of leaders. Florida State, Michigan, N.C. State, West Virginia, Miami-FL and South Carolina have also offered.

He intends to visit Auburn in two weeks for its contest against Ole Miss.

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