Ohio State Buckeyes: Vanderbilt Commodores

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The 2015 edition of the ESPN 300 debuts today. Uncommitted defensive tackle Trenton Thompson tops the first batch of rankings. Here are 10 things to know about the initial 2015 ESPN 300:

[+] EnlargeTrenton Thompson
Gerry Hamilton/ESPNTrenton Thompson is the top-ranked player in the ESPN 300.
1. Top spot still up for grabs: While Thompson remains atop the rankings, there is no guarantee he stays there. The Opening, where linemen will compete in pads against each other, is right around the corner, and prospects like Martez Ivey, Josh Sweat and Byron Cowart have the opportunity make a push for the top spot. Defensive linemen have been ranked No. 1 by ESPN three of the past four years, and the 2015 group is trying to make it four out of five.

2. Defensive line dominates: Six of the top 10 2015 prospects and eight of the 16 five-star prospects are defensive linemen. There are 22 defensive linemen in the top 100 and 48 in the top 300. When looking for the states to find the top DL prospects, Georgia tops the list with eight, followed by Virginia with five and South Carolina and North Carolina with four each.

3. O Canada: Jumping into the ESPN 300 at No. 186 is Canadian defensive tackle prospect Neville Gallimore. The 6-foot-3, 280-pound stand-up defensive end projects as a defensive tackle and has offers from Oklahoma, Florida, Michigan State, Ohio State and others. He is the first prospect who is playing high school football in Canada at the time of his ranking to be listed in the ESPN 300. Michael O’Connor, No. 132 in the 2014 rankings, is from Canada but played his final two years of high school in the U.S.

4. Players off the board quickly: To date, 152 prospects in the ESPN 300 have committed. As expected, the SEC leads the way with 65 ESPN 300 prospects, led by Alabama’s 15. The SEC West has 40 of the pledges.

5. Sunshine statement: The state of Florida leads the way with 52 prospects in the ESPN 300, including six five-star prospects. Dade and Broward counties combine to claim 16 of the 52 players. This number further illustrates the continuing importance of the state to recruiting, as does the fact that 44 former Florida high school players were taken in the 2014 NFL draft.

6. Tidal wave: With 15 ESPN 300 prospects committed, Alabama currently has 52 ESPN 300-ranked players in the past three classes, following 19 in 2014 and 18 in 2013. Including ESPN 150 players in 2011 and 2012, the Crimson Tide have 76 prospects in the 300 and 150 combined in the past five years.

7. Peach State trending: There are 34 prospects from Georgia in the 2015 ESPN 300. That number is up from 27 in the final 2014 rankings and 30 in 2013. Only Florida and Texas (42 ESPN 300 players) have more prospects in the 2015 300. The strength of the state is on the lines, with 18 of the 34 being offensive and defensive linemen.

8. Familiar last names: Vanderbilt quarterback commit Kyle Shurmur is the son of Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. No. 1 quarterback and five-star QB Kyler Murray is the son of former Texas A&M quarterback Kevin Murray. No. 22 Shy Tuttle is the nephew of former Clemson standout and first-round NFL draft pick Perry Tuttle. No. 95 Kahlil McKenzie is the son of former Tennessee standout and current Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie.

9. California QBs: The state’s nine ranked signal-callers are by far the most from one state in the three years since the rankings were expanded to 300. In the 2013 class, the state of California had six QBs in the 300.

10. Remember the name: Quarterback Sam Darnold is the highest-ranked newcomer to the 300 at No. 89. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Darnold missed the majority of his junior season with a fractured foot and just began popping onto the national recruiting radar during the spring evaluation period. He has offers from Northwestern, Utah, Wake Forest and Duke, among others.
Jashon Cornell (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin Derham-Hall), the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2015, has narrowed his top list. After much deliberation, Cornell has cut the list of schools in the running down to 15.

Just a few days after stubbing its toe on the field, the Big Ten conference will try to right the ship in the recruiting world.

Larry Scott
Brad Bournival/ESPNESPN Junior 300 running back Larry Scott will make an unofficial visit to the Horseshoe this weekend.
From official visits to commitments, here’s a look at a few programs that highlight a busy time in this week’s Big Ten storylines.

Buckeye leafs

The fact Ohio State opened as 57-point favorites against Florida A&M didn’t scare off some big unofficial visitors, as ESPN Junior 300 running back Larry Scott -- L.J. for short -- out of Hubbard (Ohio) High School will lead a group of three big names with unofficial visits to the Horseshoe.


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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's latest feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Plenty of elite talent will be on hand for Saturday’s Florida-Miami game, but Will Muschamp knows it’ll take more than one Saturday to make a difference; Virginia, Virginia Tech and Ohio State recruits showcased on national broadcast, and 2016 running back target Robert Washington taking a national tour this fall.

Sunshine State showdown
Everybody who is anybody in the Florida recruiting world will be at Saturday’s Florida-Miami game. Miami is going to have a large group of visitors, including ESPN 300 prospects Dalvin Cook, Joe Yearby, Travis Rudolph, KC McDermott and Anthony Moten. The Canes will also be hosting four-star receiver Braxton Berrios on an official visit. Berrios was at Oregon this past weekend, and UM is right in the thick of things with him. Miami will also host Torrance Gibson, Jordan Scarlett, Devante Peete, Devonarie Clarington and CeCe Jefferson, who all rank in the top 10 of Florida for the 2015 class. While the game and atmosphere certainly will make an impression, Florida coach Will Muschamp knows it will take more than that to reel in the elite players. “I would hope that a recruit isn’t making a decision about where they go to school on who wins a specific game,” Muschamp said. “While a recruit might have an emotional swing, based on the outcome of any game, they should consider what the best fit is for them academically, athletically, socially and for their future. We feel strongly that what we have to offer there is bigger than just one Saturday.”

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ESPN 300 offensive tackle Damian Prince (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara) has said he’s going to concentrate on his senior season and then take his official visits.

Right now, the 6-foot-5, 286-pound Prince has a top 10 of Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Maryland, Ohio State, Rutgers, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

Here’s a look at why each school could fit for the third-ranked tackle and 22nd-ranked overall player in the nation.

Alabama

Why the Crimson Tide makes sense: Let’s not kid ourselves. Three national championships in four seasons is always enticing for a senior. So is the fact Alabama has a strong lineage of sending offensive linemen to the NFL. Prince isn’t one to shy away from competition either.


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Lost in the hype of Big Ten media days and the anticipation of Friday Night Lights was a pretty big visit from a very promising four-star wide senior.

Noah Brown (Sparta, N.J./Pope John XXIII) snuck in a visit to Ohio State on Wednesday, and to say things went swimmingly would be an understatement.


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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Defensive end Trent Harris (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park), a new ESPN 300 member, has narrowed his list of schools to six.

The 6-foot-2, 227-pound athlete said Florida, Georgia, Ohio State, Alabama, Florida State and Vanderbilt are his final six schools.


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Four-star wide receiver Jalen Brown (Phoenix, Ariz./Mountain Pointe) holds nearly 30 offers, including ones from some of the top programs in the country. This past week, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound athlete had an opportunity to see four of them up close, as Brown took a Midwest trip and visited Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin.

Brown relayed via text what stood out about each visit.


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A week ago, four-star athlete Kiy Hester (Montvale, N.J./St. Joseph Regional) named a top seven. A few days later, he took his first visit since releasing that lead group.


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LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. -- Myles Autry is still on the sidelines. A vicious injury to his knee last fall, with tears to his ACL, MCL and meniscus, has kept the Norcross (Ga.) High School athlete from participating in basketball, track, spring practice and now the summer camp series. And it is killing him.


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JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- A month ago, Jonathan Hilliman released a top 10. He is slowly whittling his list to a final school.

“It’s coming down to seven. I dropped some schools,” Hilliman said. “We narrowed it down so we could go out and see these places and get a feel for who’s who and who’s interested and who’s not.”


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BRADENTON, Fla. -- On the fields of the IMG Academy Southeast Regional 7-on-7 Tournament, George Campbell (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) stood off to the side with a sling hanging off his shoulder and covering his broken wrist.

That injury, suffered a few weeks back, will keep him out of East Lake's spring practices starting at the beginning of May. But fortunately for him, he's already got a ton of offers to begin with and won't be reliant on coaches coming by for the evaluation period.

That doesn't mean he isn't frustrated, though.


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ASHBURN, Va. -- Cornerback Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C./Friendship Collegiate), the No. 19 overall player in the ESPN 150, is in no rush to commit.


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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Defensive end Derek Barnett (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood Academy) looked forward to a meeting this offseason with Drew Richmond (Memphis, Tenn./Memphis University School).

After all, Richmond’s team ended the season for Barnett last November with a one-point win the state-playoff semifinal round.

Barnett said he thought he earned a victory over Richmond on Sunday at the Nike Football Training Camp on the home turf of the coveted 2015 offensive tackle.

“I want to go up against the best,” Barnett said, “so I was like, ‘Come on, let’s battle.’ It went well. I got the best of him. He got me a few times, but I think I won that one.”


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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Two prospects with scholarship offers from Southeastern Conference power programs said they’re following through with plans to look hard at schools in other parts of the country.

Safety Mattrell McGraw (River Ridge, La./John Curtis) and outside linebacker Petera Wilson (Memphis, Tenn./White Station) hold offers from Alabama, Ole Miss and Tennessee. Wilson has also been offered by Florida, Georgia, LSU and Mississippi State; McGraw by Arkansas and Vanderbilt.


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