Ohio State Buckeyes: Quin Blanding

Top position classes: DB 

February, 18, 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)

The top class of defensive backs goes to Alabama, by a landslide. While the Crimson Tide have provided many recruiting firsts in recent years under coach Nick Saban, the 2014 class is the first to have two five-star cornerbacks in the same cycle in the years ESPN has been assigning star rankings. No. 8 overall Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen) and No. 15 Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover) have the size and speed that Saban and his staff made a must in 2014. Add in No. 3 safety and No. 27 overall Laurence Jones (Monroe, La./Neville) and Alabama signed three of the very best at defensive back. Factor in that No. 7 athlete Ronnie Clark (Calera, Ala./Calera) seems destined to begin his career at safety and the Crimson Tide dominate in the secondary despite having missed out on coveted safety target C.J. Hampton (Meridian, Miss./Meridian).

The Crimson Tide had the nation’s best defensive back class; here’s which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:


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Three days of practice are now in the books and overall execution was sharper as the players begin to move into final preparations for the Under Armour All-America Game on Thursday. The productivity of the players picked up as did the speed of the play, and they’re continuing to think less and display their natural ability more. It was a physical day, with the pads popping and some big hits throughout the practice. Here are some of the highlights.

Top performers


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BEAVERTON, Ore. -- The Opening has concluded and it did not disappoint. The top prospects in the nation were invited to Nike headquarters to display their ability and compete against the best of the best.

RecruitingNation was on hand for every event to take in the happenings throughout the week. Here are a few storylines:

Who committed

Florida State landed two in-state prospects during the final day of The Opening on Wednesday: four-star offensive tackle Corey Martinez (Tampa, Fla./Tampa Catholic) and three-star safety Trey Marshall (Lake City, Fla./Columbia). Marshall was a finalist for the SPARQ national championships where he posted a 40-yard-dash time of 4.34 seconds. ESPN 300 linebacker Dillon Bates (Ponte Vedra, Fla./Ponte Vedra), son of former Tennessee Volunteers and Dallas Cowboys safety Bill Bates, verbally committed to the Vols. Four-star linebacker D.J. Calhoun (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) verbally committed to USC over UCLA.


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RN Top 10: The Opening, Day 2 

July, 3, 2013
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video The RN Top 10 will appear throughout the camp and combine season and rank prospects based strictly on their on-field performance at that particular event. It does not reflect their overall prospect rankings.

BEAVERTON, Ore. -- After Monday's SPARQ testing, the nation's top players were ready for some actual football Tuesday. With a lineman challenge in the morning and seven-on-seven games throughout the afternoon, each player got a chance to see what he could do against top-notch competition. Many of the usual suspects thrived, but there were also some surprises.

10. Brad Kaaya
Chaminade (Calif.) College Prep | QB | 6-4, 213

Consistency is Kaaya’s game. He bolted out of the gate with a strong performance Saturday at the Elite 11 and then showed throughout Sunday's practice why Miami ventured all the way across the country to snag his commitment. He was almost flawless again Monday and then lit up pool play Tuesday. He drew rave reviews with a throw for a two-point conversion on which he lowered his arm to place the ball in a tight space. "He makes the extremely difficult look really easy," coach and ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer said. -- Jeremy Crabtree


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The Opening, presented by Nike, will feature 162 of the best high school football players in the country. The event, which will include linemen, 7-on-7 and SPARQ testing competitions, is set to run from June 30 to July 3 at the Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore.

The following events from The Opening will be televised on ESPNU:

July 1: SPARQ Rating National Championship, 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. ET

July 2: 7-on-7 Pool Play, 9 p.m.-11:30 p.m. ET

July 3: Linemen Challenge Finals and 7-on-7 semifinal and championship games, 9 p.m.-midnight ET

The players will be divided in to six teams -- Alpha Pro, Apocalypse, Field Generals, Land Sharks, Super Bad and Vapor Carbon. Here is a closer look at how the teams match up.

Team: Alpha Pro
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Jordan Palmer, defensive coordinator Hardy Nickerson

The Alpha Pro team will have plenty of targets to spread the ball around. Ermon Lane and Tyler Luatua, the No. 1-ranked receiver and tight end in the country respectively, bring size and playmaking ability to the passing game. ESPN 300 athletes Corey Holmes, Jalen Hurd, John "JuJu" Smith, Ja'Von Harrison, and Derrell Scott are all explosive offensive weapons.

Defensively Alpha Pro is led by Andrew Brown, the No. 1-ranked defensive tackle in the country, ESPN 150 cornerback Damon Webb, defensive end Andrew Williams, Ohio State linebacker commit Dante Booker and LSU cornerback commit Chris Hardeman.

Complete Alpha Pro roster.

Team: Apocalypse
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Adam Tafralis, defensive coordinator Donovin Darius

The first thing that jumps out about team Apocalypse is the talent in the defensive front seven. Team Apocalypse will be led by five-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand and inside linebacker Raekwon McMillan. Hand, from Woodbridge, Va., is the No. 4-ranked player in the country, while McMillan was recently bumped up to a five-star linebacker. Joining Hand and McMillan along the front seven are ESPN 300 defensive linemen Anthony Moten and Ainuu Taua, and linebackers D.J. Calhoun and Rashaan Evans.

Offensively, team Apocalypse has no shortage of playmakers. ESPN 300 wide receivers Artavis Scott, K.D. Cannon and Michiah Quick will provide explosiveness in the passing game, while athletic running backs Joe Mixon and Royce Freeman will provide athletic and reliable targets out of the backfield.

Complete Apocalypse roster.

Team: Field Generals
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Charlie Frye, defensive coordinator Michael Fletcher

Seven-on-seven events are always geared towards the offense, but with five-star defensive back Adoree' Jackson, No. 3-ranked safety Jamal Adams, and ESPN 300 cornerback Adarius Pickett in the secondary, the Field Generals should more than hold their own. New Ohio State defensive end commit Jalyn Holmes and the No. 6-ranked defensive end in the country, Solomon Thomas, will be two to watch along the defensive line.

Offensively, the Field Generals are led by ESPN 300 offensive guard Damien Mama, ESPN 300 wide receivers Austin Roberts and Thaddeus Snodgrass and explosive Notre Dame running back commit Elijah Hood.

Complete Field Generals roster.

Team: Landsharks
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Craig Nall, defensive coordinator Keith Bulluck

The Landsharks have some big-time talent along each line of scrimmage. Led by five-star offensive tackle Cameron Robinson, the Landsharks also feature ESPN 300 offensive guard Corey Martinez. ESPN 300 defensive linemen Gerald Willis III and Thomas Holley, as well as ESPN 300 defensive end Chad Thomas, will form a very physical and athletic defensive line.

In the secondary, the Landsharks will have three defensive backs -- Arrion Springs, Chris Lammons and Tony Brown -- that are ranked among the top 85 players in the country. The defense also features ESPN 150 linebacker Nyles Morgan.

Offensively, explosive running backs Dalvin Cook, a Florida commit, and Racean Thomas form a dangerous tandem out of the backfield, and wide receivers Travis Rudolph and Jalen Harvey are solid receiving threats.

Complete Landsharks roster.

Team: Superbad
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Dennis Gile, defensive coordinator Harold Nash Jr.

The Superbad defense line is led by five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter and ESPN 150 defensive tackle Bijhon Jackson. The linebacking corp is stacked with three ESPN 300 members, including Clifton Garrett, Christian Miller and Edwin Freeman. Cornerback Jalen Tabor is the No. 19-ranked player in the country.

Offensively, Superbad has a huge advantage with the No. 1-ranked prospect in the country, running back Leonard Fournette. This team is loaded on offense, with wide receivers Drake Harris, Josh Malone and Speedy Noil all in the mix.

Complete Superbad roster.

Team: Vapor Carbon
Coaches: Offensive coordinator George Whitfield, defensive coordinator Chris Gizzi.

Vapor Carbon will be tough to throw against with defensive backs Quin Blanding, Naijiel Hale and Ed Paris roaming the field. The linebacker group is just as impressive, with Ohio State commit Kyle Berger, Kain Daub and Dillon Bates all leading the way.

The offense for Vapor Carbon could be lethal with running back Joseph Yearby and Nick Chubb in the backfield. Spreading out wide receivers T.V. Williams, Justin Brent and tight end Ian Bunting on the outside could prove to be an awesome combination for this squad.

Team Vapor Carbon has a lot of pieces to make a long run in the 7-on-7 tournament, but then again, every team is stacked in this competition.

Complete Vapor Carbon roster.
Ohio State might not be looking up at Michigan in the rankings for too much longer if it can keep landing prospects like the one the Buckeyes earned a pledge from Thursday.

Jalyn Holmes
Scott Fink for ESPN.comJalyn Holmes adds another ingredient to an already stacked Ohio State D-line cupboard.
ESPN 300 tight end Jalyn Holmes (Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor) verbally committed to Ohio State after he visited the Buckeyes on Wednesday. Rumors swirled Wednesday he committed on his visit, but at the very least he left Columbus as a heavy Ohio State lean.

Holmes, a 6-foot-5, 219-pound two-way standout, will likely play defensive end for defensive line coach Mike Vrabel at Ohio State. So once again the Buckeyes have added another powerful piece to what is quickly becoming arguably the strongest position on the roster when considering both the 2012 and 2013 hauls. Since 2012, the Buckeyes have landed 12 four-star defensive linemen, including five-star Noah Spence, a 2012 signee that looks to be headed for stardom in Columbus.

The addition of Holmes fills a need at defensive end in the 2014 class, too, although numbers dictate the Buckeyes could take another with the loss of former ESPN 150 defensive lineman Se'Von Pittman.

Aside from adding a valuable piece to their 2014 class, the Buckeyes are hoping the addition of Holmes could help them gain a foothold in the talent-rich state of Virginia. Three prospects with a five-star ranking reside in Virginia, and the Buckeyes missed out on Quin Blanding and Da'Shawn Hand. Eight prospects from Virginia are in the ESPN 300, and the state is in the same class as Ohio when it comes to producing Division I talent.
BuckeyeNation continues to hit the road in search of budding Division I talent that should catch the eyes of Ohio State fans. Here’s what we came up with this week:

This week’s targets: BuckeyeNation swung out to the Youngstown, Ohio, area and took a good look at Hubbard and Warren Harding high schools. While there, we talked to offensive guard Matt Jones and running back Larry “LJ” Scott of Hubbard. Both are Buckeyes targets as sophomores. Harding is the home of Denmark sensation Hjalte Froholdt and Ohio State legacy James Daniels, whose father LeShun Daniels Sr. played offensive guard for the Buckeyes in the 1990s. One other interesting note about Daniels is that his brother LeShun Daniels Jr. signed a letter of intent to play for Iowa this February.

Vividly Virginia: The Buckeyes made it abundantly clear last week that Virginia was fertile recruiting ground. Ohio State long has had offers out to Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge/Woodbridge), Andrew Brown (Chesapeake/Oscar Frommel Smith) and Quin Blanding (Virginia Beach/Bayside), but last Wednesday the Buckeyes offered five Virginians in rapid fashion. The offers went out to outside linebacker Ricky DeBerry (Richmond, St. Christophers), cornerback Garrett Taylor (Richmond, St. Christophers), wide receiver Scott Bracey (Richmond/Benedictine School), wide receiver Jaason Lewis (Virginia Beach/Ocean Lakes) and inside linebacker Jahvoni Simmons (Virginia Beach/Ocean Lakes).

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RN Top 10: D.C. NFTC 

April, 22, 2013
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The RN Top 10 will appear throughout the camp and combine season and rank prospects based strictly on their on-field performance at that particular event. It does not reflect their overall prospect ranking.

ASHBURN, Va. – The East Coast and mid-Atlantic states represented well on Sunday as eight players earned invites to The Opening at the Nike Football Training Camp outside of Washington, D.C. Defense ruled the day, led by two five-star prospects from Virginia.

10. Nick Scott
Fairfax (Va.) Fairfax |RB| 5-11, 180

Scott stood out among a field of backs who were overshadowed by the prospects at nearly every other position. He earned the attention of coaches for his strong play and versatility but missed the MVP award, which went to Vincent Lowe (Chesapeake, Va./Grassfield), who also posted the top SPARQ score.

Scott committed to Penn State in February over an offer from Boston College.

ESPN national recruiting analyst Craig Haubert’s take: “He’s got a great frame, and what I like about him as a Penn State verbal, he’s a versatile player. He may not run by you, but he does a good job in route-running.”


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Assessing the 2014 defensive backs 

February, 28, 2013
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After scoring the No. 1-ranked defensive backfield in the nation in 2013, the question becomes can Ohio State do it again?

While the Buckeyes missed out Wednesday on safety Quin Blanding (Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside), who chose Virginia over Ohio State, the team certainly isn’t backing down from adding to an already-solid unit.

The Buckeyes have offered 21 defensive backs from the class of 2014 -- 13 of them at the cornerback position -- and count 18 ESPN Watch List individuals among them. They received a huge commitment from Damon Webb (Detroit/Cass Tech) back on Jan. 13, but aren’t likely through adding one -- maybe two -- more names to the class.


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Recruiting mailbag: Who's next? 

February, 22, 2013
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It’s time to dip into the BuckeyeNation recruiting mailbag and answer some of your questions.

We encourage you to send your questions by Twitter at @bbournival, e-mail at brad.bournival.espn@gmail.com or by posting a question in the Horseshoe Pit forum.

@buckeyefan6868: We know Urban Meyer needs linebackers and offensive linemen for 2014. What position is no one talking about that needs to be addressed?


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ESPN Watch List safety Quin Blanding (Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside) is ready to make his decision.


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Da'Shawn HandTom Hauck for ESPN.comVirginia prospect Da'Shawn Hand would be an ideal LEO for the Buckeyes, a DE/LB combo.
With the 2014 recruiting cycle now in full swing, BuckeyeNation wondered what it would be like to create a dream team. Tuesday we looked at the offense, Wednesday we switch to the defensive side.

There are stipulations in this dream list of recruits for the 2014 class.

The team has to mirror that of the Buckeyes’ defense. That means there aren’t 11 middle linebackers or safeties on the squad, just one standout at each position.

To be fair, linemen could move inside if need be, and inside backers could move to an outside linebacker spot as well.

One other thing, if a player was committed -- be it to the Buckeyes or somewhere else -- he was disqualified. The individual also had to have an offer from Ohio State.

Here’s what we came up with. It’s a formidable list:


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The way Ohio State coaches see it, Dorian Johnson is still sitting out there.

Ditto for Vonn Bell, Mike Mitchell, David Dawson and Corn Elder.

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Wide receivers headline OSU visitors 

September, 13, 2012
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Thaddeus SnodgrassTom Hauck for ESPN.com2014 WR Thaddeus Snodgrass is among a handful of receivers slated to visit this weekend.
Call the Ohio State-Cal game the weekend of the wide receivers in term of unofficial visits.

Thaddeus Snodgrass (Springfield, Ohio/Springfield) is hoping the third time is the charm as he was derailed the two previous weeks in terms of unofficial visits.

He has got company, however, as Dominique Booth (Indianapolis/Pike) and Zach Yousey (Columbus, Ohio/Harvest Preparatory) have plans to find their way to The Horseshoe.

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With the recruiting season of 2013 winding down, it’s time to turn our eyes to the Class of 2014, and more importantly, the top 14 of ’14.

This will be a two-part look at the class updated monthly throughout the school year.

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Scene and Heard: Top 10 Predictions
In a conversation with ESPN's Antonietta Collins, national recruiting reporter Gerry Hamilton breaks down the recruiting momentum building at Auburn and offers predictions for where the top 10 recruits will commit.Tags: Trenton Thompson, Kerryon Johnson, Jeffery Holland, Martez Ivey, Torrance Gibson, Cece Jefferson, ESPN 300, RecruitingNation, high school football recruiting, Gerry Hamilton
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