Penn State Nittany Lions: Clemson Tigers

Top position classes: WR 

February, 12, 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)
While the Baylor Bears had an exceptional wide receiver class, the nod here goes to LSU. Not only did the Tigers sign the nation's No. 1 receiver in Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian), but also the No. 3 ranked receiver in Trey Quinn (Lake Charles, La./Barbe) and ESPN 300 No. 271 D.J. Chark (Alexandria, La./Alexandria Senior) and No. 283 Tony Upchurch (Pearland, Texas/Dawson). In Dupre, LSU snagged the No. 17 prospect overall on signing day. He has a tall, lengthy frame with a near ideal size-and-speed combination and elite high-point ball skills. Quinn will enter LSU as an advanced route-runner with separation skills and the ability to pluck the ball outside of the framework of his body. Chark brings initial quickness and the vertical speed to take the top off a defense, and Upchurch is a big body who continues to add bulk and could eventually transition to a flex type of position.

The Tigers had the nation’s best wide receiver class; here’s which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:


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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: The winner of Saturday’s Florida State-Clemson game will have something big to sell to recruits; one of Wisconsin’s earliest commitments is taking trips to other schools, including a trip to visit former Badgers coach Bret Bielema; and the nation’s No. 7 player and a top tight end are expected to announce this weekend.


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2013 freshman All-American candidates

August, 16, 2013
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Projecting the eventual success level of high school prospects is difficult in its own right, but forecasting which ones will play right away and make a big splash in college can be even more difficult. Sometimes, however, there are no-brainers such as South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney and USC's Leonard Williams. But more often than not, there is no guarantee when it comes to freshmen making instant impacts. So many factors, from team needs to injuries to maturity, will determine who makes the biggest splash.

Headlined by Ole Miss DE Robert Nkemdiche and Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg, RecruitingNation takes a look at the Class of 2013 members who can make the biggest impact as freshmen.

To take a look at the team, click here Insider.

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

Kareem Ali Jr. (Erial, N.J./Timber Creek) took a deep breath before crouching into position for the 40-yard dash.

The 2015 DB had arrived here, at Penn State's advanced skills camp Saturday, after cancelling his Notre Dame trip. He wanted to see Happy Valley more. He wanted to see the stadium. ("108,000? That got me," he said. "I want to play under that.") He wanted to talk to the coaches. He wanted a scholarship.

And this, the 40-yard dash, became his first opportunity to impress the coaches. He stared ahead, and his body twitched when his turn came. He felt fast those first few steps, pumping his arms and gliding across the indoor turf. In less time than it takes for some to roll out of bed in the morning, Ali Jr. already had crossed the finish line.


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Chad Smith (Sterling, Va./Dominion) sat in front of his father's chalkboard over the spring as the two plotted out the five camps he'd attend.

"Cincinnati or Penn State?" his father asked.

"Penn State," Smith responded.

His father would give the 2015 linebacker/wideout two choices, mark down the favorite and narrow down the list that way. In the end, Penn State came out as the top choice for a camp. (UNC, Virginia Tech, Clemson and West Virginia were the others.) And a few weeks later, PSU assistant Larry Johnson stopped by Dominion to invite Smith to PSU's camp anyway.

So, the decision came full-circle, and his response to Johnson was an immediate "yes." The only thing he really needed to figure out was which position to focus on.


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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.

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The IMG 7v7 National Championships brought in top talent from all over the country. Narrowing it to 10 was difficult, as top prospects such as linebacker Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South) and running back Racean Thomas (Oxford, Ala./Oxford) didn't make the list. It's not because they didn't play well, but because 7-on-7 events are geared more for wide receivers and quarterbacks on offense and the defensive backs on defense.

10. Chris Godwin
Middletown (Del.) High School | WR | 6-2, 203

Godwin, an Under Armour All-American, was one of the main reasons his Delaware team went 6-0 before finally losing a game. In this talent-filled tournament, Godwin showed why he is one of the top receivers in the country. He made several tough catches and displayed his 4.4 speed on a consistent basis. He displayed all the tools to be successful on the next level.

9. Sean White
Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) Unversity School | QB | 6-1, 199

With receivers such as Ermon Lane and Travis Rudolph, it's hard for White not to look good, but he was extremely accurate throughout the tournament and made several big-time throws. White did a nice job of taking what the defense gave him underneath and also showed the arm strength to make several tough throws over the middle. White has seen his recruitment pick up lately and it will likely continue to increase with performances like this.

8. Tyler Queen (2015)
Kennesaw (Ga.) North Cobb | QB | 6-2, 237

North Cobb was one of the few that brought their high school team, instead of an All-Star team from their region. Queen led his team to several victories and showed pinpoint accuracy on a majority of his throws. He displayed great touch on his deep ball and completed several long touchdowns on the day. It was easy to see why he is already a highly recruited prospect.

7. George Campbell (2015)
Tarpon Springs (Fla.) East Lake | WR | 6-4, 184

Campbell proved why he might be the top receiver in Florida next year. He used his 6-foot-4 height to go up over defensive backs and come down with several long catches. It wasn't just the jump ball that impressed; his route running was good and he consistently got open. On top of his impressive offensive performance, Campbell made several plays at safety. This Under Armour All-American has a chance to be a special player as a senior.

6. Travis Rudolph
West Palm Beach (Fla.) Cardinal Newman | WR | 6-1, 186


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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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#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.
De'Andre Thompkins (Swansboro, N.C./Swansboro) can't believe fans already know his name.

He sat inside a restaurant during an NC State visit -- a two-hour drive from his home -- when a short man wearing a Wolfpack ball cap did a double-take from across the room. He approached the 5-foot-11 athlete: "Are you De'Andre?"


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De'Andre Thompkins may go to school at Swansboro (N.C.), but he can't make a turn in the hallways without being reminded of Penn State.

A Nittany Lion emblem is the classroom screensaver of his math teacher, Ed Walsh, and a PSU jacket is hanging nearby. A history teacher, health instructor and his football coach also either grew up as Nittany Lions fans or went to the university.

Heck, even a custodian inside the red-brick school chats up with Thompkins about PSU and the Pittsburgh Steelers.


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Favorites beginning to emerge for Payne 

February, 13, 2013
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Cornerback D'Andre Payne just picked out a new high school -- Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate -- and he's also picked out some favorite colleges.

The ESPN Watch List prospect transferred from Howard D. Woodson just last week and was a little groggy while he adjusted to the longer school day. But his recruitment's just beginning to come into focus.

Seven schools are currently standing out, and Payne said he might even have an early favorite.


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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Class of 2014 running back prospect Johnathan Thomas (Danvers, Mass./St. Johns Prep) posted one of the top 40-yard-dash times at the Under Armour National Combine on Friday. The 5-foot-10, 196-pound athlete turned in a blazing 4.47 40 time.

Thomas is expected to be one of the top prospects in Massachussetts and he's already hearing from some of the top schools in the northeast.

"I have offers from Boston College, UMass, Virginia and UConn. Penn State is showing a lot of interest," Thomas said. "So is Virginia Tech."

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SAN ANTONIO -- ESPN 150 outside linebacker Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian) isn’t big on speaking publicly. He’d rather let his game do the talking -- and it speaks volumes.

On Monday, the 6-foot-5, 222-pound linebacker officially confirmed that he will announce his college plans during Saturday’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Oregon, Texas A&M and Ohio State are his three finalists.


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#UAGame practice: Day 1 notebook 

December, 31, 2012
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -– Team Nitro and Team Highlight took to the fields at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports on Monday for Day 1 of practice for Friday’s Under Armour All-America Game (5 p.m. ET, ESPN). Two powerhouse programs in the Southeastern Conference look to battle it out for one of the standout running backs, and one of the top uncommitted offensive linemen is out with an injury.

Tide and Dawgs at top for RB Kamara

The Under Armour All-America Game boasts a bevy of talented running backs, and after the first practice ESPN 150 prospect Alvin Kamara (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) drew comparisons to one of the best.

[+] EnlargeAlvin Kamara
Miller Safrit/ESPN.comESPN 150 RB Alvin Kamara says Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and Georgia running backs coach Bryan McClendon have been key to his recruiting process.
“They say I play like Percy Harvin,” Kamara said.

The 5-foot-10, 192-pound tailback has made a name for himself as a home-run threat out of the backfield or lined up in the slot, which makes it no surprise that programs across the country are pining for his commitment. Two from the SEC are in the lead.

“Alabama and Georgia are the front-runners, but I am still looking at Oregon -- and Tennessee too, with Butch Jones being there now,” Kamara said.

The nation's No. 4 running back has yet to set any official visits, but plans to do so after he gets home from the UA Game. A decision will likely come after his visits.

“This is not going to be a busy month so much as it is just something I need to buckle down and do,” Kamara said. “I am going to take these visits and base my decision off of that.”

One factor in his decision will be the relationship he has with the coaches recruiting him. The Tide could have a slight advantage because they made first contact with Kamara.

“Kirby Smart and I are really close,” Kamara said. “He was the first coach to ever talk to me. He snuck me his card after practice and I could not believe it. For a coach of his stature to be the first coach to talk to me is great. We have been in contact ever since, and we have a great relationship.”

Georgia might counter that with their running backs coach being Kamara’s recruiter of record.

“Coach [Bryan] McClendon and I have a great relationship too,” Kamara said. “With him being my position coach, I could see myself playing for him. We are on a friend level and we do not even talk about football most of the time.”

The in-state Bulldogs also have a few people in Kamara’s ear this week, though he admits they have been putting the pressure on him for quite some time.

“Even when we are not in a big event like this, guys like Shaq Wiggins, Brice Ramsey, even Reuben [Foster], even though he is not committed, are always asking where I am going,” Kamara said. “They are joking, but they are on me pretty hard sometimes.”

Newsworthy: OL Crowder deals with injury, sets officials

ESPN 150 offensive lineman Tyrone Crowder (Rockingham, N.C./Richmond) will be unable to play in Friday's UA Game after aggravating a hand injury he sustained a few weeks ago at the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas. While he is disappointed, Crowder said today he is looking forward to the home stretch of his recruitment and choosing from one of two programs.

“It is Clemson No. 1 and Georgia No. 2, and I will decide on signing day,” said Crowder, ranked the No. 2 OG in the country.

The Tigers have been after the 6-foot-1, 330-pound offensive lineman for more than three years now, and they have location and familiarity working in their favor.

“Clemson has been recruiting me since I was in ninth grade,” Crowder said. “I like what they have going on and I have built a strong relationship with them. It is close to home and I have some family close to Clemson. I will take my official there Jan. 11.”

Crowder has not been to Athens for six months, but he has fond memories of his visit.

“Georgia is a great powerhouse team in the SEC,” Crowder said. “When I went down there during the summer I really liked the campus and enjoyed meeting the coaches. I spoke to them two weeks ago and set an official visit Jan. 18.”

Trending

It was only the first day of practice, but Team Highlight (Black team) quarterbacks got off to an impressive start.


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