Penn State Nittany Lions: LSU 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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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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As expected, Day 2 at the Under Armour All-America practices were smoother, more concise and much more productive. The players are now starting to think less and play more. Natural ability is starting to come to the forefront, which allows for them to be more productive. There have been fewer dropped passes, fewer misses by the QBs and the offensive lines are starting to jell quicker than expected. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this group is there have not been any true letdowns. They have stepped up and been as advertised almost top to bottom for both squads. Let’s hit the highlights of the day:

Top performers

WR Cameron Sims (Monroe, La./Ouachita Parish): Sims might not wow anyone with his 40-yard dash time, but it may not matter. Sims is so similar to Mike Evans at Texas A&M. He just makes plays. He has extremely long arms and is outstanding when in contested matchups. The ball will look like it is uncatchable and then next thing you know he jumps out of nowhere, extends and makes a play and the defender is left scratching his head. When it comes down to it, the QBs for Team Highlight can trust that if they need to throw it up, Sims will make a play. The most basic thing about the position is catching the football and Sims has no problem doing that.


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Four schools land ESPN 300 recruits

December, 17, 2013
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Christmas came early Tuesday for LSU, Ohio State, South Carolina and Penn State, as four of the top 100 football recruits in the country committed in a flurry of activity normally only seen around national signing day.

Coach Bill O’Brien at Penn State was first to unwrap his present when No. 87-ranked Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln), the nation’s No. 7 defensive tackle, committed to the Nittany Lions early Tuesday morning.

Holley had been leaning for a while toward the Nittany Lions over Ohio State, Florida and around 30 other scholarship offers, and his pickup was important.

O’Brien has talked at length about adding more depth along the defensive line, and Holley is the type of impact player who could help Penn State become instantly better. With Penn State losing defensive tackles DaQuan Jones and Kyle Baublitz, it was important to land Holley. That’s why O’Brien pulled out all the stops to get him, including making an appearance at Yankee Stadium for Lincoln's 28-27 win over Tottenville in the PSAL City Conference Championship on Dec. 10.

Later in the afternoon, it was coach Les Miles’ turn to get a new toy as Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./South), the nation’s No. 3 inside linebacker, announced he was heading to LSU. Garrett, who is ranked No. 37 in the ESPN 300, also visited Florida, Tennessee and Ole Miss and was offered by virtually every school in the nation. He became enamored with the Bayou Bengals’ vaunted defense.

The addition of Garrett was key for the Tigers because inside linebacker was one of the few areas of need it hadn’t addressed yet with their 2014 class. LSU does have four-star prospect Donnie Alexander (New Orleans/Edna Karr) already on board, but he projects as an outside linebacker on the next level. If you review his scouting report, it reads like Garrett was meant to play in the LSU defense.

Tennessee certainly would have liked to have Garrett in its class as it continues to overhaul its roster. But the Vols already have commitments from eight other prospects projected at the linebacker spot, including No. 10 inside linebacker Gavin Bryant (Jackson, Ala./Jackson). Garrett wasn’t going to make or break Tennessee's class. Ole Miss is also not fretting too much missing out on Garrett, because the Rebels are also deep with commitments at the position and No. 1 junior college linebacker Christian Russell out of East Mississippi Community College should be a star in Oxford.

It wasn’t Santa Claus who delivered Urban Meyer’s present on Tuesday, it was the nation’s No. 4 receiver Johnnie Dixon (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer). Dixon, who is ranked No. 39 in the ESPN 300, was the center of one of the nation’s most intense recruiting battles between Alabama, Ohio State and Miami.

It’s not often you see a prospect turn down Alabama, and there was tremendous pressure on Dixon to stay local and play for the Canes, but in the end, he thought he was the best fit in the Ohio State offense.

Dixon is right. His game -- highlighted by polished route running ability and the strength to out muscle defenders -- complements Buckeyes receivers Devin Smith, Evan Spencer and Michael Thomas, who are coming back in 2014.

For Ohio State, it was the second day in a row it landed an elite player from the South. Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County), the nation's top linebacker and the No. 12 overall recruit, committed to Ohio State on Monday afternoon.

Alabama put the full-court press on Dixon because he would have been a nice complement to already-committed receivers Cameron Sims (Monroe, La./Ouachita Parish) and Derek Kief (Cincinnati/La Salle). But the cupboard isn’t exactly bare in Tuscaloosa and four-star Travis Rudolph (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman) is still on the target board.

Miami has four receivers committed so far, but none of them are the home run that Dixon is. Yes, Darrell Langham (Lantana, Fla./Santaluces) and Braxton Berrios (Raleigh, N.C./Leesville Road) are quality receivers and will add needed depth at the position, but Dixon is the type of player from South Florida you just can’t let get away.

You can never have too many pass-rushing defensive ends in the SEC, which is why Steve Spurrier surely was elated with the gift of Dante Sawyer (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett), the nation’s No. 9 defensive end. Sawyer committed to the Gamecocks on Tuesday, giving them a much-needed boost from a need that hadn’t been filled yet.

With South Carolina having few scholarships available for its 2014 class, there’s not a lot of room for swings and misses, so it was vital for the Gamecocks to make sure they got their guy at the position. With Jadeveon Clowney likely bolting for the NFL and Chaz Sutton graduating, there’s gaping holes at both defensive end spots and Sawyer, the No. 91 player overall, has the talent to step in and compete with other younger players like Gerald Dixon, Mason Harris and Darius English to fill the spots.

Missouri finished runner-up for Sawyer, and landing him would have sent a significant message to the rest of the SEC that the Tigers are now major players for the top talent in the region. In reality, they already are, even with the miss. The Tigers have pledges from nine players in Florida and Georgia, and that trend is only going to continue to tick upward after the success of the 2013 season.

Michigan’s top ranked commitment in 2014, Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic), tweeted on Tuesday about a change of plans.

The No. 2-ranked prospect committed to the Wolverines on ESPN back in May. At the time LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers were among the schools he was considering. It now seems Peppers will be reevaluating schools.

This is significant because Michigan coach Brady Hoke and his staff have a no-visit policy for their commitments. Any prospect who commits to Michigan is not allowed to take other visits.

If a prospect does take a visit to a different program then they are no longer considered a Michigan commit. That doesn’t preclude the Michigan staff from still recruiting that prospect, it just means they are no longer committed to Michigan.

Peppers is a five-star prospect and badly needed in Ann Arbor, Mich., so this proves to be a bad situation for Hoke if these visits do come to fruition. Peppers, however, did state he is still committed to the Wolverines.

"I am still 100% committed to the University of Michigan and that is the place where I want to go to college," Peppers said. "With the rumors about Coach Hoke possibly not being there I need to make sure that I have options and have seen other places in case the University of Michigan decides to go in a different direction. For the sake of my future I need to make sure I have other options. No need to look into it any further! Go Blue and beat TDS."

Peppers’ high school coach, Chris Partridge, said he had not heard anything about the potential visits from his star athlete.

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

ESPN 300: July 30 update

July, 30, 2013
7/30/13
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Tom Luginbill breaks down the significant movers in the ESPN 300 rankings, including a new player in the top three, players who made massive jumps further down in the rankings and new positional No. 1s at wide receiver and outside linebacker.
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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Lessons Learned: IMG 7v7 

June, 23, 2013
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BRADENTON, Fla. -- The IMG 7v7 National Championships showcased some of the top talent from across the country. For the second consecutive year, Team Tampa won the national championship with a thrilling, one-point victory over a talented South Florida Express team.

The championship game featured at least 10 prospects with multiple scholarship offers. Here's a closer look at lessons learned over the course of the two-day event.

Team Top Recruits loaded in the secondary

Top Recruits, featuring players from Jacksonville and Orlando, had a secondary that could probably give some colleges trouble right now. Their secondary consisted of 2015 LSU cornerback commit Kevin Toliver II (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian), Florida cornerback commits Duke Dawson (Cross City, Fla./Dixie County) and J.C. Jackson (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee), uncommitted safety Kendall Gant (Lakeland, Fla./Lake Gibson) and 2015 FSU safety commit Derwin James (Auburndale, Fla./Auburndale).

The Top Recruits offense couldn't match the talent of their defense and found it hard to score points as the tournament wore on. Toliver was quite possibly the best player at the event and will be one of the top players in the country next year.

Northern teams came to play


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The No. 2 player in the country is going to Michigan. The Wolverines coaches are elated five-star Paramus (N.J.) Catholic cornerback Jabrill Peppers is headed to Ann Arbor, but that means five other coaching staffs are going back to the recruiting board and moving on down the list.

So where do those five teams go from here?


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An offer from an SEC school often makes recruits take a step back and re-evaluate a top group or a commitment.

That's not the case with Jared Wangler (Warren, Mich./De La Salle). LSU offered the 6-foot-2, 218-pound outside linebacker Wednesday, but he remains committed to Penn State.


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Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic), the No. 2 prospect in the country, has set his decision date.

The No. 1 defensive back will make his decision live on ESPNU on May 26. With almost every program in the country targeting the talented prospect, Peppers has narrowed his list down to LSU, Notre Dame, Michigan, Penn State, Rutgers and Stanford.

He still plans on taking his visit to Penn State on May 18, and has already been out to Michigan, LSU and Ohio State. There might still be a surprise visit in store before the announcement as well. The five-star prospect has turned heads with his play on the field and will undoubtedly be a game changer for whichever school he picks.
video Jabrill Peppers' coach at Paramus (N.J.) Catholic said his star player is inching closer to a decision and it's fair to say he's now down to just four schools: Michigan, Stanford, Penn State and LSU.


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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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