Texas A&M Aggies: Clemson Tigers

Getting to know DaMarkus Lodge 

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
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video Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.

DESOTO, Texas -- With all the multiple camps, combines and special events happening each spring, DaMarkus Lodge chooses not to be a regular on the circuit.

It’s not that Lodge is against them, or that he thinks he’s above them. The ESPN 300 receiver has simply prioritized his life as a student-athlete. The camp circuit happens to be a middle-of-the-pack priority.


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Getting to know Kyler Murray 

April, 11, 2014
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Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.

DESOTO, Texas -- When describing quarterbacks, there are certain words and terms that are often used.

Those often heard are winner, clutch, leader, resilient, precise, competitive, field general, accurate, playmaker, calm, cool and collected, among others.

In the case of Under Armour All-America quarterback Kyler Murray, they might all apply.


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Early Offer: 2015 begins now 

February, 7, 2014
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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 ink was barely dry on the letters of intent for 2014 class when one of the best for the 2015 class came off the board; and what schools and recruiters have jumped out of the gate with success with players that won’t sign for another 360-plus days.


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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s Early Offering is coming to you from the Under Armour Combine in St. Petersburg, Fla. Here’s a look at who stood out among the 150-plus competitors.

Campbell steals the show
George Campbell (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) showed why he is ranked as the No. 2 player in the ESPN Junior 300. The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Campbell tested off the charts with a 4.36-second time in the 40-yard dash and a 4.06 shuttle. He then backed it up with a strong performance in the one-on-one and seven-on-seven portion of the combine. Defensive backs lined up to face him and, in most cases, he burned them with either his speed or his ability to go up get the ball at its highest point. “I felt good about what I did today,” Campbell said. “I wanted to test myself against the best-of-the-best.” Consider the test passed. On the recruiting front, Campbell recently backed away from his commitment to Michigan and said at Wednesday’s registration he’s slowing down the process.

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Army Bowl notebook: Dec. 31 

December, 31, 2013
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SAN ANTONIO -- The second day of practice for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl -- on the last day of 2013 -- has come to a conclusion. Here is Tuesday’s notebook featuring some of the nation’s elite athletes:

LB Williams: Law and order equals '98 percent'


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Video: 2015 WR Lodge on title, recruiting

December, 22, 2013
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Big 12 recruiting reporter Damon Sayles interviews ESPN Junior 300 wide receiver DaMarkus Lodge after Cedar Hill beat Katy to win the Texas 5A Division 2 state championship.
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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It's early, but has SEC lost a few steps?

September, 10, 2013
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By the time the sun sets Saturday on the East Coast, another one of the preseason heavyweights in the SEC will be sporting a loss.

And in unison, the rest of the college football world will let out a collective cheer.

One of the ways to look at the Alabama-Texas A&M showdown is that the winner will be in primo position to make a run at the national championship.

But there’s another subplot to the game in College Station: The loser will be the fourth SEC team ranked in the top 10 of the preseason polls to lose -- only three weeks into the season.

After watching Florida fall last week at Miami and Georgia stumble to open the season at Clemson, the anybody-but-the-SEC crowd is starting to rev its engines and ponder the possibilities.

Maybe the big, bad SEC is showing a few cracks in its foundation, and just maybe this is the year that a BCS National Championship -- the last one, as fate would have it -- is played without an SEC team as a participant.

There are still so many ways this season could go, but the feeling coming in was that the surest way for the SEC’s seven-year national championship streak to end was for the league to beat up on itself.

Stay tuned on that front, but it certainly looks like everybody in the SEC has a few warts.

Even Alabama was average at best offensively in its season-opening 35-10 win over Virginia Tech. We’ll find out a lot more about the Crimson Tide this weekend, but part of their issues offensively in the opener can be attributed to how physical Virginia Tech’s front seven was on defense.

The Hokies flat got after Alabama, and unlike past years when the Tide were playing with an NFL-esque offensive line, they didn’t respond particularly well.

Meanwhile, the rest of the college football world is starting to smell blood, SEC blood.

Is that premature?

[+] EnlargeAlabama/Texas A&M
John David Mercer/USA TODAY SportsSaturday's showdown between Alabama and Texas A&M should provide some answers about the path to the national championship.
Sure it is, but it’s going to be fascinating to see how it all plays out, because more than ever, it’s the SEC versus the rest of college football.

Comparing scores this early in the season is meaningless, but Clemson did beat Georgia, which beat South Carolina.

After Miami took down Florida last week, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney chortled, “How about that ACC? Spunky little old league.”

The best part was Swinney flashing the “U” sign as he walked out of the interview room following Clemson’s 52-13 pasting of South Carolina State.

The gamesmanship makes it a lot more fun, and Clemson is hardly the only team that’s a legitimate threat to the SEC this season.

At first glance, Oregon appears to be faster and more explosive than ever, and nobody’s sleeping on Stanford. Louisville could easily go unbeaten when you look at the Cardinals’ schedule, and it’s not far-fetched to think that an unbeaten team could come out of the Big Ten this season either.

Ultimately, it’s probably going to come down to how much damage is doled out within the SEC’s own parameters.

What’s more, is there another Texas A&M lurking similar to a year ago?

The Aggies went from unranked to taking down Alabama in Tuscaloosa last November and were playing as well as anybody in the country by season’s end.

LSU was sort of the forgotten team in the league to begin this season after losing so many star defensive players, but the Tigers’ passing game has taken flight under first-year offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and it’s hard to see an appreciable drop-off on defense to this point.

Again, though, LSU has to play at Georgia in three weeks and at Alabama in November.

One of the constants in the SEC’s national championship run has been suffocating defense. It’s not a coincidence that six of the seven national champions during the streak have finished in the top 10 nationally in total defense.

The early returns suggest that some of the offenses are perhaps catching up with the defenses in this league. But, then, maybe some of the defenses this season simply aren’t what we’ve grown accustomed to in the SEC.

South Carolina was torched for 536 yards last week in its loss to Georgia, which has given up 68 points in its first two games, albeit to a pair of top 10 teams.

Texas A&M has been playing with a patchwork unit defensively thanks to suspensions, but the Aggies have given up 59 points in their first two games -- to Rice and Sam Houston State.

Florida is a load on defense, but the Gators haven’t shown nearly enough offensively to think that they could be a national championship contender.

LSU’s toughest tests are yet to come defensively, which leads us back to the Crimson Tide.

They’ve won national championships each of the past two seasons despite losing games at home in November.

One of the things that make Saturday’s game so pivotal for both Alabama and Texas A&M is that neither team has a tough draw in the East this season. They both avoid Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

So the path to the national championship gala will clear up considerably for the winner Saturday.

Even so, it’s a race after a few laps around the track that has everybody outside the SEC’s footprint believing, anticipating and hoping that the league everybody has been chasing for the better part of the past decade may finally be losing a few steps.

SEC recruiting mailbag

September, 6, 2013
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It’s time to dip into the SEC recruiting mailbag and answer your questions. Because of the amount of questions we’ve received, we won’t be able to get to all of them today -- but we encourage you to ask again next week by tweeting your questions to @DerekTysonESPN or @HamiltonESPN and use the hashtag #SECRecruiting.

@LisaHorne: If UGA loses again this week, will it affect their recruiting?

Derek Tyson: If history is any indication, then no, it should not make much of a difference in recruiting. Remember, Georgia started off 0-2 in the 2011 yet finished with the No. 5-ranked recruiting class including stud running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. Head coach Mark Richt has recruited at a very high level and has Georgia in a place to compete for conference and national championships just about every year. His job is not in jeopardy and recruits believe in what he and his staff are trying to accomplish. Starting the season off with two top-10 opponents is no easy task for any team, and I would be shocked if Georgia isn't in the hunt for the SEC East title come November. Georgia will be just fine in recruiting.

@Time2Strive: No LSU in Gerald Willis III & Speedy Noil top 3. Is UF the team to beat?

DT: I'll admit, I was just as shocked as everyone else to see LSU not in the top three for New Orleans Edna Karr teammates Speedy Noil and Gerald Willis III. Though I wouldn't completely count out the Tigers, it looks as if Florida, Texas A&M and USC are the teams to beat. Florida will have the first crack to impress the two Under Armour All-Americans, as they are both set to officially visit the Gators when UF hosts Tennessee on Sept. 21. At this point, I believe this will be a Florida-Texas A&M battle. Rarely do "package deals" work out, but in this case, the two seem set on playing together in college.

@kylelambsports: How much do Alabama's chances increase for Leonard Fournette and Hootie Jones with the commitment from Cameron Robinson?

Gerry Hamilton: I’m not sure Robinson picking Alabama helps with Leonard Fournette (New Orleans, La./St. Augustine). Their decisions will be separate, and Fournette has a long way to go in the process with his recruitment having even more importance now for LSU after Robinson picked the Crimson Tide. When looking at Laurence Jones (Monroe, La./Neville High), he’s on I-20, where Alabama has made its run in the Pelican State in this class. Obviously, Jones knows Robinson and Cameron Sims (Monroe, La./Ouachita High), but he’s not as close as Robinson and Sims. It certainly doesn’t hurt Alabama’s chances with Jones, but I don’t believe it will sway his decision one way or another. Both players will very likely come down to LSU and Alabama, as has been expected.

@AshevilleLaw: What effect does Clemson's win have on recruits balancing CU-GA decision?

GH: I believe the Clemson win and showcasing of an electric atmosphere will resonate more with the 2015 class than 2014. When looking at the 2015 class, and especially in the Atlanta area, the Clemson staff being able to walk into high schools having beaten LSU and Georgia is suddenly a different and stronger message than a year ago. It will also be even easier to get top prospects to make unofficial visits -- not that the Tigers have struggled in that area. That’s not to take away from the positive reviews by David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence School) and Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County High), but the win will almost certainly have a lasting impact on 2015 if the Tigers go on to have a BCS bowl game-type of season. Beating SEC powers changes the message of the staff on the trail, and that is very key when battling SEC programs in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida for top prospects.

Video: Outside the hashmarks -- Week 1

August, 28, 2013
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Mark Schlabach looks over the games in Week 1 that will have the biggest impact in the race for the national championship.

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

FORT WORTH, Texas -- If you don’t live in Texas, chances are, you have no idea where Gladewater, Texas, is located. Many Texans couldn’t find it on a map if given 30 seconds.

Daylon Mack laughs every time he’s questioned about his hometown: “Gladewater? Where’s that?” The east Texas town has a population of about 6,500. The high school features roughly 590 students – which dwarfs the size of some senior classes at Texas schools.


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Daylon Mack has said a lot of things in the past few months, mostly about his love for Texas A&M and his imminent plans to commit to the Aggies.

Well, the plans have changed. Take what he says here with a grain of salt if you want -- can’t blame you at this point -- but Mack has changed his tune considerably in recent weeks.

It started when his parents didn’t give him the green light to commit to A&M last month. Mack was ready to do it. He’d even told reporters from several websites what day it was going to happen.

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BEAVERTON, Ore. -- At the Elite 11, throw the rankings out the window. It doesn't matter which quarterback is a five-star or which has a three-star grade entering the event. What matters most is what happens on the field, during chalk talk and from repetition by repetition.

After three days of competition, Elite 11 coach Trent Dilfer said that in no order Sean White, Kyle Carta-Samuels, Kyle Allen, Deshaun Watson, Brad Kaaya and David Blough have emerged as the best of the 18 at the event.

White, the four-star pocket passer from Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) University School of Nova South, continues to be one of the event's most pleasant surprises. Sure his offer list is quite long and includes Boston College, Cincinnati, USF, Syracuse, Wake Forest, West Virginia, as well as heavy attention from a number of SEC and ACC schools, but few expected him to steal headlines like he has.

"His accurate isn't just accurate," Dilfer said. "It's exact. It's an NFL type of ball. I'm stealing this from Steve Young, but he has an artistic ball. He paints a picture with his ball. He just doesn't throw a hinge. He throws the receiver open with the hinge. He just doesn't throw a skinny post. He sends a message with his skinny post.

"Johnny Manziel and Tajh Boyd had a 10-minute conversation about him today. His pass proficiency blows your mind."

While some of the other highly ranked passers haven't quite hit their stride yet, both Deshaun Watson (Gainesville, Ga./Gainesville) and Kyle Allen (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain) have.

Watson, the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback and highest ranked player at the Elite 11, showed why Clemson made him its highest priority recruit for the 2014 class with a tremendous first three days. The same can be said about Allen, a Texas A&M commit who is the third-ranked pocket passer in the country.

"He's Mr. Consistency," Dilfer said. "He's got nothing working against him at this point. He does nothing bad. He does everything better than good. I'm going to challenge him to be great at The Opening."

Don't have to worry about that. With the lessons Allen is taking from the Elite 11, he's up for just about any challenge.

"This is not only improving me as a quarterback," Allen said. "It's improving every facet of my game and every facet of my life. They're giving us techniques on how to calm your breathing down. They have a psychological coach here. It's just the little things that give you the edge up on everyone else."

Watson, meanwhile, might have started slowly but picked up the pace quickly.

"Deshaun started a little sloppy, to be honest. He's an East Coast guy coming west, so I'm sensitive to that, especially the first day of the event. He lit everything up yesterday. He's a much better passer than he was in Atlanta. He is a sponge. For a highly touted kid that's had so many accolades for years, he embraces the journey of getting better with the best of them."

Miami commitment Brad Kaaya of West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade Prep was one of the top six passers after Saturday's drills, and he carried it through to Sunday. The 6-foot-4, 213-pounder showed early and often throughout Sunday's practice why the Hurricanes ventured all the way across the country to snag his commitment.

"He makes the extremely difficult look really easy," Dilfer said. "When you're looking for greatness in any walk of life, you want to find somebody that makes extremely difficult look easy. And he makes everything look incredibly easy."

Carrollton (Texas) Creekview three-star quarterback David Blough continues to turn heads as one of the event's biggest surprises. The Purdue commitment ranks as the nation's No. 42 pocket passer, but here he's showing he belongs with the best of the best. The same can be said about Kyle Carta-Samuels (San Jose, Calif./Bellarmine College Prep). The Vanderbilt commitment ranks as four-star prospect, but he has wowed with his intensity.

"David is so fiercely competitive," Dilfer said. "He's so determined to be the best he possibly can be. He doesn't let the pressure of that weigh him down.

"Much like David, Kyle's fiercely competitive. On a score of 1 to 5, he's a 6 on the competitive temperament. Trainability is another one of our evaluation points, and he'd be a 6 there again. His passing proficiency, which I thought would be in a 3, is probably 4-plus. He's hit the balance there."

Mitch Sherman contributed to this story.

One good way to describe ESPN 300 safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner (Mesquite, Texas/West Mesquite)? "A smiler."

At least, that's what stands out to some people around him.

"He's always smiling," West Mesquite defensive coordinator Kyle Ward said. "When he's angry or frustrated, you can tell, because he's always smiling, so you can tell something's wrong when he's not smiling."

When it comes to football, there has been plenty for Sumner-Gardner to smile about. In March, he committed to Texas A&M. In May, he announced he'll play in the Under Armour All-American Game in January. Next week, he'll be in Oregon to participate in The Opening.

Sumner-Garnder, who is the No. 90 overall player in the ESPN 150 and ranked as the seventh-best safety prospect nationally in the 2014 class, is loving the doors football has opened for him.


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TAMU Asst. Tops Recruiter Power Rankings
With already more than 100 ranked prospects committed, assistant coaches nationwide have been hard at work on the recruiting trail. National recruiting reporter Jeremy Crabtree joins Phil Murphy to rank the best among them.Tags: B.J. Anderson, Texas A&M Aggies, Jeremy Pruitt, Georgia Bulldogs, ESPN 300, RecruitingNation, high school football recruiting, Phil Murphy, Jeremy Crabtree
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