Texas A&M Aggies: Michigan State Spartans

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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.

Top position classes: DL 

February, 14, 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)
Texas A&M went into the 2014 class knowing that size and athleticism was an absolute must on its defensive front. And Kevin Sumlin and staff delivered on those glaring needs. Leading the way is No. 1 defensive end and five-star player Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/James Martin), who has the size, speed and power combination to be a difference-maker early on next fall. The 6-foot-5, 247-pound Garrett is joined at defensive end by ESPN 300 No. 203 Qualen Cunningham (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton), and high three-star Jarrett Johnson (Katy, Texas/Seven Lakes), who has a nonstop motor. While the Aggies have some talented young defensive tackles, continuing to add size and athleticism to the interior was a must. No. 150 DeShawn Washington (Nederland, Texas/Nederland) and four-star early enrollee Zaycoven Henderson (Longview, Texas/Longview) add disruptive explosiveness and athleticism.

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

1. Stanford outgained Michigan State on the ground, 162-65, and won the turnover battle, 2-1. Forget the stats. The Spartans won the 100th edition of the Rose Bowl presented by VIZIO, 24-20, because they controlled the line of scrimmage when the Cardinal had the ball. Take away Tyler Gaffney's 47-yard rush in the first quarter, and he gained 44 yards on 23 carries. The Cardinal defense committed two penalties inside its 10-yard line and dropped two picks. Simply put, the better team won.

2. The state of Texas has a rich history of playing physical football. You line up and you hit the guy in front of you and you see who’s best. That’s how it went until the state’s schools fell in love with the uptempo spread. Texas A&M gave up 48 points and won. Baylor surrendered 52 and lost. Rice allowed 44 to Mississippi State and lost. Texas gave up 30 to Oregon and got embarrassed. You would think with all that talent in Lone Star State, someone could play defense.

3. Nebraska beat Georgia, 24-19, in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl and extended to six seasons head coach Bo Pelini’s streak of finishing either 9-4 or 10-4. Given the emotional highs and lows that Pelini has endured in Lincoln -- this week he’s popular -- the notion that he has become the model of consistency is a headscratcher. Here’s another one -- only three head coaches in the Big Ten (Kirk Ferentz of Iowa, Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern and Mark Dantonio of Michigan State) have longer tenures than Pelini.

Semper Fi Bowl notebook: Day 1 

January, 1, 2014
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FULLERTON, Calif. -- Four-star outside linebacker Jimmie Swain IV (Olathe, Kan./North) is listed as an uncommitted recruit, but that distinction is not exactly true.

Following the first day of practice for the 2014 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, Swain said he has known for a while where he will play his college football and he has let the coaches of his finalists know his decision. The public will be let in on the secret during the game on Sunday, when the 6-foot-3, 229-pound linebacker will announce his commitment.

Swain is down to four schools -- Arkansas, Michigan State, Oregon and Texas A&M -- and all but the Spartans have received official visits.

As for his leaders, Swain gave a quick look into why they stand out in the race for his signature.

"[Michigan State has] always been in my top five ever since I started watching college football," Swain said. "At Arkansas, I have a good relationship with Randy Shannon and I fit in well with the players on my visit. At Oregon, it's the whole coaching staff. My mom really enjoyed them when they came to visit. They've been at Oregon so long, and the football there speaks for itself, when a 10-2 season is considered a bad season. With Texas A&M, I had a fun visit down there. A lot of people worry about what happens to them when Johnny [Manziel] is gone, but their recruiting class is really good and I don't think they're going to skip a beat."

Swain has been avoiding interviews and any real talk of recruiting in recent weeks, as he said he's been "relaxing and enjoying time with family." But he'll make some significant noise on Sunday, particularly for the program that receives a verbal commitment from the standout linebacker, who plans on pursuing a double major in marketing and finance.


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Aggies land ESPN Junior 300 Anderson 

August, 6, 2013
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M got some positive news on Tuesday gaining the commitment of a significant prospect in the class of 2015.


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LEANDER, Texas — This summer hasn't been too eventful for Katy (Texas) High School 2015 running back Rodney Anderson.

He hasn't been attending any college camps, instead focusing on getting healthy for the fall. Anderson suffered a minor knee injury in May during a Katy spring practice that kept him out of the spring game, but his recovery has been fast. He already has been cleared medically for all football activities.

[+] EnlargeRodney Anderson
Sam Khan Jr./ESPNClass of 2015 running back Rodney Anderson recently picked up an offer from LSU.
Even so, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound prospect decided to continue resting and was a spectator at the Texas state 7-on-7 championships, rooting on his Katy teammates, who went 3-2 in the tournament. His preparation for the fall isn't different than it has been in the past.

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Each week this spring, GigEmNation reporter Sam Khan Jr. will bring you notes/nuggets from watching and visiting with high school football prospects in the Greater Houston area that week. He will include observations of Texas A&M commitments and targets and other players who catch his attention. Here's this week's installment:

HOUSTON -- Summer camp season is officially underway for colleges as the spring evaluation period has come to a close. In Houston, plenty of players have flocked to camps to show off their talents.


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Rodney AndersonSam Khan Jr./ESPNRodney Anderson has offers from Auburn, Baylor, Houston, Michigan State, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.
KATY, Texas -- When Rodney Anderson got called up to Katy High School's varsity squad for the Tigers' 2011 season opener, he was unsure what to expect.

Then a 160-pound freshman, the 2015 running back was elevated as a receiver to help in an area in which the Katy coaches felt they needed a boost in depth.

"It was a huge adrenaline rush," Anderson said of his new responsibilities. "Mentally, I was just trying to make sure I remembered everything and carried out my assignments."

One injury to a teammate changed everything: his position, his playing time, his future.


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ESPN Watch List offensive tackle Roderick Johnson (Florissant, Mo./Hazelwood Central) is up to eight offers – four from the Big Ten, three from the SEC and one from the ACC. The spring could be the perfect time for Johnson’s recruiting to see a major spike.


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Johnson hesitant to name OSU leader 

February, 19, 2013
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Turnabout is fair play, and Lonnie Johnson (Gary, Ind./West Side) is starting to play the recruiting game.

A longtime Ohio State lean who wanted to commit to the Buckeyes a few months ago, Johnson stopped himself short of naming Ohio State his leader Monday.

Asked if Ohio State was still his top school, Johnson said: “Yeah, Ohio State," then paused before he said "... really I got a three-headed dragon: It’s Illinois, Nebraska and Ohio State. They’re all at the top of my list. I don’t know where I’m going to go at this point.”

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SAN ANTONIO -- Wednesday was a day off for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl teams. Instead of working out and participating in drills, the players took in visits around the city -- including a stop at the Alamodome for photo opportunities and to see their game apparel -- and used the day to recover from two days of practice.

The teams will return to the fields on Thursday in arguably the most important practice of the week. Here are five things to keep an eye on for Thursday’s practice:

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Two stand out for Chris Williams 

December, 30, 2012
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ATLANTA -- Defensive lineman Chris Williams (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek) will end up with more than the two offers he currently holds from Ole Miss and Texas A&M, but there was no greater feeling than when he received that first scholarship offer from the Rebels early in his junior season.

[+] EnlargeChris Williams
Radi Nabulsi/ESPN.comTyrone, Ga., junior defensive tackle Chris Williams is seeing plenty of interest pick up in his recruitment.
“It was amazing,” Williams said. “It was just a dream come true. They offered me on the phone, and he asked me how I felt about it. I told him I was speechless because it was random. It just came out of nowhere.”

Whether or not Ole Miss was on his radar before, it is now. The Rebels will always be in consideration because they were the first school to offer.

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#BlueChipBattles: Nov. 30

November, 30, 2012
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Carl Lawson, Dee Liner, Reuben FosterESPN.comCarl Lawson, Dee Linerand Reuben Foster are still committed to Auburn, but the Tigers' coaching situation could change things for the three ESPN 150 recruits.

Auburn bid farewell to head coach Gene Chizik on Sunday. Could the Tigers also be saying goodbye to a trio of ESPN 150 recruits who could take their talents elsewhere?

Each week, RecruitingNation summons its writers from around the country to compile a list of the top 10 battles for elite football recruits leading up to February's signing day.

Here are this week's top battles Insider, and you can take a shot at ranking the top 10 recruiting battles on SportsNation.

#BlueChipBattles: Nov. 16

November, 16, 2012
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Alvin Kamara, Derrick GreenESPN.comUncommitted 2013 running backs Alvin Kamara and Derrick Green.

ESPN 100 running backs Alvin Kamara and Derrick Green can score from anywhere on the field thanks to their breakaway speed, an attribute that makes them very attractive recruits to the Oregon Ducks. Oregon's pursuit of the duo headlines this week’s #BlueChipBattles. Insider

Click through for our list to rank the top 10 recruiting battlesInsider.

#BlueChipBattles: Nov. 9

November, 9, 2012
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Max Redfield, Leon McQuayTom Hauck for ESPN.comMax Redfield is out at USC -- is Leon McQuay in?
Think USC was left reeling after Max Redfield (left) decommitted this week? Not really. The Trojans appear to be zeroing in on Leon McQuay III (right). And then there's the nation’s No. 1 recruit, Robert Nkemdiche, who decommitted Thursday. It's an open market in this week’s #BlueChipBattles Insider.

You can also rank the battles this week in SportsNation.

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