Texas A&M Aggies: Stanford Cardinal

Ducks renew hunt for future QB 

June, 20, 2014
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Signing a top quarterback remains at the top of the list for the Oregon Ducks.

After first losing out to Texas A&M on five-star Kyler Murray, the top quarterback on the board, the Ducks went after former Notre Dame commit Blake Barnett. While it appeared as if Oregon had a very good chance to land the Under Armour All-America selection, Barnett committed to Alabama on Wednesday in what was another hit at the position for the Ducks.

The Ducks, however, wasted little time moving on to the next quarterback on the board.

Recruiting the right quarterback means a tremendous amount to every college football program.

In the Class of 2015, the race has been on for months for programs in need of signal-callers.

With the calendar having turned to June, there are more than 55 quarterbacks who have given verbal commitments to FBS programs.

Most recently, Florida snagged West Coast prospect Sheriron Jones over the weekend. In all, 39 of 62 programs in the Power Five conferences have QB commitments, and more are on the way.


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Army Bowl notebook: Jan. 2 

January, 2, 2014
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SAN ANTONIO -- Thursday’s practice session for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl saw players in more of a rhythm on offense, but it also saw defensive players showing their skills. If Thursday is any indication, Saturday’s contest could be a low-scoring affair.

Here are a few notes:

Cannon reaffirms Baylor commitment … again.

For the Baylor fans who read the late-Wednesday tweet coming from ESPN 300 receiver K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant), don’t read anything into it.


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The QBs that got away

December, 30, 2013
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There’s no more important position in football than quarterback, and in many cases, fans look at quarterbacks that got away and wonder what might have been had they come to their favorite school. Some schools passed on a quarterback because he evaluated poorly or another QB appeared more attractive. Others simply didn't have enough recruiting ammunition to land the recruit in the first place. Here’s a look at six quarterbacks that got away.

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
Thomas Campbell/USA TODAY SportsWhat might the offense at Oregon or Texas looked like with Johnny Manziel at the controls?
Teddy Bridgewater
Bridgewater had offers from Florida, LSU, Miami, Rutgers, USF and Tennessee when he was a senior coming out of Miami Northwestern. While there were notable programs after Bridgewater, it was hardly the amount of attention you would expect from the player who sits atop many NFL draft boards after a stellar career at Louisville. Some coaches will tell you Bridgewater’s stock was lower coming out of high school because many expected him to land at Miami. He did commit to the Canes at one point, but eventually backed off that pledge and announced he was going to Louisville because of the opportunity for early playing time. “The toughest part of it was that I had to say that I wasn't going to the University of Miami,” he said after selecting the Cards in 2011. “I told the coaches that I had to do what was best for me, and they understood that.” It was a wise decision by Bridgewater and a miss that still haunts the Canes.

Robert Griffin III
Before he was RG III, he was a Houston commitment. Coming out of Copperas Cove, Texas, Griffin originally pledged to Art Briles when he was the coach at Houston. When Briles departed for Baylor, other schools like Kansas, Nebraska, Stanford, Oregon and Oregon State were in hot pursuit, but that was about it. He eventually followed Briles to Waco, and the rest is history. It’s been pointed out a number of times that Texas passed on Griffin because it thought he was a defensive back, and A&M signed Tommy Dorman in that same 2008 class. Dorman played sparingly as a fullback and a tight end.

Kevin Hogan
What would Rutgers, Vanderbilt or Virginia been like had they been able to land Hogan? Hogan was a heavily recruited quarterback coming out of Washington (D.C.) Gonzaga in the 2011 class and his final five consisted of Rutgers, Vandy, UVa and the Cardinal. He decided to leave the East Coast and has settled in nicely on The Farm. Rutgers, Vandy and Virginia surely could have used Hogan this season, as they threw a combined 38 interceptions, while Hogan led the Cardinal to their second straight Pac-12 championship and Rose Bowl appearance.

[+] EnlargeGeno Smith
Justin K. Aller/Getty ImagesThe fortunes of two SEC teams might have changed drastically had Geno Smith not gone to West Virginia.
Collin Klein
Coming out of Loveland, Colo., Klein accepted the only scholarship offer he received. And despite a stellar high school career in football and basketball and a solid showing at the Nike Training Camp, the Wildcats were the only team to believe in him enough to offer. Klein went on to lead K-State to the Big 12 championship in 2012, finish second in the Heisman Trophy voting and win more than 20 games as a starter. At the same time, Colorado struggled at the quarterback spot, won only eight games in a three-year span and would have given anything to have an in-state star like Klein as its leader.

Johnny Manziel
You have to give credit to Oregon and Texas A&M, because they identified early on that Manziel had the goods to be a special quarterback. But they were about the only ones that did. Virtually every recruiting service had him as a three-star prospect and his offer sheet read more like a regionally recruited prospect, not a Heisman Trophy winner. Texas also had a chance to recruit Manziel, but the Horns saw him more as a defensive back prospect than a quarterback. Oregon had faith early in him, and it paid off with a commitment the summer after his junior season. He later flipped to the Aggies in September of his senior season.

Bryce Petty
Coming out of Midlothian, Texas, in the Class of 2009, Petty pledged to then-Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer as a junior. When Fulmer was let go, Lane Kiffin thought Petty didn’t fit what he wanted at quarterback, and Petty was left looking for a home two months before national signing day. Several teams showed interest in the talented young quarterback, including South Carolina, Nebraska and Oklahoma, but few had room. Virginia Tech and Baylor eventually offered Petty a grayshirt opportunity, and he took the Bears’ offer. Surely a number of teams around the Big 12, or even the Hokies or Cornhuskers, would have loved to have Petty as their quarterback.

Geno Smith
Imagine Smith wearing an LSU or an Alabama uniform. It certainly was a possibility at one point in the recruiting process, as the Tigers and Tide were two of Smith’s top teams coming out of Miramar (Fla.) High School. But after an official visit to West Virginia in November of his senior season, he was sold that West Virginia was the place for him. The Tide got their QB of the future in AJ McCarron in that same class and the Tigers hinged their hopes on highly recruited Russell Shepard. McCarron was the right choice for the Tide, but Shepard never developed as a quarterback and LSU had up-and-down play at the position for a number of years. Smith rewrote WVU’s record books and is now an NFL starter.

ESPN 300 CB Brown ready to set visits 

October, 11, 2013
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Forgive ESPN 300 cornerback Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen) if he hasn’t been as open with discussions on recruiting. He’s been occupied with trying to help his football team -- in every capacity possible.

Along with being a shutdown cornerback, Brown said he’s been spending some time on the offensive side of the ball, working as a wide receiver because of injury within the team. The 6-foot-1, 196-pound athlete is hoping to have an impact on both sides of the ball this weekend when Ozen plays Livingston, Texas, on Saturday.

[+] EnlargeTony Brown
Max Olson/ESPNA decorated hurdler, ESPN 300 cornerback Tony Brown expects to participate in track no matter which football program he picks.
“I’m falling back [with recruiting] to focus on the team and winning games,” said Brown, the nation’s No. 13 player in the ESPN 300. “Recruiting’s kind of been a distraction. Right now, I’m focused on playing. I had a bad ankle sprain the first game, so I’m still getting right from that. I’m just trying to help get us to the playoffs.”

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Johnny Manziel’s autograph problems didn’t stop Associated Press poll voters from signing their name next to Texas A&M.

The Aggies came in at No. 7 in the preseason AP Poll released Saturday, just one spot below their place in the preseason coaches' poll, which came out days before ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” reported that the NCAA is investigating whether Manziel was paid for autographing photos and memorabilia in January. Despite Manziel’s troubles and Texas A&M losing several key players from last year’s 11-2 squad, the voters still believe in Kevin Sumlin’s crew.

There was decidedly little drama in the initial AP rankings aside from A&M. The voting mirrored that of the coaches' poll, as the same 25 teams appeared, 19 in the same place. The AP Top 5 -- Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon, Stanford and Georgia -- is the same as the coaches.

Alabama not surprisingly was the overwhelming choice at No. 1, receiving 58 of 60 first-place votes, tying the 2009 Florida team for the highest percentage of first-place votes in the preseason rankings. That two voters drifted from the Tide -- one to Ohio State, one to Georgia -- might be the real surprise. Sure, every year is different, but it’s hard to make a case for any other team at the top after watching Nick Saban’s crew dominate the college football landscape in recent years.

Both Oregon and Stanford won BCS bowls last season but come in behind Ohio State, the only Football Bowl Subdivision team to go undefeated last season. The Buckeyes hardly were dominant, nearly stumbling against Purdue, Wisconsin and Michigan State. The voters clearly think bigger things are ahead for the Buckeyes in Year 2 under Urban Meyer, who won a national championship in his second season at Florida, thumping the team he now leads.

Notre Dame’s rough offseason affected the AP voters more than the coaches, as the Irish came in at No. 14, three spots below their coaches' poll ranking. Brian Kelly’s team will have chances to prove itself as it plays four ranked squads, culminating with the regular-season finale at Stanford.

Could this be the year the Big Ten finally puts itself back on the national stage? The much-maligned league has five teams in the poll, tied with the Pac-12 for the second most of any conference. The problem for the Big Ten: Only Ohio State cracked the top 15, while the SEC, Pac-12, Big 12 and ACC all have multiple teams. It’s still very much an SEC world as five squads made the top 10.

The Pac-12 might be the best bet to unseat the SEC as both Oregon and Stanford have been branded as preseason title contenders. The Big 12 enters the season with zero top-10 teams but a potentially appetizing race between Oklahoma State, Texas and Oklahoma.

The poll features just two teams -- No. 9 Louisville and No. 19 Boise State -- from outside the “big five” conferences. Neither squad will play any teams in the preseason poll, so a path to Pasadena for the BCS National Championship, even with an undefeated record, seems difficult.

The near consensus between the AP and coaches' polls creates a clear landscape entering the season. Someone needs to catch Alabama. We’ll see if Manziel gets a chance when the Aggies welcome the Tide to College Station on Sept. 14.

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



Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton boasts two ESPN 300 linemen, and while offensive tackle Casey Tucker and defensive end Qualen Cunningham will have a similar impact on the success of the Huskies this season, they are on different paths when it comes to recruiting.


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Texas A&M hosted its final one-day camp of the year Sunday, and 2015 ESPN Junior 300 offensive guard Conner Dyer (Mesquite, Texas/Horn) was one of many notable names on campus.

The 6-foot-4, 276-pound Dyer did not participate in the camp, instead using the day as an opportunity for an unofficial visit.


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Lessons Learned: Camp of Conquerors 

June, 15, 2013
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HornDamon Sayles/ESPNMesquite Horn won the Camp of Conquerors 7-on-7 Tournament.

CEDAR HILL, Texas -- The second annual Mike Adams Camp of Conquerors 7-on-7 tournament featured 13 of the top 7-on-7 teams in the Dallas area on Saturday. The tournament, put on by the NFL defensive back, gives the opportunity to win $5,000 for the winning 7-on-7 program.

Early Saturday evening, Mesquite (Texas) Horn defeated Cedar Hill to walk away with the championship.

Here is what we learned after the event:

Horn WR the talk of the tournament

Horn all spring has shown that it’s more than quarterback Destri White, Rice cornerback commit Jorian Clark and a talented group of linemen that features Baylor commit Andrew Morris and 2015 standout offensive tackle Conner Dyer. On Saturday, Del’Michael High reminded everyone of just how good he is.

High, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound wide receiver, was borderline unstoppable throughout the tournament, and he was a big reason why Horn went undefeated. In the championship game against Cedar Hill, High was able to score wins in several one-on-one battles, some featuring talented Oklahoma cornerback commit Marcus Green.

High hasn’t been on the recruiting radar, but he showed tools of being one of the top receivers in the state on Saturday. He admittedly said that part of his lack of recruiting exposure might be because of academics, but he added that he’s been focused more than ever to make sure his work off the field is as solid as his work on it.

Bishop Dunne DB targets going both ways


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Houston Cypress Ridge 2015 receiver Kemah Siverand saw the race for his services officially begin Thursday when Texas extended him his first offer.

Now, he can officially count Texas A&M among his suitors.


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MANVEL, Texas — December marked the first time in 20 years that a team from Houston ISD made it all the way to a Class 5A state football title game, but Houston Lamar is showing why it shouldn't be considered a fluke.

The Redskins have a plethora of talent in the current and future classes and much of it was on display on Saturday as they claimed the Maverick 7-on-7 state qualifying tournament on Saturday at Manvel (Texas) High School.

The prize in the 2014 Lamar recruiting class is four-star safety John Bonney, who holds 30 offers and is uncommitted at the moment.


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With summer drawing closer, Texas high school football teams are transitioning from spring football to 7-on-7 competition and there were a handful of teams in attendance at the inaugural Crosby Cougar 7-on-7 tournament in Crosby, Texas, on Saturday.

Among them was a talented private school squad, Houston Kinkaid, which appears to have major Division I prospects in the 2014 class and beyond.


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True to his word, Bossier City (La.) Parkway quarterback Brandon Harris named his top schools after spring practice concluded.


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ESPN 150 defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell) is about as unassuming a high-profile recruit as one will come across.

He doesn’t get tangled up in the vastness of recruiting. He's not one to openly speak of his achievements. He’s also not one to rush a decision as important as his commitment to the college program of his choice.

[+] EnlargeSolomon Thomas
Tom Hauck for Student SportsAn explosive defensive end, Thomas showed the skills that have led to offers from schools such as Alabama, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State and many more.
Go ahead and ask him where he’s going or who he’s favoring and you’ll get an answer you’d swear was stuck on loop.

“Things are really still jumbled up,” Thomas said. “I really don’t know. People ask me all the time and I truthfully don’t know where I want to go so I am still trying to figure out, take some visits and talk about schools with my parents and coaches.”

That answer hasn’t changed since Thomas, who is 6-foot-3 and 258 pounds, began acquiring offers, which have grown into one of the most impressive in the country. He has more than 25 offers, from the likes of Alabama, Texas, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Ohio State.

They all have great reason to pursue him. Thomas was just ranked No. 30 overall in the first ESPN 150 of the 2014 cycle. He’s the No. 5 defensive end in the country, No. 5 player in Texas and No. 6 player in the midlands region.

For as well mannered and respectful as he is off the field, he flips a switch that makes him a bad, bad dude on Friday nights.

All of that said, his unpretentious charm not withstanding, Thomas is having fun with the process. He loves the camps -- he was named defensive line MVP at the Dallas Nike Football Training Camp -- and has grown into a much better conversationalist.

He and Texas defensive ends coach Oscar Giles struck one up on Tuesday afternoon when Giles dropped by Coppell High School to check in on one of Texas’ biggest targets.

“It was good to see him,” Thomas said. “They were the second school to come see me. He was just seeing how I was doing, just walked around and gave me some input.”

Defensive end is considered an extreme position of need for the Longhorns in 2014, which explains why they have offered more defensive ends (10) than any other position in this class.

Derick Roberson (San Antonio/Brennan) and Jake McMillon (Abilene, Texas/Abilene) have already committed. Has that dampened Texas’ chances with Thomas?


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