Too-Early Top 25 recruiting update

January, 6, 2014
Jan 6
10:40
AM ET

The 2013 season -- and the BCS era -- may have just come to a close, but it's never too early to take a look ahead to next season. And whichever teams find themselves battling for next season's national championship, odds are they will receive contributions from some true freshmen along the way.

So, with signing day less than a month away, here's how the teams in the Way-Too-Early Top 25 are looking on the recruiting trail:

1. Florida State Seminoles
Who they have: The Seminoles previously held the No. 1 spot in the class rankings before falling to No. 6, but a big week at the Under Armour All-America Game could propel FSU back into the top two by signing day. Dalvin Cook, a former Gators commit, and Lorenzo Featherston, both top-30 players in the ESPN 300, committed to the Noles before the game and No. 61 Travis Rudolph pledged during the contest. Now with 29 commitments, the Noles are close to done in what should be a special class. ESPN 300 linebackers Kain Daub, Jacob Pugh and Delvin Purifoy highlight the strongest LB class in the country. ESPN 300 QB J.J. Cosentino could eventually succeed Jameis Winston, although ESPN 300 athlete Treon Harris might get a shot at QB, too. Florida State needed offensive linemen more than anything to protect its quarterbacks after 2014 and found a few. Chad Mavety, No. 8 in the ESPN Junior College 50, committed in December and is ready to contribute right away. Six-foot-9 three-star OT Brock Ruble followed a few days later, as did ESPN JC 50 prospect Kareem Are.
Who they want: Florida State is still in search of a landmark commitment at offensive tackle -- at least among high school prospects. Damian Prince will commit after signing day, but four-star prospects Roderick Johnson (an ESPN 300 OT) and Frank Ragnow officially visited Dec. 13. Johnson has FSU as his leader and Ragnow has FSU as a finalist. The icing for this class would be a five-star signee, and the most likely prospect is cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who is down to FSU and Alabama.
Signing day surprise: The hope at Maryland was to land both Damian Prince and Jalen Tabor, both among the top 30 in the ESPN 300. Now that Tabor is off to Arizona, the odds have increased that Prince could sign elsewhere, too. Florida State is the main competition for Prince, and when he announces a little more than a week after signing day, Prince will utter the words "Florida State" instead of "Maryland" to complete FSU's offensive line haul. -- Jared Shanker


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Nebraska secondary coach Terry Joseph is weighing a move from Lincoln to Texas A&M, saying on Saturday that he had been offered a position to coach defensive backs for Kevin Sumlin.

Formerly the secondary coach and recruiting coordinator at Tennesssee, Joseph came to Nebraska before the 2012 season. He told the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal-Star that he needed to speak with Nebraska coach Bo Pelini after the visit this weekend to College Station.

“They offered me the job,” Joseph said to the newspaper. "It’s a lot of money, but I told Bo I would come back and talk to him before I took the job.

[+] Enlarge Stanley Jean-Baptiste
Bruce Thorson/USA TODAY SportsSenior CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste was part of a dramatically improved secondary under assistant coach Terry Joseph.
“Now, if you say, ‘It’s a lot of money and Nebraska isn’t going to match it?’ Then, yeah, it’s a done deal, because that’s what it comes down to, getting my contract extended and me getting a lot of money.”

How's that for a money quote?

Joseph earned $245,000 at Nebraska this year as part of a group that ranks third in the Big Ten in coaching staff pay. Former A&M secondary coach and co-defensive coordinator Marcel Yates, who left recently for Boise State, earned $308,200 on Sumlin’s staff.

Mitch Sherman, who covers Nebraska for ESPN.com, and A&M reporter Sam Khan discuss the situation:

How significant would the loss of Joseph rate for Nebraska?

Sherman: It’s a big deal. Under Joseph in two years, Nebraska ranked fourth nationally in opponent completion percentage. In 2012, it led the nation in that category. And in 2013, the Huskers ranked seventh in opponent third-down conversion rate in large part because of the work of his defensive backs. Cornerbacks Ciante Evans and Stanley Jean-Baptiste improved considerably under Joseph in addition to safety Corey Cooper, who developed into one of the Huskers’ top tacklers this year. In the Huskers’ TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl win over Georgia, cornerback Josh Mitchell intercepted a pass and recovered a fumbled punt return. And young players like LeRoy Alexander have shown signs of growth under Joseph’s watch. His secondary, over two years, easily rates as the most consistent area of a Nebraska defense that has undergone a transformation. Without him, the task to replace Evans and Jean-Baptiste turns much more complex.

Would the addition of Joseph rank as a big score for Sumlin and the Aggies?

Khan: Definitely. The secondary is an area that still needs improvement for the Aggies (all you had to do was watch the Chick-fil-A Bowl to figure that out), and the sooner the Aggies fill the void left by Yates, the better. But aside from on-field coaching, Sumlin puts a priority on guys who can recruit. Joseph clearly can. His background as a high school coach and a college assistant in the state of Louisiana is attractive to Sumlin and the Aggies because that's a state in which they're continuing to grow a presence. Several key defensive starters hail from "The Boot," and the Aggies are trying to go toe to toe with LSU and recently won a key battle in nabbing five-star athlete Speedy Noil. Joseph can likely help the Aggies efforts in recruiting that state.

How else has Joseph impacted Nebraska?

Sherman: He’s one of the Huskers’ top recruiters, landing prospects such as tight end Cethan Carter, defensive back Boaz Joseph and receiver Tre'Vell Dixon a year ago. Joseph helped land athlete Jaevon Walton and defensive backs Joshua Kalu and Trai Mosley in the unsigned 2014 class. His connections run deep in fertile Louisiana, where Joseph played baseball at Northwestern State and coached football in the high school ranks before a stint as the secondary coach at Louisiana Tech.

What would Joseph have to work with in Aggieland?

Khan: There's some depth in the defensive backfield at cornerback with starters Deshazor Everett and De'Vante Harris set to return in 2014. Behind those two are several young corners that were part of a large 2013 recruiting class haul, including Noel Ellis, Tavares Garner and Alex Sezer, all of whom saw playing time on either defense or special teams as true freshmen this season. Safety is another story. The Aggies do have returnees back there in Howard Matthews, Floyd Raven and Clay Honeycutt, but all of them struggled last season. Freshman Kameron Miles, who injured his knee in training camp and redshirted and 6-foot-3 freshman Jonathan Wiggins, who played in nine games mostly on special teams, should be ready to contribute come next season.

What would his absence mean for Nebraska?

Sherman: While never good to lose a coach in a lateral move, Sumlin is offering money the Huskers just may not want to match. Pelini is well connected and should find a solid replacement. But Joseph’s departure, inevitably, would raise questions about the staffers’ confidence in the stability at Nebraska after Pelini received a stay from the school’s administration at the close of a rocky regular season.

What would his impact mean at Texas A&M?

Khan: He would be a quality addition to the coaching staff and fulfills the requirements Sumlin looks for in assistants: someone who can be both a good on-field coach and a presence in recruiting. He has worked in the SEC and has a solid overall resume, so he should be a solid fit in Aggieland.
When Marcel Yates left Texas A&M to take the defensive coordinator position at Boise State, there was immediate chatter.

Would Dylan Sumner-Gardner (Mesquite, Texas/West Mesquite) follow Yates?


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

video

SAN ANTONIO -- Marshon Lattimore and Erick Smith, two ESPN 300 athletes and high school teammates, decided to be college teammates with verbal commitments to Ohio State at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday.

The duo from Glenville High School in Cleveland became the 20th and 21st commitments for a Buckeyes class that includes 11 ESPN 300 pledges. Lattimore is the No. 50 player in the ESPN 300 and the nation's sixth-ranked athlete. Smith is the No. 228 player in the ESPN 300 and the nation's No. 15 safety.

"It just feels like family," said Lattimore, who, along with Smith, will join another Glenville player -- three-star offensive tackle Marcelys Jones -- at Ohio State. "We've got three or four players from Glenville there, plus Marcelys and Erick."

The biggest question entering the weekend didn't involve what school they would choose on Saturday. It depended on if Smith would make any announcement. Smith on Thursday said he was leaning toward not announcing in an effort to take more official visits.

Smith, however, chose to end the process, and now he, Lattimore and Jones will prepare for life in the Big Ten.

"We all knew where we wanted to go," said Smith, the No. 228 player in the ESPN 300 and the nation's No. 15 safety. "We've been saying we wanted to go together. We just weren't going to tell everyone."

Lattimore added: "I've been playing with [Smith] since the seventh grade, and I'll continue to be with him. He's like my brother. It'll be great to have him in the secondary with me."

Morgan adds to Irish's stellar LB class


(Read full post)


Days after getting a pledge from one dynamic weapon in Speedy Noil, the Aggies add another in Frank Iheanacho (Houston/Westside).

How will he fit in College Station? Let's break it down:


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Bob StoopsChuck Cook/USA TODAY SportsCould Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, fresh off a Sugar Bowl win, leave for the NFL?
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- After several days of being as much of the conversation here as Monday’s national championship game, the Texas Longhorns have made their head coaching hire. Louisville’s Charlie Strong is the new head coach, the college announced on Sunday.

But even with Texas off the board, there are still a few jobs -- including Strong’s at Louisville -- that need filling. And could the NFL cause others to open beyond Penn State, maybe in the Big 12 or SEC?

Here are the remaining dominoes that will or might fall in a coaching carousel that’s suddenly spinning wildly again.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Top four for ESPN Junior 300 RB 

January, 3, 2014
Jan 3
11:05
PM ET
SAN ANTONIO -- Ja'Mycal Hasty (Longview, Texas/Longview) left the U.S. Army combine with a big smile on his face. The ESPN Junior 300 running back said he ran a hand-held time of 4.29 seconds in the 40-yard dash -- a blazing time on an Alamodome turf notorious for haunting the fastest athletes with slower times.

Hasty also said that while recruiting is at a standstill, he has an early list of favorites.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Army Bowl combine notebook 

January, 3, 2014
Jan 3
10:48
PM ET
SAN ANTONIO -- The day before the U.S. Army All-American Bowl featured several athletes who could be playing in the 2015 rendition of the game. The U.S. Army National Combine took place Friday, and several ESPN Junior 300 athletes, as well as rising 2015 and 2016 standouts, gave the Alamodome crowd a small taste of what to expect throughout the spring circuit of various camps and combines.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Jake Matthews wins Bowden Award

January, 3, 2014
Jan 3
7:49
PM ET

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- Texas A&M left tackle Jake Matthews won the Bobby Bowden Award on Friday, presented for high performance on the field, in the classroom and in the community.

Matthews, the son of former NFL lineman Bruce Matthews, is a two-time all-Southeastern Conference player who moved from right to left tackle for his senior season.

Matthews is considered by many experts to be a top-five pick in this year's NFL draft.

The award, named after the former Florida State coach, is sponsored by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Other finalists for the award were Mississippi punter Tyler Campbell, Arizona linebacker Jake Fischer, Oklahoma offensive lineman Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma State linebacker Shaun Lewis and Alabama receiver Kevin Norwood.


(Read full post)


Bob Stoops: SEC not overwhelming

January, 3, 2014
Jan 3
2:43
PM ET
video

After Oklahoma toppled Alabama in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Thursday, Sooners coach Bob Stoops said he wouldn't have to "dodge any more punches" for suggesting in the offseason that the SEC being the best league in college football was "propaganda."

Speaking on ESPN Radio's "The Herd with Colin Cowherd" on Friday, Stoops elaborated on those critical comments.

"When I made the comment, the bottom half of the SEC was like zero-and-36 against the top half of the SEC. You realize that? A year ago … nobody talks about that. My point was, don't say SEC like they're all doing that [beating everyone]. One or two or three top teams … sure, you give them the credit. Alabama … I've got the utmost respect for them. Are you kidding me? How could you not? But in the end, don't talk about the entire conference that way. It's just not true.

"Hey, I've got total respect for Alabama, but you can't deny what we did last night. Obviously, we can play with anybody, whether it's the SEC or anyone else. And to say we can't … well, Alabama's been rolling the SEC for the last three years and we didn't seem to be overwhelmed last night. I'm done with that talk."

Stoops also invoked Missouri and Texas A&M, which have enjoyed success since moving from the Big 12 to the SEC. The Aggies won 11 games last year and knocked off Alabama on the road. This year, Missouri went 11-2 and won the SEC Eastern Division.


(Read full post)


Let's go Seminoles!

January, 3, 2014
Jan 3
12:48
PM ET

Nick SabanJoel Auerbach/Getty ImagesNick Saban hoisting the Coaches' Trophy back in January of last year. If Gus Malzahn does this Monday, a certain writer will be very sad.

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- If Auburn wins the national title Monday night, I swear I'm going to eat my fist. I'm going to weep softly. I'm going to go to Columbus, Ohio, and termite-tent Urban Meyer's house with him zipped inside. After all, he and his Ohio State team let Auburn into this game in the first place.

I need undefeated Florida State to win Monday. I need it like I need circulating blood. If Auburn wins and gives the SEC its eighth straight national championship I'm going to dress backwards and take up the flugelhorn.

Before you start yelling, I know. This is a reason-free column. It's leaking emotion from the bilge. It's journalistically wrong. I know.

I just don't care.

I can't take another year of the bragging, the self-slobbering and the chest-thumping. And that's just from Condoleezza Rice. SEC people are the acknowledged GOATs -- Gloatingest Of All Time. If they make it eight in a row, they will be as insufferable as Russell Brand.

Oh, no? Here's what Auburn fullback Jay Prosch told me Thursday: "The competition in the SEC is way beyond any other conference in the country … SEC players are smarter, faster and stronger." Smarter? Really? Smarter than a conference that has Stanford, UCLA and Cal? Bet me a first-year Google salary on that?


(Read full post)


SEC lunchtime links

January, 3, 2014
Jan 3
12:15
PM ET
The SEC took a hit with Alabama’s loss to Oklahoma, but the conference still has a chance to finish strong, beginning Friday with Missouri in the Cotton Bowl. Take a look around the league with the latest news and notes.
  • Auburn’s offensive line has developed into one of the nation’s best, but it will face a Florida State defensive line that features a quartet of former five-star prospects.
  • After a flight from Birmingham was canceled due to weather, Auburn fans try to find new ways to get to the VIZIO BCS National Championship Game.
  • James Franklin’s career at Missouri has been full of ups and downs, but the quarterback’s journey will come to an end Friday at the AT&T Cotton Bowl.
  • After a 45-31 loss to Oklahoma in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, Alabama coach Nick Saban has to find a way to right the ship again in Tuscaloosa.
  • Vanderbilt didn’t begin the season with Patton Robinette at quarterback, but the Commodores are confident in the freshman heading into Saturday’s BBVA Compass Bowl.
  • Running back Leonard Fournette, the nation’s No. 1 recruit, saved the day for LSU when he committed to the in-state school at Thursday’s Under Armour All-America Game.
  • On the same day Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans declared for the NFL draft, the Aggies picked up a commitment from five-star wide receiver Speedy Noil.
  • Despite a disappointing 8-5 finish for Georgia, stability isn’t a bad thing for the Bulldogs heading into next season.
  • Take five: Five reasons why Mississippi State could be in for a special season in 2014.
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.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

video

Scouts Inc.'s Steve Muench breaks down Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans' draft stock.

Army Bowl notebook: Jan. 2 

January, 2, 2014
Jan 2
8:10
PM ET
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.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES

No. 2 CB Sheffield Talks Recruiting
Fort Bend Marshall cornerback Kendall Sheffield landed at No. 12 in the new ESPN 300. That's good enough to earn him the top spot in Texas. Sheffield spoke about the ranking, a recent trip to LSU and his decision date with ESPN's Phil Murphy.Tags: Kendall Sheffield, Fort Bend Marshall, RecruitingNation, ESPN 300, high school football recruiting, Phil Murphy
VIDEO PLAYLIST video