USC Trojans: Baylor Bears

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A flurry of commitments and decommitments has led to considerable movement in the latest class rankings update. Several top-10 programs added ESPN 300 prospects, including Tennessee, which picked up top-10 ILB Darrin Kirkland Jr. The Vols already have a class that features a talented group of defensive linemen, and have now added a big, powerful inside linebacker that can develop into a tough downhill run-stopper. Butch Jones now has Tennessee in contention for a second-straight top-five finish.

Outside the top 10, USC landed a verbal from in-state tight end Tyler Petite, a tall, lengthy prospect with the size, speed and leaping ability to potentially create mismatches as a receiving target at the position. After landing the former Duke commit, USC's class features eight ESPN 300 prospects.

Ole Miss also saw a move up in the rankings with a pair of additions. The Rebels landed ESPN Junior College 50 QB Chad Kelly, a player who is physically gifted enough to be a strong candidate to replace QB Bo Wallace, a one-time junior college transfer himself. Ole Miss, who not sits at No. 17, also landed ESPN 300 OT Michael Howard. He is a lean OL prospect that needs to fill out, but is an athletic and tenacious player and with development could end up being a real strong pick-up out of Florida for the Rebels.

Inside the rankings

Coach Art Briles has had two very distinct luxuries when it comes to recruiting in today's complicated landscape -- recruiting in the shadows and recruiting without pressure. Both are actually in many ways, one in the same. As Briles has built this program, he's been able to do it his way without public pressure or booster interference because early on, nobody thought it could be done and nobody cared.

This staff was able to go after who they wanted, on their own timetable and without much scrutiny. In today's recruiting world, that's a huge luxury. Players like Levi Norwood, Antwan Goodley or Tevin Reese, who was a late qualifier, were all bypassed by other Power 5 programs, but nobody even noticed Baylor signed them or griped, "who are these guys" on signing day.

As a result, prospects like these were brought along at a normal pace and developed properly by the coaching staff. Redshirting the bulk of the classes for the first few years has also been huge for the Bears. The challenge going forward will be dealing with increased program exposure and expectation level which almost always brings with it increased recruiting scrutiny from boosters and fans alike. But the Bears don??t need to change a thing.



To see the full class rankings, click here.

Getting to know DaMarkus Lodge 

April, 17, 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 -- 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.

Early Offer: Florida gets Sharpe 

December, 13, 2013
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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: After a few days off, the Early Offer is back with news on Florida adding one of the best offensive linemen in the country; a road trip that takes fans inside the world of coaches on the road; and an avalanche of commitments from junior college prospects is coming in the next week.

Gators get their guy

It took a little bit longer than anticipated, but Florida landed highly coveted offensive lineman David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence) on Thursday. Sharpe, the No. 18 player in the country and second-ranked offensive tackle, pushed back a scheduled decision before Thanksgiving to Thursday, but in the end it was worth the wait for Florida fans.


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3-point stance: Big-time turnarounds

November, 12, 2013
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1. Turnaround I: A year ago this week, Baylor had a 4-5 record and stood last -- last! -- in FBS total defense. That Saturday, the Bears stunned No. 1 Kansas State, 52-24, and they haven’t lost since. The 12-game winning streak is a school record. And Baylor is ninth – ninth! – in total defense, allowing only 306.1 yards per game. No. 7 Auburn is getting credit for what has been a remarkable turnaround. But the 5th-ranked Bears have done a pretty nice 180 themselves.

2. Turnaround II: After a 6-1 start last season, USC finished 1-5, then started this season 3-2. Goodbye, Lane Kiffin. Hello, interim head coach Ed Orgeron. The Trojans have gone 4-1 under Orgeron. They have played better defense. The offense put up 62 points against Cal last Saturday, two more than USC scored in its previous three games combined. The Trojans host No. 4 Stanford Saturday night. The Cardinal defense will serve as a benchmark for the level of the Trojans offense. The game also might serve as Turnaround III: the last USC head coach to beat Stanford was Pete Carroll (2008).

3. In the meantime, Turnaround III: Duke is 7-2 and looking to win eight games for the first time since 1994, when the Blue Devils began the season 7-0. That team finished the season 8-4, thanks to a pair of one-point losses to neighbors North Carolina State and North Carolina. This Duke team seems different. These Blue Devils are 3-0 on the road, and they have won five straight for the first time since, yep, ’94. The last Duke team to win nine? 1941, which ended with the Blue Devils playing in the Rose Bowl on the Duke campus.

Early Offer: Baylor's offense loaded 

October, 8, 2013
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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: If you think Baylor’s offense is explosive now, just wait until the 2014 class makes it to campus; USC enters the mix for four-star QB Brad Kaaya; and a longtime Auburn linebacker commitment is going to take all five of his official visits.

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#BlueChipBattles: ESPN 150 release edition

April, 19, 2013
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Speedy Noil, Adoree Jackson, Da'Shawn HandStudent Sports, ESPN, ESPNSpeedy Noil, Adoree Jackson and Da'Shawn Hand are three of the most coveted recruits in the Class of 2014.
#BlueChipBattles Insider: RecruitingNation summoned its writers from around the country to outline the recruiting battles for the ESPN 150's top 10 prospects.

Plus, rank the battles in SportsNation.

#TopFBMixtapes: Athlete mixtapes are all the rage in this highlight-crazed era of sports. We reached out to our Twitter followers to find out which 2014 football stars had the best highlight reels on YouTube, then had our staff rank and comment on the top submissions.

Tom Luginbill writes Insider: After talking to many coaches across the country and hearing their frustrations, here are their five biggest complaints about homemade highlight videos.
Many high-profile recruits will say they like to do their talking on the field, rather than off it, but few carry out that practice as well as Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada). The physically-gifted 6-foot-4, 230-pound tight end would seemingly rather take a blindside hit from a safety than a softball question from the media, though it has far more to do with his quiet, understated nature than any desire to keep his distance from anybody.


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Video: Teams that missed Too-Early Top 25

February, 11, 2013
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USC was ranked No. 25 in Mark Schlabach's initial Too-Early Top 25 preseason rankings but have been bumped out in the latest edition. Schlabach discusses the Trojans, Baylor Bears and Virginia Tech Hokies in this look at three teams who just missed the cut.

#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. 2

November, 2, 2012
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RecruitingNation has summoned its writers from around the country to compile a list of the top 10 battles for elite football recruits Insider leading up to February's signing day. We'll update our rankings periodically to reflect a change in a player's status (i.e., new offers, trimmed-down list or a positive/negative official visit).

Our writers have debated the list for weeks, but we value your input as well. Voice your opinion on Twitter (@RecruitingESPN) using#BlueChipBattles or vote for which player should hold the No. 1 spot on Facebook.

#BlueChip Battles: Oct. 26

October, 26, 2012
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Pitt doesn't want WR Robert Foster to leave the Keystone State and USC hopes to keep CB Max Redfield in Cali. The local programs' bid to keep those two stars in-state highlights this week's #BlueChipBattles Insider.

#BlueChipBattles is the Twitter hashtag to use if you want to voice your opinion on our list or to view other fans' reactions as the commitments begin to roll in. Get recruiting updates on the players above as well as the nation's other top football prospects here: @RecruitingESPN.

Big target: DL Eddie Vanderdoes 

July, 8, 2012
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One of the biggest USC recruiting targets at The Opening -- literally and figuratively -- has been defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes from Auburn (Calif.) Placer.

Vanderdoes (6-foot-3, 285 pounds) is a player who is athletic enough to also star as a baseball pitcher in addition to being one of the most highly touted d-line prospects in the nation and he is a huge priority on the wish list for Trojans coaches.

USC would like to add two more bodies on the D-line for this class and Vanderdoes is showing a lot of mutual interest in the Trojans.

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Shortly after releasing a list of his top 15 schools, defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes (Auburn, Calif./Placer) trimmed it to a final 10.

Vanderdoes took to Twitter to release the news, just as he did with his previous list. He made sure to remind everyone again that there is no order to his final 10 schools, but they are Baylor, California, Florida, LSU, Nebraska, Oregon, Penn State, UCLA, USC and Washington.

Cut from his initial list of 15 schools were Alabama, Georgia Tech, Miami, Michigan and Michigan State.

The 6-foot-3, 285-pound standout is the nation's No. 57 player. He has a chance to play football and baseball at the next level. Vanderdoes will spend the remainder of this week at The Opening.

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Vanderdoes names his top 15 

June, 18, 2012
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Monday was a busy day for commitments in the West region, but defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes (Auburn, Calif./Placer) isn't exactly ready to jump into the commitment scene. More than half of the top 30 players in the West have already made verbal commitments, but Vanderdoes is taking things slowly. On Monday, the 6-foot-3, 285-pound lineman took to twitter to release a list of his top 15 schools.

Alabama, Baylor, California, Florida, Georgia Tech, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Oregon, Penn State, UCLA, USC and Washington all made the cut. Vanderdoes included in his tweet that he will be cutting that down to a top 10 group soon.

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