USC Trojans: SEC

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.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- For most highly-rated defensive line prospects coming out of high school, the word "technique" is rarely used. Not because the prospects don’t want to learn, but because proper technique is something that is seldom taught or even required at the high school level. Top defensive line prospects generally rely on brute strength or superior speed to beat the offensive linemen they face. But for ESPN Junior 300 defensive end Byron Cowart, who is the No. 68-ranked prospect in the country, technique has been his sole focus during the offseason.

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Early Offer: It’s a wrap 

February, 6, 2014
Feb 6
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Alabama’s 2014 class is special, but is it the best class ever? Who were my biggest winners Wednesday, and what can we look forward to with the class of 2015?

Special class for Bama

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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 Class of 2014 will go down as one of the wildest recruiting rides in recent memory. With so many players switching commitments and some elite prospects still left on the board, here are five things to keep an eye on heading into recruiting’s biggest day.

Does Bama have the best class ever?

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The 10 most memorable BCS moments

January, 13, 2014
Jan 13

With the door closed on the 16-year reign of the BCS, we dove into the 72 BCS bowl games to find the 10 most memorable moments of the BCS era.

10. Utah’s hook-and-ladder: The first team ever dubbed a “BCS Buster” was the Urban Meyer-coached and Alex Smith-led Utah Utes in 2004. In the 2005 Fiesta Bowl, Utah led Pittsburgh 28-7 late in the third quarter and lined up at the Panthers’ 18-yard line. Smith swung it left to Steven Savoy, who lateraled to Paris Warren, who ran it in for the score as the Utes completed a 12-0 season.

9. Peerless Price down the sideline: Tennessee led Florida State 14-9 with 9:29 remaining in the fourth quarter in the 1999 Fiesta Bowl with the first BCS Championship on the line. UT quarterback Tee Martin found Price down the right sideline, and Price took it the distance for a 79-yard score. Price had 199 receiving yards for the winning Vols, the most ever in the BCS title game.

8. Ginn’s costly return: Ohio State received the opening kickoff from Florida in the 2007 BCS Championship game, and Ted Ginn Jr. wasted no time in getting the game’s first score on a 93-yard return. What will always be remembered, however, is that Ginn suffered a foot injury on the ensuing celebration and was out for the rest of the Buckeyes’ 41-14 loss.

7. Warrick's juggling score: Though the championship of the 1999 season was marked by Virginia Tech freshman QB Michael Vick, it was Florida State’s Peter Warrick who was named the most outstanding player. He had a punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter, and his juggling catch on a 43-yard score midway through the fourth served as the dagger.

6. Vince Young, Part I: Facing Michigan in the 2005 Rose Bowl, Young was responsible for all five Texas touchdowns in a 38-37 win. Though he had runs of 60, 23 and 20 yards, the most impressive was a 10-yard run in which Young escaped the tackle of Michigan lineman Pat Massey before scampering to the right pylon.

5. Dyer isn’t down: Tied at 19 with Oregon with just more than two minutes remaining in the 2011 BCS Championship Game, Auburn running back Michael Dyer appeared to be tackled for a short gain at the Auburn 45-yard line. Having rolled over the defender, Dyer was never ruled down, and ended up gaining 37 yards on the play before he was taken down at the Oregon 23-yard line. Auburn would win on a field goal as time expired.

[+] EnlargeBoise
Steve Grayson/WireImageIan Johnson's two-point conversion run in overtime propelled Boise State over heavily-favored Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
4. Winston to Benjamin: Trailing Auburn 31-27 in the final BCS Championship Game, Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston drove the Noles 78 yards in less than a minute to the Auburn 2-yard line. Receiving the snap with 17 seconds left in a wild fourth quarter, Winston threw a perfect pass to Kelvin Benjamin, who brought it down for the game-winning score to complete an undefeated season.

3. Was it pass interference? Some will remember Maurice Clarett’s game-saving strip of Sean Taylor, but the lasting legacy of the game is the dubious pass interference call in overtime. Miami led 24-17 and Ohio State faced fourth-and-3 from the 5-yard line. Glenn Sharpe was called for pass interference, giving the Buckeyes new life in a game they would win 31-24.

2. Boise State’s trick plays: In the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, Boise State trailed heavily favored Oklahoma 35-28 with 18 seconds left and facing fourth-and-18 from the 50-yard line. Jared Zabransky completed a pass to Drisan James just short of the first down, but he lateraled it to Jerard Rabb, who took it the rest of the way for the tying touchdown. In overtime, down 42-35 on fourth down, wide receiver Vinny Perretta completed a 3-yard pass to Derek Schouman for a touchdown. Chris Petersen elected to go for two, and Zabransky faked a throw to his right before handing it behind his back to Ian Johnson on the Statue of Liberty play for the winning two-point conversion. Johnson would propose to his girlfriend, a Boise State cheerleader, on the sideline after the game.

1. Vince Young, Part II: After a Longhorns touchdown and key fourth-down stop, undefeated Texas trailed undefeated USC 38-33 with 26 seconds remaining and faced fourth-and-5 from the 9-yard line, with the 2005 BCS championship on the line. Vince Young dropped back to pass but saw nobody open, and immediately sprinted for the right pylon for the title-winning score in the marquee game of the BCS era.

Flipping Out: Trading conferences

November, 13, 2013
Welcome to Flip Week. What’s Flip Week, you ask? Read on.

Kevin Gemmell: You know those reality shows where husbands and wives swap houses for a month and hilarity ensues? We’re doing something a little bit like that this week at We’re married to our blogs, and as a Pac-12 reporter, I know how this league can be a fickle mistress.

So for one weekend, the Pac-12 and I are breaking up and I’ll be looking for a little Southern comfort. I’ll be heading East to see South Carolina host Florida to witness firsthand what all of the SEC hype is about.

SEC reporter Chris Low will be coming out to Los Angeles for a UCLA/USC doubleheader.

As a career Left Coaster (California for the last 33 years of my life and Southern California for the last 15) my knowledge of the South is limited. I’m told the hospitality is outstanding and the barbecue is as good as it gets. I often hear Chris say y’all on our blogger conference calls.

I can’t wait to dig into the pageantry of SEC football. Despite 17 years in this business, my travels have never taken me to an SEC football game in an SEC stadium. The Cock Pit seems like a great place for my initiation. And I’m told I absolutely need to see something called a Cockaboose?

C-Low, you’re one of the resident SEC experts. What can I expect when I roll into Columbia? What’s a SoCal guy like myself to do when I’m in town? What’s the over/under on y’alls I get from the airport to the rental car to my hotel?

Courtesy of South CarolinaTailgating takes a unique twist aboard a 'Cockaboose' at South Carolina.
Chris Low: First off, Kevin, if you think my accent is ripe with a Southern twang, you're in for a treat when you get to Columbia East. I have to designate the "East" part because we now have two Columbias in the SEC. Missouri is obviously located in Columbia West.

And, yes, you haven't lived until you've done a little tailgating on a Cockaboose. They're old cabooses that have been renovated into gameday condos and sit right outside Williams-Brice Stadium. You never know who you might see partaking in a little pregame festivities on one of the Cockabooses. PGA golfer Dustin Johnson stopped by prior to the Alabama game in 2010, and if you get down on the field prior to the game, take a look around and see if pro wrestler Ric Flair is in the house. The "Nature Boy" goes back a ways with Steve Spurrier and is a frequent visitor to South Carolina games.

We all agree that tailgating in the South is an art form, and the folks at South Carolina are pros. Be sure and tour the Fairgrounds area on the downtown side of Williams-Brice Stadium. They've really spruced up that area over the years, and the cuisine is excellent. I can't promise that anybody will offer you any fish tacos, but there will be all the barbecue, burgers and ice-cold adult beverages that you can stomach. Also, be sure to sample a true South Carolina delicacy while you're in town -- boiled peanuts.

Enough about the South. Any chance I can rent a helicopter while I'm in Los Angeles and avoid the freeways? Seriously, I can't wait to tour the UCLA and USC campuses. I've been to the Rose Bowl for several games but never to the Coliseum. Any pointers and/or suggestions? I sure hope Wally World isn't closed while I'm out there.

Kevin Gemmell: First off, please feel free to send a note to Chris’ mailbag if you have “Holiday Road” stuck in your head for the next 72 hours. I know I will.

Since you’re pulling double-duty, we’ll start with the Friday night game. Since you’ve been to the Rose Bowl, you won’t be overwhelmed by the history, tradition and beauty of the historic venue. And even if you are, that’s OK. The Rose Bowl is a shrine to college football. Not a visit goes by when I don’t stand on the sidelines and do a quick 360. It’s an amazing place.

Just like every sporting event known to man, there will be tailgating. Soak it up. Visit some of trailers just outside of the stadium, or take a stroll through the Brookside Golf Course, which becomes the overflow parking lot.

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is also a pretty special venue. Super Bowls, two Olympiads and a World Series -- along with some pretty darn good football -- has been played out within its walls. You can even see the Hollywood sign from the pressbox. While you’re there, be sure to check out the Court of Honor, which honors those who have had an impact on the Coliseum. Pretty neat to see Knute Rockne and Vin Scully honored alongside JFK.

And don’t be surprised if there are a few celebrity sightings on the sidelines. Will Ferrell and Snoop Dog (or is it Snoop Lion these days?) are big fans.

A hop and a skip over Exposition Boulevard and you’re on USC’s campus. Heritage Hall is still getting a makeover. But be sure to check out the new John McKay Center.

I can’t help you with traffic. That’s part of the charm we Southern Californians put up with. I suggest renting Steve Martin’s "L.A. Story" before coming out here.

OK, one last question from me: What can I expect from SEC football up close and personal? Is it every bit as dominating as y’all (see what I did there) make it out to be?

Chris Low: Listen, there's something special about college football no matter what part of the country you happen to reside in -- the pageantry, tradition and school pride that's on display every week.

But one of the things that separates the SEC, other than all the national championship rings the league has collected over the last decade, is the way college football is woven so deeply into the very fabric of people's lives here. You might be able to insult somebody's wife and get away with it in these parts. Good luck in trying that with somebody's football team. Generations of families have been flocking to games at Alabama, Georgia, LSU and South Carolina for years, and in many cases, sitting in the same seats and tailgating in the same spots. And I'm sure you've heard, too, but football season never ends in the SEC. There's always some debate, some recruiting battle, some scandal.

Or some championship to defend. The streak is at seven and counting.

That's not making anything out to be dominant. It simply is dominant, and more precisely, the most dominant run by one conference (four different schools have won national titles) that we'll ever see.

Obviously, Florida has been decimated by injuries and is struggling to stay afloat this season. In general, though, get ready to witness -- up close -- freakish athletes on the defensive line, massive guys who move and run like linebackers. Get ready to witness speed all over the field and not just at the skill positions. Get ready to witness the Head Ball Coach drawing up a few of his patented ball plays, and most of all, get ready to witness a religious experience. It's a lot more than just a football game.

One other thing. When that rooster starts crowing ... cover your ears.

Kevin Gemmell: Speed, I’ve seen. There is no shortage of that in the Pac-12. And I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the amount of speed you see on the field. You’ll see the reigning Biletnikoff winner in Marqise Lee and one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the country in Brett Hundley.

We’ve got some pretty good defense, too. I know you SEC folks don’t buy that, but it’s true. You’re going to see up close and live the top two outside linebackers in the country in Anthony Barr and Trent Murphy.

The SEC and Pac-12 are the top two conference in college football. So when it comes to pure talent, there isn’t going to be much of a difference from what we see on the field.

But the experiences will be exciting and unique. And yes, the traffic stinks.

Kevin Gemmell and Chris Low want to hear your suggestions as they jet set to another part of the country. What should they see when they are town?

Send comments and thoughts to Kevin Gemmell and Chris Low.'s Preseason All-America team

August, 16, 2013

The All-American wealth has spread across the land. The Pac-12 leads the conferences with seven, one more than the SEC. Dual-threat QB Marcus Mariota and RB Lache Seastrunk both originally signed with Oregon. Now that Seastrunk plays for Baylor, he and Mariota no longer have to share a backfield. Seastrunk and G Cyril Richardson make the Bears the only team with two on offense. Richardson is surely the first All-American named Cyril, but Lache is not the first body of water to make it. He joins 1939 Heisman winner Nile Kinnick.

Alabama has won three of the past four BCS titles with defense and placed LB C.J. Mosley and S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix on this team. Alabama and Oregon lead with three players apiece on the list. That's one more than the Big Ten and two more than the ACC and Conference USA. -- Ivan Maisel

View's 2013 Preseason All-America team here.

Links: Farewell to the BCS

August, 14, 2013

This is the last year of the BCS, and our writers look at its impact on college football:

From Ivan Maisel: The BCS has moved NCAA football forward in a way no system before it could and given it a national stage, but along with exposure comes greater pressure and expectations, which in the end the series couldn't overcome.

From Mark Schlabach: As we prepare for the final season of the BCS, let's take a look back at its highs and lows.

From Brian Bennett: Five of the last seven national champions have had at least one loss, and with a playoff looming, going undefeated will be harder than ever.

Pac-12, Big 12, SEC, NCF, ACC

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Class of 2014 safety Quincy Wilson won’t be announcing his decision until the first week of August, but he has narrowed his list of schools to Florida, Notre Dame, Ohio State, South Carolina and USC.

The 6-foot-1, 197-pound standout from Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) University School of Nova South -- whom ESPN ranks as the No. 12 safety in the country -- made that announcement after participating in Florida’s Friday Night Lights one-day camp. Wilson said he had a good time at Florida Field and spent a lot of time with UF commits Will Grier (Davidson, N.C./Davidson Day), J.C. Jackson (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee), Dalvin Cook (Miami Central), and Duke Dawson (Cross City, Fla./Dixie County) as well as fellow uncommitted recruit Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra), the nation’s No. 5 overall player and No. 2 cornerback.

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BRADENTON, Fla. -- ESPN 300 linebacker Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield) is one of the most sought-after inside linebackers in the country, ranked third at his position and No. 59 overall in the 2014 class. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound prospect visited Florida with some of his 7-on-7 teammates before they played in the IMG 7v7 National Championships in Bradenton, Fla., over the weekend.

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RecruitingNation: Building for the future

April, 28, 2013

Tom Luginbill breaks down what some of the top teams in the country have done this spring in recruiting.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- ESPN Watch List running back Dalvin Cook (Miami/Northwestern), a Clemson verbal commitment, took in Florida's annual spring game on Saturday. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound running back said he was impressed with what he saw from the offense, specifically how many times the running backs carried the ball.

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Shortly after returning from his weekend visit to USC, four-star linebacker Quinton Powell (Daytona Beach, Fla./Mainland) has a final two.

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LB Quinton Powell sets decision date 

January, 13, 2013
Four-star outside linebacker Quinton Powell (Daytona Beach, Fla./Mainland) has three official visits remaining, but the 6-foot-2, 205-pound ESPN 150 member knows when he will make his college decision.

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- ESPN Watch List wide receiver Thaddeus Snodgrass (Springfield, Ohio/Springfield) was set to make his final decision between Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin in November, but that didn't happen.

The 6-foot-1, 175-pound athlete decided to postpone his announcement. He felt it wasn't the right time.

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ESPN 150 S McQuay set to decide Friday 

December, 30, 2012
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- ESPN 150 safety Leon McQuay III (Seffner, Fla./Armwood) will be making his college decision at the Under Armour All-America Game on Friday.

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