USC Trojans: South Carolina Gamecocks

The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Many observers of football in Texas agree the SEC’s impact on the recruiting trail in the Lone Star State is going to only grow in the future. However, not every SEC team is making a beeline to Dallas, Houston and East Texas to recruit. Plus, both USC and UCLA did their best to impress one of the nation’s top corners recently.

Atlanta NFTC notebook 

March, 23, 2014
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ROSWELL, Ga. -- The Atlanta Nike Football Training Camp is generally one of the most impressive groups of high school football players you will find in the country. This year’s camp didn’t disappoint. Eight invites were handed out to The Opening, a prestigious invite-only camp held in Beaverton, Ore., in July.


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Early Offer: It’s a wrap 

February, 6, 2014
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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: 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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Signing day winners and losers

February, 5, 2014
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The ceremonies have concluded, the ink has dried and the fax machines have been turned off once again. And with that, the Class of 2014 is mostly in the books. As is the case annually, there were a number of winners but also some losers on national signing day. Here is a look at a few schools that excelled -- and a couple others that didn't.

THE WINNERS

LSU: The Tigers began the day at No. 3 in the RecruitingNation class rankings and ended with 2014's No. 2 class. The reason is simple: Les Miles and staff got the prospect they had to have in the nation's No. 1 wide receiver, Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian). The Tigers lost both Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson to the NFL, making defensive tackle a key position of need, and they inked a pair of talented tackles in ESPN 300 Travonte Valentine (Hialeah, Fla./Champagnant Catholic) and four-star Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio, Texas/Earl Warren). Under the radar but significant is three-star defensive end Sione Teuhema (Keller, Texas/Keller), who flipped from Texas to LSU. Teuhema’s younger brother Maea Teuhema (Keller, Texas/Keller) is the No. 38 junior in the ESPN Junior 300 and has pledged to LSU as well. Holding off Auburn and UCLA to keep ESPN 300 defensive end Davon Godchaux (Plaquemine, La./Plaquemine) was another win on Wednesday.

Florida State: The Seminoles entered signing day with the No. 4-ranked class but were poised to close with a vengeance, and Jimbo Fisher and staff did just that. While the Seminoles moved up only one spot to No. 3, the hits on Wednesday are significant. Leading the way was No. 2-ranked wide receiver Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead). The Noles weren’t done at receiver either, as Fisher and staff flipped Virginia Tech commit and No. 117 overall Ja'Von Harrison (Lakeland, Fla./Kathleen). No. 158 Roderick Johnson (Saint Louis, Mo./Hazelwood Central) and No. 253 Derrick Nnadi (Virginia Beach, Va./Ocean Lakes) were key gets at offensive tackle and defensive tackle, respectively. Three-star offensive tackle Derrick Kelly Jr. (Quincy, Fla./East Gadsden) was another key win over rival Florida.

USC: The Trojans stood to have a big signing day, and Steve Sarkisian and staff certainly delivered. Not only did USC win the hotly contested battle for five-star athlete Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra), but the Trojans won the race for ESPN 300 No. 24 Juju Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and signed No. 67 overall Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) as expected. More than the names and rankings, Wednesday was a huge perception win for the Trojans and Sarkisian. USC jumped to No. 14 from No. 24 in the RecruitingNation class rankings.

Georgia: The Bulldogs didn’t have a big day in terms of number of commits, but quality ruled the day. Mark Richt and staff signed the player they had to have in five-star outside linebacker/defensive end Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross). While Carter’s announcement was the big one Wednesday afternoon, the morning started off with a bang for Georgia with the signing of No. 286 overall Isaiah McKenzie (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage), who was first offered on Monday and never even visited Athens. Those two big signings kept the Bulldogs in the top 10 at No. 9.

South Carolina: One of the big movers in the class rankings on Wednesday was the Gamecocks. Not only did South Carolina make a jump from No. 27 to No. 19 throughout the day, but the Gamecocks also addressed major areas of need. Steve Spurrier and staff had key areas of need at cornerback and along the defensive front, and they delivered by picking up a pair of ESPN 300 corners in No. 87 overall Chris Lammons (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Plantation) and No. 120 Wesley Green (Lithonia, Ga./Martin Luther King), as well as flipping ESPN 300 defensive tackle Dexter Wideman (Saluda, S.C./Saluda) from Florida State and three-star defensive end Blake McClain (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) from Nebraska. Fighting off the late January runs by Alabama and Georgia for ESPN 300 linebacker commit Bryson Allen-Williams (Ellenwood, Ga./Cedar Grove) has to be included in the huge wins in recent days.

Kentucky: Sure, Kentucky plucked only one key target on Wednesday in three-star former Vanderbilt and Penn State defensive end commit Lloyd Tubman (Louisville, Ky./Seneca), but it was still a huge day at the finish line for the Wildcats. The 2014 class marks the first time in the nine years that ESPN has ranked recruiting classes that the Wildcats have finished with a top 25 class, and that includes a big win over Alabama for in-state four-star defensive tackle Matt Elam (Elizabethtown, Ky./John Hardin). Signing six defensive backs fills a huge need as well.

Michigan State: The Spartans had a near dream season on the field, and followed it up by closing strong in recruiting. Not only did Michigan State jump nine spots in the class rankings from No. 38 to No. 29 on Wednesday, but it did so while filling a big need on the defensive front with big-time talent. ESPN 300 defensive end Malik McDowell (Southfield, Mich./Southfield) was a big win over Ohio State, Florida State and Michigan, while flipping four-star defensive tackle Craig Evans (Sun Prairie, Wis./Sun Prairie) from Wisconsin earlier in the week was another huge win for the Spartans.

Pac-12: The conference as a whole was quite possibly the big winner on signing day. Of the 13 live commitments on ESPNU throughout the morning and afternoon, seven committed and signed with Pac-12 programs. The winner within the Pac-12 was USC, but Stanford also enjoyed a big day with No. 25 overall Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell) and three-star corner Terrence Alexander (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian).

THE LOSERS

UCLA: Along with USC and South Carolina, the UCLA Bruins came into today with the most to gain. While Jim Mora and staff scored with four-star linebacker Kenny Young (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian), it was mostly misses throughout the day. Jackson and Smith picked crosstown rival USC, while Dupre opted for home-state LSU. At defensive end, the Bruins missed out twice on Wednesday with Thomas selecting Stanford and Godchaux sticking with LSU. And finally, No. 52 overall Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) stayed in state by picking Alabama over Auburn.

Ole Miss: It’s difficult to place the Rebels' No. 17 class with the losers on signing day, but that was the case in Oxford, Miss. Not only did Ole Miss drop a spot in the class rankings, but it also came up dry with explosive ESPN 300 receiver and return man Isaiah McKenzie (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage), after Hugh Freeze and staff worked the Under Armour All-America Game standout all the way up until Wednesday morning before McKenzie announced for Georgia. While Dupre was a long shot, he was yet another prospect who went elsewhere. The Rebels also lost out on Alexander, who selected Stanford over Notre Dame. The bright spot for the Rebels on Wednesday was signing former Notre Dame transfer and No. 22 in the ESPN JC 50, Tee Shepard

Two stand out for ESPN Junior 300 DE 

December, 9, 2013
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LITHONIA, Ga. -- In the Class of 2015, defensive end Arden Key (Lithonia, Ga./Martin Luther King) is one of the most heavily sought prospects in the Peach State with more than 20 offers.

The No. 59-ranked prospect in the ESPN Junior 300 was once committed to South Carolina along with high school teammate Wesley Green, but Key backed off that verbal pledge on Sept. 22.

Fast forward three months and the athletic edge-rush prospect is looking at all his options with two programs in line to make an eventual trimmed list.


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Early Offer: Orgeron building momentum 

November, 19, 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: Top recruits out West are starting to like the idea of Ed Orgeron as the next head coach at USC; despite his commitment to Missouri, fast-rising receiver Nate Brown has become a wanted man with two of the top programs in the SEC; and lost in the disappointment of a tough loss to UCLA was the news of Washington landing a pledge from one of the nation's top 2015 prospects.

Trojans red hot on and off field
It could be argued USC is the hottest team in the country after beating No. 4 Stanford this past Saturday. All of the success on the field also has given the Trojans a ton of recruiting momentum. In front of a packed house of recruits, including No. 7 overall prospect Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra) and Alabama four-star offensive tackle commit Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial), the Trojans put on a show that brought back memories of the glory years of Pete Carroll. The victory generated a lot of positive comments from recruits, and now it's cool to have USC on your list again. It will be interesting to see how seriously USC looks at Ed Orgeron as a candidate for the Trojans' coaching position, because recruits certainly are warming up to the idea. "If Coach O isn't there, then I'm not looking at USC anymore," one top prospect said. "I would follow that guy anywhere."

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Flipping Out: Trading conferences

November, 13, 2013
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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 ESPN.com. 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?

Cockaboose
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.

Quincy Wilson announces top five 

July, 28, 2013
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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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DT Peyton Newell announces top six 

June, 1, 2013
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Defensive tackle Peyton Newell (Hiawatha, Kan./Hiawatha), the No. 3 player in Kansas, has a top six -- and he said it’s a firm six.

Newell, who claims 34 offers, announced his top six via social media on Saturday. The schools to make the cut, in alphabetical order, are Georgia, Kansas, Kansas State, Nebraska, South Carolina and USC.


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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.

Coveted OLB names a top five 

March, 14, 2013
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Outside linebacker Jacob Pugh (Tallahassee, Fla./Godby) isn’t exactly sure of how many offers he has. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior has not counted them. Once he had received over 30 offers to the top programs in the nation, there really seemed no point in doing so. Pugh is more concerned about the five that he has on top.


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ATHENS, Ga. -- Considering that running back Jacques Patrick (Orlando, Fla./Timber Creek) is only in his second year of high school but already has 25 scholarship offers, the case can be made that Patrick is one of the most coveted prospects in the Class of 2015.


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ESPN 150 LB Powell has two finalists 

January, 22, 2013
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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
1/13/13
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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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Trojans 25th in Way-Too-Early Top 25

January, 8, 2013
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Alabama CheerleadersStreeter Lecka/Getty ImagesAlabama, with three of the past four national titles, is No. 1 in the Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2013.

There's still seven months before the start of the 2013 season, and the teams and their order figure to change frequently, but it's never too early to take a look at the Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2013.

And with three national championships in the past four years, there's no reason to change the team that's on top. After a tough 2012, USC has some ground to make up at No. 25.

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