USC Trojans: Clemson Tigers

Getting to know DaMarkus Lodge 

April, 17, 2014
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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.

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.


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Getting to know Taj Griffin 

March, 27, 2014
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ROSWELL, Ga. -- When listing the most explosive prospects in the Class of 2015, it does not take long to call on Taj Griffin.

The 5-foot-10, 174-pound, versatile running back was one of the standouts at last weekend's Atlanta Nike Nike Football Training Camp and SPARQ combine, earning an invitation to the The Opening in early July.


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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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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Bryce Dixon, the nation’s No. 1 tight end prospect, has committed to USC, but that hasn’t stopped UCLA from pursuing him; Clemson’s receiver class is making a case for the best in the country; and junior college cornerback Darius White was afraid he wasn’t going to find a home after he wasn’t able to enroll at midterm, but that changed this weekend.

Trojans, Bruins duking it out for Dixon
Things have certainly gotten interesting in the battle to sign Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure tight end Bryce Dixon. The nation’s No. 1 tight end prospect committed to USC at the U.S. Army All-America Bowl, but since then rumors have continued to swirl about Dixon’s pledge. One Pac-12 coach told me Dixon publicly is telling people he’s still with the Trojans but privately he’s looking very hard at UCLA. “The key is going to be whatever team ends up stepping up and taking his teammate, cornerback Davonte Nunnery,” the coach said. “They’re a package deal.” Dixon is scheduled to visit USC this weekend, likely with Nunnery in tow, and UCLA is scheduled to get a visit on Jan. 31. Don’t be surprised, however, if some wrangling occurs and USC tries to push the visit back to the final weekend of the recruiting calendar.

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3-point stance: Suggestion for the ACC

November, 15, 2013
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1. No knock on Duke or Miami or Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech, all of whom could still win the ACC Coastal. But it’s worth noting that Clemson, which is far and away better than any of them, will not be playing in the ACC Championship Game because the Tigers have the misfortune of playing in the ACC Atlantic with Florida State. Don’t California elections put the top two vote-getters in a runoff regardless of party? Hey ACC, it’s something to think about.

2. USC, 4-1 under interim head coach Ed Orgeron, is primed to beat a Stanford team that has won four straight in a rivalry that’s usually one-sided in the other direction. But as the geeks at ESPN Stats & Info point out, USC has played 10 games this season without playing a ranked team. The Trojans, with about 50 scholarship players, will take on the most physical team they play this year. If USC pulls off the upset, it should make athletic director Pat Haden seriously consider removing “interim” from Orgeron’s title. It may be tough to lure a top coach when USC won’t have 85 scholarship players until 2017.

3. No. 7 Auburn (9-1, 5-1) has been the surprise of the 2013 season, rebounding from a 3-9 disaster to challenge No. 1 Alabama in the SEC West. The Tigers have only two games left, against their biggest rivals, No. 25 Georgia and the Crimson Tide. The Tigers are confident, and no matter what coaches say about focusing on the task before them, you have to believe they remember the last two years. Auburn lost the last two to Georgia by a combined 83-7, and to Alabama by a combined 91-14.

2013 freshman All-American candidates

August, 16, 2013
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Projecting the eventual success level of high school prospects is difficult in its own right, but forecasting which ones will play right away and make a big splash in college can be even more difficult. Sometimes, however, there are no-brainers such as South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney and USC's Leonard Williams. But more often than not, there is no guarantee when it comes to freshmen making instant impacts. So many factors, from team needs to injuries to maturity, will determine who makes the biggest splash.

Headlined by Ole Miss DE Robert Nkemdiche and Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg, RecruitingNation takes a look at the Class of 2013 members who can make the biggest impact as freshmen.

To take a look at the team, click here Insider.

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

Holding more than 40 offers, running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) is arguably the most sought-after recruit in the West region. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound, four-star back is the top running back in the West and the No. 135 player in the country. His offer sheet has seemingly grown by the minute this spring, but he isn't in any hurry to narrow it down.

Despite tweeting out a list of 16 programs several weeks ago, Mixon said Sunday that he only did that to highlight the schools recruiting him the hardest, not anything to be taken as a group of finalists.

"I'm still talking to a lot of people," Mixon said. "The recruiting thing has been crazy the past couple of weeks. I've pretty much been taking it well. I talk to them before school, during lunch and after school. I'm not to the stressful part yet, but the hard part has been staying in contact with everybody."


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RecruitingNation: Building for the future

April, 28, 2013
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Tom Luginbill breaks down what some of the top teams in the country have done this spring in recruiting.

#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.
Basketball brought Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, N.Y./Abraham Lincoln) to California first. Football could bring him back.


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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- ESPN Watch List running back Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central) flipped his commitment from Clemson to Florida on Saturday after visiting the Gators for their annual spring game. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound running back left the spring game and said Florida was tied with Clemson for the lead, but after having lunch with his family, he decided to go ahead and make the switch.

"I flipped to Florida," Cook said. "I felt that Florida would be the best place for me to spend the next three or four years. It wasn't just a quick decision. Me and my family have thought about it. We came up last week and had a good experience then I came up this weekend and it was even better."

Cook said he enjoyed watching Florida's running backs during the spring scrimmage and feels like he could fit in with what they are doing offensively.

"Coach [Will Muschamp] told me they are going to give the back the ball and they really proved that," Cook said. "They gave the back the ball, they gave KT [Kelvin Taylor] the ball a lot. I liked that. I actually saw them get after it, It was great seeing that. Coach told me that they didn't have the type of back that I am and that I could come in and be that guy."

USC is another school that Cook has talked about potentially visiting, but now he said he's not so sure he will take that visit.

"Probably not," Cook said. "I'm pretty firm in my decision. I'm going to Florida."

For Florida, the Gators now have nine commits, including eight that are listed in the ESPN Watch List.
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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Last fall, ESPN Watch List linebacker Dwight Williams (Gardena, Calif./Serra) would have strongly considered committing to USC on the spot if he were to land a scholarship offer. He had plenty of other options, but Williams was a frequent visitor at Trojans home games throughout the season and USC had always been the program he had his eyes on.

Fast-forward a few months and USC has yet to extend an offer to arguably one of the top prospects in the area. Now Williams, the two-time linebacker MVP at the Los Angeles Nike Football Training Camp, is thoroughly feeling out the process. His mindset has changed completely as schools from all corners of the country have turned up their pursuit.


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Tales From The Road: Southeast 

April, 3, 2013
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Tales From the Road spotlights players who stand out to RecruitingNation writers at camps, combines and various events. Here is a look at a few Southeast prospects who recently performed at a high level:

Linebacker Raekwon McMillan
2014/Hinesville (Ga.) Liberty County/6-foot-2, 249 pounds
Considering: More than 40 offers; top two of Clemson and Ohio State; also considering Alabama, Florida, UGA.

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