NCF On The Trail: Alabama Crimson Tide

ESPN 300: Five things to know in the SEC 

October, 22, 2014
Oct 22
The SEC has an impressive 89 committed prospects in the updated ESPN 300 rankings. While the SEC West has been dominant on the field, 13 of the 14 SEC schools are ranked in the top 40 of the RecruitingNation class rankings. Here’s a closer look at five things to know in the SEC from the new recruiting rankings.

Adam McLean picked Penn State in April, but Ole Miss, Tennessee and others haven't stopped recruiting him, and his high school coach knows exactly why. DeMatha Catholic's 2016 class is shaping up to be one of the best ever in school history, and that's saying a lot.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
There once again was a lot of big recruiting news from around the Southeastern Conference over the weekend. There was a big commitment, key visits and several new offers. Here's a closer look at the top recruiting news from around the conference.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

A lot of talent has already come off the board, but there’s still quality at the top of the ESPN 300 that could give at least 10 teams a shot at the second-best class. Plus, Penn State's James Franklin continues to be the most talked about coach in the Washington D.C. metro area.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

ESPN 300 Player of the Week: Oct. 20 

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
Each week, Recruiting Nation's scouts will highlight great performances from the nation's top recruits.

This week's honoree is ESPN 300 quarterback Blake Barnett. Check out the highlights.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

The Big 12 was turned upside down by West Virginia and Kansas State, and both are being led by former juco recruits. Plus, it was no surprise that many of the nation's best recruits walked away impressed with Florida State following Saturday's victory over Notre Dame.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Best of the visits: SEC

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19
From the Alabama’s dominating 59-0 win over Texas A&M, to Georgia's big win over Arkansas on Saturday, there were some big games around the SEC over the weekend. Several prospects attended the games while others watched on television and used social media as a platform to share their experiences. Here's a look at some of the top social media posts from the weekend:

Alabama outside linebacker commit Mekhi Brown tweeted a photo of himself along with five-star Alabama commit Blake Barnett and defensive end Christian Bell. The three players visited Alabama for the Texas A&M game on Saturday.
Barnett also posted another photo of himself along with his dad and head coach Nick Saban before the game. Five-star defensive end Byron Cowart was on an official visit to Alabama this weekend. The No. 2-ranked prospect in the country posted a photo of himself and Saban's wife and a video on Instagram of his experience in Tuscaloosa. Alabama commit Ronnie Harrison tweeted a photo, albeit a sideways photo, of himself in the front row, during the game. ESPN 300 athlete Donte Jackson visited LSU for its big 41-3 win over Kentucky on Saturday night. Jackson came away impressed with how the Tigers played. Ole Miss also had a few visitors including commits Drew Richmond and Ugo Amadi. Both players posted photos on Twitter. Richmond stopped to pose with a fan in his photo. ESPN 300 defensive tackle Kyle Phillips took a visit to Ole Miss this weekend as well and tweeted about his experience. Ole Miss safety commit Cam Ordway posted a photo on Instagram of himself posing with head coach Hugh Freeze and other recruits at the game. Florida suffered a bad 42-13 loss in front of several recruits. ESPN 300 outside linebacker Jeffery Holland was in attendance. Though he didn't say much, his tweet during the game pretty much summed up how everyone else felt about the game.

SEC's top recruiting visits 

October, 17, 2014
Oct 17
There are once again some big games around the SEC this weekend. The Texas A&M at Alabama game looks to be loaded with big-time visitors. Ole Miss will have several recruits on hand for its game against Tennessee. LSU is also hoping to capitalize on its big win over Florida last week by bringing in several recruits for its home game against Kentucky. Here’s a closer look at some of the top visitors in the SEC this weekend.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

UA jersey tour: Blake Barnett

October, 16, 2014
Oct 16
The Corona (Calif.) Santiago High School gym was packed with well-wishers on Thursday morning, as quarterback Blake Barnett received his Under Armour All-America Game jersey in a ceremony attended by friends, family, classmates, teammates, the band's drumline, cheerleaders, office administrators, district officials, the assistant superintendent, school board member and several coaches.

It was an example of the respect and admiration Barnett receives at Santiago High School and in the Corona area. That was followed by an example of how Barnett became so well respected, as well as the No. 16 prospect in the country and an Alabama commitment.

When a video began playing, documenting Barnett's life, all eyes -- except two -- were focused on the screen. Barnett alone stayed facing away from the video.

"That the first time I really saw him a little embarrassed, when they turned on the video," said his father, Lance Barnett. "He's not a 'look at me' guy and that really helps his drive and motivation."

Barnett was an absolute unknown on the recruiting trail until late in his junior season, which his father believes helped him get to where he is today.

"He wasn't caught up in any of the hype of recruiting and it allowed him to stay focused," said the elder Barnett.

After initially committing to Notre Dame, Barnett evaluated all of his options before settling on Alabama. Now, the 6-foot-5, 200 pound dual-threat quarterback is set on the Crimson Tide and everything that comes with possibly becoming the face of one of college football's most recognizable programs.

"I think it's going to be a big transition," Barnett said. "If I'm fortunate enough to get to that point, it will be different, but I think I can adapt to it."

Humble in the spotlight, Barnett is adamant that he knows how to have fun and brings with him a great sense of humor. That was on display a few weeks ago when Barnett visited his future home and took a number of photos with Alabama fans.

He's headed there again this weekend with his father and Barnett said the trips to Tuscaloosa are enjoyable and enlightening.

"They're a lot of fun," Barnett said of the visits. "I get to see the commits that are down there, which is nice because I don't get to see them very often. And it's exciting to watch the game, obviously, and to spend time with the coaches. Another exciting thing is to see the fan base because they're so passionate about the game and it's nice to see a good support system behind the program."

Seven questions with Blake Barnett

Who is the one player in the Under Armour All-America Game you are most looking forward to playing with?

"Calvin Ridley, absolutely. Obviously we're going to the next level together so I want to get some work playing with him. I got some experience with him at The Opening but I can't wait to be on the field with him and play some actual football."

If you could start your team with any one prospect from the 2015 class, who would it be?

"It'd most likely be Calvin Ridley. I think he's going to be a tremendous player and I think he's going to be a great attribute to the team."

What is your earliest football memory?

"I can remember my first practice. It was really exciting; it was different. It was a big change for me. I'd played baseball and soccer before that, but football was always different. I was eight at the time and I had no idea what to do. My dad had no former player experience so it was kind of a transition. But it was fun and it's been a good ride."

Was there a football player you looked up to or idolized growing up?

"Not specifically. I always looked at the positive players in the NFL -- guys like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning -- players who have been dominant in football. I think those are good role models to have. I didn't necessarily try to model my game after them. I just think what they did on the field is great and they handled themselves well off the field as well."

If you could take on any pro at their sport, who would it be?

"I'd take on Ronaldo in Fifa. I'd take him on in the video game."

Why do you wear your number (8)?

"I've always had it. Growing up I was either seven or eight. I picked eight and I stuck with it and I really like it. Hopefully I'll be able to play with it at the next level."

What is one thing most people don't know about you?

"I'm not the same person in the same interview every time with a monotone voice. I'm pretty funny. Everyone is kind of the same voice in interviews because you don't want to mess around too much, but in different environments I'm a fun person and not so monotone."

#AskLoogs: Alabama D-line crop

October, 14, 2014
Oct 14
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.

Not really, at least not near the top of the class. Christian Bell will likely be a linebacker in the Tide’s scheme and Anfernee Jennings is the other defensive end. At this time it isn’t likely that Josh Sweat, Byron Cowart or CeCe Jefferson are a reality for this class. The focus of this class has been LB, secondary and WR and QB-DT Blake Barnett is the most important piece.

Help is on the way: SEC 

October, 8, 2014
Oct 8
Almost midway through the season and teams such as Arkansas and Texas A&M have shown the obvious strengths of their teams with their running backs and wide receivers, respectively. But in most cases every team has an apparent weakness, too. Here’s a closer look at how each team in the SEC will address its needs through recruiting.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

October, 7, 2014
Oct 7
As always there was a ton of recruiting news from around the Southeastern Conference. Ole Miss, Kentucky and Auburn impressed several recruits with their big wins on Saturday and there were a few new offers in the SEC over the weekend. Here’s a closer look at the top recruiting news from around the conference.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Vols RB commit Alvin Kamara is drawing comparisons to a former four-time Pro-Bowl selection after his fast start. Plus, Michigan seemed to be in great shape for ESPN 300 DE Keisean Lucier-South, but now the Wolverines’ chances are fading quickly.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Best of the visits: SEC

October, 5, 2014
Oct 5
From the Ole Miss win over Alabama to Kentucky’s big come-from-behind win over South Carolina, there were some incredible games around the SEC over the weekend. Several prospects attended the games, while others watched on television and used social media as a platform to share their experiences. Here's a look at some of the top social media posts from the weekend around the SEC:

Five-star defensive end CeCe Jefferson took a visit to Ole Miss for its huge 23-17 win over Alabama. Jefferson tweeted out a few different photos of his experience in Oxford, Mississippi. Florida, Alabama and Florida State seemed to have been the favorites for Jefferson, but Ole Miss certainly helped its chances of landing the talented pass rusher.

The nation’s No. 2-ranked outside linebacker, Roquan Smith, also visited Ole Miss this weekend. The four-star athlete tweeted out a picture of himself on the sidelines at the game. Ole Miss has made a big run at the talented prospect.

ESPN 300 wide receiver Ryan Newsome took a photo of Katy Perry, who was also on the sidelines for the Rebels' big win.

Auburn hosted several key visitors for its big 41-7 win over LSU on Saturday. ESPN 300 linebacker Jeffery Holland was on hand and tweeted out a few different photos and videos of his experience, including one of himself alongside five-star defensive tackle Trenton Thompson.

Despite losing 10-9 to Florida on Saturday, Tennessee still had some big visitors on campus. ESPN 300 defensive end Ricky DeBerry tweeted out a photo of the field at Tennessee and recent defensive tackle commit Shy Tuttle tweeted out a photo of himself and a friend.

Kentucky had a thrilling come-from-behind victory over South Carolina on Saturday night, and several recruits were in attendance. Three-star defensive end Kengera Daniel tweeted a photo of himself along with Kentucky true freshman Kendall Randolph.

The No. 1-ranked running back in the ESPN 300, Damien Harris, has been to Kentucky numerous times over the last several months. He was once again in Lexington for Saturday's game. What seemed like a long shot for Kentucky is now seeming like a real possibility of landing this elite athlete.

Mississippi State safety commit Jamal Peters was impressed with how well the Bulldogs played against Texas A&M on Saturday. After the thrilling win, it was announced that ESPN’s "College Gameday" would be in Starkville next Saturday for Mississippi State’s game against SEC West opponent Auburn.

ESPN 300 defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick committed to Alabama all the way back in April. The No. 27 ranked prospect committed early to get the process out of the way, and to ensure he could focus on his senior season.

“It was a blessing that I had the option to decide so early. So many coaches gave me the opportunity to go to their schools,” he said. “It was a little stress reliever for me to be able to focus on my season.”

That doesn’t mean Fitzpatrick has shut everything down completely, though. The No. 4 ranked cornerback was presented with his Under Armour All American jersey on Friday afternoon, then left Friday evening for a visit to Florida State.

He is checking out what the Seminoles have to offer, but says he is only making the trip to reaffirm his initial decision.

“It’s the most important decision that you’ll make in your lifetime,” he said. “You just want to make sure that it’s 100 percent sure. You just don’t want to have any second guesses.”

Fitzpatrick doesn’t have any other visits planned yet, but says he is still firmly committed to Alabama either way.


What one player are you looking forward to competing against?: I’m going down there just excited to compete against all the receivers and all the defensive backs.

If you could start a team with any other player in your class who would it be?: If it was defensively it would be Josh Sweat. Offensively, probably Blake Barnett. Josh Sweat is a big defensive end. I haven’t seen many people that can block him, and then Blake, I saw him compete at The Opening. I think he’s a great quarterback.

What was your earliest football memory?: Just playing flag football with my friends in town and the pop warner days. I think I was 6 years old when I first started.

Which football player did you idolize or want to be like when you were a kid?: I really liked Deion Sanders and just respected him as a player. I’m not as flashy as Deion, but I just like the way he played. I was supposed to meet him this summer at a camp, but I couldn’t get up there.

If you could take on any pro player in their sport who would it be?: Football it would be Calvin Johnson. I think it would be pretty fun to go against a guy like that.

Why do you wear your number?: I wear 21 right now because my father wore it in high school and my little brother wears it, too.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?: I’ve been playing soccer since I was around 3 all the way until I was in eighth grade. I had to make a pretty tough decision when I was in ninth grade, but football is what I wanted to play. I still play every now and then.