NCF On The Trail: College Football

IMG Southeast Regional notebook 

March, 31, 2014
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BRADENTON, Fla. -- South Florida has always been known for producing top talent and elite seven-on-seven teams but it was two teams from Jacksonville (Fla.) that battled in the finals of the IMG 7v7 Southeast Regional Championships on Sunday.

The Pro Impact team, led by LSU commit and the No. 3-ranked player in the ESPN Junior 300 Kevin Toliver II and defensive back Derwin James Jr., a Florida State commit, upset River City, which featured FSU quarterback commit De’Andre Johnson and South Carolina commit Sherrod Pittman, 23-14.


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South Florida is arguably the most fertile area in the country for recruiting, and college football coaches annually flock to the talent-rich area to try to land a small piece of a very large pie. The large area located south of Lake Okeechobee that includes the football hotbeds of Broward, Palm Beach and Dade counties has produced 45 ESPN 300 members in the last two recruiting cycles and almost half (22) signed with out-of-state schools.


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video Throughout this recruiting cycle, Recruiting Nation will profile several 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.

ROSWELL, Ga. -- One of the top juniors in the nation, Kevin Toliver II, made the trip from his hometown of Jacksonville, Fla., to Atlanta to compete against some of the best athletes in the country at the Atlanta Nike Football Training Camp this past Sunday.


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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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Altanta Elite 11 regional camp notebook 

March, 21, 2014
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SUGAR HILL, Ga. -- Several talented quarterbacks took the field at the Atlanta Elite 11 regional camp on Friday. Though no official invites for the Elite 11 finals, held in Beaverton, Ore. in July, were extended, there were five finalists with potential to eventually earn an invite. The finalists included Anthony Ratliff, Austin King, Kendall Hinton, Ross Trail and Alex Malzone. Four of the five finalists were from out-of-state. King is from Alpharetta, Ga.


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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.

MIAMI -- South Florida has always been a recruiting hot bed and this year is no different. Out-of-state schools will flock to the talent-rich area to try and land some of the top prospects in the country. Prospects like ESPN Junior 300 defensive back Tarvarus McFadden and his teammate Torrance Gibson are two of the highly-ranked recruits that are getting that attention in this class.

McFadden, the No. 58-ranked player in the country, is considering the big in-state schools -- Florida, Florida State and Miami -- and handful of out-of-state schools like Ohio State, USC, LSU, Georgia, Auburn and Tennessee.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

February, 3, 2014
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This was the final weekend before national signing day, and of course, there was a ton of news around the SEC. Vanderbilt added a slew of commitments, as did Alabama and Texas A&M. There were also some key visits and a decommitment from an SEC West school. Here’s a closer look at the latest recruiting news around the SEC.

Biggest commitments: After suffering 11 decommitments after coach James Franklin left for Penn State, Vanderbilt was in desperate need of a big recruiting weekend, and it finally got it.


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video This is part of a series on the nation's top uncommitted recruits leading up to signing day. Click here for the full series.

Five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) is one of the most heavily recruited football players in the country. But football stardom didn’t always seem like it would be in the 6-foot-5, 234-pound athlete’s future.

"It was basketball for me early,” Carter said. "Me and my family always played basketball. It was kind of weird being recruited for football because I had spent so much time playing basketball and developing for basketball and then football comes and I’m like ‘I guess I have to change my time and effort to football now.’”

[+] EnlargeLorenzo Carter
Miller Safrit/ESPNLorenzo Carter has several factors to weigh before picking among Florida, FSU, Georgia and LSU.
Carter’s mother, Lisa, admits it was her advice that pointed her son in the right direction.

"He could never decide if he wanted to go football or basketball,” Lisa said. "So I always told him ‘Lorenzo, if you grow taller then basketball is the direction you need to go. Because at your current size -- think about the next level, they truly have 7-footers and guys that are 6-11. You’re not quite there. You’ve been playing in the post the whole time, so if you get taller it’s basketball but if you stay at your size, stay with football. You have beautiful size for football.’”

Beyond his imposing football physique, Lisa offered some hard truths.

“[Lorenzo] didn’t get any taller and we’re like ‘your ballhandling skills are not that great -- especially to be a guard,” Lisa said. “Take a look at some of the guards in the NBA and look at their heights and compare them to you. Can you play with LeBron?’ He’s taller than you.’ He’s like yeah you got a point, so football it is.”

Now that her son is an All-American football player, Lisa and her husband, Leo, are helping Lorenzo make the best college decision for his future.

"Look at each school,” said Lisa, describing her advice. “See what it has to offer academically and then see what the coaching staff has to offer for you athletically. Are they producing academically and athletically? If they are then those are the schools that you need to look at on your list. Once you determined who meets your needs, then how do you feel about those schools? Because you have to have a feeling, you have to have a connection with those schools. When you find the strongest connection, that’s where you need to be.”

For Lorenzo, there is one school with which he has made the best connection.

"I’d say Florida. I had the best relationship with the Georgia staff, but yeah, they are gone now,” Lorenzo laughed, "so I’d say Florida. I always spent time with the Florida and Georgia staffs. I went to Georgia all the time, then Florida was one of my favorites early so I just spent so much time with those schools. Florida is always here and every time they come they bring like four coaches to see me.”

Luckily for Georgia, new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt knows Carter from his time at Florida State. Carter said Pruitt has made him a priority since taking the new job.

"I think it was a good pickup for Georgia,” Lorenzo said. "I really didn’t talk to him much when he was at Florida State but I feel like I’ll have a better relationship now that he’s at Georgia. He’s been working hard to get a better relationship with me. He came to the house probably the day after he got hired.”

Carter has a top four of Georgia, Florida, Florida State and LSU and this week will be hectic for the No. 14-ranked player in the country.

All four of Carter's top schools have visited or are scheduled to visit this week. In fact, Florida and FSU had coaches at his basketball game on Tuesday night and LSU coach Les Miles met with Carter’s mother on Wednesday. Pruitt will visit Carter on Thursday while head coach Mark Richt will do his in-home visit on Monday.

In addition, Carter is still planning to take an official visit to FSU this weekend followed by his last official visit, to Georgia, the weekend of the Jan. 31.

With less than two weeks until signing day things are coming down to the wire. Factors like academics, distance and program stability will all factor in to Carter’s decision. Lisa, however, said there is one particular school she would like for her son to attend.

"I have a daughter, Larrisa, who plays basketball at Coppin State in Baltimore, Md. With Larrisa playing basketball in Maryland and Lorenzo here doing sports, we hardly ever had an opportunity to see Larissa play,” Lisa said. "That was very difficult. On holidays she couldn’t come home, she would have to spend Thanksgiving at a coach’s house and Christmas here for only two days. So distance was an issue for our family.

"Of course I would love for him to go to Georgia -- it’s an hour away. It’s close enough to get to him but not close enough to where I’m just going to drive up there every day. But, I have great respect for all of the coaches and, like I told Lorenzo, it’s his decision, wherever he goes -- we’ll be there. I favor Georgia, but only because of distance, not because of pressure or anything else. It’s only the distance for me. I’d be OK if he went to the University of Hawaii, if that’s what he wanted to do.”

And that sentiment is shared throughout the Carter family. The family will help guide and give their opinions, but at the end of the day, it will be Lorenzo making the final decision.

"I can’t let it play that big of a factor because I’m going to have to grow up and leave the house eventually anyway,” Lorenzo said. "They are going to have influence but it’s going to be my decision. We know that as a family."
With signing day quickly approaching, there are several storylines developing throughout the SEC. Here’s a closer look at five things to watch for on national signing day:


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Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

January, 20, 2014
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The dead period is over, and this was the first of three official visit weekends remaining before national signing day on Feb. 5. Several top prospects visited SEC schools, there were some commits, and there will be a few announcements this week. Here’s a closer look at the latest recruiting news from around the SEC:

Biggest commits: Georgia is already feeling the effects of new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt on the recruiting trail. The Bulldogs were able to land two ESPN Junior 300 commitments, Rico McGraw (Nashville, Tenn./The Ensworth School) and Terry Godwin (Hogansville, Ga./Callaway), over the weekend.


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ESPN 300 DB decommits from Florida

January, 9, 2014
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Florida received good news Thursday morning when the No. 15-ranked player in the country, cornerback Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C./Friendship Academy) flipped his commitment from Arizona to Florida. The news wasn't as good on Thursday evening, however, as ESPN 300 cornerback Chris Lammons (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Plantation) backed off his pledge to Florida.

Lammons announced his decision in a simple text that read: “I decommitted from Florida.”



Wisconsin and South Carolina appear to be in the driver’s seat for the four-star defensive back. Lammons has already visited Wisconsin on Nov. 9 and has a visit planned to South Carolina on Jan. 24.

Florida has 20 verbal commitments including 11 ranked in the ESPN 300.

Even with the loss of Lammons, Florida still has four ESPN 300 defensive backs committed. Tabor joins Quincy Wilson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School), J.C. Jackson (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee) and Duke Dawson (Cross City, Fla./Dixie Co.) as other Florida defensive back commits.

The Gators are still targeting five-star cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra).

Most important targets: SEC 

January, 8, 2014
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The Southeastern Conference already has commitments from five of the top 10 players in the country and a real possibility of landing two more before signing day. With several key targets still remaining, here’s a look at the top remaining targets in the SEC.

Alabama
CB Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover)
6-foot, 180 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 9

Humphrey is a big, athletic cornerback with great size. He would be a natural fit in Nick Saban's system. Florida State is also very much in the picture for the five-star defensive back, and with a national championship in hand, the Seminoles might have the upper hand at the moment. Alabama will have to fight to keep this dynamic defensive back from leaving the state. With his skill set, Humphrey would have a chance to play early on in his career.


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Recruit and return: Auburn 

January, 7, 2014
Jan 7
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videoAuburn's magical season ended with a tough 34-31 loss to Florida State on Monday night. The top two teams in the country certainly played like it in the VIZIO BCS National Championship Game. On the recruiting front, both schools are in the top 10 of the recruiting rankings. With less than a month until national signing day here's a closer look where Auburn stands.

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Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

January, 6, 2014
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College football recruiting is currently in a dead period, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a ton of recruiting news around the SEC. There were several commitments during the Under Armour and U.S. Army Bowl All-America games, including the top player in the country, Leonard Fournette, announcing his decision. There were also some decommitments and new, important offers were handed out. Here’s the latest news around the SEC.

SEC schools land big commitments: There was a flurry of commitments during and after the All-American games this weekend. SEC schools landed commitments from eight different players during the Under Armour All-America game and the U.S. Army Bowl. Here’s a closer look at who committed where. All eight players were ranked in the top 150 players of the ESPN 300.

RB Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine) -- Committed to LSU over Alabama and Texas.
DT Gerald WIllis III (New Orleans/Edna Karr) -- Committed to Florida over LSU and Alabama.
S Laurence “Hootie” Jones (Monroe, La./Neville) -- Committed to Alabama over LSU and Ole Miss.
ATH Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Edna Karr) -- Committed to Texas A&M over LSU.
WR Frank Iheanacho (Houston/Westside) -- Committed to Texas A&M over Missouri, LSU, Oregon and Arkansas.
OL Brian Wallace (Saint Louis/Christian Brothers College HS) -- Committed to Arkansas over Alabama and Missouri.
S Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) -- Committed to LSU over Florida.
DB Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas) -- Committed to Alabama over LSU.


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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- ESPN junior 300 athlete George Campbell (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) committed to Michigan in July before backing off his pledge just five months later. This time around, the No. 2-ranked player in the country says he wants to slow down the process.

"I’m going to … put it at my pace and I’m going to control it,” Campbell said at registration for the Under Armour All-America junior combine. "I think I’ll slow it down a lot slower than it is. With me opening everything up, I’m going to try to go around and check out several schools and pretty much just let everything open up.”

After the 6-foot-4, 185-pound athlete decommitted, he admits things haven’t really changed that much for his recruitment.

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