NCF On The Trail: Football

5-star Cowart set to visit Auburn 

December, 13, 2014
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Five-star defensive end Byron Cowart has had Florida and Florida State near the top of his list for some time, but now that former Florida coach Will Muschamp is the defensive coordinator at Auburn, the Tigers are starting to make a push for the No. 2-ranked player in the nation.

Torrance Gibson, Nick Bosa win state titles 

December, 13, 2014
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage defeated Tallahassee (Fla.) Godby 38-0 and Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas defeated Kissimmee (Fla.) Osceola 31-0 in the FHSAA class 5A and 7A state championship games on Friday. The games featured several prospects in the ESPN 300 and ESPN Junior 300, including five-star athlete Torrance Gibson and the 18th-ranked player in the ESPN Junior 300, Nick Bosa.

Snelson opens recruitment

The 25th-ranked player in the ESPN Junior 300, Dredrick Snelson, recently backed off his commitment to Miami. The 6-foot, 192 pound wide receiver said he felt he made a decision too soon in the recruiting process.

"I just felt like I did it too early," Snelson said. "I just want to do what’s best for me and give everyone an opportunity."

After opening things back up, Snelson said there are five schools he is now focusing on -- Florida, Florida State, Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama. He has no time frame for when he would like to make a decision.

Gibson likes what he sees from Ohio State quarterbacks

Five-star athlete and Ohio State commitment Gibson took notice when Ohio State’s third-string quarterback Cardale Jones led the Buckeyes to a 59-0 win against Wisconsin in the Big 10 championship game last Saturday. The 13th-ranked player in the ESPN 300 said he is excited about how Ohio State has developed their quarterbacks this season.

"It excites me a lot," Gibson said. "They were down to their third-string quarterback, and look what Tom Herman did with him. 59-0, that’s very impressive."

Now that Ohio State is in the inaugural football playoff and will take on Alabama in the opening round, Gibson said he will be watching the game closely.

"It’s going to be a great, close game," he said. "Urban Meyer and Tom Herman, they believe in their system. It’s going to be a good game and I’m going to keep my eye on that game."

Bosa names a leader


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ESPN 300 defensive end D'Andre Walker got a little creative when he decided to announce his top three list of schools Friday morning.

Walker used YouTube and a holiday app called Elf Yourself to create a festive video to announce Tennessee, Georgia and Auburn are his final three schools.

Walker is the 19th-ranked defensive end and the 241st-ranked player overall in the ESPN 300.

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

December, 9, 2014
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With Alabama winning the SEC championship on Saturday and the college football playoff now set, SEC schools can now turn their focus to recruiting. Despite there being only one game this weekend, there was still a bunch of recruiting news from around the SEC. There was a couple of big commitments, a few decommitments, a big decision date was announced and some important in-home visits. Here’s a closer look at the top recruiting news from around the conference.


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SEC season recruiting superlatives 

December, 8, 2014
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Looking back at the just-completed regular season, it has been another wild year in the SEC, both on the field and in recruiting. There have been several huge commitments, some big decommitments and, as always, a few surprises. Here’s a closer look at the the SEC’s recruiting superlatives.


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ORLANDO, Fla. — Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian defeated Delray Beach (Fla.) American Heritage 27-7 in the FHSAA class 3A state championship game on Saturday afternoon. Trinity features five players in the ESPN 300 and nine prospects who are committed to FBS schools. Here is a look at the latest recruiting updates for a few of Trinity’s top players.

Kevin Toliver II remains firm in his commitment


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When the Missouri Tigers take on the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday afternoon in the SEC championship game it will feature two teams with drastically different styles -- both on the field and in recruiting.

Saturday will mark the fourth time Alabama has played in the SEC championship game under Nick Saban and the ninth time overall the Crimson Tide have played in the game; which started in 1992. For the Tigers this is their second consecutive appearance in the title game -- an astonishing feat considering they've only been in the SEC for a total of three years.

In recruiting, Alabama has landed the No. 1 recruiting class the last three years and is on pace to land its fourth in a row. The Crimson Tide continue to bring in five-star talent year-after-year. Missouri, meanwhile, has a roster filled with three-star recruits.

In fact, of the 87 players Missouri has signed since 2011, 75 of them were ranked three-star prospects or lower. During that same period the Tigers signed only one five-star prospect -- Dorial Green-Beckham, who was eventually kicked off the team, and 11 four-star prospects. For comparison, Alabama has landed seven five-star prospects and 67 four-star prospects during that same period.

It's no secret Missouri has done a tremendous job of developing the talent it brings in.

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Best of the visits: SEC

November, 23, 2014
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There weren’t many big games around the SEC on Saturday but there were some key visitors. Some 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:

Mississippi State wide receiver commit Farrod Green sent out a very cryptic tweet in regards to Ole Miss linebacker commit Leo Lewis. The ESPN 300 linebacker has been to Ole Miss and Mississippi State several times over the last few months and looks to be torn between the two schools. He visited MSU for its 51-0 win over Vanderbilt.
One of the more interesting visits of the weekend was five-star defensive end CeCe Jefferson visiting Florida despite not knowing who the head coach will be for the Gators next year. He posted several pictures, including one of himself with Florida defensive line coach Brad Lawing, a fan also tweeted a photo of Jefferson posing with other fans. ESPN 300 offensive tackle Jalen Merrick sent out probably the funniest tweet of the weekend. Merrick sent out a photo of himself posed with Arkansas head coach Bret Beliema with the coach wearing a wig to imitate Merrick's hair style. Merrick took an official visit to Arkansas this weekend. ESPN 300 linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. visited Tennessee this weekend and tweeted a photo of himself wearing a Tennessee jersey. Junior linebacker prospect Toron Morten tweeted about his experience at Georgia for an unofficial visit this weekend. Georgia beat Charleston Southern 55-9. Morten was also joined by Louisville linebacker commit Amonte Caban, who also posted with Morten for a photo. Junior defensive end Julian Okwara visited South Carolina for its 37-12 win over South Alabama. Okwara also has offers from Boston College and NC State.

UA jersey tour: Tyler Jordan

November, 21, 2014
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Four-star offensive guard Tyler Jordan was presented with his Under Armour All-America Game jersey Friday morning in a ceremony sponsored by American Family Insurance. The ceremony took place in front of family, friends and teammates at the Bishop Kenny High School cafeteria.

The 10th-ranked guard and the 128th-ranked prospect overall in the ESPN 300 said he felt honored to be selected.

“I’ve been dreaming of this since I was a little kid and honestly I never thought I would be here," Jordan said.

Jordan has been committed to Florida since February but with the Gators coaching position in limbo, Jordan has received attention from a few Big Ten schools.

“I’m still committed and not wavering at all,” Jordan said. “My commitment is really solid but because of the whole coaching situation, I’ll probably take my visits. I’m not sure where yet but I’ve heard from a few that were talking to me even when I was committed. Penn State and Ohio State I talk to some but I haven’t decided where I’ll visit yet.”

The 6-foot-4, 270 pound prospect at Bishop Kenny but is being recruited by Florida and other schools to play on the interior of the line.

Seven questions with Tyler Jordan

Who was the best player you ever saw play in the Under Armour game?

Jordan: I remember watching [Jadeveon] Clowney. He’s a heck of a player — he was really good.

If you could start a team with any other player in your class who would it be?

Jordan: Probably CeCe Jefferson. I’ve played against him every year but I didn’t get a chance to this year because he was injured.

If you could start a team with any player in this class who would it be?

Jordan: Probably my entire team at Kenny. We have a strong bond and we play well together.

What’s your earliest football memory?

Jordan: Probably the first day of tryouts my freshman year. First year, first practice, first day in pads I was laying kids out and putting them on their backs.

If you could take on a professional athlete in their sport, who would it be and why?

Jordan: Mike Tyson. I’d take a punch — why not?

What would you like to improve on before you get to college?

Jordan: Body position and hand position so that I can get on to people and move them around more.

What are you looking forward to most about going to Orlando?

Jordan: Getting to play against the best-of-the best and learning from experienced coaches and former college coaches.

What’s something about yourself that not many people know about?

Jordan: I’m trying to learn how to play guitar right now, which is not going so well for me.

Tale of the tape: Ole Miss at Arkansas 

November, 21, 2014
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The Ole Miss at Arkansas game might not be the biggest game in the country on Saturday but it will feature two teams that are putting together solid recruiting classes. Ole Miss has the No. 22-ranked recruiting class in the country with only 14 commits. Arkansas, meanwhile, has the 19th-ranked class in the country despite only having 17 total commits.


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UA jersey tour: Jeffery Holland

November, 20, 2014
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Four-star outside linebacker Jeffery Holland was presented with their Under Armour All-America Game jersey Thursday afternoon in a ceremony sponsored by American Family Insurance. Holland was joined by his teammates Kevin Toliver II and Kendrick Norton, who were also selected for the game. The ceremony took place in front of friends, coaches, teammates and media members at the Trinity Christian School auditorium in Jacksonville, Florida.

The No. 4-ranked outside linebacker and the 40th-ranked prospect overall in the ESPN 300 said he felt honored to be selected to one of the top All-American games in the country.

"It’s a dream come true," Holland said. "I watched it when I was younger, and it’s always something I’ve wanted to be a part of. It’s real big to me."

Holland, at one point, had Florida and Auburn as his leaders, but with Florida head coach Will Muschamp stepping down at the end of the season, things have started to change for Holland.

"It’s kind of up in the air right now. Florida State, they're in it now. Auburn they are still in it. I haven’t talked to them in a while -- but they are still in it. I’m starting to talk to Florida State a lot, I know they are in my top five right now."

Despite being open in his recruitment, Holland said he does have a top five list of schools.

"I’d say Florida, FSU, Auburn, UCLA and probably Alabama are my top five right now," he said.

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Seven questions with Jeffery Holland

Who was the best player you ever saw play in the Under Armour game?

Holland: Jamie Harper is a guy I remember playing in the game because he went here and he did a flip in the end zone after he scored. I can flip, too.

If you could start a team with any other player in your class, who would it be?

Holland: Probably CeCe Jefferson. We played on the same little league team. That’s been my boy for a long time.

If you could go one-on-one with any other player in the country, who would it be?

Holland: I’d probably want to go against Martez Ivey. I’ve never gone against him, and I’d like to go against the No. 1 tackle in the country.

If you could take on a professional athlete in their sport, who would it be and why?

Holland: I want Cam Newton. I just want to sack him. He talked too much trash at that seven-on-seven event in Bradenton.

What would you like to improve on before you get to college?

Holland: I just want to improve on my technique. I need to add more moves to my tool belt. I know I got the speed rush, but I need to add the spin move and the club.

What are you looking forward to most about going to Orlando?

Holland: Just going and hanging out with some of the top players in the country. Just having fun and having a good game.

What is something about yourself that not many people know about?

Holland: I’m a top angler. I’m a fisherman.

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UA jersey tour: Kendrick Norton

November, 20, 2014
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Four-star lineman Kendrick Norton joined five-star teammate Kevin Toliver II and ESPN 300 linebacker Jeffery Holland in being presented with their Under Armour All-America Game jerseys Thursday afternoon in a ceremony sponsored by American Family Insurance. The ceremony took place in front of friends, coaches, teammates and media members at the Trinity Christian School auditorium in Jacksonville, Florida.

The 99th-ranked prospect in the ESPN 300 said he felt honored to be selected to one of the top All-America games in the country.

“It just really cool that I’m maybe one of like 100 guys that gets to participate in this event. It’s an honor to play in the game."

Norton at one time was committed to FSU, but has since backed off and is considering other schools such as Miami, Florida, Ole Miss and UCLA. Though ranked as an offensive guard, Norton prefers the defensive line and several teams are recruiting him as a defensive tackle.

“I’m basically wide open,” Norton said of his recruitment. "I’m going to take a second look at Florida but basically I’m wide open. Miami wants me on the defensive line. They’ve been recruiting me real hard. Al Golden, Jethro Franklin, they talk to me every day.”

So far the ESPN 300 lineman hasn’t taken any official visits but that will soon change.

"I haven’t taken any official visits yet but I might go to Ole Miss on Jan. 29 and I’ll probably go to UCLA after the season,” he said. "Probably Miami after the season too."

Seven questions with Kendrick Norton

Who was the best player you ever saw play in the Under Armour game?

Norton: I remember watching Jamie Harper (former Trinity Christian running back) growing up. I didn’t really know who he was until I got to Trinity and I found out he actually played here but I remember watching him in the game.

If you could start a team with any other player in your class who would it be?

Norton: I’d say my entire team. I think we have a great team.

If you could go one-on-one with any other player in the country who would it be?

Norton: Whoever's the No. 1-ranked offensive guard in the country. Whoever that is, I'd want to take him on.

What's your earliest football memory?

Norton: My ninth-grade year, it was the first time I’d ever been trap-blocked. He hit me and my helmet came flying off.

If you could take on a professional athlete in their sport, who would it be and why?

Norton: Kobe Bryant. He’s the first person that came to mind other than LeBron.

What would you like to improve on before you get to college?

Norton: Just make sure I’m in shape and work on my first step and pad level.

What’s something about yourself that not many people know about?

Norton: I’m a comedian.

UA jersey tour: Kevin Toliver II

November, 20, 2014
Nov 20
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Five-star defensive back Kevin Toliver II was presented with his Under Armour All-America Game jersey Thursday afternoon in a ceremony sponsored by American Family Insurance. The ceremony took place in front of friends, coaches, teammates and media members at the Trinity Christian School auditorium in Jacksonville, Florida.

The No. 1-ranked cornerback and the sixth-ranked player overall in the ESPN 300 said he felt honored to be selected to one of the top All-American games in the country.

“It feels very good to be selected to the Under Armour All-America game,” Toliver said. “This is an accomplishment that I wanted to receive in my life and I just can’t wait to showcase my talents on the field."

Toliver has been committed to LSU for over two years. The talented cornerback has never seemed to waiver, however, he has taken visits to Virginia Tech, Ohio State and Florida State and many wonder how strong his commitment to the Tigers really is. Toliver said his last trip to Baton Rouge certainly helped answer some questions he had.

“My last visit to LSU for that Alabama game was real good,” Toliver said. “I got to experience one of the loudest stadiums in the country and it was a very good experience for me and it just made my commitment stronger.”
Seven questions with Kevin Toliver II

Who was the best player you ever saw play in the Under Armour game?

Toliver: Just last year when I got a chance to stand on the sideline and see what the players go through and everything and seeing how they interact on the field. It was cool watching all of them. Speedy Noil really stood out to me though.

If you could start a team with any other player in your class who would it be?

Toliver: I would have to say Derwin James. Think we’d have a great team.

If you could go one-on-one with any other player in the country who would it be?

Toliver: Tyron Johnson, the No. 1 wide receiver in the country.

What's your earliest football memory?

Toliver: I’d say when I got my first offer from FIU. It was just a stepping stone and let me know to keep working hard and know that my parents wouldn’t have to pay for college if I keep working.

If you could take on a professional athlete in their sport, who would it be and why?

Toliver: I’d say Michael Crabtree. He talks a lot, I talk a lot. I think it would be a good matchup.

What would you like to improve on before you get to LSU?

Toliver: I’d say just my all around skills at defensive back. I just need to work on everything. Everybody is good at the next level.

What’s something about yourself that not many people know about?

Toliver: How hard I work away from the field when nobody is looking.

ESPN Jr. 300: What to know in the SEC 

November, 19, 2014
Nov 19
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The SEC already has five commitments from players ranked in the top 25 of the ESPN Junior 300. That list includes Greg Little, the No. 1 player in the Class of 2016 and a Texas A&M commit. As a whole, the SEC has 27 commitments in the updated ESPN Junior 300. Here’s a closer look at the updated rankings.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

November, 18, 2014
Nov 18
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As always there was a ton of recruiting news from around the Southeastern Conference. Florida head coach Will Muschamp announced he will step down from his position at the end of the season, there were key visits and new offers over the weekend. Here's a closer look at the top recruiting news from around the conference.


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