NCF On The Trail: Football recruiting

UA jersey tour: WR Preston Williams

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
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HAMPTON, Ga. -- ESPN 300 wide receiver and Tennessee commitment Preston Williams was presented with his Under Armour All-America Game jersey Friday afternoon.

Williams understands the magnitude of this honor for his school and community, but is balancing the numerous accolades with a laser focus on his senior season at Lovejoy High.

"I mean, it’s really big," Williams said. "...Right now, we are focused on the season and the road to the dome and trying to win a state championship. It’s big, but right now we are focused as a team on this season."

Lovejoy head coach Edgar Carson has had a front-row seat to watch Williams not only grow as a player, but as a person.

"I came here when Preston was a freshman. He was a raw athlete and you could see the talent, but he has continued to grow. I think running track has helped him, as well as playing other sports," Carson said. "He has grown on the football field, but has also grown off the football field, too. Preston is a different guy. He's into modeling, he's into fashion and he markets himself. He gets along with his teammates well, and gets along with all types of kids real well. You might see him sitting at a table with all types of kids, he takes to everyone and is good for this school."

Williams committed to Tennessee one year ago this Sunday, and has remained solid in his pledge to the Volunteers even though programs such as Georgia, Florida and Auburn have continued to try their best to chip away at Williams’ verbal pledge.

Seven questions with Preston Williams

Who is one player you are looking forward to competing against?

Williams: I’ve pretty much seen them all. They are all good athletes, and we are all there for a reason. I’m not going to sit here and call out anybody, but I think people should be wanting to go against me. I’m dangerous. I’m underrated. There isn’t anybody I’m really looking for.

If you were to start a team with any other player in your class, who would it be and why?

Williams: My boy Kahlil [McKenzie]. He’s a great guy. We can run a team together. He can run a defense, and I can run the offense. We would make a really good team.

Who is the best player to ever play in the Under Armour game that you know of?

Williams: Probably Julio [Jones]. He’s a jack-of-all-trades man. He’s physical, he’s big and he’s fast. Alabama probably could have got him the ball more, because he’s great.

What is your earliest football memory?

Williams: Wearing number 65 and playing running back. I was probably six years old. It was crazy. I was more of a baseball freak. I didn’t start loving football until middle school really.

Which football player did you idolize or want to be like when you were a kid?

Williams: I always thought I was Peyton Manning. I can throw, I mean I think I could have played quarterback because of baseball. Peyton Manning has always been my favorite quarterback.

What number do you wear and why?

Williams:I wear number 11. The reason is because 1-on-1, I’m the most dangerous.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

Williams: I don’t even know. I think everybody knows everything about me. People think that I’m going to flip, or go to Alabama a lot and will end up there. I don’t know why people think that.

Video: No. 1 heads to Blacksburg

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
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National recruiting reporter Gerry Hamilton lists several ESPN 300 recruits who plan to visit Blacksburg for Virginia Tech’s game against Georgia Tech, a group that includes No. 1 overall prospect Josh Sweat.

Scout's Take: Ordway to Ole Miss 

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
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Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze's latest commitment, ESPN 300 defensive back Cameron Ordway, is versatile enough to play either corner or safety at the next level for the Rebels.

Video: Breaking down Kahlil McKenzie

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
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National recruiting analysts Craig Haubert and Tom Luginbill take to the touch screen to break down the tape of Tennessee commit Kahlil McKenzie, showing how scouts evaluate defensive tackle game film.

Pac-12's top recruiting visits 

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
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Official visits are beginning in earnest in the Pac-12, as several conference programs will host impact weekends. Despite no Pac-12 games in California this weekend, a handful of potential impact visitors will hit the campuses of several conference programs, as schools that don't always carry the recruiting banner for the Pac-12 have a chance to take center stage this weekend.


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Big Ten's top recruiting visits 

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
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There aren’t many big, exciting home games for the Big Ten this week, but the few that are playing at home are making the most of it. Nebraska, Illinois and Michigan will all have big recruiting visitors for their game.

Here is a look at who is visiting and why they’re important.


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ACC's top recruiting visits 

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
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This weekend kicks off the meat of the big visit weekends for the ACC with the marquee matchup of Clemson at Florida State taking center stage. Not to be outdone, Virginia Tech has a very big weekend on the horizon featuring the nations top ranked prospect.


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SEC's top recruiting visits 

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
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There are once again some big games around the SEC this weekend. The Florida at Alabama game should draw many top recruits, as will the LSU-Mississippi State game. There will be many recruits taking unofficial visits and even a few taking official visits. Here is a closer look at some top expected visitors.


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Big 12's top recruiting visits 

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
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It's a super-slow week of football for the Big 12.

How slow? Only three games were on tap this week, and one of those -- Kansas State hosting Auburn -- was played on Thursday.

Weeks like these are rare, but it gives both West Virginia and Kansas the opportunity to put on a show -- for the recruits in attendance and for those who will be watching on TV. West Virginia gets a huge test in a home game and conference opener against Oklahoma. Additionally, Kansas will look to improve to 2-1 as it hosts Central Michigan.


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Official Visits: Sept. 19 

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
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ACC
Florida State

Matt Burrell Jr. OT
HT: 6-4 WT: 291
Positional Rank: No. 5 OT

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UA jersey tour: Eric Glover-Williams

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
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Eric Glover-Williams is one of many talented players to come from Canton McKinly high school in Ohio. Glover-Williams was presented with his Under Armour All-America jersey on Friday and thanked his family and those past players from his school for helping him earn this honor.

Glover-Williams mentioned his current teammates, but also former standout Mike Doss as someone who he looks up to and someone who has given him advice along the way. They share the same high school and will soon share the same college as Doss played for Ohio State and Glover-Williams is committed to the Buckeyes.

"He played for McKinley and then went to be a Buckeye and then the NFL to play for the Colts. He won a state championship, a national championship and then he also won a Super Bowl,” "lover-Williams said. "He came to my game last week, and he and my dad are really close friends. He always tells me going to Ohio State, it’s not really about playing football, it’s about getting your education. When you go to Ohio State you’re set for life, so just do what I have to do."

Glover-Williams expressed his excitement to be able to go against some of the top talent in the country in the prestigious game, and shared some facts about himself that the fans might not know.

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If you could start a team with any other player in your class who would it be? I would probably start my team with Reggie Rogers. He’s a good receiver, he has nice speed and I’ve known him for a long time.

What is your earliest football memory? Probably playing at Fawcett stadium when I was younger, playing for a championship. Around the age of eight, it was our midget league. It was my first year of tackle, played for my dad’s team, we were called the Bears. We played the Cowboys in the Championship game. I played running back, back then I was bigger than everyone.

Which football player did you idolize growing up? Tyrann Mathieu, just because he had a struggle. Everyone doubted him and he came back and now he’s doing his thing in the NFL. Also, I would like to say Mike Doss, even though he’s not playing anymore.

If you could take on any pro player in any sport who would it be? I’d like to go against (Jadeveon) Clowney. It would be fun to go against him. I would try to make a move on him, quick. I’d be coming out of the backfield.

Why do you wear the number you wear? Tyrann Mathieu is one of my favorite players, so I like the number seven. The number seven is in the bible, so that’s another reason why I wear the number seven. I'll talk to Ohio State about it, it’s either seven or two because Mike Doss wore number two.

What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you? I’m not sure. I play baseball. I work at the airport, I cook for all the restaurants in the area. I cook anything from hamburgers to taco salads. I like to make quesedillas.

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UA jersey tour: TE Hale Hentges

September, 19, 2014
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- ESPN 300 tight end and Alabama commitment Hale Hentges said receiving his Under Armour All-America jersey on Thursday wasn’t an individual honor. He believed it was an honor for everybody in the Helias High School community who pushed him to get to this point.

"It feels amazing to spend this moment with my friends, family and everybody here at this school because they’ve done so much for me,” Hentges, the nation’s second-ranked tight end and No. 2 player in Missouri, said. “It's great to give something back to them. It's a blessing.

“Helias is very different than other high schools. It is so much more tight-knit. It is really a community. Our teachers and coaches expect so much more from us, and they expect greatness from us every day. They've really challenged us, and I wouldn’t have gotten to this point without everybody at this school urging me on every day.”

Hentges is one of two Missouri players selected to play in the Under Armour Game, and while the Show Me State doesn’t have the same reputation for top-end talent like California, Florida or Texas, he and good friend Alex Ofodile of Columbia Rock Bridge plan on showing everybody there is top talent in the middle of the country.

 “Missouri always gets overlooked, even with some of the great players in Kansas City and St. Louis, it's not known as a football state,” Hentges said. “For us to get down there to the Under Armour Game and showcase our talent and hopefully open some eyes would be great. Maybe something like this helps get some recruits some exposure and coaches will say 'Hey, there are good kids in Missouri, let's go look there.'”

Coaches from all over the country did discover Hengtes, though. He was one of the nation’s most heavily-courted prospects -- receiving more than 30 scholarships from schools coast-to-coast -- before he committed to Alabama in late May. While Hentges admitted there was a lot of pressure to stay close to home and play for Missouri, the school down the road, he knew when he got the offer from the Crimson Tide, it was going to be tough to turn down.

“I was talking to Coach [Nick] Saban on the phone, and I couldn't believe it,” Hentges said. “Here I was talking to Coach Saban. He's the closest thing to God and Alabama, and here he is talking to me on the phone. He offered me a scholarship. I was in shock the rest of the day."

Once he did visit Tuscaloosa, Hentges knew it was the right place for him, and he wanted to become a part of what is being called one of the best recruiting classes in the last decade.

“Coach Saban expects a lot out of you,” Hentges said. “He's very business-like. I think everybody can see that on the field, but the amount of love and care that he gives to his players, people do not see that. I see that. Off the field, he'll tell you 'Whatever is wrong, come and talk to me about it.' Things like that are not shown by the media. He really is a father to his players. He holds them accountable, which I think is the greatest love. It really clicks with what I'm used to here at Helias.”

When did you know you were going to be a good football player?
“I thought I always wanted to play basketball. When I got to high school, I opened up some eyes going into the summer before my freshman year. I was able to make it on summer. We had a defensive line coach, Lorenzo Williams, [who] played at Mizzou and Brandon Coleman, who was a backup quarterback at MU. They said 'Hey, this kid is really good.' They knew what it took because they played in college. They said 'We have to give this kid exposure.' We just started sending my tape out, and schools like it. That made me realize maybe this football thing is for me.”

 What type of tight end are you?
“I can stretch the field really well, and with my basketball background, I feel like I can high point the ball really well. Rebdounds. Boxout. I still want to be as tenacious as possible in the run game. I want to be a threat in the passing game, but then again be a glorified tackle.

Is there a player you really pattern your game after?
“I really like Jason Witten. I feel like he just does everything right. He gets it done in the running game. He gets it done in the passing game. He doesn't have blazing speed, but he gets the job done. I feel like I'm really comparable to him.”

Was the recruiting process overwhelming?
“It did get a little overwhelming. The spring of my junior year before I made the decision, I was getting 10 or 12 calls every day. That was so daunting. It was like 'Oh, man, I'm finally home, but I have three hours of phone calls to do now.' That was extremely daunting. Fortunately, we were able to hit the road and finally figure out what I wanted to do. Once that part was over with, it calmed down a whole lot.”

Weekly Commitment Roundup 

September, 19, 2014
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The following is a list of commitments made to FBS schools from Sept. 12-18:

ACC
NC State
T.J. McCoy OG

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A few years back, Mike Stoops told me being a college football recruiter was more complicated than being a politician trying to solve the Middle East crisis.

Stoops, the former Arizona head coach who is now the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma, wasn’t trying to make light of the situation in the Middle East. He was merely trying to express how exciting, frustrating, rewarding and agonizing the life of a recruiter is.

Being a recruiter means you’re often doing 25 things at the same time, and you’re doing them while dealing with high school juniors and seniors who change their minds more often than Taylor Swift changes genres.

Stoops recalled an hour period at Arizona when he landed a star quarterback; had to try to convince a key defensive tackle commitment not to visit a rival school while also thinking about what he was going to do when that defensive tackle ended up decommitting; and then also visited with a sophomore running back who showed up unexpectedly because he was the next big thing.

Oh yeah, it was also a game week.

Thursday’s news that ESPN 300 receiver DaMarkus Lodge backed away from his commitment to Texas A&M is another perfect example of the ups and downs college coaches face on the recruiting trail.

When Lodge committed to A&M June 19, it was a big, big deal. His decision cemented A&M’s claim as one of the top-five recruiting classes in the country and proved to Texas high school football observers that it was Kevin Sumlin, not Charlie Strong or Art Briles, who still ruled the roost in the Lone Star State.

But as we often see with recruiting -- too many times, if you ask coaches -- Lodge got cold feet for some reason.

He mentioned wanting to see other schools and that he committed too early. He also talked about concern that A&M has 17 receivers on its roster, that 16 players have caught passes this season and that he would not be a marquee receiver in College Station.

“As far as the receivers at A&M [go], they’re all good, and I know all will do good,” Lodge said. “Competition will be everywhere, and I am ready for it, but I need to make sure I can fit and be sure that I am happy as a player.”

Reading that, the Aggies coaches probably threw their hands up in frustration. Had Lodge not watched A&M under Sumlin? Surely, Lodge knew when he committed that the Aggies like to spread the ball around and have recruited well at the position the last three classes, with young stars like Speedy Noil and Ricky Seals-Jones already emerging.

None of that matter when Lodge committed to A&M in June.

“You don't want to be the only one who's at your level,” Lodge said back then. “You want to play with guys who will take you to that next level."

But competition matters now. Lodge honestly has every right to change his mind because he has not signed anything yet. He is making one of the biggest decisions he will make in his life. However, his reversal will be noticed by other recruits across the country and could continue to pile on to what coaches are calling the “decommitment epidemic.”

“As coaches, we can put a lot of heat on young guys,” Notre Dame recruiting coordinator Tony Alford said. “We can twist their minds a little bit with how we say things. But I'm also of the opinion, if you want me to sign on the line for you and hold true to that to our commitment to you, then there has to be some reciprocation there.

“I love being a coach, and there are so many wonderful things about recruiting young men that are going to be the foundation of your program’s future. But also at the same time, when you have decommitments and kids changing their minds more than they change a pair of shoes, it makes the job an absolute grind.”

Stoops would definitely agree.

Florida Gators have talent to compete 

September, 18, 2014
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When Alabama and Florida square off on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS), the two teams will display some of the top talent in the country. In fact, according to the expected two-deep depth charts, Alabama and Florida will showcase 56 players that were ranked in the ESPN 300 (changed from ESPN 150 to ESPN 300 in 2013) and the ESPN JC 300 coming out of high school or junior college.


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