NCF On The Trail: Louisville Cardinals

ACC class rankings analysis 

January, 22, 2014
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video NC State coach Dave Doeren told ESPN colleague Jeremy Crabtree that the Wolfpack would finish the 2014 recruiting cycle strong despite a winless ACC campaign. Raise your hand if you believed him.

NC State was one of the few risers in the updated class rankings this week. A look at the Wolfpack's rise and other trends across the ACC:


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Isaiah Ford (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian) will have one of the more interesting recruitments up until signing day. The four-star receiver is only looking at schools that will allow him to pursue football and basketball.

Ford, No. 46 among receivers, found another school this week when Miami contacted him. Miami football coach Al Golden and basketball coach Jim Larranaga signed off on Ford playing both sports so Ford will officially visit this weekend. It is his first official visit since decommitting from Louisville earlier this month.


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Hours after top commit Poona Ford decommitted from Louisville, the Cardinals lost another 2014 pledge along the defensive line.

Three-star defensive tackle Chris Nelson (Lakeland, Fla./Victory Christian) is reopening his recruitment, he told ESPN.com in a text message Friday.


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While a decommitment has been expected, defensive tackle Poona Ford (Hilton Head, S.C./Hilton Head) has officially backed off his verbal commitment to the Louisville Cardinals Hilton Head High head coach B.J. Payne confirmed.

“Poona Ford has decommitted from Louisville and will take official visits to Texas, Oregon and Missouri,” Payne said. “He has taken time and re-evaluated his recruitment, and decided this morning. As of last night, he was still evaluating everything with his recruitment.”

Ford, ranked No. 271 overall in the ESPN 300, plans to make official visits to Texas on Jan. 17, Oregon on Jan. 24 and Missouri on Jan. 31.

With Charlie Strong taking the Texas job last week, the Longhorns get the first shot at the 6-foot, 285-pound Ford. The nation’s No. 23 defensive tackle has held an offer from the Tigers for a few months and, after originally being high on Mizzou, Ford is reconsidering the reigning SEC East champs. As for Oregon, the Ducks are the latest to the party, having extended an offer to Ford on Thursday.

If there is to be another program that has the opportunity to quickly jump into the picture for the athletic defensive tackle prospect, it’s Michigan State although the Spartans have yet to extend an offer. Purdue is also an outside possibility for a mid-week visit.

Ford is the No. 10 ranked prospect in South Carolina in the 2014 class. He was a standout in last week’s Semper Fidelis All-American Game.

With Ford’s decision to re-open his recruitment, the Cardinals now have 20 commitments, including a quartet of four-star prospects led by local quarterback Reggie Bonnafon (Louisville, Ky./Trinity High).
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Round one of the new Charlie Strong-Kevin Sumlin recruiting rivalry goes to Texas A&M, as the Aggies were able to flip Zaycoven Henderson in what will go down as one of the wildest recruiting stories of the season; Bobby Petrino's hiring at Louisville received mixed reviews from coaches and recruits; and what type of recruiter is Michigan getting with new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier?

Aggies win first battle against Strong
College football’s second season is known for plenty of twists and turns, but few will match the bumpy ride that four-star defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson (Longview, Texas/Longview) gave Texas and Texas A&M fans Wednesday. Henderson, the No. 36 defensive tackle, decommitted from Texas, then recommitted to the Longhorns, only to flip to Texas A&M in less than a 24-hour span. Henderson’s decision came in the wake of coaching changes at Texas and the Horns chances slipped majorly when defensive line coach Bo Davis accepted a position at USC. It also marks the first victory for A&M coach Kevin Sumlin over new Texas coach Charlie Strong. Henderson is an early enrollee that was scheduled to start classes in Austin next Monday, but now he’ll be attending classes in College Station. Henderson originally committed to TCU last February but decommitted in September. On Dec. 9, Henderson gave Texas his verbal pledge during a ceremony at his school.

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Bob Beatty asked if the reports were true. Was Bobby Petrino indeed coming back to Louisville?

When told that Cardinals athletic director Tom Jurich confirmed the reports on Wednesday night, Beatty, the immensely successful coach at Louisville (Ky.) Trinity High School, kept his answer short.

“I have one word for you,” Beatty said, before an extended pause. “Beautiful.”


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National signing day is approaching quickly. With three official visit weekends remaining before Feb. 5, here is a look at a number of prospects who could flip to and/or from SEC schools in the coming weeks.

Florida commit Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead): Lane, No. 28 in the ESPN 300, is scheduled to officially visit national champion Florida State with the Gators fighting hard to keep the uber-talented wide receiver. The flip from Florida to the Seminoles by Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central High), the nation’s No. 20 prospect, makes the chore even tougher for the Gators


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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: Louisville’s class is in free fall after Charlie Strong’s departure for Texas, but would Bobby Petrino be able to salvage things? And, Wednesday produced a mix of both bad and good news for Strong.

Louisville’s class needs a shepherd

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Texas offers Louisville commit Nelson 

January, 8, 2014
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Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong is already hitting the recruiting trail with a vengeance while he also works to complete his coaching staff. Strong reached out on Wednesday evening to defensive tackle Chris Nelson, who happens to be currently committed to Louisville.

“Yes, coach Strong offered me within the last hour or so,” Nelson said. “He was just asking me if I would be interested in following him to Texas and that he wants me.”

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Big 12 class rankings analysis 

January, 8, 2014
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A solid weekend resulted in a bump in the ESPN class rankings for Oklahoma. The Sooners picked up two players who should help the offense in ESPN 300 running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) and four-star offensive guard Natrell Curtis (Phoenix/Mountain Pointe). Both are U.S. Army All-Americans.

With the commitments, Oklahoma jumped from No. 21 to No. 18 in the latest rankings. Oklahoma also jumped ahead of Baylor for the No. 2 spot among Big 12 schools. Texas still leads the conference at the No. 13 spot.

Baylor fell from No. 17 to No. 19, and Oklahoma State moved up a spot from No. 24 to No. 23. Texas Tech and West Virginia remained at Nos. 38 and 39, respectively, to round out the national top 40.

Here is a more in-depth look at the Big 12 class rankings:


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Weekend recruiting wrap: ACC 

January, 6, 2014
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The extended dead period kept coaches from flooding the hotels at all-star games, but more than a dozen recruits still made commitments this past week. Here is a look at the weekend that was in the ACC.

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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: Texas’ hire of Charlie Strong could help the Longhorns open up new recruiting territories, but it will also be important for him to hire assistants who have ties to the Lone Star State. Louisville’s top 25 class is very much in flux after Strong’s departure.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Four-star offensive tackle Kavaris Harkless (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian Academy) was already in Louisville, trying to get ready for his first college classes on Monday and the below-zero temperatures heading his way.

On Sunday the rumors that had been swirling all weekend, that Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong would accept the same job at Texas, came true.

Just like that, Harkless' plans -- and forecast -- changed dramatically. In a matter of hours, he'll drive south to Gainesville to enjoy much warmer weather, enroll at Florida and sign his letter of intent to play for the Gators instead.


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Poona Ford committed to Louisville in August, but the ESPN 300 defensive tackle really pledged to suit up for Charlie Strong.

“He really, really likes him and respects him,” said B.J. Payne, Ford’s coach at Hilton Head (S.C.) High. “That’s who he wanted to play for.”


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FULLERTON, Calif. -- Four-star outside linebacker Jimmie Swain IV (Olathe, Kan./North) is listed as an uncommitted recruit, but that distinction is not exactly true.

Following the first day of practice for the 2014 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, Swain said he has known for a while where he will play his college football and he has let the coaches of his finalists know his decision. The public will be let in on the secret during the game on Sunday, when the 6-foot-3, 229-pound linebacker will announce his commitment.

Swain is down to four schools -- Arkansas, Michigan State, Oregon and Texas A&M -- and all but the Spartans have received official visits.

As for his leaders, Swain gave a quick look into why they stand out in the race for his signature.

"[Michigan State has] always been in my top five ever since I started watching college football," Swain said. "At Arkansas, I have a good relationship with Randy Shannon and I fit in well with the players on my visit. At Oregon, it's the whole coaching staff. My mom really enjoyed them when they came to visit. They've been at Oregon so long, and the football there speaks for itself, when a 10-2 season is considered a bad season. With Texas A&M, I had a fun visit down there. A lot of people worry about what happens to them when Johnny [Manziel] is gone, but their recruiting class is really good and I don't think they're going to skip a beat."

Swain has been avoiding interviews and any real talk of recruiting in recent weeks, as he said he's been "relaxing and enjoying time with family." But he'll make some significant noise on Sunday, particularly for the program that receives a verbal commitment from the standout linebacker, who plans on pursuing a double major in marketing and finance.


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