NCF On The Trail: LSU Tigers

LSU and Texas A&M have become bigger rivals on the field and in recruiting now that both are in the SEC. Plus, few programs are trending like Ohio State is on the field and on the recruiting trail.

Whether recruits are attending games this holiday weekend or watching on television, all eyes around the recruiting world will be focused on several rivalry games. From the Iron Bowl to the Egg Bowl there will be recruiting implications throughout the conference this weekend. Here’s a closer look at how these game might affect the top remaining recruits.

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Early Offer: Malik Jefferson's final 7 

November, 24, 2014
Nov 24
Malik Jefferson reduced his list to seven schools on Monday, and though the list is hardly a surprise, recruiters think there are still some in store with the No. 35 player in the country.

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UA jersey tour: Kevin Toliver II

November, 20, 2014
Nov 20
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.
A few weeks ago, Adam McLean was asked what it would take to back away from his Penn State pledge, and he said “nothing can change my mind.” Well, something happened and the ESPN 300 prospect is back on the market. Plus, Zach Gentry has been committed to Texas since May, but rumors sprouted Tuesday he was considering taking other official visits.

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There have been some interesting names linked to the Florida opening, but several coaches believe Marshall's Doc Holliday could be a good recruiting fit in Gainesville. Plus, many expected ESPN 300 OT Chuma Edoga to flip from USC to Georgia, but it looks like the Trojans have won the battle in the end.

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UA jersey tour: Kendall Sheffield

November, 18, 2014
Nov 18
There are many who believe ESPN 300 cornerback Kendall Sheffield is the poster child for how to go through the recruiting process.

Play like a champion. Garner interest from college scouts. Earn scholarships. Treat every scholarship with equal density. Refuse to publicly lean to a program.

Ask Sheffield about a favorite in his recruiting process, and expect an answer that will lead the most persistent, inquisitive person to nowhere. He's quick to say that he's "still wide open with 37 offers."

Ask the five-star cornerback about the Under Armour All-America Game, however, and get a completely different answer. Sheffield was awarded his commemorative jersey on Tuesday in a ceremony sponsored by American Family Insurance.

"It's a huge honor to be an Under Armour All-American. I'm very happy, very excited," Sheffield said. "I've always wanted to be an Under Armour All-American, since I was a little kid. "I just want to get there and have fun and compete."

Hearing Sheffield open up about the game is a treat of sorts, as he's naturally an actions-first kind of athlete. Sheffield prefers letting his game speak for itself -- and it's spoken loud enough for him to earn nearly 40 offers coast to coast.

At 6 foot and 181 pounds, Sheffield is the top-ranked player in Texas and the No. 3 cornerback in the nation. He is No. 8 in the ESPN 300 and has seen a steady rise in the 2015 rankings since its debut last season.

Sheffield's resume has everything college coaches want to hear. His fastest 40-yard dash is 4.37 seconds. He's a cover corner who doesn't mind making the big hits. If he's needed for special teams, he can be a reliable return man, as well.

The world will get a chance to judge for itself when Sheffield competes in the UA game in January. The big question now, however, is, where will Sheffield end up? He's taken official visits to USC, Ohio State and Florida State, and he recently was in Baton Rouge for an unofficial visit to LSU. Sheffield said he'll take an official visit to Alabama next month, and he's expecting to take an unofficial visit for Texas A&M's Thanksgiving game against LSU in College Station.

Sheffield said he plans on taking that fifth official visit. Which team will get it?

"I'm unsure right now," he said. "It'll be one of my 37 offers."

Sheffield will announce his college plans at the UA game. Until then, he's tight-lipped. One thing he won't keep close to the vest is the importance of having a position coach who will push him. He said the winning school will have a coach he can build a quality relationship with, in addition to someone who can potentially take him to the next level.

"That's important to me," Sheffield said. "Real important."

Quick hits on Kendall Sheffield

Best player to put on a UA jersey: "Jadeveon Clowney. He's a good athlete, and he was the No. 1 player coming out of high school. He also was the No. 1 draft pick."

Receiver you most want to compete against: "It doesn't matter. I just want to get there and compete."

Your jersey number: "I've always worn No. 11. It's a number I've worn since Little League."

Favorite football memory: "It was my sophomore year in my first year on varsity. I had my first interception, and it was a pick-six. It won the game for us."

Did you know? Sheffield wants to major in sports management. He said the schools he ultimately considers in his top list will have solid sports management programs.
ESPN 300 receiver Tyron Johnson said he’s “80 percent” sure of where he’s going but things could change dramatically if LSU steps up its pursuit. The battle to land Nick Brossette will be one of the biggest storylines heading into the final months of recruiting.

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UA jersey tour: Daylon Mack

November, 14, 2014
Nov 14
Picture a 6-foot-1, 330-pound athlete running full speed to make a play -- as a defensive tackle and a short-yard running back.

That’s Daylon Mack, an ESPN 300 defensive tackle who also sees time in the backfield on offensive plays.

Now picture the guy lined up against Mack, who has run the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds. Imagine that guy’s thoughts.

“No chance,” said Mack, the Gladewater (Texas) High School standout.

To say Mack has been dominant at the high school level is an understatement. As the nation’s No. 3 defensive tackle, Mack has five sacks on the year and has been a problem for offensive lineman throughout his high school career. He was rewarded for his play Friday during an Under Armour All-America Game jersey ceremony sponsored by American Family Insurance.

But as good as he is on the defensive line, Mack has been a solid ground-game option on offense. As a burly fullback, Mack has scored eight touchdowns this season.

Let Mack tell it, it’s all about being a well-balanced football player and a respected athlete on the field.

“That’s real important to me. I think I learned a lot of that just going through camps,” Mack said. “I have to know technique, and I learned that you’re always going to see someone as athletic as you. I think because of camps, I’m 1,000 times better than I was last year.”

Mack is hoping that athleticism will allow him to see immediate playing time as a freshman in college. Mack is committed to Texas A&M and has been committed since October 2013. Mack, however, added that he still wants to take an official visit to LSU, and he was at TCU on an official visit when the Horned Frogs beat Texas Tech, 82-27, last month.

Mack also will take an official visit to Texas A&M. No dates have been set for the LSU and Texas A&M visits as of yet. Mack’s current priority is to help to advance his team as far in the postseason as possible.

As for being an Under Armour All-American, consider it a bucket-list item happening in roughly six weeks.

“It feels great,” Mack said. “It’s something I’ve been looking at for the longest. Since the seventh grade, I’ve wanted to play in this. I have a chance of a real dream coming true.”

Quick hits on Daylon Mack

Best UA Game player ever: “Myles Garrett. I saw him destroy it last year.”

Better feeling: Scoring TDs or getting sacks? “I’d have to say getting touchdowns. It’s something a defensive lineman doesn’t feel. Sacks are great, too. Whichever changes the game, I guess.”

Why do you wear your number? “I wear 34, but I really want to wear No. 5 in college. I want to wear a single-digit number.”

Favorite football memory: “Last year, I ran a 3-yard touchdown against Henderson (Texas) to get us in the playoffs. Then I ran a 67-yard touchdown at Atlanta (Texas) to get us to the third round.”

What Texas A&M’s #WRTS [We Run The State] hashtag means to you: “It’s just really a hashtag. I feel like it’s a true hashtag with Texas teams, but it’s just a hashtag. It’s helped us bring players in, though.”

Did you know … “I’m a big fan of SpongeBob.”
Baton Rouge (Louisiana) Central receiver Terrell Chatman committed to Miami early on, but that hasn’t stopped other schools from coming after him. His teammate, Kevin Henry, is working hard to ensure he’ll end up at Oklahoma State.

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UA jersey tour: Nick Brossette

November, 13, 2014
Nov 13
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Nick Brossette knew being selected to play in the Under Armour All-America Game was a big deal, but it didn’t truly hit him until he was presented with his honorary jersey at a ceremony on Wednesday.

Family, friends and teammates packed the gymnasium at Baton Rouge’s University Laboratory School, and Brossette had to give a speech in front of the horde of media members that were just feet away from his face with flashing cameras. Following that, Brossette, the nation’s No. 10 running back, spent the next 45 minutes answering questions from reporters and posing for pictures with almost everybody in attendance.

"Whew," Brossette said after he finally got a chance to sit down and catch his breath.

"I started watching the Under Armour Game when I was 8-years-old, and I knew it was a big deal, but man, this was unreal. I remember Jadeveon Clowney going up against La'El Collins. Just looking at those top athletes, showcasing their talent, I wanted to be a part of that. It’s just now starting to sink in that it’s a reality. This is like a dream come true."

These jersey presentations are always a big deal for the schools and communities, but Brossette’s was especially unique because of his recruiting status. Brossette pledged to LSU -- the school that is literally across the street from University Lab -- last August, and he is one of the most dominating offensive players Baton Rouge has seen in years. But when Brossette announced a few months back that he was going to also visit Notre Dame, Texas and Arizona State, the spotlight focused on him even more.

"I think I'm doing a good job of keeping things in perspective and handling the whole recruiting stuff," said Brossette, who visited Notre Dame in early October and will take trips to the Longhorns, Tigers and Sun Devils after his season is over.

"It has taken up a lot of my time. I just try to stay focused with my team, and I’m just trying to get back to the state championship and win it this time. That time on the football field has kind of become my sanctuary. That’s my time away where nobody is asking me where I’m going to school. Just being around my guys and having fun with them helps keep it all in perspective. It keeps me really grounded."

That is another reason he is excited to play in the Under Armour Game. Yes, he knows there will be plenty of questions about his future asked during the week, but he also knows there will be plenty of football.

"Fans are going to see that I work hard," Brossette said. "They're going to see my vision, how powerful I am, and they're also going to see my speed. Everybody questions me about my speed. I think I'm a full package at running back. This is my chance to show them.

"I’ve been looking at the roster and checking out all of the linebackers. I know there are some good ones in the game. I’m looking forward to going up against all of those guys. I can’t wait to blow up a linebacker on the first day of practice."

Elite receiver prospects Daylon Charlot and Mykel Jones are teammates and lifelong friends, but will they end up at the same college? Plus, what team is the dark horse to land the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect, Terry Beckner Jr.?

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UA jersey tour: Daylon Charlot

November, 11, 2014
Nov 11
PATTERSON, La. -- Even at his Under Armour All-America Game jersey ceremony Tuesday, Daylon Charlot couldn’t get away from the question.

While he was being introduced, somebody in the crowded gymnasium of students loudly asked where Charlot, the nation’s No. 8 receiver, would be attending college at. Across the gym, an emphatic reply of “LSU, baby” came from another student.

At this point, nobody knows where Charlot is going to end up. He committed to Alabama back in early February, but that was before LSU offered him a scholarship. The Tigers eventually did and haven’t stopped pursuing him since.

“It's going to be a hard decision,” Charlot said. “It's either Bama or LSU. It's 60 Alabama, 40-percent chance LSU. When the time comes, everyone will find out. It's just crazy because everywhere I go people ask me the question ‘Where are you going to school at.’ I wear my ID on an LSU lanyard here at school, so people think that means I’m going there, but no one knows where I want to go, including me. If I don't know, then no one else does.”

Tuesday wasn’t about where Charlot will be attending college, though. It was a celebration for him being selected to play in the nation’s most prestigious high school football all-star game. Charlot said that fact hadn’t sunk in with him until he put on the black and red Under Armour jersey during the ceremony.

“It’s real now,” Charlot said with a big smile. “It was a goal of mine to play in this game, so I’m going to take advantage of it. I want to show everybody I’m the best receiver in the country.”

He plans to do that by doing anything and everything the coaches ask of him during the practices leading up to the Jan. 2 game that will be televised on ESPN2.

“I'll play corner,” he said. “I'll play receiver. I'll kick. I’ll play on the kickoff and punt return teams. I'll even drive the bus if that's what coach thinks will help the team win the game and show people what I’ve got. I think I'm electric with the ball in my hands. I know how to make people miss and get away from people very easily.”

Charlot also hopes to settle a score with five-star Kevin Toliver II, the nation’s No. 1 cornerback.

“At LSU’s camp in my freshman and sophomore years, we were going at it back and forth,” Charlot said. It was basically a tie. I want to break the tie at Under Armour.”

UA jersey tour: Anthony Wheeler

November, 11, 2014
Nov 11
DALLAS -- The number 7 holds a lot of weight for linebackers at Dallas Skyline High School. Most recently, Corey Nelson and Peter Jinkens have gone on to do great things wearing the Skyline jersey.

It’s now Anthony Wheeler's turn, and the ESPN 300 linebacker has yet to disappoint. He was rewarded for his efforts Tuesday, as he was the guest of honor during an Under Armour All-America Game jersey ceremony, sponsored by American Family Insurance, at his school.

Nelson was a 2009 Under Armour All-American, and Jinkens received the honor in 2012. Wheeler called following their footsteps “a blessing.”

“They’ve always said here that No. 7 is the leader on the defense and one of the most dominant players on the defense in past years at Skyline,” Wheeler said. “I look up to all those guys. Corey Nelson, Peter Jinkens ... all of them were great players, and I just try to play like them and want to exceed at the level they’re on.

“I’m very thankful for everything that’s come to me. It’s amazing.”

At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Wheeler can play inside linebacker and outside linebacker at the next level. He is the nation’s No. 3 inside linebacker and ranked No. 89 overall in the ESPN 300.

Additionally, Wheeler also is one of the most sought-after uncommitted athletes. He's been eyeing Oklahoma and Texas for months -- no surprise since Nelson played for Oklahoma before signing with the Denver Broncos, and Jinkens is currently at Texas. However, Wheeler stressed that LSU is just as much an option for his college plans, as he’s been in frequent contact with the coaching staff.

Wheeler said he doesn’t have any official visits planned and is focusing his attention on Skyline’s run through the Texas Class 6A playoffs. He'll focus on his college future after.

For now, he’ll do what the No. 7s of the past did -- play to win and make a statement doing so. And when January comes, look for Wheeler to do the same at the Under Armour game.

“I just want people to know I can play with anybody in the nation,” he said. “They’re going to see how physical I am.”

Quick hits on Anthony Wheeler

Best UA Game player ever: “I’ll go with Jadeveon Clowney. He goes 100 percent every play. He’s very physical, he dominates the O-line and he always attacks the ball.”

Best player at Skyline not named Anthony Wheeler: Rice DT commit Zach Abercrumbia

Favorite football memory: “When I was in middle school, I used to play running back. Scoring touchdowns was an exciting memory for me.”

Did you know ... “I’m a shoe freak. I love shoes. Matter of fact, I’m addicted to shoes.”

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

November, 11, 2014
Nov 11
As always there was a ton of recruiting news from around the Southeastern Conference this weekend. There was a big commitment, there were key visits, new offers and an ESPN 300 offensive lineman is almost set to announce his decision. Here’s a closer look at the top recruiting news from around the conference.

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