NCF On The Trail: Miami (FL) Hurricanes

Torrance Gibson, Nick Bosa win state titles 

December, 13, 2014
Dec 13
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

Mark Walton now part of 2015 ESPN 300 

December, 12, 2014
Dec 12
Headed into the 2014 season, running back Mark Walton had hopes of reclassifying from a 2016 to 2015 recruit.

In November, that became a reality when the Miami (Florida) verbal commit saw the returns from the extra classes he took over the summer combined with a heavy course load this fall.

Once Walton knew where he stood regarding core classes, with a core GPA and knowing he would have the cores needed to graduate a year early, he needed only to match the SAT or ACT on the sliding scale, and he would be set to graduate in June as a member of the 2015 class.

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Three reasons why Miami disappointed 

December, 12, 2014
Dec 12
On the recruiting trail, Miami overcame lingering uncertainty of NCAA sanctions and the loss of some scholarships to sign four top-15 classes over the past five cycles. Yet even with Duke Johnson, one of the nation’s most electric playmakers, Miami finished 6-6 and behind programs like Georgia Tech and Duke in the ACC Coastal Division. While head coach Al Golden deserves credit for navigating the Canes through rough seas, the Canes and their fan base are still hungry for a return to the glory days of The U.

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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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UA jersey tour: Kendrick Norton

November, 20, 2014
Nov 20
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.

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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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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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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Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.

Yes, when it comes to making an impression of the future at Miami and whether Miami is closing the gap. This is a young, talented Miami team and a performance in front of a big crowd (which it don’t often get at Sun Life Stadium) could make a big and long-lasting impression. Keep in mind Florida prospects are initially going to look at the big three and then begin to taper down from there which is why getting as many 2016 and 2017 prospects to this game is critical (over 100 are expected by the way). Environment and competitiveness are ultra-important because when these kids go on a visit to Gainesville or Tallahassee you don’t want the Miami home game experience to fall short in comparison. FSU is on top right now and if they keep winning it isn’t going to slow down anytime soon so it’s up to the competitors to find on edge either on the field or in other areas.

Some are expecting more than 150 prospects in attendance from the 2015-17 classes. Some of the headliners are Rasheem Green, John Houston Jr., Bar Milo, Jordan Scarlett, Sam Bruce, Jack Allison, Cedrick Wright, Brendan Loftus, Tyler Gauthier, Patrick Bethel, Michael Jackson, Charles Perry, Te'Von Coney, Calvin Ridley, Shawn Burgess-Becker, Da'Vante Phillips, Carlton Davis, Davante Davis, Saivion Smith and Devin Bush Jr.

The Florida State-Miami rivalry, which will be renewed Saturday night, has been one of the top college football games played annually during the last 25 years.

For the No. 3 Seminoles, it’s not only a chase for a second straight national championship at stake, but also state bragging rights and the ability to continue to show that the recruiting momentum in the most talented state in the country remains in Tallahassee.

On the flip side, the Hurricanes are looking for a statement victory that would send shockwaves throughout the country and show prospects from Dade and Broward counties, as well as nationally, that Miami is headed back into national prominence with a freshman quarterback in Brad Kaaya.

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ESPN 300 Player of the Week: Nov. 10 

November, 10, 2014
Nov 10
Each week, Recruiting Nation's scouts will highlight great performances from the nation's top recruits.

This week's honoree is ESPN 300 quarterback Dwayne Lawson. Check out the highlights.

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CommitCast: Tevon Coney

October, 22, 2014
Oct 22
Four-star linebacker Tevon Coney picked Notre Dame over Florida and Miami on Thursday.

UA jersey tour: D'Anfernee McGriff

October, 22, 2014
Oct 22
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- ESPN 300 athlete D’Anfernee McGriff was presented with his Under Armour All-America Game jersey Wednesday afternoon in a ceremony sponsored by American Family Insurance. The ceremony took place in front of family, friends and teammates at Leon High School's indoor practice facility in Tallahassee, Florida.

Leon head coach Tim Cokely said his star prospect suffered through a personal tragedy that helped mold him into the person he is today.

"When I first got here he was kind of living with his uncle and his uncle died of a heart attack, and I think that really shaped him,” Cokely said. "So he rededicated himself to football at that time and that really paid off. He’s a laid-back guy, likes to laugh and likes to make every one else laugh.”

McGriff has been committed to Auburn as an athlete since April and Cokely thinks his star quarterback can do multiple things for the Tigers.

"On the field, we’ve been fortunate now. We’ve had a lot of good players play for us since ’89. He’s got a unique skill set. I think he has NFL arm talent. I’ve signed 10 Division 1 quarterbacks, which is the most in the country by five, so he’s No 11 but he’s got the ability to run and throw. I’m not sure how Auburn will use him but he can do a lot of things with his arm and legs. He can probably throw the ball about 80 yards.”

Depsite being committed to Auburn several teams continue to pursue the 207th-ranked player in the country.

“South Carolina and Miami are still on me pretty hard right now,” McGriff said. "I’m pretty solid to Auburn, though. I like it up there."

Eight questions with D'Anfernee McGriff

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

McGriff: I know I want to go against Kevin Toliver, the No. 1 defensive back. He’s the best, so I want to go against the best.

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

DM: I’d start with Trenton Thompson. He’s a big dude and you need big defensive linemen.

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

DM: Definitely Jameis Winston.

What is your earliest football memory?

DM: My earliest football memory, I was just a few years old but Tamarick Vanover was my uncle and he played football. I never really knew what was going on but I’d watch it on TV.

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

DM: I’d say Michael Vick, because I’m left-handed and can run, too. I tried to model my game after him.

If you could take on any pro player in their sport, who would it be?

DM: Definitely LeBron James, just to be on the same court with the best player in the world.

What number do you wear?

DM: I wore No. 11. But in the spring we had a battle and whoever won the battle would wear No. 1 during the spring game, but I liked wearing it, so now that’s what I wear.

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

DM: I actually came to Leon to play basketball. But I don’t play anymore, I’m just a football guy now.
ESPN’s RecruitingNation released the updated class ranking for 2015 on Wednesday. Of course, Alabama remains in the top spot, but will be challenged by Georgia and Florida State for the top spot come National Signing Day.

Looking deeper into the class rankings, five teams off to poor starts could have a difficult time holding off rival teams for top recruits, including:

South Carolina

One could argue that the Gamecocks aren’t in need of a strong close in 2015 with 28 prospects already committed and a current place in the Top 10 classes, but needs remain on defense at tackle, linebacker, and cornerback for sure. A 6-6 or 7-5 season could make it tough to close, and give momentum to others trying to flip South Carolina commitments. Closing on Florida State defensive tackle commit and South Carolina native D.J. Jones could be tough, because the Seminoles remain atop the polls, and Clemson and Alabama are also possibilities. The same can be said for ESPN300 athlete Darius Slayton, who will likely choose between Georgia and South Carolina with a preference for wide receiver at the next level.

Miami (FL)

There was increased excitement headed into the 2014 season with the NCAA cloud lifted, and a number of exciting playmakers returning on offense. Throw in the otherworldly start to the 2016 class with seven ESPNJr300 pledges, and it looked like the Hurricanes were set up for a big finish in 2015 with momentum. Now 3-3 with a 6-6 finish a real possibility, the Hurricanes are no longer in the closing position. In fact, holding onto ESPN300 running back Dexter Williams could be difficult, and the Hurricanes have already lost ESPN300 tight end Bowman Archibald to Wake Forest. The Miami (FL) staff will be working hard to keep prospects such as Williams and ESPN300 linebacker Charles Perry in the fold, while attempting to finish the 2015 class that is need of playmakers and pass-rushers on defense.

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With Brandon Wimbush switching to Notre Dame, where does Penn State turn to fill its need at quarterback? Plus, why should Washington State feel like it has a shot with an ESPN 300 prospect from Washington, D.C.?

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