NCF On The Trail: Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

Austin King saw the pile and immediately knew something was different about today’s mail. As one of the Georgia’s most heavily recruited quarterbacks, he’s used to getting letters from schools all over the country. But the stack of 100 envelopes addressed to him from South Florida caught his attention.

USF letters
TwitterClass of 2015 signal-caller Austin King received 100 letters at once from South Florida.
As King ripped through envelope after envelope, he discovered this just wasn’t some mass mailing of form letters with a few handwritten notes sprinkled in from a school -- a recruiting tactic used by a number of programs in the past. He knew that this was something different.

“As I opened each letter, I discovered they were 100 hand-written notes with exactly 100 reasons why I should commit to South Florida,” King said. “They’re all handwritten. There’s so many. I haven’t even gotten through all of them yet. It definitely feels great being wanted at a school like this. I'm still in a little bit of a shock."

King isn’t leaning toward a school, but he does have scholarship offers from South Florida, West Virginia, Southern Miss and UCF, among others, with schools such as North Carolina, Mississippi State and Notre Dame showing interest. It’s safe to say he has plenty of reasons now to consider South Florida even more than before.

Early Offer: Game-changer for Kaaya? 

October, 3, 2013
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Brad Kaaya has been committed to Miami since May, but an offer earlier this week from UCLA could give him second thoughts; a Kansas junior college matchup features two teams loaded with Division I recruits; and could rapper Jay-Z become a recruiting tool for Nebraska?

Where there’s smoke?
UCLA extended a scholarship to ESPN 300 quarterback Brad Kaaya (West Hills, Calif./Chaminade) Tuesday afternoon, and the offer could be a game-changer for the longtime Miami commitment. Kaaya, ranked as the nation’s No. 9 pocket passer, committed to the 'Canes in May, but many college coaches always believed if UCLA or USC were to offer it would give him something to really think about. Kaaya said his focus is on his an upcoming game against Sherman Oaks (Cailf.) Notre Dame, but his mother, Angela Means-Kaaya, tweeted her son remains committed to Miami. “UCLA is an awesome program that he respects, at this time he is committed 2 The University of Miami,” she said. UCLA coach Jim Mora was on hand to watch Kaaya play last Friday night.

Missouri dips into Peach State for Ross

August, 29, 2013
Senior prospect Tavon Ross (Cochran, Ga./Bleckley County) has committed to play in the SEC for Missouri, according to multiple reports.

Ross, 6-feet, 193-pounds, selected the Tigers over scholarship offers from Charlotte, Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky.

He plays quarterback for Bleckley but, according to The Telegraph, is expected to line up in Missouri's defensive backfield.

The Tigers now have 20 pledges for 2014. Ross is their first verbal from Georgia.

Memphis lands LB Curtis Akins

August, 8, 2013
Curtis Akins (Byhalia, Miss./Byhalia), a 6-foot, 208-pound linebacker prospect, has committed to play in the American Athletic Conference for Memphis, according to multiple reports.

Middle Tennessee and Southern Miss also extended scholarship offers to Akins. Other programs, including Auburn and Mississippi State, showed interest.

The Tigers have six players on board for 2014.

Mizzou nabs dual-threat QB Zanders

August, 3, 2013
Class of 2014 signal-caller Marvin Zanders (Jacksonville, Fla./Raines) pledged to play for Missouri on Friday.

The 6-foot-2, 175-pound three-star prospect announced his decision on Twitter and the news has been confirmed by multiple outlets:

Duke, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Kentucky, Middle Tennessee, Navy, Ohio, South Alabama, Wake Forest, Western Kentucky and Western Michigan were his other offers.

As a junior, Zanders completed 128 of 210 attempts (61 percent) for 1,839 yards, 18 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He added 416 yards and four more scores on the ground.

The Tigers now have 17 players on board for 2014.

Arizona is Jamie Byrd's next stop

August, 3, 2013
Safety Jamie Byrd (Dade City, Fla./Iowa Western Community College) is the latest 2014 prospect to select Rich Rodriguez's Wildcats, according to multiple reports.

Byrd, a three-star prospect for the 2011 class, originally committed to Boise State before signing with TCU. He redshirted with the Horned Frogs that fall and saw limited action last season. Byrd then transferred to Iowa Western this past winter.

He informed the Tampa Bay Times that changes on TCU's coaching staff caused his move: "New position coach came in last year, and me and him didn't see eye to eye, and the defensive scheme did not fit me well."

During this recruiting cycle, Georgia State, Illinois and Middle Tennessee also offered the 5-foot-11, 195-pound defender.

Byrd, who will be a part of ESPN RecruitingNation's junior college rankings in the fall, is commitment No. 21 for Arizona.

SMU scores ESPN 300 QB Tyler Harris

August, 1, 2013
The Mustangs have added a signature recruit to their 2014 class. According to multiple reports, ESPN 300 quarterback Tyler Harris (Blackshear, Ga./Pierce County) has committed to play for head coach June Jones and SMU.

Harris, a 6-foot-4, 221-pound athlete ranked as the country's No. 12 pocket passer, received scholarship offers from Alabama, Kentucky, Middle Tennessee, Mississippi State, South Florida and Troy.

Over the last few months, the Crimson Tide added No. 2 QB-PP David Cornwell (Norman, Okla./North), the Wildcats secured in-state No. 6 QB-PP Drew Barker (Hebron, Ky./Conner) and the Bulldogs snared two-sport start Elijah Staley (Marietta, Ga./Wheeler).

Harris is SMU's 14th verbal for 2014.

Hokies continue to build OL with Taylor

July, 31, 2013
Three-star offensive tackle Brady Taylor (Columbus, Ohio/Bishop Ready) pledged to sign with Virginia Tech, according to multiple reports. He selected the Hokies over Kentucky.

Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Eastern Michigan, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Indiana, Marshall, Miami (Ohio), Middle Tennessee, Minnesota, North Carolina State, Ohio, Pittsburgh, Purdue, South Florida, Toledo, Wake Forest, West Virginia and Western Michigan also offered the 6-foot-4, 267-pound lineman.

Taylor is the fifth offensive lineman to choose Virginia Tech for 2014, and he is excited to join the group:

"I talked to them a lot," Taylor told the Roanoke (Va.) Times. "They're all really good kids. I've gotten to know them well. ... It's pretty awesome. Because even if nothing works out and we get to our fifth year, we're eventually going to play together. That's pretty special to have four other kids your age to play with."

Virginia Tech's class is ranked 26th by ESPN RecruitingNation.

Bulls pull Sandalwood DB Chris Jones

July, 21, 2013
Chris Jones (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) gave his verbal commitment to play for South Florida, the Florida Times-Union reports.

USF topped offers from Florida International, Indiana, Massachusetts, Middle Tennessee, Purdue, Western Kentucky and Western Michigan for the 6-foot, 162-pound prospect.

Jones posted an electronically-timed 4.77 40-yard dash, 4.69 20-yard shuttle, 32.7-inch vertical, 37-foot power throw and 75.63 SPARQ this spring at a Nike combine.

He's the fifth 2014 prospect from Sandalwood to make an FBS commitment, joining ESPN 300 linebacker Kain Daub (Florida State), four-star wide receiver DeSean Blair (Louisville), three-star defensive tackle Blake McClain (Florida State) and fullback Broadie Matts (Air Force).

The Bulls have 13 commitments.

Vandy lands in-state DB Herndon

July, 13, 2013
Tre Herndon (Ooltewah, Tenn./East Hamilton), a 6-foot, 173-pound cornerback, has committed to sign with Vanderbilt, according to multiple reports.

Middle Tennessee, Northern Illinois, UAB, Memphis, Chattanooga and Appalachian State also extended scholarship offers to the rising senior. Cincinnati showed interest.

Herndon registered an electronically timed 4.65 40-yard dash, 4.44 20-yard shuttle, 32-inch vertical and 30-foot power throw this spring at a Nike combine.

Vanderbilt now has 12 pledges in its nationally-ranked 2014 recruiting class.

Weekly commitment roundup

July, 12, 2013
American Athletic
Luke Callahan OT Powell, Ohio/Olentangy Liberty
HT: 6-foot-4 WT: 271 pounds
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Arkeel Newsome RB Ansonia, Conn./Ansonia
HT: 5-8 WT: 180
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Dae'Juan Funderburk S Washington/Friendship Collegiate
HT: 6-1 WT: 187
Positional Rank: #40 S
Stars: 3

Boston College
Richard Wilson RB Beverly Hills, Calif./Detroit Country Day
HT: 5-10 WT: 221
Positional Rank: #72 RB
Stars: 3

Justin Falcinelli OT Middletown, Md./Middletown
HT: 6-4 WT: 300
Positional Rank: #25 OT
Stars: 3

Florida State
Treon Harris ATH Miami/Booker T. Washington
HT: 5-11 WT: 186
Positional Rank: #30 ATH
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (#250)

KJ Williams WR Bethlehem, Pa./Liberty
HT: 6-2 WT: 190
Positional Rank: #76
Stars: 3

Virginia Tech
Colt Pettit OG Hamler, Ohio/Henry
HT: 6-4 WT: 250
Positional Rank: #22 OG
Stars: 3

Big 12
Bobby Evans TE-Y Allen, Texas/Allen
HT: 6-3 WT: 240
Class of 2015

Big Ten
Julian Hylton ATH Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln Way North
HT: 6-0 WT: 180
Positional Rank: #85 ATH
Stars: 3

J-Shun Harris WR Fishers, Ind./Fishers
HT: 5-8 WT: 162
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Mick Ellis K Allen, Texas/Lovejoy
HT: 5-10 WT: 182
Positional Rank: #23 K
Stars: 3

Larenzo Stewart RB Klein, Texas/Klein Oak
HT: 5-6 WT: 165
Positional Rank: #77
Stars: 3

Noah Westerfield OLB Frisco, Texas/Wakeland
HT: 6-3 WT: 215
Positional Rank: #65 OLB
Stars: 3

Gelen Robinson DE St. John, Ind./Lake Central
HT: 6-2 WT: 231
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

D.J. Gillins QB-DT Jacksonville, Fla./Ribault
HT: 6-3 WT: 181
Positional Rank: #13 QB-DT
Stars: 4

Evan White S Aurora, Colo./Cherokee
HT: 6-2 WT: 192
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Kyle Christiansen DT Hyrum, Utah/Mountain Crest
HT: 6-3 WT: 315
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Washington State
Tristan Vizcaino K La Verne, Calif./Damien
HT: 6-1 WT: 190
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Zach Rogers OG Carrollton, Texas/Hebron
HT: 6-2 WT: 297
Class of 2015

Tyler Queen QB-PP Kennesaw, Ga./North Cobb
HT: 6-2 WT: 237
Class of 2015

T.V. Williams WR McKinney, Texas/McKinney
HT: 5-8 WT: 148
Positional Rank: #75 WR
Stars: 3

Ole Miss
Rod Taylor OG Jackson, Miss./Callaway
HT: 6-3 WT: 323
Positional Rank: #2 OG
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (#56)
Under Armour All-American

Michael Sawyers DT Nashville, Tenn./Ensworth
HT: 6-2 WT: 290
Positional Rank: #24 DT
Stars: 4


Malik Crossdale RB Bronx, N.Y./Fordham Prep
HT: 5-11 WT: 190

New Mexico State
William Clement OLB Houston/Kinkaid
HT: 6-3 WT: 195

Notre Dame
Grant Blankenship DE The Colony, Texas/The Colony
HT: 6-5 WT: 230
Positional Rank: #37 DE
Stars: 3

Conference USA
Middle Tennessee
Robert Behanan OG Fairfield, Ohio/Fairfield
HT: 6-4 WT: 281

Preston Gordon DT Frisco, Texas/Heritage
HT: 6-1 WT: 271

Southern Miss
Darian Yancey OLB Auburn, Ala./Auburn
HT: 6-1 WT: 213

Chris Hudson OT Ocala, Fla./West Port
HT: 6-5 WT: 277

Ball State

Damon Singleton OLB Wyandotte, Mich./Roosevelt
HT: 6-1 WT: 210

Quentin Turner CB Lithonia, Ga./Miller Grove
HT: 5-9 WT: 171

Bowling Green
Ben Hale S Columbus, Ohio/St. Charles
HT: 6-1 WT: 190

Northern Illinois
Martayveus Carter RB East Chicago, Ill./Central
HT: 5-11 WT: 200

Mountain West
Fresno State
Tobenna Okeke S Missouri City, Texas/Elkins
HT: 6-2 WT: 194

San Jose State
Rueben Leasau OLB La Mesa, Calif./Helix
HT: 6-2 WT: 205

Sun Belt
South Alabama
Malcolm Buggs S Opelika, Ala./Opelika
HT: 5-9 WT: 192

Western Kentucky
Nick True TE-Y Ft. Thomas, Ky./Highlands
HT: 6-5 WT: 240

Yellow Jackets grab their signal-caller

June, 30, 2013
Three-star dual-threat quarterback Matthew Jordan (Jackson, Ala./Jackson) pledged on Saturday to sign with Georgia Tech, reports.

Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Furman, Jacksonville State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Memphis, Middle Tennessee, Nebraska, Northern Illinois, South Alabama, Texas State, Tulane, UAB and Western Kentucky offered the 6-foot-1, 190-pound athlete.

"The last two really came down to South Alabama and Georgia Tech," he said. "I really liked Nebraska; that's just a long ways. South [Alabama] is really close to home -- it's my hometown school. I always grew up a South Alabama fan. But Georgia Tech, when I went over there for a visit, they're the ones who treated me the best and with their facilities, I just think I can call it home."

Last season, Jordan completed 83 of 143 pass attempts for 1,324 yards and 15 touchdowns and rushed for more than 700 yards and 11 more scores.

He's Georgia Tech's 10th verbal for 2014.

Mississippi State gets WR turned QB

June, 29, 2013
Nick Fitzgerald (Richmond Hills, Ga./Richmond Hill) has become the Bulldogs' 14th pledge for 2014, according to multiple reports.

Fitzgerald actually started at wide receiver last season and caught 18 passes for 321 yards and 4 touchdowns. He served as the backup quarterback to Dominique Allen, who signed with Air Force.

Middle Tennessee also extended a scholarship offer to the 6-foot-5, 208-pound prospect. Other programs, such as Georgia Tech, showed interest.

Canes gain three-star QB, local DB

June, 27, 2013
Malik Rosier (Mobile, Ala./Faith Academy) and Ryan Mayes (Miami/Northwestern) have become commitments 17 and 18 for Miami's 2014 class, according to multiple reports.

Rosier is a 6-foot-1, 197-pound three-star quarterback. Arkansas State, Furman, Louisiana-Lafayette, Middle Tennessee, Northern Illinois, Southern Miss and Western Kentucky were his other scholarship offers. Alabama, Auburn, Cincinnati, Duke, Kentucky and South Carolina expressed interest.

"I really like Miami, and my mom really likes Miami," he told the Press-Register. "We kind of sat down and she said, 'If you like them, what is really the point in waiting any longer?' That made sense to me so I went ahead and committed."

Last fall, Rosier completed 169 of 305 attempts for 2,238 yards and 20 touchdowns and rushed for 1,002 yards and 12 more scores.

This spring, he displayed impressive athleticism at a Nike event, including an electronically-timed 4.69 40-yard dash, 4.54 20-yard shuttle, 33.4-inch vertical, 37-foot power throw and 81.57 SPARQ.

He's also Faith Academy's catcher on the baseball team, where he hit over .400 as a junior and has received interest from SEC and ACC programs.

The 6-foot-1, 183-pound Mayes selected the Hurricanes over a scholarship offer from Syracuse. He joins high school teammate Michael Smith, a three-star outside linebacker on the Miami's commit list.

Seven 2014 prospects have announced for Miami since Friday.

Deshon Cooper says yes to Bulldogs

June, 27, 2013
Mississippi State has secured a pledge from outside linebacker Deshon Cooper (Decatur, Ga./Columbia), according to multiple reports.

Louisville, Michigan State, Minnesota, Rutgers, South Florida, Vanderbilt and West Virginia were the other BCS schools to offer the 6-foot-4, 215-pound prospect. Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Tennessee expressed interest.

Charlotte, East Carolina, Georgia State, Jacksonville State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Marshall and Middle Tennessee offered from the non-BCS and FCS ranks.

Cooper is commitment No. 13 for the Bulldogs.