NCF On The Trail: SMU Mustangs

To win at the highest level in the SEC, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze knows he has to recruit well in Memphis, Tennessee, and Charlie Strong's job of returning Texas to the top just got more difficult after the loss to BYU this past weekend.

ASHBURN, Va. -- If there was an award given out for the most physically gifted quarterback at Friday’s Elite 11 regional camp at the Washington Redskins' practice facility, Brandon Wimbush would undoubtedly be a runaway winner.

The No. 107-ranked prospect in the ESPN 300 showed impressive arm power, a strong frame that can carry 225 pounds, and the feet and balance that have earned him offers from the likes of Penn State, Virginia Tech, Miami, Ohio State, LSU and a host of others. The news of the day Friday was the offer list might soon be growing, and one could be a game-changer.

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American recruiting class rankings 

October, 16, 2013
Each Wednesday, ESPN RecruitingNation updates its national class rankings and its conference class rankings.

The American is led by a pair of teams on their way out of the league. Rutgers, who will move to the Big Ten, leads the conference with a class that is headlined by four in-state ESPN 300 prospects. Louisville, who will leave for the ACC, is close behind the Scarlet Knights in both the top 40 and AAC ranks. The USF Bulls, who recently picked up three-star ATH Kendall Sawyer, are at No. 3.

1. Rutgers, 24 commits: The Scarlet Knights sit at No. 18 in the class rankings with a class that includes four ESPN 300 prospects. Rutgers is loading up at the skill positions with wide receivers No. 113 overall Saeed Blacknall (Manalapan, N.J./Manalapan) and No. 136 Adonis Jennings (Erial, N.J./Timber Creek Regional), along with running back and No. 286 Jonathan Hilliman (Jersey City, N.J./Saint Peter's Prep). Three-star playmaker Isaiah McKenzie (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage) and wide Kendrick Edwards (Miami/Norland) are two out of the Sunshine State the Scarlet Knights covet.

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SEC recruiting class rankings 

October, 16, 2013
Each Wednesday, ESPN RecruitingNation updates its national class rankings and its conference rankings.

The top class in the SEC is also the top class in the nation. Alabama leads a conference where 13 of the 14 members have classes ranked in the top 40 nationally. Tennessee, which recently added a verbal from in-state ESPN 300 DE Derek Barnett, joins Georgia in the top five of the national rankings. Those two are second and third in the SEC. As a conference, the SEC has more than 80 ESPN 300 prospects committed to its member programs.

1. Alabama, 21 commits: The Crimson Tide sit atop the RecruitingNation class rankings with a class that features 15 ESPN 300 prospects, including most recent commitment Ronnie Clark (Calera, Ala./Calera), the No. 96 overall prospect. Alabama remains in the hunt for several five-star prospects, including No. 1 overall Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine) and No. 9 Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover).

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Weekly Commitment Roundup

August, 16, 2013
American Athletic Conference
Saeed Blacknall WR Manalapan, N.J./Manalapan
HT: 6-3 WT: 205
Positional Rank: #14 WR
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (#113)

Jonathan Hilliman RB Jersey City, N.J./Saint Peter's Prep
HT: 6-1 WT: 202
Positional Rank: #25
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (#286)

Southern Methodist
William Jeanlys WR Boca Raton, Fla./Pope John Paul II
HT: 6-1 WT: 169
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Zach Muniz CB Saint Louis/Christian Brothers
HT: 5-11 WT: 165
Positional Rank: #63 CB
Stars: 3

Florida State
Rick Leonard DE Middletown, Del./Middletown
HT: 6-6 WT: 250
Positional Rank: #34 DE
Stars: 3

North Carolina
Josh Cabrera WR Jacksonville, N.C./Northside
HT: 6-2 WT: 185
Positional Rank: #108 WR
Stars: 3

Wake Forest
Jaylan Barbour WR Monroe, N.C./Monroe
HT: 5-10 WT: 164
Positional Rank: #72 WR
Stars: 3

Big 12
K.D. Cannon WR Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant
HT: 6-0 WT: 163
Positional Rank: #5 WR
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (#46)

Verkedric Vaughns CB Mesquite, Texas/Poteet
HT: 5-9 WT: 168
Positional Rank: #59 CB
Stars: 3

Oklahoma State
Keenen Brown WR Houston/Alief Taylor
HT: 6-3 WT: 205
Positional Rank: #61 WR
Stars: 4

Chris Hardeman CB Houston/Alief Taylor
HT: 5-8 WT: 190
Positional Rank: #23 CB
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (#285)

Reggie Hemphill WR Manvel, Texas/Manvel
HT: 6-2 WT: 168
Class of 2016

Texas Tech
Jah'Shawn Johnson S Ennis, Texas/Ennis
HT: 5-9 WT: 170
Positional Rank: #118 S
Stars: 3

Big Ten
Jared Wangler OLB Warren, Mich./De La Salle
HT: 6-1 WT: 205
Positional Rank: #64 OLB
Stars: 3

Arizona State
Dasmond Tautalatasi ATH Concord, Calif./De La Salle
HT: 6-0 WT: 183
Positional Rank: #152 ATH
Stars: 3

Devante Downs AT Mountlake Terrace, Wash./Mountlake Terrace
HT: 6-2 WT: 225
Positional Rank: #25 ATH
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (#209)

Sam Bennion DE Logan, Utah/Logan
HT: 6-5 WT: 250
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Jase Franke DE Ventura, Calif./Saint Bonaventure
HT: 6-3 WT: 246
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Oregon State
Ryan Nall ATH Portland, Ore./Central Catholic
HT: 6-2 WT: 225
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Joey Alfieri OLB Portland, Ore./Jesuit
HT: 6-2 WT: 230
Positional Rank: #51 OLB
Stars: 3

Bobby Okereke ATH Tustin, Calif./Foothill
HT: 6-1 WT: 213
Positional Rank: #92 ATH
Stars: 3

Kirk Tucker S Tucker, Ga./Tucker
HT: 6-2 WT: 185
Positional Rank: #51 S
Stars: 3

Jeremy McNichols WR Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic
HT: 5-10 WT: 180
Positional Rank: #121 WR
Stars: 3

Ross Pierschbacher OG Cedar Falls, Ia./Cedar Falls
HT: 6-4 WT: 269
Positional Rank: #1 OG
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (#48)
Under Armour All-American

Jared Cornelius WR Shreveport, La./Evangel Christian
HT: 6-1 WT: 190
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Armon Watts DT Saint Louis/Christian Brothers
HT: 6-4 WT: 275
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Nolan Kelleher OG Mount Pleasant, S.C./Wando
HT: 6-5 WT: 310
Positional Rank: #17 OG
Stars: 4

Chris Lammons ATH Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Plantation
HT: 5-10 WT: 171
Positional Rank: #10 ATH
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (#85)

Ermon Lane WR Homestead, Fla./Homestead
HT: 6-2 WT: 196
Positional Rank: #2 WR
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (#28)
Under Armour All-American

Quincy Wilson S Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School of Nova South
HT: 6-1 WT: 197
Positional Rank: #12 S
Stars: 4

Stepfawn Hughes ATH Fort Worth, Texas/Dunbar
HT: 5-8 WT: 167
Positional Rank: #66 ATH
Stars: 3

Ole Miss
Gary Wunderlich K Memphis, Tenn./University
HT: 6-0 WT: 180
Positional Rank: #2 K
Stars: 3
Under Armour All-American

DaVonte Lambert DT Milledgeville, Ga./Georgia Military College
HT: 6-2 WT: 275
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Brigham Young
Cedric Dale RB Carrollton, Texas/Hebron
HT: 5-8 WT: 168
Positional Rank: #82 RB
Stars: 3

Nick Kurtz WR El Cajon, Calif./Grossmont College
HT: 6-6 WT: 205

Conference USA
East Carolina
Alex Evans DE Silver Spring, Md./Springbrook
HT: 6-6 WT: 215

Shaun James DE Virginia Beach, Va./Green Run
HT: 6-4 WT: 235

Maassidiq Walton ILB Virginia Beach, Va./Ocean Lakes
HT: 6-3 WT: 250

Laderrick Hammond S Louisville, Ga./Jefferson County
HT: 6-1 WT: 175

V.J. Banks CB Bryan, Texas/Bryan
HT: 6-1 WT: 174

RaeJuan Marbley OLB Destrehan, La./Destrehan
HT: 5-11 WT: 222
Positional Rank: # 100 OLB
Stars: 3

John Cole Neph WR Owasso, Okla./Owasso
HT: 6-3 WT: 205
Positional Rank: # 151 WR
Stars: 3

Cameron Oliver TE-Y Owasso, Okla./Owasso
HT: 6-4 WT: 230

Mid-American Conference
Drew Phillips ATH Santa Clarita, Calif./College of the Canyons
HT: 6-0 WT: 184

Kent State
Shane Hynes K Clarkston, Mich./Clarkston
HT: 5-9 WT: 145

Mountain West
Air Force

Hayden Owen OG Lindale, Ga./Pepperell
HT: 6-2 WT: 285

San Jose State
Ian Fieber QB-PP Mission Viejo, Calif./Mission Viejo
HT: 6-2 WT: 187
Positional Rank: # 30 QB-PP
Stars: 3

Sun Belt Conference
Jordan Davis QB-PP Spring, Texas/Klein Oak
HT: 6-6 WT: 163

Anthony Jones TE-Y New Orleans/Edna Karr
HT: 6-6 WT: 231
Positional Rank: #14 TE-Y
Stars: 3

South Alabama
Caleb Butler DE Enterprise, Ala./Enterprise
HT: 6-3 WT: 230

First Big 12 offer big for 2015 WR 

July, 24, 2013
At 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, Carlos Strickland (Dallas/Skyline) physically is everything a college coach looks for in a wide receiver.

SMU was the first to take a chance on the rising 2015 receiver, making a scholarship offer. On Tuesday, Strickland earned his first Big 12 offer as Oklahoma State entered the race.

“I feel really good; I feel accomplished,” Strickland said. “I’m finally getting noticed for my play. It felt really good getting it.”

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2015 two-way standout Sam Tecklenburg (Plano, Texas/Plano) has heard all about his father’s college football career. Kerry Tecklenburg was a standout linebacker at Texas Tech in the 1980s, and in 1983, he earned the program’s Dell Morgan Memorial Courage Award.

So when Sam picked up a Texas Tech offer after last week’s satellite camp in Lancaster, Texas, it was special knowing that, if it is his decision, he could follow his father’s footsteps. Tecklenburg has three offers, SMU and Tulsa included.

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Lessons Learned: Camp of Conquerors 

June, 15, 2013
HornDamon Sayles/ESPNMesquite Horn won the Camp of Conquerors 7-on-7 Tournament.

CEDAR HILL, Texas -- The second annual Mike Adams Camp of Conquerors 7-on-7 tournament featured 13 of the top 7-on-7 teams in the Dallas area on Saturday. The tournament, put on by the NFL defensive back, gives the opportunity to win $5,000 for the winning 7-on-7 program.

Early Saturday evening, Mesquite (Texas) Horn defeated Cedar Hill to walk away with the championship.

Here is what we learned after the event:

Horn WR the talk of the tournament

Horn all spring has shown that it’s more than quarterback Destri White, Rice cornerback commit Jorian Clark and a talented group of linemen that features Baylor commit Andrew Morris and 2015 standout offensive tackle Conner Dyer. On Saturday, Del’Michael High reminded everyone of just how good he is.

High, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound wide receiver, was borderline unstoppable throughout the tournament, and he was a big reason why Horn went undefeated. In the championship game against Cedar Hill, High was able to score wins in several one-on-one battles, some featuring talented Oklahoma cornerback commit Marcus Green.

High hasn’t been on the recruiting radar, but he showed tools of being one of the top receivers in the state on Saturday. He admittedly said that part of his lack of recruiting exposure might be because of academics, but he added that he’s been focused more than ever to make sure his work off the field is as solid as his work on it.

Bishop Dunne DB targets going both ways

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Recruiting is the lifeblood of every program in the country, and every conference has its own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to landing top prospects. In the start of a weeklong series, we'll examine the BCS conferences, plus Notre Dame, to find each's strength, the biggest obstacle each faces and the overall view of the conference. The Big East is up today.

Biggest obstacle: Perception. Although the Big East is an automatic qualifying conference for a BCS bowl game (for now), it is not perceived the same way by prospective recruits as the other five BCS conferences. The departure of Pitt, Syracuse and West Virginia did not help its cause, either. Adding quality mid-major programs with more of a national layout has not enhanced the image. You can claim you are a BCS conference, but if the top players in the country don't buy it, there is a ceiling that will be tough to raise. With the departures and additions, this conference is perceived to be more of a glorified mid-major.

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HOUSTON — Trey Roberts hasn't had too many opportunities to play cornerback, his future position at Oklahoma State.

That's because the 2014 athlete from Houston Eisenhower plays quarterback for the Eagles. But on Saturday, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound prospect, who committed to the Cowboys on Wednesday, got a chance to perform defensive back drills with his future position coach, cornerbacks coach Van Malone, during the Mary Hardin-Baylor/Oklahoma State satellite camp at Cypress Ridge High School.

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Lessons learned: ETSN Combine 

May, 19, 2013
TYLER, Texas -- East Texas often is considered one of the nation’s most underrated areas in finding elite talent when it comes to college football recruiting. Sunday featured the inaugural East Texas Sports Network combine, which showcased more than 100 players from East Texas.

The event took place at the Accelerate Performance Enhancement Center (APEC) training facility, which has trained professionals such as quarterback Graham Harrell, running back Kendall Hunter and pro baseball pitchers Phillip Humber and Josh Tomlin.

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If you were to search the Houston area's receiving leaders for 2012, Ishmael Zamora's name isn't easy to find.

That hasn't stopped college coaches from finding the Houston Elsik 2014 receiver, though.

While he doesn't have eye-popping stats, in part because of the run-heavy offense he plays in, Zamora is discovering that schools are noticing his talent anyway.

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For DB Dixon, size doesn't matter 

April, 28, 2013
Defensive back Derrick Dixon (Dallas/Skyline) understands the purpose of 7-on-7 football, but, because of the kind of player he is, he has never truly enjoyed it.

“You can’t hit anybody,” Dixon said. “That’s me. I’m going to hit you.”

Those are words often uttered by many safeties, and Dixon’s impressive hitting ability has attracted several schools across the country. He has offers from TCU, Texas Tech, West Virginia, Washington State and SMU.

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While the RecruitingNation Top 10 from the B2G 7v7 Elite 16 Tournament featured the top performers from the weekend, there were plenty of other players who put together big weekends and find themselves on the recruiting boards of Pac-12 programs.

Quinn Smith
2014, Carlsbad (Calif.) La Costa Canyon |TE| 6-foot-5, 235 pounds

Smith jumped out simply based on his size, but the big tight end also showed why programs across the country have him on their radar. He holds an FCS offer from Eastern Illinois, but it might not be long before he breaks into the FBS ranks. His father attended Arizona and the Wildcats, who have expressed serious interest, would become the prohibitive favorite if an offer was extended. Smith also has heard from Air Force, Boise State, Colorado, Colorado State, Michigan, Nebraska, Stanford, UCLA, Washington, Washington State and Wisconsin. He plans to camp this summer at Stanford, and said both the Cardinal and Bruins are waiting for his SAT score to come in before discussing an offer. However it's unlikely that Smith, who sports a 4.3 GPA, will be tripped up by academics while working to get to the next level.

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Height no issue for SMU QB pledge 

April, 10, 2013
ALLEN, Texas -- If it's left up to him, Houston Lamar 2014 quarterback Darrell Colbert Jr. isn't going to be defined by his height.

If he has any say, it will be his play that people will talk about. Some have already noticed. SMU noticed enough to offer Colbert a scholarship and he rewarded the Mustangs for being the first to do so by committing when attending the Mustangs' junior day earlier this year.

Over the weekend at the Elite 11 Dallas regionals and the Dallas Nike Football Training Camp, Colbert set out to showcase his skills and why head coach June Jones and his staff felt it appropriate to target the accomplished signal-caller, who led his Redskins to the Texas Class 5A Division I championship game in 2012.

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