NCF On The Trail: Toledo Rockets

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.

States of strength: Texas RBs 

May, 15, 2014
When it comes to running backs, the state of Texas is loaded. Ten running backs represent the Lone Star State in the ESPN 300. Of those 10, five are committed. A total of seven running backs in the state have reported FBS commitments.

ESPN 300 RBs from the state:

No. 50 Ronald Jones II: Ranked the nation’s No. 3 running back, Jones is an explosive, game-changing back who -- as scary as it might sound -- will only get better. Jones committed to Oklahoma State on April 6 and finished his junior season with more than 2,400 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns.

SUGAR HILL, Ga. -- With the world’s busiest airport down the road, quarterbacks from across the country flocked to the Atlanta Elite 11 regional camp on Friday at Gary Pirkle Park, including several highly regarded passers from outside the Southeast.

Part of that group was Indianapolis Decatur Central’s Tommy Stevens. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Stevens traveled more than 500 miles, but it was worth every mile because he proved he has the tools to compete with the best of the best.

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Andrew Dowell (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Edward) had the hit heard 'round Ohio during a camp this summer in Columbus.

David Dowell is the flashy wideout with offers that have landed him on the ESPN Junior 300.

No matter how fans look at it, the two brothers for St. Edward are the oars that row the boat for the Eagles.

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Just a few days after stubbing its toe on the field, the Big Ten conference will try to right the ship in the recruiting world.

Larry Scott
Brad Bournival/ESPNESPN Junior 300 running back Larry Scott will make an unofficial visit to the Horseshoe this weekend.
From official visits to commitments, here’s a look at a few programs that highlight a busy time in this week’s Big Ten storylines.

Buckeye leafs

The fact Ohio State opened as 57-point favorites against Florida A&M didn’t scare off some big unofficial visitors, as ESPN Junior 300 running back Larry Scott -- L.J. for short -- out of Hubbard (Ohio) High School will lead a group of three big names with unofficial visits to the Horseshoe.

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Freshman QB phenom ready for circus 

September, 9, 2013
Danny ClarkBrad Bournival/ESPNCollege attention is already evident for Danny Clark of Massillon, Ohio, one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2017 class.
Danny Clark (Massillon, Ohio/Washington) should be scared, but he's not.

He's a varsity starting quarterback as a freshman, but he's not fazed.

He plays his home games in a stadium that seats 16,600, a facility that has signs everywhere celebrating its 22 state championships. Massillon is where Chris Spielman, Justin Zwick, Devin Smith and Willie Spencer played, where Paul Brown and Earle Bruce coached. Harry Stuhldreher -- one of the famed Notre Dame four horsemen -- was a Tiger before he played for the Fighting Irish.

None of that frightens him, either.

OK, then. Let's add the fact he's the first freshman nonkicker to ever start for the Tigers, according to Massillon historians. Then let's put his debut on television on a statewide cable network.

Still not just a bit frightened, Danny?

"I’m not thinking about all the other stuff,” Clark said. “I know we have to win; we can’t let this town down. If I do what I’m taught to do, we’ll win every game.

“I don’t like to think about the pressure. One of the biggest things was staying calm and not letting the stadium, the lights and the fans get to me. When I’m out here I feel like I’m with my brothers. It means the world to me.”

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Weekly commitment roundup

August, 23, 2013
American Athletic
South Florida
Mazzi Wilkins CB Tampa, Fla./Plant
HT: 6-foot WT: 158 pounds
Positional Rank: #69 CB
Stars: 3

Boston College
Sherman Alston RB Montvale, N.J./St. Joseph
HT: 5-6 WT: 165
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Wake Forest
Lemar Harris QB-DT Raleigh, N.C./Millbrook
HT: 6-2 WT: 184
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Big 12
Oklahoma State
Josh Mabin ILB Spring, Texas/Klein Oak
HT: 6-1 WT: 215
Positional Rank: #13 ILB
Stars: 4

Kevin Shorter ATH Newton, Texas/Newton
HT: 6-0 WT: 188
Positional Rank: #61 ATH
Stars: 3

Texas Tech
Dakota Allen ILB Houston/Summer Creek
HT: 6-1 WT: 227
Positional Rank: #23 ILB
Stars: 3

Big Ten
Josh Jackson CB Corinth, Texas/Lake Dallas
HT: 5-11 WT: 149
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Aaron Mends ILB Kansas City/Winnetonka
HT: 6-1 WT: 204
Positional Rank: #34 ILB
Stars: 3

Ohio State
Curtis Samuel ATH Brooklyn, N.Y./Erasmus
HT: 5-11 WT: 186
Positional Rank: #51
Stars: 4

Jamardre Cobb OLB Los Angeles/Salesian
HT: 6-0 WT: 229
Positional Rank: #13 OLB
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (#185)

Marquis Ware ATH Los Angeles/Salesian
HT: 6-2 WT: 210
Positional Rank: #15 ATH
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (#120)

Arizona State
Connor Humphreys DE Portland, Ore./Central Catholic
HT: 6-3 WT: 268
Positional Rank: #23 DE
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (#249)

Armand Perry Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman
HT: 5-11 WT: 170
Positional Rank: #109 S
Stars: 3

Arrington Farrar S College Park, Ga./Woodward
HT: 6-2 WT: 189
Positional Rank: #7 S for 2015
Stars: 4
ESPN Junior 300 (#84)

Jamario Bell DE Junction City, Ark./Junction City
HT: 6-6 WT: 225
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: 3
Class of 2015

Trey Quinn WR Lake Charles, La./Barbe
HT: 6-1 WT: 200
Positional Rank: #3 WR
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (#37)

South Carolina
Terry Googer ATH College Park, Ga./Woodward
HT: 6-4 WT: 203
Positional Rank: #24 ATH
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (#206)

Texas A&M
Jay Bradford RB Splendora, Texas/Spendora
HT: 5-10 WT: 190
Positional Rank: #21 RB for 2015
Stars: 4
ESPN Junior 300 (#238)

Conference USA
East Carolina
Curtis Burston WR Apex, N.C./Middle Creek
HT: 6-2 WT: 210
Positional Rank: #158 WR
Stars: 3

Florida International
Romell Guerrier ATH Hialeah, Fla./Westland
HT: 5-11 WT: 175

Terren Enclade WR Belle Chasse, La./Belle Chasse
HT: 6-0 WT: 179

Mike Berry QB-PP Beavercreek, Ohio/Beavercreek
HT: 6-1 WT: 219

Andrew Davis WR St. Petersburg, Fla./Lakewood
HT: 6-2 WT: 180

Mountain West
San Jose State
Andre' Chachere CB Clovis, Calif./West
HT: 6-0 WT: 173

CB Zach Muniz picks Duke

August, 10, 2013
Three-star cornerback Zach Muniz (St. Louis, Mo./Christian Brothers) is on board with the Blue Devils, according to multiple reports.

Arkansas State, Ball State, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Miami-OH, New Mexico, Northern Illinois, Toledo and Western Michigan also offered the 5-foot-11, 165-pound prospect. Illinois, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas, Missouri and Northwestern expressed interest.

Muniz is commitment No. 14 for Duke.

ESPN 300 DT Poona Ford commits

August, 7, 2013
Highly-coveted defensive tackle Poona Ford (Hilton Head, S.C./Hilton Head) pledged to sign with Louisville Tuesday, according to multiple sources.

"I guess I just had a feeling. The feeling you get when you know you're welcome," he told The State. "I went up there for a visit, and they talked to me about coming in my freshman year and playing my very first game at home against Miami."

Ford selected the Cardinals over scholarship offers from Arizona, Arkansas, Boise State, Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Kansas State, Marshall, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Purdue, South Carolina, Tennessee, Toledo, UCF and Utah State.

Last fall, the 6-foot, 285-pound four-star terrorized opponents to the tune of 154 total tackles, 44 tackles for loss and 10 sacks.

Ford, ranked No. 275 nationally, is now Louisville's highest-rated defensive pledge. The Cardinals have 24 verbals for 2014.

ESPN 300 LB Davonte James decides

August, 3, 2013
Friday night, Davonte James (Springfield, Ohio/Springfield) announced his commitment to West Virginia in front of 75 friends and family at the local Quality Inn, the Springfield News Sun reports.

Cincinnati, Georgia Tech and Purdue were the ESPN 300 linebacker's other finalists. Illinois, Indiana, Marshall and Toledo also offered, while Michigan State, Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Wisconsin showed interest.

"I picked West Virginia because of the family atmosphere," he said. "When I went there they treated me just like their son. It was a great place to be, and everybody expressed that they really wanted me there."

The 6-foot-1, 233-pound prospect registered an electronically timed 5.10 40-yard dash, 4.55 20-yard shuttle, 27.1-inch vertical, 35-foot power throw and 65.43 SPARQ this spring at a Nike event.

James, ranked 236th nationally, is now West Virginia's highest-rated defensive recruit. The Mountaineers have 12 commitments.

WR Stanley Clerveaux picks USF 

August, 1, 2013
South Florida has gained a commitment from three-star wide receiver Stanley Clerveaux (North Miami, Fla./North Miami), according to multiple reports.

The 6-foot-3, 187-pound prospect also holds scholarship offers from Appalachian State, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Louisiana-Lafayette, Marshall, South Alabama, Temple, Toledo and Tulane.

This spring, he posted an electronically timed 4.59 40-yard dash, 4.41 20-yard shuttle, 32-inch vertical, 30-foot power throw and 79.17 SPARQ at a Nike event.

The Bulls' class now sits at 14.

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Bearcats add two-way lineman Ryan Stout

July, 31, 2013
Defensive end/offensive tackle prospect Ryan Stout (Sylvania, Ohio/Southview) committed to play for Cincinnati, according to multiple reports.

Akron, Bowling Green, Toledo and Western Michigan also extended scholarship offers to the 6-foot-5, 254-pound rising senior. Ball State, Indiana, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Purdue, West Virginia and Wisconsin showed interest.

Stout displayed impressive athleticism for a big man on the Nike combine circuit. He registered an electronically-timed 4.97 40-yard dash, 4.36 20-yard shuttle, 28.2-inch vertical and 78.96 SPARQ.

Cincinnati has 15 commitments for 2014.

OT Richardson commits to Kentucky

July, 31, 2013
Earlier this month, three-star offensive tackle Nick Richardson (Westerville, Ohio/Westerville Central) told ESPN RecruitingNation's Jared Shanker that he was down to Kentucky and Vanderbilt. According to multiple reports, he selected the Wildcats on Tuesday.

Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Toledo and West Virginia also extended scholarship offers to the 6-foot-4, 283-pound prospect. Nebraska and Wisconsin showed interest.

Richardson posted a 5.46 40-yard dash, 4.71 20-yard shuttle and 23-inch vertical at this year's National Under Armour All-American Combine.

The Wildcats have 22 commitments and the country's 14th-best recruiting class.

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.

Purdue lands defender Drue Tranquill

July, 24, 2013
Three-star outside linebacker / safety Drue Tranquill (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll) committed Tuesday to sign with the Boilermakers, according to the Indianapolis Star.

He selected Purdue over Cincinnati and Indiana. Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Indiana State, Miami (Ohio), Minnesota, Toledo and Western Michigan also extended scholarship offers to the 6-foot-3, 207-pound prospect. Michigan, Michigan State and Notre Dame expressed some interest.

Tranquill said during his press conference, "I believe Purdue is on the rise with this new coaching staff. A new legacy awaits."

Purdue now has eight verbals for 2014. Tranquill is the Boilermakers' highest-rated defensive pledge.