NCF On The Trail: Virginia Tech Hokies

Malik Jefferson's commitment could alter recruiting landscape in Texas, says one Big 12 coach. Plus, where do the Power 5 conferences stack up when it comes to ESPN 300 commitments.

Early Offer: Hokies score super sleeper 

December, 16, 2014
Dec 16
Once again, Frank Beamer has landed an under-recruited prospect with “unlimited potential.” Plus, how much progress has been made by the committee looking into whether or not there should be an early-signing period?

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The addition of No. 1 2016 TE Isaac Nauta shows that the Florida State recruiting machine shows no signs of slowing down. Plus, Tennessee continues to impress with its 2015 defensive class.

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Are four-star DT Carlos Davis and his twin, three-star tackle Khalil Davis, still committed to Nebraska? Good luck figuring that out. Plus, handicapping the finalists in advance of Josh Sweat’s Wednesday decision.

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Go ahead and debate who should have been in the inaugural College Football Playoff, but there’s no debating Bama, Oregon, FSU and OSU dominate in recruiting.

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Weekend recruiting wrap: ACC 

December, 2, 2014
Dec 2
The big visit weekend in the ACC is now in the rearview mirror with Florida State having hosted a very impressive collection of talent, and Virginia Tech playing host to the top target on the board.

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James Franklin comes up big again on the recruiting trail, playing a key role in landing talented cornerback Garrett Taylor. Plus, don’t be surprised if the silly season produces some major recruiting drama over the next two months.

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Class rankings: Nov. 5 update

November, 5, 2014
Nov 5

Three top-50 ESPN 300 prospects made commitments in the past week and sparked some changes to the class rankings. No moves were made among the top five, but one week after moving into that group Florida State strengthened its position by adding the nation's No. 5 CB, Tarvarus McFadden, to its class. After finishing third in the 2014 class rankings, the Seminoles remain very much in the running for another top-three finish.

Torrance Gibson became the 10th five-star prospect to commit and the third to join Ohio State's 2015 class. The addition of the No. 2 athlete helped the Buckeyes to push closer to the top five.

Oregon picked up a win over Stanford on Saturday and followed that with a big recruiting win after ESPN 300 DE Canton Kaumatule chose the Ducks. With its sixth ESPN 300 commit, Oregon has pushed past UCLA for the second-best class in the Pac-12.

Virginia Tech might be fighting through a three-game losing streak on the field, but in recruiting the Hokies were able make some positive strides. The Hokies landed former South Carolina commit Austin Clark, an in-state four-star OT, and moved into the top 40.

To see the full class rankings, click here.

UA jersey tour: Josh Sweat

October, 22, 2014
Oct 22
ESPN 300 defensive end Josh Sweat received his Under Armour All-America jersey on Wednesday. The No. 5 ranked prospect received the honor in front of his classmates, teammates and family and spoke about his accomplishments on and off the field.

A short video played on a projector before the ceremony, giving everyone in attendance a better look at who Sweat really is as a person.

Sweat took some time to answer a few questions to help expand on who he is, where he has been and what makes him tick.

What one player are you looking forward to competing against?: Yeah, probably the biggest person I was looking for was Martez Ivey. Great guy, I played against him at a camp and I believe that's the person I would have been going against anyway. That would be a good matchup.

If you could start a team with any other player in your class who would it be?: Give me the best corners, defensive backs and linebackers. Everybody who can cover the best so I can get to the quarterback. That's a defensive end's best friend is the secondary.

What was your earliest football memory?: Probably knocking off Oscar Smith middle school in the city championship. The middle school I went to never won a game two years before and then I came out there and we won everything in every other sport for this one year. We beat them in the city championship and now I'm at Oscar Smith high school. So I played against a lot of the guys that are my teammates now. That’s a good thing to brag about. When they bring it up, I had to brag.

Which football player did you idolize or want to be like when you were a kid?: Honestly, no one. Other than my two older brothers. I watch it more now that I'm heavy into football.

If you could take on any pro player in their sport who would it be?: I would like to race Usain Bolt. I would challenge LeBron James to try to dunk on me. I would challenge him to try to. I would also swim against Michael Phelps.

Why do you wear your number?: I wear No. 9. The person that previously wore it was a real good guy, a tight end and linebacker. But, my favorite number is 2. I always wanted to wear that number.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?: I used to video game heavily. I mostly played "Call of Duty." I play a little bit now, but not as much as I used to. I used to sit in the house and play before I was heavy on football.
Michigan commit Garrett Taylor will visit Ohio State, Penn State and Virginia Tech, but keep a close eye on the Buckeyes. Plus, LSU’s elite running back class is starting to fall apart.

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UA jersey tour: Garrett Taylor

October, 15, 2014
Oct 15
RICHMOND, Va. -- Garrett Taylor looked out at the crowd in the chapel at St. Christopher’s High School before his Under Armour All-America Game jersey presentation ceremony. At first he let out a sigh of frustration and shook his head slightly, but eventually he started to smile.

For Taylor, Wednesday’s ceremony created some bittersweet emotions. Taylor, the nation’s No. 111 player and 10th-best cornerback prospect, suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice earlier this season. The follow up surgery is keeping him off the football field for another four or five months. And while the honor of being recognized as one of the best high school football players in America makes him “thank God every day,” he also admits he’s frustrated because the injury won’t allow him to play in the prestigious all-star game.

“It's been pretty tough,” said Taylor, a longtime Michigan commitment who continues to look at Ohio State, Penn State and Virginia Tech. “All you do over the summer is lifting, running and doing all that, being with the team and getting ready for the season. Then it's gone in a second. I've had my family there keep me in good spirits.

“But I'm looking at it in a good way now. I'm taking this as an opportunity to challenge myself. I have to do everything I can to overcome it. My goal is to come back even stronger and once I do step on the field I want to prove to people I haven't lost anything. It's a chance to prove myself again.”

Unfortunately Taylor knows that chance won’t come at the UA Game, though. He will travel to the event and get to spend some time at the practices leading up to the game, but he’s disappointed he won’t get the opportunity to work with high-level coaches and against the best receivers in the country.

“That’s something I’m going to really miss,” he said. “I knew in the past they had Deion Sanders coaching and some other great coaches. I’m still going to try to learn from those guys, but I’ll just have to do it off the field. I was also hoping to challenge myself and see how I can do against some good receivers. Guess, that’ll have to wait until I get to college.”

What uniform he’ll be wearing when he does that is something that is still up in the air.

Taylor still calls himself a Michigan commitment, but he admits Brady Hoke’s uncertain future in Ann Arbor has him looking at Ohio State, Penn State and Virginia Tech. He’ll take official visits to Blacksburg on Oct. 23, Columbus on Nov. 22, and Happy Valley on Nov. 29.

“It's a little shaky up in Ann Arbor,” said Taylor, who committed to the Wolverines in March. “The program isn't where Coach Hoke wants it to be. It's definitely not where the fans want it to be. There's definitely some pressure on him. For me and my family, I want to make sure we have other options, just in case Coach Hoke gets fired, in case something goes terribly wrong this season. We want to make sure we have other options, and that's why I'm taking my officials.”
Ole Miss, Tennessee, Texas and Texas A&M are trying, but it’s going to take a lot to get Penn State defensive tackle commit Adam McLean to change his mind. Plus, James Franklin's ability to spread the Penn State brand in Washington, D.C., was on full display Monday afternoon.

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Help is on the way: ACC 

October, 8, 2014
Oct 8
Each year on the recruiting trail, schools are met with needs that need to be addressed to shore up depth issues both immediately and down the line. With four months until national signing day for the class of 2015, many teams have addressed and met needs.

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Early Offer: Tough times ahead for UF? 

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
Recruiting in the SEC is already difficult, but the difficulty in Gainesville is about to be ratcheted up even more as rival recruiters are already pressuring Florida recruits to reconsider. Plus, it was clear Saturday night that Oregon needs help on the offensive line, but the good news is that help is on the way.

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Video: No. 1 heads to Blacksburg

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19

National recruiting reporter Gerry Hamilton lists several ESPN 300 recruits who plan to visit Blacksburg for Virginia Tech’s game against Georgia Tech, a group that includes No. 1 overall prospect Josh Sweat.