UA jersey tour: ATH Brian Cole

September, 17, 2014
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If you ask some of Brian Cole's friends and family, they would tell you they think Cole has a chance to be the best football player to come out of Saginaw. That’s saying a lot since the Michigan city is home to some big-name football players, including current NFL player LaMarr Woodley among others.

Cole has ties to many of the former players from his hometown, including Michigan State receiver DeAnthony Arnett and former NFL player Stuart Schweigert. Cole doesn’t know Woodley personally, but he did get the opportunity to speak with him at an arena football game earlier in the year.

“LaMarr was teaching me about life and football,” he said. “We talked for a little while about everything. It was before I was committed to Michigan, so we didn’t talk about Michigan really.”

The ESPN 300 prospect was presented with his Under Armour All-America jersey on Wednesday and is the first from his hometown to play in the prestigious game.

“It’s just a blessing,” he said. “It’s real exciting and I’m just really thankful for this opportunity.”
If you could start a team with any player in your class, who would it be? I don’t really pay attention to recruiting that much. I would pick Alex Malzone; I'm the closest with him. I need that go-to guy at quarterback so I’d go with him.

What is your first football memory? My first Lions game, running on the field. I got selected for the halftime show. I was about five and I won, we had to do a relay race, put different clothes on and the big shoes. I was a size four an they were a size 13. Me and my dad walked in and some big, tall guy asked us if we wanted to be in the halftime show, I didn’t know what was going on but I was excited.

What football player did you idolize growing up? Barry Sanders. He was good, he could do it all. Watching his highlights he was unstoppable, he could make you miss and he could do anything.

If you could take on one athlete in any sport, who would it be? I like hockey. I would take on Zdeno Chara. We play NHL video games and Chara always wins the fights in that game so that would be funny, because he's so big.

What number do you wear and why? I wear No. 1 because God is No. 1 and that’s my favorite number. I’ve talked to the Michigan coaches about the No. 1 at Michigan. I’m going to get it. I’m going to earn it, you have to earn it, but that’s my goal. I haven’t talked to Devin Funchess about it yet, but I saw that he has it.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you? I’m humble. Most people really don’t know me, so they don’t know. I don’t really talk about sports, either, unless people ask me. I like hockey, too. I was always an active kid and all my friends had ice rinks in their backyards so I learned how to ice skate at a young age and I would always rollerblade and play hockey. I wish I knew how to play hockey.

Video: Class Ranking Sept. 17 update

September, 17, 2014
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National recruiting analyst Craig Haubert breaks down updates to the ESPN class rankings for 2015 football recruiting.

5-star DE Jefferson out for season

September, 17, 2014
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Five-star defensive end CeCe Jefferson, the No. 7 player in the ESPN 300, will miss the remainder of his senior year after suffering a shoulder injury in a game on Friday night. Jefferson posted the news on his Facebook page and Twitter account and later confirmed the news with ESPN.com.

"I must say, I've had a pretty good career as a Wildcat over the past three years. Unfortunately things happen to the best of us, lol,” his Facebook post read. "But all jokes aside, for those of you who weren't at the game last Friday, I was injured on the fourth play which resulted in my senior season coming to an end a little bit early."



Jefferson continued on Facebook: "I just want to say thank you to the community and wildcat nation for being there for me over my high school tenure, I love y'all. I guess I can get an early start on my coaching career haha, btw all district games, lets encourage our boys to bring it home -- CJ7 wildcat for life.”

The talented athlete has visited Florida for the first three weeks of the year, including this past Saturday after he had already suffered the injury. Jefferson will take an unofficial visit to Florida State this weekend when the Seminoles take on the Hurricanes.

Jefferson is planning to visit UCLA and Alabama but is unsure of the dates for those visits. He is the No. 4 defensive end in the country behind Josh Sweat, Byron Cowart and Terry Beckner Jr.

#SceneAndHeard Lunch Break: Sept. 17 

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It’s time to take a look at some of the top committed prospects being placed on “Flip Watch." To date, more than 25 prospects in the 2015 ESPN 300 have decommitted or flipped their commitments. As signing day inches closer, expect that number to increase to over 35 with more than 40 possible.

Here are a handful of more than 15 to watch in the coming weeks and months:

No. 238 Pat Allen, OT
Commitment: Georgia
The Bulldogs verbal made an official visit to Oklahoma last weekend and came away impressed as expected. The offensive tackle with a 6-foot-10 wingspan will visit Michigan Sept. 26 followed by trips to Tennessee Oct. 3 and Arkansas Oct. 10 before concluding his visits with a trip to Athens Nov. 14 when the Bulldogs play host to Auburn. While I still like Georgia’s chances, I wouldn’t characterize this as a solid commitment at this point.

Flip percentage: 40 percent

UA jersey tour: ATH Kerryon Johnson

September, 17, 2014
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ESPN 300 athlete Kerryon Johnson was presented with his Under Armour All-America Game jersey Wednesday morning in a ceremony. The ceremony took place in front of family, friends, teammates and classmates in the school gymnasium at Madison (Ala.) Academy.

The Under Armour All-America game, which will be played on Jan. 2, 2015, at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN2, will feature some of the top recruits from all over the country. Johnson said he was honored to be selected to arguably the top high school All-American game in the country.

“I'm just really looking forward to the opportunity to play in the Under Armour game,” Johnson said, "and going down to Orlando and competing and having fun with some of the best players in the country. It's an honor to be in this game.”

Johnson sent Twitter in to a frenzy the first week of the year when he hurdled a defender and continued to run for a touchdown in a game that was televised on ESPNU. Unfortunately for Johnson the spectacular play was called back because in Alabama it is illegal to hurdle over a defender.

“Yeah the rule is if a defender has both feet on the ground you are not allowed to hurdle over him,” Johnson laughed. “I did it like five times last year and it was only called once, I didn't get away with this one, though.”



Despite being committed to Auburn as a running back since April, this talented athlete is still being pursued by several top schools.

"A couple of teams still talk to me — Alabama still does probably the most out of anyone else,” Johnson said. "A couple more do, too, but it's nothing too bad at all. I'll still take my official visits but yeah I'm definitely still solid. I'll still take officials to FSU, Alabama and Auburn though."



Eight questions with Kerryon Johnson

Who is one player you are looking forward to competing against?
Johnson: Oh wow, that's a tough question. I'm not really sure of just one player, there is going to be tons of talent there that you don't get to see in Alabama every day. So really I'm just looking forward to getting around all the guys there and just being around guys that are equally as athletic as me, equally as good as me and having work to get past those guys.

If you were to start a team with any other player in your class, who would it be?
Johnson: It would probably be Torrance Gibson or Martez Ivey. Gibson is such a versatile athlete. He can throw and run really good, his accuracy is great and he's a smart player. He's a guy I've never met or even talked to before but I've watched him before and I think he's a real game changer.

Who is the best player to ever play in the Under Armour game that you know of?
Johnson: I'm going to probably have to go with Julio Jones. He was incredible.

What is your earliest football memory?
Johnson: It was probably in flag football. I actually played center and they let me play quarterback on one play and I went 70 yards for a touchdown and it got called back for a holding penalty.

Which football player did you idolize or be like when you were a kid?
Johnson: I used to go back and watch Barry Sanders all the time was a kid just because of how dynamic and elusive he is. Then when Adrian Peterson burst on the scene at Oklahoma I really liked how he played and watched him a lot.

If you could take on any pro player in their sport, who would it be?
Johnson: Dwayne Wade. He's my favorite athlete overall. I'd definitely like to go one-one-one with him. I think i'd definitely lose. I'd battle with him but I think he'd come out on top.

What number do you wear?
Johnson: No. 1. Jordan Matthews went to my school and wore it before me. That was the number I wore my eighth grade year in middle school so I just wanted to keep that number and continue the legacy of that number and keep wearing it.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Johnson: I don't actually like big crowds of people. I kind of get shy around crowds. All of my life I've been a low key person and most of my family is like that. But it kind of comes with football so I'm going to have to get used to it.

Recruits weigh in on the Big Ten 

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It’s a vicious cycle. You have to win to get the right recruits, and you have to get the right recruits to win. That’s the merry-go-round the Big Ten conference is currently on, and depending on who you ask, recruits have varying opinions on the conference.

Prospects from the North tend to believe the conference is still in the upper echelon, while a good amount of Southern recruits would say quite the opposite.

The Big Ten has an overall record of 24-14 with only two undefeated teams left, compared to the SEC with eight undefeated teams. The Big Ten also has the lowest winning percentage (63 percent) this season for any Power 5 conference, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

You could argue that there is a direct correlation to those wins and losses when comparing the number of big-name commitments as well. The SEC currently has 87 ESPN 300 prospects committed where the Big Ten has 27.

An ESPN 300 prospect from the South who wished to remain anonymous believes part of the Big Ten’s problems on the field and recruiting have to do with geography and coaching.

“The recruiting areas from the North and Midwest aren’t really a hotbed for recruiting. Plus, other than Ohio State or maybe Michigan, there’s not really any big cities or things you can sell recruits on outside of the university,” he said. “Like what does a kid from Florida do at some of those places? Plus, getting a well-known coach like Urban Meyer is a big reason why kids down here like Ohio State.

“They know he can turn things around there and they’ll win. They need to get bigger-name coaches where kids can say, 'Yeah, I know him and I know he’ll get me ready for the NFL.'"

That isn’t the sentiment for every prospect, but plenty of other Southern ESPN 300 recruits agreed with this thinking.

The Northern prospects interviewed did believe the conference is top-heavy with a few teams in the national championship conversation every year, but they had different thoughts on the outlook as a whole.


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Numbers tell us it’s USC that rules the roost over the years with the top-ranked prospects in California. Plus, UCLA has officially signed Josh Rosen, the Bruins’ most important recruit in years, to a financial aid agreement.

1. Since ESPN started ranking players in 2006, only four different schools have signed the top player in California. Those four schools are USC, Colorado, Washington and Notre Dame. You could say five if you count Eddie Vanderdoes as a Bruin signee in the 2013 class, but he did ink with Notre Dame on signing day and later transferred to UCLA. During that timeframe, though, USC has signed the top California player in the 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2014 classes. The Trojans have a good shot at doing it again in 2015 as many insiders believe five-star cornerback Iman Marshall is USC’s to lose.

[+] EnlargeDeon Cain
Tom Hauck for Student SportsClemson commit Deon Cain has 184 yards passing yards and 197 yards rushing in two games.
2. There was never, ever any doubt about how solid No. 1 ranked pocket-passing quarterback Josh Rosen was to UCLA. But Rosen, the No. 19 player in the country, took his commitment to the next level on Monday when he signed a financial aid agreement with the Bruins. Rosen remains the top-ranked prospect to commit to a Pac 12 program, and in my opinion, he is also the most important recruit in the conference with the Bruins’ quarterback race next season expected to be wide open since most UCLA observers believe Brett Hundley will depart for the NFL after his junior season.

3. How good has Clemson commit Deon Cain been in Tampa Bay (Florida) Tech’s first two games of the season? Cain, the nation’s No. 25 player, has been so good that Tech coach Jayson Roberts said he’s going to have to find somebody else to help do something on offense because he’s afraid he’s going to “break Deon’s back” from carrying the load. “Deon has been about 90 percent of our offense,” Roberts said. “The good thing is that he’s doing exactly what we want him to do, but the bad thing is that somebody else on the team is going to have to step up to help him out. But he’s been doing a tremendous job for us.” So far, Cain has 184 yards passing and 197 yards rushing in two games. He’s also caught a few passes and is returning punts and kickoffs. “He’s doing everything but driving the bus for us,” Roberts said.

Social Studies
There’s little doubt as to which school ESPN 300 quarterback Sheriron Jones is committed to. Check out the picture he posted Tuesday on his birthday.



Schools tweet posts like this one sent out by Baylor Tuesday and fans think they’re meant for them. Wrong. Tweets like these are meant to impress recruits and what’s scary is that the Bears have another good receiver in the 2015 class heading to Waco. Don’t forget about ESPN 300 receiver longtime Baylor commit Devontre Stricklin. He’s got the talent to be a huge impact player for the Bears.



The Under Armour All-America jersey tour continued on Tuesday with Auburn offensive line commitment Bailey Sharp receiving his jersey on Tuesday. To read more about the tour check out RecruitingNation’s coverage.


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UA jersey tour: OT Bailey Sharp

September, 16, 2014
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ESPN 300 offensive lineman Bailey Sharp was presented with his Under Armour All-America Game jersey Tuesday afternoon in a ceremony sponsored by American Family Insurance. The ceremony took place in front of family, friends, teammates and classmates on the campus of Sprayberry High in Marietta, Georgia.

Sprayberry head coach Billy Shackelford can't say enough about Sharp as a student and person of high quality before ever getting to what makes him a top notch offensive tackle prospect.

"He's a phenomenal kid," Shackelford said. "His dad is a former coacher, teacher and administrator and his mother is a teacher and administrator. He had no option, but to be a quality student and he is. I believe he carries a 3.6 GPA or around there. He really is a phenomenal kid. He's good with younger kids, and is a role model for them. He has that ability to be nice off the field, and then turn into an animal on the field."

"On the field, he brings agility and athleticism to his position. There are a lot of big guys out there, but Bailey is a mobile athlete at tackle. He can block the edge, block on the perimeter and play in space."

Sharp committed to Auburn on April 19 over Georgia, Notre Dame and South Carolina. He comes from a football family with his father having played collegiately at Southern Mississippi, as well as coaching many years at the high school level.

Eight questions with Bailey Sharp

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

Sharp: I haven't really studied the roster in terms of the defensive linemen. I'm really just excited for the opportunity to play in the Under Armour Game, and look forward to going against all of the best players. I'm not calling anybody out yet [laughing]. It's just a great opportunity.

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

Sharp: I think that Tyler Queen is a big time quarterback and has excellent leadership qualities in a quarterback. I expect him to do great things in college football. He would be my pick.

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

Sharp: I would probably say A.J. Green. He's a phenomenal player and seems like a really good guy on and off the field. I haven't watched them all, but last year's game with the uniforms got me really excited at the thought of having the chance to play in the game.

What is your earliest football memory? What about college football?

Sharp: When I was really younger I remember watching Lee Ziemba at Auburn. I watched him thinking he was mobile and athletic on the line. I remember thinking I want to be like him one day.

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

Sharp: I usually just watched college football games. I watched the offensive lines and the skill they played with. I guess it would be Greg Robinson when he was at Auburn. I thought he was a great college football offensive lineman and player.

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

Sharp: I would probably go with Nick Fairley. I would just like to see how and why he was so hard to handle for college offensive linemen.

What number do you wear and why?

Sharp: I wear 67 in high school, and hope to wear it in college, too. My dad wore 87 in college at Southern Miss, and the six and eight on some jerseys look a lot alike so I picked 67 [laughing].

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

Sharp: It would be the most excitement a person will see me with is when I am at the beach. It's just the basking in the sun, and spending fun times with friends and family.

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



OK, I’ll use states as a whole here as well as regions.

1. Alabama: The entire state has been phenomenal going back to the 2006 class. Georgia gets more hype, but you could argue the state of Alabama has had a sensational success rate when compared to any of the other notable states, including Florida. Go back over the last several years and look at the guys who have come out of Alabama and how they have panned out.

2. The Carolinas: Both South Carolina and North Carolina might, at worst, be top heavy, but at best they’re becoming more stocked top to bottom over recent years, especially when it comes to offensive and defensive linemen.

3. Jacksonville: Miami and the surrounding counties get all the hype for the state of Florida, but Jacksonville has really begun to make a push in a wide range of positions.

4. Mobile: I know I mentioned Alabama as a state, but this is a hot spot for a smaller metro region. Nick Saban loved this area when at LSU and likes it even more now that he is in the state.

5. Phoenix and surrounding areas such as Tempe, Chandler, etc.: The numbers aren’t going to be high year in and year out, but the caliber of players has drawn interest from the entire Big 12 and Pac-12, among others. Brett Hundley, Andrus Peat and D.J. Foster come to mind recently, just to name a few as prospects from the area.

#SceneAndHeard Lunch break: Sept. 16 

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Heading into the 2014 season, this was the year that Ole Miss needed and essentially had to take the next step on the field to keep and build on the recruiting momentum Hugh Freeze and staff provided with the stellar top 5 class in 2013.

With back-to-back 3-5 seasons in the brutal SEC West, and a 15-11 record overall but seemingly headed in the right direction, the time is now to take the next step and get over the hump to show the 2015 prospects still in play and the prospects in future classes that Ole Miss is indeed positioned to compete with the best of the best for the next few years.

Sitting in the top 10 of the AP poll for the first time since 2009 and only the second time since 1970, the time is now with the expectations reaching a decade high.

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Wake uses Kim K. and Photoshop to recruit

September, 16, 2014
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It isn't entirely original. As Matt Fortuna detailed in this piece last week, schools have been using graphic design and creating fake magazine covers for a while now to amuse and impress recruits.

Just a few weeks ago, Tennessee created a Rolling Stone cover with Beyonce and Shy Tuttle, one of the Vols' top targets in this year's class.

But the one Wake Forest recently sent to Class of 2015 defensive end Kengera Daniel really caught our eye.



It's safe to say this wasn't the best Photoshop we've ever seen. And fans across the country will no doubt get a chuckle from the claim that the ACC is "the real power conference in college football."

And "KimGera?" Well, we're not sure what to make of that.

But it's not us the Demon Deacons were trying to impress. It's the 6-foot-5, 240-pound senior from Raleigh, North Carolina. And apparently it worked -- even though he has no idea how the Wake staff found out he's a fan of Kim Kardashian, whom they even dressed up in the Deacons' black and gold colors.

"It did impress," Daniel told ESPN.com. "But I haven't really told anyone I was a Kim K. fan. I guess they assume all guys are. But it's a cool edit."

Will it ultimately work? We'll find out Sept. 22. That's when Daniel said he'll release his top 5 finalists.

Weekend recruiting wrap: Big Ten 

September, 16, 2014
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Penn State picked up some good news from the NCAA, which resulted in more positive news on the recruiting trail this weekend. Ohio State solidified its spot in a top target's list, and a few new offers were extended this week.

Here is a look at the latest happenings on the recruiting trail within the Big Ten.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

September, 16, 2014
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As always, there was a ton of recruiting news from around the SEC this past weekend. Ole Miss picked up a commitment, while the Rebels, Gators and Gamecocks all had big visitors for their games Saturday. Here’s a closer look at the top recruiting news from around the conference.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

September, 16, 2014
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The upcoming week for the Big 12 will be quiet, as only three games featuring conference teams will take place -- one of those occurring on Thursday. Fortunately, the conference is coming off a dynamic week of football that featured big-time commitments for Oklahoma.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

September, 16, 2014
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The early weeks of the high school and college football seasons slow things down a bit when it comes to Pac-12 recruiting. Only a handful of official visitors made their way to Pac-12 campuses, while a junior college commitment to Arizona was the first addition to the conference in nearly two weeks. But there were still interesting developments at a number of conference schools as Stanford hosted a huge visitor, UCLA made an important statement, and Colorado looked ahead to the 2016 class.


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