NCF On The Trail: 130724 tales from the road


It all happened on an unassuming September day for ESPN 300 safety Erick Smith (Cleveland/Glenville).

A shy safety out of a football factory, Smith picked up his first offer -- a big one -- from Georgia Tech.

The rest, as they say, is history; 10 months later, Smith is one of the hottest commodities on the recruiting trail.


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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- As the Jimbo Fisher Camp was ending, the coach stood in front of a bunch of prospects in a semicircle. Meanwhile, a five-star talent hung out on the field, talking to a few people and watching what was going on.

The prospect was surrounded by a couple of Florida State commitments in Kain Daub (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) and Trey Marshall (Lake City, Fla./Columbia). When you're Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover), you command that sort of attention from your peers.


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ESPN 300 athlete Chris Lammons (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Plantation) will be one of several top prospects making the trip to Gainesville for Florida's annual Friday Night Lights camp Friday.

The 5-foot-10, 171-pound athlete said he is looking forward to getting back to UF to see what all the Gators have to offer.

"I went to Friday Night Lights last year and I've been back, so this time, I'm looking forward to seeing the other players and talking to the coaches again," Lammons said. "I'm just looking forward to seeing some of the stuff I haven't seen the other times I've been there."

Lammons has narrowed his choices to five: Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and Miami and talked about each of his top schools.

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BUFORD, Ga. -- Two weeks before his birthday in May, Buford (Ga.) High School freshman tight end Isaac Nauta had thought of an obvious deal with his parents to get a new car. He was about to turn 16 and had already picked up college scholarship offers from Mississippi State, Florida, Tennessee, Auburn, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Miami, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Michigan, Ohio State, Missouri, UCF, South Carolina and Florida State.

So why not have Nauta’s folks buy him a car with the money they had put aside for his college education, considering his impending free ride?

“I thought about using that one against them before,” Nauta said. “I’ve got to wait until I get my license first.”

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Before wunderkind Nathan Tilford (Upland, Calif./Upland) stole the headlines by picking up a scholarship offer from USC without having played a single down of high school football, Class of 2016 receiver Brandon Burton (Gardena, Calif./Serra) was the talk of the local recruiting scene.


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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- When cornerback Brandon Watson (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy) and wide receiver Freddy Canteen (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy) were last in Ann Arbor, they were there to prove themselves.

They came to Michigan’s camp in July with a singular mission: to earn scholarship offers.

And they left with that mission completed, but in the midst of it all, they didn’t really do much else.


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At LSU camp, elite get defined 

July, 24, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- ESPN 300 quarterback Brandon Harris (Bossier City, La./Parkway) told anyone who would listen that he would not attend last week's LSU July Elite camp.

But at the beginning of the week, there he was, exchanging chest bumps with ESPN 300 wide receiver Trey Quinn (Lake Charles, La./Barbe) after the pair hooked up for a touchdown pass, then firing strikes to ESPN 300 athlete -- and LSU receiver target -- Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Karr).

[+] EnlargeBrandon Harris
Gary Laney/ESPN.comQuarterback Brandon Harris committed to LSU shortly after the team's July camp.
Three days later, Harris committed to LSU in an expected move after other schools on his list (Ohio State, Auburn) took commitments from other quarterbacks. Even if Harris' mind wasn't made up when he camped on that Monday morning, the assembled talent may have made it for him.


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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- When ESPN 300 safeties C.J. Hampton (Meridian, Miss./Meridian) and Laurence 'Hootie' Jones (Monroe, La./Neville) competed at Alabama’s camp last month, it was no accident that the two were placed on the same 7-on-7 team or that they worked out back-to-back in the same drills. They were around each other all week.

The UA staff strategically placed the two prospects together to form a bond that could potentially lead to a package deal for the Crimson Tide. And why not? The two are perfect complements to one another in the secondary.


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The receiver talent in Miami has been well documented. The same goes for Dallas and Los Angeles.

But Indianapolis is not typically known for producing stars out wide. The ones with the potential to be elite BCS-level receivers end up tossing a ball into a hoop rather than spiking it into the end zone. That changed with the 2014 class, though.

Four receivers from the Indianapolis area are going to nationally known programs. Justin Brent (Speedway, Ind./Speedway) committed to Notre Dame more than a year ago. Fellow ESPN 300 receivers Dominique Booth (Indianapolis/Pike) and Austin Roberts (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) just committed this week to Tennessee and UCLA, respectively. And Indianapolis Cathedral receiver Terry McLaurin worked out for Ohio State twice and gave Urban Meyer little choice but to offer him. He committed days later.


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Pitt assistant Desmond Robinson had visited plenty of high schools and prospects like this before -- the too-good-to-be-true kind.

He arrived on an early April morning in Buffalo, N.Y., an aging industrial town where wing-flipping pubs dot most street corners, to see one such prospect: a 6-foot-1, 225-pound tailback who could allegedly run a flat-4.5. See, it's not uncommon for high school coaches and recruits to fudge those numbers a little. A 6-1, 225-pound recruit might wind up actually being 5-10, 190.


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FORT WORTH, Texas -- If you don’t live in Texas, chances are, you have no idea where Gladewater, Texas, is located. Many Texans couldn’t find it on a map if given 30 seconds.

Daylon Mack laughs every time he’s questioned about his hometown: “Gladewater? Where’s that?” The east Texas town has a population of about 6,500. The high school features roughly 590 students – which dwarfs the size of some senior classes at Texas schools.


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Put it this way: if emergency rooms gave out cards to be punched after every visit, similar to a sandwich shop, Emanuel Porter (Dallas/Lincoln) would be in line for a free X-ray at the very least.

Porter suffered countless sprained ankles and even broke his wrist once.

“There was just something always going on with him,” said Vickie Porter, his mother. “Freak accident stuff. He was a little accident-prone for a while.”


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