NCF On The Trail: 2014-signing-day-analysis

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South Carolina has done well producing NFL-caliber defensive backs, and the Gamecocks might have signed another potential candidate. Four-star cornerback Wesley Green (Lithonia, Ga./Martin Luther King), ranked No. 120 overall in the ESPN 300, signed with South Carolina on Wednesday.


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Five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) made an official visit to Georgia over the weekend, and that was enough to put the Bulldogs over the top.

The 6-foot-5, 238-pound athlete announced Wednesday that he will sign with Georgia. The No. 14-ranked player in the country chose the Bulldogs over Florida, LSU and FSU.


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ESPN 300 defensive lineman Dexter Wideman (Saluda, S.C./Saluda), who had been committed to Florida State since July, announced Wednesday that he will instead sign with South Carolina. The No. 179-ranked player took his official visit to FSU last weekend, but his desire to stay at home was just too strong in the end.

[+] EnlargeDexter Wideman
Miller Safrit/ESPNESPN 300 DL Dexter Wideman flipped his commitment from Florida State to South Carolina.
The 6-foot-4, 275-pound athlete has the size to move inside but the athleticism to stay at defensive end. He will join another ESPN 300 defensive lineman in Dante Sawyer (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett). Three-star defensive tackle Blake McClain (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood), like Wideman, flipped his commitment to South Carolina from another school, Nebraska.

With development, Wideman has a chance to make an impact at South Carolina.

“[Wideman is] capable of being disruptive with quick penetration,” his RecruitingNation scouting report reads Insider. "A physical kid who can be violent with his hands, has the strength to push blockers aside and when he stays low he can be a tough and stout run defender.”

The Gamecocks now have 20 committed or signed players, including nine in the ESPN 300, and are still awaiting word from ESPN 300 defensive back Wesley Green (Lithonia, Ga./Martin Luther King), who is set to make his decision later Wednesday.

Long Beach (Calif.) Poly's John "Juju" Smith, who is rated as the No. 3 athlete in the 2014 class and the No. 24 player in the ESPN 300, committed to USC over Oregon, Notre Dame and UCLA on Wednesday.


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Georgia Tech landed its first nationally ranked prospect in three years on Wednesday when ESPN 300 athlete Myles Autry (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) signed with the Yellow Jackets.

Autry, No. 249 in the ESPN 300, joins his brother Anthony, who signed with the Yellow Jackets in 2012, in Atlanta.


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Being the leadoff visit isn’t always a good thing in recruiting. A school and coaching staff can make a good first impression, but those do not last long when a recruit lines up more visits just days before signing day.

But Gus Malzahn and Auburn made a big enough impression on ESPN 300 defensive end Andrew Williams (McDonough, Ga./Eagles Christian Landing) the weekend of Jan. 17, and the Tigers staved off late pushes from Clemson and Georgia to land Williams' signature. Williams is No. 174 in the ESPN 300.

Overall, it was an up-and-down signing day for the Tigers, who signed Williams and Braden Smith, but missed on local talent and No. 2 outside linebacker Rashaan Evans.


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Oklahoma recently took over the top spot in the Big 12 class rankings, and it padded its lead Wednesday when ESPN 300 athlete Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif./Central East) gave his verbal pledge to the Sooners. He confirmed his choice on Twitter.

The No. 6 player in the state of California and the No. 9 athlete in the country, Quick chose Oklahoma over Notre Dame, Alabama, USC and several other programs. He is No. 75 in the ESPN 300.


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The wait is finally over for Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra), who entered Wednesday as the top uncommitted prospect in the country.

Jackson, the No. 9 overall prospect and No. 3 cornerback in the nation, was able to keep just about everyone guessing until the moment of his signing day announcement, when he declared that he will join the USC Trojans this fall.


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Donte Thomas-Williams (Durham, N.C./Hillside) was expected to choose West Virginia on Wednesday, and the ESPN 300 running back didn't disappoint the Mountaineers.

Thomas-Williams becomes the program’s 22nd commit and the fifth ESPN 300 member of the class. The 6-foot, 217-pound running back chose West Virginia over Vanderbilt, North Carolina State and Florida State, among others.


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video Chris Lammons (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Plantation), the No. 86-ranked player in the country, announced Wednesday that he will sign with South Carolina. The four-star athlete, a former Florida commit, chose the Gamecocks over Wisconsin.


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The Oregon staff held its collective breath as four-star safety Mattrell McGraw (River Ridge, La./John Curtis) contemplated a second January visit to Texas A&M. McGraw, ranked No. 194 overall in the ESPN 300, looked back on his December official visit to Oregon, however, and decided a trip to College Station was unnecessary. On Wednesday, he committed to the Ducks on ESPNU.


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A week before signing day, Florida State had visions of putting together the best receiver class in the country. With No. 2 receiver Ermon Lane and No. 6 receiver Travis Rudolph signed to the Seminoles by noon, Jimbo Fisher was waiting on just one more.

Ja’Von Harrison (Lakeland, Fla./Kathleen) gave Fisher the last signature he was looking for, flipping from Virginia Tech in favor of the in-state Seminoles. Harrison, an ESPN 300 athlete, will play receiver in Tallahassee.

It is a signing day coup for the Seminoles, as their interest in Harrison, No. 117 in the ESPN 300, grew earlier this month. Florida State was able to get Harrison on campus for an official visit the weekend of Jan. 17, and that is when he began contemplating a flip to Florida State.

With the losses of Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw, the Seminoles are looking for a few freshmen to possibly play early in 2014. With the Seminoles projecting the 6-foot-1, 190-pound athlete as a receiver, Harrison will compete with Lane and Rudolph to avoid a redshirt season and contribute as a freshman.

Receivers C.J. Worton and JoJo Robinson parted ways with FSU leading up to signing day. Top-rated receiver Malachi Dupre chose LSU over Florida State on Wednesday.

For the Hokies, signing day has not been kind. Coach Frank Beamer was hoping for a handful of four-star commitments but landed only Isaiah Ford. Harrison visited Blacksburg, Va., the weekend after his trip to Florida State, but Beamer was unable to pull Harrison away from the Seminoles.
Signing day has been a complete turnaround from the Under Armour All-America Game for LSU, as the Tigers missed on a few elite recruits. But they put the finishing touches on another recruiting win when defensive tackle Travonte Valentine (Hialeah, Fla./Champagnat Catholic), who is ranked No. 164 in the ESPN 300, signed with LSU.


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ESPN 300 defensive tackle Nifae Lealao (Sacramento, Calif./Capital Christian) gave some much-needed punch to Vanderbilt's recruiting class on Wednesday.

The nation's No. 243 overall prospect and No. 20 defensive tackle committed to the Commodores, helping new coach Derek Mason salvage some of a recruiting class that was decimated by the departure of James Franklin to Penn State.


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ESPN 300 defensive tackle Poona Ford (Hilton Head Island, S.C./Hilton Head) was a fan of Charlie Strong and his staff at Louisville -- so much so that he decided to follow them to the Big 12.

Ford signed with Texas and gave the Longhorns their eighth ESPN 300 player in the 2014 class. The 6-foot, 285-pound defensive tackle chose Texas over Missouri and Purdue.

Ranked No. 266, Ford visited Texas the weekend of Jan. 17. The Longhorns will get the No. 22 defensive tackle in the country and a player who can see valuable playing time early.


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