NCF On The Trail: Andrew Mike


Now that the 2014 class is in the books it’s time to take a look at which teams need to make a big splash in recruiting for the 2015 class. Below are five teams we feel have to perform well in recruiting to move forward and re-establish their programs among the college football elite. There are always peaks and valleys in recruiting, but there’s also an expectation level that some programs no matter what will always perform to a high standard and that’s not always realistic.

For these programs, it won’t just be about how good the players are that they sign in 2015; it will also be about what type of person that player is to represent the program and establish a new chemistry. These programs are laying down a new foundation, and it will be this class that will be looked back upon as one that got the ball rolling. These programs need to make the Tennessee-type splash of 2014. Just ask Ole Miss about its 2013 class and what one recruiting cycle can do to reenergize a program. We’ve closed the door on the 2014 class now, here’s to opening the door for the 2015 class. Let’s get off to a fast start shall we?

Signing day wrap: SEC

February, 5, 2014
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The Southeastern Conference had a strong finish the 2014 recruiting class. Alabama, which received a commitment from four-star outside linebacker Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) on Wednesday, finished with the top overall class by a landslide, and seven of the top 10 recruiting classes in the country are in the SEC. Here’s a closer look at some of the top news from around the SEC on national signing day.

Top class

[+] EnlargeRashaan Evans
AP Photo/Butch DillESPN 300 OLB Rashaan Evans, who chose Bama over Auburn, made a great class even better.
There is no question Alabama had the top overall class. The Crimson Tide finished with 27 signees, including 19 ranked in the ESPN 300 and five five-star prospects. In addition to the incredible class Alabama put together leading up to signing day, the Crimson Tide were also able to land Evans, the No. 52 player in the country. Evans chose Alabama over arch-rival and hometown Auburn Tigers.

The Alabama class was led by the No. 1 offensive tackle in the country, Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La./West Monroe), the No. 2-ranked defensive end Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) and the No. 2-ranked cornerback in the country Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen), who is already enrolled.

The SEC West alone had three schools, Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M, finish in the top five of the final recruiting team rankings. In all, 13 of the 14 SEC schools finished in the top 40 of the team recruiting rankings.

South Carolina, LSU and Georgia finish strong

South Carolina had arguably the best finish of any class in the SEC. The Gamecocks were able to flip ESPN 300 defensive end Dexter Wideman (Saluda, S.C./Saluda) from Florida State and defensive tackle Blake McClain (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) from Nebraska. They were also able to land ESPN 300 defensive backs Chris Lammons (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Plantation) and Wesley Green (Lithonia, Ga./Martin Luther King) giving the Gamecocks a very athletic secondary.

If South Carolina was the best, LSU wasn’t far behind. The Tigers were able to land the No. 1 wide receiver in the country Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis) and ESPN 300 defensive tackle Travonte Valentine (Hialeah, Fla./Champagnat Catholic). Dupre chose LSU over UCLA, Ole Miss, Alabama and FSU. Valentine had decommitted from three different schools – Louisville, Florida and Miami -- over the course of his recruitment before finally settling on LSU. The Tigers were also able to hang on to defensive end Davon Godchaux (Plaquemine, La./Plaquemine), who had been wavering on his commitment leading up to signing day.

Georgia, meanwhile, added five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross), who chose the Bulldogs over LSU, FSU and Florida. They also added four-star wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage). The ESPN 300 wide receiver wasn’t even considering Georgia until earlier this week, but a late offer from the Bulldogs was enough for McKenzie to pull the trigger and sign with Georgia.

Several schools lose commits

Signing day was full of surprises, including several prospects who backed off of their commitments and signed with a different school. Three-star defensive tackle Cory Thomas (McCalla, Ala./McAdory), a long-time Tennessee commit, spurned the Volunteers and signed with Mississippi State. But not all was good news for Mississippi State. Ole Miss was able to steal junior college defensive back Tee Shepard (Fresno, Calif./Holmes CC), the No. 22-ranked player in the ESPN JC 50. The Vols took another hit when three-star offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. (Duluth, Ga./Peachtree Ridge) unexpectedly signed with Oklahoma. The Volunteers, however, were able to land four-star defensive tackle Michael Sawyers (Nashville/The Ensworth School), and had the No. 5 recruiting class in the country -- one that included 11 players ranked in the ESPN 300.

Quarterback Treon Harris (Miami/Booker T. Washington) backed off his pledge to FSU and signed with Florida. Offensive tackle Andrew Mike (Tucson, Ariz./Sabino) was only a part of Vanderbilt’s class for one short day, but the three-star tackle flipped on Tuesday night and signed with Florida on Wednesday. Four-star Alabama safety commit Chris Williams (Kingsland, Ga./Camden Co.) flipped and signed with UCF because of personal family reasons. Four-star wide receiver DeSean Blair (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) flipped his commitment from Louisville and signed with Missouri.

Vanderbilt able to rebound

The Vanderbilt class may not be filled with four- and five-star prospects, but the job new head coach Derek Mason did to rebuild the Commodores’ class is nothing short of amazing. After James Franklin left to take the head coaching job at Penn State and a string of decommitments followed, Vanderbilt was down to eight verbal commitments. After an impressive few weeks of recruiting the Commodores finished with 22 signees, including 17 prospects ranked three stars or higher.

The class is led by ESPN 300 defensive tackle Nifae Lealao (Sacramento, Calif./Capital Christian) and four-star running back Dallas Rivers (Stone Mountain, Ga./Stephenson). After losing ESPN 300 quarterback Kyle Carta-Samuels to Washington, Vanderbilt was able to flip Pitt quarterback commit Wade Freebeck (Fort Lauderdale, Fla/St. Thomas Aquinas) and former ECU commit Shawn Stankavage (Raleigh, N.C./Cardinal Gibbons).

Gators flip Vanderbilt commit Mike

February, 4, 2014
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Just one short day after verbally committing to Vanderbilt, three-star offensive tackle Andrew Mike (Tuscon, Ariz./Sabino) has switched his commitment to Florida and will sign with the Gators on national signing day.

The news was first reported by the Arizona Daily Star. His head coach, Jay Campos, told the Star Mike received a "full-court press" by the Gators coaching staff.

"He was a little bummed out to tell the Vanderbilt coaches but they understood,” Campos told the Daily Star. "He's very excited and is sure he made the right decision.”

With the proper development, Mike has a chance to develop into a solid contributor on the next level.

“Mike needs to keep physically developing but shows flashes of good ability to get the job done,” his Recruiting Nation scouting report reads. “With some work he could offer multi-position versatility along the O-line."

With Mike’s commitment, the Gators now have 22 commitments, including 12 ranked in the ESPN 300.

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

January, 27, 2014
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Less than two weeks remain until national signing day, and this was the second-to-last official visit weekend before Feb. 5. There were a couple of big decommitments, a few commitments and several key official visits. Here’s a closer look at all the latest recruiting news around the SEC.


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Most important targets: SEC 

January, 8, 2014
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The Southeastern Conference already has commitments from five of the top 10 players in the country and a real possibility of landing two more before signing day. With several key targets still remaining, here’s a look at the top remaining targets in the SEC.

Alabama
CB Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover)
6-foot, 180 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 9

Humphrey is a big, athletic cornerback with great size. He would be a natural fit in Nick Saban's system. Florida State is also very much in the picture for the five-star defensive back, and with a national championship in hand, the Seminoles might have the upper hand at the moment. Alabama will have to fight to keep this dynamic defensive back from leaving the state. With his skill set, Humphrey would have a chance to play early on in his career.


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Recruit breakdown: Casey Tucker 

January, 7, 2014
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Casey Tucker (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) can be a salty presence in the offensive trenches.


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Semper Fi notebook: Day 3 

January, 3, 2014
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News and notes from Day 3 of the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.

Delp to announce on Sunday


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Breaking down USC's '14 class by position 

December, 19, 2013
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A recent string of commitments heading into the dead period has left USC with only five remaining slots in its 2014 recruiting class. The Trojans have 19 total spots to use, as long as four of them are mid-year enrollees.

Here's a position-by-position look at how USC could allocate those empty spots, with a projection of how many players at each position the Trojans will try to sign:

Offensive line: 6

The Trojans hold five commitments on the offensive line, two of those from mid-year enrollees who already have signed financial aid agreements. They might not be done, though, as a big fish is still out there and possibly leaning toward signing with his childhood favorite. If the coaching staff decides a scholarship would be more important at another position, the Trojans might have to part ways with a prospect from this bunch.


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Pac-12 recruiting storylines: Dec. 19 

December, 19, 2013
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The dead period runs through Jan. 15, and some recruits have said they will use that to take a break from recruiting, but that doesn't mean it will shut down for everyone. Coaches are still able to contact recruits during the dead period -- just no in-person contact -- and a number of recruits will be making commitments during this time. Over the next few weeks and through the holidays, Pac-12 recruiting fans will have a number of things to keep an eye on, including these five topics.

Who sets January visits?

With the dead period wiping out an entire weekend normally dedicated to official visits, recruits will have just three January weekends available to take visits -- the 17th, 24th and 31st -- if they'd like to commit and sign on signing day. Every Pac-12 program is looking to load up on official visits during those weekends. Stanford and USC look as though they will be very busy on Jan. 17, and Oregon is always able to grab a few late official visitors -- ESPN JC 50 WR Eric Lauderdale (Fayetteville, Ga./Saddleback College) is scheduled for Jan. 31. There are plenty of Pac-12 targets saying they will likely set up January officials to various schools.


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Most important targets: Pac-12 

December, 10, 2013
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There are a number of impact players in the 2014 recruiting class still uncommitted and looking hard at Pac-12 programs. While one commit won't likely make a break a class, there are prospects out there that are extremely important for each class, for reasons on and off the field. This week, we take a look at arguably the top uncommitted target for each program, and why the recruit would make such an impact for that school.

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Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

November, 11, 2013
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Momentum continues to roll in a positive direction for USC. Washington extended an offer to another 2015 standout quarterback. Two California commitments looked good in last weekend's games. And Stanford earned the right to walk tall on the recruiting trail this week.


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Most important targets: Pac-12 

October, 22, 2013
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After a few weeks of additions and subtractions to the Pac-12's recruiting classes, it's time to take another look at the most important target in the 2014 class for each program. While some schools are still in search of the same recruit from our previous report, others have either missed or reeled in that target and are on to another. A number of local prospects dot the list, while Stanford chases a national prospect -- and the top recruit in the West is heard from several times.


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Recruits watching Washington at ASU 

October, 18, 2013
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It won't have the national appeal of UCLA's trip to Stanford, or the history of USC visiting Notre Dame, but it's unlikely that any Pac-12 game will have more impact recruits in attendance this weekend than Washington at Arizona State. Here is a look at 10 of the dozens of recruits who will be paying close attention to the goings on in Tempe, Ariz., this weekend.

OL Quinn Bailey (Gilbert, Ariz./Higley): Bailey is a solid offensive lineman that both Arizona State and Washington targeted early in the process. Oregon and Arizona will have a say in what happens with Bailey's recruitment, but it's the Sun Devils and Huskies that have a chance to make a statement this weekend.


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Pac-12 2014 recruiting scenarios 

October, 8, 2013
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This week's list offers a look through the Pac-12 at the potential best-case and worst-case scenarios that the 2014 recruiting cycle could bring for various programs. While a few of the best-case scenarios might be close to within reach for some programs, many of the worst-case scenarios would take a special brand of bad luck.

Arizona
Best-case scenario: Arizona doesn't hold onto all of its 24 verbal commits, but keeps all of its priority recruits in the fold. In exchange for some of the decommitments, the Wildcats are rewarded with a big splash from either ESPN 300 prospect John Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) or Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure). A strong finish to the season also helps Arizona clean up in its home state, landing commitments from offensive linemen Natrell Curtis (Phoenix/Mountain Pointe), Andrew Mike (Tucson, Ariz./Sabino), Layth Friekh (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) and junior college defensive lineman Claudeson Pelon (Mesa, Ariz./Mesa College).

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ASU game could boost USC recruiting 

September, 25, 2013
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This weekend’s battle in the desert between USC and Arizona State will not only carry massive implications in the Pac-12 South, but it might also serve as a grand opportunity for the Trojans to boost their recruiting efforts there.

One prospect who will be watching USC with “very high” interest is ESPN 300 outside linebacker D.J. Calhoun (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito), who committed to the Trojans at The Opening in July but has since scheduled an official visit to Arizona State for the weekend of Oct. 18. The outcome of Saturday night’s duel will not be an ultimate deciding factor, though a good showing is important nonetheless.

“It’s about the school,” said Calhoun’s father, Derik. “ASU has been on him daily.”

Many other recruits will be watching the primetime showdown, including ESPN 300 offensive tackle Casey Tucker (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton), a former USC commit who re-opened his recruitment in April. Tucker will not be in Tempe but will be paying close attention as two of his top schools go head to head.

The final score will carry little importance in his overall thought process, yet Tucker will be analyzing what in-game adjustments are made and how depth charts compare.

“It really depends on the coaching, school and opportunity,” said Tucker, the No. 1-rated player in the state and No. 38 overall in the nation.

Tucker’s high school teammate, ESPN 300 defensive end Qualen Cunningham (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton), also has the Trojans and Sun Devils in his top five. He unofficially visited Texas A&M, where his father played football, for the Aggies’ game against Alabama earlier this month and intends to take a trip to USC after the season.

The game might also affect how some Class of 2015 prospects view both programs as the recruiting process unfolds. ESPN Junior 300 receiver Christian Kirk (Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro), who is rated No. 1 in the state for the 2015 class and was one of only five underclassmen to attend The Opening, will keep a close eye on the game even though he will not be at Sun Devil Stadium.


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