NCF On The Trail: Braxton Berrios


As expected, Day 2 at the Under Armour All-America practices were smoother, more concise and much more productive. The players are now starting to think less and play more. Natural ability is starting to come to the forefront, which allows for them to be more productive. There have been fewer dropped passes, fewer misses by the QBs and the offensive lines are starting to jell quicker than expected. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this group is there have not been any true letdowns. They have stepped up and been as advertised almost top to bottom for both squads. Let’s hit the highlights of the day:

Top performers

WR Cameron Sims (Monroe, La./Ouachita Parish): Sims might not wow anyone with his 40-yard dash time, but it may not matter. Sims is so similar to Mike Evans at Texas A&M. He just makes plays. He has extremely long arms and is outstanding when in contested matchups. The ball will look like it is uncatchable and then next thing you know he jumps out of nowhere, extends and makes a play and the defender is left scratching his head. When it comes down to it, the QBs for Team Highlight can trust that if they need to throw it up, Sims will make a play. The most basic thing about the position is catching the football and Sims has no problem doing that.


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- One thing is for sure for all the 2014 Under Armour All-Americans: This isn’t high school anymore. Day 1 is about gauging the competition. Some guys dive right in and some test the waters with their big toe, but by the end of the first day of practice, all those in attendance have a pretty good idea of where they stand and what they need to do to compete and get better.

Given that it is Day 1, the playbook is introduced (Team Nitro is going no huddle with wrist bands and limited plays), and there can be sloppy moments of indecision and uncertainty. With each rep, most, if not all, prospects began to get a better feel for what is expected. Most importantly, the center-quarterback exchanges were very good for the most part, which is generally the biggest worry. Upon completion of the first practice, here are some observations and things to look for over the week:

Top Performers


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Weekend recruiting wrap: ACC 

December, 16, 2013
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Coaches from around the ACC have been busy visiting both top targets and their commitments.

Clemson is trying to lock down one of its big targets on defense and is fighting to stay in the race for another prospect. Meanwhile, Miami and Florida State have been making sure their commitments feel wanted.

Lorenzo Featherston hosts Clemson

Four-star ESPN 300 defensive end Lorenzo Featherston (Greensboro, N.C./Page) is one of the biggest fish out there -- in terms of uncommitted targets.

Clemson, of course, would like to change his commitment status. Last week, a Tigers assistant visited the lanky defensive end prospect to make sure he knows that he’s a priority in their eyes.

Clemson holds the lead for the nation’s No. 27 overall prospect right now, with Florida and North Carolina on the outside looking in.


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UA Game jersey tour: Braxton Berrios

November, 22, 2013
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Raleigh, N.C. – Senior wide receiver Braxton Berrios (Raleigh, N.C./Leesville Road) was presented his honorary jersey for the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game Wednesday.

Braxton Berrios
Courtesy of IntersportBraxton Berrios will play for Miami after taking part in the Under Armour All-America Game.
Berrios, a Miami commitment, is one of 90 players selected to compete in the seventh-annual Under Armour All-America Game, held Jan. 2 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.

“First, my family, thank you for everything,” Berrios said. “I’ve said it once and I will say it again, wouldn’t be here without you guys. My coaches, over the last eight to ten years of playing football specifically … thank you for developing me as a young man and as a player.”

Leesville Road head coach Chad Smothers cites his star player’s drive as the reason for his success.

“The key to the development of Braxton over the last couple of years has been his desire to be good,” Smothers said. “He has an internal competitive spirit that he has built on enhancing his physical tools. He has got strong in the weight room, he’s worked hard to improve his speed and that’s why Braxton has been able to do some of the things he has done.”

Berrios fully understands how big the honor is to play in the Under Armour All-America Game.

"When I got invited I was ecstatic,” Berrios said. “It's an honor, and you've got to represent yourself well enough on and off the field in order to put that jersey on and make it mean something. The experience I’m probably looking forward to the most is being around the best athletes and football players in the country. I'm definitely ready to get down to Florida. It's a little teaser because I'm enrolling in January, so I'll be moving to Miami right after the game. But I'm ready to play against the best and have a good time."

The 5-foot-8, 180-pound Berrios is a four-star prospect and the No. 45 wide receiver in the class. He committed to the Hurricanes over Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky and Oregon.

Early Offer: Banner day for Miami 

October, 23, 2013
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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Wednesday's offerings: Tuesday was a big day for Miami, as the Canes were able to finally put the lingering questions about NCAA sanctions to bed and also land a commitment from highly regard junior college defensive tackle Michael Wyche; recruiting fans will get a chance on Thursday to see why Marlon Humphrey is one of the nation's best prospects.

Hurricanes put questions in rear-view mirror
Miami has had to answer questions from recruits for nearly four years about what might happen when the NCAA finally handed down penalties from the Nevin Shapiro scandal. Those questions were finally answered on Tuesday, as Miami will not face any additional bowl bans and lose three scholarships annually over the next three years. The news was huge for the Canes’ recruiting efforts moving forward. It allows UM to put the entire matter to rest, and Al Golden and Co. no longer have to sit in the living room of recruits and talk about “what ifs.” The Canes are also through having to deflect negative recruiting that has gone on for years by other schools. As expected, Miami recruits were absolutely giddy when discovering the news, including four-star receiver commit Braxton Berrios, who said Miami is “full speed ahead now.”

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Miami pledges happy about NCAA ruling 

October, 22, 2013
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Braxton Berrios was intrigued, but hardly worried. He did not expect the NCAA to alter his future Tuesday when it announced its long-awaited sanctions on Miami.

Now that Miami will not face any further bowl bans and will lose only nine total scholarships over the next three seasons, Berrios is ready to move on to Coral Gables, Fla., with the rest of Miami’s top-five 2014 recruiting class.

Trent Harris
Tom Hauck for Student SportsTrent Harris is excited that the uncertainty about NCAA sanctions at Miami is over.
“It’s great to be a Miami Hurricane,” the four-star receiver from Raleigh (N.C.) Leesville Road said. “I’m glad this 2˝-year investigation is over and the university as well can move on.”

Miami is 6-0 and No. 7 in the initial BCS standings, and ESPN 300 defensive end commit Trent Harris (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park) believes the news of the NCAA sanctions had benefits in the present and future.

The Canes’ self-imposed postseason ban kept them from competing for an ACC title in 2012, but they are in the driver’s seat for a conference championship in 2013.

“Well, I think it’s great that they weren’t banned from any bowl games and I know that the current players on the team just got an extra boost of excitement,” Harris said. “I just can’t wait to go out there and win a national championship."

Miami coach Al Golden has told recruits not to worry about the NCAA, and they heeded his advice. Top target Johnnie Dixon (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer), No. 42 in the ESPN 300, told the Palm Beach Post’s Anthony Chiang he “wasn’t too worried about the Miami sanctions.”

Asked if he was concerned the NCAA’s decision could impact his verbal commitment and future with the program, Berrios said, “Not really.”

“I figured they wouldn’t get much. Al Golden played a great part as well as [Miami president Donna Shalala] in assuring Miami did all they could to minimize the sanctions,” Berrios said.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: ACC 

October, 14, 2013
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Miami lands the biggest commitment of the weekend, while Clemson and Florida State send out new offers.

All this and more in the weekend recap.

Notable performances:

Marcus Outlow (Norwich, Conn./Norwich Free Academy): The Boston College running back commitment ran for 124 yards and three touchdowns over the weekend. Behind his legs, his team won 32-14.


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Video: Official Visit, Oct. 11 weekend

October, 11, 2013
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Erik McKinney, Jared Shanker, Derek Tyson, Tom VanHaaren and William Wilkerson join Phil Murphy on ESPNU to discuss the top recruiting storylines of the weekend.

SEC recruiting storylines: Oct. 10 

October, 10, 2013
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Taking a look back at the week that was in SEC recruiting and looking ahead to future visits as teams build toward signing day:

Banner week for Tennessee

While Tennessee couldn’t pull out a victory over Georgia Saturday, the Vols had more success in the minds of prospects. The Volunteers have picked up a pair of commitments since Saturday, and both are significant. Defensive end Derek Barnett (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood Academy), the No. 298 player in the ESPN 300, helps fill a serious need on the defensive front. Junior college offensive tackle Dontavius Blair (Anniston, Ala./Garden City Community College) has the ability to be an impact player at a key position that will be hit by graduation. The 6-foot-7, 307-pound Blair was a huge recruiting win over SEC programs Auburn and Texas A&M. The Vols look like a lead-pipe cinch to sign a top-10 class at this point.


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Despite loss, Vols impress recruits 

October, 7, 2013
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Tennessee hosted several visitors for its hard-fought 34-31 overtime loss to Georgia on Saturday. The Vols fell to 3-3 on the season and have a tough stretch of games against ranked opponents South Carolina, at Alabama and at Missouri, then face 4-1 Auburn.

The Vols have the No. 3-ranked recruiting class in the country, but will the mounting losses and tough stretch of games affect Tennessee's recruiting momentum?


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SEC recruiting storylines: Oct. 3 

October, 3, 2013
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As always, there is a lot of recruiting news around the SEC this week. LSU landed a big commitment, and an SEC East school preps for a big visitor weekend. Here are the latest storylines around the SEC.

[+] EnlargeDavon Godchaux
Tom Hauck for Student SportsLSU continues to strengthen its class with a verbal commitment from Davon Godchaux.
LSU gets ESPN 300 commitment

ESPN 300 defensive end Davon Godchaux (Plaquemine, La./Plaquemine) verbally committed to LSU on Monday night. The 6-foot-4, 271-pound athlete also had offers from Florida, Alabama, Florida State, Georgia and many others. The Tigers now have 15 commitments, including 10 in the ESPN 300. They also moved in to the team recruiting rankings' top 10. With some elite targets still on its recruiting board, LSU could challenge Alabama for the No. 1 spot come signing day.


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SEC recruiting mailbag

September, 27, 2013
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It’s time to dip into the SEC recruiting mailbag and answer your questions. Because of the amount of questions we’ve received, we won’t be able to get to all of them today -- but we encourage you to ask again next week by tweeting your questions to @DerekTysonESPN or @HamiltonESPN and use the hashtag #SECRecruiting.

@UTSportsAction: Are the #SEC schools recruiting in states that are not known for football... #DiamondInTheRough

Derek Tyson: There is no question that several SEC schools are willing to go anywhere to get top recruits, but for the most part, SEC schools stick within the usual southern states to fill out a majority of their recruiting class. Alabama signed quarterback Cooper Bateman from Utah last year, but Bateman was one of the most highly rated quarterbacks in the country and would have been highly recruited no matter where he lived. This year, however, Florida has a commitment from four-star defensive end Taven Bryan from Wyoming. He's the first person the Gators have ever landed from the state. Ole Miss has a commitment from kicker Will Gleeson, who is from Australia. As for a diamond in the rough, I believe Bryan could be that player. He's a physical defensive end that has a lot of upside.


@SportsNewsTN: Who in ESPN's Top 300 is #TENN's Butch Jones going after to help finish out their 30 total recruits?

DT: Tennessee still has a shot a few different ESPN 300 members. Defensive tackle Garrald McDowell (Covington, La./Covington) named the Vols in his top four along with Arkansas, LSU and Ole Miss on Thursday. Wide receiver Josh Malone (Gallatin, Tenn./Station Camp), wide receivers Travis Rudolph (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman) and Braxton Berrios (Raleigh, N.C./Leesville), running back Derrell Scott (Havelock, N.C./Havelock) and linebacker Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South) are all planning to visit Tennessee next weekend. There is still a long way to go until signing day, and some recruits might wait to see how Tennessee's season plays out, but in the end I think the Vols will end up with at least two of these players, if not more.


@will_hartley21: Who do you think will turn out to be Florida's top DB recruit? Also what other top DB's will possibly be the next UF commit?

DT: Based on their current defensive back commitments J.C. Jackson (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee), Duke Dawson (Cross City, Fla./Dixie County), Quincy Wilson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School) and Chris Lammons (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Plantation), I believe Lammons could be the best prospect, but not by much. They all have their own unique skill sets and are all solid additions to Florida's class, but Lammons has that big-play ability that you are looking for in a defensive back. Come signing day, my answer could be very different. The Gators have a great shot at landing safety Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) and are in the mix for Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra). As far as who could be the next DB to commit. I'd say Adams would be most likely.


@guru1039: What are the chances Bo Scarbrough decommits from Bama? Is it true he wants to be an RB in college?

DT: I spoke with Scarbrough a few weeks ago and he claims he doesn't care where he plays, but from everything I've heard and seen with my own eyes, it does appear that he wants to play running back in college. Though committed to Alabama, he is planning to take all five official visits, including trips to Florida, UCLA, Notre Dame and Georgia. Alabama likes Scarbrough's size and athletic ability to play linebacker, and that could be something that Scarbrough is considering, but it does appear he is keeping his options open. His recruitment will continue on for some time.

SEC recruiting storylines: Sept. 26 

September, 26, 2013
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If the first four weeks of the college football season weren’t enough for SEC fans, this weekend is sure to be the midseason tipping point with a number of big games, including LSU at Georgia and Ole Miss at Alabama. As is always the case, the official and unofficial visit process takes center stage in recruiting with many of the top prospects scheduled to be on hand for the marquee matchups.

Georgia snags Sunshine State pass rusher
While a win over LSU is what would make for a great week for the Georgia Bulldogs, it turns out Thursday hasn’t been too shabby either, Mark Richt and staff landed a key piece to the 2014 recruiting class, plucking edge pass-rushing prospect Keyon Brown (Wauchula, Fla./Hardee County) out of the Sunshine State. The 6-foot-3, 243-pound Brown committed to Georgia over Miami and Florida State, becoming the 17th commitment for the Bulldogs in the class, which is ranked No. 5.

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The Early Offer is a RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Dylan Moses' commitment to LSU sent shockwaves throughout the college football recruiting world; you have to tip your hat to Mark Stoops and Kentucky once again for another creative recruiting mailer; and Oregon, Miami, South Carolina and Tennessee are battling down the stretch for a four-star WR.

The story of Moses
Dylan Moses (Baton Rouge, La./University Lab) deciding to end his recruitment before he even was halfway through his freshman year of high school football sent a tidal wave of response throughout the college football world late Sunday and throughout the day on Monday. As expected the news was well received by LSU fans, but fans in general and even several college coaches were highly critical the Tigers’ decision to accept the commitment. “I can’t be critical of the kid himself, because he’s jumping on an opportunity placed in front of him,” one ACC recruiting coordinator said. “But schools offering a scholarship to a 14-year-old and then actually accepting it is everything that’s wrong with recruiting today. It’s hard enough to project the future of seniors accurately, but it’s impossible to do it with freshmen.” My colleague Tom Luginbill was right on the money when he said it’s a high risk, high reward scheme for coaches. The more it happens the more we’re going to see calls for even more regulation from the NCAA, because there’s just too much gray area for coaches to maneuver in.

Big Ten recruiting mailbag

September, 20, 2013
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It’s time to dip into the Big Ten recruiting mailbag and answer some of your questions. We’ll try to give everyone a chance to get their questions answered. We encourage you to send your questions by Twitter to @bbournival or @TomVH.

@buckeyefan686: With so many wide receiver/athlete commitments in the last two years, where does Braxton Berrios stand with Ohio State and vice versa?

Brad Bournival: More than likely, the four-star wide receiver is on the outside looking in. The fact the Buckeyes have so many players who can play the slot position leaves Berrios in a tight situation. The four-star wide receiver has been on official visits to Oregon, Miami and South Carolina already. He’s got one more lined up for Tennessee on Oct. 4 and wants to make his decision a few weeks after that.

At this point, I would scratch Ohio State off the list unless the Buckeyes can talk the 5-foot-9, 181-pound Berrios into taking a greyshirt year.


[+] EnlargeDa'Shawn Hand
Courtesy John HarrisDa'Shawn Hand loved his trip to Michigan, but what would the Wolverines do if he decided to go elsewhere?
@Kaylen2009: If Michigan misses out on Da'Shawn Hand and Malik McDowell, is there a backup plan or with they save those scholarships for 2015?

Tom VanHaaren: I think they need help along the defensive line, so if they miss on those two it would probably behoove them to look for help.

I don’t think your scenario is very likely. I think Michigan will land those two, but anything can happen in recruiting. Hand had to change his visit schedules, which I believe helps Michigan even more. He has never been out to Florida and won’t have much time to really digest his visit from that time until he decides.

If Hand were to choose a different school, Michigan is still technically in the top group with Garrett Dickerson (Oradell, N.J/Bergen Catholic). He has Stanford No. 1 and Northwestern in there, too, so he’s not likely. That late in the game the coaching staff would likely have to evaluate some prospects and reach out to prospects to gauge interest before figuring out who to target.

It just doesn’t seem likely, though, at this rate, that they will miss on those two.


@shermez07: Are the Penn State misses on potential pledges due to the sanctions or just normal recruiting reasons (playing time, coaching staff, etc.)?

Bournival: With only 65 scholarships things can be tough in the recruiting world and it would be silly not to think the sanctions haven’t played a role in the decision-making process.

Bowl games aren’t just big business for colleges, they’re a measuring stick for players as well. The fact the Nittany Lions are still dealing with that issue makes it a hard sell, although that part of the penalty becomes easier and easier with each class.

That said Bill O’Brien hasn’t completely whiffed with the two classes he’s been in charge of so far.

This year he grabbed ESPN 300 athlete De'Andre Thompkins (Swansboro, N.C./Swansboro), quarterback Michael O'Connor (Bradenton, Fla./IMG Academy) and wide receiver Chris Godwin (Middletown, Del./Middletown). In the 2013 class, quarterback Christian Hackenberg (Fork Union, Va./Fork Union Military Academy), tight end Adam Breneman (Camp Hill, Pa., Cedar Cliff) and offensive guard Brendan Mahon (Randolph, N.J./Randolph) were big gets.

@Cyan220 What is the feeling regarding Northwestern? Are they likely to get Parrker Westphal, Dickerson or Brandon Lee?

VanHaaren: Linebacker Brandon Lee (Indianapolis/Lawrence Central) cancelled his visit to Northwestern on Thursday night. He tweeted that he wouldn’t be taking any questions as to why he cancelled the visit either.

That’s rather strange since he had been planning to take that trip on Wednesday. There is obviously more to this story, so it will be interesting to see what ends up happening.

The Wildcats do have a shot with Westphal and Dickerson, but it might be safe to say that Stanford leads for Dickerson. He has ties to Northwestern, so there is still a chance.

Westphal is a closed book as far as what he’s thinking and what might be next. He and his family do that on purpose, so it’s a guess as to where he ends up. Northwestern and Vanderbilt were thought to be the leaders for Westphal, but Michigan State might sneak in there as well.


l.fousie@sbcglobal.net: With the addition of Noah Brown to Ohio State’s 2014 class, do they still have room for Marshon Lattimore? I have been reading they only have 18 spots for 2014, they have interest/needs in the offensive and defensive line, and they now have 18 commits. Do you think this helps Michigan’s chances with Lattimore and do the Wolverines have room with the potential for Hand and McDowell added to this class?

Bournival: Ohio State’s max right now is 18, but remember that number is fluid and should the likes of Devin Smith, Bradley Roby and Ryan Shazier decide to go pro at the end of the season, numbers open back up. The number of scholarship athletes can change from one day to the next, so the Buckeyes would make room for someone like Lattimore.

While Ohio State does need offensive linemen, the Buckeyes are loaded at defensive line, so that part of the equation really doesn’t apply. Many insiders believe it’s only a matter of time before Lattimore says yes to Ohio State. Cleveland Glenville athletes are hard to pull away from the Buckeyes, so it would be an extreme uphill battle to land him. That could change if there’s an official visit lined up to Ann Arbor, but for right now things lean towards Ohio State.

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