NCF On The Trail: C.J. Hampton

Top overall position classes in 2014 

February, 21, 2014
Feb 21
9:00
AM ET


With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at which programs compiled the nation's best overall position classes in 2014. For the full top position classes series, click here.

Quarterbacks: Florida
The Florida Gators had a major need at quarterback in the Class of 2014, and Will Muschamp and staff more than filled it, signing two of the nation’s top signal-callers. Third-ranked dual-threat prospect Will Grier (Davidson, N.C./Davidson Day School) is already on campus and preparing for spring practice, while No. 7 dual-threat prospect Treon Harris (Miami/Booker T. Washington) was a huge signing-day flip from Florida State. Both prospects are great athletes who are accustomed to operating up-tempo offenses. This should also help newly hired offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, who will install a similar scheme in Gainesville.

Top position classes: DB 

February, 18, 2014
Feb 18
9:00
AM ET

With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes. For the full series, click here.

Nationally (and SEC)

The top class of defensive backs goes to Alabama, by a landslide. While the Crimson Tide have provided many recruiting firsts in recent years under coach Nick Saban, the 2014 class is the first to have two five-star cornerbacks in the same cycle in the years ESPN has been assigning star rankings. No. 8 overall Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen) and No. 15 Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover) have the size and speed that Saban and his staff made a must in 2014. Add in No. 3 safety and No. 27 overall Laurence Jones (Monroe, La./Neville) and Alabama signed three of the very best at defensive back. Factor in that No. 7 athlete Ronnie Clark (Calera, Ala./Calera) seems destined to begin his career at safety and the Crimson Tide dominate in the secondary despite having missed out on coveted safety target C.J. Hampton (Meridian, Miss./Meridian).

The Crimson Tide had the nation’s best defensive back class; here’s which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Recruiting hits and misses: SEC West

February, 6, 2014
Feb 6
11:10
AM ET

Now that the fax machines are quiet, the 2014 signing classes have been announced and before we start looking ahead to 2015, let's take a moment to examine how each of the SEC schools did in filling immediate needs via recruiting.

We're checking out what all 14 teams did to fill holes, and we're looking at which holes still remain. We'll start with the SEC West (click here for the SEC East):

ALABAMA

Needs filled: It was obvious Alabama needed help at cornerback, and the Crimson Tide went out and got two of the best in the country in five-star prospects Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey. Pass rushers were also a priority, which makes five-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand and four-star outside linebackers Rashaan Evans and Christian Miller key pickups. Cameron Robinson, yet another five-star prospect, could end up starting at left tackle next season on the offensive line.

Holes remaining: The Crimson Tide could have used another marquee receiver and lost out on No. 1 wideout Malachi Dupre to LSU. With Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Vinnie Sunseri both heading early to the NFL, the Tide also might have come up short at safety.

ARKANSAS

Needs filled: The Hogs’ passing game was in need of a jump-start, and getting an ESPN 300 player out of Miami the caliber of JoJo Robinson adds another playmaker to the equation. Arkansas’ offensive line class is equally impressive with four-star prospects Brian Wallace and Frank Ragnow and three-star prospect Jovan Pruitt joining Denver Kirkland and Dan Skipper from last year’s class.

Holes remaining: The highest-ranked player in the Hogs’ class was defensive tackle Bijhon Jackson of El Dorado, Ark., which was big considering they need help everywhere on defense. But they missed out on a pair of highly ranked defensive ends in Solomon Thomas and Demetrius Jackson.

AUBURN

Needs filled: Gus Malzahn called ESPN 300 prospect Tre' Williams the key to the class, and he should provide an immediate boost at linebacker. With Chris Davis departing, the Tigers also needed to replenish at cornerback, which is where four-star prospects Kalvaraz Bessent and Stephen Roberts come in. Both were ranked in the top 10 nationally at their position. With Greg Robinson leaving early for the NFL draft, it was good to add muscle on the offensive line with ESPN 300 prospect Braden Smith, who could play guard or tackle.

Holes remaining: The sting of losing Evans, who’s from Auburn, to Alabama could be felt for a while. He's the kind of explosive athlete who would fit on any defense, and the Tigers need more of those guys, particularly at linebacker.

LSU

Needs filled: The loss of running back Jeremy Hill early to the NFL draft was lessened by landing Leonard Fournette, the No. 1 overall prospect in this class. It only got better for the Tigers’ offense on signing day when the country’s No. 1 receiver, Dupre, said he would play his college football on the Bayou. Safety was a real sore spot on defense last season, so getting ESPN 300 prospect Jamal Adams was a major pickup. Adams is rated by ESPN RecruitingNation as the No. 2 safety in the 2014 class.

Holes remaining: Robinson would have been a nice centerpiece on that LSU offensive line, but Alabama came into West Monroe, La., and swiped the five-star prospect. The Tigers also lost five-star athlete Speedy Noil of New Orleans to Texas A&M.

MISSISSIPPI STATE

Needs filled: Junior college signee Jocquell Johnson is already on campus and will battle for a starting job next season on an offensive line that’s losing two starters, including All-SEC guard Gabe Jackson. The Bulldogs also added a pair of playmakers at receiver in ESPN 300 prospects Jamoral Graham and Jesse Jackson. Flipping 6-foot-6, 265-pound defensive lineman Cory Thomas from Tennessee on signing day added some more punch to an already deep and talented defensive line in Starkville.

Holes remaining: More secondary help would have been nice, which is why losing cornerback Tee Shepard to Ole Miss on signing day was a downer. A couple of the offensive linemen the Bulldogs wanted, Jordan Sims and Sean Rawlings, also opted for Ole Miss.

OLE MISS

Needs filled: The Rebels wanted to continue to stockpile talent on the offensive line after reeling in Laremy Tunsil and Austin Golson a year ago and did that with four-star prospects Rod Taylor, Tyler Putman and Sims. Upgrading the defense was also a priority, which is why beating Alabama for ESPN 300 safety C.J. Hampton was so important along with getting ESPN 300 defensive end Garrald McDowell out of Louisiana. Flipping junior college cornerback Shepard from Mississippi State was a nice signing day coup.

Holes remaining: You can never have enough defensive linemen in the SEC, so losing defensive tackle Michael Sawyers to Tennessee was a blow. The same goes for ESPN 300 defensive end Davon Godchaux, who stuck with his commitment and signed with LSU.

TEXAS A&M

Needs filled: With Johnny Manziel taking his show to the NFL, Texas A&M has to find a quarterback. Early enrollee Kyle Allen is an ESPN 300 prospect and ranked as the No. 1 pocket passer in this class. Noil, another early enrollee, should help fill a void with big-play receiver Mike Evans headed to the NFL, and the Aggies also loaded up on offensive linemen, including a pair of junior college signees. Any help on defense was a priority, which makes five-star defensive end Myles Garrett one of the keys to the class.

Holes remaining: The Aggies are still thin at safety after swinging and missing on several of their top targets in this class, including Adams, Steven Parker II and Mattrell McGraw. They also had ESPN 300 safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner committed but lost him to Boise State when Marcel Yates took the defensive coordinator job there.

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

December, 23, 2013
12/23/13
8:00
AM ET
We are one week into the dead period that runs through Jan. 15. While the dead period limits contact, it doesn’t stop prospects from announcing decisions. As is always the case, recruiting doesn’t stop during Christmas vacation, and that was certainly the case last week.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Ole Miss scores big with DT McDowell

December, 20, 2013
12/20/13
11:30
AM ET
The Ole Miss Rebels continue to show they are here to stay under the direction of head coach Hugh Freeze. Already sitting at No. 15 in the RecruitingNation class rankings, the Rebels added to an impressive haul Friday, picking up a commitment from defensive tackle Garrald McDowell (Covington, La./Covington).

The 6-foot-1, 257-pound, athletic McDowell is the No. 110 prospect in the country, and becomes the fourth ESPN 300 prospect to pledge to Ole Miss following No. 49 Rod Taylor (Jackson, Miss./Callaway), No. 92 Markell Pack (Purvis, Miss./Purvis) and No. 134 C.J Hampton (Meridian, Miss./Meridian).
Defensive tackle is a key position of need for the Ole Miss staff in the 2014 class. McDowell becomes the fourth defensive tackle to commit to the Rebels, a group that includes four-star senior riser Breeland Speaks (Jackson, Miss./Callaway).

Earlier in the week, the Rebels signed three four-star junior college prospects in offensive tackle Fahn Cooper (Crystal Lake, Ill./College of Dupage), defensive lineman Jeremy Liggins (Oxford, Miss./Northwest Mississippi Community College) and inside linebacker Christian Russell (Raeford, N.C./East Mississippi Community College).

Ole Miss now has 26 commitments, including 13 four-star prospects. The Rebels remain in the hunt for No. 65 overall Nyles Morgan (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee), No. 120 Wesley Green (Lithonia, Ga./Martin Luther King) and four-star offensive guard Jordan Sims (Birmingham, Ala./Homewood), among others.

Ole Miss signed the No. 5 class a year ago, which included 2013 SEC All-Freshman selections Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla./Columbia), Laquon Treadwell (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee), Robert Nkemdiche (Logansville, Ga./Grayson) and Antonio Conner (Batesville, Miss./South Panola).

McDowell will play in the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 2 at 4 p.m. EST on ESPN.

Take two: Hampton set to make decision

December, 20, 2013
12/20/13
10:00
AM ET
MERIDIAN, Miss. -- As C.J. Hampton (Meridian, Miss./Meridian) walked through his high school gymnasium Tuesday night, he received what many would consider the celebrity treatment. There were no autographs or pictures taken, but it was clear that everybody knew who he was. He was greeted by each and every person he passed. He was the center of attention.

The basketball game featured Malik Newman, the nation’s No. 1 hoops prospect for the class of 2015, but all eyes were still on Hampton. It’s been that way all week for the ESPN 300 safety.

“I can’t really say it’s been a hard because at the end of the day, it’s an honor,” Hampton said. “People calling, just wanting to contact you. [They] want to talk to talk to you about playing at their school. It gets stressful at times, but I look at it more like there’s a lot of guys that want to be in this position. I just take it all in.”

Hampton, one of the more coveted football prospects in the Southeast, will make his college decision Friday at 5:30 p.m. CT, choosing between Alabama, Arkansas, Florida State and Ole Miss.

“I’ve been to all four of them,” he said. “Every time I go, there’s a lot of love shown there. They’re all top programs, and they’re surrounded by good people, great athletes and a great coaching staff.”

It’s not an easy decision, but it’s a decision that he’s made before. He originally committed to Ole Miss during the summer before his junior year.

At the time, it seemed like a no-brainer. The Rebels were the first to offer, and he had already built a strong relationship with the new coaching staff.

“Ole Miss was his favorite school,” said Hampton’s father, Calvin Hampton Sr. “Even when he was younger, he said he wanted to play baseball at Ole Miss. It was just always his favorite.”

Once Hampton was committed, the recruitment process began to take off. He started receiving offers from Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee and even Stanford, but it was an offer from Alabama, the two-time defending national champion, that made him question his initial pledge.

When he visited Tuscaloosa for camp in June, the UA staff made it clear that he was the No. 1 safety on their board.

“With C.J., they were like a bunch of wolves on a piece of meat,” Hampton Sr. said. “They were on him, and it was very sincere.”

Hampton never made it public, but he said it wasn’t long after his trip to Alabama that summer that he decided to reopen his recruitment.

“It always felt like you’re letting somebody down, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to do what’s best for you and your family for the next couple of years,” Hampton said.

Now it’s once again time to make a commitment to the school of his choice, but this time it’s final. He plans to enroll in two weeks, so there’s no going back now. Alabama and Ole Miss are both very much in the mix along with Arkansas and Florida State.

On Tuesday, the ESPN 300 star watched the basketball game with his Florida State hat on and a matching Seminoles’ lanyard hanging out of his pocket. It would seem as though he’s leaning towards the ACC champion if it wasn’t the fourth school he had represented that week.

“It matched the shoes," he said.

Hampton likes to keep people guessing, but the world will know his decision come Friday.

“I’m just ready for everything to be settled, for everyone to know what it is and to just chill out some," he said.

SEC recruiting storylines: Dec. 19 

December, 19, 2013
12/19/13
2:00
PM ET
Here are five things to watch over the holidays in the SEC:

Fournette set to announce

The nation’s top ranked prospect, running back Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine), is scheduled to announce his decision during the Under Armour All-America Game Jan. 2, which will be on ESPN at 4 p.m. ET. Fournette has made official visits to Texas, LSU and Alabama.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Video: C.J. Hampton discusses decision

December, 18, 2013
12/18/13
7:56
PM ET


No. 8 safety and current Ole Miss commit C.J. Hampton will announce his final college choice Friday. The Meridian (Miss.) senior explained the decision process to Greg Ostendorf.

SEC class rankings analysis 

December, 18, 2013
12/18/13
2:00
PM ET

In a week filled with a flurry of commitments, SEC programs continue to shuffle within the conference rankings and rise in the RecruitingNation Top 40 rankings. Alabama still has a firm grasp on No. 1, while Florida and LSU also made moves. As has been the case in recent weeks, all 14 SEC teams are in the Top 40 nationally.

Trending up: Florida and LSU both made moves up in the conference and national rankings in the past week. The Gators picked up No. 18 overall David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence School) and No. 206 Moral Stephens (Perry, Fla./Taylor County High), while LSU scored big out of state with No. 37 Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Il./Plainfield South High). The Gators jumped up to No. 5 in the SEC, and No. 8 nationally. LSU moved up to No. 6 in the conference and has more big fish remaining on its board than any other SEC team. When looking into the future of which programs could trend up the most as national signing day draws near, LSU has the highest probability followed by Florida and Auburn.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SEC recruiting storylines: Dec. 12 

December, 12, 2013
12/12/13
2:21
PM ET
Another wild week of recruiting in the SEC is in the rearview mirror. Today, the Florida Gators take center stage with all eyes on Alabama heading into the weekend of official visits before the dead period begins Dec. 16.

Gators nab one of the nation's best

No. 18 David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence School) seemed to be a Florida lean for more than a year. After trips to Georgia twice during the season and official visits to Tennessee and Florida in November, the 6-foot-6, 288-pound four-star offensive tackle made it official Thursday, committing to the Gators.

Sharpe becomes the 17th commitment for head coach Will Muschamp and his staff, including the 10th ESPN 300 prospect to select the Gators.

Speaking of Florida, the final decision of No. 20-ranked Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central) likely will come following the Rockets' state title game this weekend. Florida is fighting Florida State and Miami to keep the explosive playmaker.

Make it two for Thursday


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Early Offer: USC builds all-star staff 

December, 6, 2013
12/06/13
5:30
AM ET
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Friday's offerings: The battle for the top prospects in the West is going to be fierce, but USC coach Steve Sarkisian is doing all he can to make sure the Trojans have some of the nation’s best recruiters on his staff; a major winter storm could hinder the official visit plans of many teams across the country this weekend; and are the Sooners about to steal an in-state recruit away from LSU?

Trojans add ace recruiter
Sarkisian will have to assemble an all-star staff if he wants to win the recruiting wars in the West. So far that’s exactly what he’s doing. After Tee Martin announced Wednesday night he was sticking around as an assistant for the Trojans, the school announced Thursday that Washington linebackers coach Peter Sirmon would join the staff. Sirmon is considered one of the best position coaches in the Pac 12, but he’s also well respected as a recruiter. I visited with him a few weeks back for a story about Husky recruiting efforts, and I instantly can tell he why recruits gravitate toward him. He’s very charismatic and should be an excellent fit for the Trojans. It will be interesting to see if USC also can land Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi. Both reportedly have large buyouts from Washington, but Sirmon, Wilcox and Lupoi are close friends and often go on the road with each other to recruit.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Video: Tide strategically add commits

November, 29, 2013
11/29/13
12:15
PM ET

Gerry Hamilton, Craig Haubert and Tom Luginbill discuss the method to the Crimson Tide's scholarship offers. Alabama holds commitments from one of the top two prospects in seven states.

SEC recruiting storylines: Nov. 7 

November, 7, 2013
11/07/13
2:07
PM ET

It’s been a busy week in recruiting in the SEC already, but the beginning of the week is only the start with two announcements Friday that could impact SEC recruiting class, and the annual LSU-Alabama showdown that draws almost as many top prospects as a postseason all-star game.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Early Offer: Starks back in action 

October, 16, 2013
10/16/13
5:30
AM ET
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: After transferring to Cherry Creek in Colorado, four-star running back Nathan Starks was finally able to get back on the field last Friday night, and that could help his recruiting stock; USC continues to make a strong local push; and the battle for one of the nation’s top defensive backs is getting heated.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SEC recruiting storylines: Oct. 10 

October, 10, 2013
10/10/13
2:00
PM ET

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.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES