NCF On The Trail: Chris Jones



There was plenty of recruiting action over the weekend for the Big Ten, which means there were some standouts, big offers, new questions and new answers within the conference.

Here is a look at the latest.

Biggest commitment

Tom VanHaaren: Purdue and Illinois both picked up commitments in areas of need this past week. The Boilermakers flipped Western Michigan defensive back commit Tim Cason (Clarkston, Mich./Clarkston), and the Illini landed prep-school offensive lineman Peter Cvijanovic (Great Barrington, Mass./East Coast Prep).

Brad Bournival: Wisconsin picked up what might be one of the biggest sleepers in the 2014 class in wide receiver Krenwick Sanders (Jesup, Ga./Wayne County).

The former Georgia pledge has 17 touchdowns in 29 touches this season and joins a Badgers class that already has three-star wideout Chris Jones (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha Catholic).

Biggest offer

VanHaaren: Nebraska offered 2014 offensive lineman Lukayus McNeil (Indianapolis/Decatur Central). The 6-foot-6, 260-pound lineman has been racking up offers as of late, so it’s going to be tough to reel him in. Michigan also offered an up-and-coming prospect in 2015 linebacker Tanner Muse (Belmont, N.C./South Point), who also recently picked up an offer from Northwestern. Both programs see him as an outside linebacker at the next level.

Bournival: ESPN Junior 300 defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie (Concord, Calif./De La Salle) got a chance to go back home when he took an unofficial visit to Wisconsin over the weekend and it came complete with an offer from the Badgers. His father, Reggie, took over as the general manager of the Oakland Raiders in January 2012, forcing the move.

Best performance by a commit/target

VanHaaren: Minnesota commit Dimonic McKinzy (Kansas City, Mo./Wyandotte) was 20 of 38 passing for 369 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also had two rushing touchdowns.

Bournival: Chris James (Niles, Ill./Notre Dame), who is being recruited by many Big Ten teams, had a game to remember. The three-star running back rushed for 253 yards and five touchdowns on 30 carries in a 45-35 win over Marist (Ill.).

Most important visit


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From Wisconsin moving up in the polls to a few schools moving down, it was a busy week in the Big Ten and the class rankings reflect that.

Here’s a look at what conference recruiting writers Brad Bournival and Tom VanHaaren saw and some trends to follow in the upcoming weeks:

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Top SEC recruiting rivalries 

October, 1, 2013
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From year-to-year the Southeastern Conference is full of recruiting battles. This year it appears that Alabama and LSU could have some of the best recruiting battles we've seen in a while. Here's a closer look at the five top recruiting rivalries in the SEC.


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Weekly Commitment Roundup

September, 20, 2013
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ACC
Duke

Davis Koppenhaver | TE-Y | Newhall, Calif./Hart
HT: 6-5 WT: 209
Positional Rank: #36 TE-Y
Stars: 3

North Carolina
Antonio Williams | RB | New London, N.C./North Stanly
HT: 5-10 WT: 190
Class of 2016

Big 12
Iowa State
Dedric Brinson | ATH | Lake Wales, Fla./Lake Wales
HT: 6-1 WT: 175
Positional Rank: #143 ATH
Stars: 3

Kansas
Austin Stevens | DE | Montclair, N.J./Montclair
HT: 6-4 WT: 225
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Texas Tech
Connor Wilson | S | Argyle, Texas/Argyle
HT: 6-2 WT: 205
Positional Rank: #54 S
Stars: 3

Big Ten
Wisconsin
Chris Jones | WR | Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha Catholic
HT: 6-2 WT: 188
Positional Rank: #139 WR
Stars: 3

Pac-12
Oregon State
Trent Moore | OT | Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton
HT: 6-4 WT: 245
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Bright Ugwoegbu | S | Katy, Texas/Seven Lakes
HT: 6-2 WT: 190
Positional Rank: #107 S
Stars: 3

Stanford
Nifae Lealao | DT | Sacramento, Calif./Capital Christian
HT: 6-6 WT: 280
Positional Rank: #22 DT
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (299)

Utah
Brandon Snell | WR | Miami/Garden City CC
HT: 5-11 WT: 175
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

SEC
Missouri
Nate Brown | WR | Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett
HT: 6-2 WT: 197
Positional Rank: #97 WR
Stars: 3

Thomas Wilson | ATH | Buford, Ga./Buford
HT: 5-11 WT: 175
Positional Rank: #104 ATH
Stars: 3

Conference USA
East Carolina
John Wolford | QB-PP | Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny
HT: 6-0 WT: 193
Positional Rank: #71 QB-PP
Stars: 3

Florida Atlantic
Derius Davis | ATH | Tampa, Fla./Alonso
HT: 6-1 WT: 200

Jefferson Vea | CB | Mount Dora, Fla./Mount Dora
HT: 5-11 WT: 173

North Texas
Andrew Jones | CB | Mesquite, Texas/North Mesquite
HT: 5-11 WT: 170

Tulane
Niguel Veal | WR | New Orleans/G.W. Carver
HT: 5-11 WT: 175
Positional Rank: #125 WR
Stars: 3

Mid-American
Northern Illinois
Ryan Graham | QB-DT | Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton-Warrenville South
HT: 6-2 WT: 190

Mountain West
Boise State
Jaylen Johnson | DE | Corona, Calif./Centennial
HT: 6-3 WT: 232
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Hawaii
Harris Ross | RB | Pittsburg, Calif./Pittsburg
HT: 5-10 WT: 190

San Diego State
Ajene Harris | QB-DT | Los Angeles/Crenshaw
HT: 5-10 WT: 176

Just a few days after stubbing its toe on the field, the Big Ten conference will try to right the ship in the recruiting world.

Larry Scott
Brad Bournival/ESPNESPN Junior 300 running back Larry Scott will make an unofficial visit to the Horseshoe this weekend.
From official visits to commitments, here’s a look at a few programs that highlight a busy time in this week’s Big Ten storylines.

Buckeye leafs

The fact Ohio State opened as 57-point favorites against Florida A&M didn’t scare off some big unofficial visitors, as ESPN Junior 300 running back Larry Scott -- L.J. for short -- out of Hubbard (Ohio) High School will lead a group of three big names with unofficial visits to the Horseshoe.


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Bulls pull Sandalwood DB Chris Jones

July, 21, 2013
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Chris Jones (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) gave his verbal commitment to play for South Florida, the Florida Times-Union reports.

USF topped offers from Florida International, Indiana, Massachusetts, Middle Tennessee, Purdue, Western Kentucky and Western Michigan for the 6-foot, 162-pound prospect.

Jones posted an electronically-timed 4.77 40-yard dash, 4.69 20-yard shuttle, 32.7-inch vertical, 37-foot power throw and 75.63 SPARQ this spring at a Nike combine.

He's the fifth 2014 prospect from Sandalwood to make an FBS commitment, joining ESPN 300 linebacker Kain Daub (Florida State), four-star wide receiver DeSean Blair (Louisville), three-star defensive tackle Blake McClain (Florida State) and fullback Broadie Matts (Air Force).

The Bulls have 13 commitments.
video Deshaun Watson (Gainesville, Ga./Gainesville) has been committed to Clemson for over a year, since signing day in February 2012. But that has not stopped other programs from recruiting the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the ESPN 150, even though he said last month he was done with recruiting.

Mike Bobo and Cam Cameron, offensive coordinators from Georgia and LSU, respectively, visited Gainesville to watch Watson, ESPN's 13th-rated prospect, during spring practice. Alabama offered Watson after Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier evaluated him earlier this month. With his status as an elite quarterback talent, none of that was earth-shattering news.

This past weekend, though, things got a little interesting. With Auburn hosting its annual recruiting event known as "Big Cat Weekend," Twitter reports emerged that Watson was in Auburn. Watson tweeted Friday evening that he was not at Auburn.

He later denied to various reporters his presence on the Plains, as did his head coach, Bruce Miller. But on Tuesday evening, Miller had a different story for ESPN.

“We have been out of school since May 18, so I gave our kids the time off before we start back at workouts this morning,” Miller said. “I did not have any contact with him last week. I get a call Friday night from Coach [Chad] Morris at Clemson Friday evening asking if I knew anything about Deshaun visiting Auburn [that day]. I told him I had no idea about it and I started investigating. He calls me back later saying his source was pretty good on him being at Auburn. Of course, Deshaun had denied it so I denied it too.”

Watson was denying it, but in fact he had made a trip to the SEC campus Thursday afternoon with an assistant coach, which Miller said was done without his knowledge. According to Miller, Watson mentioned to one of his assistant coaches that Auburn had been in contact and he had interest in visiting. The assistant was attending a graduation in Prattville, Ala., about an hour away from Auburn, over the weekend, so he dropped off Watson. Miller said Watson acknowledged the visit to him at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.

“Deshaun told me he visited Auburn and that he did not know what he was thinking,” Miller said. “Deshaun felt sorry about it and said he got talked into it at a weak moment because he had never seen it. He said he realized after he got there that he should not have made the visit. He said, 'I then started trying to figure out how I could cover it up.'”

ESPN 150 commits denying visiting other schools is nothing new. Last January Trey Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnett) visited Tennessee just a few weeks after committing to Ohio State at the Under Armour All-America Game. Johnson denied it during the weekend of the visit, but it was later revealed he was in Knoxville checking out the Volunteers. In the end, he signed with the Buckeyes, though. 2013 ESPN 150 defensive end Chris Jones denied multiple visits to Ole Miss last January while being committed to Mississippi State, later admitting he made the visits but was afraid to say anything because of death threats.

While those “secret visits” were a few weeks before signing day, Watson’s trip is unique because there are more than seven months before he can enroll early at the college of his choice.

Like Johnson and Jones, it appears Watson is solid in his commitment at the moment. He was able to talk to the Tigers’ coaching staff on Tuesday in hopes of getting back on the same page.

“Deshaun says he did not see anything [at Auburn] that makes me question anything and he is not changing his commitment,” Miller said. “He talked to Dabo Swinney and Chad Morris today and everything is fine now. They told him No. 1 is that Deshaun’s word is his word and that he will need to earn back a little bit of their trust. When you mess up one time you have to circle back and do right again, which Deshaun will have no problem with.”

Miller said ha will take a more hands-on approach to keeping up with his prize quarterback, who set the state record for career passing yards last fall while leading the Red Elephants to their first state title.

“From now on our recruiting coach, Wayne Jones, and I will be handling his recruitment,” Miller said. “I think he and all of us have learned our lesson in social media, and I do not think Deshaun Watson will take any more visits.”

DE Jones sticks with Mississippi State 

February, 6, 2013
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Defensive end Chris Jones of Houston, Miss., No. 46 in the ESPN 150, stayed true to his longtime commitment to Mississippi State, announcing on Wednesday that he had signed with the Bulldogs.

Jones, who surged into the national spotlight after a breakout senior season and a starring role at several postseason events, took a hard look at Ole Miss late in the process.

-- Mitch Sherman

What is the impact of Jones' decision?

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The recruiting battle over Chris Jones (Houston, Miss./Houston) got so intense this week that the ESPN 150 defensive lineman resorted to deception, misinformation and clandestine visits to both Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

Jones told ESPN.com late Sunday night, his weekend was marked by angry messages from fans of both schools.


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In-state battle heats up for 4-star DE 

February, 2, 2013
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Houston, Miss., four-star defensive end Chris Jones took an unofficial visit to Ole Miss on Friday, multiple sources told ESPN’s RecruitingNation.


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ESPN 300 quarterback DeVante Kincade (Dallas/Skyline) considers himself a pretty good football player and excellent teammate on and off the field. While on his official visit to Ole Miss this weekend, Kincade showed that he was a pretty good recruiter, as well.

Kincade, a solid Ole Miss commit, put on his recruiting coordinator’s hat over the weekend and was happy to be in Oxford, Miss., when three-star receiver Quincy Adeboyejo (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill) gave the Rebels his verbal pledge. Kincade and Adeboyejo live minutes away from each other.

And while only one of the targets committed over the weekend, Kincade felt his messages were well delivered and received.

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Perhaps no program in the country had more talent on campus for official visits this weekend than the staff at Ole Miss. The Rebels hosted more than 15 prospects, headlined by No. 1 prospect Robert Nkemdiche (Loganville, Ga./Grayson) but also including No. 5 prospect Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla./Columbia) and a surprise in-state visitor.

Nkemdiche said he thinks Ole Miss is sitting pretty as signing day approaches.


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Chris Jones has set another SEC official visit.


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Even though Chris Jones has previously been to Starkville, Miss., his latest trip to Mississippi State had a strong effect on his recruitment.


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One SEC school appears to be out of the running for defensive end Chris Jones.


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