NCF On The Trail: D.J. Smith

Early Offer: It’s a wrap 

February, 6, 2014
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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Alabama’s 2014 class is special, but is it the best class ever? Who were my biggest winners Wednesday, and what can we look forward to with the class of 2015?

Special class for Bama

Cornerback was one of the needs South Carolina wanted to fill in the 2014 class, but the Gamecocks took a big step towards doing that with the commitment of D.J. Smith (Marietta, Ga./Walton) on Monday night.

Smith, No. 88 in the ESPN 300, committed to the Gamecocks on Fox Sports South. He chose South Carolina over Tennessee, Miami and in-state rival Clemson.

The 6-foot, 185-pound Smith made unofficial visits to Knoxville and Columbia in November along with Clemson in October, and will make his official visit to South Carolina this weekend.

Smith joins three-star Al Harris Jr. (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Saint Thomas Aquinas) as cornerback verbals for Steve Spurrier and staff, but the Gamecocks are far from done at the position of need.

Along with Smith, South Carolina will host cornerback and Wesley Green (Lithonia, Ga./Martin Luther King), No. 120 in the ESPN 300, this weekend. Former Florida commit Chris Lammons (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Plantation), No. 86 in the rankings, will also officially visit Jan. 24.

The headliner of the weekend official visitors for South Carolina is Damian Prince (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara), the nation’s No. 26 prospect, and current Florida State defensive tackle commit Dexter Wideman (Saluda, S.C./Saluda).

Smith’s pledge gives the Gamecocks 17 commitments, including seven ESPN 300 prospects, and their class is No. 30 in the nation.

South Carolina quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus was the lead recruiter of Smith, who is the fifth prospect from the state of Georgia to pledge to the Gamecocks in the 2014 class.

Smith said during the telecast that official visits to Tennessee and Miami remain possibilities.

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

January, 13, 2014
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As the last weekend before the dead period comes to an end, there is still plenty of recruiting news throughout the Southeastern Conference. Vanderbilt suffered through a difficult weekend, there were a few important commitments and some key prospects backed off their pledges. Here’s a closer look at the top 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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SEC class rankings analysis 

December, 18, 2013
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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.


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Questions for signing day: ACC 

November, 12, 2013
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It is a chicken or the egg argument. Has the SEC ruled college football for much of the last decade because the conference annually places five or more teams among the top 10 of the recruiting rankings? Or is the SEC’s recruiting dominance a result of seven straight national championships?

The ACC, though, could be the David to the SEC on the field and in recruiting. In the 2014 cycle, two ACC schools have top-five classes. Will that remain the same come signing day?

We look at that question and nine others as we examine the most pressing ACC recruiting questions leading up to signing day.

1. Will FSU and Miami remain in the top five of the class rankings?
Both classes are close to completion, so it could be tough for the Noles and Canes to finish in the top five of the rankings. Alabama is at No. 1 and could end up running away with another recruiting title. The rest of the SEC will charge hard come signing day, too. Tennessee should be a safe bet to finish in the top five, and programs such as Florida, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss and more could break into the exclusive group come February. Tennessee recently jumped both schools, pushing Florida State to No. 3 and Miami to No. 4.

2. Can Miami surpass Florida State for the ACC’s top class?
If both were to fall out of the top five, there is still some pride in finishing with the top class in the conference. The Noles are ahead of the Canes at the moment, and it will be tough for the Canes to jump FSU. It looks as if Miami has two spots left and should finish with Johnnie Dixon and Anthony Moten. But the Noles could sign more than 30, and some of the country’s truly elite prospects have Florida State among their finalists. It looks doubtful that Miami -- or any ACC team -- will catch and pass Jimbo Fisher’s class.

[+] EnlargeLorenzo Featherston
Courtesy of IntersportESPN 300 DE Lorenzo Featherston is a Clemson lean whose pledge would help the Tigers close strong.
3. Will Clemson finish in the top 10?
Sitting at No. 12 in the rankings, the Tigers have a good chance to finish in the top 10 and even an outside chance to crack the top seven. Defensive end Lorenzo Featherston (Greensboro, N.C./Page) is No. 27 in the ESPN 300 and a Clemson lean. It would be a surprise to see him land anywhere but with the Tigers. Cornerback D.J. Smith (Marietta, Ga./Walton), No. 88 in the ESPN 300, also looks to be leaning Clemson’s way, and the same could be said for defensive end Andrew Williams (McDonough, Ga./Eagles Christian Landing), No. 168 in the rankings. The prize of the defensive class would be five-star inside linebacker Raekwon McMillan, however. He is slated to visit officially later this month, and the No. 12 player and top linebacker in 2014 has the Tigers among his top three.

4. Can Pitt close out with three of its four Western Pennsylvania targets?
For Pitt’s class to be considered a success, Paul Chryst needs to do just that. The Panthers are struggling some with Pittsburgh-area prospects in 2014, but the same happened in 2013 before Pitt landed Dorian Johnson and Tyler Boyd. In February, the Panthers hope to land Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa), Alex Bookser (Pittsburgh/Mt. Lebanon), Montae Nicholson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) and Shai McKenzie (Washington, Pa./Washington); Henry, Bookser and Nicholson are all in the ESPN 300 and have Pitt among their finalists. Henry is a Pitt legacy. Bookser looks to be focused on Ohio State and Pitt; Nicholson will decide in December and is projected to Pitt.

5. Will Duke sign an ESPN 300 prospect?
The Blue Devils have never signed an ESPN 150 or ESPN 300 prospect since the rankings began almost a decade ago. That was going to change in 2014 with quarterback Nicodem Pierre (Miami/Coral Reef), but the dual-threat dropped from the ESPN 300 in October. However, Trevon Lee (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Cardinal Gibbons) could be leaning Duke’s way with the Blue Devils on a roll this season. With a guaranteed winning regular season -- their first in nearly two decades -- Lee is thinking hard about Duke. Academics are big for the 241st-ranked player, so a decision could come down to Duke and Vanderbilt.


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Early Offer: ACC showdown will impress 

October, 18, 2013
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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: The winner of Saturday’s Florida State-Clemson game will have something big to sell to recruits; one of Wisconsin’s earliest commitments is taking trips to other schools, including a trip to visit former Badgers coach Bret Bielema; and the nation’s No. 7 player and a top tight end are expected to announce this weekend.


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ACC recruiting storylines: Oct. 17 

October, 17, 2013
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The third-ranked Clemson Tigers will welcome plenty of national recruits this weekend as they host No. 5 Florida State on Saturday night.

Elsewhere, North Carolina and Wake Forest add commitments from the state of Florida, and Maryland might be out in front for Adam McLean .

Clemson hosting a top group

While the country's eyes will be on the top-five matchup between Clemson and Florida State Saturday night, a group of elite national prospects will be on hand to see it in person.

Five-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County) headlines the group. He's a guy Clemson has work to do in order to get, but a big win during his official visit could propel the Tigers forward.

Other big names expected to attend include D.J. Smith, Trevion Thompson, Mitch Hyatt, Taj Griffin and possibly Andrew Williams.

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Recruits' eyes will be on Death Valley 

October, 17, 2013
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Clemson and Florida State aren't going head-to-head for a bunch of prospects in this year's cycle, but both teams definitely would reap the benefits of a win Saturday.

What's more, the Tigers will have a plethora of national recruits on campus that night, including some on the list below. Will a win help sway these prospects?


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SEC recruiting storylines: Sept. 12 

September, 12, 2013
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After a terrific start to the college football season with big games and potential momentum changing wins and performances, this weekend features the most hyped game yet -- Alabama at Texas A&M. The visit list of what could be dubbed “Super Bowl Saturday” in College Station continues to grow with the Aggies expected to host the most talented visit weekend in the programs history. Here is a closer look at some of the hot topics throughout the SEC:

Five-star visit list in College Station
Texas A&M is taking full advantage of the long-awaited rematch with Alabama. The visitor list for Saturday can only be defined with the word “loaded.” Whether it’s official visitors in the 2014 class or unofficial visitors for 2015, the list of who's expected is star-studded in the recruiting world. Expected to visit College Station over the weekend include the likes of No. 1 overall Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/St. Augustine High), No. 7 Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/James Martin High), No. 8 Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Edna Karr), No. 25 Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron High), No. 29 Gerald Willis III (New Orleans/Edna Karr), No. 81 Edwin Freeman (Arlington, Texas/James Bowie High) and No. 158 Joshua Frazier (Springdale, Ark./Har Ber High). On the unofficial visit list are ESPN 300 members Casey Tucker (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton High) and Qualen Cunningham (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton High) in the 2014 class, along with a number of ESPN Junior 300 members, including running back commitments Rodney Anderson (Katy, Texas/Katy High) and Jay Bradford (Splendora, Texas/Splendora High) as well as uncommitted quarterback Kyler Murray (Allen, Texas/Allen High).

Gators all in on Sharpe
If there was any question if the Florida Gators were all in on No. 15 overall prospect David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence School), it was answered earlier this week when four-star offensive tackle Benjamin Knox (DeLand, Fla./DeLand High) decommitted from Florida.

"At this very moment, I'm decommitting," Knox said. "Reason why because I haven't heard from them in over a month."

The Gators are making it clear to Sharpe that he is the top priority at offensive tackle. Florida currently has three offensive line commitments, all projected guards at the next level, and remain in the mix for No. 257 overall Jordan Sims (Birmingham, Ala./Homewood High).

Tennessee adds No. 25
Tennessee added commitment No. 25 this week with the addition of senior cornerback Emmanuel Moseley (Greensboro, N.C./Page High), but the Volunteers are not done in 2014. Four-star lineman Charles Mosley (Brighton, Tenn./Brighton High) is set to decide on Oct. 4 with the Vols squarely in the mix along with Alabama. Tennessee also remains in the mix for ESPN 300 prospects Josh Malone (Gallatin, Tenn./Station Camp High), defensive end DeWayne Hendrix (O’Fallon, Ill./O’Fallon Township High), linebacker Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South High), cornerback D.J. Smith (Marietta, Ga./Walton High) and end Dante Sawyer (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett High) among others with defensive line and linebacker being a top remaining priority. Hendrix and Garrett are set to officially visit Knoxville on Oct. 4.

Visit list for Tennessee-Florida taking shape

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ESPN 300 analysis: Georgia Bulldogs 

June, 17, 2013
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With the initial release of the ESPN 300 for the 2014 class, the recent recruiting momentum by the University of Georgia shows the Bulldogs could close with another top class, even with less than 22 spots to fill.

[+] EnlargeNick Chubb
Scott Fink for Student SportsRecent Georgia commit Nick Chubb has jumped into the latest ESPN 300 rankings.
At the top of the commitment list is running back Sony Michel (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage), the No. 17 prospect in the country. He is followed by athlete Malkom Parrish (Quitman, Ga./Brooks County) at No. 69, who is expected to play cornerback for Georgia. Tight end Jeb Blazevich (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Christian) is No. 94 in the latest rankings and new running back commitment Nick Chubb (Cedartown, Ga./Cedartown) jumps into the ESPN 150 at No. 142. Georgia has less than one third of last year’s class (33) committed so far, but only one less ESPN 150 commitment with four pledged to play for Mark Richt at this time. Quarterback Jacob Park (Goose Creek, S.C./Stratford) committed to Georgia on Friday, giving the Bulldogs the No. 182 prospect in the country, while defensive line commitment Dontavius Russell (Carrollton, Ga./Carrollton) is No. 263 in the initial ESPN 300.

Georgia has a shot to land several more ESPN 150 prospects as well. New five-star prospect Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) has a spot reserved for him in Athens, Ga. Another five-star target, defensive lineman Lamont Gaillard (Fayetteville, N.C./Pine Forest) has Georgia on top and the No. 12 prospect in the country could decide in July.

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Each week, Tales From The Road will provide news and updates about where Georgia’s coaches have been and what prospects are standing out.

This week’s targets: Last Monday Mike Bobo and Will Friend saw Lowndes (Ga.) High School offensive lineman Dyshon Sims, who would get an offer from Georgia two days later. On Tuesday Tony Ball dropped on wide receiver commitment Krenwick Sanders at Wayne County (Ga.) High School and Todd Grantham and Kirk Olivadotti checked in on ESPN 150 linebacker target Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County) . Grantham also visited ESPN 150 LB targets Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) and Jacob Pugh (Tallahassee, Fla./Godby) that day. Defensive line coach Chris Wilson saw safety target Cortez McDowell (Locust Grove, Ga./Locust Grove) and John Lilly saw Callaway 2015 athlete target Terry Godwin (Hogansville, Ga./Callaway). On Thursday, Grantham and Lakatos saw ESPN 150 CB targets Nicholas Ruffin (Atlanta/St. Pius X) and D.J. Smith (Marietta, Ga./Walton), and evaluated Cameron Albright (Kennesaw, Ga./North Cobb).

Area of interest: North Carolina has been good the Georgia Bulldogs. The running back tandem of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall can attest to that. When the ESPN 150 was released, 10 players from the Tar Heel State made the initial list, which is only one prospect less than the state of Georgia and the same as the entire state of California. The No. 3 tight end in the nation, Jeb Blazevich, has already committed to Georgia, and the Bulldogs lead for the No. 10 overall prospect in defensive tackle Lamont Gaillard (Fayetteville, N.C./Pine Forest).

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Watch List CB talks Tennessee visit 

February, 17, 2013
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Tennessee certainly helped itself with D.J. Smith (Marietta, Ga./Walton). Whether it's enough to overtake a strong list of suitors remains to be seen.


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Watch List DB nabs Ohio State offer 

January, 24, 2013
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It’s becoming quite common for Ohio State -- a trip to Georgia nets another offer.


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UGA fills 2014 ESPN Watch List 

September, 27, 2012
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Mark Richt is in the midst of his 12th season at the University of Georgia, and the SEC’s longest-tenured head coach has consistently brought in top-ten recruiting classes every year. It helps to be in the backyard of one of the deepest talent pools of any state in the country.

While it might be hard to match this year’s depth of top-tier prospects -– Georgia has 31 prospects in the ESPN 300 for the 2013 class –- there is no shortage of talented in-state juniors either. Twenty-five recruits from Georgia are in the initial ESPN Watch List, including three already committed to the Bulldogs in running back Stanley Williams (Monroe, Ga./George Walton Academy), wide receiver Demarre Kitt (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek) and defensive back Nick Glass (Atlanta/St. Pius X).


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