NCF On The Trail: Davonte James

Signing day: Big 12 wrapup

February, 5, 2014
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As hectic of a day as it was, national signing day was a success for all Big 12 programs. Coaches were up early manning their fax machines and showing excitement with every national letter of intent submitted via fax.

Nearly 250 football players signed letters of intent to play Big 12 football on Wednesday. Here are five of the biggest storylines -- and a bonus storyline that could have an ending Thursday -- from the conference.

Oklahoma takes over top spot in Big 12

In the past 48 hours, everything seemed to go Oklahoma’s way.

[+] EnlargeMichiah Quick
Courtesy of Nike ESPN 300 ATH Michiah Quick was a big part of Oklahoma's final rush, a rush that gave the Sooners the top class in the Big 12.
After getting a Tuesday commitment from ESPN 300 safety Steven Parker II (Jenks, Okla./Jenks), the Sooners got Wednesday pledges from ESPN 300 athlete Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif./Central East) and high three-star offensive tackles Kenyon Frison (West Valley City, Utah/Granger) and Orlando Brown Jr. (Duluth, Ga./Peachtree Ridge).

All four players were a part of Oklahoma’s signing class of 26 on Wednesday -- helping the Sooners take over the top spot in the Big 12 class rankings. Oklahoma’s class is No. 13 nationally, three spots better than previous top dog Texas.

Oklahoma in previous years has been very good at finishing strong in recruiting. It managed to sign Frison, who committed to Utah last February before decommitting last month, as well as Brown, who had been committed to Tennessee since May before making an 11th-hour change.

Strong, Longhorns get their DTs

New Texas coach Charlie Strong wanted two players he recruited to play at Louisville, and by Wednesday afternoon, he had them.

ESPN 300 defensive tackle Poona Ford (Hilton Head, S.C./Hilton Head) and three-star defensive tackle Chris Nelson (Lakeland, Fla./Victory Christian Academy) signed with the Longhorns and were two of 23 to submit national letters of intent. They also helped erase the sting of the Longhorns losing three four-star defensive tackle commitments in LSU signee Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Warren), Oklahoma signee Courtney Garnett (New Orleans/St. Augustine) and Texas A&M signee Zaycoven Henderson (Longview, Texas/Longview) last month.

Collectively, Ford and Nelson recorded 235 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 35 quarterback pressures and four forced fumbles. The duo also had 37.5 tackles for loss.

Receivers ‘No. 1’ to Baylor coach

Baylor coach Art Briles made a bold statement about his new wide receivers -- one that might be challenged by some but co-signed by others.

“The thing that we feel really good about,” Briles said, “is that we've signed the No. 1 receiving class in America -- I don't think that's up for debate.”

Briles has an argument with four ESPN 300 receivers in K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant), Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau), Ishmael Zamora (Houston/Alief Elsik) and Chris Platt (Willis, Texas/Willis). The quartet helped to give Baylor a top-25 national recruiting class.

Rhoads fired up about lone in-state signee

To say Paul Rhoads is excited about his top-ranked signee, ESPN 300 wide receiver Allen Lazard (Urbandale, Iowa/Urbandale) is an understatement.

While Rhoads is pumped about the entire class, there’s something special about Lazard, as he is this year’s only in-state signee. Lazard, No. 148 in the ESPN 300, had opportunities to sign with other programs, but he chose to honor his original commitment and also follow the footsteps of his father Kevin Lazard, who played in the secondary for the Cyclones in the early 1990s.

“This is a young man who has gotten phenomenal national attention and was recruited by the traditional historical programs in college football and kept on turning them away to stay true to his word to be an Iowa State Cyclone,” Rhoads said in a statement of Lazard, the No. 2 prospect out of the state of Iowa behind Alabama offensive lineman signee Ross Pierschbacher (Cedar Falls, Iowa/Cedar Falls).

West Virginia adds depth in class

Adding depth was the objective for West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, as he signed 22 players on Wednesday. Holgorsen was fortunate to add depth from coast to coast.

Of the 22 commits, only one -- three-star offensive tackle Amanii Brown (Morgantown, W.Va./Morgantown) -- is an in-state signee. The Mountaineers hit points all over the Lower 48, from California to Texas to Florida, to get players who can be contributors early and help the program return to star status.

West Virginia’s class is led by five ESPN 300 players. Running back Donte Thomas-Williams (Durham, N.C./Hillside), the class’ top-ranked player, was the last to commit early Wednesday afternoon. He joins defensive back Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa), linebacker Davonte James (Springfield, Ohio/Springfield) and receivers Lamar Parker (Miami/Booker T. Washington) and Jake McCrary (Miami/Coral Reef) in the class.

Bonus: Could the Sooners add one more?

LSU signed 22 players on Wednesday. The Tigers were hoping to sign 23.

Deondre Clark (Oklahoma City/Douglass) has been verbally committed to LSU since July, but the ESPN 300 defensive end also has high interest in Oklahoma. There were conflicting reports on Wednesday regarding whether Clark actually signed and submitted his letter of intent to LSU.

ESPN’s David Ching said an LSU spokesperson confirmed the letter of intent was at LSU and cleared compliance. Outside reports, however, say Clark did not submit the letter of intent, and a tweet from Clark's Twitter account said that “nothing is final.” His mother Dorshell also told The Oklahoman that her son “has not signed with LSU.”

Oklahoma City schools were closed on Wednesday because of bad weather, so Clark didn’t fax anything by way of Douglass High School. He is expected to announce his final decision on Thursday.

If it's true that Clark has not signed with LSU, look for Oklahoma to be a key player in his final decision. Ranked No. 273 in the ESPN 300, Clark has built a great relationship with the Sooners' coaching staff, particularly defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery.

Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

November, 4, 2013
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Texas Tech and West Virginia each scored verbal commitments from athletes in the 2014 class, and in case you didn’t get the memo: Texas is relevant again. Wins tend to make people forget the immediate past.

There were several other updates from Big 12 programs from the weekend, including one 2015 athlete landing his third Big 12 offer. Here are some of the highlights:

Big 12 recruiting mailbag

October, 11, 2013
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This week’s Big 12 recruiting mailbag focuses on Baylor’s offensive success, Kansas’ progress in recruiting, the status of an ESPN Junior 300 player and more. We encourage all to send questions each week, either via Twitter to @DamonSayles or @ESPNWilkerson or by email at dsaylesespn@gmail.com or wilkerson.espn@gmail.com.

From @InTheNameOfBU: Do you see Baylor sustaining their success in offense for quite a while? If so, why? #AskBig12

As long as head coach Art Briles, offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery and passing game coordinator/offensive recruiting coordinator Kendal Briles stick around, Baylor shouldn’t have any problems offensively. It’s really scary to think that Wofford -- and not a school like West Virginia -- has held Baylor to its lowest point total -- 69. The Bears have all kinds of offensive weapons now with quarterback Bryce Petty, running backs Lache Seastrunk and Shock Linwood and receivers Antwan Goodley and Tevin Reese, and if they sign committed ESPN 300 players in receiver K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant) and athlete Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau), expect more of the same in the next couple of years.

From @Roberrttthom: How much do you think the early offer for 2015 DT Marquise Overton helps OK State's chances to land him?

In speaking with Overton, I know that he’s very appreciative of the Oklahoma State offer. However, I can’t say that it’s his absolute favorite right now. Reason being, he truly doesn’t has a favorite right now. The ESPN Junior 300 defensive tackle has additional offers from Baylor, Ole Miss, Texas Tech, Oregon State and others, and all schools are in the running. Overton did say that he really likes Oklahoma State. The team is playing well right now, and it’s close to his home in Jenks, Okla. Keep an eye on how the 6-foot-1, 301-pound tackle gauges his schools of interest.

From @cr93ia: Any update on the buzz post Rhoads’ postgame press conference and just in general? #AskBig12

If you’re the Texas Longhorns, you’re not listening; you’re celebrating a win. If you’re pro-Paul Rhoads, you’re probably still a little upset about what happened last week. There’s nothing that can be done now, but Rhoads will have his Cyclones amped up for Saturday’s game against Texas Tech. Recruiting-wise, a few players are still eyeing every move Iowa State makes. The Cyclones have offered players like ESPN 300 defensive end Dewayne Hendrix (O’Fallon, Ill./O’Fallon), ESPN 300 outside linebacker Brandon Lee (Indianapolis/Lawrence Central), four-star outside linebacker Nile Sykes (Lombard, Ill./Montini Catholic) and four-star running back Corey Avery (Dallas/Carter), and they’re hoping to land at least one of these targets.

From @ttoulouse94: Any word on #KU making progress with WR or O-line prospects?

Recruiting with Kansas can be seen in two ways: Either a recruit will give the program the side eye for its subpar play, or a recruit will look at the subpar play as an opportunity to see immediate playing time. The Jayhawks are hoping to land three-star athlete Darious Crawley (Houston/Cypress Ridge), who can play receiver at the next level. As for the offensive line, Kansas will be looking in the junior college ranks for right-now type of players. Juco linemen Avery Gennesy (Southaven, Miss./East Mississippi Community College), Luke Hayes (El Dorado, Kan./Butler Community College) and David Hedelin (San Francisco/City College of San Francisco) all have Kansas offers.

From @KookanHere: #askbig12 Will Dana Holgorsen be the head coach of WVU next season?

West Virginia is 3-3 on the season. Just because the Mountaineers were rolled by Baylor doesn’t mean Holgorsen’s job is in jeopardy. Baylor has put up huge points against everybody. Holgorsen will be back next season to coach his new recruits in receivers Lamar Parker (Miami/Booker T. Washington), Jake McCrary (Miami/Coral Reef) and outside linebacker Davonte James (Springfield, Ohio/Springfield) -- all ESPN 300 prospects. If Holgorsen is lucky, he also will be coaching ESPN 300 athlete Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa), who is strongly considering the Mountaineers.

Best Big 12 classes by position 

September, 10, 2013
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There is still plenty of work for every Big 12 program to do before the completion of the 2014 recruiting cycle. But one can begin to at least paint an outline for how each class is going to look come February.

Here is a look at which Big 12 teams have the best 2014 recruiting class at each position.

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As football season nears, most of the Big 12 sits in good position with their 2014 recruiting classes. But there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Here is a must-have recruit for each team. These prospects would go a long way toward improving their particular class.

Baylor
S John Bonney (Houston/Lamar)
6-0, 182
ESPN 300 rank: N/A

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ESPN 300 LB Davonte James decides

August, 3, 2013
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Friday night, Davonte James (Springfield, Ohio/Springfield) announced his commitment to West Virginia in front of 75 friends and family at the local Quality Inn, the Springfield News Sun reports.

Cincinnati, Georgia Tech and Purdue were the ESPN 300 linebacker's other finalists. Illinois, Indiana, Marshall and Toledo also offered, while Michigan State, Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Wisconsin showed interest.

"I picked West Virginia because of the family atmosphere," he said. "When I went there they treated me just like their son. It was a great place to be, and everybody expressed that they really wanted me there."

The 6-foot-1, 233-pound prospect registered an electronically timed 5.10 40-yard dash, 4.55 20-yard shuttle, 27.1-inch vertical, 35-foot power throw and 65.43 SPARQ this spring at a Nike event.

James, ranked 236th nationally, is now West Virginia's highest-rated defensive recruit. The Mountaineers have 12 commitments.

GT or WVU for ESPN 300 OLB 

July, 22, 2013
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It is not often Georgia Tech and West Virginia go head to head for an ESPN 300 recruit, but those two are the last two standing for a top-20 outside linebacker.

Springfield (Ohio) High linebacker Davonte James, No. 232 in the ESPN 300, is deciding between the Yellow Jackets and Mountaineers on Aug. 2.

He visited both schools in the spring, but he will make one last visit to Morgantown on July 27 before his decision.


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Bama watching ESPN 300 LB James 

June, 25, 2013
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Four-star Springfield (Ohio) High School outside linebacker Davonte James does not get the same publicity as some of his fellow ESPN 300 members, but he has caught the eye of one of the nation’s elite programs.


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Purdue simmers to top for Watch List ILB 

February, 17, 2013
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Davonte James (Springfield, Ohio/Springfield) has the offers. He has the interest as well.


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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Watch List linebacker Davonte James (Springfield, Ohio/Springfield) picked up his biggest offer yet on Thursday when Georgia Tech stopped by his school and offered the 2014 prospect.


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Purdue first to offer LB Davonte James 

November, 2, 2012
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ESPN Watch List inside linebacker Davonte James (Springfield, Ohio/Springfield) has his first offer.

Purdue became the first program to extend the 6-foot-2, 220-pound junior after talking with recruiting coach Kevin Maurice.

"He was telling me a couple things about Purdue and what they're like, how the past couple years they've sent 20 people to the NFL from their team and how they have a great history of linebackers and defensive players and how they're excited about me," James said of his conversation with Maurice.

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At first glance, Davonte James likes OSU 

October, 21, 2012
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Davonte James (Springfield, Ohio/Springfield) might be hard-pressed to top his first experience at The Horseshoe.

On hand with teammate Thaddeus Snodgrass, the ESPN Watch List junior watched the improbable become probable when Kenny Guiton took over for an injured Braxton Miller to lead Ohio State over Purdue in a 29-22 overtime thriller.

“I thought it was a great game,” James said. “I didn’t think they were doing that bad. I liked that they never gave up. It was great.”

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Georgia Tech close to offering Ohio LB 

August, 12, 2012
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The headliner of the Springfield (Ohio) 2014 class is Thaddeus Snodgrass, but linebacker Davonte James is another Wildcat garnering BCS attention.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound junior is hearing from several programs, including Georgia Tech, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Ohio State.

The Yellow Jackets are close to offering James, who is being recruited by assistant coach David Walkosky.

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