NCF On The Trail: Derick Roberson

Top position classes: DL 

February, 14, 2014
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With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes. For the full series, click here.

Nationally (and SEC)
Texas A&M went into the 2014 class knowing that size and athleticism was an absolute must on its defensive front. And Kevin Sumlin and staff delivered on those glaring needs. Leading the way is No. 1 defensive end and five-star player Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/James Martin), who has the size, speed and power combination to be a difference-maker early on next fall. The 6-foot-5, 247-pound Garrett is joined at defensive end by ESPN 300 No. 203 Qualen Cunningham (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton), and high three-star Jarrett Johnson (Katy, Texas/Seven Lakes), who has a nonstop motor. While the Aggies have some talented young defensive tackles, continuing to add size and athleticism to the interior was a must. No. 150 DeShawn Washington (Nederland, Texas/Nederland) and four-star early enrollee Zaycoven Henderson (Longview, Texas/Longview) add disruptive explosiveness and athleticism.

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


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Editor's Note: Henderson on Tuesday afternoon recommitted to Texas Insider following a conversation with new Longhorns coach Charlie Strong.

The once-mighty Texas defensive line class for the Class of 2014 is now half of what it used to be. Literally.

A Texas source confirmed that four-star defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson (Longview, Texas/Longview) has decommitted from the Longhorns. A 6-foot-1, 318-pound Semper Fidelis All-American, Henderson is looking at other options after learning on Tuesday that defensive line coach Bo Davis left Texas for a similar position at USC.

Henderson joins fellow four-star defensive tackles Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Warren) and Courtney Garnett (New Orleans/St. Augustine) as former Texas commits. All three made their decisions Tuesday evening, hours after hearing the news about Davis.

Texas entered the week with six commitments on the defensive line. The Longhorns now have three in three-star defensive end Sione Teuhema (Keller, Texas/Keller), three-star defensive tackle Jake McMillon (Abilene, Texas/Abilene) and ESPN 300 defensive end Derick Roberson (San Antonio/Brennan), the team’s top-ranked commit.

Henderson originally committed to TCU last February but decommitted in September. On Dec. 9, Henderson gave Texas his verbal pledge during a ceremony at his school. He chose Texas over Baylor and Texas Tech.

 
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Charlie Strong has officially been named Mack Brown’s successor at Texas. It’s a move that appears to get thumbs up from many of his future athletes.

As 2014 Texas recruits waited to hear who would be their future head coach, many of them were hoping for the right fit. Strong’s résumé -- 23-3 in his past two seasons at Louisville, 3-1 in four bowl game appearances and an outstanding recruiting reputation -- says he fits the bill.

In short, Strong gets it, and while Texas commits had the utmost respect for Brown, they now feel they’re in good hands.

“I think he can do pretty good there,” four-star offensive lineman Terrell Cuney (Jasper, Texas/Jasper) said. “I don’t think anyone can live up to what Mack did, but he’ll come in and do big things.

"Bring it on, man! 'Hook ‘Em all day!'”


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ORLANDO, Fla. -- When more than 90 of the top football prospects gather in the same place, like they have for the Under Armour All-America Game, the water cooler conversations can be quite entertaining.

One of Sunday’s hot topics was whether a defensive player could win the Heisman Trophy again in the near future. We asked some of the Under Armour Game participants for their opinions:

[+] EnlargeTony Brown
Miller Safrit/ESPNFive-star cornerback Tony Brown thinks a defensive player, maybe even him, will win the Heisman Trophy in the near future.
Five-star cornerback and No. 11 overall prospect Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen): Oh, 100 percent I do. It will be either my sophomore year or junior year when a defensive player wins it. You got to be a game-changer. The Heisman is about being a game changer the second you step on the field, so I have to be a game changer. Tyrann Mathieu was very close to winning it, but he missed games. You just have to catch picks, make plays in the return game and make big plays that change the outcome of games.

No. 1 overall prospect Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine): That’s kind of a hard question -- maybe in the next couple of years. Maybe one of the guys from our incoming class like Adoree’ [Jackson] or Jabrill Peppers. It’s a lot of dedication. There are a lot of offensive players that are outstanding now. They have a lot of outstanding defensive players too, but the offenses are bringing out more talent than the defense nowadays.

Michigan commit Jabrill Peppers (Paramus N.J./Paramus Catholic), the No. 1 CB and No. 2 overall prospect: Absolutely. He’s going to have to have some punts and kickoff returns for TDs, six or seven picks and have more than 45 tackles. I have seen a lot of great defensive backs, but I didn’t see anybody put it all together yet. Basically all the things I just said I have to do, and I want to make it a little easier on myself if I get to play a little offense too.

Georgia tight end commit Jeb Blazevich (Charlotte, N.C./Christian): No, just because everyone is so focused on the stats, who is most productive and some people don’t know football. Defensive players sort of grind it out; they are good football players but are the unsung heroes. All people see is the stats, people follow the hype … same thing with the Heisman. It will take a lot of stats and flashy stuff -- probably a defensive back with a lot of returns for touchdowns, like a Tyrann Mathieu.

Five-star cornerback Adoree' Jackson {Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra): Of course. They have to do special teams. You have to do something to get the crown oohing and ahhing. You can do a lot of things on defense, but when you do special teams and show how versatile you are ... that is when a defensive player will win the Heisman again.

No. 28 overall prospect Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis): "Man, that will be difficult in this day and age. I think offensive players are becoming more explosive and are used in better ways with the spread than in the past, when a defensive player could have won it. Like last year, [Johnny] Manziel won it over [Manti] Te’o. He should have, and it wasn’t close."

Alabama commit Cameron Robinson (Monroe, La./West Monroe), a five-star offensive tackle and No. 3 overall prospect: I mean maybe so, but the player will have to do more than just play defense … maybe return kicks and play some Wildcat quarterback. Probably a corner or a safety is the best bet. The kick return game will be huge because you get to display a lot of athleticism and pure instinct. Last year, Johnny Manziel won it over a defensive player, and it wasn’t close. Actually, my guy Manziel should have won it again this year.

No. 29 prospect Gerald Willis III (New Orleans/Edna Karr): Yeah, me. The goal is to get three or four sacks a game and just ball out on the field the whole season. Yep, I think Landon [Collins] can win it. It's picks, taking them to the house, make a lot of tackles and having outstanding stats.

No. 106 prospect Edwin Freeman (Arlington, Texas/James Bowie): It’s possible. You got to play both sides of the ball and have punt and kick return ability. I would say a corner has the best chance. They are fast, catch picks and have the ability make a big impact in the return game.

[+] EnlargeDerick Roberson
Miller Safrit/ESPNDefensive linemen such as Texas commit Derick Roberson wish their position group got more respect from Heisman voters.
Auburn cornerback commit Steven Roberts (Opelika, Ala./Opelika): That’s a tough question, man. I say yes, though. Defensive backs go through a lot. They are sticking good receivers every play and have the chances to make big plays. It will take a lot of interceptions and being an all-around playmaker.

No. 22 prospect Laurence Jones (Monroe, La./Neville), a safety: I don’t know if it will ever happen again. I’m going to try and go win one, but they [media] show a lot of favoritism to offensive players. You can’t just play defense. You have to play special teams. It will be a defensive back that wins it if it happens. It won’t be a defensive end or linebacker.

Texas defensive end commit Derick Roberson (San Antonio, Texas/Brennan), the No. 78 prospect: You would have to average three or four sacks per game at my position [defensive end], probably. Usually it would be a defensive back or linebacker with the best shot, but I think a D-end can win it.

No. 23 overall prospect Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron), the No. 3 safety: I sure hope so. I hope I can say I did one day. I mean, it’s a tough thing to do as an individual goal. You have to be a straight dog on the field, making a lot of plays. Defensive backs play special teams, and if that’s one of your roles ... then you have the ability to show out. Defensive backs have the best chance because we are more versatile.

Alabama five-star DE commit Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge): It should be the best overall player that wins the Heisman, not just the best offensive player. I can see a defensive player winning it again. I think a defensive end can win it because we are the best position on the field. A lot of people don’t see what a defensive end has to go through. A quarterback, everybody sees that, but what about the end that takes on a double team that helps cause everyone else to make plays, and helps make everyone else better?

Auburn quarterback commitment Sean White (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University): Yeah, sure, if a defensive player makes a lot of plays and cause turnovers; probably like a corner or defensive back that makes a lot of big interceptions. It’s happened before, so I do think it can happen.

Wide receiver Travis Rudolph (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman), the No. 61 prospect: No. Because I feel like a defensive back is so good that teams won’t throw his way and he won’t get the chances to put up stats. It can be tough to get the chance to make enough plays to win the Heisman.

Ohio State five-star LB commit Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County): Yes, because a defensive player has the ability to make big plays just like an offensive player. It will probably be a defensive back that makes a lot of interceptions though -- a guy that also returns kicks and punts.

Five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross): Yeah, a defensive player should win the Heisman. Defensive players have more impact on the game than people recognize. I think [Jadeveon] Clowney could have come real close to it. I hope defensive players keep evolving and can have the chance to win it.

Manziel or Winston? Prospects weigh in

December, 29, 2013
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- There are many topics of conversation among prospects playing in the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game. One of them centers around the past two Heisman Trophy winners.

On Saturday, upon checking in for the prestigious game, a number of prospects weighed in on a hot topic involving Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and Florida State's Jameis Winston.

If they had to choose between the two, who would the players take as their college quarterback? Here are their responses:

[+] EnlargeMarlon Humphrey
Courtesy of IntersportNo. 9 overall prospect Marlon Humphrey likes how Johnny Manziel makes others around him better.
Five-star cornerback Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Al./Hoover High): Ah man, I think I’m going to have to go with Johnny Manziel. I just feel like he kind of made a team out of nothing. Jameis Winston is a great quarterback too, but he doesn’t have the scrambling skills that Manziel has. This year, you could tell that his teams defense wasn’t that good, the players around him weren’t as good, but he kept making his team better. He’s has the fight in him I would want on my team.

Florida commit and No. 20-ranked Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central High): I would say Jameis Winston. He’s really a pure quarterback, and I think he sets up things more for a running back than Johnny Manziel does.

Auburn running back commit Racean Thomas (Oxford, Al./Oxford High): I would probably pick Jameis Winston. The reason behind that is because he is more of a leader for a young quarterback, and I think he can make his team a more mature team. I really think he would be a great quarterback to play with.

Florida wide receiver commit and No. 28 Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead Senior High): Whew, I don’t know. I think Jameis Winston. I look at how both of them played as a freshman, and I like how Jameis Winston leads his team. He is also more pro-ready than Manziel.

Texas defensive end commit and No. 78-overall Derick Roberson (San Antonio, Texas/William J. Brennan High): I guess I would say Johnny Manziel. I like how he plays with his swagger and confidence the most, so I would probably say him.

Notre Dame commit and No. 76-ranked Tyler Luatua (la Mirada, Calif./La Mirada High): I would take Manziel just because of the way he plays. If he doesn’t have a wide receiver open, he can make plays himself. He can get the ball to his players if and when he wants to, but can also do it on his own when he needs to.

No. 38 overall John Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Polytechnic High School): That’s a hard one. As of right now, I would go with Jameis Winston. Overall, he’s a great player. I think Winston has an awesome football IQ. Johnny had his year too, but I think Winston is just a great player. Outstanding.

Dylan Sumner-Gardner: Jameis Winston, man. I feel comfortable with Jameis Winston as my quarterback because he’s smart and accurate. Johnny is accurate too, but Johnny is Johnny. How he runs around, people may get nervous. I would just feel more comfortable with Jameis as my quarterback.

No. 22 overall Laurence Jones (Monroe, La./Neville High): That’s a hard one right there. Let me think ... maybe Johnny Manziel because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a white boy get down like that. It would have to be Johnny Manziel.

Penn State wide receiver commit Chris Godwin (Middletown, De./Middletown High): I think Jameis Winston. I think overall he’s a better passer. I want a quarterback back there that can get me the ball on a consistent basis, but Johnny Manziel is a great player, too. I’m actually a big fan of both of them.

Five-star and Virginia defensive tackle commit Andrew Brown (Chesapeake, VA
Oscar Frommel Smith High)
: Dang, that’s a good question, man. I would go with Jameis Winston. His leadership qualities, coming in as a freshman and doing the things he is doing is definitely uncommon. It just foreshadows what he is going to do in the future, too. He’s already established a great foundation for himself, and I would definitely take him in the future.

Maryland commit Will Ulmer (Washington, D.C./Saint John’s High): I’m going with Johnny Manziel. I think he’s more dynamic, and more of a game-changer. Jameis Winston is a great quarterback too, but you have to think about all the dudes he has around him at FSU -- all the great receivers and good running backs. I would go with Manziel because if you put him on the Florida State team, or a stacked team like that, it would be a scary sight.

Top Big 12 Under Armour Game targets 

December, 26, 2013
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The Under Armour All-America Game is a week away, and several players are preparing to prove themselves against equally talented athletes on one of high school football’s biggest stages.

Currently, four UA All-Americans -- Texas defensive end commit Derick Roberson (San Antonio/Brennan) and cornerback commit Jermaine Roberts (New Orleans/St. Augustine), Oklahoma dual-threat quarterback pledge Justice Hansen (Edmond, Okla./Santa Fe) and Kansas offensive lineman commit Jacob Bragg (Nacogdoches, Texas/Nacogdoches) -- are committed to Big 12 schools.

Here are five uncommitted players who are considered major targets within the Big 12:

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Next Texas coach getting star in Heard 

December, 23, 2013
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Lee Vallejo has a tradition. For some reason, it brings out the best in Jerrod Heard.

The Denton Guyer quarterbacks coach sits down with his prized passer every Friday before a game and opens up YouTube. Before every game, they review the same mixtape: Cam Newton highlights.

Reviewing the finest plays of his Heisman-winning season at Auburn gets Heard fired up. And that’s how his coaches see the future Texas quarterback: A 6-foot-2 version on Newton.


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Big 12 recruiting storylines: Dec. 19 

December, 19, 2013
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With the first day of the mid-year transfer signing period in the books, Big 12 schools managed to pick up some quality players. Twenty-nine junior college players signed letters of intent to nine of the 10 schools in the conference.

Texas Tech scored the most signees with five. Josh Keys (Seminary, Miss./Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College) was one of the bigger names to sign, as he’s the No. 4 juco safety in the country. Other new Red Raiders include offensive tackle Dontae Levingston (Harbor City, Calif./Santa Monica College), wide receiver Devin Lauderdale (Corsicana, Texas/Navarro College) and defensive tackles Keland McElrath (Clarksdale, Miss./Coahoma Community College) and Marcus Smith (Highland, Kan./Highland Community College).

Here are some of the more intriguing storylines involving teams and players -- new and future -- in the conference:

K-State’s juco reputation lives on

The last thing Kansas State’s reputation did on Wednesday was take a hit.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

December, 16, 2013
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If all eyes weren’t on the Heisman Trophy race Saturday, then they were on Mack Brown's impending resignation as head coach of the Texas Longhorns. Add that in with the multiple junior college pledges to Big 12 programs, and you have a pretty solid weekend of recruiting as we approach the middle of the month.

Official visits and in-home visits were major topics of discussion last week. Here are some of the top storylines over the weekend:


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Texas recruits react to Mack Brown news 

December, 14, 2013
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The inevitable is now a reality. At the start of 2014, Mack Brown will no longer be the head coach of the Texas Longhorns.

After a week of drama within the Forty Acres that would make some soap operas jealous, one of college football's most interesting stories was stamped with an ending. Texas announced Saturday that Brown will resign following the Longhorns game against Oregon in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30. Per the Longhorn Network, Brown already has informed the team of his incoming resignation.

For college football recruits, Brown's news means a completely new era of Texas football. Many of the prospects committed to Brown's program were mere toddlers when he left North Carolina to take over at Texas in 1998. The majority of 2014 commits were born in 1995 or 1996.

What will Brown's departure mean? For some of the 23 commits, consider it a wait-and-see process. For most of them, consider it a new chapter -- one they're looking forward to.

One thing's for certain: The recruits were big fans of Brown not only as a coach but as a person.


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Under Armour game storylines: Big 12 

December, 5, 2013
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The Under Armour All-Americans have been announced; now, it’s a wait-and-see process for many of them. Will the committed players stay committed? Will the uncommitted make decisions soon? Can we see a major flip before national signing day?

This week’s recruiting storylines focuses on some of the Under Armour All-Americans being recruited by Big 12 programs.

Big 12 representation -- or lack thereof -- at the UA game. The Big 12 currently has four representatives who will compete in the Under Armour All-America Game -- Texas defensive end commit Derick Roberson (San Antonio/Brennan) and cornerback commit Jermaine Roberts (New Orleans/St. Augustine), Oklahoma quarterback pledge Justice Hansen (Edmond, Okla./Santa Fe) and Kansas offensive lineman pledge Jacob Bragg (Nacogdoches, Texas/Nacogdoches).

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The top prospects in the nation will again come to Florida to compete in the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 2. The list of alumni is impressive; many current college and NFL stars have competed in this event the last six years. With a new crop of future gridiron stars ready for their moment on the national stage, it’s a great time to look at current Under Armour participants and how some of them compare to past UA All-Americans playing in college football.


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Everything was set up so perfectly for the Longhorns prior to kickoff on Saturday afternoon.

They came in riding a six-game winning streak with a chance to make it seven against a marquee opponent in Oklahoma State, who was in search of its sixth straight victory.

The sidelines were littered with some of the top recruits in the country, including the nation’s top player in running back Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine), ESPN 300 safety Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) and ESPN 300 cornerback Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen). The latter two were on official visits.

The sky was even painted a picturesque blend of blue, pink, orange and yellow.

But then kickoff came and with it went much of the momentum, both on the field and in recruiting, that Texas had built up over the last two months.

Oklahoma State manhandled the Longhorns. The final score was 38-13 but it could have been a lot worse. A mass exodus of a tired fan base began late in the third quarter.

It was the exact opposite of the environment Texas was hoping to create for the recruits in attendance. They witnessed Oklahoma State bask in glory from their seats directly behind the Cowboys’ bench.

Many of those were 2014 commits, as 12 of Texas' 24-member class were expected to be in Austin.

In addition to 2015 commit Jalen Campbell (Corpus Christi, Texas/Flour Bluff), the Longhorns were also expected to host several top junior prospects. They included athlete Louis Brown (Burton, Texas/Burton), running back Lanard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine), cornerback Holton Hill (Houston/Lamar), quarterback J.W. Ketchum (Missouri City, Texas/Thurgood Marshall), cornerback Keivon Ramsey (Converse, Texas/Judson), wide receiver Kemah Siverand (Houston/Cypress Ridge), linebacker Cameron Townsend (Missouri City, Texas/Ridge Point) and defensive back Jordan Tolbert (Missouri City, Texas/Ridge Point).

Texas also hosted its lone 2016 commit, receiver Reggie Hemphill, along with several 2016 teammates from Manvel, Texas, in safety Deontay Anderson, who has a Texas offer, linebacker Jordan Carmouche, and athlete D’Eriq King. Fort Worth (Texas) Southwest 2016 quarterback Devin Williams was also slated to be in attendance.

For as ugly as the loss was, and for as many questions as it has already brought about concerning the future of Texas coach Mack Brown, this defeat doesn’t seem like it will have that much of an affect on those already verbally pledged to Texas.

They’ve endured quite a bit already but have long maintained their desire to help turn this program around. Take this tweet from Cuney for example: “There they go on my Coach Brown! Get off his back man. He not the 1 playing. He can only do so much!”

Best Big 12 recruiters 

October, 15, 2013
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Editor's note: For a look at the national recruiter power rankings based only on Class of 2014 success, click here.

The best college football coaches will tell you that when it comes to recruiting, their business is an art. It’s a craft you must perfect if you want to have the best players commit and ultimately sign. Recruiting isn’t for everybody, but those who are good at it -- particularly for building the 2014 class -- should be recognized, as the business is extremely competitive.

Here are 10 of the top recruiters from the Big 12.


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The Big 12 has a big weekend ahead in Dallas and Texas Tech is surging. Here’s a look at some of the Big 12’s top recruiting storylines.

Big names set to attend Red River Rivalry
There is never a season, regardless of what type of shape either program is in, that the Cotton Bowl won’t be filled with some of the most desirable recruits in the country.

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