NCF On The Trail: Dhaquille Williams

Notes on the final 2014 ESPN JC 50 

January, 28, 2014
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The Class of 2014 is almost in the books, and that includes the junior college ranks as well. While there aren’t major changes in the final 2014 ESPN Junior College 50, there are some noteworthy moves.

No longer in the 2014 class
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This is always difficult to foresee because players develop at different rates and the physical talent isn’t what usually determines whether a prospect makes an impact right away. Some guys you have a great feel for. I remember last year when we had Carl Lawson as the No. 2 player in the country and people told us we were crazy, but he had the goods in the intangibles areas so we felt plenty confident with where we had him. This year, our confidence level is relatively high with the following players. First, RB Racean Thomas (Oxford, Ala./Oxford) is going to have a role there, no doubt. Now, how big of a role depends on his capacity for scheme pick-up, pass protection and ball security, but his talent is better than what Auburn has behind Tre Mason right now. From a playmaking standpoint, WR D'Haquille Williams (Laplace/La./Mississippi Gulf College) adds an entirely new dimension to this offense. We would be very surprised if he does not make his presence felt early and often. The Tigers have made strides in the juco ranks at linebacker and on the defensive front too, but most juco prospects are expected to play right away -- that’s why you pursue them. However, don’t dismiss ATH Stanton Truitt (Monroe, Ga./Monroe) as being a sleeper freshman for this team as a jet sweep/Onterio McCalebb type who can contribute in the passing game.

Recruit and return: Auburn 

January, 7, 2014
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Auburn's magical season ended with a tough 34-31 loss to Florida State on Monday night. The top two teams in the country certainly played like it in the VIZIO BCS National Championship Game. On the recruiting front, both schools are in the top 10 of the recruiting rankings. With less than a month until national signing day here's a closer look where Auburn stands.

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Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

December, 23, 2013
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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.

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Early Offer: Auburn has big day 

December, 19, 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: Is there anybody hotter on the recruiting trail than Auburn after its success with junior-college recruits?; Arkansas needs talent at receiver, and the Hogs received good news when one of its former commits returned to the fold; Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy can’t wait to get a juco playmaker in the lineup.

Auburn scores big with juco recruits
The junior college midterm signing period opened on Wednesday and Auburn came away the big winners. Despite relentless pursuit by LSU, Auburn signed receiver D'haquille Williams, the nation’s No. 1 player out of Mississippi Gulf Coast College. The Tigers also announced the signings of his teammate, four-star linebacker/safety Derrick Moncrief, defensive tackle DaVonte Lambert (Milledgeville, Ga./Georgia Military College), and offensive lineman Xavier Dampeer from Wesson (Miss.) Copiah-Lincoln Community College. Lambert, the No. 6 player in the ESPN JC 50, flipped from Tennessee to Auburn and gave the Tigers three of the top 14 players in the country. The Tigers are poised to crack the top 10 of the ESPN Class Rankings with more than a month left before signing day.

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The junior college midterm signing period opened on Wednesday and the Auburn Tigers came away as the clear-cut winners.

Despite relentless pursuit by LSU, Auburn signed receiver D'haquille Williams, the nation’s No. 1 junior college player, out of Mississippi Gulf Coast College. The Tigers also announced the signings of his teammate, four-star linebacker/safety Derrick Moncrief, and offensive lineman Xavier Dampeer from Wesson (Miss.) Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

[+] EnlargeD'haquille Williams
Courtesy of Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C.D'haquille Williams, the No. 1 juco prospect, signed with Auburn and Gus Malzahn called him "a dynamic player who can run, catch, do all the things it takes to be a great wide receiver."
The good news continued Wednesday afternoon as defensive tackle DaVonte Lambert (Milledgeville, Ga./Georgia Military College), the No. 6 player in the ESPN JC 50, flipped his pledge from Tennessee and said he was signing with the Tigers.

By the end of the day, the Tigers had inked three of the top 14 players in the country and are now poised to crack the top 10 of the ESPN Class Rankings with more than a month left before signing day. But make no mistake, Williams was the prize of the haul.

"He's a dynamic player who can run, catch, do all the things it takes to be a great wide receiver," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "If you look back we've had years when we threw it a lot. We are going to get more balanced next year. Anytime you have a dynamic player like him coming, that's a good thing."

Despite missing out on Lambert, it was still a banner day for the Vols.

Tennessee signed the nation’s No. 2 juco prospect in Lavon Pearson, an impact receiver from Quincy (Calif.) Feather River College. The Vols also landed No. 26 Dontavius Blair, an offensive tackle from Garden City (Kan.) Community College, and No. 40 Owen Williams, a defensive tackle from El Dorado (Kan.) Butler Community College.

All three are expected to see the field quickly at Tennessee and are a major part of the Vols’ second-ranked recruiting class.

"Von was as productive of a player as there was in all of junior college football this past season,” Tennessee receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Zach Azzanni said. “He brings instant help as a threat on the outside to our offense.”’

Oklahoma State also came away a big winner with the addition of running back/receiver Tyreek Hill, No. 4 in the ESPN JC 50, out of Garden City. Hill had flirted with Texas and even took an official visit to Austin last weekend, but in the end he stuck with the school he committed to early in the process.

“It feels good to finally get this all out of the way,” Hill said. “I owed it to myself to make sure Oklahoma State was the right place for me. In the end, it was OSU and it wasn’t even close.”

Hill is one of the fastest players in the country, with a 200-meter time of 20.14 seconds and a 100 time of 10.19.

Several other teams filled major holes with commitments as the signing period opened Wednesday.

Kansas State landed Andre Davis (Santa Rosa, Calif./Santa Rosa JC), a receiver who is No. 36 in the juco rankings and is expected to complement All-Big 12 receiver Tyler Lockettnext season. Davis said he told the K-State coaches he plans on coming in and being better than Locket.

Florida State added to its offensive line depth with the addition of Kareem Are (Fort Scott, Kan./Fort Scott Community College), who is No. 45 in the ESPN JC 50. Are is a nice addition because he can play virtually every position along the offensive line.

Florida also landed a nice signing day surprise when Drew Sarvary, an offensive tackle from Tyler (Texas) Junior College switched his commitment from Texas Tech and signed with the Gators. UF needs as much help as it can get up front and Sarvary, a Tallahassee, Fla., native, jumped at the opportunity to stay near home.

2014 junior college overview

December, 5, 2013
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The Junior College signing period is almost here, and with that is the release of the 2014 JC player rankings.

The best way to build a program is through recruiting high school prospects who can be developed in a particular program's mold and will be around for a longer period of time.

As someone who both played (Nassau) and coached (Hutchinson) at the junior college level, I have a tremendous respect for this level of football and the opportunities it can offer to young prospects and the talent it can produce. Junior colleges can provide college programs with opportunities to fill holes on their rosters with older and more experienced players while they recruit and develop high school prospects for the long term.

Junior colleges can provide a program with an impact-type player at times, the way quarterback Cam Newton was at Auburn or linebacker Lavonte David was at Nebraska. At other times and more frequently, it can provide ways for a college program to supplement and strengthen its depth chart.

Below is an overview of the 2014 crop of junior college prospects and what they have to offer for college programs.

The big catch: The battle for the top spot came down to a pair of receivers, and it was a close call. The edge went to D’haquille Williams (Laplace, La./Mississippi Gulf Coast CC), a receiver with an excellent combination of size and athleticism. A current Auburn verbal, Williams is still a bit raw in areas, but he possesses great ball skills and big-play ability and is talented enough to come in and make an impact as a receiving target.

An argument for the No. 1 spot was also made for Lavon Pearson (Quincy, Calif./Feather River College), who is close behind at No. 2. A Tennessee verbal, Pearson is arguably a little more well-rounded as a pure receiver prospect at this point than Williams, but he doesn’t possess quite the same stature or physical tools. What the fluid receiver does bring is excellent ball skills and the ability to be dangerous after the catch. Pearson could come in and have an immediate impact in a similar manner to former Volunteers receiver and juco import Cordarrelle Patterson.

Tight coverage: It is not a particularly strong crop of secondary prospects, but a pair of talented cornerbacks lead this group and landed in the top 10. Shattle Fenteng (Loganville, Ga./Hutchinson CC) is the top-rated CB. He is a physical, explosive man-to-man matchup defender. A Georgia commit, he possesses the ability to mirror quicker wide receivers. Standing 6-foot-1, he also holds up against bigger targets in red-zone/jump-ball matchups.

The other top-10 defensive back is Tee Shepard (Fresno, Calif./Holmes Community College), likely a familiar name to many recruiting fans as he was a Notre Dame commit in the 2012 class out of high school. A corner with nice size, he displays good leaping ability and ball skills and can be a physical presence at the position.

Another cornerback outside the top 10 who we believe is worth keeping an eye on is Danzel McDaniel (Dodge City, Kan./Dodge City CC). A top-50 prospect, he is an aggressive, physical, tall (6-1) and athletic corner.

Jermaine Eluemunor
Josh Moyer/ESPNJermaine Eluemunor, the top-ranked juco offensive guard, is committed to Texas A&M.
Think big: The strength of this 2014 junior college class is within the trenches as the offensive and defensive lines are the deepest group. A dozen offensive linemen landed in the top 50, including six in the top 20. The group is led by two offensive tackles and top-10 overall prospects in 6-6, 310-pound Dominick Jackson (San Mateo, Calif./College of San Mateo) and Chad Mavety (Garden City, N.Y./Nassau CC). Jackson, an Alabama verbal, brings good size, strength and agility and can offer some versatility as well. Mavety needs some polish but is a big tackle prospect (6-6, 320) with the tools to be a good, well-rounded OT and come in and contribute to a program.

Jordan Prestwood (Tampa, Fla./Arizona Western) is a name that probably rings a bell to recruiting fans as he was a promising prospect in the 2011 class and bounced around some before landing in junior college. A good athlete for his size (6-6, 315), he has grown and gained some experience as he transitions back to the FBS level. The guard position features a pair of Lackawanna College teammates in Jermaine Eluemunor and Jarell Broxton. Eluemunor (6-6, 300), who is committed to Texas A&M, could contribute at offensive tackle, though we believe his best fit will be at guard. Broxton (6-5, 328) is a big man we believe is a bit underrated in this juco class. He is a nice pickup for Baylor.

The largest group represented is the defensive tackles, with 15 in the top 50. Three defensive tackles are among the top 10, including Tennessee verbal DaVonte Lambert (Milledgeville, Ga./Georgia Military College), a tough and disruptive player. Dalvon Stuckey (DeFuniak Springs, Fla./Pearl River CC) was a promising prospect coming out in the 2012 class and remains one as an active defensive tackle. One of the more interesting prospects in this class is Alfonso Hampton (Chula Vista, Calif./Southwestern College). Someone to keep an eye on, he didn't play football in high school and is a bit of an underrated prospect, but he possesses a nice combination of size, strength and agility and displays promising upside. Recent Nebraska verbal Terrell Clinkscales (Dodge City, Kan./Dodge City CC) brings very good size (6-3, 315) and strength to the trenches.

The defensive end group is not as strong as the interior group, but some good talent can be found, led by Oregon verbal Tui Talia (Pleasant Hill, Calif./Diablo Valley) and D.J. Pettway (Pensacola, Fla./East Mississippi).

An interesting prospect in this group is jumbo athlete Jeremy Liggins (Oxford, Miss./Northwest Mississippi). With an excellent blend of size (6-4, 285) and athleticism, he has played quarterback in both high school and junior college, but we believe his best long-term fit is along the defensive line. Listed as an athlete, he could contribute in more than one way, though his lack of focus at one position could be a bit of a concern.

Empty backfield: While we believe there are some good prospects to be found on the perimeter offensively, this is not a strong group for those looking for some help in the backfield.

At quarterback, we don’t see another Cam Newton, Zach Mettenberger or Nick Marshall in this group and no quarterbacks landed in the top 50.

Tyreek Hill
Jeremy Crabtree/ESPNVersatile athlete Tyreek Hill is committed to Oklahoma State.
The running back position is slightly stronger, but only one player, Ole Miss verbal Akeem Judd (Milledgeville, Ga./Georgia Military College), is ranked among the top 50. Sitting just outside the top 50 is De’Chavon Hayes (Richmond, Va./Lackawanna College), a good all-purpose back who flashes big-play ability. Listed in the athlete category but capable of making a play in more than one way offensively -- including out of the backfield -- is Tyreek Hill (Garden City, Kan./Garden City CC). An Oklahoma State verbal, Hill is ranked No. 4 overall and can be an explosive weapon with his speed, ability to make defenders miss and ball skills. He is capable of making plays as a running back, wide receiver and in the return game.

Look beyond: The ESPN JC 50 represents the top prospects in the class, but there are also some promising prospects beyond the top 50. Geronimo Allison (Council Bluffs, Iowa/Iowa Western CC) is a tall receiver who can win foot races and make plays. Dominique Robertson (Riverside, Calif./Riverside CC) is a physical and nasty offensive tackle who landed just outside the top 50. David Moala (Norwalk, Calif./Cerritos College) is a wide-bodied and surprisingly agile defensive tackle who can be a disruptive presence.

These are just a few of the prospects who didn’t make the top 50 but can still help an FBS program. You can look at the Recruiting Nation database for evaluations of more than 100 juco prospects.

Early Offer: Vols on recruiting tear 

December, 5, 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: Butch Jones is producing the recruiting story of the year with his efforts in Knoxville; Alabama continues to add to its prize recruiting class with another blue-chip defender; the signing period for mid-term junior college recruits is two weeks away and the push to land the undecided will be fierce.

UT adds 11th ESPN 300 prospect

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SEC class rankings analysis 

December, 4, 2013
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The latest update to the RecruitingNation class rankings features a number of moves due in large part to the release of the ESPN Junior College 50 rankings. Within the conference, Alabama still has a strong grasp on the top spot with all 14 schools in the top 35 classes nationally. Here's a look at the conference's rankings Insider.

Trending up: Both Texas A&M and Auburn are trending up thanks to the release of the ESPN JC 50. The Aggies jumped from No. 5 to No. 4 and into the top 3 in the conference rankings with junior college offensive linemen Avery Gennesy (Southhaven, Miss./East Mississippi Community College) and Jermaine Eluemunor (Rockaway, N.J./Lackawanna College) coming in at No. 13 and 15 in the ESPN JC 50. Auburn junior college commitment D'haquille Williams (Reserve, La./Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College) and Dalvon Stuckey (De Funiak Springs, Fla./Pearl River Community College) came in at No. 1 and 9 in the JC 50. Auburn jumped from No. 14 nationally to No. 12, and the Tigers are in striking position on several other highly-ranked prospects.

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Top 2014 junior college classes 

December, 3, 2013
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National signing day is quickly approaching, but first up is the midyear junior college signing period. The opportunity for juco prospects to sign with Football Bowl Subdivision programs starts Dec. 18, and several prospects have already made commitments. More commitments are likely to come between now and the start of the signing period, but with the release of the ESPN JC 50, let’s take a look at five programs (in alphabetical order) having success on the juco recruiting trail.

Arizona: The Wildcats have commitments from a half-dozen junior college prospects. Only one verbal, LB Antonio Smothers (Scottsdale, Ariz./Scottsdale CC) is in the ESPN JC 50. Smothers can give them a big, physical downhill run defender between the tackles. They might sit outside the top 50 in the recruiting rankings, but DT Jeff Worthy (Santa Ana, Calif./Santa Ana College) and OL Kaige Lawrence (Victorville, Calif./Chaffey) are solid pickups in the trenches. With the secondary featuring several upperclassmen, they also bring in some help with CB Patrick Glover (Gilbert, Ariz./Scottsdale CC) and instinctive and aggressive S Jamie Byrd (Dade City, Fla./Iowa Western).


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SEC top juco targets 

December, 3, 2013
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Looking over the newly released ESPN JC 50, there are several recruits on that list already committed to SEC schools. There are also many that still remain undecided. With signing day quickly approaching, here’s a closer look at five prospects, who’s destination is still unknown.

[+] EnlargeD'haquille Williams
Courtesy of Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C.Juco WR transfer D'haquille Williams has made a big first impression as an early enrollee at Auburn.
1. WR D'haquille Williams (Laplace, La./Mississippi Gulf Coast CC): The No. 1-ranked prospect in the ESPN JC 50 is already committed to Auburn and visited this past weekend for Auburn’s miracle win over Alabama. This talented wide receiver, however, is still considering LSU and it appears to be a neck-and-neck battle. Williams’ MGCCC teammate Derrick Moncrief is also committed to Auburn which could certainly play in the favor of the Tigers -- Auburn that is.


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Recruits will be watching Alabama-Auburn 

November, 27, 2013
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This season's Iron Bowl has reached epic proportions in both hype and importance as both Alabama and Auburn are top-five teams for the showdown for only the second time in the history of the series. With an SEC title game appearance hanging in the balance, the list of expected visitors on hand Saturday is huge, especially for recruits in the 2015 class.

D'haquille Williams (Reserve, La./Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College): The Auburn commitment and one of the top junior-college prospects in the class will likely attend the Iron Bowl on Saturday. Can Auburn hold off the surging LSU Tigers for Williams?


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Recruits Watching: Texas A&M at LSU 

November, 22, 2013
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The big game in the SEC this week is the battle in Baton Rouge between No. 12 Texas A&M and No. 22 LSU. As expected with the Top 25 showdown featuring Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, a laundry list of top prospects the two programs are recruiting and battling for are expected to be in attendance.

1. RB Leonard Fournette (New Orleans, La./Saint Augustine High): The nation's No. 1 prospect is a possibility to attend Saturday's game unofficially. Any time the Tigers take the field against quality opponent is big for LSU in their recruitment, and this is no different. Fournette continues to have LSU and Alabama highest on his list, but Texas A&M is a school he has considered during the process. Fournette visited Texas last weekend and attended the LSU-Alabama game in Tuscaloosa with his family two weekends ago.


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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: Oregon State coach Mike Riley launched a new Twitter campaign on Tuesday to help the Beavers connect with recruits across the country; LSU’s Frank Wilson didn’t make the first edition of the ESPN recruiting power rankings, but he could be leading the poll by signing day; and a question and answer session on Wednesday helped identify what topics are most important with recruiting fans today.

#SmartRecruitingTool
Oregon State coach Mike Riley has more than 18,900 followers and is great communicating with fans on Twitter. So it was no surprise to see him launch a campaign Tuesday called “Tweet Film Tuesday” where he asked recruits to send him links to their film, and he and his staffers will then select 10 recruits to evaluate each week. With only 140 characters to work with, Riley didn’t explain how he and his assistants would pick the 10 recruits to evaluate, but the idea is ingenious. Not only does it help Riley and the Beaver coaches communicate with prospects in a way they’re already familiar with, it also allows the OSU coaches to find prospects they might not have been familiar with who are truly interested in the program. Also with Riley’s track record of uncovering hidden talent, you can all but guarantee there will be a story a few years down the road where the Beavers found a sleeper through this approach.

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Best SEC 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.

It's no secret that Southeastern Conference has been the top conference in the country as far as recruiting over the last several years. The league currently has six teams ranked in the top 11 of the team recruiting rankings. Here's a look at the top 10 recruiters around the ultra-competitive conference.

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