NCF On The Trail: Dontavius Blair

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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It is always difficult to pinpoint just one guy, but I will point out a few that I think will be immediate impact players who can help in critical areas and also list some prospects who have a high ceiling for development. Let’s start off with some impact players. Tennessee needs offensive weapons as badly as anyone and this has been a focus. Therefore the additions of Josh Malone (Gallatin, Tenn./Station Camp) and No. 2 ranked juco player LaVon Pearson (Newport News, Va./Feather River College) will be expected to play significant roles within this scheme to add to Alton "Pig" Howard and Marquez North. Considering the losses along the offensive line, OT Dontavius Blair (Anniston, Ala./Garden City Community College) will likely be expected to start right away. As far as some high ceiling prospects, we think TE-Y Daniel Helm (Chatham, Ill./Glenwood) has a bright future as a movement flex TE who is very gifted in the passing game. Once DE Dewayne Hendrix (O’Fallon, Ill./Township) gets into the weight room we feel he could really escalate over time. The key for this Tennessee class is for 70 percent of the players to pan out. That would be a great number. There are always going to be misses, but Butch Jones and his staff have done a great job addressing needs and winning the state. As many as 14 of these prospects will be mid-year guys which is huge as many will likely be expected to play. There will be disappointments and there will be guys who exceed expectations, but mostly this class needs to be the one that starts producing wins.
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.

Vols, Dawgs can lean on OL classes 

December, 12, 2013
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In most cases, missing out on the nation’s No. 18 player would be a crushing defeat.

The battle to land David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence School), the nation’s No. 2 offensive tackle, had plenty of twists and turns with Tennessee and Georgia each taking a turn in the leader’s spot before he pledged to Florida Thursday. In the end, Sharpe saw an opportunity for early playing time and a lack of depth at tackle in Gainesville he couldn’t pass up.

Many fans are going to flock to social media to complain their beloved Dawgs or Vols missed out here, but they shouldn’t. Looking deeper at each school’s situation shows not landing Sharpe wasn’t a swing and a miss at all.


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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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SEC recruiting storylines: Oct. 10 

October, 10, 2013
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Taking a look back at the week that was in SEC recruiting and looking ahead to future visits as teams build toward signing day:

Banner week for Tennessee

While Tennessee couldn’t pull out a victory over Georgia Saturday, the Vols had more success in the minds of prospects. The Volunteers have picked up a pair of commitments since Saturday, and both are significant. Defensive end Derek Barnett (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood Academy), the No. 298 player in the ESPN 300, helps fill a serious need on the defensive front. Junior college offensive tackle Dontavius Blair (Anniston, Ala./Garden City Community College) has the ability to be an impact player at a key position that will be hit by graduation. The 6-foot-7, 307-pound Blair was a huge recruiting win over SEC programs Auburn and Texas A&M. The Vols look like a lead-pipe cinch to sign a top-10 class at this point.


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Early Offer: Bama-A&M big for recruiting 

September, 13, 2013
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The Early Offer gives you a daily dose of recruiting in the morning. Friday's offerings: It’s an all Alabama-Texas A&M edition of The Early Offer, as more than 75 prospects will flock to College Station this weekend. What impact would an A&M victory have on the recruiting trail, and who exactly will be in town?

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SEC class rankings analysis 

September, 11, 2013
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For the third straight week, there is very little change in the RecruitingNation class rankings. Thirteen of the 14 SEC teams are ranked in the top 40, including nine of the top 16, with top-ranked Alabama holding a big lead over any and all pursuers.

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Critical positions in SEC recruiting 

September, 3, 2013
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Each year college coaches prioritize their recruiting needs. Whether it's offensive or defensive linemen or skilled positions, there always seems to be an area that needs more attention than others. Here's a closer look at the most important position for each SEC team in recruiting this year.


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Critical positions in Big 12 recruiting 

September, 3, 2013
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What’s the most critical position in the Big 12? It depends on who you talk to. In a conference that rides its offensive reputation, some coaches are hoping to land players that will help them score points, while others are looking for the prospects to prevent points.

As official visits become finalized and uncommitted players get closer to announcing their commitments, here is a look at some of the most critical positions in recruiting for the Big 12 teams.

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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's latest feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Michigan isn’t the only Big Ten team to make waves with 2015 recruits, as Ohio State landed a big junior commitment Monday; Garden City C.C. Dontavius Blair could be the most heavily recruited juco lineman in the nation; and Joe Mixon’s big reveal becomes a social media event.

No need to wait
After watching rival Michigan make a lot recruiting noise in the 2015 class, it was Ohio State’s turn to make news Sunday night. ESPN Junior 300 standout Eric Glover-Williams (Canton, Ohio/McKinley) had been leaning toward Ohio State for quite some time and decided to pledge to the Buckeyes. Glover-Williams, who is ranked 29th overall and fourth at athlete, had double-digit offers, including Arkansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Tennessee and Pittsburgh, but he said he could only see himself playing at Ohio State. "It means a lot to me, to come in and help them build Ohio State toward winning a national championship," Glover-Williams said. "Most definitely I'll be involved in recruiting. I want the best of the best to come to Ohio State. I'll get the best players I can to Ohio State."

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Summer recruit wrap: Midlands region 

July, 23, 2013
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Here are five things we learned over the summer from recruiting in the Midlands Region:


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UGA coaches hit the road 

April, 22, 2013
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The spring evaluation period is upon us and the Georgia staff has hit the road to see some of its top prospects.

Last week, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo checked in on 2015 quarterback Tyler Queen (Acworth, Ga./North Cobb), offensive line coach Will Friend visited juco offensive tackle target Dontavius Blair (Anniston, Ala./Garden City Community College), defensive line coach Chris Wilson checked in on massive nose guard target Charles Mosley (Brighton, Tenn./Brighton), and also saw and subsequently offered a scholarship to 2015 offensive lineman Drew Richmond (Memphis, Tenn./Memphis University).

They will once again stop by the high schools of these several prominent recruits this week:


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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- With ideal weather and Alabama returning to the practice field, it was the perfect weekend to bring in some top recruits.

The Crimson tide took advantage and hosted prospects from across the Southeast for the opening practice.

Cajun flavor

Six Alabama players taking the field Saturday hail from the Pelican State including wide receiver Raheem Falkins, an early enrollee.

Based on the recruits who were on campus, the pipeline from Louisiana to Tuscaloosa could continue in the future.


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Junior college offensive tackle Dontavius Blair (Garden City, Kan./Garden City Community College) is considered one of the biggest gets in the Class of 2014 -- literally. At a shade under 6-foot-8 and 290 pounds, Blair is a huge tackle with 12 offers.


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