NCF On The Trail: Dwayne Lawson

The East posted a 24-3 victory over the West in the fourth annual Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl this past Sunday, but the game and four days of practice provided for an in-depth look at both rosters. Here are five observations we took away from the event.

Two ESPN 300 prospects announced their commitments during the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl on Sunday night, as Dwayne Lawson committed to Virginia Tech and Austin Joyner pledged to Washington.

Lawson's commitment to Virginia Tech is huge for the Hokies, as coming into the game, Frank Beamer's 2015 recruiting class Insider contained 21 prospects but was without a quarterback. Now the Hokies boast the nation's No. 211 prospect and a former Miami commit.

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Lawson chose Virginia Tech over Mississippi and South Florida, and said he was drawn to the stability of the coaching staff and Virginia Tech's agribusiness program. He is the fourth prospect from the state of Florida in this Hokies' class and is the second ESPN 300 prospect to commit to Virginia Tech in the past three days, as the Hokies scored Insider No. 17 overall prospect Tim Settle during Friday's Under Armour All-America Game.

Joyner's recruitment has seen more than a few twists and turns. After originally committed to Washington and head coach Steve Sarkisian, Joyner backed away from that commitment when Sarkisian and many of his defensive assistants moved to USC. Joyner then committed to Washington State this past April, but made the decision to decommit shortly following the dismissal of two defensive assistants -- namely defensive coordinator Mike Breske -- from the Cougars following the season and two days before taking an official visit to Washington.

The 5-foot-10, 186-pound running back is the nation's No. 268 prospect and will head to Washington as a cornerback, though the Huskies' coaches have shown they will give players a look on both sides of the ball, and Joyner could be one of those to play multiple positions at the next level.

The Huskies now have 22 commitments, including two ESPN 300 prospects. Head coach Chris Petersen also continues his strong work with in-state recruits. After coming in late during the 2014 cycle and securing a commitment from Budda Baker, the state's top prospect last year, the Huskies now have commitments from four of the top six Washington prospects, including Joyner, the state's No. 1 recruit.
Day 2 of practices for the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl took us to the East squad, where one ESPN 300 prospect remains uncommitted -- for now -- and the only other uncommitted position player could be getting familiar with his future home city.

Lawson ready to announce

Only three of the top 20 dual-threat quarterbacks remain uncommitted at this stage, and ESPN 300 prospect Dwayne Lawson is ready to reduce that number to two.

The four-star quarterback and No. 211 overall prospect is a former Miami pledge, but said he will announce his commitment during halftime of this Sunday's game among a final group that includes Mississippi, South Florida and Virginia Tech.

"I already know what school I'm going to," Lawson said. "I made the decision probably last month. I kind of knew what the best opportunity was to play right away, the best opportunity for me to come in and be around guys that have the same goal in mind."

Lawson took an official visit to Virginia Tech in late November, but didn't take official trips to either of his other finalists -- though he added that he has been to USF on unofficial visits numerous times.

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound quarterback said he's eager to make his announcement because he's looking forward to start learning the offense.

Horton still committed to UF

Offensive guard Mike Horton is one of only eight commitments in Florida's class, as the Gators struggled to develop much in-season momentum with poor play and a rumored coaching change. Now that Jim McElwain has taken over and is looking to get things moving in the right direction, keeping Horton in the fold is a priority.

"Right now I'm still committed," Horton said of his Florida pledge. "I haven't talked to everybody on the new staff, but I've talked to Coach Mac twice. Basically he's been telling me to believe in the vision and know that we have something that we're trying to accomplish. It's going to get better here and we're going to bring Florida back to what it was."

Horton will take his official visits in January though, and said Auburn, Florida, LSU and Tennessee will receive his trips.

Still considered a Florida pledge, Horton said things could solidify completely for the Gators once, or if, he can fully buy into McElwain's pitch.

"I just have to believe more," Horton said of what would end his recruitment. "Just like he said, believe in the vision and know that we're trying to accomplish something and we have something coming."

Wheatley looking at four

Three-star tight end T.J. Wheatley Jr. will likely be headed far from home to play his college football, as the Buffalo (N.Y.) Canisius product is looking at a final four of Alabama, Oregon, UCLA and USC.

While Auburn, Michigan and Penn State could still make a mark in his recruitment, as Wheatley is in contact with those programs, the four finalists have either received or will receive an official visit from the 6-foot-6, 250-pound athlete.

The Trojans brought Wheatley in on an official visit before the dead period began, and he will take trips to Alabama, UCLA and Oregon on consecutive weekends beginning Jan. 16.

During that visit to USC, the Trojans received a commitment from ESPN 300 tight end Tyler Petite, but that hasn't stopped the Trojans' pursuit of Wheatley.

"Coach Tui [Marques Tuiasosopo] wants me to play tight end, but they're recruiting me as an athlete," Wheatley said. "They see me at tight end, defensive end, if I put on weight. Depending on what happens when I get into the program, they see me playing left tackle, so we'll see what happens."

Wheatley believes he is likely to announce a commitment on signing day, but added that it could come earlier if something changes on one of his trips.

Coach speak


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ESPN 300 Player of the Week: Nov. 10 

November, 10, 2014
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Each week, Recruiting Nation's scouts will highlight great performances from the nation's top recruits.

This week's honoree is ESPN 300 quarterback Dwayne Lawson. Check out the highlights.


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Notebook: IMG 7v7 Championship 

June, 23, 2014
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BRADENTON, Fla. -- The IMG 7v7 National Championship held at IMG Academy over the weekend featured some of the top 7-on-7 teams from all over the country and even a few teams from Canada. The event, which included 12 prospects ranked in the top 50 of the ESPN 300, showcased some of the best talent you will find in a single tournament. Led by Alabama verbal commits Calvin Ridley and Shawn Burgess-Becker, the Florida Fire from South Florida defeated Tampa’s Unsigned Preps 20-18 in the championship game to take home the title.

Quarterbacks shine

There were several high-profile quarterbacks in attendance, and they lived up to the hype for the most part. Deondre Francois, who recently transferred to IMG Academy, made numerous impressive throws. The 6-foot-2, 188-pound signal-caller has a top three of Oregon, Auburn and Florida State and is planning to make his decision at the end of July.


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Recruiting the right quarterback means a tremendous amount to every college football program.

In the Class of 2015, the race has been on for months for programs in need of signal-callers.

With the calendar having turned to June, there are more than 55 quarterbacks who have given verbal commitments to FBS programs.

Most recently, Florida snagged West Coast prospect Sheriron Jones over the weekend. In all, 39 of 62 programs in the Power Five conferences have QB commitments, and more are on the way.


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ACC recruiting scorecard

May, 21, 2014
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Clemson has had a big week on the recruiting trail, as the Tigers picked up the nation's No. 2 tight end, Garrett Williams on Monday. With that, we figured now is as good of a time as any to compile an ACC recruiting scorecard.

Below you will find each ACC team, its number of commitments and its most recent recruiting news. There's obviously a ways to go between now and national signing day on Feb. 4, 2015, but here's a look at where everyone in the league currently stands.

(Note: ESPN has only ranked the top 15 recruiting classes for 2015.)

Boston College
Current commitments: 9
Spotlight: The highlight of the Eagles' class is No. 7 tight end-H Jakeb Burt, a 6-foot-5, 238-pound three-star prospect. BC’s other big commits include three-star, No. 35 cornerback Lukas Denis and three-star, No. 52 offensive tackle Anthony Palazzolo.
ESPN 300 commitments: 0

Clemson
Current commitments: 16
Spotlight: The Tigers' best recruit is five-star tackle Mitch Hyatt, the nation's No. 7 overall player and the highest-ranked offensive lineman to commit to the program in the 10 years ESPN has ranked players. Clemson has nine four-star commitments as well, with Williams and three other offensive linemen among them.
ESPN 300 commitments: 7
ESPN rank: 5

Duke
Current commitments: 3
Spotlight: The Blue Devils have just three commitments, but two of them are three-star players who are nationally ranked at their positions: No. 39 defensive tackle Brandon Boyce and No. 37 defensive end Zach Morris.
ESPN 300 commitments: 0

Florida State
Current commitments: 11
Spotlight: The Seminoles have hauled in No. 25 overall player Derwin James Jr., the nation's top safety. They also scored a major win by beating out in-state rivals Florida and Miami to get No. 5 cornerback Tyrek Cole. Florida State has six four-star players among its 11 commitments.
ESPN 300 commitments: 4
ESPN rank: 7

Georgia Tech
Current commitments: 3
Spotlight: No. 25 athlete Jaylend Ratliffe highlights this haul for the Yellow Jackets. The 6-1, 200-pound four-star is ranked as the No. 278 overall player in the nation, flashing tremendous athleticism as a left-handed quarterback at the prep level.
ESPN 300 commitments: 1

Louisville
Current commitments: 1
Spotlight: Bobby Petrino's only commit in his first class with the Cardinals is 6-foot, 205-pound safety T.J. Jallow.
ESPN 300 commitments: 0

Miami
Current commitments: 11
Spotlight: No. 5 running back Dexter Williams has been the biggest get for the Hurricanes, as they stole him out of Gator Country. Miami also boasts No. 5 tight end-Y Bowman Archibald and No. 4 dual-threat quarterback Dwayne Lawson, two of seven four-star commitments for the program so far.
ESPN 300 commitments: 5
ESPN rank: 11

North Carolina
Current commitments: 9
Spotlight: The Tar Heels have landed the nation’s No. 3 tight end-H in ESPN 300 prospect Carl Tucker, a four-star recruit and the nation's No. 260 overall player. They have landed two other four-star prospects: No. 31 offensive tackle Mason Veal and No. 22 safety Ronnie Harrison.
ESPN 300 commitments: 1

NC State
Current commitments: 4
Spotlight: Three of the Wolfpack's four commitments have come from within the state, with the lone exception being wide receiver Freddie Phillips.
ESPN 300 commitments: 0

Pitt
Current commitments: 3
Spotlight: The Panthers have just three commitments for this class, but two of them are three-star players who are nationally ranked at their positions: No. 27 outside linebacker Kevin Givens and No. 42 offensive guard Alex Paulina.
ESPN 300 commitments: 0

Syracuse
Current commitments: 7
Spotlight: The Orange's run game should look pretty good down the road: Five of their seven current commitments are either offensive linemen or running backs, with the top three prospects coming on the offensive line, and two of them currently prep teammates: tackle Colin Byrne and guard Samuel Clausman.
ESPN 300 commitments: 0

Virginia
Current commitments: 3
Spotlight: The Cavaliers' 2015 recruiting class doesn't quite stack up to its 2014 haul as of now, but among their three prospects are nationally ranked, three-star players: No. 22 pocket-passing quarterback Nick Johns and No. 28 safety Juan Thornhill.
ESPN 300 commitments: 0

Virginia Tech
Current commitments: 4
Spotlight: The Hokies' class is also short on numbers but features three nationally ranked, three-star prospects: No. 39 athlete Mook Reynolds, No. 29 cornerback DuWayne Johnson and No. 37 defensive tackle Harry Lewis.
ESPN 300 commitments: 0

Wake Forest
Current commitments: 2
Spotlight: Dave Clawson's first full class currently has two players: defensive end Paris Black and offensive tackle T.J. Haney.
ESPN 300 commitments: 0
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Coaches preach the importance of academics all the time on the recruiting trail, but now Oklahoma State will have to answer questions from prospects after getting penalized by the NCAA for falling below the NCAA’s minimum Academic Progress Rate. Plus, Miami like won't get its top local target, but the Canes might have landed their quarterback of the future on Thursday.


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Scout's take: QB Lawson to Miami 

May, 15, 2014
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On Thursday, Miami secured a pledge from ESPN 300 dual-threat quarterback Dwayne Lawson. Read below to see why Tom Luginbill believes Lawson brings another dynamic to the Hurricanes' QB mix:


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Ten under-the-radar QBs on the rise 

April, 8, 2014
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While it is still very early in the process and college programs are beginning to wrap up spring football and head out on the road for the spring evaluation period, the players who will likely be the most scrutinized the most are the quarterbacks.

Of course, there are already some familiar, high-profile names such as Josh Rosen, Kyler Murray and Jarrett Stidham, but as we have navigated the position to this point, we thought we’d share 10 quarterbacks that maybe you don’t know about yet, but will and should by mid-summer, at the latest. We feel confident that the stock of these players will rise in the eyes of coaches at schools in the big five conferences as well those at the mid-major level. A few of these prospects hail from states that haven’t necessarily been hotbeds for QB talent.


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IMG Southeast Regional notebook 

March, 31, 2014
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BRADENTON, Fla. -- South Florida has always been known for producing top talent and elite seven-on-seven teams but it was two teams from Jacksonville (Fla.) that battled in the finals of the IMG 7v7 Southeast Regional Championships on Sunday.

The Pro Impact team, led by LSU commit and the No. 3-ranked player in the ESPN Junior 300 Kevin Toliver II and defensive back Derwin James Jr., a Florida State commit, upset River City, which featured FSU quarterback commit De’Andre Johnson and South Carolina commit Sherrod Pittman, 23-14.


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Orlando/Miami NFTC notebook 

March, 16, 2014
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The Florida leg of the Nike Football Training Camp series didn’t disappoint. Top prospects from all over the Sunshine State made their way to Orlando (Fla.) and Miami to take part in the ultra-competiive camp. An incredible 11 prospects from the Orlando NFTC were invited to The Opening, an elite camp and 7-on-7 tournament held in early July at the Nike Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. Here’s a closer look at the top news from over the weekend.

Orlando NFTC/Elite 11


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Elite 11 Orlando awards 

March, 15, 2014
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After seeing a strong group of quarterbacks at the Los Angeles NFTC, the focus shifted east and solely on the quarterbacks this weekend at the Orlando Elite 11. The group overall was not as strong as what we saw a week earlier in California, but the Sunshine State event still featured some good prospects, including a handful of ESPN 300 candidates and some promising 2016 prospects. Here are the Recruiting Nation E11 Awards, highlighting the top performers:


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