NCF On The Trail: Edwin Freeman

Top position classes: LB 

February, 17, 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)
The Alabama Crimson Tide’s 2014 class fill just about every need on the board, and that includes linebacker. With designs on addressing pass rushing and the ability to play in space on the edge at outside 'backer in Nick Saban’s 3-4 scheme, Alabama signed the Nos. 1 and No. 2 outside linebackers in the country in No. 48 overall Christian Miller (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley) and No. 52 overall Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn), who is pound for pound of the best pure athletes in the 2014 cycle. The Crimson Tide added two more talented linebackers in ESPN 300’s No. 102 Shaun Dion Hamilton (Montgomery, Ala./Carver) and No. 281 Keith Holcombe (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Hillcrest). Hamilton is an MLB.

The Crimson Tide had the nation’s best linebacker class; here’s which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:

Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

January, 27, 2014
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As expected, this was one of the busiest weeks in the Big 12 from a recruiting standpoint. Teams were looking to fill in last-minute vacancies, and players were looking to finalize their college plans. TCU proved to be the big winner in the conference, landing six 2014 commits and two more commits from the 2015 class. Kansas wasn’t far behind, as the Jayhawks got verbal commitments from five three-star players for the 2014 class.

Here are some of this past week’s highlights:


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Early Offer: Trojans get their QB 

January, 27, 2014
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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: Steve Sarkisian and USC landed a major building block for their future this past weekend when a blue-chip 2015 quarterback committed; a longtime Texas commit flipped to rival Texas A&M on Sunday; and a five-star cornerback said he will narrow his list to four schools early this week.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

January, 20, 2014
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The first weekend after the dead period was expected to be a wild one. It didn’t disappoint.

The Big 12 saw multiple players take official visits, and several players either announced their verbal commitments or flipped their pledges to different schools. The first of what is anticipated to be three busy weekends came to a conclusion late Sunday night.

Here are some of this past week’s highlights:


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Early Offer: Dead period ends 

January, 17, 2014
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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: The extended dead period kept coaches from making face-to-face contact with recruits for more than a month, but Thursday they were on the road again; new Texas coach Charlie Strong used the end of the dead period to visit with Edwin Freeman and he was rewarded with a commitment; and an LSU commit is looking hard at Oklahoma and Arizona State.


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Longhorns land ESPN 300 S/LB hybrid

January, 16, 2014
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Just when the Texas Longhorns needed some good news from the defensive side of their recruiting class, an ESPN 300 safety/linebacker delivered it with a verbal commitment.

Edwin Freeman (Arlington, Texas/Bowie) pledged to new coach Charlie Strong on Thursday afternoon, giving the Longhorns another ESPN 300 prospect and further quieting the grumblings of the Longhorns losing three four-star defensive tackles last week. Freeman, No. 128 in the ESPN 300, became the Longhorns’ 21st commit of the 2014 class.

Freeman, who confirmed the commitment via text message, chose the Longhorns over Texas A&M. The two in-state schools had been his top choices for several months, but Freeman has always had a love for Texas.

“I’ve liked Texas ever since I was a kid,” Freeman said in an interview shortly after Texas and former coach Mack Brown parted ways. “I just want to wait and see who the new coach is.”

In Strong, Texas will get a no-nonsense coach and someone who expects perfection with his defense. That was one of the winning points with Freeman, a hybrid defender.

At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, Freeman is quick enough to play safety, powerful enough to play outside linebacker and a hard-enough hitter to excel at both spots. Freeman said that while he doesn’t mind playing outside linebacker, safety is “where my heart’s at.”

Baylor, LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma and USC were among the many schools to offer Freeman. Assistant coach Bruce Chambers, who remained on the Texas staff after Brown’s departure, recruited Freeman to the Longhorns.

The news on Freeman helps offset the recent decommitments of defensive tackles Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Warren), Courtney Garnett (New Orleans/St. Augustine) and Zaycoven Henderson (Longview, Texas/Longview).

In addition to Freeman’s pledge, a Texas spokesperson, per ESPN’s Max Olson, also confirmed Thursday that tight end Blake Whiteley (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada/Arizona Western College) and linebacker Andrew Beck (Tampa, Fla./Plant) have enrolled early and are now on campus.
video This is part of a series on the nation's top uncommitted recruits leading up to signing day. Click here for the full series.

Wherever, he lands, John "JuJu" Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Polytechnic) will bring positional versatility.


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Big 12 class rankings analysis 

January, 8, 2014
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A solid weekend resulted in a bump in the ESPN class rankings for Oklahoma. The Sooners picked up two players who should help the offense in ESPN 300 running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) and four-star offensive guard Natrell Curtis (Phoenix/Mountain Pointe). Both are U.S. Army All-Americans.

With the commitments, Oklahoma jumped from No. 21 to No. 18 in the latest rankings. Oklahoma also jumped ahead of Baylor for the No. 2 spot among Big 12 schools. Texas still leads the conference at the No. 13 spot.

Baylor fell from No. 17 to No. 19, and Oklahoma State moved up a spot from No. 24 to No. 23. Texas Tech and West Virginia remained at Nos. 38 and 39, respectively, to round out the national top 40.

Here is a more in-depth look at the Big 12 class rankings:


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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.

ESPN 300 Freeman talks UA, top two 

December, 26, 2013
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As ESPN 300 safety Edwin Freeman (Arlington, Texas/Bowie) gets closer to making a decision, the recruiting process gets more and more outrageous.

And it’s not because of the coaches, Freeman said.

“The random number calling and texting,” Freeman said, referring to reporters and team site representatives from multiple recruiting boards. “Everybody’s trying to find out what I’m doing. It’s crazy.”


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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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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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Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

November, 11, 2013
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Trey Millard has consistently been one of the best fullbacks in college football since he arrived in Norman, Okla. But with his eligibility running out after this season, the Sooners were in desperate need of finding his replacement.

Well, Oklahoma might have found him last week in the form of a former Boise State commitment. We'll take a look at that commitment, a huge offer given to the No. 3 wide receiver in 2015, as well as the two teams really vying for ESPN 300 safety Edwin Freeman in this week's Big 12 recruiting weekend wrap.


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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:


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Big 12 recruiting storylines: Oct. 31 

October, 31, 2013
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Remember when the Longhorns were done for the season? Texas has won four straight and sit atop the Big 12 standings. With road games against West Virginia and Baylor and home games against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech coming, can the Longhorns keep it up? And can they keep the uncommitted targets interested?

Additionally, Oklahoma’s still looking for a few good men up front and a TCU commit may be looking elsewhere. Here are some of the Big 12 recruiting storylines for the week:

[+] EnlargeTony Brown
Tom Hauck for Student SportsTexas' rebound on the field has kept them in the hunt for Tony Brown and other ESPN 300 recruits.
Longhorns hot with targets again

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