NCF On The Trail: Football recruiting

ORLANDO -- Let the season of indecision begin.

Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada), the No. 1-rated tight end nationally who committed to Notre Dame on Dec. 16, said he’s interested in looking more closely at hometown USC.


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Leonard Fournette to visit Texas A&M 

September, 12, 2013
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NEW ORLEANS -- Running back Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine), the No. 1-rated prospect in the Class of 2014, has planned a surprise recruiting visit to Texas A&M on Saturday for the Aggies’ meeting with Alabama, according to another top player.

No. 1-rated athlete Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Edna Karr) said he was informed by A&M coaches that Fournette would attend the big game. Noil is visiting the College Station, Texas, campus with teammate Gerald Willis III, No. 29 in the ESPN 300 and the third-ranked defensive end.


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2015 ESPN 300 release chat

July, 16, 2013
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If you’re looking for the elite football prospects in the Class of 2015, there’s no need to wait until next year, RecruitingNation has you covered.

We unveiled the ESPN 300 player rankings for the rising junior class earlier today, marking the first time we have compiled a top-300 list for underclassmen. There’s still much for fans to digest with the release, so we’ve recruited our scouts and reporters for a Tuesday chat (beginning at 2 p.m. ET) to shed some light on the list and to make sure fans are familiar with this talented cast of stars.

In addition to participating here, you can follow along on Facebook or tweet us your questions using #ESPNJr300.

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Vince Marrow kicks his Nikes up on his desk. He leans back in his chair, sitting comfortably in a black Kentucky long-sleeve shirt and UK shorts. He speaks with an unmistakable confidence. He is remarkably relaxed for someone who is saddled with much of the responsibility of turning around a perennial loser in the country’s toughest conference.

“I’m going to go after the No. 1 guy in Ohio. I’m going after the top 30 guys in Ohio, and let’s roll up our sleeves and see what happens,” Marrow said. “We might shock the world. I made it very clear that we’re not taking a backseat to nobody.”

The Wildcats are already flooring much of the college football world with their fast start to the 2014 recruiting class. Kentucky is ranked No. 11 in the country, and this class of 18 commitments is already considered the best in school history. Eight of those commitments -- including four of the top eight -- are from Ohio, a top-five state in producing Division I talent. It’s also Marrow’s home state and a Marrow strongehold.

[+] EnlargeVince Marrow
AP Photo/NFL PhotosCan Vince Marrow help make Kentucky a contender? Locking down Ohio is a start.
Few, if any, coaches in the country recruit the Buckeye State as well as Marrow. And Ohio has been key to the turnaround going on at Kentucky, where the belief that the Wildcats can compete for an SEC title -- an SEC football title -- has never been higher. Expectations in Lexington have reached new heights, and new coach Mark Stoops and Marrow are using Ohio to help them reach it. Both look at Ohio, a little more than an hour drive from Kentucky’s campus, the same way Ohio State does: a recruit committing to Kentucky is committing to an in-state program.

“It made sense to have the whole state be viewed as an in-state area to us,” said Stoops, who played with Marrow at Youngstown Cardinal Mooney. “We work extremely hard in Ohio.”

No one is working harder in Ohio than Marrow, who exclusively recruits the state.


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The first half of 2013, for the NCAA and president Mark Emmert, rates somewhere between debacle and disaster.

The collegiate governing body has come under fire for an array of topics, from its leadership practices to the mishandling of a high-profile investigation at Miami.

On Thursday, the NCAA cut its losses on another big issue: recruiting deregulation -- the much-publicized elimination of rules on staff sizes, mailing materials and most notably, the control of electronic communication from coaches to recruits.

In the process, the Division I Board of Directors, a group of 18 university presidents, essentially acknowledged its disconnect with the football coaching and administrative populations. If there’s any group with which the NCAA needs to forge a harmonious relationship, it’s football coaches and administrators.

Yet they too often fail to understand each other. Responsibility falls on both sides.

Football coaches, staffers and athletic directors had months to raise a stink over impending legislation that was set to change the face of football recruiting. Yet no one seemed to notice until the board passed the proposals in January.

By then, the presidents were backed into a corner.

They did the only thing they could on Thursday to save face. For that, the NCAA and the board deserve credit. It’s better to have tried and failed than to have continued to attempt to force legislation upon a group of coaches and athletes who want nothing to do with it.

Lost in the buzz over the demise of deregulation Thursday, the board also pulled the plug on controversial legislation -- in the works since October 2011 -- that would have instituted a more stringent sliding test score-to-GPA scale on incoming college freshmen in order to gain initial eligibility.

The board re-emphasized its commitment to academic progress by keeping in place the new 2016 standards that require a higher minimum GPA and core-course progression in high school.

It’s a compromise, a bright moment in these dark few months at the NCAA headquarters. A sign that Emmert and his lieutenants can listen to the membership, make changes and allow all parties to move forward with an understanding of the rules.

Here’s to a future in which recruiting deregulation follows a similar path.

RN Top 10: D.C. NFTC 

April, 22, 2013
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The RN Top 10 will appear throughout the camp and combine season and rank prospects based strictly on their on-field performance at that particular event. It does not reflect their overall prospect ranking.

ASHBURN, Va. – The East Coast and mid-Atlantic states represented well on Sunday as eight players earned invites to The Opening at the Nike Football Training Camp outside of Washington, D.C. Defense ruled the day, led by two five-star prospects from Virginia.

10. Nick Scott
Fairfax (Va.) Fairfax |RB| 5-11, 180

Scott stood out among a field of backs who were overshadowed by the prospects at nearly every other position. He earned the attention of coaches for his strong play and versatility but missed the MVP award, which went to Vincent Lowe (Chesapeake, Va./Grassfield), who also posted the top SPARQ score.

Scott committed to Penn State in February over an offer from Boston College.

ESPN national recruiting analyst Craig Haubert’s take: “He’s got a great frame, and what I like about him as a Penn State verbal, he’s a versatile player. He may not run by you, but he does a good job in route-running.”


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ESPN 150 player rankings chat

April, 19, 2013
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The ESPN 150 and the top 15 teams in the class rankings were released on Thursday. Senior national recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill and recruiting analyst Craig Haubert will be here to answer your questions about how the list was compiled. Also joining us will be RecruitingNation writers Jared Shanker, Derek Tyson, Damon Sayles and Erik McKinney.

Things get started at 11 a.m. ET Friday, so make sure to join us in breaking down the list.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – ESPN Watch List quarterback Luke Ward (Decaturville, Tenn./Riverside) struggled with accuracy and interceptions as a junior, but took a step on Sunday toward improvement as a senior.

Ward said he threw the football well in his first such event since last summer on Sunday at the Nike Football Training Camp in Memphis. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound prospect for the Class of 2014 threw for 1,411 yards and 13 touchdowns in 10 games as a junior.

He awaits his first scholarship offer.

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Dallas NFTC chat

April, 6, 2013
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Some of the top college football prospects in the country will be competing in Sunday's Nike Football Training Camp, held in Dallas. RecruitingNation's scouts and reporters will provide live coverage and commentary from the camp. Join us on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. ET.

Folston stays with Notre Dame 

February, 6, 2013
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Tarean Folston, the No. 6 athlete and No. 66 overall prospect in the ESPN 150, ultimately stuck with his commitment to Notre Dame this afternoon after a late push from Auburn.

The 5-foot-9, 190-pounder originally pledged to the Irish during the week of the Under Armour All-America Game. Notre Dame now has 12 commits in the ESPN 300, including nine in the ESPN 150.

-- Mitch Sherman

What is the impact of Folston's decision?

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DE Jones sticks with Mississippi State 

February, 6, 2013
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Defensive end Chris Jones of Houston, Miss., No. 46 in the ESPN 150, stayed true to his longtime commitment to Mississippi State, announcing on Wednesday that he had signed with the Bulldogs.

Jones, who surged into the national spotlight after a breakout senior season and a starring role at several postseason events, took a hard look at Ole Miss late in the process.

-- Mitch Sherman

What is the impact of Jones' decision?

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Defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick (Port Saint Lucie, Fla./Centennial) joined Florida's No. 1-ranked recruiting class on Wednesday morning, making the announcement in a ceremony at his high school. Bostwick picked the Gators over Alabama and Miami.

He is the 27th-ranked player nationally at his position and 286th in the ESPN 300.

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Buoyed by its academics, beautiful landscape and the opportunity to join a program that could be on the rise, California made a major impression on a three-star defensive tackle this weekend. So much so he decided to end his recruitment and pledge to the Golden Bears.


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Oklahoma State has had different coaching changes in recent weeks with inside receivers coach Doug Meacham leaving for Houston and linebackers coach Glenn Spencer replacing Bill Young as the Cowboys defensive coordinator.

Both changes have impacted defensive back Taylor Lewis (Desoto, Texas/Desoto), a current Cowboys commit.


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With his name on Oklahoma State’s commitment list since May, defensive back Deric Robertson (Killeen, Texas/Killeen) was already pretty familiar with the Cowboys program. Nonetheless, he learned something new during his official visit this weekend.


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