NCF On The Trail: Football recruiting

Five-star Byron Cowart changes visit plans 

November, 4, 2014
SEFFNER, Fla. -- Five-star defensive end Byron Cowart has made some changes to his visit plans. The No. 2-ranked player in the country was scheduled to go to Florida for its game against South Carolina on Nov. 15, but Cowart will instead visit Alabama for its SEC West showdown against Mississippi State.

Cowart, who was presented with his Under Armour All-America replica jersey on Tuesday, has not rescheduled a visit to Florida.

"I go to Florida all the time," Cowart said. "I don't know. I know they want to treat me and all that stuff but I've been there a bunch, they really don't have to do all that."

SEC's top recruiting visits 

September, 19, 2014

There are once again some big games around the SEC this weekend. The Florida at Alabama game should draw many top recruits, as will the LSU-Mississippi State game. There will be many recruits taking unofficial visits and even a few taking official visits. Here is a closer look at some top expected visitors.

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Weekly commitment roundup 

August, 1, 2014
The following is a list of commitments made to FBS schools from July 25 -- August 1:

Ray-Ray McCloud III ATH

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Weekly Commitment Roundup

July, 18, 2014
The following is a list of commitments made to FBS schools from July 11 -- July 18:

Georgia Tech
Dante Wigley CB
HT: 6-0 WT: 180
Positional Rank: #61 CB
Stars: 3

Aaron Cochran DE
HT: 6-3 WT: 250
Positional Rank: #89 DE
Stars: 3

Tony Pilato OT
HT: 6-6 WT: 290
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Troy Henderson Jr. OLB
HT: 6-0 WT: 205
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Virginia Tech
Adonis Alexander S
HT: 6-3 WT: 200
Positional Rank: #85
Stars: 3

DeShawn McClease RB
HT: 5-9 WT: 173
Positional Rank: #38 RB
Stars: 3

Ahkema Evans CB
HT: 5-9 WT: 169

Titus Davis DE
HT: 6-3 WT: 228
Positional Rank: #53 DE
Stars: 3

Big 12
Kevin Thomas WR
HT: 6-1 WT: 178
Positional Rank: #71 WR
Stars: 3

Kansas State
Josh Little DE
HT: 6-4 WT: 223
Positional Rank: #85 DE
Stars: 3

West Virginia
David Sills QB-PP
HT: 6-3 WT: 177
Positional Rank: #23 QB-PP
Stars: 3

Big Ten
Hunter Dale S
HT: 6-0 WT: 175
Positional Rank: #30 S
Stars: 3

Lloyd Yates QB-DT
HT: 6-1 WT: 180
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Markus Bailey OLB
HT: 6-1 WT: 215
Positional Rank: #37 OLB
Stars: 3

Conference USA
Terry Bennett RB
HT: 6-0 WT: 200

Baylen Baker DE
HT: 6-5 WT: 240

JaColbie Butler RB
HT: 5-10 WT: 174

Julian Meares DE
HT: 6-2 WT: 220

Bowling Green
Robert Jackson Jr. CB
HT: 5-10 WT: 161

J.C. Bartok OT
HT: 6-5 WT: 260

Mountain West
Kellen Overstreet RB
HT: 5-11 WT: 200

Fred Ulu-Perry Jr. OG
HT: 6-3 WT: 307
Positional Rank: #5 OG
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (#76)

Desean Holmes WR
HT: 5-10 WT: 170
Positional Rank: #34 WR
Stars: 4

George Wilson WR
HT: 6-2 WT: 180
Positional Rank: #131 WR
Stars: 3

Jerome Baker OLB
HT: 6-1 WT: 202
Positional Rank: #8 OLB
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (#68)

Ole Miss
Zedrick Woods OLB
HT: 5-11 WT: 196
Positional Rank: #77 OLB
Stars: 3

Sun Belt
Appalachian State
Collin Reed TE-Y
HT: 6-3 WT: 220

Carlos Robinson TE-Y
HT: 6-3 WT: 210

Irish TE commit Luatua wants to see USC 

December, 28, 2013
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

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
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.

Marrow key in UK's No. 11 2014 class 

June, 19, 2013
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
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
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.

Watch List QB Luke Ward stays patient 

April, 15, 2013
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
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
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
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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