NCF On The Trail: George Brown Jr.

Early Offer: 2016 targets come off board
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: It’s been said recruits are committing sooner than ever before and the recent run of pledges in the 2016 class proves to some that an early signing period is needed now more than ever. Plus, if you want to know how competitive it is to recruit in the Southeast, just check out the up-and-down two weeks the Florida Gators have had on the recruiting trail.

It’s never too early
Signing day for the Class of 2016 isn’t for another 555 days, but that hasn’t stopped a high number of ESPN Junior 300 prospects from making early decisions. In the last eight days alone, seven of the best players in next year’s class committed, and overall 47 of the top 300 prospects have made their decisions.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Though not as heavy on star-studded talent as in years past, there was still plenty of news at Florida’s Friday Night Lights camp. The day started with the Gators receiving a commitment from three-star offensive tackle George Brown Jr., and ended with some of the top prospects from the Southeast attending the one night camp. Here is a closer look at the top story lines from Friday evening.

ESPN 300 athlete set to decide

The 11th-ranked athlete and the No. 155-ranked player overall in the ESPN 300, Ray Ray McCloud III, will announce his college decision on Monday night.

McCloud didn’t participate at Friday Night Lights but did have a chance to spend some time with current Florida player and pre-season All-SEC selection Vernon Hargreaves III, who like McCloud is also a Tampa native.

"Vernon knows I’m coming from the same place he was a few years ago,” McCloud said. "He just told me to always keep my options open until signing day because you never know what could happen as far as coaching changes. He said to just take my time with the process.”

McCloud will choose between Florida, UCLA, Clemson and Maryland on Monday but his father, Ray McCloud Jr., also added that USF has recently made an impression on his son.

Florida head coach Will Muschamp had one last chance to speak with McCloud before he makes his big decision on Monday and his message was simple.

"He said he wants me to do what I do in my home state,” McCloud said. "He wants me to be a Gator."

Four-star running back remains committed to Miami

Despite Miami signing Joseph Yearby, the No. 4-ranked running back in the country last year, and having three running backs committed this year, ESPN 300 running back Dexter Williams said he remains strong in his commitment to the Hurricanes.

“It would be a good feeling to be in the backfield with them because all of them are great backs and they can do great things,” Williams said. "Wherever you go, there's competition. You've got to beat out your competitor.”

The Florida coaching staff was hoping to changes Williams’ mind on Friday but to no avail.

"They're just saying you can get on the field here," Williams said. "We're only going to take two [running backs]. They're taking four. Just think about it."

Williams admits his own father pushes him to switch his commitment to the Gators.

"He has loved the Gators since he was little, and he wants me to be a Gator a lot," Williams laughed. "So he tells me every morning, 'Be a Gator.' When I told him I was still thinking about it, he said, 'That's the way. That's where I want you to go.'"

Coney has leader, will decide soon

Four-star linebacker Te’Von Coney sent out a tweet recently that said he would be attending the same school as his friend George Brown Jr. On Friday, Brown committed to the Gators and Coney admitted that their packaged deal will likely still happen.

"It was, like, 85 percent true,” Coney said of his tweet. "Florida is my leader right now but I’m still checking out Auburn, Tennessee, Miami and other programs but Florida is still my leader. I’ll probably make my decision soon, like within the next month or so.”

Coney admitted his visit to Gainesville strengthened the Gators chances of landing him.

“I just think Florida’s a great school,” he said. "It’s the Harvard of the South. I can get a great education, they have a great business and engineering school which are two majors I’m thinking about majoring in.

"I think they have a great program and they need linebackers right now to come in and step up and I think Will Muschamp is a great defensive coach and they are always going to have a top defense and that’s what I want to play in."

Prince likes four

ESPN 300 offensive tackle Isaiah Prince was one of the most impressive linemen to attend FNL and received plenty of attention from the Florida coaching staff.

After the event concluded Prince said there are four schools that are standing out right now but he’s likely to add other schools as his recruitment continues.

"Right now, the schools that really stick out to me is Maryland, Alabama, Florida and Ohio State, but I’ll probably have more schools in the mix as I take more visits,” he said.

Though he has no set dates in mind, Prince knows of three schools he would like to visit in the fall.

“This visit helped Florida out a whole lot,” Prince said. "It’s a really nice campus, I want to study sports management and that building is right next to the stadium. I’ll most likely be back for a game in the fall as well as games at Alabama and Ohio State."

The Florida Gators received a commitment from three-star offensive tackle George Brown Jr. on Friday afternoon -- but it was how he made that commitment that has made waves nationally.

Brown announced his decision by pulling out what everyone -- including almost all of Twitter -- thought was a baby gator.



Only one small problem: It is illegal to possess a gator in Brown's home state of Ohio. So what was thought to have been a baby gator was actually a dwarf caiman.

The small caiman is possessed by a company called Coolcrittersoutreach.com, which is an outreach program that displays wild animals to children for various events.

The USC Trojans appear to have their quarterback of the future -- perhaps even two if they sign both Ricky Town and longtime commit David Sills -- but who will protect them?

Coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff hauled in a stellar 2014 offensive line group in February, led by highly-rated guards Damien Mama, Viane Talamaivao and mid-year enrollee Toa Lobendahn. The Trojans also signed ESPN 300 tackle Chris Brown and promising tackle prospect Jordan Austin, using more than a quarter of their 2014 scholarship allotment to shore up the offensive line.

Still, the presumed weak point would be the lack of depth at the offensive tackle spot. The Trojans addressed their needs, but Brown might need another year to bulk up and Austin admitted he needs some time to develop. On top of that, Nico Falah was the only offensive tackle the Trojans added in the 2013 class, a major effect of the scholarship reductions that could create serious concerns for whoever is standing in the pocket in a couple years.

From the looks of it, USC has made the tackle position one of its top priorities in the 2015 class.


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Notebook: ESPN 300 ATH Smith trims list 

January, 20, 2014
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TUSTIN, Calif. -- A decision might still be two weeks away, but the picture is getting clearer for ESPN 300 athlete John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly).


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

October, 28, 2013
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It was only a matter of time before a big-name program took a chance on 5-foot-6, 148-pound lightning bolt/quarterback Desmon White (DeSoto, Texas/DeSoto). That chance came from a Big 12 program recently, and White wasted little time taking them up on their offer.

Find out which Big 12 program he committed to as well as a big offer from Oklahoma State in this week’s edition of the Big 12 weekend wrap.

Biggest commitment: He might not be big in stature, but 2014 athlete Desmon White will bring some much-needed play-making ability to TCU. White, who plays quarterback for the undefeated DeSoto Eagles, switched his verbal pledge from North Texas to the Horned Frogs on Tuesday. This season he has completed 141 of 204 passes for 2,304 yards, 21 touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s also the team’s leading rusher with 95 carries for 1,009 yards and 13 touchdowns. He’s a football player, plain and simple. Nice pickup for TCU, which could use him in a variety of ways but will likely start him at slot.

Biggest offer: This one goes to Oklahoma State and the offer it extended to ESPN Junior 300 offensive tackle George Brown Jr. (Cincinnati/Winton Woods). If you are going to get into the sweepstakes for Brown, you might as well get in as early as possible. The No. 208 player in the country already has more than 30 offers, including from Big 12 programs Baylor, Kansas State and West Virginia. The only other 2015 offer to an OT that OSU has is to Texas commitment Maea Teuhema (Keller, Texas/Keller).

Best performance by a commit/target: Class of 2015 quarterback Ryan Agnew (Southlake, Texas/Carroll) completed 31 of 35 passes for 307 yards and three touchdowns in a 52-17 victory over Keller. Agnew doesn’t have any offers now but that won’t stay the case with more games like this. Several major programs are well aware of Agnew, including Texas. Tennessee and Texas A&M have also expressed interest.

Most important visit: There were several big names in attendance for Oklahoma’s victory over Texas Tech, but the biggest one was 2015 offensive guard Jalin Barnett (Lawton, Okla./Lawton). This was the fourth trip to Norman for Barnett, the No. 8 player in the country, No. 1 OG and No. 1 player in the Midlands region. That’s especially telling since he has yet to visit any other school.


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It’s called the Big Ten Conference for a reason.

From big offers, to big official visits to big commitments, the Big Ten has been abuzz with activity.

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Weekend recruiting wrap: ACC 

September, 30, 2013
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Clemson and Pittsburgh hog most of the headlines this weekend as each was able to get a solid amount of prospects on campus, and the Tigers even got a commitment.

More on the happenings inside the ACC here.

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Junior 300 OT hears from SEC coaches 

September, 5, 2013
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This week has a very SEC and Southeastern flavor for 2015 ESPN Junior 300 two-way lineman George Brown Jr. (Cincinnati/Winton Woods).

Brown’s father said he spent Wednesday morning speaking with South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, who told Brown Sr. that the Gamecocks are close to offering his 6-foot-6, 255-pound son, who is No. 208 in the ESPN Junior 300. The Gamecocks staff got a hold of Brown’s highlights from his season opener, which was the first extensive playing time Brown has seen in his high school career, a surprise considering Brown’s extensive offer sheet.

Brown and Spurrier will be in the same building this weekend as Brown will be visiting Georgia for its game against South Carolina. Georgia has already offered, and Brown is highly interested in both the Bulldogs and Gamecocks.

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George Brown Jr. (Cincinnati/Winton Woods) has more than 30 offers, and he went through the state of Alabama at the end of last week to try to land two more. He came away with one.


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Marrow key in UK's No. 11 2014 class 

June, 19, 2013
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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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Tales From the Road: Ohio State 

June, 5, 2013
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BuckeyeNation continues to hit the road in search of budding Division I talent who should catch the eyes of Ohio State fans. Here’s what we came up with this week:

This week’s targets: BuckeyeNation as well as RecruitingNation headed to Columbus, Ohio, for the Elite 11 and Nike Football Training Camp. Seven Buckeyes commitments -- the only pledges missing were Marcelys Jones (Cleveland/Glenville) and Sam Hubbard (Cincinnati/Moeller) -- made their way to the Ohio State campus and didn’t disappoint as Kyle Berger (Cleveland/St. Ignatius), Kyle Trout (Lancaster, Ohio/Lancaster), Damon Webb (Detroit/Cass Tech), Dylan Thompson (Lombard, Ill./Montini Catholic) and teammates Dante Booker and Parris Campbell Jr. of Akron (Ohio) St. Vincent-St. Mary each earned trips to The Opening.

Detroit rock city: Assistant coach Kerry Coombs spent a good portion of the evaluation period in Detroit, and for good reason. He went after two-time Michigan commit David Dawson from Cass Tech High School last season, but missed. Coombs and the Buckeyes didn’t this time around as Webb committed back in January. Malik McDowell of Detroit Loyola is also on the Ohio State radar. Before he said yes to Michigan, Lawrence Marshall was an Ohio State pledge, even if it was only for three days. Marshall lives in Southfield, Mich. a suburb 19 minutes away from Detroit.

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Motivation has never been tough for defensive end George Brown Jr. (Cincinnati/Colerain).

With over 25 offers already, the 6-foot-6, 255-pound sophomore is hardly a secret in the recruiting world.

The one offer missing is from the big in-state school, and Brown is making sure Ohio State sees what it needs to see in him.


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Brown Jr. racking up national offers 

April, 12, 2013
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George Brown Jr. is making an early -- but strong -- case for the top 2015 prospect in the state of Ohio, and the top player in the talent-rich state is going to see his share of interest from elite programs across the country.

Another national offer came for the 2015 two-way lineman on Thursday, this one from the Florida Gators.

The 6-foot-6, 255-pound Brown is being recruited at a bevy of positions, with offensive tackle, defensive end and tight end all on the table. The Gators like him on the offensive line, though, as position coach Tim Davis and Brown have kept in contact the last few weeks.

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MSU, OSU and SEC like 2015 OL/DL 

January, 15, 2013
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Cincinnati Colerain has produced several high-level BCS prospects and sends several players to FBS programs annually, and the Cardinals already have coaches inquiring about their 2015 class.


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