NCF On The Trail: J.C. Jackson

ESPN 300 QB flips from FSU to UF

February, 5, 2014
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Florida State was the beneficiary of most of the flipping from Florida recruits among the Big Three in-state schools, but the Gators pushed back some on signing day.

ESPN 300 prospect Treon Harris (Miami/Booker T. Washington), ranked No. 7 among dual-threat quarterbacks nationally, signed with Florida on Wednesday. He had been committed to Florida State since July.

[+] EnlargeTreon Harris
John Albright/Icon SMIESPN 300 QB Treon Harris could contribute at a number of positions for the Gators.
Earlier in the morning, ESPN 300 athlete J.C. Jackson (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee) stuck with Florida over FSU and Miami.

The Gators already had a 2014 quarterback in Will Grier (Davidson, N.C./Davidson Day School), but the 5-foot-11, 186-pound Harris gives Will Muschamp a litany of options in Gainesville. Harris could get a chance at quarterback, but he could also ultimately end up at receiver or cornerback.

Harris, No. 163 in the ESPN 300, has legitimate 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash, so the Gators hope he is an immediate playmaker if he does land on offense. Florida's offense was one of the worst units in the country last season, and much of that had to do with the lack of explosive plays in the passing game.

"Undersized at the QB position but a dynamic player with the football in his hands," ESPN national recruiting analyst Craig Haubert said. "[He] could possibly move to corner for the Gators."

For Florida State, this is a bit of a tough blow as the Noles were willing to allow Harris to try quarterback before moving him to another position. And Harris’ senior season began making believers out of several people that he could be a quarterback at the college level. However, the Noles still have ESPN 300 quarterback J.J. Cosentino (Pittsburgh/Central Catholic), and Jimbo Fisher has not struggled to recruit and develop quarterbacks. Florida State should rebound quickly from Harris’ decommitment.

Harris’ commitment to the Gators might hurt Auburn most. Harris fits the mold for what Gus Malzahn is looking for in a quarterback.

Biggest flips: SEC 

February, 3, 2014
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As expected, with the plethora of commitments followed by decommitments and second and third verbal pledges, it's no surprise that the hotly contested Southeast and SEC feature a number of impactful flips in 2014.

The pressure is on for the class of 2014. The last weekend of visits is a wrap, and signing day is just two days away. For those who are 100 percent solid with their pledges, resting easy and rehearsing the national letter of intent signature is the order of the day. For those who are still second-guessing commitments, it’s pressure-packed days and sleepless nights full of family and high school coach discussions while trying to keep the remainder of the noise surrounding a decision to a minimum.

Here are five prospects in the ESPN 300 who have had second thoughts and are on flip watch as #SigningDay quickly approaches.


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ACC class rankings analysis 

January, 29, 2014
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National signing day is one week away, so this is the time of the year when schools hope to be trending up in the class rankings. As the final elite uncommitted prospects wrestle with decisions, another highly-rated recruit picking a particular school could influence others to do the same.

Momentum works both ways, and any bad news could snowball in the final few hours.


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Signing day is a little more than two weeks away, meaning the next 15 days are going to be very interesting. Here are five storylines in the ACC to keep an eye on come signing day on Feb. 5.


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National signing day is approaching quickly. With three official visit weekends remaining before Feb. 5, here is a look at a number of prospects who could flip to and/or from SEC schools in the coming weeks.

Florida commit Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead): Lane, No. 28 in the ESPN 300, is scheduled to officially visit national champion Florida State with the Gators fighting hard to keep the uber-talented wide receiver. The flip from Florida to the Seminoles by Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central High), the nation’s No. 20 prospect, makes the chore even tougher for the Gators


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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- A year ago in the Under Armour All-America Game, Florida fans were treated to a satisfying showcase of their top two recruits -- cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and running back Kelvin Taylor.

Neither disappointed as a freshman this past fall. Hargreaves was named first-team All-SEC and Taylor showed promise after taking over as Florida's primary ball-carrier just before midseason.

After going 4-8 in 2013, Florida needs impact freshmen more than ever. Here's a look at what to watch for in Thursday's UA Game (4 p.m., ESPN, complete roster).


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Gators have needs to fill in recruiting

December, 24, 2013
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- With a 15-player senior class and seven players transferring or leaving since the end of the season, Florida has plenty of holes to fill.

Considering all seven of those departing players were from the offensive side of the ball, it's obvious where much of the Gators' recruiting efforts are focused.

Florida has 23 scholarships available with cornerback Louchiez Purifoy forgoing his senior season to enter the NFL draft.

Here's a breakdown of Florida's biggest needs in restocking its roster with talent.

Will Grier
Miller Safrit/ESPNWill Grier is the nation's No. 2-ranked quarterback.
Quarterback: The Gators have a starter in Jeff Driskel, who is expected to recover from a broken bone in his lower leg that required surgery. Their most experienced backup, Tyler Murphy, surprised the coaching staff when he decided to transfer, but Skyler Mornhinweg remains. He started UF's last three games of the season as a redshirt freshman, but it remains to be seen how Mornhinweg will fit into Florida's new offense.

The numbers are obviously low with just two scholarship QBs on the roster, but help is on the way. Florida expects Will Grier, the nation's No. 2-ranked quarterback, to enroll in early January. Now that Murphy has departed, expect the Gators to add a second quarterback to their 2014 class. A dual-threat QB who can bring a more athletic dimension and schematic flexibility to the position makes the most sense. Coach Will Muschamp will let his new offensive coordinator find the right fit.

Offensive line: Florida graduated three starters and lost reserve Ian Silberman to transfer along with two others who were buried at the bottom of the depth chart. That's six departures -- a lot for any season. Muschamp likes to have at least 15 offensive linemen on his roster, so expect a handful of newcomers. Offensive line has been a sore spot for the last two seasons, and injuries decimated Florida in 2013. The Gators return five players with starting experience, but depth must be created as only four other scholarship linemen remain. With so few bodies, at least one of the incoming prospects can expect to make the two-deep roster.

Florida needs the most help on the edges, which is why the headline OL commitment is David Sharpe, the nation's No. 2-ranked offensive tackle prospect. The Gators recently signed Drew Sarvary, a 6-foot-6, 310-pound juco OT who could also play inside. Of all the newcomers, he'll have the inside track to play first. Florida also has pledges from three of the nation's top-30 guard prospects in Nolan Kelleher (6-5, 310), Travaris Dorsey (6-3, 314) and Dontae Angus (6-5, 310).

Offensive skill positions: Florida's QBs haven't had much time to develop in the passing game in recent years, and some of the blame can be directed at the offensive line. But nothing is more obviously missing in the Gator offense than playmakers at the wide receiver and tight end positions. The Class of 2013 saw five talented freshmen WRs join the program, three of whom saw action. But with two senior starters leaving, it's imperative that UF continue to add talent and numbers to its receiving corps. The Gators' top wide receiver commit for 2014 is Ermon Lane, the No. 2 WR prospect in the country. Keeping him in the fold is a top priority.

UF also has pledges from former FSU commit Ryan Sousa and Moral Stephens. At 6-3 and 200 pounds, Stephens would give UF a prospect with some size who could play H-back or grow into a full-time role at tight end. Florida has just three scholarship TEs on its roster, but has commitments from DeAndre Goolsby and C'yontai Lewis, both three-star prospects. The Gators have plenty of talented options returning at tailback but lack a game-breaking home-run hitter who can gain the edge. That's why it's so important they hang onto the commitment of Dalvin Cook, the nation's No. 4 RB prospect. Coaches presume he would have a role as a true freshman in 2014.

Defensive line: Florida is in good shape with 10 returning scholarship players. But Muschamp's multiple-scheme defense, which uses 4-3 and 3-4 alignments up front, puts a heavy emphasis on defensive linemen making plays and disrupting the opponent's offense. Florida has three commitments -- DT Khairi Clark, DE Taven Bryan and DE Justus Reed. Bryan could end up on offense, so the object of much of Muschamp's hard work on the recruiting trail is adding another difference-maker who can rush the passer.

Cornerback: The Gators graduated two cornerbacks and are losing Purifoy to the NFL. If he is joined by fellow starter Marcus Roberson, who is projected as a first-round pick in ESPN Insider Todd McShay's first mock draft, there will likely be immediate playing time available. That's Muschamp's sales pitch. It's also why Florida is trying to load up on DB prospects. The nation's No. 10 athlete, J.C. Jackson, is committed, as are Chris Lammons, Quincy Wilson and Duke Dawson. Wilson and Dawson could end up at safety, so Florida must close strong in adding at least one more pure cornerback with the talent to contribute right away. Florida hit the jackpot last year in signing All-SEC first-team CB Vernon Hargreaves III. Few prospects enter the college ranks as technically skilled and prepared as he, but the Gators are hoping another recruiting bounty will keep the pipeline of impact cornerbacks flowing.

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

December, 23, 2013
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We are one week into the dead period that runs through Jan. 15. While the dead period limits contact, it doesn’t stop prospects from announcing decisions. As is always the case, recruiting doesn’t stop during Christmas vacation, and that was certainly the case last week.

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Under Armour game storylines: SEC 

December, 5, 2013
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The seventh annual Under Armour All-America Game is less than a month away. The 2014 game, which is set for 4 p.m. ET Jan. 2 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on ESPN, features 90 of the top high school football prospects in the country. Practices begin Dec. 29.

Leonard Fournette
Alex Scarborough/ESPNNo. 1 Leonard Fournette is one of several five-star prospects who haven't made a commitment.
As is usually the case, the SEC will be well represented. Here are some of the storylines:

Year of dominance: The top 15 prospects in the ESPN 300 are all scheduled to take part. That means that all 13 five-star prospects in the class will be competing, including No. 1 Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine). All told, 28 of the top 30 prospects in the ESPN 300 are on an UA All-America roster.

SEC leads the way: It comes without surprise that the SEC has the most committed prospects taking part, with 34. The Big Ten and ACC have 13 each, the Big 12 has three and the Pac-12 has two. Notre Dame has five commits in the game.

The SEC West alone has 25.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: ACC 

November, 11, 2013
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Another quiet week in the ACC for commitments, but the wheels of recruiting kept turning as more offers and important visits took place over the weekend.

Biggest offer: Florida State went across the country to issue its newest offer. Kieffer Longson (San Ramon, Calif./Dougherty Valley), a 2015 offensive tackle, looks poised to be one of his class' top linemen prospects in California. That position was further strengthened by the addition of an Ohio State offer, too. None of the in-state schools have offered, but Cal, UCLA and USC are all interested at this point.


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Best SEC recruiters 

October, 15, 2013
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Editor's note: For a look at the national recruiter power rankings based only on Class of 2014 success, click here.

It's no secret that Southeastern Conference has been the top conference in the country as far as recruiting over the last several years. The league currently has six teams ranked in the top 11 of the team recruiting rankings. Here's a look at the top 10 recruiters around the ultra-competitive conference.

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Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

October, 14, 2013
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There was plenty of recruiting news in the Southeastern Conference over the weekend. There were a few key commits and several top high school performances. Here is a look at the latest news around the SEC.

Biggest commitment: ESPN 300 offensive tackle Donell Stanley (Latta, S.C./Latta) committed to South Carolina on Friday. The 197th-ranked player in the nation chose the Gamecocks over rival Clemson, Alabama, USC and UNC. South Carolina now has 13 commitments including 5 if the ESPN 300.

Auburn picked up a commitment from three-star athlete Myron Burton Jr. (Suwanee, Ga./Peachtree Ridge). Though listed as an athlete, Auburn is recruiting Burton as a wide receiver. He announced his decision on Twitter on Saturday after visiting the Tigers for their win over Western Carolina:
Best weekend performances: Many SEC commits were in action this weekend. Here's a look at some of the top performances:

  • RB Bo Scarbrough (Bradenton, Fla./IMG Academy), Alabama commit: Ran for 158 yards and two touchdowns on 13 rushes in a 49-3 win.
  • RB Nick Chubb (Cedartown, Ga./Cedartown), Georgia commit: Chubb accounted for 355 rushing yards and five touchdowns in a 42-34 win on Friday.

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There are still a ton of prospects on the board for Big Ten teams, so conference recruiting reporters Tom VanHaaren and Brad Bournival take a look at the best and worst case scenarios remaining for each team.

Illinois
Best-case scenario: Illinois picked up an offensive line commit on Monday with Peter Cvijanovic (Great Barrington, Mass./East Coast Prep), which gives the Illini two offensive line commits. Despite having four wide receiver commits on board, it looks like the staff would take another receiver in this class.

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Weekend recruiting wrap: ACC 

October, 7, 2013
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Virginia Tech grabbed the headlines this weekend with a four-star commitment, while a couple of teams had visitors on campus and that could affect a number of ACC teams.

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