NCF On The Trail: Jake McCrary

Signing day: Big 12 wrapup

February, 5, 2014
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As hectic of a day as it was, national signing day was a success for all Big 12 programs. Coaches were up early manning their fax machines and showing excitement with every national letter of intent submitted via fax.

Nearly 250 football players signed letters of intent to play Big 12 football on Wednesday. Here are five of the biggest storylines -- and a bonus storyline that could have an ending Thursday -- from the conference.

Oklahoma takes over top spot in Big 12

In the past 48 hours, everything seemed to go Oklahoma’s way.

[+] EnlargeMichiah Quick
Courtesy of Nike ESPN 300 ATH Michiah Quick was a big part of Oklahoma's final rush, a rush that gave the Sooners the top class in the Big 12.
After getting a Tuesday commitment from ESPN 300 safety Steven Parker II (Jenks, Okla./Jenks), the Sooners got Wednesday pledges from ESPN 300 athlete Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif./Central East) and high three-star offensive tackles Kenyon Frison (West Valley City, Utah/Granger) and Orlando Brown Jr. (Duluth, Ga./Peachtree Ridge).

All four players were a part of Oklahoma’s signing class of 26 on Wednesday -- helping the Sooners take over the top spot in the Big 12 class rankings. Oklahoma’s class is No. 13 nationally, three spots better than previous top dog Texas.

Oklahoma in previous years has been very good at finishing strong in recruiting. It managed to sign Frison, who committed to Utah last February before decommitting last month, as well as Brown, who had been committed to Tennessee since May before making an 11th-hour change.

Strong, Longhorns get their DTs

New Texas coach Charlie Strong wanted two players he recruited to play at Louisville, and by Wednesday afternoon, he had them.

ESPN 300 defensive tackle Poona Ford (Hilton Head, S.C./Hilton Head) and three-star defensive tackle Chris Nelson (Lakeland, Fla./Victory Christian Academy) signed with the Longhorns and were two of 23 to submit national letters of intent. They also helped erase the sting of the Longhorns losing three four-star defensive tackle commitments in LSU signee Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Warren), Oklahoma signee Courtney Garnett (New Orleans/St. Augustine) and Texas A&M signee Zaycoven Henderson (Longview, Texas/Longview) last month.

Collectively, Ford and Nelson recorded 235 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 35 quarterback pressures and four forced fumbles. The duo also had 37.5 tackles for loss.

Receivers ‘No. 1’ to Baylor coach

Baylor coach Art Briles made a bold statement about his new wide receivers -- one that might be challenged by some but co-signed by others.

“The thing that we feel really good about,” Briles said, “is that we've signed the No. 1 receiving class in America -- I don't think that's up for debate.”

Briles has an argument with four ESPN 300 receivers in K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant), Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau), Ishmael Zamora (Houston/Alief Elsik) and Chris Platt (Willis, Texas/Willis). The quartet helped to give Baylor a top-25 national recruiting class.

Rhoads fired up about lone in-state signee

To say Paul Rhoads is excited about his top-ranked signee, ESPN 300 wide receiver Allen Lazard (Urbandale, Iowa/Urbandale) is an understatement.

While Rhoads is pumped about the entire class, there’s something special about Lazard, as he is this year’s only in-state signee. Lazard, No. 148 in the ESPN 300, had opportunities to sign with other programs, but he chose to honor his original commitment and also follow the footsteps of his father Kevin Lazard, who played in the secondary for the Cyclones in the early 1990s.

“This is a young man who has gotten phenomenal national attention and was recruited by the traditional historical programs in college football and kept on turning them away to stay true to his word to be an Iowa State Cyclone,” Rhoads said in a statement of Lazard, the No. 2 prospect out of the state of Iowa behind Alabama offensive lineman signee Ross Pierschbacher (Cedar Falls, Iowa/Cedar Falls).

West Virginia adds depth in class

Adding depth was the objective for West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, as he signed 22 players on Wednesday. Holgorsen was fortunate to add depth from coast to coast.

Of the 22 commits, only one -- three-star offensive tackle Amanii Brown (Morgantown, W.Va./Morgantown) -- is an in-state signee. The Mountaineers hit points all over the Lower 48, from California to Texas to Florida, to get players who can be contributors early and help the program return to star status.

West Virginia’s class is led by five ESPN 300 players. Running back Donte Thomas-Williams (Durham, N.C./Hillside), the class’ top-ranked player, was the last to commit early Wednesday afternoon. He joins defensive back Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa), linebacker Davonte James (Springfield, Ohio/Springfield) and receivers Lamar Parker (Miami/Booker T. Washington) and Jake McCrary (Miami/Coral Reef) in the class.

Bonus: Could the Sooners add one more?

LSU signed 22 players on Wednesday. The Tigers were hoping to sign 23.

Deondre Clark (Oklahoma City/Douglass) has been verbally committed to LSU since July, but the ESPN 300 defensive end also has high interest in Oklahoma. There were conflicting reports on Wednesday regarding whether Clark actually signed and submitted his letter of intent to LSU.

ESPN’s David Ching said an LSU spokesperson confirmed the letter of intent was at LSU and cleared compliance. Outside reports, however, say Clark did not submit the letter of intent, and a tweet from Clark's Twitter account said that “nothing is final.” His mother Dorshell also told The Oklahoman that her son “has not signed with LSU.”

Oklahoma City schools were closed on Wednesday because of bad weather, so Clark didn’t fax anything by way of Douglass High School. He is expected to announce his final decision on Thursday.

If it's true that Clark has not signed with LSU, look for Oklahoma to be a key player in his final decision. Ranked No. 273 in the ESPN 300, Clark has built a great relationship with the Sooners' coaching staff, particularly defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery.

Best Big 12 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.

The best college football coaches will tell you that when it comes to recruiting, their business is an art. It’s a craft you must perfect if you want to have the best players commit and ultimately sign. Recruiting isn’t for everybody, but those who are good at it -- particularly for building the 2014 class -- should be recognized, as the business is extremely competitive.

Here are 10 of the top recruiters from the Big 12.


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Big 12 recruiting mailbag

October, 11, 2013
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This week’s Big 12 recruiting mailbag focuses on Baylor’s offensive success, Kansas’ progress in recruiting, the status of an ESPN Junior 300 player and more. We encourage all to send questions each week, either via Twitter to @DamonSayles or @ESPNWilkerson or by email at dsaylesespn@gmail.com or wilkerson.espn@gmail.com.

From @InTheNameOfBU: Do you see Baylor sustaining their success in offense for quite a while? If so, why? #AskBig12

As long as head coach Art Briles, offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery and passing game coordinator/offensive recruiting coordinator Kendal Briles stick around, Baylor shouldn’t have any problems offensively. It’s really scary to think that Wofford -- and not a school like West Virginia -- has held Baylor to its lowest point total -- 69. The Bears have all kinds of offensive weapons now with quarterback Bryce Petty, running backs Lache Seastrunk and Shock Linwood and receivers Antwan Goodley and Tevin Reese, and if they sign committed ESPN 300 players in receiver K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant) and athlete Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau), expect more of the same in the next couple of years.

From @Roberrttthom: How much do you think the early offer for 2015 DT Marquise Overton helps OK State's chances to land him?

In speaking with Overton, I know that he’s very appreciative of the Oklahoma State offer. However, I can’t say that it’s his absolute favorite right now. Reason being, he truly doesn’t has a favorite right now. The ESPN Junior 300 defensive tackle has additional offers from Baylor, Ole Miss, Texas Tech, Oregon State and others, and all schools are in the running. Overton did say that he really likes Oklahoma State. The team is playing well right now, and it’s close to his home in Jenks, Okla. Keep an eye on how the 6-foot-1, 301-pound tackle gauges his schools of interest.

From @cr93ia: Any update on the buzz post Rhoads’ postgame press conference and just in general? #AskBig12

If you’re the Texas Longhorns, you’re not listening; you’re celebrating a win. If you’re pro-Paul Rhoads, you’re probably still a little upset about what happened last week. There’s nothing that can be done now, but Rhoads will have his Cyclones amped up for Saturday’s game against Texas Tech. Recruiting-wise, a few players are still eyeing every move Iowa State makes. The Cyclones have offered players like ESPN 300 defensive end Dewayne Hendrix (O’Fallon, Ill./O’Fallon), ESPN 300 outside linebacker Brandon Lee (Indianapolis/Lawrence Central), four-star outside linebacker Nile Sykes (Lombard, Ill./Montini Catholic) and four-star running back Corey Avery (Dallas/Carter), and they’re hoping to land at least one of these targets.

From @ttoulouse94: Any word on #KU making progress with WR or O-line prospects?

Recruiting with Kansas can be seen in two ways: Either a recruit will give the program the side eye for its subpar play, or a recruit will look at the subpar play as an opportunity to see immediate playing time. The Jayhawks are hoping to land three-star athlete Darious Crawley (Houston/Cypress Ridge), who can play receiver at the next level. As for the offensive line, Kansas will be looking in the junior college ranks for right-now type of players. Juco linemen Avery Gennesy (Southaven, Miss./East Mississippi Community College), Luke Hayes (El Dorado, Kan./Butler Community College) and David Hedelin (San Francisco/City College of San Francisco) all have Kansas offers.

From @KookanHere: #askbig12 Will Dana Holgorsen be the head coach of WVU next season?

West Virginia is 3-3 on the season. Just because the Mountaineers were rolled by Baylor doesn’t mean Holgorsen’s job is in jeopardy. Baylor has put up huge points against everybody. Holgorsen will be back next season to coach his new recruits in receivers Lamar Parker (Miami/Booker T. Washington), Jake McCrary (Miami/Coral Reef) and outside linebacker Davonte James (Springfield, Ohio/Springfield) -- all ESPN 300 prospects. If Holgorsen is lucky, he also will be coaching ESPN 300 athlete Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa), who is strongly considering the Mountaineers.

Big 12 class rankings analysis 

October, 9, 2013
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Each Wednesday, ESPN RecruitingNation updates its national class rankings. For an in-depth look at the Big 12 conference, check out our conference rankings:

1. Texas, 24 commits: The Longhorns check in at No. 7 in the RecruitingNation class rankings with the headliners being No. 79 overall Derick Roberson (San Antonio, Texas/Williams J. Brennan High), No. 119 Armanti Foreman (Texas City, Texas/Texas City High) and No. 138 Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/John H. Guyer High). Texas, which currently has seven ESPN300 commits, has its sights set on No. 31 overall Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell High), No. 13 Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen High) and No. 25 Jamal Adams (Lewiville, Texas/Hebron High).

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Five stories to watch: Miami NFTC 

March, 15, 2013
3/15/13
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Here are five storylines for the Miami NFTC.


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Weekly Commitment Roundup 

March, 1, 2013
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ACC
Clemson
Jake McCrary WR Miami/Coral Reef
HT: 6-0 WT: 183
ESPN Watch List

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Clemson adds Watch List WR McCrary

February, 25, 2013
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ESPN Watch List wide receiver Jake McCrary (Miami/Coral Reef) has reached a decision.

[+] EnlargeJake McCrary
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comESPN Watch List WR Jake McCrary committed to Clemson on Monday.
The former Florida State pledge, who decommitted from the Seminoles in early fall of 2012, is going to stay in the ACC after all.

On Monday night, he took himself back off the market, this time joining Clemson's 2014 class.

"Clemson just felt like home," McCrary said. "I love the coaches. They are great people, and I feel like I can come in and make a huge impact."

McCrary's fondness for Clemson grew stronger after he broke off his pledge with Florida State. He was certainly not bashful in saying the Tigers were his leader.

And now he's made his decision official and will head to the orange Death Valley and coach Dabo Swinney.

McCrary joins three other ESPN Watch List members in Clemson's 2014 class, including Deshaun Watson (Gainesville, Ga./Gainesville), Cannon Smith (Columbia, S.C./Hammond) and Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central).

He is the sixth junior to commit to Clemson.

Miami SPARQ All-Combine team

February, 19, 2013
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MIAMI -- More than 900 athletes gathered on Jan. 5 at North Miami Stadium for the South Florida stop of the Nike Football SPARQ Combine tour. Here is a look at the 25 standout performers who comprise the Miami All-Combine team.

Note: Selections are based upon combine performance as well as past and projected on-field performance. Athletes must have completed two of the four combine tests to be eligible for selection. Athletes are in the Class of 2014 unless otherwise noted.

OFFENSE

QB: Quinton Flowers, 6-foot-0, 203 pounds, Miami Jackson
Results: 4.72 40-yard dash, 4.53 shuttle, 37-foot power ball throw, 31.3-inch vertical jump, 87.33 SPARQ Rating
Breakdown: Flowers ranks amongst the top QBs in South Florida and was a Class 5A third team all-state pick this fall.

QB: Nicodem Pierre, 6-1, 201, Miami Coral Reef
Results: 4.82 40, 4.50 shuttle, 40’ PB, 34.3” VJ, 95.61 SPARQ
Breakdown: Pierre upped his rating 23 points from last year; favors Kansas State early on in his recruitment.

[+] EnlargeTreon Harris
Tom Hauck/StudentSportsBooker T. Washington athlete Treon Harris earned this year's first invitation to The Opening.
RB: Jamal Adjamah, 5-8, 178, Miami Southridge
Results: 4.63 40, 4.57 shuttle, 36.5’ PB, 35.6” VJ, 90.39 SPARQ
Breakdown: Has been one of Dade County’s top backs over the past two years.

RB: Krondis Larry, 5-6, 140, Miami Booker T. Washington
Results: 4.36 40, 4.55 shuttle, 28.5’ PB, 35.8” VJ, 81.30 SPARQ
Breakdown: Class 4A honorable mention all-state pick ran for 802 yards and 13 TDs this fall and clocked event’s fastest 40 time.

RB: Mardre London, 6-1, 197, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas
Results: 4.61 40, 4.62 shuttle, 36.5’ PB, 32.3” VJ, 88.65 SPARQ
Breakdown: London saw sizable action behind Fred Coppet this fall and is in line for a big senior year this season.

WR: Jake McCrary, 6-0, 171, Miami Coral Reef
Results: 4.51 40, 4.47 shuttle, 32’ PB, 34.0” VJ, 86.43 SPARQ
Breakdown: McCrary looked to be back to full health after missing games this fall with a knee injury; has close to 20 offers so far.

WR: Isaiah McKenzie, 5-8, 160, Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage
Results: 4.56 40, 4.54 shuttle, 35’ PB, 36.0” VJ, 87.84 SPARQ
Breakdown: Showed great speed and is coming off of huge junior season in which he had 30 catches for 832 yards and 18 touchdowns.

WR: Lamar Parker, 5-8, 152, Miami Booker T. Washington
Results: 4.44 40, 4.25 shuttle, 30’ PB, 32.0” VJ, 87.24 SPARQ
Breakdown: Miami and FSU are amongst early offers for Parker, who helped the Tornadoes to a 4A state title this fall.

WR: JoJo Robinson, 6-0, 174, Miami Northwestern
Results: 4.41 40, 4.53 shuttle, 37.5’ PB, 32.0” VJ, 97.41 SPARQ
Breakdown: FSU commit put up the day’s top SPARQ Rating.

OL: Kai Absheer, 6-5, 296, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas
Results: 5.47 40, 5.07 shuttle, 38.5’ PB, 22.6” VJ, 70.50 SPARQ
Breakdown: Athletic big man posted top SPARQ Rating for all OL and should draw his share of looks in the future.

OL: Trevor Darling, 6-4, 307, Miami Central
Results: 5.82 40, 5.40 shuttle, 40’ PB, 19.9” VJ, 66.96 SPARQ
Breakdown: Miami commit had event’s second-best power ball toss.

OL: Ben Tirolia (’15), 6-2, 264, Miami Booker T. Washington
Results: 5.14 40, 4.84 shuttle, 38’ PB, 19.1” VJ, 65.34 SPARQ
Breakdown: Sophomore starter for state champion has a great future ahead of himself.

OL: Reginald Bain, 6-4, 251, Miami Central
Results: 5.32 40, 4.82 shuttle, 35’ PB, 25.3” VJ, 63.63 SPARQ
Breakdown: Starter on 6A title team at Miami Central possesses great frame and athletic ability.

ATH: Treon Harris, 5-11, 181, Miami Booker T. Washington
Results: 4.48 40, 4.31 shuttle, 34’ PB, 30.4” VJ, 92.61 SPARQ
Breakdown: A Class 4A all-state pick at QB this fall, Harris earned the first invite to The Opening.

ATH: Marcelis Logan, 5-8 , 170, Lexington (Ky.) Catholic
Results: 4.53 40, 4.44 shuttle, 34.5’ PB, 36.5” VJ, 94.26 SPARQ
Breakdown: Son of former NFL RB Marc Logan scored eight TDs as a junior and posted event’s fourth-best SPARQ Rating.

DEFENSE

DL: Keyon Brown, 6-3, 235, Wauchula (Fla.) Hardee County
Results: 4.88 40, 4.47 shuttle, 33’ PB, 34.4” VJ, 90.39 SPARQ
Breakdown: As physically put-together as any player at the event, Brown ranks amongst state’s top DE prospects.

DL: Anthony Moten, 6-4, 279, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas
Results: 5.19 40, 5.03 shuttle, 42’ PB, 28.6” VJ, 91.68 SPARQ
Breakdown: Miami, FSU, Ohio State are among early offers for Moten, a Class 7A honorable mention all-state pick this fall.

DE/LB: Michael Smith, 6-2, 196, Miami Northwestern
Results: 4.86 40, 4.53 shuttle, 33’ PB, 30.2” VJ, 72.66 SPARQ
Breakdown: Was third team 6A all-state at DE for Northwestern this fall but could convert to outside linebacker in college.

LB: Kevin Bronson, 6-3, 231, Delray Beach (Fla.) Village Academy
Results: 4.78 40, 4.57 shuttle, 40’ PB, 31.1” VJ, 96.24 SPARQ
Breakdown: Big and athletic rush end put up day’s second-best SPARQ Rating and wants to play LB in college.

LB: Juwuan Brown, 6-2, 203, Tampa (Fla.) Jefferson
Results: 4.82 40, 4.60 shuttle, 36’ PB, 35.6” VJ, 86.76 SPARQ
Breakdown: Indiana is the first offer for Brown, more should be coming shortly for athletic ‘backer.

DB: Marques Gayot, 6-1, 197, Lake Worth (Fla.) Park Vista
Results: 4.65 40, 4.62 shuttle, 32’ PB, 30.6” VJ, 76.65 SPARQ
Breakdown: Physical hitter on film, ran well Saturday, was Class 8A all-state pick this fall.

DB: Jaquan Johnson (’15), 5-10, 169, Miami Killian
Results: 4.68 40, 4.38 shuttle, 33.5’ PB, 31.9” VJ, 81.54 SPARQ
Breakdown: Johnson was a Class 8A all-state pick this fall and already has Florida and Florida State offers as a rising junior.

DB: Nigel Patten, 5-9, 170, Miami Booker T. Washington
Results: 4.61 40, 4.44 shuttle, 29.5’ PB, 31.8” VJ, 74.34 SPARQ
Breakdown: Class 4A second team all-state pick this fall has an FSU offer.

DB: Andrew Soroh, 6-0, 189, Hialeah (Fla.) American
Results: 4.63 40, 4.37 shuttle, 36.5’ PB, 31.9” VJ, 93.27 SPARQ
Breakdown: Missed most of junior year with shoulder injury but is healthy now and worth a look.

ATH: Trayone Gray, 6-2, 194, Miami Carol City
Results: 4.66 40, 4.69 shuttle, 37’ PB, 32.1” VJ, 85.23 SPARQ
Breakdown: Ready to takeover as QB this fall for Chiefs but also recruitable as WR or safety due to size and athleticism.

McCrary decommits from Florida State 

November, 15, 2012
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ESPN Watch List wide receiver Jake McCrary (Miami/Coral Reef) has decided to remove himself from Florida State's 2014 commitment list.

The junior prospect has added a bunch of offers since his commitment to the Seminoles last July and now has options including Boise State, Clemson, Florida, Kansas State, LSU, Marshall, Ohio State and USF.

McCrary has not shut the door on Florida State, though. He says he will continue to continue considering the Seminoles as his recruitment progresses, but wanted to take a step back and reevaluate the situation.

With the removal of McCrary's name, FSU is down to six commitments for the class of 2014. C.J. Worton (Homestead, Fla./South Dade) and J.C. Jackson (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee) are the lone wide receiver commitments in the class, although JoJo Robinson (Miami/Northwestern) could end up at the position as well.

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Earning and accepting commitments of underclassmen comes with a certain degree of risk.

Coaches know more often than not how they will fill out, where they can project and what to expect of these prospects by the time they are seniors. But still, a lot can happen in a year.

Florida State has six commitments in the 2014 class. And they all come from the state of Florida.


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Florida home to 53 Watch List recruits 

September, 27, 2012
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There are several things that stand out about the 53 2014 prospects from Florida included on the ESPN Watch List.


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A talked-about recruiting trend is Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and the globalization of his recruiting classes, but the fact of the matter is -- at least right now in the 2014 recruiting process -- the two-time national champion coach likes to recruit from places he knows best.

The 2014 ESPN Watch List was unveiled Thursday, and not surprisingly the places the Buckeyes are hitting hardest are Ohio and Florida.


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Jake McCrary humbled by OSU offer 

September, 20, 2012
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First and foremost, Jake McCrary (Miami/Coral Reef) is committed to the Florida State Seminoles.

But that doesn’t mean the junior wide receiver wasn’t thrilled when he picked up an offer from Ohio State.

“It means a lot,” McCrary said. “Ohio State is a great school. They have a great tradition and great academics.

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