NCF On The Trail: Josh Rosen

Numbers tell us it’s USC that rules the roost over the years with the top-ranked prospects in California. Plus, UCLA has officially signed Josh Rosen, the Bruins’ most important recruit in years, to a financial aid agreement.

1. Since ESPN started ranking players in 2006, only four different schools have signed the top player in California. Those four schools are USC, Colorado, Washington and Notre Dame. You could say five if you count Eddie Vanderdoes as a Bruin signee in the 2013 class, but he did ink with Notre Dame on signing day and later transferred to UCLA. During that timeframe, though, USC has signed the top California player in the 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2014 classes. The Trojans have a good shot at doing it again in 2015 as many insiders believe five-star cornerback Iman Marshall is USC’s to lose.

[+] EnlargeDeon Cain
Tom Hauck for Student SportsClemson commit Deon Cain has 184 yards passing yards and 197 yards rushing in two games.
2. There was never, ever any doubt about how solid No. 1 ranked pocket-passing quarterback Josh Rosen was to UCLA. But Rosen, the No. 19 player in the country, took his commitment to the next level on Monday when he signed a financial aid agreement with the Bruins. Rosen remains the top-ranked prospect to commit to a Pac 12 program, and in my opinion, he is also the most important recruit in the conference with the Bruins’ quarterback race next season expected to be wide open since most UCLA observers believe Brett Hundley will depart for the NFL after his junior season.

3. How good has Clemson commit Deon Cain been in Tampa Bay (Florida) Tech’s first two games of the season? Cain, the nation’s No. 25 player, has been so good that Tech coach Jayson Roberts said he’s going to have to find somebody else to help do something on offense because he’s afraid he’s going to “break Deon’s back” from carrying the load. “Deon has been about 90 percent of our offense,” Roberts said. “The good thing is that he’s doing exactly what we want him to do, but the bad thing is that somebody else on the team is going to have to step up to help him out. But he’s been doing a tremendous job for us.” So far, Cain has 184 yards passing and 197 yards rushing in two games. He’s also caught a few passes and is returning punts and kickoffs. “He’s doing everything but driving the bus for us,” Roberts said.

Social Studies
There’s little doubt as to which school ESPN 300 quarterback Sheriron Jones is committed to. Check out the picture he posted Tuesday on his birthday.



Schools tweet posts like this one sent out by Baylor Tuesday and fans think they’re meant for them. Wrong. Tweets like these are meant to impress recruits and what’s scary is that the Bears have another good receiver in the 2015 class heading to Waco. Don’t forget about ESPN 300 receiver longtime Baylor commit Devontre Stricklin. He’s got the talent to be a huge impact player for the Bears.



The Under Armour All-America jersey tour continued on Tuesday with Auburn offensive line commitment Bailey Sharp receiving his jersey on Tuesday. To read more about the tour check out RecruitingNation’s coverage.

Pac-12's top recruiting visits 

September, 5, 2014
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While the SEC is the proud owner of 10 home games this weekend, the Pac-12 will host just six Saturday matchups this week. While this drives the quantity of big visit weekends down, it does not dilute the quality. After less than a handful of official visitors across the conference last weekend -- thanks to only four Saturday home games -- this weekend boasts the first full-fledged huge recruiting weekend at -- where else? -- the showdown between Michigan State and Oregon. Here is a look at the top three visit weekends across the Pac-12 for Week 2 of the college football season.

1. Oregon

It's no surprise that recruits would flock to this game, even though the visitor list will still likely rank well behind the group that shows up for Oregon's home game against Stanford later this season. The Ducks are scheduled to receive official visits from three committed prospects: safety P.J. Locke and offensive tackles Brady Aiello and Calvin Throckmorton. Locke will have an opportunity to do some serious recruiting, as uncommitted ESPN 300 defensive backs Marvell Tell and Micah Abernathy are slated to be in Eugene on official visits as well. Stanford defensive tackle commit Rex Manu should be on campus taking an official visit, and the Ducks appear to be doing very well with the talented defender. But the focus won't just be on 2015 talent this weekend, as 2016 ESPN 300 quarterback Seth Green -- the No. 155 overall prospect and No. 15 pocket passer -- will be on hand for an unofficial visit. The Ducks got a quick commitment from Malik Lovette on an official visit last weekend, and there could be an opportunity to make a big impact with Manu, though both Tell and Abernathy are likely to take their time with the recruiting process.


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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting news from across the country. Today's offerings: UCLA quarterback commitment Josh Rosen is off to a strong start in Week 1, showcasing why he will be a valuable recruiting tool for the Bruins this season. Plus, most of the Pac-12 attention has been on UCLA, USC and Oregon, but don't forget about the quality classes at UofA and ASU, and we continue our tour of the top recruiting happenings on social media.


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The chess-like nature of recruiting forces coaches to look years into the future, both to fill their own roster as well as take advantage of strengths and weaknesses of the upcoming high school classes. Despite the 2014 football season not kicking off for another few weeks, the 2015 Pac-12 recruiting classes are already filling up, which gives us the opportunity to look ahead and name the 2015 recruit who fills the biggest need for each program.


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While things can and will change between now and signing day, the updated ESPN 300 rankings at the close of the summer period show 24 Pac-12 commitments and provide a number of discussion topics relating to the present and future of Pac-12 recruiting for the 2015 class.

Here are five things to know in the Pac-12:


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After reviewing performances at The Opening last week, here are a few quick hits on how each Elite 11 quarterback performed:


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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Even if you’ve followed recruiting for only a little bit, you know coaches sometimes stretch the truth a little bit to lure a player to come to their school. But sometimes those fabrications can lead to some funny situations. Just ask ESPN 300 quarterback Drew Lock about the pitch he received from one. Plus, UCLA-pledge Josh Rosen bounced back after an up-and-down performance at the Elite 11 and ASU commit Brady White continued his strong summer.


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BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Pac-12 programs hold commitments from 13 prospects who participated in Nike's The Opening this week, including four quarterbacks who finished in the final Elite 11 quarterback ranking and two offensive linemen who were named to the Final Five on that side of the ball. Though the conference will undoubtedly finish with commitments from many more of the recruits in attendance, we take a look at how the 13 commitments fared over the four days.


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BEAVERTON, Ore. -- The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Five-star offensive tackle Tim Settle hasn't narrowed his list down yet, but he's not afraid to admit favorites when asked which school has the best food and the best looking girls. Plus, the final Elite 11 rankings featured quarterbacks going to Alabama, Oregon, Texas A&M, USC, Penn State and UCLA, but it also included some surprises.


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Elite 11: Day 1 notebook 

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ESPN.com RecruitingNation reporters Jeremy Crabtree, Gerry Hamilton, Erik McKinney, Mitch Sherman and Tom VanHaaren are at Nike Headquarters this week for the Elite 11 finals. After Day 1 of the event, here are their impressions.

BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Day 1 of the Elite 11 Finals didn't appear to do much in terms of creating separation between many of the 19 quarterbacks, as all are vying for MVP honors. Despite being put through several grueling military exercises the previous afternoon and well into the early morning hours, all of the quarterbacks came out firing during the Sunday morning session and, for the most part, carried it over throughout the afternoon session.

This group of finalists appears more athletic than ever. And it’s not just the dual-threat guys.

Pocket passers such as Josh Rosen, Ricky Town and Alex Malzone are by no means statues in the backfield. In many cases, they’re agile, reflecting the state of the college game, which has trended toward the dual-threat players.

This event has always showcased the classic quarterbacks, and no longer are the dual-threats subject to the run-first stereotype.

With nine in each category, this year might mark the first time the dual-threat quarterbacks actually enter with more star value than their pocket-passer counterparts.


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Elite 11 Day One: Takeaways 

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BEAVERTON, Ore. -- The 2014 Elite 11 officially got underway Sunday morning with a fast-paced two-hour workout split into three groups that included the 19 prospects and six camp counselors. The counselors included Baylor's Bryce Petty, Utah's Travis Wilson and Notre Dame's Everett Golson.

Here are 10 takeaways from the opening session.

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The 2015 quarterback class in California not only has a chance to shape the recruiting rankings in February, but also has an opportunity to shift college football's national landscape for the next few years. While the Golden State has produced more than its share of quarterbacks over the years, not in recent memory has there been a group as deep and talented as the 2015 crop. The Pac-12 is looking to capitalize on the array of talent at the position, but programs from across the country are looking to pry a few of the signal-callers out of the area.

Here are the ESPN 300 quarterbacks from the state:

Josh Rosen -- No. 1 pocket passer -- 6-4, 200 -- committed to UCLA

Rosen was an early lean to Stanford and gave significant looks to Cal and Michigan before selecting the Bruins in late March. Rosen led his high school to an undefeated season and state championship as a junior, one year after breaking onto the national recruiting scene as a sophomore. As the top-ranked quarterback in the nation, Rosen's commitment to UCLA was huge for the Bruins as he has quickly become one of the top recruiters in this class.


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The recruiting efforts of Charlie Strong at Texas received a significant boost on Monday afternoon, as Zach Gentry -- the nation's No. 2 pocket passer quarterback -- took to Twitter to announce his commitment to the Longhorns.

The 6-foot-6, 230-pound strong-armed signal-caller represents a huge recruiting win for Strong, as Texas beat schools such as Alabama, Oklahoma State and Tennessee. Gentry could also represent a change in direction for the Longhorns at the position, the quarterbacks signed by the Longhorns in the last three classes -- Connor Brewer, Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard -- were all dual-threats. In Gentry, the Longhorns are getting an athletic pocket passer -- a capable runner, but more reliant on his arm -- and someone Strong and his staff were in on early during their time at Louisville. In fact, Gentry took only one unofficial visit to Texas this spring before feeling comfortable enough to make his decision.

It's a great rebound for Texas, which missed out on quarterback targets such as Josh Rosen, Jarrett Stidham, Ricky Town and Drew Lock early in the process. But the Longhorns certainly didn't settle for Gentry. At No. 72 in the ESPN 300, Gentry is the highest-rated prospect to commit to Strong during his Texas tenure.

As a junior, Gentry threw for 1,587 yards and nine touchdowns against three interceptions, and also added the bulk of his team's rushing yards -- 617 yards and a team-high 16 touchdowns.

Gentry's commitment gives Texas 10 pledges in the 2015 class, and he could boost the nation's No. 11 recruiting class into the top 10.

New Mexico is not known for producing many big-time recruits, but it did send quarterback Landry Jones to Oklahoma in the 2008 class, and offensive lineman Matt Hegarty to Notre Dame in 2011.

ESPN.com reporter Max Olson contributed to this story.

The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: With coaches on the road visiting high schools in the spring, they bump into prospects all the time wearing gear of a rival school. So does that make coaches think differently of those prospects? Plus, one of the nation's top quarterbacks makes his decision Friday.


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UCLA is coming off a 10-3 record in 2013, and it beat rival USC for the second straight season. But the Bruins didn’t capitalize as many thought they might on the recruiting trail, finishing with the No. 26 class and missing out on some key recruits on signing day. UCLA coach Jim Mora knows the 2015 recruiting efforts will be vital for the Bruins to continue their success, and an early start that includes pledges from Josh Rosen, the No. 1 quarterback in the country, and two other ESPN 300 prospects is just what the doctor ordered. Mora visited with RecruitingNation on some key topics facing the Bruins with the 2015 class and other national recruiting issues.

You’re not able to talk specifically about prospects you're recruiting, but how does it help a program on the recruiting trail when they land an elite quarterback early in the process?

Jim Mora: Prospects follow recruiting very, very closely and they know where others are going or where they're leaning. I think any time you are able to early in the recruiting process land a high-profile recruit at whatever position, it's going to help you. Good players want to play with other good players. They want a chance to go win a championship. So when you can get a verbal commitment from somebody that's high-profile at an important position like quarterback, then it is certainly going to help your recruiting prospects.

[+] EnlargeJim Mora
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsJim Mora's energy and success have led to bigger recruiting victories for UCLA.
Looking at the numbers of players returning after this season and your smaller senior class, most observers say you'll sign between 15-20 players in the 2015 class. What challenges does that present you guys as a staff?

JM: You have to be very selective. As we have more and more success and more and more kids become interested in playing at UCLA, it just naturally forces you to be a little bit more selective. This year, we have to be very diligent and make the right decisions as to who we let in the door. We're moving methodically through the process, gathering as much information as we can on these kids, recruiting them along the way and hopefully make the right decisions.

How does it help having a coach like Adrian Klemm, who is originally from Inglewood, Calif., on the staff?


JM: He has a ton of connections in the city. He's very well respected in Southern California, as well as the rest of the country. Any time a guy walks into a living room or into a school out here in Los Angeles with a pedigree that Adrian has, it's significant. The guy has three Super Bowl rings, and he’s from L.A. I don't know if you're going to be able to find another college coach in America that's got three Super Bowl rings. Heck, I bet you can't find one with two. He's done it and had success at the highest level, and that carries weight with these kids and with these families in Los Angeles.

Should there be an early signing period in college football?

JM: I have no opinion on it. That's just the truth. I worry about what I can control and that's out of my control, so I'm not going to worry about it (laughs). There's my dogmatic, on the record answer for you.

Have you reviewed Randy Edsall's recruiting proposal that suggested prospects couldn't be offered scholarships until until Sept. 1 of an athlete’s senior year and those offers would only come from a school’s admissions department?

JM: That ain't going to happen. There are folks offering seventh- and eighth-graders. That one is not going to happen, but I respect the fact that he's looking at it that way. I respect all these guys that are looking at it and trying to find a solution. Right now, I have more important and pressing things that I have to worry about. I choose to spend my time and energy on other issues. But there a lot of smart people out there that I'm going to depend on to examine this issue, because something needs to be done about it. I'm certainly not smart enough to figure out all those issues. I only have so many brain cells, and I need to use them on UCLA stuff.

How important is it in today’s world of social media to be honest with the prospects you’re recruiting? We hear so much about negative recruiting, but not so much about how you have to be honest with prospects.


JM: Recruits see through the fluff in a heartbeat. If you're not honest with them, you're not going to get away with it. They know what is real and what isn't real. It doesn't matter if it's the NFL level, this level or the high school level. That demands that sometimes you have tough discussions or uncomfortable conversations with people, but you have to do it. You have to do it and have a level of empathy that can earn respect with people. You have to be brutally honest with recruits, high school coaches and parents about where things stand without being attacking or condescending.

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