NCF On The Trail: Josh Wariboko

Chris Clark, Cordell Broadus, Soso JamaboESPN Images, USA TODAY Sports, Icon SportswireChris Clark, Cordell Broadus, Soso Jamabo have elevated UCLA's 2015 class ranking to No. 11.
If you're looking for what a difference a year can make in recruiting, look no further than the UCLA Bruins. On signing day 2014, head coach Jim Mora went full on "Casey at the Bat," taking a vicious swing at a number of high-profile recruits on signing day and coming up empty.

The recruiting class overall was very good, and UCLA did add linebacker Kenny Young on signing day, but Solomon Thomas, Malachi Dupre, Mattrell McGraw, Rashaan Evans and Adoree' Jackson were all ESPN 300 prospects who selected other programs over UCLA in announcements televised on ESPNU. Those announcements came one day after the Bruins lost out on ESPN 300 recruit Budda Baker, and UCLA also missed out on flipping ESPN 300 defensive end Davon Godchaux from LSU, and three-star athlete Kalen Ballage from Arizona State on signing day.

One year later, there was plenty of rejoicing in Mudville -- or Westwood, as it were -- as UCLA went into signing day with the potential for the same elation or disappointment, depending on how televised commitments played out.

Pac-12 signing day primer

February, 3, 2015
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We’re now just one day away from national signing day as recruits across the country prepare to sign their national letters of intent with the school of their choice. ESPNU and Watch ESPN will provide 11 hours of continuous coverage throughout Wednesday beginning at 8 a.m. ET, and ESPN’s RecruitingNation will provide one-stop shopping for breaking news, announcements and a day-long chat. Fans of Pac-12 programs will be especially interested in the televised announcements on Wednesday, as of the 17 recruits scheduled to announce on ESPNU, Pac-12 programs are potential destinations for 10. While a majority of each conference class will sign on Wednesday without any drama, there are still several top prospects who could shake up the conference rankings and signing day is always good for a few interesting twists.

For team-by-team coverage of the Pac-12, check out the conference’s recruiting pages:
Arizona
Arizona State
California
Colorado
Oregon
Oregon State
Stanford
UCLA
USC
Utah
Washington
Washington State

One storyline to watch: All eyes will be on the two Los Angeles programs, as UCLA and USC have a chance to dominate the televised announcements. The Bruins are contenders for tight end Chris Clark, athlete Soso Jamabo, linebacker Jeffery Holland, offensive guard Josh Wariboko, outside linebacker Roquan Smith, wide receiver Cordell Broadus and defensive tackle Joseph Wicker. The Trojans are finalists for linebacker John Houston Jr. and defensive tackle Rasheem Green. And both schools are among the finalists for cornerback Iman Marshall. In 2014, signing day finished on two completely different notes for the crosstown programs, as UCLA swung big and missed at a number of out-of-state recruits, while USC scored with its three top local targets. This year, save for Marshall perhaps giving one program the edge, there could be plenty of happy coaches in Los Angeles.

One recruit to watch: Marshall. It’s unlikely many recruits have frustrated more fan bases than Marshall during this recruiting cycle, but that’s mostly because he’s been so difficult to read and still has so many options on the table. With six schools left -- and perhaps all of them feeling as though they have a shot at landing the nation’s top cornerback -- Marshall could have just about everybody guessing when it’s his time to announce on Wednesday. He would be a significant addition to either Los Angeles program, and would give either Jim Mora and UCLA or Steve Sarkisian and USC bragging rights when it came to landing the region’s top prospect in this class. But Florida State, LSU, Michigan and Notre Dame remain in the mix as well.

One signing day surprise: It might sound like something of a cop-out, but the surprise of signing day in the Pac-12 could turn out to be just how few surprises there actually are. In terms of commitments into the conference, there could be fireworks all day, with a number of ESPN 300 prospects and dynamic three- and four-star recruits set to make their decisions. But when it comes to shocking flips between conference programs, it appears that Wednesday could be relatively quiet. The recruiting carousel spun rapidly throughout the Pac-12 in January, but the music appears to be slowing and just about everybody appears to have found a seat, with very few committed prospects having taken official visits elsewhere and seriously considering a flip. If there is a shock, it could come from the state of Texas, where UCLA holds a commitment from ESPN 300 wide receiver Ryan Newsome. While it would be surprising if Newsome made the flip, it can be difficult to go through with going away to school when the hometown team comes charging late.

Pac-12 tipping point classes 

January, 26, 2015
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It's a fairly unusual year for recruiting when it comes to the two Los Angeles programs. While this is usually a zero sum war with a clear winner and loser -- as was the case with the 2014 class, when the Trojans finished 3-for-3 on the final three huge uncommitted prospects in Southern California -- this signing day provides the opportunity for both programs to either finish strong or fizzle out, without one much affecting the other.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

January, 20, 2015
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This past weekend was the first time since the middle of December that recruits and coaches could meet face to face and Pac-12 programs took advantage, as dozens of prospects took official visits to conference programs. With signing day rapidly approaching, recruiting fans got a sense of what the next two weeks could be like, as there were plenty of news and notes since Friday.


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UCLA fell short of preseason expectations in 2014, but it still posted three wins over top-25 teams and has an opportunity to finish the year with 10 wins. That success also came largely on the back of a large group of young players, which means that -- aside from the best player on offense and defense -- the Bruins should have very few holes to fill with the depth already on the roster as well as a tremendous 2015 recruiting class.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Big Ten 

October, 21, 2014
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As we get further into the season, more programs are starting to look at filling up their 2015 classes and looking ahead to offering 2016 prospects.

The Big Ten had plenty happen over the weekend, so here is the recap within the conference.


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Best of the visits: Big Ten

October, 19, 2014
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Minnesota and Purdue ended up stealing the show over the weekend within the Big Ten. The two programs went back and forth with touchdowns, interceptions and exciting plays.

The Gophers were the home team and pulled out the victory in front of a few important visitors on Saturday.

Athlete Alex Barnes is still on the board and made his way to campus for the game. He chose a good game to visit for as the atmosphere and weather were both great.
Barnes could either be a running back or end up on defense, so his versatility would be useful at Minnesota. The Gophers also had a big defensive lineman in attendance with 2015 defensive end Anree Saint-Amour. Northwestern had a big game at home as well, hosting Nebraska. While the Wildcats got off to a good start, the second half was a different story in the loss to the Huskers.

It was still an exciting atmosphere and a good game for prospects to see the program up close.

The coaches made an offer before the game with 2016 defensive end Khalid Kareem, who traveled from Michigan for the visit. The biggest game of the weekend, though, was probably Ohio State and Rutgers. The Buckeyes were the home team and as usual, they had a ton of big recruiting targets on campus.

The coaches secured a commitment from 2016 tight end Kierre Hawkins and had the opportunity to impress a few other potential commits as well.

One of the bigger 2015 prospects on hand was offensive lineman Josh Wariboko, a former Oklahoma commit, who took an official visit to Ohio State on Saturday. Wariboko put an X in place of the letter M in his tweet, following suit with the Ohio State coaches as a shot at rival Michigan.

The Buckeyes got a double-dip visit with brothers Daniel and Josh Imatorbhebhe on Saturday as well. Daniel is a 2015 tight end while Josh is an ESPN Jr. 300 wide receiver, ranked No. 162 overall in the 2016 class. Getting both prospects on campus at once was a bonus for the Buckeyes and Josh will be a big target for the next class.

Big Ten's top recruiting visits 

October, 17, 2014
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Ohio State faces off against Rutgers this weekend, and the Buckeyes are going to be hosting some big-name prospects as well. A few other Big Ten teams will have important visitors on campus, but none bigger than Ohio State’s list.

Rutgers at Ohio State


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Perhaps the worst thing to happen to one of college’s most anticipated rivalries happened on Saturday.

Texas lost a home affair to Baylor. Minutes later, Oklahoma was upset on the road by TCU.

Then, the questions -- and the jokes -- started. Just in time for this weekend’s Texas-Oklahoma clash at the Cotton Bowl.

With the Longhorns and Sooners -- two of college football’s most storied programs -- suffering losses over the weekend, the Red River Showdown became an unexpected undercard for the upcoming weekend in Big 12 Conference football. The conference game of the week will pit Baylor hosting TCU, two undefeated and top-10 ranked teams coming off big wins.


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With another 600-plus player evaluations now in the books, the second phase of the spring evaluation period is complete. Camps and combines across the country are now coming to a close, and on-campus college camps are in full swing. We’ve now had several months to evaluate and re-evaluate the 2015 class based off sophomore and junior film study, as well as in-person scouting to see how prospects pass the eye test.

New additions to the ESPN 300 are well into the double digits, which resulted in several changes throughout the rankings. As usual, some prospects will move up or down relative to the movement from other prospects and the new entries. Here’s a look at the big movers in the updated ESPN 300:


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Whether or not it’s fair to say ESPN 300 quarterback and Texas A&M commit Kyler Murray is a pied piper is still to be determined. As good as he has been in high school -- two state championship rings, invitations to the Elite 11 finals and The Opening and nearly two dozen scholarship offers -- he has yet to play a down of college football.

But for an athlete who turns 17 in August, the expectations are incredible for Murray, who is the nation's top-ranked quarterback in the 2015 class. Watch him play and it makes sense. His drive to be the best is infectious, and his refuse-to-lose attitude has not only attracted coaches from coast to coast but also made them look past his 5-foot-11, 180-pound frame.

More important, Murray has other recruits -- on offense and defense -- wanting to be his future teammate.

The Kyler Murray effect is real, and it’s something the Aggies hope to benefit from this summer.


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Big 12 recruiting storylines: Sept. 26 

September, 26, 2013
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In this week’s Big 12 recruiting storylines we take a look at a big weekend ahead for Oklahoma and West Virginia, the successful weekend that was for the Longhorns, TCU targeting another state and much more.


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Summer recruit wrap: Oklahoma 

July, 23, 2013
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As summer wraps up and Oklahoma turns its focus to the 2013 season, we've learned plenty from the Sooners during the summer recruiting cycle. OU has 11 commitments, including four ESPN 300 prospects, yet there continues to be concern among Sooner Nation about the state of recruiting in Norman, Okla. Here are five things we learned during the Sooners' summer months on the recruiting trail.

1. Bill Bedenbaugh is relentless


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ESPN 300 OL Barnett sticking to plan 

July, 17, 2013
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When it came to summer camps, the plan was simple for Class of 2015 offensive lineman Jalin Barnett (Lawton, Okla./Lawton).

He wasn’t going to go to any of them. There might have been a few schools he wanted to see, but he was going to save money and stay home.

Jalin Barnett
Bob Przybylo/ESPNJalin Barnett, No. 10 in the ESPN Junior 300, has offers from Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.
Oklahoma, however, is different. Barnett made his first unofficial visit to OU in April and picked up an offer shortly after his trip. He returned the following week for the spring game and one more time for OU’s camp in June. As of now, it remains the only camp Barnett has attended during this mega-crazy camp season.

In other words, OU has a three-visit advantage on the rest of the field right now. And with the release of the ESPN 300 for the 2015 class on Tuesday, it might be a good thing. Barnett, who is listed at 6-foot-4 and 285 pounds, is ranked No. 8 in the ESPN 300 and No. 1 in the region.

“A ranking like that doesn’t surprise me at all,” Lawton coach Randy Breeze said. “He has worked so hard. He’s getting all this attention, but he is handling it so well.”

Schools such as Oregon State and Texas Tech also doled out early offers, but some more big boys have joined the party the last couple of weeks. Breeze said Stanford and Auburn are the latest school to offer.

Barnett grew up an Oklahoma State fan, but it has been all about the crimson and cream lately. And one OU coach in particular.

“I have a great relationship with Coach [Bill] Bedenbaugh,” Barnett said. “I liked going to the camp a lot. It was very important in the long run to get that coaching from him.”

Since arriving at OU from West Virginia in February, Bedenbaugh has made a huge impact with top offensive line prospects.

Both of OU’s 2015 commitments, ESPN 300 members offensive guard Josh Wariboko (Oklahoma City/Casady, No. 88) and offensive tackle Bobby Evans (Allen, Texas/Allen, No. 210), have been recruited by Bedenbaugh.

Barnett could be next, but it won’t happen just yet. There’s pressure, though, from his family to attend OU.


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Sooners get another Evans pledge

July, 10, 2013
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One Evans is nice. Two are even better. Class of 2014 three-star linebacker Tay Evans (Allen, Texas/Allen) committed to Oklahoma last week on an unofficial visit. His younger brother did the same Wednesday.

Bobby Evans, a Class of 2015 tight end, pledged to the Sooners while both brothers were on an unofficial visit to campus.

Tay Evans couldn’t contain his excitement, letting the world know on Twitter his younger brother is going to follow him to Norman. Bobby later confirmed to SoonerNation the tweet was accurate.

Bobby Evans, who is 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, was also hearing from Baylor and attended Texas’ junior day in the winter.

Bobby Evans is the second commit for OU’s 2015 class, joining offensive guard Joshua Wariboko (Oklahoma City/Casady), who pledged two weeks ago.

It’s only natural for the Evans brothers to end up as Sooners. Their father, Bobby Sr., played basketball for OU. And though the initial interest wasn’t as strong by the Sooners for either one of them compared to some other schools, it became clear that OU was the school to beat when it did start to show interest.

The Sooners' raid of Allen High might not be done, either, as OU still has its targets set on three-star linebacker Christian Sam.

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