NCF On The Trail: Kareem Are

For the second straight recruiting class, more than 100 players from junior colleges signed with schools from the power five conferences. And for the second straight class, Florida State contributed to that number.

Of course, that’s nothing new for Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher. He has signed a junior college player every recruiting cycle since he was named coach in 2010, and that will be extended again in 2015.

[+] EnlargeJimbo Fisher
Melina Vastola/USA TODAY SportsFSU coach Jimbo Fisher has had success with junior college prospects.
A decade ago, some programs were unwilling to recruit junior college players. (One assistant coach told ESPN that his head coach once characterized junior college players as “nothing but thugs, criminals and dummies.”) But recruiting junior college players is a must for nearly every FBS program now.

“Those guys are making an impact,” Fisher said, “… and we’ve had some pretty good success with our guys here lately.”

That’s a slight understatement from Fisher. Former Noles Menelik Watson and Cornellius Carradine were both second-round selections in the 2013 NFL draft, and Fisher could have another player from the juco ranks taken high in the draft in the coming years. Last week, Fisher said Kareem Are, who enrolled in January out of Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College, is the surprise of spring practice.

Are has only participated in half of Florida State’s practices, but he has seen significant time with the first-team offense at left guard as the Noles battle some injuries and experiment with varying lineups along the offensive line. Senior Cameron Erving has been alongside Are for much of those drills working at left tackle and even some center. Erving said there is a different level of maturity with Are and junior college players in general.

“For the most part the guys we’ve had here that transferred from juco, they’ve come with a different focus,” Erving said. “They were hungry and always felt like they had something to prove. Those guys have always played hard from what I’ve seen, seeing Menelik, seeing Kareem come from juco, seeing guys like [senior Desmond Hollin].

Troy Morrell has coached Butler (Kan.) Community College to three national championships in his 15 seasons as coach. He said junior college recruits are better prepared physically and academically than they were even just a few years ago. Watson declared for the NFL after just one season at Florida State. Coaches are constantly looking for ways to improve their team, and the junior college ranks have a number of able bodies that can contribute immediately.

“They’re going to maybe be more prepared in the classroom. That gives the schools a little more freedom to be able to recruit a junior college kid that maybe they haven’t been able to before,” Morrell said.

“And there’s a tremendous amount of pressure for those big schools to win.”

Top position classes: OL 

February, 20, 2014
Feb 20
9:00
AM ET

With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes. For the full series, click here.

Nationally (and SEC)
Not only did Alabama put together the best offensive line class in the 2014 cycle, but it's also one of the best in recent memory. The Crimson Tide inked early enrollee and five-star offensive tackle Cameron Robinson (Monroe, La./West Monroe) and also got top-ranked junior college offensive tackle Dominick Jackson (San Mateo, Calif./College of San Mateo). On the interior, the nation's top two centers, No. 168 overall Josh Casher (Mobile, Ala./Saint Paul’s Episcopal) and No. 190 J.C. Hassenauer (Woodbury, Minn./East Ridge) signed, as did No. 3 guard Ross Pierschbacher (Cedar Falls, Iowa/Cedar Falls). A second guard in the class is three-star Montel McBride (Plant City, Fla./Plant City), who could also play nose tackle at the next level.

The Crimson Tide had the nation’s best offensive line class; here’s which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:

Weekend recruiting wrap: ACC 

December, 23, 2013
12/23/13
8:00
AM ET
As the Christmas holiday nears, recruiting has slowed some. But not entirely as both Virginia schools extended offers.

Florida State and Virginia Tech landed commitments recently, too.

Biggest offer: 2015 defensive end Sterling Johnson (Clayton, N.C./Clayton) already has an impressive group of schools after him. Clemson, Florida and NC State have all offered. And just last week, another high-level ACC school jumped in, too -- Virginia Tech. The Hokies would love to add a 6-foot-5, 245-pound player off the edge for Bud Foster’s defense. The Hokies' in-state rival, Virginia, also issued an offer, but this one went to 2015 tight end Jackson Harris (Columbia, Tenn./Columbia Central). Other ACC schools in on Harris include Florida State, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Virginia Tech. Louisville, a future ACC school, has offered as well.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

ACC recruiting storylines: Dec. 19 

December, 19, 2013
12/19/13
2:00
PM ET

The holiday season is fast approaching, and with it, so too is national signing day.

ACC programs are scrambling to firm up their commitment lists and add to them as well. Here are a few top storylines for the conference:


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

The junior college midterm signing period opened on Wednesday and the Auburn Tigers came away as the clear-cut winners.

Despite relentless pursuit by LSU, Auburn signed receiver D'haquille Williams, the nation’s No. 1 junior college player, out of Mississippi Gulf Coast College. The Tigers also announced the signings of his teammate, four-star linebacker/safety Derrick Moncrief, and offensive lineman Xavier Dampeer from Wesson (Miss.) Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

[+] EnlargeD'haquille Williams
Courtesy of Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C.D'haquille Williams, the No. 1 juco prospect, signed with Auburn and Gus Malzahn called him "a dynamic player who can run, catch, do all the things it takes to be a great wide receiver."
The good news continued Wednesday afternoon as defensive tackle DaVonte Lambert (Milledgeville, Ga./Georgia Military College), the No. 6 player in the ESPN JC 50, flipped his pledge from Tennessee and said he was signing with the Tigers.

By the end of the day, the Tigers had inked three of the top 14 players in the country and are now poised to crack the top 10 of the ESPN Class Rankings with more than a month left before signing day. But make no mistake, Williams was the prize of the haul.

"He's a dynamic player who can run, catch, do all the things it takes to be a great wide receiver," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "If you look back we've had years when we threw it a lot. We are going to get more balanced next year. Anytime you have a dynamic player like him coming, that's a good thing."

Despite missing out on Lambert, it was still a banner day for the Vols.

Tennessee signed the nation’s No. 2 juco prospect in Lavon Pearson, an impact receiver from Quincy (Calif.) Feather River College. The Vols also landed No. 26 Dontavius Blair, an offensive tackle from Garden City (Kan.) Community College, and No. 40 Owen Williams, a defensive tackle from El Dorado (Kan.) Butler Community College.

All three are expected to see the field quickly at Tennessee and are a major part of the Vols’ second-ranked recruiting class.

"Von was as productive of a player as there was in all of junior college football this past season,” Tennessee receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Zach Azzanni said. “He brings instant help as a threat on the outside to our offense.”’

Oklahoma State also came away a big winner with the addition of running back/receiver Tyreek Hill, No. 4 in the ESPN JC 50, out of Garden City. Hill had flirted with Texas and even took an official visit to Austin last weekend, but in the end he stuck with the school he committed to early in the process.

“It feels good to finally get this all out of the way,” Hill said. “I owed it to myself to make sure Oklahoma State was the right place for me. In the end, it was OSU and it wasn’t even close.”

Hill is one of the fastest players in the country, with a 200-meter time of 20.14 seconds and a 100 time of 10.19.

Several other teams filled major holes with commitments as the signing period opened Wednesday.

Kansas State landed Andre Davis (Santa Rosa, Calif./Santa Rosa JC), a receiver who is No. 36 in the juco rankings and is expected to complement All-Big 12 receiver Tyler Lockettnext season. Davis said he told the K-State coaches he plans on coming in and being better than Locket.

Florida State added to its offensive line depth with the addition of Kareem Are (Fort Scott, Kan./Fort Scott Community College), who is No. 45 in the ESPN JC 50. Are is a nice addition because he can play virtually every position along the offensive line.

Florida also landed a nice signing day surprise when Drew Sarvary, an offensive tackle from Tyler (Texas) Junior College switched his commitment from Texas Tech and signed with the Gators. UF needs as much help as it can get up front and Sarvary, a Tallahassee, Fla., native, jumped at the opportunity to stay near home.
The task is still at hand for Florida State and QB Jameis Winston as the Vizio BCS National Championship game is close to three weeks away. However, Winston can smile early knowing he will have the protection to make another title run in 2014.

The Seminoles picked up their second commitment from a junior college offensive lineman in the last 10 days when guard Kareem Are (Fort Scott, Kan./Fort Scott CC) pledged to FSU. Are is No. 45 in the ESPN Junior College 50, and Chad Mavety (Garden City, N.Y./Nassau), No. 8 in the rankings, committed Dec. 9.

Are, 6-foot-5 and 310 pounds, plans to enroll in January and signed with Florida State when he committed. Wednesday is the first day midyear juco enrollees can sign with colleges.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Big Ten signing day storylines 

December, 17, 2013
12/17/13
8:00
AM ET
Signing day is only 50 days away and there are plenty of questions surrounding the big day. Big Ten programs still have a ton of top prospects on the board, which means there could be some impactful decisions coming in the near future.

Here is a look at some of the top storylines in the conference leading up to signing day.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Big 12 signing day storylines 

December, 17, 2013
12/17/13
8:00
AM ET
Consider the countdown a go.

With 50 days from national signing day, a lot of questions about star players have been answered. Some questions, however, are still left to be answered.

Here are 10 signing day storylines that could affect recruiting classes throughout the Big 12:


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

ACC top juco targets 

December, 3, 2013
12/03/13
4:30
PM ET


Recruiting junior college players is no longer a college football taboo, as even No. 1 Florida State has a handful of juco targets. Prospects from the juco ranks such as Cam Newton and Terrence Cody have helped programs to national championships over the last few seasons, so coaches are willing to go to juco programs to provide immediate help.

Here are the top five juco players in the ESPN JC 50 being recruited by ACC teams.

1. OT Chad Mavety (Garden City, N.Y./Nassau)
The second-ranked tackle and No. 8 overall among juco recruits, Mavety is down to Florida State and Ohio State. Clearly Mavety is a player who could have an impact on the national title race next season as both the Seminoles and Buckeyes are poised to make another title run . Mavety visited both schools in November, and a decision should come soon. The offensive line is priority No. 1 for the Noles between now and signing day.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Big Ten top juco targets 

December, 3, 2013
12/03/13
4:30
PM ET


Junior-college prospects are often an outstanding way for programs to fill their rosters. Because of the experience the prospects have with a higher level of play, they can immediately help at positions of need.

Big Ten schools are after plenty of juco prospects to round out the remainder of the Class of 2014. With the 2014 ESPN Junior College 50 rankings releasing today, here is a look at five junior-college targets for the conference.

OL Chad Mavety
Garden City, N.Y./Nassau community college
ESPN JC 50 ranking: No. 8


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

The annual Florida-Florida State game is usually one of the top games in the country. This year, with Florida’s disappointing season, the game seems to have lost some luster. Florida State, however, is fighting for a chance to make it to the BCS National Championship game in January. The Gators would like nothing more to ruin their archrival’s season, especially in front of several top recruits. Here’s a closer look at which recruits will be watching this weekend.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Every home weekend has seemingly turned into a big recruiting opportunity for Florida State.

And while a game against middle-of-the-road Syracuse isn’t garnering the same attention as the Miami rivalry, a number of ESPN 300 prospects still found reason to head to the Florida panhandle.

It was a mixed bag as far as the visitors go because some prospects were uncommitted, some were Noles commits (and wavering) and others were commitments to other schools.

Several ESPN 300 prospects roamed the sidelines, including a few surprises. Alabama commitments Bo Scarbrough (Bradenton, Fla./IMG Academy), No. 21 in the ESPN 300, and 2015 pledge Dallas Warmack (Atlanta/Benjamin E. Mays), No. 297 in the Junior 300, were in Tallahassee for the game.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Florida State will be hosting five official visits this weekend against Syracuse. Here is the rundown on each player:

Damian Prince (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara): Prince was a late addition to the visitor list, but he becomes the most important right off the bat. The four-star offensive tackle is fresh off an official visit to Maryland, in which the Terrapins lost to Syracuse. Florida State hopes this visit goes a little better than that one in terms of results. Maryland is still the clubhouse leader, but this official will be one of the more important ones the Seminoles will host all cycle long. Prince fits the bill perfectly as the talented offensive tackle Jimbo Fisher can count on for the next several seasons. He is the No. 26 prospect in the country.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES