NCF On The Trail: Kendall Sheffield

SEC 2015 recruiting in review 

February, 13, 2015
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It was another incredible year of recruiting in the SEC. More than one-third (117 prospects) of the ESPN 300 signed with SEC schools. The conference also signed 12 of the 20 five-star prospects, and 218 four-star prospects. All but two of the 14 SEC schools finished in the top 40 of the final ESPN class rankings. Here is a closer look at the 2015 recruiting cycle in review.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- They’re talented. So, so talented.

With 19 ESPN 300 signees -- three more than any other school and twice the average of the SEC -- there is no doubt that Alabama has the most stacked recruiting class in college football. Coach Nick Saban not only signed the country’s No. 1 passer (Blake Barnett), he signed its No. 1 receiver (Calvin Ridley), its No. 2 running back (Damien Harris) and its No. 3 cornerback (Kendall Sheffield). Not to mention the 14 other players he signed who rank among the top 10 at their respective positions.
It’s staggering really.

But there is a bigger question at play. Because it is Alabama and because it holds ESPN's recruiting title for four years running now, you have to look at things differently. Unlike Florida, which is rebuilding under a new head coach, or Auburn, which went after better personnel on defense, Alabama didn’t have to make wholesale changes or cover up obvious deficiencies on its roster. With 54 ESPN 300 recruits already on campus, the talent was there before signing day ever began.

So at what point do you move past the obvious recruiting numbers and ask whether Alabama is truly any better than it was at this time a year ago? Trading one blue-chip prospect for another doesn’t guarantee anything. It only begs the question: do any of these new recruits translate to a national championship in 2015?

In a sense, this was what Saban was getting at when he told reporters on Wednesday that, "Every coach is going to stand here at this podium ... and say they're pleased with the guys they recruited."

"No one has a bad recruiting class," he explained. "And we're certainly pleased with our guys, but predicting how a young person is going to do academically and athletically in college by giving them some rating when he's in high school is not very scientific.

"We try to use science to create things that are very subjective in terms of what someone's performance is going to be, and I don't think that's really possible. There's no scientific way to know what the achievement of any person is going to be in anything they try to do. It's impossible."

He’s right, there is no way of knowing. Just look at the quarterback position where Alabama has signed seven prospects since 2010, including Phillip Sims, who ranked No. 1 out of high school, David Cornwell and Cooper Bateman, who each ranked in the top five, and Jake Coker, who was viewed as an uber talent upon leaving Florida State. Who won the job last season? A three-star athlete. A fifth-year senior. A former running back by the name of Blake Sims.

Talent is great, but development trumps all.

It’s why the secondary took a step back last season and is not guaranteed to get better in 2015. Because though you could say that signing cornerbacks like Sheffield and four-star Minkah Fitzpatrick will help, you have to at least acknowledge the year before when five-star freshmen Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey had little impact. For that matter, neither did sophomores and former four-star recruits Maurice Smith and Anthony Averett.

That is not to say those players won’t become starters with time, only that you can’t get carried away with what happens on signing day. At least you can’t when it’s Alabama and you’ve watched it carry home the recruiting trophy four years in a row.

Saban signed the best players in the country on Wednesday. He signed the players who best fit his team’s needs. And he will probably send a few of them to the NFL in time.

But what has changed? The same things were true last year before Alabama lost to Ohio State in the playoff, and the same things were true the year before, when Alabama's championship drought began.

You have to respect the talent Saban has assembled, but when the four- and five-stars become too many to count, you move on to what it all means. And when you venture into the territory of predicting a No. 1 class will lead to the country's No. 1 team, you're not relying on science. Knowing that with certainty is impossible.

SEC's top recruiting visits 

January, 23, 2015
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Signing day is less than two weeks away, and there are only two remaining weekends for prospects to take official visits. Other prospects who have already taken all five of their allowed official visits will take unofficial visits to help decide where they will want to attend school. Here is a closer look at some of the top visits to watch in the SEC over the weekend.

Alabama

The Crimson Tide have already put together an unbelievable class, and are hoping to top it off with one or two more prospects. Long-time Georgia commit Terry Godwin will take an official visit to Alabama just a week after taking a visit to Auburn last weekend. Georgia still appears to be the front-runner, but anything can happen when a recruit goes on a visit.

Auburn safety commit Darrell Williams is also visiting Alabama this weekend. Williams had heavy interest in Alabama before making his pledge to Auburn early in the process. He will certainly be one to watch.

LSU

The Tigers, after the commitment of ESPN 300 defensive back Donte' Jackson this week, are up to 17 commits, including seven ranked in the ESPN 300, and are hoping to add a few more key prospects on signing day. Five-star Ohio State athlete commit Torrance Gibson, fresh off an Auburn visit, will visit LSU. The dual-threat quarterback has been concerned about the logjam at quarterback at Ohio State, and both LSU and Auburn run offenses that suit his playing style.

In addition to Gibson, another five-star prospect -- defensive back Iman Marshall -- will also take a trip to Baton Rouge. Marshall has kept his recruitment close to the vest, but the Tigers have already put together an incredible defensive back class. Four-star offensive lineman Toby Weathersby will also take a visit to LSU this weekend. Running back commit Derrius Guice will visit LSU this weekend, and announced on Twitter that he will take a visit to Alabama next weekend. Obviously the LSU coaching staff would like to nail down his commitment and prevent Guice from taking that final visit to Alabama.

Florida


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Sights, sounds from Under Armour Game

January, 2, 2015
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The 2015 Under Armour All-America Game is in the books, wrapping up a great week of competition among the nation’s top recruits. The action at the game was a lopsided victory for Team Highlight.

Here are some of the top sights and sounds from the game.


ESPN 300 running back Ronald Jones II started off the day's decisions.
Shortly after Ronald Jones, Virginia Tech picked up ESPN 300 DT Tim Settle.
Daylon Mack was a constant presence in Team Highlight's backfield. ESPN 300 running back Damien Harris didn't see this coming.
During the second quarter, ESPN 300 No. 50 Da'Ron Payne added to an already loaded Alabama class.
QB Deondre Francois, a four-star Florida State commit, said this week that Florida is now after him. While there's still a month until signing day, he certainly seems solid to FSU.
By halftime, Team Highlight was thoroughly in control and five-star cornerback Iman Marshall had one word for how the game was going.
LSU added four-star receiver Tyron Johnson, the No. 25 overall player.
Parents came to enjoy the game this week and the most vocal was Texas Tech commit Breiden Fehoko's family.
Then, of course, there's proud papa Snoop Dogg taking a break from watching his son Cordell Broadus.
In the third quarter, Texas added linebacker Anthony Wheeler.
Team Highlight continued to roll in the second half with Alabama quarterback commit Blake Barnett hitting Florida State WR commit Da'Vante Phillips.
And then of course, five-star Byron Cowart just does what he does.
The last commitment of the night was the biggest, and Alabama added to its riches with five-star cornerback Kendall Sheffield.
LSU has done a tremendous job of sending players to the NFL, especially over the Past few years, and this year will be no different. Now the Tigers are hoping to reload through recruiting. LSU is hoping an impressive win over Notre Dame in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl will help catapult the Tigers to a strong finish in recruiting.


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It has been a whirlwind of recruiting news for Texas A&M over the last few weeks. The Aggies lost a commitment from five-star defensive tackle Daylon Mack and missed out on commitments from the No. 3-ranked outside linebacker in the country, Malik Jefferson, and four star athlete DeAndre McNeal, who chose the in-state Texas Longhorns when they announced their decisions.

Mack is just one of three prospects who have backed off their pledges to Texas A&M this football season. The others, Richard Moore decommitted on Dec. 3 and wide receiver DaMarkus Lodge opened up his recruitment on Sept. 18.

Not all has been bad news for the Aggies, however. The No. 3-ranked wide receiver in the country, Christian Kirk, gave his verbal commitment to Texas A&M last Wednesday.

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Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

December, 2, 2014
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There were some big games and a bunch of recruiting news from around the Southeastern Conference. There was a big commitment, some coaching changes and key visitors for rivalry weekend. Here's a closer look at the top recruiting news from around the conference.


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Whether recruits are attending games this holiday weekend or watching on television, all eyes around the recruiting world will be focused on several rivalry games. From the Iron Bowl to the Egg Bowl there will be recruiting implications throughout the conference this weekend. Here’s a closer look at how these game might affect the top remaining recruits.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

November, 25, 2014
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As always there was a ton of recruiting news from around the Southeastern Conference. There was a big commitment, there were key visits and new offers over the weekend. Here's a closer look at the top recruiting news from around the conference.


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UA jersey tour: Kendall Sheffield

November, 18, 2014
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There are many who believe ESPN 300 cornerback Kendall Sheffield is the poster child for how to go through the recruiting process.

Play like a champion. Garner interest from college scouts. Earn scholarships. Treat every scholarship with equal density. Refuse to publicly lean to a program.

Ask Sheffield about a favorite in his recruiting process, and expect an answer that will lead the most persistent, inquisitive person to nowhere. He's quick to say that he's "still wide open with 37 offers."

Ask the five-star cornerback about the Under Armour All-America Game, however, and get a completely different answer. Sheffield was awarded his commemorative jersey on Tuesday in a ceremony sponsored by American Family Insurance.

"It's a huge honor to be an Under Armour All-American. I'm very happy, very excited," Sheffield said. "I've always wanted to be an Under Armour All-American, since I was a little kid. "I just want to get there and have fun and compete."

Hearing Sheffield open up about the game is a treat of sorts, as he's naturally an actions-first kind of athlete. Sheffield prefers letting his game speak for itself -- and it's spoken loud enough for him to earn nearly 40 offers coast to coast.

At 6 foot and 181 pounds, Sheffield is the top-ranked player in Texas and the No. 3 cornerback in the nation. He is No. 8 in the ESPN 300 and has seen a steady rise in the 2015 rankings since its debut last season.

Sheffield's resume has everything college coaches want to hear. His fastest 40-yard dash is 4.37 seconds. He's a cover corner who doesn't mind making the big hits. If he's needed for special teams, he can be a reliable return man, as well.

The world will get a chance to judge for itself when Sheffield competes in the UA game in January. The big question now, however, is, where will Sheffield end up? He's taken official visits to USC, Ohio State and Florida State, and he recently was in Baton Rouge for an unofficial visit to LSU. Sheffield said he'll take an official visit to Alabama next month, and he's expecting to take an unofficial visit for Texas A&M's Thanksgiving game against LSU in College Station.

Sheffield said he plans on taking that fifth official visit. Which team will get it?

"I'm unsure right now," he said. "It'll be one of my 37 offers."

Sheffield will announce his college plans at the UA game. Until then, he's tight-lipped. One thing he won't keep close to the vest is the importance of having a position coach who will push him. He said the winning school will have a coach he can build a quality relationship with, in addition to someone who can potentially take him to the next level.

"That's important to me," Sheffield said. "Real important."

Quick hits on Kendall Sheffield

Best player to put on a UA jersey: "Jadeveon Clowney. He's a good athlete, and he was the No. 1 player coming out of high school. He also was the No. 1 draft pick."

Receiver you most want to compete against: "It doesn't matter. I just want to get there and compete."

Your jersey number: "I've always worn No. 11. It's a number I've worn since Little League."

Favorite football memory: "It was my sophomore year in my first year on varsity. I had my first interception, and it was a pick-six. It won the game for us."

Did you know? Sheffield wants to major in sports management. He said the schools he ultimately considers in his top list will have solid sports management programs.

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

November, 11, 2014
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As always there was a ton of recruiting news from around the Southeastern Conference this weekend. There was a big commitment, there were key visits, new offers and an ESPN 300 offensive lineman is almost set to announce his decision. Here’s a closer look at the top recruiting news from around the conference.


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LSU-Alabama recruiting battles 

November, 7, 2014
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Every year the Alabama-LSU game is one of most highly anticipated games of the year. The two teams, for the most part, have been the most dominant teams in the SEC West. With Auburn’s success the past two years and the emergence of Ole Miss and Mississippi State, the competitive division is arguably the toughest in college football. The competition also carries over to recruiting. Over the past several years LSU and Alabama have had some great recruiting battles, none better than last year when the two schools went head-to-head for several prospects. Here’s a closer look at some of the top recent recruiting battles between the two schools.


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SEC's top recruiting visits 

November, 7, 2014
11/07/14
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Saturday's Alabama-at-LSU game, as always, is loaded with big-time prospects making recruiting visits. Auburn is expected to have at least two key visitors in for its game against Texas A&M and Vanderbilt is hoping to build some momentum by bringing in some visitors for the Florida game. Here’s a closer look at some of the top recruits making visits to SEC schools this weekend.


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The Texas A&M-Alabama game on Saturday is sure to be one of the top games in the country this weekend. The teams have had much success on the field since the Aggies joined the SEC, and that success has led to tremendous success in recruiting. This year is no different as both teams rank in the top four of the RecruitingNation class rankings. Here’s a closer look at how the schools match up in recruiting and who some of their remaining targets are.

Instant Impact recruit


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

October, 7, 2014
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The wild weekend in the Pac-12 wasn't limited to the field, as the recruiting trail saw some significant action as well. Three impact commitments landed in the conference, while three more ESPN 300 prospects took official visits and several big wins by certain programs made an impact with recruits.


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