NCF On The Trail: Lamont Gaillard

Bulldogs gaining recruiting momentum 

August, 19, 2014
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In a six day period, the Georgia Bulldogs were able to land the No. 1-ranked defensive tackle in the country, Trenton Thompson, flip Alabama commitment Jonathan Ledbetter and land the No. 129-ranked player in the ESPN 300, Jayson Stanley.

The impressive stretch of commitments is just what the Bulldogs needed heading into the season.

The SEC is known for having dominant defensive lines over the past several years and Georgia has had their fair share of NFL-caliber players along the defensive front, but new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is now making his mark -- on the recruiting front at least.

Ledbetter, an Under Armour All-American, had been committed to Alabama since January, but decided to switch his commitment to the Bulldogs to be closer to home and to play with his older brother Jason who just recently joined Georgia as a tight end.



"I was thinking about the switch for a while," Ledbetter said. "I just wanted to be sure that I could accomplish everything I plan on doing at UGA. Throughout the whole process they were one of my leaders. The program is phenomenal and the people there are great. Also, education is crucial to me so knowing I could receive a top-notch education and also play SEC football was a big factor.

"As many people know, my brother also attends UGA now and I decided that I couldn't pass up on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play with my brother in college. The class was also gaining a lot of momentum so I felt like it was the perfect time to go public with my decision. It took a lot of praying and long talks with my family but I decided at the end of the day, all you have in this world is your family and having the ability to stay close to home, play football and get an education is something that cannot be passed up."

Thompson and Ledbetter join two other ESPN 300 defensive ends Natrez Patrick and Chauncey Rivers, and three-star defensive tackle Quincy Vasser.

Throw in five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter and the No. 4-ranked defensive tackle from the 2014 class, Lamont Gaillard, and the Bulldogs are accumulating a tremendous amount of talent that Georgia fans hope will wreak havoc on SEC quarterbacks over the next several years.

As for Stanley, he becomes the third wide receiver commit, fourth if athlete Terry Godwin plays on the offensive side of the ball. The other receiver commits include four-star pass-catchers Michael Chigbu and Shaquery Wilson. At 6-foot-2 and 205-pounds, Stanley is the biggest of all of Georgia’s receiver commitments and could become a formidable target in the red zone for the Bulldogs.

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

February, 3, 2014
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This was the final weekend before national signing day, and of course, there was a ton of news around the SEC. Vanderbilt added a slew of commitments, as did Alabama and Texas A&M. There were also some key visits and a decommitment from an SEC West school. Here’s a closer look at the latest recruiting news around the SEC.

Biggest commitments: After suffering 11 decommitments after coach James Franklin left for Penn State, Vanderbilt was in desperate need of a big recruiting weekend, and it finally got it.


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Key recruiting visits -- SEC 

January, 31, 2014
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The last official visit weekend is here. While the majority of prospects have committed and are set for national signing day, there are still several uncommitted ESPN 300 prospects for whom SEC programs are battling down to the wire.

Here is a look at 10 key visits this weekend. Numbers indicate ranking in the ESPN 300.


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By hiring defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt away from Florida State, Georgia made a move that is sending shockwaves through the Southeast recruiting landscape.

One of those prospects who is certainly affected by the move is five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross). The nation’s No. 13 prospect has both Florida State and Georgia in his final group.


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Recruits react to Grantham's departure 

January, 12, 2014
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Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is leaving the school to take the same position at Louisville, Bulldogs coach Mark Richt confirmed on Sunday. The move surprised many people, including a few Georgia commits and targets.


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UA Game notebook: First impressions

December, 29, 2013
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -– Team Nitro and Team Highlight took to the fields at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports on an overcast Sunday morning for Day 1 of practice for Thursday's Under Armour All-America Game (ESPN, 4 p.m. ET). There were several players who impressed, a top linebacker is feeling pressure to stay at home and the nation's No. 1-ranked player isn’t too concerned with his lack of touches on the first day.

ESPN 300 linebacker feeling the pressure


Four-star linebacker Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) was one of the most impressive-looking linebackers during individual drills. The No. 84-ranked player in the country continues to have four schools at the top of his list.

[+] EnlargeRashaan Evans
Miller Safrit/ESPNRashaan Evans is feeling the pressure from hometown fans off the field.
"I still have four schools -- Auburn, Georgia, Alabama and UCLA -- on top,” Evans said. “Those four schools, they are pretty even. I’m going to take this whole thing slow and pretty much I’m going to take it out to signing day.”

Evans already took an official visit to UCLA in September and is planning to take two other visits in January.

"I’ll take either Bama or Auburn on Jan. 17,” he said, "and then on the 24th maybe Georgia."

As a native of Auburn, Ala., Evans admits he feels constant pressure to stay at home.

"It’s pretty bad,” Evans said. "Most of the time my day consists of Auburn people telling me, ‘Hey, don’t go to Bama, go to Auburn.’ It’s pretty bad, because most of the people I’m around are Auburn alumni. So I hear about Auburn each and every day. So when I go on visits, everybody knows about it and they always shoot me messages about Auburn.

"I feel like I would disappoint people if I did go somewhere other than Auburn. I’m in Auburn, I love Auburn, I’ve lived in Auburn all my life. I have family at Auburn. Most of my family has graduated from Auburn. People would be curious as to why I would want to leave Auburn, but at the end of the day, I have to do what’s best for me."

Coaches impressed

Team Highlight quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke was impressed with his group of QBs during the first practice. LSU commit Brandon Harris (Bossier City, La./Parkway), Penn State commit Michael O’Connor (Bradenton, Fla./IMG) and Auburn commit Sean White (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School) all made nice throws during the course of the practice.

"I think the one thing is that is they have to understand, schematically, what they are doing right now,” Weinke said. "The first day always creates hesitation. I spent more time with Harris, White and O’Connor, but looking at all six guys, they all did a nice job on the first day.

"Brandon Harris spins the ball really well. The one thing with him is now he has to tie his feet in to what he’s doing. O’Connor did a nice job of being very accurate throwing the ball today. Sean White did a heck of a job making some throws in some tight spots.”



Defensively, Team Highlight linebackers coach LaVar Arrington already has a good feeling about his players, which he thinks are a special group.

“I know they’re good when I remember their names, and I remember all my guy’s names,” he said. “They have nicknames. They were balling so hard I nicknamed them. You have Jacob Pugh, so I call him J.P., Kain Daub is K.D. and Tre’ [Williams] is a nickname in itself.

“Then Rashaan [Evans], I grew up being called Shad, so he’s Shad.”

Fournette not worried about carries


Running back Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine), the nation’s top prospect, handled the football only a few times during nearly three hours of practice.

[+] EnlargeLeonard Fournette
Miller Safrit/ESPNLeonard Fournette likely will have a much busier day Monday than he did on Sunday.
On one of the opportunities designed for him to get the ball, White kept the ball on an option play when Fournette clearly had an open lane. It resulted in one of the funnier moments of the day: One of the Team Highlight assistants pointed over to Fournette and asked White, "You see him? That's the No. 1 running back in the country. You are to get the ball to him and he's supposed to run around and over people. You can't do that."

For his part, Fournette said he’s not concerned. It's not the focus of his trip to Florida.

“It’s about the decisions we have to make,” said Fournette, one of seven players who will announce their commitments during Thursday's game. “We have to focus on the decisions at the end of the day.”

Fournette slimmed his options early in the season to LSU and Alabama. Recently, he added Texas to the list of finalists at the urging of Saint Augustine teammate Jermaine Roberts, a receiver committed to the Longhorns.

Texas is considered a significant darkhorse for Fournette, who did not take an official visit to the school but made it to Austin, Texas, for an unofficial trip last summer.

Still, Fournette said, he’s not penalizing UT for its lack of a head coach as Mack Brown steps aside after the Valero Alamo Bowl on Monday against Oregon.

“Doesn’t concern me at all,” Fournette said.

He also won’t be swayed by the advice of fellow prospects here.

“Everybody’s going to go on their own path, do their own thing,” Fournette said.

Fournette said he would settle on a school after speaking with his parents, who arrive in Orlando on Tuesday.

Top social media posts


There were some great one-on-one battles Sunday. Here are some highlights:

Miami-bound offensive lineman Trevor Darling (Miami/Central), who usually plays left tackle, lined up at left guard during the one-on-one portion and more than held his own. Here’s a look at Darling winning a matchup against Georgia-bound defensive tackle Lamont Gaillard (Fayetteville, N.C./Pine Forest).



Five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) also impressed on the first day of practices. Here’s Carter getting the better of Michigan commit Juwann Bushell-Beatty (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic).



Uncommitted Laurence Jones (Monroe, La./Neville), the No. 2-ranked safety in the country, had a tremendous pass breakup on the goal line during the team portion of practice.

Speedy Noil, the No. 8-ranked prospect in the country, put on a show the first day of practice. He hauled in pass after pass and did it all while wearing a gold watch on his wrist. The five-star receiver even had an impressive one-handed catch.



Michigan-bound defensive back Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic), the nation's No. 2-ranked prospect, took on Florida-bound receiver Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead Senior), the nation's No. 28-ranked recruit, in one-on-ones. Lane got the better of Peppers the first two reps, but the two will have plenty of time to battle it out leading up to the game.

Qualifiers for the American Family Insurance Skills Challenge


After practice concluded Sunday, several players competed for spots in the finals of the American Family Insurance Skills challenge. The finals will air on Jan. 1 (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET). Here’s a look at who has qualified for the finals so far:

Running backs/linebackers
RB Racean Thomas (Oxford, Ala./Oxford) -- Auburn commit
LB Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) -- uncommitted
LB Melvin Keihn (Baltimore, Md./Gilman School) -- Virginia Tech commit

Wide receiver/defensive backs
TE Jacory Washington (Westlake, La./Westlake) -- LSU commit
CB Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra) -- uncommitted
CB Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover) -- uncommitted

Jeremy Crabtree, Mitch Sherman and Tom VanHaaren contributed to this report.

Top five defensive tackle comparisons 

November, 21, 2013
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As each and every new evaluation period begins for our staff, we always try and use today’s college football stars and apply some of their best traits when describing the next generation of prospects.

All prospects are different from one another, but many share similar characteristics that stand out in relation to their styles.

In this edition of the series, we take a look at the top-five defensive tackles in this class and who they remind us of in college football at this time.

Andrew Brown -- LSU DT Anthony Johnson: With the No. 1 rated DT Brown, the 2011 class came to mind as the five-star invoked thoughts of the top two D-tackles in that class.

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Recruit reaction: Florida-Georgia 

November, 3, 2013
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Though neither school hosted visitors for the neutral-site matchup between Georgia and Florida on Saturday, there were several recruits who tuned in to watch an exciting game.

For Georgia, its hopes to win the SEC East are still alive after the 23-20 victory over Florida. The Gators are now just fighting to become bowl eligible.


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SEC 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 SEC, check out our conference rankings:

1. Alabama, 21 commits: The Crimson Tide sit atop the RecruitingNation class rankings with a class that features 15 ESPN 300 prospects, including most recent commitment Ronnie Clark (Calera, Ala./Calera), the No. 96 overall prospect. Alabama remains in the hunt for several five-star prospects, including No. 1 overall Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine) and No. 9 Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover).


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Georgia delivers in front of top recruits 

September, 29, 2013
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Georgia made the most of a terrific recruiting opportunity on Saturday.

In a top-10 matchup against LSU, the Bulldogs made a strong impression on prospects in attendance -- and those watching from home on television.

One of the top remaining Georgia targets in the 2014 class was on hand, offensive tackle David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence School). The ESPN 300 No. 15-ranked prospect overall was on hand for the second time this season, and he walked away very impressed again.


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UA Game jersey tour: Lamont Gaillard

September, 25, 2013
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Five-star defensive tackle Lamont Gaillard (Fayetteville, N.C./Pine Forest High) was presented his honorary game jersey during the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the 2014 Under Armour All-America High School Football Game at Pine Forest High School in Fayetteville, N.C. on Sept. 13.

“I want to thank my coaches, my teammates and my family for being there for me,” said the Georgia commitment. “All of y’all, and that’s it.”

The 6-foot-4, 300-pound Gaillard is the No. 12 ranked prospect overall, and the No. 2 defensive tackle in the class. He committed to Georgia over offers from Florida, Alabama, Florida State, South Carolina, Miami, North Carolina and others.

Pine Forest head coach Bill Sochovka points to the rare ability to play every down as a special quality for his star defensive tackle.

“What makes him real special is how big he is, and how well he moves on the field," he said. "Very athletic, very explosive and college recruiters like him because he’s a guy that can play all three downs. They don’t have to bring him out on the pass downs. He provides good pass rush. And like I said, for somebody that is 300-pound plus, he moves very well.”

For Gaillard, the decision to play in the Under Armour All-America Game was a simple one.

“I accepted the invitation because it’s the biggest game that everybody watches. That was my decision. I’m excited to go against Andrew Brown and some of the defensive ends, and show them what I have,” he said.

SEC class rankings analysis 

September, 18, 2013
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For the fourth straight week, there is very little change in RecruitingNation's class rankings. Thirteen of the 14 SEC teams are ranked in the top 40, including nine of the top 16, and top-ranked Alabama is holding a big lead over any and all pursuers.

Trending up: While Missouri still remains the only SEC team not ranked in the top 40 of the team rankings, the Tigers received big news on Tuesday night as two three-star prospects wide receiver Nate Brown (Suwannee, Ga./North Gwinnett) and athlete Thomas Wilson (Buford, Ga./Buford) made their pledge to the Tigers.


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Best SEC classes by position 

September, 10, 2013
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Top to bottom, the Southeastern Conference is recruiting better than any conference in the country. Thirteen of 14 SEC schools are ranked in the top 40 of the recruiting rankings, including six schools ranked in the top 10. Here's a closer look at which SEC school has the top recruiting classes at each position.

Quarterback
Strongest class: Alabama
This is the hardest position to determine who has the strongest class. Four of the top-five quarterbacks in the final Elite 11 rankings -- Sean White (Auburn), Kyle Allen (Texas A&M), Will Grier (Florida) and Jacob Park (Georgia) -- are committed to SEC schools. Alabama, however has the top-ranked quarterback, David Cornwell (Norman, Okla./Norman North) in the ESPN 300. The Under Armour All-American is the 32nd-ranked player in the nation. At 6-foot-5, 241-pounds, Cornwell has a big-time arm and ideal size for the position.

Running back

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Summer Recruit Wrap: Georgia 

July, 23, 2013
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With the camp season over and the fall season rapidly approaching, DawgNation takes a look back at the biggest recruiting news of the summer.

[+] EnlargeSony Michel
Davide De Pas/ESPN.comClass of 2014 RB Sony Michel is one of the many big names in Georgia's class.
1. Summer has been very, very good to Georgia
Heading into June, Georgia had five commitments, after going without one in May. Some analysts had pegged the Bulldogs as being off to a slow start for 2014, but with a class of 33 in 2013, Georgia has had to be very selective with this class. Even with a decommitment last week, the Bulldogs have added 12 commitments in June and July, headlined by the additions of five-star defensive tackle Lamont Gaillard (Fayetteville, N.C./Pine Forest) and ESPN 300 athlete Malkom Parrish (Quitman, Ga./Brooks County). As August approaches, Georgia can realistically pick and choose to fill its remaining spots.


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On Saturday, five-star Under Armour All-American defensive tackle Lamont Gaillard (Fayetteville, N.C./Pine Forest) committed to Georgia. Read on to see how our scouts believe Gaillard will add to the rich history of outstanding defensive line play at Georgia and in the SEC:


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