NCF On The Trail: Melvin Keihn

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.

ACC recruiting storylines: Dec. 19 

December, 19, 2013
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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:

Weekend recruiting wrap: ACC 

December, 16, 2013
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Coaches from around the ACC have been busy visiting both top targets and their commitments.

Clemson is trying to lock down one of its big targets on defense and is fighting to stay in the race for another prospect. Meanwhile, Miami and Florida State have been making sure their commitments feel wanted.

Lorenzo Featherston hosts Clemson

Four-star ESPN 300 defensive end Lorenzo Featherston (Greensboro, N.C./Page) is one of the biggest fish out there -- in terms of uncommitted targets.

Clemson, of course, would like to change his commitment status. Last week, a Tigers assistant visited the lanky defensive end prospect to make sure he knows that he’s a priority in their eyes.

Clemson holds the lead for the nation’s No. 27 overall prospect right now, with Florida and North Carolina on the outside looking in.


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ACC recruiting storylines: Nov. 14 

November, 14, 2013
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Several ACC schools will be having important visit weekends coming up. Though the weekends aren't as big as some past dates, the recruits who are visiting could have a big impact on some of the best classes in the conference.

Seminoles hosting two recruits this weekend

It's not a huge weekend for Florida State, in terms of recruiting, when it hosts Syracuse. But there will be two prospects of significance in town.


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UA Game jersey tour: Melvin Keihn

November, 12, 2013
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Outside linebacker Melvin Keihn (Baltimore/Gillman School) was presented his honorary game jersey for the 2014 Under Armour All-America High School Football Game during the American Family Insurance Selection Tour at Gilman School in Baltimore on Tuesday. The event was part of the three-month American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the Under Armour All-America Game.

Keihn, who has taken official visits to Virginia and Maryland, is one of 90 players who have been selected to compete in the seventh annual Under Armour All-America Game presented by American Family Insurance, a nationally televised competition spotlighting the country’s top high school seniors. The 2014 Under Armour All-America Game is set for 4 p.m. ET Jan. 2 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and will be televised on ESPN.

“First of all, I would like to thank God for this opportunity,” Keihn said. “I would like to thank American Family Insurance for the opportunity to play in this game. I would like to thank Under Armour for the honor to represent my school. Also, [I] want to thank my coaches, my family and most of all the Gilman School and my fellow classmates ... and most of all my teammates because without them none of this would be possible. I just want to thank everyone for the opportunity, and I’ll be honored to represent Gilman at the Under Armour All-America Game."

Keihn has always had a goal to play in the Under Armour All-America Game since he saw a former Gilman School player play three years ago.

“I decided to accept the invitation to the Under Armour All-America Game because during my freshman year I saw Darius Jennings play in the game," he said. "I was pretty excited to see one of the Gilman kids get invited to the game and so I made it a goal of mine to do the same my senior year. The thing I’m looking forward to is just going out and competing against a bunch of good players. Obviously, this game has a bunch of good competition. It feels special, especially having some of the top players like A.J. Green play in this game.”

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Keihn is a three-star prospect and ranked as the No. 49 outside linebacker in the Class of 2014. He is considering Virginia Tech along with the Cavaliers and Terrapins.

ACC recruiting storylines: Oct. 31 

October, 31, 2013
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All eyes will be on Tallahassee this weekend when Florida State hosts Miami in front of some big-name recruits.

Elsewhere in the ACC, a couple of offers have gone out and some visits have begun to take shape for juniors.

Florida State hosting several big-time visitors


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National signing day sits 106 days away and Penn State is looking to continue its hot streak in recruiting.

Here are five top seniors to watch and a look at where things sit right now as the recruiting circuit heats up to its final fevered pitch:

[+] EnlargeThomas Holley
Courtesy of Thomas HolleyESPN 300 DT Thomas Holley enjoyed a visit to Penn State, but Notre Dame and Ohio State could factor for the prospect.
1. DT Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln)

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It’s called the Big Ten Conference for a reason.

From big offers, to big official visits to big commitments, the Big Ten has been abuzz with activity.

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ACC 2014 recruiting scenarios 

October, 8, 2013
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Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. That is what college coaches must do when it comes to recruiting. Every coach would love to land their top target at every position, but coaches are forced to play the what-ifs and continue to recruit prospects lower on the recruiting board. With signing day a few months away and several classes close to completion, college staffs are pushing for those few final targets but also keeping a watchful eye on players down the board.

Here are the best- and worst-case scenarios for each of the ACC schools.


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Top ACC recruiting rivalries 

October, 1, 2013
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Rivalries extend past the field in college football. The bad blood and feud seeps into the fans, the coaching staffs and especially in the high schools when it comes to top recruits. Often the teams duking it out on Saturdays were going head-to-head in February for several of the players on the field.

The ACC might not be on the same level as the SEC when it comes to recruiting rivalries, but the conference has its fair share, including one of the nation’s most intense.

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ACC recruiting storylines: Sept. 26 

September, 26, 2013
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Virginia Tech is trying to capture the attention of a Louisville commitment from Florida, the Seminoles' offensive line appears to be in good shape for recruiting, and Miami is looking to impress in Tampa this weekend.

All this and more in this week's ACC recruiting storylines.


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Each week Big Ten recruiting reporters Tom VanHaaren and Brad Bournival outline a few big high school games involving Big Ten recruits and commits. Here is this week’s list:


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Weekend wrap: ACC 

August, 19, 2013
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Last week, and over the weekend, recruiting was relatively quiet in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

ACCAs position battles in fall camps continue to rage on, coaches are focused on getting their teams ready for the season.

Though light, there still were some happenings here and there for a couple ACC squads.


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The scholarship offers keep flowing in for Melvin Keihn.


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The scholarship offers keep flowing in for Melvin Keihn.


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