NCF On The Trail: Milan Richard

When a football coaching staff signs one of the top few recruits at any position, it's cause for celebration. Therefore, grabbing two of the top three prospects at that position might warrant an Animal House-style party.

Between 2006, when ESPN began assembling recruit rankings, and 2013, individual programs managed to sign at least two of the top three players at a position 16 times. In many cases, one -- and sometimes both -- of those players became instant stars as true freshmen. Think Taylor Mays and Joe McKnight at USC, De'Anthony Thomas at Oregon, Laremy Tunsil at Ole Miss and Sean Spence at Miami.

This was a relatively unique occurrence up until 2014, when it happened five times -- with four of the five instances occurring in the SEC: twice at Alabama, which signed the top two players at both center (No. 1 Josh Casher and No. 2 J.C. Hassenauer) and outside linebacker (No. 1 Christian Miller and No. 2 Rashaan Evans), plus at LSU (with No. 1 and 3 wide receivers Malachi Dupre and Trey Quinn) and Florida (with No. 2 and 3 defensive tackles Gerald Willis and Thomas Holley).

Clemson was the other school to accomplish the feat in 2014, signing No. 2 and 3 receiving tight ends Milan Richard and Cannon Smith.

In some of these cases -- particularly at LSU, which lost the vast majority of its receiving production from 2013 -- expectations are high that the star signees can immediately become valuable contributors as true freshmen. The Tigers have multiple alternatives at receiver, including Travin Dural and John Diarse, but Dupre and Quinn might rank among the leading contenders for playing time.

Judging by the long list of Freshman All-America and freshman all-conference honors won by those who previously signed as part of such a dynamic duo, perhaps it's not such a long shot that at least one of the newcomers will make a similar instant impact.

2006

Safety | USC
No. 2 Taylor Mays, No. 3 Antwine Perez

Mays appeared in all 13 games -- starting the last 12 at free safety after Josh Pinkard suffered a season-ending injury in the opener -- in 2006 and led the Trojans with three interceptions. Mays was fifth on the team with 62 tackles and tied for second with six passes defended, ending the season as Pac-10 Co-Freshman of the Year and as a member of multiple Freshman All-America teams. Perez played in seven games and recorded three tackles.

2007

Center | Auburn
No. 1 Ryan Pugh, No. 3 Chaz Ramsey

Pugh started six of Auburn's final nine games at left tackle and appeared in eight games overall. He also backed up Jason Bosley at center and earned Coaches' All-SEC Freshman team honors after the season. Like Pugh, Ramsey appeared for the first time in Week 4 and went on to start nine of the Tigers' last 10 games at right guard. He also made the Coaches' All-SEC Freshman team.

Running back | USC
No. 1 Joe McKnight, No. 2 Marc Tyler

McKnight played in all 13 games in 2007, ranked third on the team with 540 rushing yards and scored three touchdowns. He also caught 23 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown and served as the Trojans' primary punt returner, with his 8.4 yards per return helping him earn a All-Pac-10 honorable mention nod. Tyler redshirted in 2007 while recuperating from a high school leg injury.

2008

Inside linebacker | Ohio State
No. 1 Etienne Sabino, No. 2 Andrew Sweat

Sabino played in all 13 games and notched six tackles. He notched the only touchdown in the Buckeyes' 16-3 win against Purdue by returning a blocked punt 20 yards for a score. Sweat appeared in the last nine games and recorded five tackles, also contributing mostly on special teams.

Outside linebacker | Miami
No. 1 Arthur Brown, No. 2 Sean Spence, No. 3 Ramon Buchanan

Not only did Miami sign ESPN's top three outside linebacker prospects in 2008, it also signed No. 5 Jordan Futch. That's an outstanding haul for one year. At any rate, Spence emerged as the key member of this group from the get-go, ranking third on the team with 65 tackles and leading the Hurricanes with 9.5 tackles for a loss in 2008. He was ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year and made multiple Freshman All-America teams. Brown (who later transferred to Kansas State) played in 11 games as a freshman, notching four tackles and shifting from outside to inside linebacker. Buchanan had six tackles in nine games, playing mostly on special teams and also contributing at safety and linebacker.

Offensive tackle | Ohio State
No. 2 Michael Brewster, No. 3 J.B. Shugarts

Brewster played in 12 of the Buckeyes' 13 games in 2008 and started the last 10 at center, earning Freshman All-America honors in the process. Shugarts appeared in seven games at offensive tackle and missed six other games with a shoulder surgery that required offseason surgery.

Safety | Florida
No. 1 Will Hill, No. 2 Dee Finley

Hill played in 13 games and ranked sixth on the team with 48 tackles. He also picked off two passes and notched 1.5 sacks. He made the SEC All-Freshman team and led the Gators with 22 tackles on special teams. Finley did not qualify academically and spent the 2008 season at Milford Academy prep school. He eventually enrolled at Florida and shifted from safety to linebacker, but transferred away from Gainesville in 2011.

2009

Safety | South Carolina
No. 2 Stephon Gilmore, No. 3 DeVonte Holloman

Early enrollee Gilmore started all 13 games at cornerback, ranking fifth on the team with 56 tackles. He tied for the team lead with nine passes defended and ranked second with eight pass breakups, adding six tackles for a loss, three sacks, two fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and an interception. The Freshman All-SEC and Freshman All-America honoree also averaged 10.1 yards per return as a punt return man. Another early enrollee, Hollomon also played in every game, notching 30 tackles, an interception (which he returned 54 yards against rival Clemson) and a tackle for a loss.

2010

Athlete | Florida
No. 1 Ronald Powell, No. 2 Matt Elam

Powell played in 13 games at strongside linebacker and recorded 25 tackles, three tackles for a loss and a sack en route to winning Freshman All-SEC honors. Elam also played in all 13 games, mostly on special teams and at defensive back, and notched 22 tackles, two tackles for a loss and a sack.

Defensive tackle | Florida
No. 1 Dominique Easley, No. 3 Sharrif Floyd

Easley recorded four tackles in six games. Floyd played in all 13 games, earning Coaches' Freshman All-SEC honors by making 23 tackles and 6.5 tackles for a loss.

Wide receiver | Texas
No. 2 Mike Davis, No. 3 Darius White

Davis ranked second on the team with 478 receiving yards and 47 receptions (a record for a Texas freshman). He became one of only three receivers in Longhorns history to post multiple 100-yard games as a freshman. White appeared in 10 games in 2010, but caught just one pass for 5 yards and eventually transferred to Missouri after two seasons, citing a need for a fresh start.

2011

Athlete | Oregon
No. 1 De'Anthony Thomas, No. 2 Devon Blackmon

The speedy Thomas earned Pac-12 Co-Offensive Freshman of the Year honors and was named an All-Pac-12 kick returner and a Freshman All-American. He was the only player in the nation to post at least 400 yards rushing, receiving and kick returning in 2011, ranking as the Ducks' second-leading receiver (595 yards on 46 catches) and third-leading rusher (608 yards and seven touchdowns). His 983 kickoff return yards ranked second in school history. Blackmon redshirted in 2011 and appeared in two games in 2012 before announcing his plan to transfer. He played at Riverside City College before signing with BYU as a juco transfer in 2014.

2012

Defensive end | Florida State
No. 1 Mario Edwards, No. 3 Chris Casher

Edwards became the only freshman to start all season for a loaded FSU defense when he replaced the injured Tank Carradine in the ACC Championship Game. He also started in the Orange Bowl win over Northern Illinois. In all, Edwards finished the season with 17 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks. Casher played in two early games before suffering a season-ending injury and taking a redshirt in 2012.

2013

Offensive guard | Michigan
No. 2 David Dawson, No. 3 Patrick Kugler

Dawson and Kugler both redshirted in 2013. Dawson practiced during the spring at left guard and left tackle, while Kugler is among the candidates to start at center this fall.

Offensive tackle | Ole Miss
No. 1 Laremy Tunsil, No. 3 Austin Golson

Tunsil immediately became one of the better offensive tackles in the SEC, earning second-team All-SEC and Freshman All-America honors in 2013. He played in 12 games and started nine at left tackle, making him one of only two true full-time freshman starters at the position in the FBS. Tunsil allowed just one sack all season. Golson played in 12 games, mostly at guard, before missing the Rebels' bowl game because of shoulder surgery. He transferred to Auburn this summer, citing a family illness as the reason he wanted to move closer to his Alabama home.

Safety | USC
No. 1 Su'a Cravens, No. 3 Leon McQuay III

A 2013 early enrollee, Cravens started 13 games at strong safety, ranked eighth on the team with 52 tackles and tied for second with four interceptions. He made multiple Freshman All-America teams and earned an All-Pac-12 honorable mention nod after the season. McQuay played in all 14 games, picked off one pass and recorded 19 tackles.

Top position classes: TEs 

February, 13, 2014
Feb 13
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 Big 12)
Oklahoma addressed many needs with its top-15 recruiting class, and that certainly includes the tight end position. Coach Bob Stoops and his staff signed a trio of tight ends, including ESPN 300s No. 277 Carson Meier (Tulsa, Okla./Union) and No. 295 Mark Andrews (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain), as well as three-star junior college prospect Isaac Ijalana (Mount Holly, N.J./Pierce College). All three players have terrific size of at least 6-foot-5, and Meier and Andrews possess the frame to add mass and strength. Meier has good initial burst and above-average ball skills, while Andrews has excellent hand-eye coordination and the ability to beat linebackers and safeties with regularity.

The Sooners had the nation’s best tight end class; here’s which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:

Under coach Dabo Swinney, Clemson has finally rid itself of the underachievers label that haunted the program for much of the last decade. The program has turned the corner, and the Tigers are putting together the kind of recruiting classes to continually compete for ACC championships. Now Swinney can pitch an Orange Bowl win to recruits in 2014 and beyond, too.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Best ACC recruiters 

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
8:00
PM ET
video
Editor's note: For a look at the national recruiter power rankings based only on Class of 2014 success, click here.

The best head coaches are often called the closer when it comes to sealing the deal with recruits. Whether on a visit or a trip to a prospect’s home, the head coach is called upon to secure the signature.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Top ACC recruiting rivalries 

October, 1, 2013
10/01/13
8:00
AM ET


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.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Best ACC classes by position 

September, 10, 2013
9/10/13
8:00
AM ET


Florida State has the top class among ACC schools right now, but that is taking the Seminoles’ entire 23-recruit class into account. The Noles don’t have the best class at every position, as some of Florida State’s top rivals are looking stronger at certain positions. Here’s a look at which ACC school has the best class by position:

Quarterback

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Tales From The Road: Georgia 

May, 29, 2013
5/29/13
10:00
AM ET
Each week, Tales From The Road will provide news and updates about where Georgia’s coaches have been and what prospects are standing out.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Weekly Commitment Roundup

May, 10, 2013
5/10/13
10:07
AM ET
ACC
Boston College
Christian Lezzer | ILB |Clearfield, Pa./Clearfield
HT: 6-1 WT: 215
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Clemson
Milan Richard |TE-Y |Savannah, Ga./Calvary Baptist Day School
HT: 6-3 WT: 229
Position Rank: #2 TE-Y
Stars: 4

Maryland
Johnathan Thomas |RB |Peabody, Mass./Saint John's Prep
HT: 5-11 WT: 196
Position Rank: #35 RB
Stars: 4

Big 12
Iowa State
Victor Holmes |S |La Porte, Texas/La Porte
HT: 5-11 WT: 177
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending
De'Monte Ruth | CB | Dallas/Wilmer Hutchins
HT: 5-9 WT: 150
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Texas Tech
Byron Daniels | WR | San Antonio/James Madison
HT: 5-11 WT: 170
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Big East
Cincinnati
Hakeem Allonce | DT | Greenbelt, Md./Pierce College (JC)
HT: 6-5 WT: 290
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Louisville
De'Eric Culver | CB | Tallahassee, Fla./Godby
HT: 5-10 WT: 169
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Jared McCray | OT | Minford, Ohio/Minford
HT: 6-4 WT: 305
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Big Ten
Nebraska
Jason Hall | S |Grand Prairie, Texas/South Grand Prairie
HT: 6-2 WT: 192
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Northwestern
Auston Anderson | RB | Plano, Texas/Plano West
HT: 5-9 WT: 180
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Tommy Doles | OT | Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian
HT: 6-5 WT: 250
Position Rank: #47 OT
Stars: 3

Dareian Watkins | ATH | Galion, Ohio/Galion
HT: 6-1 WT: 195
Position Rank: #40 ATH
Stars: 4

Penn State
Daquan Worley | ATH | Coatesville, Pa./Coatesville
HT: 5-10 WT: 171
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Purdue
Trae Hart | WR | Dallas/First Baptist Academy
HT: 5-11 WT: 155
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Pac-12
Arizona State
Korey Rush | DE | Salt Lake City/East
HT: 6-2 WT: 240
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Stanford
Daniel Marx | FB | Mission Viejo, Calif./Mission Viego
HT: 6-3 WT: 238
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

USC
Austin Maloata | DT | Corona, Calif./Centennial
HT: 6-3 WT: 250
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Washington
Don Hill | DE | Boise, Idaho/Timberline
HT: 6-4 WT: 235
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

SEC
Alabama
Zach Whitley Jr. | ILB | Houston, Texas/North Shore
HT: 6-2 WT: 220
Position Rank: #9 ILB
Stars: 4

Mississippi State
Jamoral Graham | ATH | Decatur, Miss./Newton County Academy
HT: 5-11 WT: 180
Position Rank: #15 ATH
Stars: 4
ESPN 150 (#109)

Missouri
Kevin Pendleton | OT | Lee's Summit, Mo./Lee's Summit West
HT: 6-4 WT: 328
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

 
The Tigers added four-star Milan Richard (Savannah, Ga./Calvary Baptist Day) Wednesday. Our scouts feel he'll help Clemson continue receiving production from the tight end position in the future.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Clemson adds four-star TE 

May, 8, 2013
5/08/13
7:33
PM ET
Clemson got some big news on Wednesday, as one of its top out-of-state targets pulled the trigger and committed.

"I have committed to Clemson," tight end Milan Richard said.

Richard (Savannah, Ga./Calvary Day) had planned to announce his decision on June 4, but decided last night he should not wait any longer.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

ORLANDO, Fla. -- ESPN Watch List tight end Milan Richard (Savannah, Ga./Calvary Baptist Day) had an impressive showing at the Orlando NFTC Saturday, measuring in at 6-foot-3, 229 pounds, running a 4.75 40-yard dash, recording a 33-inch vertical jump and making several nice catches throughout the camp. The day before, Richard was checking out a prominent SEC program.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Two on top for WR Demarre Kitt 

December, 29, 2012
12/29/12
6:52
PM ET
Demarre KittRadi Nabulsi/ESPN.comWide receiver Demarre Kitt, who was committed to Georgia, now has Ohio State and Clemson on top.

Coming off a junior season in which he caught 76 passes for 1,236 yards and 11 touchdowns, returned a punt for a touchdown, and helped his team to a 15-0 record and AAAA state championship, ESPN Watch List wideout Demarre Kitt (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek) has become one of the most sought-after Class of 2014 prospects in the Southeast.

As it stands now, two programs are on top for the 6-foot-1, 185-pound junior.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Rising Seniors Day 2 notebook 

December, 29, 2012
12/29/12
11:30
AM ET
One of the standouts for the Rising Seniors East offense on the first day of practice was tight end Milan Richard (Savannah, Ga./Calvary Day). The 6-3, 230-pound junior did not get a lot of passes thrown his way this season, but was still able to catch 22 passes for 341 yards and three touchdowns, and he enjoyed the added repetitions at Grady Stadium on Friday.

“I think I picked up the terminology well, but my route-running needs to sharpen up,” Richard said. “I am able to stretch the field as a big receiver, but I need to do better in a three-point stance because I am used to working out of a spread.”

[+] EnlargeMilan Richard
Radi Nabulsi/ESPN.com2014 tight end Milan Richard has Clemson and South Carolina on top, but several others, including home state Georgia, in the mix.
The ESPN Watch List selection has double-digit offers, but he said two schools are standing out in his mind.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Notebook: Rising Seniors registration 

December, 27, 2012
12/27/12
8:08
PM ET
ATLANTA -- The third annual Rising Seniors program kicked off Thursday with the arrival of 98 of the best players in the state of Georgia in the Class of 2014. The weeklong event is unique among All-Star games because it honors the top juniors, educating the emerging players on the recruiting process and providing a chance to showcase their talent against the best in the Peach State. The All-Star game will be aired live on Monday at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN3.com and WatchESPN.

One player participating in this year’s Rising Seniors program has been a household name in recruiting for almost two years now.

[+] EnlargeStanley Williams
Radi Nabulsi/ESPN.comUGA 2014 running back commit Stanley Williams committed in 2011, but recent developments have made him question his pledge.
Stanley Williams’ commitment affected by changes at UGA

When running back Stanley Williams (Monroe, Ga./George Walton Academy) committed to Georgia at Dawg Night in 2011, he was the second sophomore in the country to announce his decision. Since then, Georgia has signed two running backs in Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, they have one committed in the 2012 class in A.J. Turman (Orlando, Fla./Boone) and are hot on the trail of another in ESPN 150 prospect Alvin Kamara (Norcross, Ga./Norcross). Williams has also seen his recruiter, Rodney Garner, leave Athens recently as well. The recent news has not gone unnoticed by the 5-foot-9, 192-pound junior.

“My commitment is obviously not as strong as it was before when I first committed because of the running backs they have now and Garner leaving,” Williams said. “It definitely had an effect on how I feel now, but we have a while to go so we will just see what happens.”

Williams spoke to Bulldogs running backs coach Bryan McClendon a few weeks ago, where McClendon indicated he would likely be recruiting him directly in the future anyway. But the departure of Garner has put another school in the mix as well.

“Coach (Rodney) Garner told me that even though he is at Auburn he does not expect it to affect his recruitment of me,” Williams said. “He wants me to get to know Coach (Gus) Malzahn more and him being at Auburn has them standing out more.”

A couple other programs are standing out as well to Williams.

“I have been talking with Coach (Tony) Eliott at Clemson and they are standing out,” Williams said. “With the production at Alabama, them sending guys to the league and the National Championship, they stand out. Kirby Smart said if they do not get Alvin Kamara, they will likely need another running back in the 2014 class and I could very well be that guy. He said to keep my options open and try to give them a look over the summer.”

Although Georgia or Alabama look to likely add Kamara to the roster next year, Williams says he is not worried about being buried in the depth chart at either program.

“Wherever you go you will have to work to be a starter, so I am not going to worry about who goes where,” Williams said.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

UGA fans stand out to TE Richard 

October, 2, 2012
10/02/12
8:50
AM ET
On Saturday, Georgia had one of its biggest home games of the year vs. Tennessee, and the coaching staff made sure to have as many top targets in attendance as possible. All ESPN Watch List tight end Milan Richard (Savannah, Ga./Calvary Day) had to do was look to his left or right to know that Georgia was successful in that regard.

Milan Richard
Radi Nabulsi/ESPN.com2014 tight end Milan Richard has seven scholarship offers so far.
“My visit to Georgia was a lot of fun,” Richard said. “A lot of my friends were there and I ended up sitting with Rico Johnson (Swainboro, Ga./Swainsboro), Ryne Rankin (Orlando, Fla./East River), Tyler Harris (Blackshear, Ga./Pierce County), Shaq Wiggins (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek), Demarre Kitt (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek), Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County), Nick Glass (Atlanta/St. Pius X) and Cole Garvin (Tyrone, Ga/Sandy Creek).”

The 6-foot-3, 230-pound junior was most impressed not by the game, but by the people he saw while in Athens.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES