NCF On The Trail: Owen Williams

Notes on the final 2014 ESPN JC 50 

January, 28, 2014
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The Class of 2014 is almost in the books, and that includes the junior college ranks as well. While there aren’t major changes in the final 2014 ESPN Junior College 50, there are some noteworthy moves.

No longer in the 2014 class
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.

Early Offer: No doubting OSU's Meyer 

December, 17, 2013
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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Ohio State moves up three spots in the RecruitingNation Class Rankings after the addition of five-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan, but the Buckeyes aren’t done in the South yet; Notre Dame also moves into the top 10 after landing the nation’s No. 1 tight end; and the NJCAA All-America team features a number of well-known recruits.

Ohio State makes Southern push
Shortly after Ohio State landed five-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County), I asked on Twitter if it’s time to stop doubting Buckeye coach Urban Meyer’s recruiting efforts. Of course, fans from other schools all over the country jumped in and said the jury is still out (and several other things that aren’t safe for print). But even then the biggest Meyer critics might have to change their minds if he is able to also land No. 4 receiver Johnnie Dixon (Palm Beach, Fla./Dwyer) in the next couple of days. The Buckeyes currently have the nation’s No. 8 class and have some major momentum heading into the final push.

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Top 2014 junior college classes 

December, 3, 2013
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National signing day is quickly approaching, but first up is the midyear junior college signing period. The opportunity for juco prospects to sign with Football Bowl Subdivision programs starts Dec. 18, and several prospects have already made commitments. More commitments are likely to come between now and the start of the signing period, but with the release of the ESPN JC 50, let’s take a look at five programs (in alphabetical order) having success on the juco recruiting trail.

Arizona: The Wildcats have commitments from a half-dozen junior college prospects. Only one verbal, LB Antonio Smothers (Scottsdale, Ariz./Scottsdale CC) is in the ESPN JC 50. Smothers can give them a big, physical downhill run defender between the tackles. They might sit outside the top 50 in the recruiting rankings, but DT Jeff Worthy (Santa Ana, Calif./Santa Ana College) and OL Kaige Lawrence (Victorville, Calif./Chaffey) are solid pickups in the trenches. With the secondary featuring several upperclassmen, they also bring in some help with CB Patrick Glover (Gilbert, Ariz./Scottsdale CC) and instinctive and aggressive S Jamie Byrd (Dade City, Fla./Iowa Western).


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Early Offer: Show Me State resurgence 

November, 5, 2013
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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: What a difference a few months make for the Missouri Tigers and their efforts to land top talent in St. Louis; one of the nation’s top tight end prospects is slated to announce on Friday, and he still has everybody guessing; is Tennessee in line to steal a commitment away from one of the best defensive tackles in the junior college ranks?

Missouri comes up big in St. Louis
There has been a lot of grumbling by Missouri fans over the last year about a perceived lack of success in St. Louis by Gary Pinkel and the Tigers. However, after the Tigers’ fast start on the field this season many of those worries diminished. They have all but evaporated now after St. Louis DeSmet four-star offensive lineman Andy Bauer committed on Monday. The Under Armour All-American had been a long-time commitment to Ole Miss after originally committing to the Tigers early in the process. He decided again on Monday to reverse course for what looks to be the final time, helping give the Tigers their first ESPN 300 commitment and second four-star prospect.

RecruitingNation's The Early Offer gives you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: By offering the top signal-caller in the 2015 class, Texas proves it is serious about fixing its issues at the quarterback spot; Arkansas hopes to make a big impression with four key official visitors slated to visit this weekend; and a NJCAA region VI playoff game will feature some of the best junior college players in the country.

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Big 12 recruiting storylines: Oct. 17 

October, 17, 2013
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One ESPN 300 athlete is expected to choose a school the majority of the public has predicted for months. Any chance for a surprise change of plans? Another ESPN 300 athlete celebrates a birthday but continues to keep his followers guessing. Also, who’s the next big get for Texas after landing its eighth ESPN Junior 300 commitment?

Here are some of the Big 12 recruiting storylines for the week:

Does TCU have a chance at Garrett?

ESPN 300 DE Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/Martin) is expected to announce where he’ll play college football this weekend. The majority of his followers agree that when the weekend is over, he will be a Texas A&M commit.

Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State also are high on Garrett’s list. The school closest to him, TCU, also is in the mix. What are the odds that the nation’s No. 7 player shocks the world and chooses the Horned Frogs over the Aggies?

Low. But, fortunately for TCU fans, not nonexistent. While Texas A&M is the team to beat, TCU has two things working for it -- proximity and familiarity.

Garrett lives roughly 15 minutes from TCU, and having his parents at every home game -- and several close road games in the Big 12 -- wouldn’t be difficult at all. Additionally, Garrett and TCU defensive end Devonte Fields have Martin ties. Fields, who will miss the remainder of TCU’s season with a foot injury, graduated from Martin in 2012.

Garrett is expected to be in College Station, Texas, for A&M’s game Saturday against Auburn, and all signs are pointing to him to wear Aggie maroon next year. But let’s not count out TCU just yet. After all, the Horned Frogs managed to score a shocker commitment in high three-star offensive lineman Ty Barrett (Dallas/Skyline) -- who was thought to favor Ole Miss and Oklahoma, among others.

Who’s next for Texas’ 2015 class?


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