NCF On The Trail: Ricky Walker

Signing day is a little more than two weeks away, meaning the next 15 days are going to be very interesting. Here are five storylines in the ACC to keep an eye on come signing day on Feb. 5.

Movers, shakers in updated ESPN 300

October, 29, 2013
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The Class of 2014 has had two months to show what it’s made of on the field. How are the nation’s elite prospects faring as we approach signing day? Here’s a look at the biggest names and notes from the most recent update of the ESPN 300:

The Big Movers

No. 37 Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South), ILB
Prior ranking: No. 59
The 6-foot-2, 224-pound Garrett jumped more than 20 spots in the rankings as he has added bulk to his frame, and at the same time retaining quickness and his fast-filling, downhill ability. Garrett has impact-type ability with a blend of lateral quickness, discipline and a nose for the ball.

Davion Hall
Max Olson/ESPNAthlete Davion Hall, who is committed to Baylor, jumped 30 spots in the latest update of the ESPN 300.
No. 45 Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau), ATH
Prior ranking: No. 75
The 6-2, 194-pound Hall is one of the most impressive athletes in the class. He has a long, stoutly-built frame, is explosive, has physicality filling the alley at safety and very good ball skills at receiver. When he settles into one position at the next level, his upside is very high.

No. 64 Nick Chubb (Cedartown, Ga./Cedartown), RB
Prior ranking: No. 106
The Georgia commit is putting together a sensational senior campaign with more than 2,000 yards and 29 touchdowns through eight games. The 5-11, 217-pound tailback continues to add strength to his compact body structure while maintaining his speed, overall athleticism and ability to bend.

No. 70 Chad Thomas (Miami/Booker T. Washington), DE
Prior ranking: No. 125
The Miami commit has flashed his high-ceiling ability, even though he is playing inside more than half the snaps as a senior. His combination of first-step quickness, arm length and the ability to play with low pad level sets him apart from most ends in the class.

No. 84 Rashaan Evans (Auburn Ala./Auburn), OLB
Prior ranking: No. 150
The 6-3, 217-pound Evans has filled out physically, and displays the quick-twitch burst and speed combination to be a factor off the edge. Evans has been dominant off the edge as a senior with double-digit sacks.

No. 92 Markell Pack (Purvis, Miss./Purvis), WR
Prior ranking: No. 144
The Florida State commit continues to flash the initial quickness, ability to get to top-end speed quickly, ability to play the ball in the air and elusiveness that makes the 6-2, 180-pound wideout one of the top playmakers in the class.

No. 128 Brad Kaaya (Hollywood, Calif./Chaminade College Prep)
Prior ranking: No. 171
The 6-4, 213-pound Miami commit is one the fastest rising quarterbacks in the class. Has added bulk to his tall frame, and continues to show the foot quickness, foot work and quick release that will be demanded of him at the next level.

Other Big Movers

WR Josh Malone (Gallatin, Tenn./Station Camp): From No. 99 to 49.
Texas A&M ATH commit Nick Harvey (Richmond, Texas/William B. Travis): From No. 101 to 60.
RB Joe Mixon (Berkeley, Calif./Freedom): From No. 100 to 72.
Georgia QB-DT commit Jacob Park (Goose Creek, S.C./Stratford): From No. 157 to 94.
Oregon RB commit Royce Freeman (Imperial, Calif./Imperial): From No. 154 to 99.
RB Derrell Scott (Havelock, N.C./Havelock): From No. 176 to 108.
Ole Miss S commit C.J. Hampton (Meridian, Miss./Meridian): From No. 201 to 134.
Alabama C commit J.C. Hassenauer (Woodbury, Minn./East Ridge): From No. 246 to 188.
Georgia DT commit Dontavius Russell (Carrollton, Ga./Carrollton): From No. 266 to 201

ESPN 300 debuts
No. 89 Frank Iheanacho (Houston/Westbury), WR
The 6-6, 215-pound pass catcher returned to the football field as a senior after playing only basketball as a junior, and has quickly become one of the most coveted uncommitted prospects in the country featuring deceptive initial quickness, and the high-point timing and size to win 50-50 balls in the air.

No. 287 Darrion Owens (Orange Park, Fla./Oakleaf), OLB
The 6-3, 220-pound Owens has transitioned from safety to outside linebacker as a senior without skipping a beat. Long, rangy and with edge-rush ability, the Miami commit is a top senior riser.

No. 295 Shakenneth Williams (Macon, Ga./Rutland), WR
The 6-1, 196-pound Georgia commit was a standout at Mark Richt Camp in June. Williams is blessed with straight-line speed, change-of-direction ability, strong hands and the physicality and strength to play through contact.

[+] EnlargeJoe Mixon
Tom Hauck for Student SportsTailback Joe Mixon is ranked No. 72 in the latest update of the ESPN 300.
More Who Moved Into The ESPN 300

Ohio State ATH commit Curtis Samuel (Brooklyn, N.Y./Erasmus Hall): No. 148.
LSU DE commit Deondre Clark (Oklahoma City/Douglass): No. 298.
Baylor WR commit Ishmael Zamora (Alief, Texas/Elsik): No. 245
Alabama OLB commit Keith Holcombe (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Hillcrest): No. 284.
DT Derrick Nnadi (Virginia Beach, Va./Ocean Lakes): No. 257.
DT Matt Elam (Elizabethtown, Ky./John Hardin): No. 292.
Minnesota RB commit Jeff Jones (Minneapolis/Washburn): No. 181.
Virginia Tech DT commit Ricky Walker (Hampton, Va./Bethel): No. 299.

Injured Reserve

David Cornwell (Norman, Okla./Norman North), QB
The Alabama commit suffered a season-ending knee injury. The 6-5, 241-pound Under Armour All-American is No. 44 after being 32nd previously.

Jalen Hurd (Hendersonville, Tenn./Beech), RB
The Tennessee commit suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the opener, requiring a second shoulder operation in less than a year. The 6-4, 222-pound Hurd is now No. 62 after being 39th.

Drake Harris (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian), WR
The 6-3, 172-pound Harris hasn't played this season due to a lingering hamstring issue. The Michigan commit checks in at No. 85 after previously being 72nd.

Elisha Shaw (Tucker, Ga./Tucker), DT
The 6-6, 295-pound Shaw has been sidelined with a neck injury this season. He checks in at No. 186 after a prior ranking of 82nd.

Sharieff Rhaheed (Fort Pierce, Fla./Fort Pierce Central), OLB
The 6-2, 202-pound Rhaheed missed the first six games of the season before returning to the field in late October. The former LSU commit is No. 260 after being ranked 133rd previously.

Kyle Berger (Cleveland/Saint Ignatius), OLB
The Ohio State commit was sidelined his senior season with an ACL tear. He dropped out of the ESPN 300 after being ranked No. 281.

Treyvon Paulk (Milton, Ga./Milton High), RB
The Tennessee running back commitment recently suffered a season-ending knee injury. He dropped out of the ESPN 300 after previously being ranked No. 294.

Weekly Commitment Roundup

October, 11, 2013
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AAC
Houston
Carter Wall OT Richmond, Texas/Navarro College
HT: 6-5 WT: 290
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Junior College Watch List

Rutgers
Taariq Cole OG Lido Beach, N.Y./Long Beach
HT: 6-6 WT: 370
Positional Rank: no. 63 OG
Stars: 3

Lamont Simmons CB Jacksonville, Fla./Raines
HT: 6-2 WT: 180
Positional Rank: No. 64 CB
Stars: 3

South Florida
Kendall Sawyer ATH Lehigh Acres, Fla./East Lee County
HT: 6-0 WT: 179
Positional Rank: No. 81 ATH
Stars: 3

ACC
Syracuse
Beau Benzschawel TE-Y Grafton, Wis./Grafton
HT: 6-5 WT: 250
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Aaron Roberts OG Chicago/De La Salle
HT: 6-4 WT: 295
Positional Rank: #80 OG
Stars: 3

Virginia Tech
Ricky Walker DT Hampton, Va./Bethel
HT: 6-2 WT: 270
Positional Rank: No. 25 DT
Stars: 4

Big 12
Oklahoma State
Devante Averette ILB Iowa Falls, Iowa/Ellsworth CC
HT: 6-0 WT: 230
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Junior College Watch List

Big Ten
Illinois
Peter Cvijanovic OT Cleveland, Ohio/East Coast Prep
HT: 6-5 WT: 260
Positional Rank: N/A Post-Grad
Stars: 3

Iowa
Jalen Embry ATH Detroit/King
HT: 5-11 WT: 180
Positional Rank: No. 174 ATH
Stars: 3

Purdue
Timothy Cason II S Clarkston, Mich./Clarkston
HT: 6-0 WT: 179
Positional Rank: No. 80 S
Stars: 3

Wisconsin
Krenwick Sanders WR Jesup, Ga./Wayne County
HT: 6-2 WT: 185
Positional Rank: No. 74 WR
Stars: 3

Pac-12
Colorado
Jomon Dotson RB American Canyon, Calif./American Canyon
HT: 5-10 WT: 160
Positional Rank: No. 110 RB
Stars: 3

Oregon State
Drew Clarkson OG Camas, Wash./Camas
HT: 6-4 WT: 275
Positional Rank: No. 30 OG
Stars: 3

Jonathan Willis OLB Tulsa, Okla./Washington
HT: 6-1 WT: 210
Positional Rank: No. 108 OLB
Stars: 3

USC
Uchenna Nwosu OLB Harbor City, Calif./Narbonne
HT: 6-2 WT: 195
Positional Rank: No. 76 OLB
Stars: 3

Washington
Natrell Curtis OG Phoenix/Mountain Pointe
HT: 6-2 WT: 304
Positional Rank: No. 21 OG
Stars: 4

SEC
Alabama
Ronnie Clark ATH Calera, Ala./Calera
HT: 6-3 WT: 210
Positional Rank: No. 12 ATH
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (No. 96)
Under Armour All-American

Auburn
Xavier Dampeer OG Mendenhall, Miss./Copiah-Lincoln CC
HT: 6-3 WT: 300
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Junior College Watch List

Mississippi State
Jesse Jackson WR Petal, Miss./Petal
HT: 6-1 WT: 195
Positional Rank: No. 11 WR
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (No. 93)
Under Armour All-American

C-USA
Marshall
Tomell One DT Palm Bay, Fla./Bayside
HT: 6-3 WT: 278

Mountain West
Colorado State
Demontrie Taylor OLB Denton, Texas/Guyer
HT: 5-11 WT: 185

ACC 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 ACC, check out our conference rankings:

1. Florida State, 24 commits: The Seminoles have the top class in the ACC and the No. 2 class nationally. The class includes 10 ESPN300 prospects, including a trio of linebackers Kain Duab (Jackonsville, Fla./Sandalwood High), Jacob Pugh (Tallahassee, Fla./Godby High) and Delvin Purifoy (Pensacola, Fla./Pensacola Catholic High). The Semionles could close with a bang with up to 31 or 32 possible in the class. No. 6 Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra High), No. 13 Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen High), No. 22 Damian Prince (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara High), No. 28 and Florida commit Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead High) and a number of others make up the wish list.

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There are still a ton of prospects on the board for Big Ten teams, so conference recruiting reporters Tom VanHaaren and Brad Bournival take a look at the best and worst case scenarios remaining for each team.

Illinois
Best-case scenario: Illinois picked up an offensive line commit on Monday with Peter Cvijanovic (Great Barrington, Mass./East Coast Prep), which gives the Illini two offensive line commits. Despite having four wide receiver commits on board, it looks like the staff would take another receiver in this class.

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Weekend recruiting wrap: ACC 

October, 7, 2013
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Virginia Tech grabbed the headlines this weekend with a four-star commitment, while a couple of teams had visitors on campus and that could affect a number of ACC teams.

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Hokies continue to build defense 

October, 6, 2013
10/06/13
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Virginia Tech has the best defense in the ACC, and it is in the conversation for the nation's best unit in 2013.

With recruiting pickups like Ricky Walker, the Hokies are positioned to remain at the top for the foreseeable future, too.


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From official visits past and future to a commitment, the Big Ten was buzzing with headlines this week.

Here’s a look at a few programs that highlight a busy week in this week’s Big Ten storylines.

Boiler Up


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Big Ten recruiting mailbag

September, 6, 2013
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@bwessfootball: How do you see Penn State’s class rounding out? Would you say PSU is now the favorite for Montae Nicholson and Qadree Ollison?

Brad Bournival: The first part of that question is tricky as the Nittany Lions are still in on Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa), Ricky Walker (Hampton, Va./Bethel), Alex Bookser (Pittsburgh/Mount Lebanon), Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln) and Mike Gesicki (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional) but may not be the favorite for any of them. As far as Ollison goes, I fully expect him to be part of the 2014 Penn State class by Monday afternoon. The fact he’s visiting the Nittany Lions just before his announcement bodes well for Penn State. As far as Nicholson goes, the jury is still out on that one. He’s visiting Michigan State this weekend, but Pittsburgh is in his backyard and don’t count out Oregon or Florida State. The safety wants to set official visit dates soon so that could be telling.




[+] EnlargeDarius West
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comCould Michigan State land standout cornerback Darius West?
@Collin_Stauder: Any chance Michigan State grabs Nicholson or Darius West down the stretch?

Tom VanHaaren: That’s a pretty relevant question right now as Nicholson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) is visiting Michigan State this weekend and West (Lima, Ohio/Central) just recently took a visit to East Lansing.

I think you could probably even throw defensive back Parrker Westphal (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook) in this question because he recently told me that he would like to get out to Michigan State for a game.

It was believed that Northwestern and Vanderbilt had the best shot with Westphal, but if he makes it out to East Lansing that might be an interesting situation. He was originally going to make a decision before his season, but it looks like he could take a few visits.

As for West, he is still committed to Kentucky and publicly is saying the visit to Michigan State wasn’t a big deal. I don’t think a prospect takes a visit this late in the game if it’s not a big deal. If Kentucky continues to struggle that could be something to watch.

Nicholson has had an interesting recruitment recently with Michigan telling him they aren’t recruiting him anymore. I believe he is open at this point, so this visit could help Michigan State. It’s too early to tell with him, though.




@DukeLukeofJuke: Do you see any dark horse recruits that few are connecting to Ohio State at the moment that could end up in Columbus by national signing day?

Bournival: The names are pretty standard at this point in recruits like Noah Brown (Sparta, N.J./Pope John XXIII), Chad Mavety (Garden City, N.Y./Nassau Community College), Damian Prince (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara), Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County), Erick Smith (Cleveland/Glenville) and Marshon Lattimore (Cleveland/Glenville). If you’re asking me to go out on a limb, maybe someone like Gesicki or Alex Bookser (Pittsburgh/Mount Lebanon) winds up with the Buckeyes. While it’s not much of a stretch, those two aren’t getting a lot of play lately in recent Ohio State news.




@ssullie71: Has Malik McDowell given a timeline when he will make his decision on colleges?

VanHaaren: He is saying going into this weekend that he plans on waiting to make a decision. This has been a hot topic, because I do believe there is a chance he makes a decision sooner than later.

McDowell (Southfield, Mich./Southfield) has been somewhat quiet about all this and doesn’t share much, so he could do anything. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him wait things out, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him make a decision soon.

He initially had been saying he was going to wait until the Army All-American game, but I don’t think that will happen anymore.




jbacevice@gmail.com: Damon Webb is the face of the 2014 class for Ohio State. Eric Glover-Williams has that honor in 2015. Put your prognosticator glasses on, who takes that role in 2016?

Bournival: Early signs point to someone with a familiar last name. While there aren’t a ton of offers out there just yet to 2016 stars, I don’t think it will much matter as defensive end Nick Bosa (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) has all the tools to carry the flag if he picks the Buckeyes down the line.

We all know is brother Joey is already making a name for himself as a freshman at Ohio State, but Nick could be even bigger. St. Thomas Aquinas coach Rocco Casullo has already said he thinks everyone will know all there is about the sophomore by the time he finishes with the Raiders. Buckeyes assistant Mike Vrabel is high on Nick already, but not just because of his play. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound defensive end’s character and maturation at such a young age is what many are talking about.

Summer recruit wrap: Penn State 

July, 23, 2013
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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- What have we learned about Penn State, recruiting-wise, from the summer?

NittanyNation outlined 10 different lessons. Here they are:


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video
Four-star DT Ricky Walker (Bethel, Va./Hampton) recently named a top five of North Carolina, Penn State, Pitt, South Carolina and Virginia Tech -- but he also boasts two front-runners.

Out of those five schools, four of them send the most handwritten letters. And of those four, two really impressed by having multiple coaches share just how much they want him at their respective schools. And those two just happen to be his favorites.


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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The Nittany Lions have nearly closed out their 2014 class and have basically addressed every need. But what were the biggest needs heading into this class anyway, and just how well has PSU done?

NittanyNation takes a closer look at PSU's five areas of need in the 2014 class and just what they've achieved already with this group.


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Now that five-star defensive tackle Andrew Brown (Chesapeake, Va./Oscar Frommel Smith) has verbally committed to Virginia, his other four finalists -- Alabama, FSU, Virginia Tech and Clemson -- are forced to look in other directions. Here's a closer look at some of the targets they are considering:


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Tales From The Road: Penn State 

May, 15, 2013
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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Every Wednesday, as part of a RecruitingNation-wide series, NittanyNation will take a closer look at what's going on in the world of Penn State recruiting.

This week's targets: Defensive tackle Ricky Walker (Hampton, Va./Bethel) has remained a priority for Penn State, and assistant coach Charles London -- who handles the Virginia area -- stopped by his school on Tuesday. London's visit came just a week after defensive line coach Larry Johnson visited, and Walker called that kind of contact very important. He's still developing a top five but said PSU was a lock to make the cut.

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