NCF On The Trail: Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl commits

CARSON, Calif. -- Washington continued its success in mining the Golden State for talent on Friday night, as four-star athlete John Ross (Long Beach, Calif./Jordan) announced his commitment to the Huskies during the 2013 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.

Ross kept a low profile during the recruiting process, but the 5-foot-9, 170-pound speedster became one of California’s most sought-after skill position players this past spring and kept that momentum going throughout his senior season. Ross held offers from much of the Pac-12, as well as national programs such as Arkansas, Miami, Michigan and Nebraska.

Ross eventually cut his list to four Pac-12 programs: Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and UCLA. He took official visits to all four, but nothing could top the comfort level he said he felt with the Huskies. He’ll join several former teammates at Washington, and could also be reunited next year with 2014 prospect and teammate Rahshead Johnson, who committed to the Huskies this past summer.

Washington now holds verbal commitments from 21 recruits in the 2013 class, including eight four-star players -- six of whom hail from California. Ross has the ability to play wide receiver or cornerback at the next level and proved throughout his high school career that he can be a dynamic weapon in the return game.

Ross' recruitment could be one to monitor further, as all of his finalists will continue to pursue him until signing day.

UCLA gains verbal from TE Duarte

January, 4, 2013
CARSON, Calif. -- Three-star tight end Thomas Duarte (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) put a quick end to his recruiting process on Friday, as the three-star prospect made a verbal commitment to the UCLA Bruins at the 2013 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.

"The education is great that I'll receive and their football is on the rise," Duarte said. "I'm going to love to be a part of the revolution that is UCLA football."

Duarte surprised many by even scheduling his announcement to take place at the event. He said all season that he would focus on recruiting after the season and looked to have a busy January ahead of him. But the 6-foot-3, 223-pound, two-way threat felt comfortable enough after multiple unofficial visits to make a commitment to the Bruins.

He held offers from much of the Pac-12 and eventually narrowed his choices to a final four of Notre Dame, Oregon, UCLA and Washington. Duarte took unofficial visits to all but Notre Dame.

Duarte had a phenomenal senior season for a Monarchs team that surprised many by posting an 11-3 record. He caught 58 passes for 1,025 yards and 15 touchdowns, and also racked up 42 tackles 10 sacks and three interceptions on defense.

He has the ability to play multiple positions at the next level, but will begin his career as a tight end.

He is verbal commitment No. 20 for the UCLA Bruins, who needed a versatile tight end to bring in alongside a fantastic group of wide receivers. The Bruins were able to turn tight end Joseph Fauria into a dynamic weapon in the passing game this season, and they likely see the same ability in Duarte.
CARSON, Calif. -- South Carolina added a headliner to its 2013 recruiting class on Friday, as running back David Williams (Philadelphia/Imhotep Charter) announced his commitment to the Gamecocks during the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.

"From the beginning of process, they've been there strong," Williams said of the Gamecocks. "Coach [Steve] Spurrier showed me a lot of interest."

The ESPN 150's No. 124 player becomes the top recruit in South Carolina’s class and will look to fill the role vacated by Marcus Lattimore’s early departure for the NFL draft.

"I think I'll fit in perfectly," Williams said of South Carolina's offense. "I'll come in and have an opportunity to play early."

Williams, 6-foot-1 and 192 pounds, is one of the more sough-after backs in the Northeast, as the four-star tailback held offers from a number of prominent programs, including Auburn, California, Miami, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin. He eventually whittled his list to Arizona State, Penn State and South Carolina and took official visits to see the Sun Devils and Gamecocks before settling on Steve Spurrier’s program.

He is commitment No. 20 for South Carolina’s 17th-ranked recruiting class. He is the second ESPN 150 commitment and fourth ESPN 300 commitment for the Gamecocks. Williams put together a tremendous senior season for the Panthers, as he led them to an undefeated regular season and a 14-1 record overall. Williams rushed 195 times for 1,904 yards and 23 touchdowns, including two touchdown runs of more than 90 yards.

With Williams’ commitment, only three of the country’s top 15 running backs remain uncommitted.