NCF On The Trail: trace mcsorley

Top position classes: QBs 

February, 10, 2014
Feb 10
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With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes. For the full series, click here.

Nationally (and SEC)
The Florida Gators had a major need at quarterback in the Class of 2014, and Will Muschamp and staff more than filled it, signing two of the nation’s top signal-callers. Third-ranked dual-threat prospect Will Grier (Davidson, N.C./Davidson Day School) is already on campus and preparing for spring practice, while No. 7 dual-threat prospect Treon Harris (Miami/Booker T. Washington) was a huge signing-day flip from Florida State. Both prospects are great athletes who are accustomed to operating uptempo offenses. This should also help newly hired offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, who will install a similar scheme in Gainesville.

The Gators had the nation's best QB class; here's which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- James Franklin likes to tell recruits that he leaps out of bed at 4 a.m. and performs a back handspring.

That's an exaggeration, of course, a joke to give recruits an idea of his high-energy personality. But that also seems appropriate now, especially given how many flips he has produced from Vanderbilt's class to Penn State's.

He has flipped five pledges from his old school -- six, if defensive end Lloyd Tubman (Louisville, Ky./Seneca) sticks with PSU -- which is the second-most of this college football offseason. Only Washington's Chris Petersen possesses more (six), but he was hired in early December and boasted more than a month's head start.

Franklin has averaged more than a flip per week. And he also has reeled in eight hard verbals from eight different states in less than a month on the job. So his success has a lot of fans and fellow recruits shaking their heads and wondering just how he managed to achieve this so quickly.

[+] EnlargeJames Franklin
AP Photo/ John BealeJames Franklin's enthusiasm is a key to his recruiting success.
"It's kind of surprising how many of us really did follow, but it's not surprising," said three-star quarterback Trace McSorley (Ashburn, Va./Briar Woods), who initially committed to Vanderbilt in July. "It's just the kind of guy Coach Franklin is. He's energetic; that's the reason everyone wanted to go play for him at Vanderbilt."

In separate interviews, four of those flips told ESPN.com that energy is exactly what sold them on Franklin. He's the kind of coach who awoke on a recent Sunday morning and high-fived and hugged visiting recruits at breakfast. He speaks quickly and loudly, as if he perpetually just polished off a six-pack of Red Bull.

Three-star offensive tackle Chance Sorrell (Middletown, Ohio/Middletown) said that energy is a big reason for his relationship with Franklin. He recalled with a laugh the time an assistant told him how Franklin pulled alongside a Tennessee car sporting a Georgia Bulldogs flag. Franklin stepped out of his vehicle, knocked on the window -- and asked the driver what it would take for him to attend a Commodores game.

"The way he's involved, you can just tell he genuinely cares about all of his players and everyone he meets," said Sorrell, who flipped to Penn State five hours after Franklin was introduced as the head coach. "He's very persuasive. It doesn't matter where you're from; he'll make you want to play for him."

Sorrell's future teammate McSorley said he spoke to about 10 head coaches over the course of his recruitment, and none came close to matching Franklin's energy. That's Franklin's trademark, his signature, and it's what's helped fuel Franklin as the pied piper of Vanderbilt commits.

McSorley watched part of Franklin's introductory news conference, when he loudly proclaimed -- several times -- that he intended to "dominate the state" and "dominate the region" in recruiting. Franklin's hour-long talk impacted the fan base so much that it led to the instant creation of at least three T-shirts with his adopted slogans.

One of the few people who wasn't surprised? McSorley. He knew Penn State's new head coach wasn't in a good mood or wasn't "on" that day. "That's just how he is. That's exactly the person he is. All the time."

Added three-star offensive tackle Brendan Brosnan (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine Township South): "It's the way he carries himself, with all that energy. That energy shows he wants to be there, that he's giving it his all every day. It's contagious; his energy is contagious."

This isn't to say Franklin's energy, or even Franklin himself, is the sole reason for all these commitments, but it certainly seemed to play the largest role. A lot of these commits believe in Franklin's vision of Penn State reclaiming its spot as a national powerhouse.

Seven assistant coaches followed Franklin to Penn State because they believe that as well, and recruits also believe in the theory that because Franklin brought success to Vanderbilt, he certainly can do it at Penn State. Penn State has a bigger fan base and better facilities -- Vanderbilt doesn't even have a players' lounge -- and plays in a less competitive conference. It's a program that offensive line coach Herb Hand deemed as one of the 15 "haves" in a college football world of "have-nots."

"The biggest piece of advice people gave me during the recruiting process is don't commit to a coach, commit to a school," Brosnan said. "And I agree with that a little bit.

"But I think a coach, especially in Franklin's case, plays a large part. He played a large part in Vanderbilt's success and, the way I see it, the ceiling for success is higher at Penn State. It really is."

Big Ten class rankings analysis 

January, 22, 2014
Jan 22
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There have been commitments and decommitments across the board in the Big Ten, which means there has been movement among the class rankings.

As signing day approaches, teams will be looking to fill the final spots in their class. Here is a look at trends and a few items to watch within the conference:

Trending up: No Big Ten teams moved up in the class rankings for this week, but that doesn’t mean schools aren’t improving.

Penn State has been on a tear recently with James Franklin and his staff on board. Despite losing ESPN 300 defensive tackle Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln) to Florida and defensive back Troy Vincent Jr. (Baltimore/Gilman) to NC State, the Nittany Lions have added some big pieces as well.

The most recent was three-star athlete Trace McSorley (Ashburn, Va./Briar Woods), who flipped his commitment from Vanderbilt to Penn State. McSorley was originally recruited as a defensive back by Franklin at Vanderbilt, but then the offer was switched to quarterback while he was committed to the Commodores.

McSorley will add some depth and competition at the quarterback spot for Penn State, as Christian Hackenberg and early enrollee Michael O’Connor are the only other quarterbacks on the roster.

Indiana has also been on a nice run, picking up five commitments in the past week, from linebacker Tegray Scales (Cincinnati/Colerain), running back Tommy Mister (Chicago/St. Rita), athlete Waynedriko Smith (Orlando, Fla./Orangewood Christian) and defensive backs Zeke Walker (Cayce, S.C./Brookland-Cayce) and Tony Fields (Tallahassee, Fla./Godby).

Trending down: Michigan hasn’t lost any commitments in the 2014 class, but the Wolverines lost ESPN Junior 300 running back Damien Harris (Berea, Ky./Madison Southern) over the weekend.

Harris is the No. 1-ranked running back and No. 17 overall in the 2015 class. Losing Harris and fellow ESPN Junior 300 member George Campbell (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) is a big blow to the 2015 class.

Add in the fact that Michigan’s main remaining target for the 2014 class, Malik McDowell (Southfield, Mich./Southfield) could end up not picking Michigan and could end up at rival Michigan State or Ohio State, that’s more bad news for Michigan.

The Wolverines haven’t landed a commitment since August and steadily have been moving down the class rankings. If the coaches miss on McDowell, that would mean they missed on three major targets: McDowell, five-star defensive end Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) to Alabama and in-state defensive end Jhonathon Williams (Berrien Springs, Mich./Berrien Springs) to Notre Dame.


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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Wednesday's offerings: James Franklin built a top-15 recruiting class at Vanderbilt, but after two more recruits joined him at Penn State, it’s the Nittany Lions that will reap those rewards; the final few weeks in recruiting are going to make college football’s silly season look rather tame; and Solomon Thomas has narrowed his focus to three schools, but is he locked to a Pac-12 program?


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New Penn State coach James Franklin landed two more commitments for the Nittany Lions on Monday. Once again, they came at the expense of Vanderbilt as quarterback Trace McSorley (Ashburn, Va./Briar Woods) and defensive back Grant Haley (Atlanta/The Lovett School) flipped from Vanderbilt to Penn State.

Haley, a three-star cornerback, committed only a few days after defensive back Troy Vincent Jr. (Baltimore/Gilman) withdrew his pledge to Penn State. Haley will help fill the void where Vincent was, and he might not be the only defensive back target remaining.


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Trace McSorley to the Commodores

July, 13, 2013
7/13/13
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Vanderbilt has gained its second pledge in as many days with the addition of high three-star athlete Trace McSorley (Ashburn, Va./Briar Woods), according to multiple reports.

Connecticut, Boston College, Massachusetts, North Carolina, NC State, Wake Forest, Ohio, Virginia Tech, Old Dominion, Charlotte, Purdue and Western Michigan were his other offers.

Northwestern, Maryland, Michigan State, Duke, Rutgers, Penn State, Virginia and West Virginia also recruited the 6-foot-1, 182 pound rising senior.

Last fall, he threw for 2,548 yards and 33 touchdowns and rushed for 709 yards and 9 more scores.

McSorley is commitment No. 13 for Vanderbilt.

Lessons Learned: D.C. Elite 11 

April, 20, 2013
4/20/13
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ASHBURN, Va. -- Strong winds and a chill in the air greeted the quarterbacks Saturday at the Washington Redskins’ practice facility for the third regional stop this year on the Elite 11 circuit. Most handled the conditions admirably. However, as they did two weeks ago in Dallas, the coaches declined to hand out that golden ticket to the finals.

Mitch Sherman of RecruitingNation attended the event. Here’s what he learned:

East Coast QBs impress

A year after the states of New Jersey and Maryland sent Kevin Olsen and Shane Cockerille to the Elite 11 finals, quarterbacks from the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions again showed their skills on Saturday. Notably, new West Virginia commit William Crest of Baltimore Dunbar and 2015 prospect Brandon Wimbush (Jersey City, N.J./St. Peter’s Prep) threw well. “Don’t sleep on us,” Crest said. And no one is, despite the larger number of quarterbacks produced out West, in Texas and the Southeast. A 2016 prospect, Jarrett Guarantano (Oradell, N.J./Bergen Catholic), looked good, as did Stephen Barmore of Southington, Conn., who has been offered by Yale.

Henderson lives up to billing


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Dual-threat quarterback thinking ACC 

April, 2, 2013
4/02/13
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A certain ACC school with a quarterback guru has signal-caller Trace McSorley's interest after a recent trip to campus.


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Trace McSorley has his first scholarship offer.

Boston College is the first school to extend an offer to the quarterback from Ashburn (Va.) Briar Woods. The invitation has been a long time coming for the 2014 prospect. The 6-foot, 176-pound McSorley said he first visited B.C. three months ago.

“Got to meet the coaches and I really enjoyed getting to watch practice and see the facilities and talk to the coaches,” McSorley stated via text message to ESPN. “I've been in contact with (defensive line and special teams) coach Al Washington ever since then and I really like him. He's a really cool guy and a great coach.

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