NCF On The Trail: Trevor Darling

Meet ESPN Junior 300 DE Byron Cowart 

March, 19, 2014
Mar 19
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Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- For most highly-rated defensive line prospects coming out of high school, the word "technique" is rarely used. Not because the prospects don’t want to learn, but because proper technique is something that is seldom taught or even required at the high school level. Top defensive line prospects generally rely on brute strength or superior speed to beat the offensive linemen they face. But for ESPN Junior 300 defensive end Byron Cowart, who is the No. 68-ranked prospect in the country, technique has been his sole focus during the offseason.

UA Game notebook: First impressions

December, 29, 2013
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -– Team Nitro and Team Highlight took to the fields at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports on an overcast Sunday morning for Day 1 of practice for Thursday's Under Armour All-America Game (ESPN, 4 p.m. ET). There were several players who impressed, a top linebacker is feeling pressure to stay at home and the nation's No. 1-ranked player isn’t too concerned with his lack of touches on the first day.

ESPN 300 linebacker feeling the pressure


Four-star linebacker Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) was one of the most impressive-looking linebackers during individual drills. The No. 84-ranked player in the country continues to have four schools at the top of his list.

[+] EnlargeRashaan Evans
Miller Safrit/ESPNRashaan Evans is feeling the pressure from hometown fans off the field.
"I still have four schools -- Auburn, Georgia, Alabama and UCLA -- on top,” Evans said. “Those four schools, they are pretty even. I’m going to take this whole thing slow and pretty much I’m going to take it out to signing day.”

Evans already took an official visit to UCLA in September and is planning to take two other visits in January.

"I’ll take either Bama or Auburn on Jan. 17,” he said, "and then on the 24th maybe Georgia."

As a native of Auburn, Ala., Evans admits he feels constant pressure to stay at home.

"It’s pretty bad,” Evans said. "Most of the time my day consists of Auburn people telling me, ‘Hey, don’t go to Bama, go to Auburn.’ It’s pretty bad, because most of the people I’m around are Auburn alumni. So I hear about Auburn each and every day. So when I go on visits, everybody knows about it and they always shoot me messages about Auburn.

"I feel like I would disappoint people if I did go somewhere other than Auburn. I’m in Auburn, I love Auburn, I’ve lived in Auburn all my life. I have family at Auburn. Most of my family has graduated from Auburn. People would be curious as to why I would want to leave Auburn, but at the end of the day, I have to do what’s best for me."

Coaches impressed

Team Highlight quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke was impressed with his group of QBs during the first practice. LSU commit Brandon Harris (Bossier City, La./Parkway), Penn State commit Michael O’Connor (Bradenton, Fla./IMG) and Auburn commit Sean White (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School) all made nice throws during the course of the practice.

"I think the one thing is that is they have to understand, schematically, what they are doing right now,” Weinke said. "The first day always creates hesitation. I spent more time with Harris, White and O’Connor, but looking at all six guys, they all did a nice job on the first day.

"Brandon Harris spins the ball really well. The one thing with him is now he has to tie his feet in to what he’s doing. O’Connor did a nice job of being very accurate throwing the ball today. Sean White did a heck of a job making some throws in some tight spots.”



Defensively, Team Highlight linebackers coach LaVar Arrington already has a good feeling about his players, which he thinks are a special group.

“I know they’re good when I remember their names, and I remember all my guy’s names,” he said. “They have nicknames. They were balling so hard I nicknamed them. You have Jacob Pugh, so I call him J.P., Kain Daub is K.D. and Tre’ [Williams] is a nickname in itself.

“Then Rashaan [Evans], I grew up being called Shad, so he’s Shad.”

Fournette not worried about carries


Running back Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine), the nation’s top prospect, handled the football only a few times during nearly three hours of practice.

[+] EnlargeLeonard Fournette
Miller Safrit/ESPNLeonard Fournette likely will have a much busier day Monday than he did on Sunday.
On one of the opportunities designed for him to get the ball, White kept the ball on an option play when Fournette clearly had an open lane. It resulted in one of the funnier moments of the day: One of the Team Highlight assistants pointed over to Fournette and asked White, "You see him? That's the No. 1 running back in the country. You are to get the ball to him and he's supposed to run around and over people. You can't do that."

For his part, Fournette said he’s not concerned. It's not the focus of his trip to Florida.

“It’s about the decisions we have to make,” said Fournette, one of seven players who will announce their commitments during Thursday's game. “We have to focus on the decisions at the end of the day.”

Fournette slimmed his options early in the season to LSU and Alabama. Recently, he added Texas to the list of finalists at the urging of Saint Augustine teammate Jermaine Roberts, a receiver committed to the Longhorns.

Texas is considered a significant darkhorse for Fournette, who did not take an official visit to the school but made it to Austin, Texas, for an unofficial trip last summer.

Still, Fournette said, he’s not penalizing UT for its lack of a head coach as Mack Brown steps aside after the Valero Alamo Bowl on Monday against Oregon.

“Doesn’t concern me at all,” Fournette said.

He also won’t be swayed by the advice of fellow prospects here.

“Everybody’s going to go on their own path, do their own thing,” Fournette said.

Fournette said he would settle on a school after speaking with his parents, who arrive in Orlando on Tuesday.

Top social media posts


There were some great one-on-one battles Sunday. Here are some highlights:

Miami-bound offensive lineman Trevor Darling (Miami/Central), who usually plays left tackle, lined up at left guard during the one-on-one portion and more than held his own. Here’s a look at Darling winning a matchup against Georgia-bound defensive tackle Lamont Gaillard (Fayetteville, N.C./Pine Forest).



Five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) also impressed on the first day of practices. Here’s Carter getting the better of Michigan commit Juwann Bushell-Beatty (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic).



Uncommitted Laurence Jones (Monroe, La./Neville), the No. 2-ranked safety in the country, had a tremendous pass breakup on the goal line during the team portion of practice.

Speedy Noil, the No. 8-ranked prospect in the country, put on a show the first day of practice. He hauled in pass after pass and did it all while wearing a gold watch on his wrist. The five-star receiver even had an impressive one-handed catch.



Michigan-bound defensive back Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic), the nation's No. 2-ranked prospect, took on Florida-bound receiver Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead Senior), the nation's No. 28-ranked recruit, in one-on-ones. Lane got the better of Peppers the first two reps, but the two will have plenty of time to battle it out leading up to the game.

Qualifiers for the American Family Insurance Skills Challenge


After practice concluded Sunday, several players competed for spots in the finals of the American Family Insurance Skills challenge. The finals will air on Jan. 1 (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET). Here’s a look at who has qualified for the finals so far:

Running backs/linebackers
RB Racean Thomas (Oxford, Ala./Oxford) -- Auburn commit
LB Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) -- uncommitted
LB Melvin Keihn (Baltimore, Md./Gilman School) -- Virginia Tech commit

Wide receiver/defensive backs
TE Jacory Washington (Westlake, La./Westlake) -- LSU commit
CB Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra) -- uncommitted
CB Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover) -- uncommitted

Jeremy Crabtree, Mitch Sherman and Tom VanHaaren contributed to this report.

ACC recruiting storylines: Dec. 6 

December, 6, 2013
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Two ACC schools lead the way for Florida commitment Dalvin Cook. And more prospects begin to set up their official visits as national signing day nears for the Class of 2014.


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Early Offer: Difficult dilemma for U-M 

November, 27, 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: A five-star Michigan commit said Tuesday the equivalent of "I think we should start seeing other people,” and Miami could be in position to flip one of the nation’s top running backs.


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Best ACC recruiters 

October, 15, 2013
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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.

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UA Game jersey tour: Trevor Darling

October, 11, 2013
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Joseph Yearby, Dalvin Cook, Trevor DarlingStudent Sports, ESPNThe Miami Central trio of Joseph Yearby, Dalvin Cook and Trevor Darling. All three were selected to play in the Under Armour All-America Game.

Senior offensive tackle Trevor Darling (Miami/Central) was presented his honorary game jersey Thursday at his school during the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the 2014 Under Armour All-America High School Football Game. The event was part of a three-month selection tour.

Darling, a Miami (Fla.) commitment, is one of 90 players selected to compete in the seventh annual Under Armour All-America Game, a nationally televised game featuring the country’s top high school seniors. The game will be played at 4 p.m. ET on Jan. 2 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and will be televised on ESPN.

"I want to start off by thanking God for giving the abilities to do what I got to do," Darling said. "I want to thank my parents for pushing me, the administrators staff, my coaches and everybody that keeps me going."

Miami Central coach Roland Smith says it's a combination of size and athleticism that sets Darling apart.

"Not only is Trevor a big kid, but he's a very athletic big kid that can run, can move. ... His athletic ability for a guy 6-6 or 6-5, 300-plus pounds that can move the way he can move is very exciting."

For Darling, playing in the Under Armour All-America Game live on ESPN with two of his Central High teammates -- running backs Joseph Yearby and Dalvin Cook -- is an exciting honor.

"What made me make my decision was Under Armour is a great company, and it was the game I always wanted to play in. Playing on ESPN is going to be a great feeling, and going against the competition on live TV is a big stage, and I'm looking forward to it. What motivates me to do well is my love for the game. Football is something that I really like to do. I'm really excited to be with some of my teammates at the Under Armour All-America Game and compete against the best talent in America."

The 6-foot-5, 330-pound Darling is the No. 130 ranked prospect in the ESPN 300 and the No. 10 offensive tackle in the class. He committed to Miami over offers and interest from several ACC and SEC programs.

Best ACC classes by position 

September, 10, 2013
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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

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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's latest feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings.

Zack Darlington
Tom Hauck for Student SportsNebraska coach Bo Pelini has to make a tough decision after 2014 QB commit Zack Darlington got injured.
Today's offerings: With questions about Zack Darlington’s future lingering, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has to make a tough decision about recruiting another quarterback in the 2014 class. There’s still plenty of meat left on the bone for the 2014 class; and the Miami Central-Miami Booker T. Washington game will showcase seven Cane and Gator recruits.


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Miami's offensive line, from a forward-thinking perspective, has been greatly upgraded over the last two weeks.

First it was Kc McDermott (Wellington, Fla./Palm Beach Central) picking the Hurricanes over Notre Dame last Tuesday. And Reilly Gibbons (St. Petersburg, Fla./St. Petersburg Catholic), also an ESPN Watch List offensive tackle, doubled the Hurricanes' tally on Monday afternoon, his father confirmed.

Gibbons said Miami considers him to be a left tackle prospect.

During his recruitment, Gibbons racked up offers from across the country. Arkansas, Auburn, Cincinnati, Clemson, Colorado, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Carolina state, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Purdue, Rutgers, South Carolina, South Florida, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Virginia and West Virginia all offered.

Art Kehoe, the Hurricanes offensive line coach and longtime assistant, led Miami's pursuit of Gibbons.

Gibbons joins not only McDermott, but also Nick Linder (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) Trevor Darling (Miami/Central) as other offensive linemen committed to Miami.

The Hurricanes are now up to six commitments for the Class of 2014.

Five stories to watch: Miami NFTC 

March, 15, 2013
3/15/13
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Here are five storylines for the Miami NFTC.


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Miami SPARQ All-Combine team

February, 19, 2013
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MIAMI -- More than 900 athletes gathered on Jan. 5 at North Miami Stadium for the South Florida stop of the Nike Football SPARQ Combine tour. Here is a look at the 25 standout performers who comprise the Miami All-Combine team.

Note: Selections are based upon combine performance as well as past and projected on-field performance. Athletes must have completed two of the four combine tests to be eligible for selection. Athletes are in the Class of 2014 unless otherwise noted.

OFFENSE

QB: Quinton Flowers, 6-foot-0, 203 pounds, Miami Jackson
Results: 4.72 40-yard dash, 4.53 shuttle, 37-foot power ball throw, 31.3-inch vertical jump, 87.33 SPARQ Rating
Breakdown: Flowers ranks amongst the top QBs in South Florida and was a Class 5A third team all-state pick this fall.

QB: Nicodem Pierre, 6-1, 201, Miami Coral Reef
Results: 4.82 40, 4.50 shuttle, 40’ PB, 34.3” VJ, 95.61 SPARQ
Breakdown: Pierre upped his rating 23 points from last year; favors Kansas State early on in his recruitment.

[+] EnlargeTreon Harris
Tom Hauck/StudentSportsBooker T. Washington athlete Treon Harris earned this year's first invitation to The Opening.
RB: Jamal Adjamah, 5-8, 178, Miami Southridge
Results: 4.63 40, 4.57 shuttle, 36.5’ PB, 35.6” VJ, 90.39 SPARQ
Breakdown: Has been one of Dade County’s top backs over the past two years.

RB: Krondis Larry, 5-6, 140, Miami Booker T. Washington
Results: 4.36 40, 4.55 shuttle, 28.5’ PB, 35.8” VJ, 81.30 SPARQ
Breakdown: Class 4A honorable mention all-state pick ran for 802 yards and 13 TDs this fall and clocked event’s fastest 40 time.

RB: Mardre London, 6-1, 197, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas
Results: 4.61 40, 4.62 shuttle, 36.5’ PB, 32.3” VJ, 88.65 SPARQ
Breakdown: London saw sizable action behind Fred Coppet this fall and is in line for a big senior year this season.

WR: Jake McCrary, 6-0, 171, Miami Coral Reef
Results: 4.51 40, 4.47 shuttle, 32’ PB, 34.0” VJ, 86.43 SPARQ
Breakdown: McCrary looked to be back to full health after missing games this fall with a knee injury; has close to 20 offers so far.

WR: Isaiah McKenzie, 5-8, 160, Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage
Results: 4.56 40, 4.54 shuttle, 35’ PB, 36.0” VJ, 87.84 SPARQ
Breakdown: Showed great speed and is coming off of huge junior season in which he had 30 catches for 832 yards and 18 touchdowns.

WR: Lamar Parker, 5-8, 152, Miami Booker T. Washington
Results: 4.44 40, 4.25 shuttle, 30’ PB, 32.0” VJ, 87.24 SPARQ
Breakdown: Miami and FSU are amongst early offers for Parker, who helped the Tornadoes to a 4A state title this fall.

WR: JoJo Robinson, 6-0, 174, Miami Northwestern
Results: 4.41 40, 4.53 shuttle, 37.5’ PB, 32.0” VJ, 97.41 SPARQ
Breakdown: FSU commit put up the day’s top SPARQ Rating.

OL: Kai Absheer, 6-5, 296, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas
Results: 5.47 40, 5.07 shuttle, 38.5’ PB, 22.6” VJ, 70.50 SPARQ
Breakdown: Athletic big man posted top SPARQ Rating for all OL and should draw his share of looks in the future.

OL: Trevor Darling, 6-4, 307, Miami Central
Results: 5.82 40, 5.40 shuttle, 40’ PB, 19.9” VJ, 66.96 SPARQ
Breakdown: Miami commit had event’s second-best power ball toss.

OL: Ben Tirolia (’15), 6-2, 264, Miami Booker T. Washington
Results: 5.14 40, 4.84 shuttle, 38’ PB, 19.1” VJ, 65.34 SPARQ
Breakdown: Sophomore starter for state champion has a great future ahead of himself.

OL: Reginald Bain, 6-4, 251, Miami Central
Results: 5.32 40, 4.82 shuttle, 35’ PB, 25.3” VJ, 63.63 SPARQ
Breakdown: Starter on 6A title team at Miami Central possesses great frame and athletic ability.

ATH: Treon Harris, 5-11, 181, Miami Booker T. Washington
Results: 4.48 40, 4.31 shuttle, 34’ PB, 30.4” VJ, 92.61 SPARQ
Breakdown: A Class 4A all-state pick at QB this fall, Harris earned the first invite to The Opening.

ATH: Marcelis Logan, 5-8 , 170, Lexington (Ky.) Catholic
Results: 4.53 40, 4.44 shuttle, 34.5’ PB, 36.5” VJ, 94.26 SPARQ
Breakdown: Son of former NFL RB Marc Logan scored eight TDs as a junior and posted event’s fourth-best SPARQ Rating.

DEFENSE

DL: Keyon Brown, 6-3, 235, Wauchula (Fla.) Hardee County
Results: 4.88 40, 4.47 shuttle, 33’ PB, 34.4” VJ, 90.39 SPARQ
Breakdown: As physically put-together as any player at the event, Brown ranks amongst state’s top DE prospects.

DL: Anthony Moten, 6-4, 279, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas
Results: 5.19 40, 5.03 shuttle, 42’ PB, 28.6” VJ, 91.68 SPARQ
Breakdown: Miami, FSU, Ohio State are among early offers for Moten, a Class 7A honorable mention all-state pick this fall.

DE/LB: Michael Smith, 6-2, 196, Miami Northwestern
Results: 4.86 40, 4.53 shuttle, 33’ PB, 30.2” VJ, 72.66 SPARQ
Breakdown: Was third team 6A all-state at DE for Northwestern this fall but could convert to outside linebacker in college.

LB: Kevin Bronson, 6-3, 231, Delray Beach (Fla.) Village Academy
Results: 4.78 40, 4.57 shuttle, 40’ PB, 31.1” VJ, 96.24 SPARQ
Breakdown: Big and athletic rush end put up day’s second-best SPARQ Rating and wants to play LB in college.

LB: Juwuan Brown, 6-2, 203, Tampa (Fla.) Jefferson
Results: 4.82 40, 4.60 shuttle, 36’ PB, 35.6” VJ, 86.76 SPARQ
Breakdown: Indiana is the first offer for Brown, more should be coming shortly for athletic ‘backer.

DB: Marques Gayot, 6-1, 197, Lake Worth (Fla.) Park Vista
Results: 4.65 40, 4.62 shuttle, 32’ PB, 30.6” VJ, 76.65 SPARQ
Breakdown: Physical hitter on film, ran well Saturday, was Class 8A all-state pick this fall.

DB: Jaquan Johnson (’15), 5-10, 169, Miami Killian
Results: 4.68 40, 4.38 shuttle, 33.5’ PB, 31.9” VJ, 81.54 SPARQ
Breakdown: Johnson was a Class 8A all-state pick this fall and already has Florida and Florida State offers as a rising junior.

DB: Nigel Patten, 5-9, 170, Miami Booker T. Washington
Results: 4.61 40, 4.44 shuttle, 29.5’ PB, 31.8” VJ, 74.34 SPARQ
Breakdown: Class 4A second team all-state pick this fall has an FSU offer.

DB: Andrew Soroh, 6-0, 189, Hialeah (Fla.) American
Results: 4.63 40, 4.37 shuttle, 36.5’ PB, 31.9” VJ, 93.27 SPARQ
Breakdown: Missed most of junior year with shoulder injury but is healthy now and worth a look.

ATH: Trayone Gray, 6-2, 194, Miami Carol City
Results: 4.66 40, 4.69 shuttle, 37’ PB, 32.1” VJ, 85.23 SPARQ
Breakdown: Ready to takeover as QB this fall for Chiefs but also recruitable as WR or safety due to size and athleticism.

Florida home to 53 Watch List recruits 

September, 27, 2012
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There are several things that stand out about the 53 2014 prospects from Florida included on the ESPN Watch List.


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