NCF On The Trail: Tyron Johnson

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Across the SEC and the Power 5 conferences as a whole, there were several coaching changes made after national signing day.

Once a recruit has signed his letter of intent, he is bound to the school he signed with. It seems unfair to the recruits, who have built relationships with coaches over the past two years just to see them leave for another job as soon as the player signs.

Every high school football recruit, at one time or another, has been told by a coach, parent or mentor to "choose a school not a coach."

Sights, sounds from Under Armour Game

January, 2, 2015
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The 2015 Under Armour All-America Game is in the books, wrapping up a great week of competition among the nation’s top recruits. The action at the game was a lopsided victory for Team Highlight.

Here are some of the top sights and sounds from the game.


ESPN 300 running back Ronald Jones II started off the day's decisions.
Shortly after Ronald Jones, Virginia Tech picked up ESPN 300 DT Tim Settle.
Daylon Mack was a constant presence in Team Highlight's backfield. ESPN 300 running back Damien Harris didn't see this coming.
During the second quarter, ESPN 300 No. 50 Da'Ron Payne added to an already loaded Alabama class.
QB Deondre Francois, a four-star Florida State commit, said this week that Florida is now after him. While there's still a month until signing day, he certainly seems solid to FSU.
By halftime, Team Highlight was thoroughly in control and five-star cornerback Iman Marshall had one word for how the game was going.
LSU added four-star receiver Tyron Johnson, the No. 25 overall player.
Parents came to enjoy the game this week and the most vocal was Texas Tech commit Breiden Fehoko's family.
Then, of course, there's proud papa Snoop Dogg taking a break from watching his son Cordell Broadus.
In the third quarter, Texas added linebacker Anthony Wheeler.
Team Highlight continued to roll in the second half with Alabama quarterback commit Blake Barnett hitting Florida State WR commit Da'Vante Phillips.
And then of course, five-star Byron Cowart just does what he does.
The last commitment of the night was the biggest, and Alabama added to its riches with five-star cornerback Kendall Sheffield.
No. 5 athlete Terry Godwin has been committed to UGA for almost a year, but that commitment is being tested and he’s doing a good job of keeping folks guessing about his final destination.

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UA Day 3: Best sights and sounds

December, 31, 2014
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Day 3 of practice at the Under Armour All-America Game was a little more fast-paced and a little more intense. The prospects were intense and dialed in all day, even resulting in a few tempers flaring throughout the day. Here’s a look at some of the top plays from the day.

Iman Marshall with nice coverage on receiver Calvin Ridley.


Defensive tackle Daylon Mack one-on-one against Fred Ulu-Perry.


Receiver Tyron Johnson snags a one-handed catch.


A trio of defensive linemen swarm quarterback Deondre Francois.


Defensive end Arden Key blows by the offensive lineman.


Receiver Terry Godwin showing off his commitment through his socks.


The long-snappers showing off their trick snaps.


Alabama quarterback commit Blake Barnett warming up.


Oregon defensive end commit Canton Kaumatule has been impressive all week.


Running back Damien Harris showing off his soft hands.

Early Offer: Malik Jefferson's final 7 

November, 24, 2014
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Malik Jefferson reduced his list to seven schools on Monday, and though the list is hardly a surprise, recruiters think there are still some in store with the No. 35 player in the country.

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Early Offer: Who will land Soso Jamabo? 

November, 20, 2014
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Soso Jamabo loved visits to UCLA and Notre Dame, but is it too early to count out the Texas schools? Plus, NC State added a key pledge on Wednesday that should give the Wolfpack much-needed help on the offensive line.

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UA jersey tour: Kevin Toliver II

November, 20, 2014
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Five-star defensive back Kevin Toliver II was presented with his Under Armour All-America Game jersey Thursday afternoon in a ceremony sponsored by American Family Insurance. The ceremony took place in front of friends, coaches, teammates and media members at the Trinity Christian School auditorium in Jacksonville, Florida.

The No. 1-ranked cornerback and the sixth-ranked player overall in the ESPN 300 said he felt honored to be selected to one of the top All-American games in the country.

“It feels very good to be selected to the Under Armour All-America game,” Toliver said. “This is an accomplishment that I wanted to receive in my life and I just can’t wait to showcase my talents on the field."

Toliver has been committed to LSU for over two years. The talented cornerback has never seemed to waiver, however, he has taken visits to Virginia Tech, Ohio State and Florida State and many wonder how strong his commitment to the Tigers really is. Toliver said his last trip to Baton Rouge certainly helped answer some questions he had.

“My last visit to LSU for that Alabama game was real good,” Toliver said. “I got to experience one of the loudest stadiums in the country and it was a very good experience for me and it just made my commitment stronger.”
Seven questions with Kevin Toliver II

Who was the best player you ever saw play in the Under Armour game?

Toliver: Just last year when I got a chance to stand on the sideline and see what the players go through and everything and seeing how they interact on the field. It was cool watching all of them. Speedy Noil really stood out to me though.

If you could start a team with any other player in your class who would it be?

Toliver: I would have to say Derwin James. Think we’d have a great team.

If you could go one-on-one with any other player in the country who would it be?

Toliver: Tyron Johnson, the No. 1 wide receiver in the country.

What's your earliest football memory?

Toliver: I’d say when I got my first offer from FIU. It was just a stepping stone and let me know to keep working hard and know that my parents wouldn’t have to pay for college if I keep working.

If you could take on a professional athlete in their sport, who would it be and why?

Toliver: I’d say Michael Crabtree. He talks a lot, I talk a lot. I think it would be a good matchup.

What would you like to improve on before you get to LSU?

Toliver: I’d say just my all around skills at defensive back. I just need to work on everything. Everybody is good at the next level.

What’s something about yourself that not many people know about?

Toliver: How hard I work away from the field when nobody is looking.
ESPN 300 receiver Tyron Johnson said he’s “80 percent” sure of where he’s going but things could change dramatically if LSU steps up its pursuit. The battle to land Nick Brossette will be one of the biggest storylines heading into the final months of recruiting.

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UA jersey tour: Tyron Johnson

November, 13, 2014
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NEW ORLEANS -- Tyron Johnson remembers watching the Under Armour All-America Game in 2013 like it was yesterday, when No. 1 prospect Robert Nkemdiche dominated. Johnson thought to himself at the time that it would be amazing to play in the prestigious all-star game, but he also never dreamed he would actually get that chance.

But Johnson’s dream has come true.

Now a senior, Johnson is the nation’s 25th-ranked prospect and the second-best receiver. He’s got schools from coast-to-coast recruiting him, and Thursday he was officially recognized as an Under Armour All-American at a ceremony in front of his classmates, family, friends and teammates.

“My first time watching the game, Robert Nkemdiche was the No. 1 player in the country,” Johnson, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound four-star prospect, said. “Boy, he was fun to watch. I plan on going into the game and doing a lot of big things like he did. I saw what he did, and I was like 'Man, I want to play in that game.' I never thought it would happen, but I worked hard and now I have the opportunity.”


It’s an opportunity he plans on making the most out of.

“My expectations are to do in Florida what I do in New Orleans,” Johnson said. “I'm great at working hard and doing my job making a big play on the field. When it's the fourth quarter and we need something big with only 1 second left in the game, I tell coach, 'Throw the ball to me.'

“I also want to put my city on my back and show that I can be a great receiver on the national level. I want to show for everybody here in New Orleans that we have great football players.”

Johnson said he’s looking forward to testing himself against the talented cornerbacks in the game, especially LSU commit Kevin Toliver II. Fans are looking forward to getting a clearer picture on when he’s going to pick a college. Last week, Johnson told ESPN.com that Auburn had passed Texas Tech as the top team on his list. He made an official visit to Texas Tech on Oct. 10, is slated to visit Auburn on Nov. 21 if his team isn’t still in the playoffs and hopes to also visit Oklahoma State before making a choice.

“It's been very tough to stay focused on school and my team,” Johnson said. “When that phone rings all the time, people are like, 'You have to make a decision. You have to make a decision.' And in the back of my head, I know I have to make a decision, but I'm just not ready yet. I still want to focus on my team and my grades, too. It's really hard. I don't want to rush it.

“I want to be 100 percent. I'm about 80 percent sure of what I want to do. I'm almost ready.”

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

October, 13, 2014
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Here’s the latest around the Big 12 on the recruiting trail this week:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 12
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: Several recruits were on hand to watch the Bears’ 61-58 victory over TCU, including Gilmer, Texas, athlete Blake Lynch, a current Baylor commit. He is one of four commitments who are considered four-star prospects.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Junior college defensive end Larry Jefferson committed to Iowa State after a weekend visit. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound prospect flipped from a previous commitment to West Virginia after watching the Cyclones knock off Toledo 37-30 during homecoming weekend.

KANSAS
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Jayhawks landed a commitment from Class of 2016 running back Aubrey White. The highly regarded White spurned offers from Oklahoma, TCU, Arkansas, Nebraska and others to pledge to Kansas. It will be interesting to see how KU’s coaching situation impacts White’s recruitment before February 2016.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Wildcats reportedly offered Class of 2016 athlete A.J. Taylor from Kansas City (Missouri) Rockhurst. It’s the first offer for the 5-foot-11, 185-pound prospect.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 6
The latest: The Sooners reportedly offered Class of 2016 defensive end Amani Bledsoe. The three-star prospect from Lawrence (Kansas) High School also has offers from Kansas, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and others.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 4
The latest: Solidifying the safety position has been a clear focus for the Cowboys during this recruiting cycle. ESPN 300 safety Kevin Henry joins Kenneth McGruder and Za’Carrius Green to give Oklahoma State three safety commitments who are rated 78 or higher by ESPN Scouts Inc.

TCU
Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: All 16 of TCU’s current commitments are from Texas but the Horned Frogs, surprisingly, have not secured a member of the ESPN 300 and four-star receiver J.F. Thomas is the lone commitment with more than three stars. TCU has signed at least one member of the ESPN 300 in every class since 2011.

TEXAS
Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 8
The latest: The Longhorns reportedly offered Class of 2016 prospect Derrick Brown. The Sugar Hill (Georgia) Lanier defensive tackle is the No. 141 player in the ESPN Junior 300.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: It was a disappointing weekend on the field, but things could be looking up as the Red Raiders hosted several recruits, including elite receiver Tyron Johnson, the No. 24 player in the ESPN 300. Johnson tweeted that he enjoyed his Tech visit and would be a huge get for Kliff Kingsbury’s squad if he picks Tech. The four-star prospect from New Orleans Warren Easton has a large list of offers, including Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Alabama, Auburn and others.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 21
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: Dana Holgorsen’s squad leads the entire Big 12 in total commits with 21. Quarterback David Sills is easily the Mountaineers' most interesting commitment. You might remember him as the player who committed to Lane Kiffin and USC when he was in a 13-year-old in the seventh grade. He decommited from the Trojans earlier this year and plans to enroll at West Virginia in January.
Mississippi State's fast rise to No. 1 in the country will open even more doors for the Bulldogs in recruiting. Plus, even with all of Kentucky's success in Ohio, it couldn't stop the Buckeyes from taking away one of its commitments this weekend.

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Tim Beckman is 1-17 in Big Ten games and questions about his future has hindered the Illini's recruiting efforts. Plus, Georgia Tech has surprised both on the field and on the recruiting trial.


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ESPN 300: SEC's must-get recruits 

July, 30, 2014
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The SEC already has commitments from 77 prospects in the ESPN 300, but there are still several key targets available. Whether it's a current commit, a position of need or just the best available player, here is a look at the top must-get recruits for each SEC team.


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Big 12 recruiting scorecard

June, 2, 2014
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Here's the latest on recruiting around the Big 12 as we enter the summer camp season:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 9
ESPN 300 commits: 6
The latest: Baylor did not sign a quarterback for its 2014 class and has yet to find one for 2015, but Art Briles made a big move late Sunday night by accepting a commitment from 2016 quarterback Zach Smith of Grandview, Texas. The 6-foot-4 junior-to-be is the Bears' first verbal pledge for next year's class and looks like a perfect fit in his sophomore highlights -- a pocket passer with a big arm and an ability to execute in the read-option run game.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 1
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Cyclones are in good shape entering the summer with one of the more underrated defensive backs in the state of Texas, CB Darrell Miller of state champion Cedar Hill. He's expected to take an unofficial visit to Ames this summer and holds nearly a dozen other offers.

KANSAS
Total commits: 1
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: One in-state running back who's high on the Jayhawks' radar is Alex Barnes of Pittsburg. He reportedly clocked a 40-yard dash of 4.31 seconds at a combine this weekend and currently holds offers from KU, Minnesota, Rutgers and Tulsa. He's one guy worth keeping an eye on while Kansas still sits at one commit for 2015.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 1
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Kansas State might have its solution for filling the hole left by transferring QB Daniel Sams. Junior college standout Taylor Laird of Sacramento City Community College could be close to making a commitment and would join the program immediately, according to GoPowerCat.com. He was responsible for this wizardry, The Bouquet Pass, during his days at Oakmont (Calif.) High School.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 4
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Sooners have a chance to impress two big-time defensive talents from the state of Texas this month in ESPN 300 ILB Anthony Wheeler and three-star S Kahlil Haughton. Both are reportedly planning to visit Norman for OU camp, though neither is expected to participate. Oklahoma will be in a tough fight for both, but its coaching staff has to like its chances if both do show up for unofficial visits.

OKLAHOMA OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 5
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: One guy the Cowboys would love to get in camp this summer, and most likely will, is ESPN 300 OG Jalin Barnett. The No. 36 recruit in the ESPN 300 from Lawton, Okla., is the nation's top-rated guard and will play in the Under Armour All-America Game. He'll also make a return trip to check out the Sooners, and several out-of-state schools are fighting to get in the mix.

TCU
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: As TCU searches for its QB take in the 2015 class, don't sleep on Dallas Jesuit's Bo Schneider. The 6-3, 215-pound pocket passer picked up an offer from UCF on Friday and has quietly collected a few more good ones so far. TCU coaches did visit him this spring, so he is on the radar.

TEXAS
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 6
The latest: The event wasn't as star-studded as usual, but Texas hosted its first summer camp on Sunday and did get a few big names on campus, including 2017 LSU commit ATH Dylan Moses from Baton Rouge (La.) University Lab and 2016 DT Kendell Jones of nearby Killeen (Texas) Shoemaker. Moses, a 16-year-old phenom who already has been on the cover of ESPN The Magazine, has visited UT three times and wants to attend the Red River Showdown game against Oklahoma.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: If you thought this Texas Tech class was already off to a great start, it got even better this weekend when No. 1 rated WR Tyron Johnson named the Red Raiders his No. 1 school. The New Orleans Warren Easton stud is No. 26 in the ESPN 300 and is reportedly high on LSU and Oklahoma State as well. If Kliff Kingsbury and his coaches beat out the in-state Tigers for Johnson, that would be an incredible coup.


WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: The Mountaineers have hit the state of Florida hard this spring and that could yield another big pledge in three-star QB Lamar Jackson. The 6-3, 202-pound dual-threat quarterback from Boynton Beach, Fla., has West Virginia high on his list and it wouldn't be surprising if he ends up being WVU's top target at that position.

ESPN 300: Top Big 12 targets 

April, 16, 2014
4/16/14
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The spring evaluation period is upon us, and coaches are traveling and hosting spring games in an effort to evaluate and attract the nation’s elite prospects. Fortunately for coaches, roughly two-thirds of the players making up the 2015 ESPN 300 are still uncommitted. A large majority of those players are considering playing in the Big 12.

Here are five ESPN 300 players heavily targeted by Big 12 schools:


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