NCF On The Trail: Tyron Johnson

ESPN 300: SEC's must-get recruits 

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
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.

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

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

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.

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.

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.

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 He was responsible for this wizardry, The Bouquet Pass, during his days at Oakmont (Calif.) High School.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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
Apr 16
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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When he was first hired, Les Miles said one of the key ingredients for success at LSU was to win the local recruiting battles. Through the years, Miles has done a masterful job of doing just that. But in the past few classes, some LSU fans have complained after watching highly-ranked prospects such as Landon Collins, Tim Williams, Cameron Robinson, Laurence Jones and Speedy Noil end up at Alabama or Texas A&M.

Never mind that the Tigers landed Leonard Fournette, the nation’s No. 1 player in 2014, and five of the top 10 Louisiana players in both 2013 and 2014. All fans wanted to focus on were the setbacks. They shouldn’t.

LSU and Miles continue to be the kings of The Pelican State and continued to prove it Wednesday with the additions of two local ESPN Junior 300 prospects. The Tigers added pledges from St. Francisville (La.) West Feliciana four-star receiver Jazz Ferguson and Mandeville (La.) Lakeshore four-star running back David Ducre.

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Recruits Watching: Texas A&M at LSU 

November, 22, 2013
The big game in the SEC this week is the battle in Baton Rouge between No. 12 Texas A&M and No. 22 LSU. As expected with the Top 25 showdown featuring Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, a laundry list of top prospects the two programs are recruiting and battling for are expected to be in attendance.

1. RB Leonard Fournette (New Orleans, La./Saint Augustine High): The nation's No. 1 prospect is a possibility to attend Saturday's game unofficially. Any time the Tigers take the field against quality opponent is big for LSU in their recruitment, and this is no different. Fournette continues to have LSU and Alabama highest on his list, but Texas A&M is a school he has considered during the process. Fournette visited Texas last weekend and attended the LSU-Alabama game in Tuscaloosa with his family two weekends ago.

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A&M finds success in Louisiana

November, 19, 2013
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- When it comes to the presence schools have in their respective home states, few are stronger than LSU in the state of Louisiana.

The Tigers' success, conference affiliation and game day atmosphere are just a few of the unique advantages for natives of the Pelican State.

[+] EnlargeDarian Claiborne
Michael Chang/Getty ImagesTexas A&M freshman Darian Claiborne (48) took over the middle linebacker job before the fourth game of the season.
Port Allen (Louisiana) High School head coach Guy Blanchard vividly remembers the emotions of one of his players, Darian Claiborne, when LSU took a tough loss early in 2012.

"When Darian was in January of his junior year (of high school) and LSU lost the national championship game to Alabama, you would have thought his best friend died the next day at school," Blanchard said. "He was a big LSU fan. You can't grow up in Southeast Louisiana and not have some kind of attachment or an eye on the prize, however you want to say it, [to LSU]."

Claiborne, a true freshman, is now the starting middle linebacker for No. 12 Texas A&M, which heads to Death Valley on Saturday to play No. 22 LSU. But Port Allen is fewer than seven miles from the LSU campus, so it's understandable how he could have envisioned a future with the Bayou Bengals.

But Texas A&M’s staff developed a strong relationship with Claiborne, a three-star prospect. Furthermore, the Aggies made a strong impression and made it clear they wanted him while LSU didn’t officially extend an offer. The Aggies’ diligence paid off because Claiborne has played a key part on the A&M defense.

In recent years, Texas A&M has had success recruiting the state of Louisiana. Texas is and will continue to be the home base for Texas A&M recruiting for good reason -- it's fertile recruiting ground that most colleges attempt to pick from, because of the vast number of players and caliber of talent the state produces. But Louisiana is also known for producing high-caliber recruits as well and head coach Kevin Sumlin has made sure to make "The Boot" part of his recruiting footprint.

Currently, the Aggies have nine players that are from Louisiana on the roster and all of them are on the Aggies' two deep. Some of them have been recruited by the current staff, others are holdovers from the previous staff, but all of them currently contribute on the field.

All nine are defensive players and five of them are regular starters: Claiborne, defensive back Deshazor Everett, defensive ends Julien Obioha, safety Floyd Raven and defensive end Gavin Stansbury. The others have played key roles: true freshman cornerback Noel Ellis has seen significant time in recent weeks and is the Aggies' future at the nickel cornerback position. Cornerback Tramain Jacobs started six games this season while the Aggies' dealt with injuries in the secondary and has been a reliable rotation player among the cornerbacks. True freshman linebacker Shaan Washington has found his way onto the field in a special teams capacity but also saw time at linebacker early in the year and defensive tackle Ivan Robinson has been a part of the rotation at his position when healthy.

[+] EnlargeDeshazor Everett
AP Photo/Bob LeveyDeshazor Everett, another Louisiana native, was recruited my Mike Sherman's staff but has been the Aggies' most reliable defensive back.
There's no doubt the Aggies have received bang for their buck with the "Louisianimals," the term former Texas A&M center Patrick Lewis coined for his fellow Louisiana products last season. Claiborne and Everett have been arguably the Aggies' best defensive players this season. Everett has done whatever the Texas A&M coaches have asked, whether it's playing safety while Raven was injured or going back to his traditional position of cornerback, while playing with a broken thumb early in the year. Claiborne got the starting job at middle linebacker -- which is not his traditional position -- before the fourth game of the season and hasn't let go of it.

Stansbury has emerged as a playmaker while Obioha and Raven have each been a steady presence at their respective positions.

Even when he was at Houston, where the Cougars put their primary focus on their own city, Sumlin's staff would travel across the border to recruit talent out of Louisiana. But in the SEC it's a different story, because the caliber of player Texas A&M is searching for is often the same that LSU is trying to keep in state.

With the Tigers being the signature program in Louisiana, it makes it all the more difficult to pull a kid out of the state when LSU wants him.

The Aggies are experiencing that in their early SEC years. In this recruiting cycle, the Aggies are going after some of Louisiana's finest, like ESPN 300 athlete Speedy Noil and ESPN 300 defensive end Gerald Willis III. The Aggies are also trying to make inroads with the top 2015 prospects from the state, like receiver Tyron Johnson.

All have LSU offers and the battle for Noil and Willis III has been hotly contested and will be until signing day approaches.

But the Aggies have found success in recruiting prospects from the state that might have been overlooked or not as heavily pursued. If those players continue to play like Claiborne, the in-state powerhouse will start taking notice.

"Yeah, we've run across them at times," said LSU coach Les Miles of seeing A&M recruiting in Louisiana. "We recognize some of the [players] that they have there, and we wish them the very best. It's an opportunity to play in this league, and we're for that."

Electric A&M atmosphere charges recruits 

September, 15, 2013
Not only was Saturday's Alabama-Texas A&M game amazing to watch for fans in attendance and watching on television, but the game and atmosphere resonated with prospects.

One of the top prospects in attendance on the star-studded list was junior running back Soso Jamabo (Plano, Texas/Plano West High). The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Jamabo, the No. 18 prospect in the ESPN Junior 300, left College Station, Texas, with terrific things to say about the experience.

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#AskLoogs: Scouting 2015 receivers

September, 11, 2013
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.

Well, he is No. 3 in the ESPN Junior 300 and it is really early in the process. I can’t stress enough how careful you need to be when trying to base what you think you know about a player entirely on one summer event that is not padded or game-like in its overall nature. Camps and combines are a supplement to film evaluation. These early evaluations are done off of sophomore tape when prospects are 15 years old. There is so much more to be done on our behalf as well as the players as the evaluation process continues. Guys are going to grow, get faster (for some), fill out and provide junior film for us to evaluate this fall. WRs Tyron Johnson, De’Vante Phillips and DaMarkus Lodge, along with Kirk, are all worthy at this early stage of being No. 1 at their position. Another five or so prospects behind them are worthy as well. It’s a long time between now and February 2015.

2015 ESPN 300 targets: LSU 

July, 16, 2013
BATON ROUGE, La. -- With the release of the the ESPN 300 for 2015, it's easy to see that while LSU won't have quite as much access to local, high-end prospects as it does in the 2014 cycle. However, the Tigers can still put together an elite recruiting class with the bulk of its players coming from Louisiana. Here's an early look at who might be LSU's top targets.

Kevin Toliver
Derek Tyson/ESPNKevin Toliver, the brother of former LSU receiver Terrence Toliver, has the look of a prototype cornerback.
1. CB Kevin Toliver II (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian)
6-foot-1, 183 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 2

The brother of former LSU wide receiver Terrence Toliver and LSU's first commitment in the 2015 class, Kevin is ideal for just the opposite role his older brother played. At 6-1, with long arms, fluid hips and exceptional speed, Toliver has the skill set to possibly be the most talented LSU cornerback prospect since Patrick Peterson, which is saying something considering the enormous talents the Tigers annually attract to the position.

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