NCF On The Trail: USC recruiting

Despite being one of the top programs in the nation, LSU still has some work to do to land one of the top junior prospects in the south.

Coaches from LSU visited Todd Kelly Jr. this week. However, the Watch List prospect from Knoxville (Tenn.) Webb said he's primarily focusing on his top ten finalists.

Long overdue for positive news, the USC Trojans finally got some Friday in the form of a commitment from highly coveted safety Leon McQuay III (Seffner, Fla./Armwood), live during the Under Armour All-America Game in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Quite frankly, USC needed this one.

[+] EnlargeLeon McQuay
Miller Safrit/ESPN.comThe exit of Trojans defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin didn't faze four-star safety Leon McQuay.
Following a recent rough stretch -- both in recruiting and on the field -- the addition of McQuay to a dwindling class is both significant and encouraging. If the Trojans plan to regain the momentum they built in the summer, securing a pledge from the nation's No. 3 safety is a good start.

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ESPN 150 S McQuay commits to USC

January, 4, 2013
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- After four prospects decommitted from the USC Trojans since the beginning of November, the Trojans have finally got some good news as ESPN 150 safety Leon McQuay III (Seffner, Fla./Armwood) verbally committed to USC tonight during the Under Armour All-America Game.

The 6-foot-2, 183-pound four-star athlete selected the Trojans over Florida State, Oregon, Vanderbilt and Michigan.

As a senior, McQuay totaled 54 tackles and five interceptions on defense. He also added five receptions for 137 yards and a touchdown on offense.

McQuay, the nation’s No. 3 safety and a starter in Friday's UA Game, is expected to enroll early at USC and be eligible to play spring football.

With McQuay's decision, the Trojans have 15 verbal commitments, including 10 who are members of the ESPN 150. Each of the 15 commitments is ranked as a four-star or higher.

ATH Redfield chooses Notre Dame

January, 4, 2013
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Notre Dame’s push continues for the No. 1 spot in the ESPN recruiting class rankings.

The Irish added a pledge tonight during the Under Armour All-America Game from Max Redfield of Mission Viejo, Calif., the nation’s No. 4 athlete and No. 36 prospect in the ESPN 150. Redfield again spurned Notre Dame rival USC, from which he decommitted in November, though he continued to consider the Trojans.

Notre Dame appeared in the lead for Redfield after he bolted from the Trojans. He spoke glowingly of the Irish after an October official visit to South Bend, Ind., to watch the Irish defeat Stanford in overtime.

His commitment is the 23rd for Notre Dame, which counts 10 members of the ESPN 150 in its Class of 2013. Redfield, the No. 3 prospect in California, ranks behind linebacker Jaylon Smith of Fort Wayne, Ind., and running back Greg Bryant of Delray Beach, Fla., on the Notre Dame list.

The Irish, after a 12-0 regular season that landed them in the BCS title game against Alabama at 8 p.m. ET Monday on ESPN, have gained momentum in recruiting. Bryant, No. 2 nationally at running back and 27th overall in the ESPN 150, joined the class in December. Tarean Folston, the nation’s No. 9 athlete from Cocoa, Fla., committed this week during practice sessions for the UA Game to vault Notre Dame to No. 2 in the class rankings, behind Alabama.

The 6-foot-2, 181-pound Redfield, who started in Friday's UA game and is projected to play safety in college, also had visited Washington and recently considered Ohio State.

The recruiting score is extra sweet for Notre Dame as it continues to watch the Trojans suffer. Redfield made an official visit to USC, which finished 7-6 this season with three straight losses -- including a 22-13 defeat in Los Angeles to Notre Dame on Nov. 24. He also gave his final home visit to USC coaches about three weeks ago, but it wasn’t enough to swing him back.

The Trojans have also endured the losses of WR commits Sebastian LaRue and Eldridge Massington and defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, sending USC from the top spot to No. 5 in the class rankings.

Meanwile, Notre Dame pushes forward. A win Monday over Alabama would only further aid the Irish’s quest to surpass the Crimson Tide.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -– Five-star defensive end Carl Lawson (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton) has been committed to Auburn since March. After Gene Chizik was let go and replaced by former Tigers offensive coordinator Guz Malzahn earlier this month, schools lined up to try and get Lawson on campus. If he had his way he would oblige as many of his suitors as possible.

“I would like to visit Clemson, Tennessee, FSU, UCLA, USC, UNC and Ole Miss, but realistically the five I visit might be Clemson, Tennessee, Ole Miss, UNC and USC,” Lawson said.


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ESPN 150 S McQuay set to decide Friday 

December, 30, 2012
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- ESPN 150 safety Leon McQuay III (Seffner, Fla./Armwood) will be making his college decision at the Under Armour All-America Game on Friday.


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ESPN 150 CB Ramsey talks final visit 

December, 20, 2012
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Tennessee is working hard to get back in the race for ESPN 150 cornerback and USC Trojans commit Jalen Ramsey (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood Academy). Apparently, it's going to take a lot more work.

The Volunteers have put the hard press on the No. 1 prospect in the state. Ramsey said he has spoken to new UT coach Butch Jones, running backs coach Jay Graham, defensive coordinator Willie Martinez and tight ends coach Mark Elder since the group was hired this month.

Jones was hired to replace Derek Dooley, who was fired after the 2012 season, and Dooley never had a strong connection with Ramsey. Unlike Dooley, Jones has a history of success at various programs.

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S Malcolm Cook re-opens recruitment 

December, 5, 2012
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Malcolm Cook (Fork Union, Va./Fork Union) hasn't officially decommitted from Virginia following the firing of four assistants, but the safety said he's re-opening his recruitment.

In the last 48 hours, the prospect has received 11 offers and entertained visits and phone calls from the likes of Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State and USC. He planned to speak with the Trojans after basketball practice Wednesday, and he chatted in-person with Penn State assistant Charles London on Tuesday.

"It doesn't really matter to me about other schools looking at me," he said, when asked whether this new attention was a consolation. "The reason I committed to Virginia was because of the defensive coordinator, Coach [Jim] Reid. So I was really hurt by Coach Reid not being there.

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After hosting two official visitors last week, Texas A&M will host two more this weekend when the Aggies meet Arkansas at Kyle Field. One of them is a defensive tackle target they've had in the crosshairs for some time, Dallas Kimball's Justin Manning.

Manning originally planned to make an unofficial visit to campus when the Aggies hosted Florida in their season opener Sept. 8, but he had a conflict, needing to take his ACT that day. Now he will arrive Saturday for an official visit.

[+] EnlargeJustin Manning
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comESPN 150 defensive tackle Justin Manning wants to get a better feel for Texas A&M this weekend.
The 6-foot-2, 275-pound Manning is a four-star prospect, the eighth-ranked defensive tackle in the 2013 class and 89th overall in the ESPN 150.

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Louisville (Ky.) Trinity defensive end and Jason Hatcher committed to USC two months ago and is adamant that he is solid to the Trojans, but the ESPN 300 prospect wants to take all five of his official visits.

Hatcher, ranked the nation's No. 288 overall recruit by ESPN, committed to USC over Florida, Louisville and Tennessee, and he plans to visit two of those other programs. One more school is definitely in the running, and he is looking for a fourth to complete his five visits, with USC getting the last one.

"I've been talking to Florida. I know I'll probably go up to Ohio State. I know I'm going to USC. Those are the only ones I know for sure," he said. "I'll probably go to Tennessee as well."

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Niko Johnson (Richmond, Va./Hermitage) is hoping his efforts last weekend will jump start his recruitment. They should.

Against Fork Union (Va.) Military, the sophomore quarterback completed 11 of 20 passes for 151 yards and three touchdowns while gaining 74 yards on nine rushing attempts and was a standout defensive back in Hermitage's 38-0 rout. Best of all, it happened on national television.

“I think it will help a lot,” Johnson said. “I feel that it has basically put me on the radar when it comes to being recruited.”

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Schools are fighting to get in with five-star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla./Columbia), but only five programs will be lucky enough to host the No. 3 prospect in the country for an official visit this fall.

“I will be taking official visits to Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss and USC,” Tunsil said.

Three of the programs made the cut because of their history.

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ESPN 150 safety Tray Matthews (Newnan, Ga./Newnan) readily admits he is torn. He is caught between the weight of his commitment to the University of Georgia and his vow to play college football with his best friend, linebacker Reuben Foster (Auburn, Ala./Auburn), who, after being committed to Alabama for nearly a year, switched his commitment last month to Auburn University.

For Matthews, the most convenient solution would be for Foster to decommit from the Tigers and join him at Georgia.

“That is not going to happen,” Matthews said.

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Cornerback prospect Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen) is one of two 2014 prospects competing at the Champions Gridiron Kings this weekend.


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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Four-star USC running back commit Justin Davis (Stockton, Calif./Lincoln) of the West team left an afternoon game at the Champion Gridiron Kings event with a lower leg injury.


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