NCF On The Trail: Zach Whitley Jr.

Top position classes: LB 

February, 17, 2014
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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 Alabama Crimson Tide’s 2014 class fill just about every need on the board, and that includes linebacker. With designs on addressing pass rushing and the ability to play in space on the edge at outside 'backer in Nick Saban’s 3-4 scheme, Alabama signed the Nos. 1 and No. 2 outside linebackers in the country in No. 48 overall Christian Miller (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley) and No. 52 overall Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn), who is pound for pound of the best pure athletes in the 2014 cycle. The Crimson Tide added two more talented linebackers in ESPN 300’s No. 102 Shaun Dion Hamilton (Montgomery, Ala./Carver) and No. 281 Keith Holcombe (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Hillcrest). Hamilton is an MLB.

The Crimson Tide had the nation’s best linebacker class; here’s which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:

UCLA coach Jim Mora didn't take the Texas head coaching job, but that didn't stop him from making an impact in the Lone Star State, as the Bruins gained a commitment from ESPN 300 linebacker Zach Whitley Jr. (Houston/North Shore) on Friday night.

Whitley had been committed to Alabama since early May, but the Bruins -- led by assistant coach Adrian Klemm -- had been pushing hard for the nation's No. 189 overall prospect and No. 8 inside linebacker. Momentum truly began building for the Bruins when the four-star defender took an official visit to Westwood in early December.


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Texas A&M has 14 commits in the 2014 class, and the Aggies have done a good job of addressing needs at multiple positions. With seven months left until signing day, they are still pursuing plenty of players. Here's five positions where they could use another player or two in the class:

Defensive end: The Aggies are pursuing multiple defensive ends in the 2014 class and at the top of their want list is ESPN 300 defensive end Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/James Martin), the No. 1 prospect in Texas. They also have an offer out to ESPN 300 prospects Qualen Cunningham (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) and Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell) among others.

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It should come as no surprise that the University of Alabama’s 2014 recruiting class is littered with recruits in both the ESPN 150 and the new ESPN 300 rankings as the Crimson Tide are coming off back-to-back national championships. But the class received its biggest boost yet with a pair of commitments over the weekend.


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Tales from the Road: Alabama 

May, 29, 2013
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Each week, Tales From The Road provides news and updates about where Alabama’s coaches are recruiting and which prospects are getting noticed.


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Every Wednesday, Sam Khan Jr. will take a quick-hit look at some of the top recruits and storylines facing Texas A&M recruiting for the week.

This week’s targets: The Aggies are making sure to comb the state for linebackers now that one of their top targets at the position, 2014 inside linebacker Zach Whitley Jr., is committed elsewhere (Alabama). Spring (Texas) Klein Oak inside linebacker Josh Mabin and outside linebacker Ja'Von Shelley will get looks this week when linebackers coach Mark Hagen and defensive coordinator Mark Snyder are expected at the Panthers' spring game on Thursday. Hagen went by Klein Oak last week to see the pair. Texas A&M has also checked out 2014 Dallas South Oak Cliff defensive end Silvester Hayes, who could project as an outside linebacker and is someone the Aggies are evaluating.

Area of interest: The Aggies' efforts in Louisiana paid some dividends in the last recruiting class, as Texas A&M hauled in three prospects from the neighboring state in the 2013 class, including ESPN 300 cornerback Noel Ellis. So it shouldn't come as a surprise to see them targeting high-level prospects from the state in 2014. They're in the running for several notable kids from "The Boot," including five-star athlete Speedy Noil, ESPN 150 defensive tackle Gerald Willis III and four-star quarterback Brandon Harris. All 10 Aggies commits are Texas products, but expect them to stay in the hunt for those three Louisianans.

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Spring (Texas) Klein Oak High School has a handful of prospects in the 2014, 2015 and even the 2016 classes and plenty of college coaches have made their way to the school in the north Houston area to evaluate them this spring.

One of them is 2014 inside linebacker Josh Mabin, who continues to add schools to his offer list.


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Weekly Commitment Roundup

May, 10, 2013
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ACC
Boston College
Christian Lezzer | ILB |Clearfield, Pa./Clearfield
HT: 6-1 WT: 215
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Clemson
Milan Richard |TE-Y |Savannah, Ga./Calvary Baptist Day School
HT: 6-3 WT: 229
Position Rank: #2 TE-Y
Stars: 4

Maryland
Johnathan Thomas |RB |Peabody, Mass./Saint John's Prep
HT: 5-11 WT: 196
Position Rank: #35 RB
Stars: 4

Big 12
Iowa State
Victor Holmes |S |La Porte, Texas/La Porte
HT: 5-11 WT: 177
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending
De'Monte Ruth | CB | Dallas/Wilmer Hutchins
HT: 5-9 WT: 150
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Texas Tech
Byron Daniels | WR | San Antonio/James Madison
HT: 5-11 WT: 170
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Big East
Cincinnati
Hakeem Allonce | DT | Greenbelt, Md./Pierce College (JC)
HT: 6-5 WT: 290
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Louisville
De'Eric Culver | CB | Tallahassee, Fla./Godby
HT: 5-10 WT: 169
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Jared McCray | OT | Minford, Ohio/Minford
HT: 6-4 WT: 305
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Big Ten
Nebraska
Jason Hall | S |Grand Prairie, Texas/South Grand Prairie
HT: 6-2 WT: 192
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Northwestern
Auston Anderson | RB | Plano, Texas/Plano West
HT: 5-9 WT: 180
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Tommy Doles | OT | Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian
HT: 6-5 WT: 250
Position Rank: #47 OT
Stars: 3

Dareian Watkins | ATH | Galion, Ohio/Galion
HT: 6-1 WT: 195
Position Rank: #40 ATH
Stars: 4

Penn State
Daquan Worley | ATH | Coatesville, Pa./Coatesville
HT: 5-10 WT: 171
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Purdue
Trae Hart | WR | Dallas/First Baptist Academy
HT: 5-11 WT: 155
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Pac-12
Arizona State
Korey Rush | DE | Salt Lake City/East
HT: 6-2 WT: 240
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Stanford
Daniel Marx | FB | Mission Viejo, Calif./Mission Viego
HT: 6-3 WT: 238
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

USC
Austin Maloata | DT | Corona, Calif./Centennial
HT: 6-3 WT: 250
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Washington
Don Hill | DE | Boise, Idaho/Timberline
HT: 6-4 WT: 235
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

SEC
Alabama
Zach Whitley Jr. | ILB | Houston, Texas/North Shore
HT: 6-2 WT: 220
Position Rank: #9 ILB
Stars: 4

Mississippi State
Jamoral Graham | ATH | Decatur, Miss./Newton County Academy
HT: 5-11 WT: 180
Position Rank: #15 ATH
Stars: 4
ESPN 150 (#109)

Missouri
Kevin Pendleton | OT | Lee's Summit, Mo./Lee's Summit West
HT: 6-4 WT: 328
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

 
video
HOUSTON, Texas -- It's the first play of Zach Whitley Jr.'s favorite part of practice on a warm May afternoon in East Houston, and the 2014 linebacker is ready to hit somebody.

The Houston North Shore coaches gather their players together for some full-contact work in the second week of spring football practice. They have the offense and defense compete with best-on-best, first teamers taking on first teamers.


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LB Whitley commits to Alabama

May, 3, 2013
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Houston North Shore linebacker Zach Whitley Jr. originally wanted to take his time with the recruiting process. Even as late as last month, he said that he wanted to wait until his senior season was underway before making a commitment.

A visit to Alabama changed that.

The four-star linebacker committed to the Crimson Tide on Friday, according to North Shore recruiting coordinator Garrett Cross.

Whitley, the ninth-ranked inside linebacker in the country, had offers from Texas, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and TCU in addition to Alabama.

Earlier this year, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Whitley attended junior days at both Texas and Texas A&M but made his first trip to Alabama on April 20 for "A-Day." He is the sixth commitment in the 2014 class for the Crimson Tide and the second inside linebacker. Defense is a priority in this class for Alabama, with at least five of the six committed players projected to play on that side of the line of scrimmage.

ESPN scouts call Whitley a "tough, physical linebacker prospect who plays fast but disciplined in between the tackles." His trip to Tuscaloosa, Ala., was his first spring football game experience.

"He's what you look for in a linebacker," North Shore head coach David Aymond said. "All the attritbutes of a linebacker you want, he personifies. He has a commitment to working hard, believes the game to be physical, expects it to be physical around him. That's what you look for in a traditional linebacker -- dirty, grimy, physical and hard-working -- and that's what Zach is about. He works hard in the weight room and has good speed and quickness on the field."
HOUSTON -- When Houston North Shore linebacker Zach Whitley Jr. ventured to Austin for Texas' first junior day of the year, he quickly felt a sense of comfort.

The reason? The presence of two players he knows, two guys who came from the program he currently plays in.


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