Tag:Arkansas
Posted on: March 8, 2012 3:43 pm
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3/8 Recruiting Roundup

Posted by Bryan Fischer

- MaxPreps breaks down the top offensive linemen in the class of 2014 and the state of North Carolina in 2013.

Arkansas added a late signee to their 2012 class in wide receiver Mekale McKay.

Mike McCray's commitment might be the first of many for Michigan.

 Offensive lineman Richy Klepal picked up an offer from UConn.

 More on Notre Dame's pick up of offensive lineman Jacob Matuska.

 Tight end Adam Breneman would fit into the Penn State offense well.

 Should Georgia try a package deal to land top recruit Robert Nkemdiche.


Posted on: March 6, 2012 11:22 am
 

3/6 Recruiting Roundup

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Alabama has only pros and no cons according to the #1 recruit in 2013, Robert Nkemdiche.

Kerry Coombs leaving Cincinnati for Ohio State has shaken up recruiting in the state a little.

 Florida and Florida State are the top two for linebacker Stacy Thomas.

 Linebacker Mike McCray could pick Michigan this weekend.

 Deion Sanders Jr. is bypassing signing with Houston or North Texas to go to prep school in Atlanta.

 From UCLA to Alabama, the offers are rolling in for Eddie Vanderdoes.

 High school coaches had good things to say when talking about Penn State's new head coach Bill O'Brien.

 Running back Eric Harrell picked up his first offer from Kansas.

Commitments

 Ole Miss closed out their 2012 class with cornerback Anthony Standifier and added their third commit in 2013 in wide receiver Dannon Cavil.

 Linebacker Reggie Spearman committed to Indiana.

 Receiver Austin Bennett pledged to Arkansas over the weekend.

 Running back Chase Abbington is staying in state after committing to Missouri.

Posted on: March 3, 2012 11:52 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2012 11:55 pm
 

New Level 7-on-7 Day One Updates

Posted by Bryan Fischer

ROSWELL, Ga. -- The recruiting landscape shifted into a higher gear on Saturday as hundreds of players from as far away as Michigan descended upon Centennial High School in suburban Atlanta for the first New Level Athletics Elite 7-on-7 tournament of the year. With 18 teams taking part, the event drew some of the top talent from across the country to show off their skills and allowed several to make a name for themselves, hoping that will translate into scholarship offers down the road.

One player who needed no introduction was Marietta (Ga.) running back and Alabama commitment Tyren Jones. Easily among the 10 best players in the state after a terrific junior year, the speedster was the focal point of Team Georgia's offense as they fought their way out of the round-robin format that made up day one.

"Some people might know who I am but I'm not really worried about it," Jones said. "I just want to go out here and help my team win."

Although he is a multi-purpose back, Jones lined up at receiver for the day and looked like a natural. Though he looks like more a guy that would be utilized out of the slot, he typically was found on the outside against the opposition's top cornerback and still had little trouble finding soft spots in coverage or beating his man deep.

"I just want to prove that I can catch the ball well," he said. "I'm lining up to play receiver even though I'm a running back."

The 5-foot-9, 200-pounder's commitment to the Crimson Tide came after attending a recent Junior Day in Tuscaloosa and picking up an offer from head coach Nick Saban. While the timing surprised a few folks, Jones liked what the program was offering and feels his talents will mesh extremely well within the offense.

"It wasn't really a pitch, they just told me that I fit really well into their system and their system really fits me," he said. "They said I'm an all-purpose running back and that's what they need at Alabama. They watched film and saw me split out some an basically said I'm going to come out of the backfield and catch the ball."

Jones was particularly impressed with the facilities and was sold on how well the program took care of the players in terms of nutrition and weightlifting. Although some might be deterred at Alabama signing the top recruiting class seemingly every year, the tailback is looking forward to the competition and thinks the class of 2013 might come in as the best of the past few years anyway.

"I think it's something special this year," Jones said. "We can win some more national championships. They don't really brag about (winning national titles) but they know they have the talent and the recruiting to win another.

Still, that hasn't stopped a few programs from continuing to make their pitch with plenty of time between now and Signing Day.

"Purdue, Florida and I'd say Georgia," he said of programs still recruiting him hard. "They're all still talking to me and sending letters."

Jones' 7-on-7 teammate - and Georgia commit - Shaquille Wiggins was not with the squad because he was in Athens for the Bulldogs' Junior Day but will return for the championship round on Sunday. The addition not only gives the group a top cornerback but somebody that has been very open about his program being the one everybody should be looking at. Although Jones' recent pledge to Alabama is strong, he still hears it from Wiggins despite him being a bit of a recruiter himself.

"Not really, I talk to him every once and a while but it's not too much," Jones said. "I'm really (recruiting teammate) Brandon Kublanow to come down with me. Other than that, I'm talking to friends and trying to make sure Reuben Foster stays (committed). He's real excited but it sounds like he's going to stay with Alabama."

While recruiting will sort itself out for others, Jones will turn his attention to the field on Sunday with hopes of doing something he's planning on doing a lot in college: winning.

Kamara is cold and hot at the same time

One of Michael Jordan's most memorable games in a career full of them was Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals. Most remember it simply as 'The Flu Game.'

While the stakes were significantly (significantly) less on the fields Saturday, Norcross (Ga.) running back Alvin Kamara was channeling his inner-Jordan. Under the weather with flu-like systems he was still one of the fastest players at the event and helped contribute several big plays and victories for Georgia Elite.

"I'm trying to hang in there I'm so sick," Kamara said. "I dropped a few balls. But I'm bouncing back, we'll have to see with these next games."

On top of a fever and his skin a few shades lighter than what it normally is, the cheerful Kamara also was dealing with the opposition's best shot. As one of several players with multiple FBS offers, he had a bit of a target on his back while he was running routes and catching passes.

"A little bit," he said. "Some guys see me and say, 'Oh he's got all these offers and blah, blah, blah.' But that's just going to make me play harder."  

The cold and windy conditions in the Atlanta area were pretty much the opposite of Kamara's recruitment. Holding just a single offer, from Syracuse, at the Rising Seniors Bowl right before New Year's, the 5-foot-10, 190-pounder has turned into one of the hottest prospects in the country.

"It's been crazy," he said. "From one to eleven. It's just crazy."

HIs most recent offer came from the opposite coast and USC, with plenty of other schools close to extending an one. He doesn't have a top group of schools but there have still been a few that have stuck out in his mind and are recruiting him the hardest.

"Alabama and Georgia are up there," he said. "Everybody heard the story about Alabama. With Georgia, their coaches keep up with me real well."

'The story' about Alabama stems from the fact that the school sent him 105 recruiting letters. In one day.

The memorable recruiting strategy certainly left a mark in the running back's mind even if he held the Crimson Tide in high esteem beforehand.

"It was wild, they just fell out of my mailbox and I wasn't even expecting it," Kamara said. "My mom went wild. She was like, 'Can they do that?'"

Kamara doesn't have any unofficial visits planned and isn't counting on going to any junior days in the next few weeks either. In many ways, he's just going with the flow of the recruiting process that he's seen pick up very quickly. Wisconsin and Oklahoma State might be close to adding to his total of offers and while he will add them to his growing pile, Kamara is evaluating all of them based on what he's looking for in a program before making a commitment.

"Just a school that feels like home, coaches that I get along with and somewhere I can just feel like I belong," he said. "I want to fit in. I'm going to make my decision whenever it feels right. I don't have a time frame."

While his timetable for a commitment is still up in the air, Kamara is interested in seeing things outside of his hometown and that means he'll take visits even if he knows where he wants to go.

"I want to get to everywhere I can and see everything," he said. "I don't want to miss anything. Even if I (commit), I definitely will take (official visits)."

Cheek checks in with Cal

Lawrenceville (Ga.) defensive back Trevellous 'Tre' Cheek was one of the standouts from the first day of competition at the NLA Elite 7-on-7. His play between the lines might have had something to do with his good day outside of them after picking up his first offer from California.

"I've always wanted to go to a (school like) Cal," Cheek said. "They're a great school and great at football too. I have family about an hour away."

While it might sound strange for a Georgia corner to be familiar with the Bears and hold them in high regard, there's a reason he is already planning on a visit out West. Cheek has talked with several members of the team already in order to get to know the program better, including McDonough (Ga.) defensive back Avery Sebastian, a 2011 signee from the area. As a result of being the first to offer, Cal has a slight edge at the moment over other schools - including his childhood favorite.

"I grew up a Florida fan since I can remember. I was brought up that way," Cheek said. "Cal beat them (with an offer) though. That first offer is kind of special. Coach (Ashley) Ambrose is a good guy."

The 5-foot-10, 165-pound Cheek attended Kentucky's Junior Day last week and enjoyed the trip to see what the Wildcats had to offer. On his way back home, he stopped by Louisville, where their Junior Day had already ended but the coaching staff waited around for his arrival and to talk to him. Cheek believes both are close to offering and is hearing more from Clemson and Arkansas. He will head to the Tiger's April 14th Junior Day and based on the amount of attention schools are giving him, it figures that won't be the only visit Cheek will take this spring.

"West Virginia is close, coach (Daron) Roberts has been talking to me," Cheek said. "Tennessee (receivers coach Darin Hinshaw) said they'll offer me but he was waiting for Coach (Derek) Dooley to sign off on it and it might take a little time. But I'm looking forward to that one."

Though there were no really big wide receivers at the event, Cheek handled just about everyone with ease on Saturday. He often played press coverage and had no problem turning to run after getting a good jam on the line of scrimmage. His ability to play up close to the offense, Cheek said, is one of the reasons several coaching staffs have been talking to him quite a bit.

"Just about everybody is talking to me as a corner," he said. "Most of the coaches I spoke with said that I've very physical and they haven't seen cornerbacks like that. They think that since I'm a very physical corner, they can teach the coverage part. They can teach that, they can't teach the (physicality)."

With an offer from Cal in his back pocket and plenty more sure to come, Cheek's recruitment should be one to follow on the road to Signing Day. At the moment, he has no issues leaving the state to play college football and is looking more at the school than its location.

"Oh no," he said with a big smile and laugh. "As long as I'm getting an education. I want to major in physical therapy and minor in broadcasting or communication."

Posted on: February 27, 2012 3:41 pm
 

Big OL Kent Perkins commits to Texas

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Texas has been on a roll as of late and kept it going by reaching a double-digit number of commitments on Monday as Dallas (Texas) offensive lineman Kent Perkins pledged to the Horns to give the program their biggest recruit - literally and figuratively - in their young class.

The 6-foot-5, 300-pound Perkins was named a MaxPreps Top Junior and is one of the best at the tackle position in the state and the Southwest. He held early offers from Arkansas, Baylor, LSU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M but is set to go to Austin to play college football after picking up one from Texas over the weekend at Junior Day.

Perkins is the 10th commitment for the Longhorns' class of 2013 and second offensive lineman, joining Celina (Texas) athlete Jake Raulerson.


Posted on: February 27, 2012 11:39 am
 

2/27 Recruiting Roundup

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Family appeal could help Ole Miss with top recruit Robert Nkemdiche.

 Nick Saban tried to steal a Georgia commit but the Alabama head coach was rebuffed.

 Auburn had a good Junior Day and now leads for quarterback Jeremy Johnson.

 Top offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil will visit Arkansas in the spring or for a game during the season.

 Penn State's name is popping up everywhere on the recruiting trail.

 USC signee Nelson Agholor can throw it down on the basketball court.

 Torii Hunter Jr. will take a look at UCLA's football program.

 Linebacker Garrett Dooley committed to Wisconsin.

Michigan State added two players for 2013 over the weekend in R.J. Shelton and Jalyn Powell.
Posted on: February 21, 2012 3:43 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 5:18 pm
 

Davonte Neal ends the drama, commits to ND

Posted by Bryan Fischer

You can finally close the book on the class of 2012.

The country's lone remaining uncommitted top 100 recruit, Scottsdale (Ariz.) athlete Davonte Neal, ended all of the late drama and committed to Notre Dame after a no-show to a ceremony Tuesday morning.

“Deciding on a college is one of the toughest decisions a young player makes in his life, so we are very pleased with Davonte’s decision to attend Notre Dame,” Brian Kelly said in a school release confirming Neal had faxed in his letter of intent. “Davonte was an electric playmaker in high school and was capable of making the big play any time he had the ball in his hands. He excelled as a receiver, as a running back and as a returner for Coach (Charlie) Ragle at Chaparral High School. I imagine we’ll use him in a similar fashion here.”

The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Neal can play either cornerback or slot receiver but will likely wind up taking snaps on the offensive side of the ball at the next level. His recruitment was kept under the radar for most of 2011 before heating up with late official visits and multiple suitors coming in late to make their pitch. In the end, he delayed his decision 20 days after Signing Day to pick Notre Dame over his other finalists Arizona, Arkansas and North Carolina.

Neal was named a MaxPreps first-team All-American as a defensive back while topping the 1,000-yard mark in total offense to go with 35 touchdowns last season as a senior. Many believed he would stay close to home because of numerous ties to Arizona, including the fact that his high school coach, Rangel, was hired by new head coach Rich Rodriguez before Signing Day and several of his teammates are committed to the program.

Bottom line however, the Irish are getting a great player who is ranked as the number four wingback and 67th overall player in the country.

"He is a receiver who must be double-teamed at all times," analyst Tom Lemming said of Neal. "He comes off the ball quickly with speed and strength, gets in and out of his cuts quickly, catches the ball, and then turns up field in a flash. He always takes what the defense gives him, can catch the ball at its highest points, and once he has secured the ball that's when the fun starts. He can out run almost every back he goes up against and shows excellent open field moves."

Neal's pledge gives Notre Dame 17 commitments for the class of 2012.


Posted on: February 21, 2012 2:29 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 7:30 pm
 

Davonte Neal a no-show at own announcement

Posted by Bryan Fischer

I have the tab still open, ready to go at a moment's notice, with a commitment story about Scottsdale (Ariz.) athlete Davonte Neal. I don't know when I'm going to be able to post it or what school will ultimately follow "committed to" in the opening paragraph, but it's there.

In case you haven't heard, the Scottsdale Chaparral receiver/defensive back left plenty of people confused and, in an apt metaphor for the situation, standing at the altar Tuesday morning. He was supposed to announce his commitment on FoxSportsArizona.com in front of thousands on the Internet and a couple of hundred elementary kids in his hometown. He didn't show up but instead showed us a little bit about the drama of the modern day recruiting process. The way things are going, you half expect TNT to sign him up to commit on their air tomorrow.

Neal has waited 20 days after Signing Day because he wanted to take his time, make the right decision for himself and his family and commit to a school he truly wants to be at. At the heart of the issue, according to reports and sources, is the head-strong Neal clashing with his equally head-strong father over where exactly he'll be signing papers to play at. Most say the recruit wants to go to Arizona to play close to home and fit in Rich Rodriguez' spread offense while his dad Luke has pushed for Notre Dame. Arkansas and North Carolina are also considered finalists, followed by Stanford and Ohio State.

And for all that has surrounded Neal's recruitment, this will all come down to a decision by a talented young athlete. It will be made, people will move on and we'll see how he does this fall and for the next four years.

People follow recruiting not because they are really interested in the player but because the impact they can have on programs - especially their own. Recruitniks see the circus surrounding Neal and shrug their shoulders, filing the story away as just another one in the long list of unexpected twists that happen year after year. Columnists and beat writers, who check in a few times a year to write about recruiting, wave their fists. Fans get upset, angry and a select few might raise an eyebrow but couldn't give a damn. Hopefully they'll all learn that this is recruiting and it's not abnormal but very much part of the norm nowadays.

We've seen recruits delay their decision after Signing Day before. We've seen hat dances and live animal acts. Clothes have been ripped off and players rushed to a nearby car after making a crowd angry with their decision. Some kids see it as a game and enjoy their 15 minutes of fame and they're going to use every last second of it. They're wanted as recruits, they're just a number - with some expectations attached of course - when they step on campus. Nobody is at fault except those that care far too much about the whims of a teenager.

The ground the game is played on is still shifting. Major media companies are making investments in recruiting coverage which means more players and storylines in the spotlight. Twitter and Facebook has changed what information gets passed around and how quickly it gets from 1 to 100 to 1,000. It's fun, it's exciting, it's trying and above all interesting. Heck, coaches are offering athletes on Twitter and not-so-smartly tweeting out their cell phone numbers as well. Shaq Thompson enjoyed toying with fans during the Army All-American Bowl and extended the drama when he had the opportunity to assess things differently after top recruiter Tosh Lupoi went from Cal to Washington.

It's a bold new era and like it or not we're all just going to have to roll with the punches.

Neal is a talented player and many think he can be a dynamic scorer on offense in college or a very good corner on defense. He is smart, nice and a competitor with a drive to be a great player. Across the country last summer, Neal showed up for camps and only wanted to go against the best in order to prove he was the best. No matter what happens, that will serve him well as a player and young man.

Don't place blame for the saga on Neal, he will eventually do what he has to do. What he did Tuesday will be part of his story but it doesn't have to define him. We'll see where he winds up committing to soon and figure out what it means then. For now we'll just wait.

The elementary students at Neal's no-show were no doubt happy to miss class this morning. Based on the looks on their faces, they were probably more disappointed in having to go back to class than not seeing a football player make a decision.

They did end up learning a lesson, as did everybody watching - recruiting means turns when you're expecting twists and drama when you least expect it. Don't fret, just nod, at least it's not you on the other side of the lens.

Update: Neal committed to Notre Dame

Photo by Chris Pondy


Posted on: February 20, 2012 5:12 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 5:39 pm
 

Monday Mailbag - Sooners, Aggies and Davonte Neal



Posted by Bryan Fischer


Starting a new feature on the blog as the recruiting season picks up and spring ball starts across the country: The Monday Mailbag. My colleague Bruce Feldman runs a similar feature on Friday that is a must-read but there are plenty of questions out there that need answering and, well, I'm here to answer them since college football is very much a 24/7/365 sport nowadays. So without further ado, let the smorgasbord of questions commence.
Great start to the mailbag because it's a chance to bring up Dennis Dodd and Brett McMurphy's early top 25 ballots. I'm sure there's some griping from plenty of fans about how both have the order but I pretty much see eye-to-eye on most of the picks. To answer the question, I see a few teams that are a tad over-hyped going into next year, starting with Oklahoma, especially at number three overall. Are they top-10 worthy? Absolutely with 15 starters coming back and quarterback Landry Jones among them. But the way they struggled down the stretch last season was worrisome, especially with the injuries to Dominique Whaley and Ryan Broyles and how the offense just wasn't the same. I'm guessing the coaching staff will put more emphasis on spreading the ball around and hope for a boost in the run game with all of the tailbacks healthy to provide more consistency. Don't discount the loss of defensive coordinator Brent Venables either, the guys were not around for when Mike Stoops was and he didn't recruit them so it will take a little time to develop some chemistry. With plenty of time to study it, I don't think the 'Belldozer' package will be as effective as it was in 2011 unless there's more passing to keep defenses honest.

One other factor that should be noted is it'll be a tough Big 12 this year with newcomers TCU and West Virginia both having good teams on top of rival Texas taking what should be a step forward this year. It's possible the Sooners have a better team than last year but doesn't mean they'll be able to take advantage. I also expect several of the incoming recruits to see extended playing time, especially among the tight ends and receivers (I'd guess Taylor McNamara and Durron Neal for sure) Stoops signed.

A few others that are a tad over-hyped: Wisconsin, Florida, Oklahoma State and Notre Dame. Under appreciated? You're looking at TCU, Kansas State, Nebraska and South Carolina.
Great timing for this question considering what the Aggies did on the recruiting trail over the weekend. Seven commitments is an impressive number and pushes the program to a nation's best 13 total commitments for the class of 2013. After already grabbing a top 15 class with the group they just signed, Kevin Sumlin and his staff have certainly hit the ground running. It helps tremendously that several of the coaches came over from Houston and had already been evaluating some of these recruits and developed a prior relationship. One of the things that I got when talking with Sumlin last month was that he certainly would make it a point to sell the fact that A&M was the only SEC program in the state. While Texas will almost always have the pick of the litter when it comes to in-state guys, you can tell recruits going forward will give a longer look at playing in College Station because of that. With the 2013 class, they have two excellent offensive linemen who are two of the top five or ten guys along the line in the state and they have a handful of speedy playmakers on both sides of the ball committed as well. Bottom line is that the program has jumped out to a big start and probably should be able to hold on and better what they did on Signing Day in 2012.

Darrell, surely you know by now not to go against the great Les Miles. The Mad Hatter had a great team last year that went through a lot off the field that some people forget. I think the national title game helped, in some respects, prepare this team for 2012 because it tempered expectations a little and also gave them a reason for the team to think, 'it's us vs. them,' in some respect.

I'm like most writers and have LSU #1 based on what they return and disagree that they lose "key" players so that prohibits them from taking the top spot in the preseason. It could be, for example, a positive that the rotation of Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson is over and the Tigers stick with talented transfer Zach Mettenberger, who many expect to grab hold of the job this spring.

LSU returns only five starters on defense but they rotated so many players in last season that I don't think it will be an issue for them as younger players like Anthony Johnson get more snaps. Incoming freshmen like Avery Johnson - Patrick Peterson's younger brother mind you - should be able to contribute early on special teams and offense to complement the strong run game the team should have. The national championship game really colored a lot of people's opinion of LSU the wrong way and it's sometimes good to remember that there's a lot of talent on this squad.
Neal is referring to Scottsdale (Ariz.) athlete Davonte Neal, who will be committing to a school Tuesday morning. His recruitment has been an interesting one, not only waiting nearly a month after Signing Day to pick but because of all the twists and turns he's taken. First off, he's a dynamic playmaker who is built to be a slot guy in a spread offense and get the ball in space. He's also a solid cornerback and should play early on special teams no matter what - there's a reason he's a top 100 player in the class of 2012.

Neal is quiet and it was like pulling teeth for a while to get him to mention a school he had interest in before his senior season ended. He's taken a lot of recent official visits and most have him picking between Notre Dame, Arizona and Arkansas tomorrow. I've heard good things about Notre Dame in this case but I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up staying close to home and picking Arizona either. His high school head coach was recently hired there and family is very important to Neal so there are definite draws for the Wildcats. Old CBS Sports pal Rich Rodriguez no doubt told the 5-foot-9, 170-pounder how well he'd fit in the offense down in Tuscon too. I'll stick with a cautious prediction of Neal going to South Bend but I would be surprised for him to state in-state either.

That will wrap things up for the first Monday Mailbag, plenty of others to come in the weeks and months ahead. Tweet your questions to me at @BryanDFischer on Twitter and I'll try and answer as many as I can.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com