Posted on: March 4, 2012 6:56 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 7:04 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Click here for day one updates
ROSWELL, Ga. -- Despite windy, chilly conditions on the outskirts of Atlanta, 7-on-7 team Pro Impact lived up to their number one seed and won the first New Level Athletics Elite tournament of the year. The national competition drew teams from Michigan, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, South Carolina and Georgia to feature some of the top recruits in the country making a run at the large NLA trophy at the end.
The Jacksonville, Fla.-based Pro Impact had nearly half the team made up of underclassmen but the group was composed throughout their run to the title game and acted like seasoned veterans.
"It was a lot of fun," wide receiver Isaiah Ford said. "I looked forward to going against some of the top prospects, top performers in the country and seeing how I matched up.
"It's just amazing. It's even better to win."
The 6-foot-2, 170-pound rising junior was one of the top players on the team and had several impressive catches over the middle. Wearing a pair of white-and-black striped socks, Ford and Pro Impact were remarkably consistent on offense, moving the ball down the field before taking shots at the end zone when needed. The team ran into a similarly talented Team Georgia in the final but was able to pull out a win and good seed for NLA 7-on-7 Nationals in a tough double overtime victory.
"I had fun," Marietta (Ga.) running back and Alabama commitment Tyren Jones said. "I met some new people, it was a good thing and a great experience. Everybody was great, we just have to get the chemistry right and we'll win nationals.
"I think we represented (Georgia) well."
Both teams will have a chance to take home a national 7-on-7 title in the middle of June after earning automatic qualification on Sunday.
Langley enjoys trip to Athens
There was one new face at Centennial High School for the tournament phase of the NLA event on Sunday that only added to the star power at the stadium. Marietta (Ga.) defensive back Brendan Langley was on an unofficial visit to Georgia and missed Saturday's action but his return immediately boosted the secondary for a Goon Squad team that was knocked out in overtime.
"It was pretty fun. I wish I would have been able to come out yesterday," Langley said. "Just from this one game it was a fun experience. Hopefully I'll be able to travel with the team to Pittsburgh and Vegas."
The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder played mostly at safety during the event, using his long reach to break up passes when quarterbacks dared to throw to his area. It doesn't take long to see why Langley is one of the top players in the state and a natural defensive back based on how fluid he is in coverage. His skill set is one reason he has a double-digit number of offers and headed up to Athens for what was nicknamed Very Important Dawg (VID) Day.
"It was nice. I tell you, it's different going up there just as a prospect and going up there with an offer is two totally different things," he said. "I went up there for the first Junior Day on the 28th of January and they didn't show me nearly as much love as they did yesterday.
"I brought a friend up there, Josh Fuller, he plays corner. Shaquille Wiggins, Tray Matthews - I was in a DB meeting with them. Tremel Terry was also a friend of mine there. It was fun."
The short drive from home to see the campus and get to know the coaching staff better certainly left an impact on Langley, who had notable excitement in his voice when talking about the trip. Although he did not commit to the program on the way back, it's clear the Bulldogs are certainly a favorite to land one from him at the moment.
"I can't say they are the leader but I can say it's between them and Alabama for the top spot," Langley said. "I think they might be recruiting me just as hard as the other. Yesterday, (Will) Friend the offensive line coach, he had offensive linemen blowing up his phone but he was with me the whole time. It's things like that that I notice."
With almost all of the SEC schools extending an offer and several coaches recruiting him hard, Langley has a difficult decision ahead. He is trying to take in each school and view the positives and negatives with each program before eventually sitting down and making his commitment sometime later this year.
"The number one thing is development," he said. "Where they're going to get me and not just in football, where they're going to get me in the future. It's something I definitely look for."
The only visits Langley has taken is to Tuscaloosa and Athens and figures to return to each for a spring practice or two in addition to a few other stops over the next few months.
"Right now I'm just going day-by-day," he said. "Hopefully I can maybe get down to Gainesville to see Florida, up to South Carolina and up to Knoxville (for Tennessee) and then make a decision after that. I don't want to make any irrational decision right now being that I've only been to Georgia and Alabama."
Mizzell shows off speed to burn
One of the neat parts of events like the NLA Elite 7-on-7 is to see players from different parts of the country play against top-flight competition. Virginia Beach (Va.) running back Taquan Mizzell is one of the top players in the state and came down to Georgia determined to prove he belonged in the conversation as a top recruit.
"This was really a chance for me to better myself and get other people recruited," Mizzell said. "I really wanted to work on my route running and catching abilities, getting up the field faster and things like that."
The speedster did it all for his Team Virginia as they made it all the way to the semifinals before losing to eventual champion Pro Impact. Mizzell was an impact player, using his quickness to pull away from defensive backs and showed soft hands out of the backfield and on routes. Given his performance, it's easy to see why he's grabbing offers just about every week.
"The most recent offer is the University of Cal," he said. "It caught me a little off guard so I was very excited about that one. Watching college football growing up, their running back Jahvid Best used to be my favorite back. I used to watch his highlight tape all the time. Once they told me they were offering me I was kind of surprised but so happy about it."
While the Bears are a big offer on Mizzell's table with plenty of them on there, a big Midwest power could be the next to pull the trigger.
"I have 13 right now," he said. "The 14th one is basically Notre Dame. They told me they wanted to offer me a scholarship but all I have to do is send my transcript. Once they see that and everything is good, they'll confirm it."
The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder has been hearing from several schools across the country but the recent one to show him extra attention is Ohio State. The Buckeyes have already developed quite a reputation for their recruiting prowess under new head coach Urban Meyer and it appears that Mizzell is the latest the coaching staff is going after with vigor.
"(Running backs coach Stan Drayton) saw my film and said it was a no-brainer to offer me and that I was a guy for them," he said. "They wanted to get me up to the school. They basically want to build up a relationship and offer me a scholarship. Once we talked and he told me what it was, I talked to the head coach (Meyer) and the receivers coach (Zach Smith).
"It was kind of how they recruited Percy (Harvin) out of Virginia and how they used him at Florida. They would use me similarly. Also how they used Chris Rainey."
The success Harvin had in Meyer's offense is a big selling point for Ohio State and the fact that he is from the same area as Mizzell is an important one for the 2013 back because Harvin is one of his role models.
"I always want to see players from our area and Virginia do well," Mizzell said. "I look up to Percy and how he's in the NFL. My old teammate (Virginia cornerback) Demetrious Nicholson was very successful too. Running back-wise, I used to try and be like Jahvid Best but right now, I'd have to say like (LeSean) McCoy."
Mizzell plans to compete in several stops in the spring and summer camp circuit, including the NLA event in Pittsburgh. Although he's not sure what other school visits he'll take, he knows a few things that he is looking for each program when he does wind up on a campus.
"I just want a good education," he said. "I also want a chance to impact the team early on. Transportation, that's no problem because I know wherever I go my family will support me as long as I get a good education. If I can get on the field, that's good because I can try and make it to the next level."
757's future is promising with underclass talent
Mizzell wasn't the only player from Team Virginia to impress at the event. With seven underclassmen on the squad looking to make a name for themselves, no body stood out physically and with their play than Virginia Beach (Va.) defensive back Quin Blanding.
"I just wanted to show people that the 757 has all the talent," Blanding said. "We came in to play our game. Where we come from is the same as everybody else."
The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder roamed the secondary quite well on Saturday and Sunday. It's easy to see why the 2014 prospect is already drawing plenty of interest from schools across the country.
"Most recent is North Carolina," he said of his offers. "All the colleges that have offered me, I just look at them the same. I'm not thinking about them as my sophomore year finishes but when my junior year comes around, I'll start going through the process. I've got seven right now: Virginia, Virginia Tech, UConn, UNC, N.C. State, ECU and Vanderbilt.
"Most coaches want me to play safety. I prefer to play that… I like to hit. I had a lot of tackles last year and like seven or eight interceptions. I played receiver too."
Despite the attention almost two years before when he can sign a letter of intent, there are two programs who Blanding wouldn't mind hearing from in the coming months.
"I grew up a Florida State fan with my dad and watching them," he said. "Now I'm an Oregon fan. I just like that fast-paced offense and defense that keeps moving and moving. They haven't show any interest but I look forward to it."
In the meantime, Blanding has plans to go to several camps but hasn't yet figured out his schedule.
Paris impresses once again at NLA Elite
At this point, Mansfield (Texas) defensive back Edward Paris a wiley old veteran of 7-on-7 competitions despite being just a rising junior. Already looking physically like a college player and with 4.4 speed, it's no surprise to hear that colleges are already recruiting him as much as they can in hopes of landing one of Texas' top defenders.
"I just recently got offers from Georgia Tech and Washington State," Parris said. "I think USC is close to offering and Alabama too."
Before this week, LSU and SMU had already extended offers and are two of the schools Paris has been hearing from for some time.
"I'm hearing a little more from LSU and UCLA," he said. "I'm interested in all schools right now. I'm just looking for a school that I can fit in socially and that has a really good education."
The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder is adept at playing either safety or corner but could continue to grow and wind up as an outside linebacker at the next level.
"I think a lot of them see me as a very physical guy on and off the line," he said. "I also have make-up speed in case I get beat."
Right after the tournament ended, Parris was taking advantage of the trip home by making his way West for two unofficial visits with programs who have been recruiting at a high level and have shown interest.
"After this tournament, we're going to go to Auburn and Alabama for a visit," he said. "I'll go to the Alabama camp and the LSU camp again and maybe Florida also."
Paris figures to have plenty of other opportunities on the travel team Goon Squad over the coming months and could be well beyond the double-digit offer mark by the end of the summer.
Tags: 2012 NLA, Alabama, Auburn, Brendan Langley, Cal, California, Chris Rainey, Demetrious Nicholson, East Carolina, Edward Paris, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Isaiah ford, Jahvid Best, LeSean McCoy, LSU, N.C. State, New Level 7-on-7, New Level Elite, New Level Elite 7-on-7, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Percy Harvin, Quin Blanding, SEC, Shaquille Wiggins, SMU, South Carolina, Stan Drayton, Taquan Mizzell, Tennessee, Tray Matthews, Tremel Terry, Tyren Jones, UCLA, UConn, Urban Meyer, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Washington State, Will Friend, Zach Smith
Posted on: February 21, 2012 1:01 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 1:14 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
The class of 2012 is, with one notable exception, signed and done with. That means it is time to turn everybody's attention to the class of 2013 and keep it there. Here are a few storylines to follow on the road to the first Wednesday in February next year - in no particular order.
1. Will Nick Saban be able to close on the country's top prospect?
Nick Saban has certainly earned the title of the country's top recruiter after pulling in the top overall class (or close to it) since arriving in Tuscaloosa. The one thing he hasn't done, however, is land the nation's top recruit. In the class of 2012, he went after Dorial Green-Beckham but couldn't make the final cut. A year before Saban narrowly lost out on Jadeveon Clowney to South Carolina. Is the third time the charm in Grayson (Ga.) defensive end Robert Nkemdiche?
One of the top athletes to play the position coming out of high school, Nkemdiche can play multiple positions in college and has something that you rarely see in some recruits - the drive to be great. At this point, most expect him to sign with the Crimson Tide but in recruiting, as in life, things sometimes have a way of making an unexpected turn. His high school head coach played on an Alabama national championship squad and Nkemdiche has gotten the full court press from the staff for a while. Still, he's listed other schools, taken visits to some like Georgia and has his brother at Ole Miss. It looks good for Saban but we won't find out for sure until next February.
2. Who wins the battle of the Midwest behemoths?
The past year has seen Midwest recruiting go from some yawns and a few eyebrow raises to must-read headlines on a daily basis thanks to Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer recruiting like mad. Hoke had the country's top recruiting class before ever coaching a game and Meyer was able to land an impressive class doing the same. It's been an interesting transformation in the Big Ten over the past few months and turned the conference into two programs and a cloud of dust.
Both are off to a very solid start with the class of 2013 with plenty of momentum from signing top five classes earlier this month. The Buckeyes have landed elite guys like Trotwood (Ohio) linebacker Cam Burrows and are certainly in the mix for plenty of top 100 players. The Wolverines had a monster recruiting weekend to power them to a total of 11 commits, and have a headliner (and one of the top quarterbacks in the country) in Shane Morris. Should be a fun few months as each program jockey's to out do the other on the recruiting trail.
3. Is this the class where being in the SEC really comes into play for Missouri and Texas A&M?
There's no doubt the move to the SEC played a role in the Aggies landing a top 15 class and the Tigers getting a commitment from the number one player in the country but the class of 2013 can really be a selling point for both staffs. More than anything, it gives recruits a chance to watch A&M play Alabama and Florida, see how their fans travel, what the coverage of the team is like and if Mizzou's James Franklin can top Vanderbilt's James Franklin.
Already Kevin Sumlin has jumped out to a big start and has more commitments than anybody in the country right now. He's gotten quality as well as quantity to boot. What remains to be seen is what happens if things take a turn for the worse this season on the field. Will doubts creep into recruits' minds if either school has issues and struggles to get wins? It's something to keep an eye on but, for the moment, things are looking good as each joins the best conference in the country.
4. How will realignment help/hurt West Virginia?
Realignment has made the Mountaineers very interesting on the recruiting trail. There was a lot to like about Dana Holgorsen's first year, capped off with a blowout win in the Orange Bowl and Geno Smith likely entering 2012 as a legitimate Heisman candidate. The staff had a solid effort in recruiting and really got some speedsters out of Florida and from close by (such as Deontay McManus to the right) to sign up for the ride to the Big 12. Yet it's clear that there will be a emphasis on recruiting Texas and the South more with the change in conferences.
As my colleague Bruce Feldman pointed out to me yesterday, all but one of the assistants on staff has ties to the Big 12 footprint and several know the back roads in Oklahoma and Arkansas very well too. Holgorsen's wide open offense will no doubt be a good selling points for kids running the spread across the South and maybe, by hiring defensive staff members with area ties the recruits on the other side of the ball will take a look at the Mountaineers in this cycle as well. Should be an interesting look at how the program handles playing in the Big 12 this year and going forward and whether that translates in terms of recruiting as well.
5. How many does USC sign in year two of scholarship cuts?
If you doubted Lane Kiffin's ability to recruit, well, you must not pay a ton of attention. Despite getting slapped with deep scholarship cuts, the oft-bashed head coach enters 2012 with a preseason top two team and just signed a top 10 class with some elite talent. A pair of All-Americans at wide out were no deterrent to Nelson Agholor, who was lured to USC from Florida. There were a few offensive line targets that the Trojans missed out on late - they still signed a great class at the position - but that might turn out to be a blessing in disguise because they can take a few early enrollees to boost numbers.
Bottom line, who and how many Kiffin's staff sign will be a storyline worth following on the West Coast.
6. Who emerges during the spring and summer camp circuit?
One of the reasons why recruiting evaluation have tended to improve over recent years is the rise in getting a look at top players competing against other top players on the offseason camp circuit. It's also allowed those in the industry to discover more guys who don't back down from a challenge and have the speed and skills to be FBS-caliber talent. Because recruits are not in pads, we don't get a complete picture of a player but we can find out even more about how they play and how their recruitment is going. In many ways, the camps and combines that happen across the country from late February through early July will allow everybody to see who's an elite recruit and who we need to keep an eye on when the pads come on during the fall.
7. What impact will social media have on the class of 2013?
Ask any of the class of 2012 about Twitter and Facebook and they'll say it's changed recruiting. Players from across the country are getting to know each other more and more, going beyond just texting back and forth to DMing and Wall posting as early commitments explain to others why their school is the place to be. Recruiting is becoming more and more interconnected and there is no doubt that the 2013 group will be at the forfront of the new wave of change.
Forget hat dances, keep an eye on how many top 100 guys commit via Twitter. Should be a lot more than last year.
8. Who is the top quarterback nationally?
Upside, production, measurables, arm strength... there are plenty of things that go into deciding who the top quarterback in the country is. The candidates are out there and it will likely boil down to one of Max Browne, Tyrone Swoopes, Shane Morris, Ryan Brurns, Kevin Olsen and a handful of others competing to be the top signal-caller in the final rankings. It's important to keep in mind that quarterback is one position that should see plenty of movement as players go through spring ball, camps, 7-on-7, Elite 11 competitions and finally their senior season.
Olsen, Burns and Browne are your typical pro-style quarterbacks with the size coaches look for and big arms to boot. Swoopes is a dual-threat who some have compared to Robert Griffin III or Vince Young because of how electric he is with the ball in his hands. Morris is the rare lefty that is vying for top billing. Several others are hot on their heels in order to be considered part of the elite QB group in 2013 and will be interesting to see how each does as the pressure mounts each passing week.
9. Can Stanford keep things going?
When was the last time you talked about Stanford recruiting? Prior to the class of 2012: rarely if ever (provided you are not the type that tailgates with wine). All the Cardinal did this year was snag a top 10 class and land one of the best group of offensive line recruits in the modern recruiting era. But can the program keep the momentum going with out Andrew Luck leading the charge on the field? That's a question everybody is asking and at first glance, the answer appears to be yes.
Since David Shaw, a former Stanford player himself, returned to Palo Alto as an assistant under Jim Harbaugh, the program has had a remarkably high success rate when recruiting. If an offer goes out and that player qualifies, there's a very good chance that player will end up signing. The hit rate for Stanford the past few years has been nothing short of remarkable considering the restrictions the staff is under but there's no doubt the education, new stadium, major league and BCS-level success that has happened in the Bay Area has turned the program from doormat to door opener. Should be fun to follow over the next few years.
10. Does somebody finish their class before the season?
Michigan, Texas A&M, Florida and Texas are off to hot starts. The Longhorns are taking a very small class this year so they could wind up filling up with only limited room for recruits based on who leaves for the NFL early. The other schools are recruiting at a pace that will have local analysts taking a vacation much earlier than normal. So, we're left to wonder, could somebody actually get 90% or more of their commitments before the season starts?
Tags: Alabama, Andrew Luck, Big 12, Brady Hoke, Bruce Feldman, Bryan Fischer, Cam Burrows, Dana Holgorsen, David Shaw, Deontay McManus, Dorial Green-Beckham, Elite 11, Florida, Geno Smith, Jadeveon Clowney, James Franklin, Jim Harbaugh, Kevin Olsen, Kevin Sumlin, Lane Kiffin, Max Browne, Michigan, Missouri, Nelson Agholor, NFL, Nick Saban, Ohio State, Orange Bowl, Robert Griffin III, Robert Nkemdiche, Ryan Burns, SEC, Shane Morris, South Carolina, Stanford, Texas, Texas A&M, Tyrone Swoopes, Urban Meyer, USC, Vince Young, West Virginia
Posted on: February 16, 2012 7:46 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Urban Meyer is known for his fast-paced offenses and with more time to plan and evaluate, he'll likely be known for bringing fast-paced recruiting to Ohio State as well. The Buckeyes picked up another top 2013 prospect Thursday afternoon as Voorhees (N.J.) defensive back Eli Woodward committed to the program via his Twitter account.
"After much prayer and consideration, I'm proud to commit as a student-athlete to The Ohio State University!" Woodward tweeted.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound cornerback also had Notre Dame and Rutgers as his other finalists on top of scholarship offers from schools such as Alabama, Clemson and Wisconsin. He had grown close with fellow Ohio State pledge Cameron Burrows over the past few months as Meyer recruited both heavily and the fact that the duo will play together in college is something that helped make Woodward comfortable enough to commit early.
"We have each other's numbers and I talk to him a couple of times per week," Woodard told BuckeyeGrove.com. "We've built a pretty nice relationship; he's a really cool guy. I don't feel like you (shy away from a school) because the competition might be too high. At the end of the day, we're both going to get on the field so I don't even worry about that aspect of it. Every college has great competition so I feel like it's not a big factor to me."
Woodward's commitment gives Ohio State four total for the class of 2013, with his the first from outside of the state of Ohio. The Buckeyes already pulled in a top five class earlier in the month and it appears they are well on their way to replicating the feat.
Posted on: February 15, 2012 9:29 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
UCF added a late signee to their class of 2012 in linebacker Domenic Spencer.
Arkansas is looking at a pair of quarterbacks.
Defensive back Brendan Langley picked up an offer from South Carolina Tuesday.
Urban Meyer's recruiting can't be stopped.
Florida State and Notre Dame haven't been able to translate recruiting success into wins.
Posted on: February 14, 2012 9:23 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Michigan opts for the personal approach on Junior Days.
2014 running back Wadzaire Blanc has snagged a South Carolina offer.
Maryland needs their top recruit to help stop the transfers.
A Q&A with Houston coach Tony Levine where he talks about recruiting some.
Urban Meyer says Ohio State's 2012 class lacks speed.
Offensive tackle Will Allen was invited to Alabama's Junior Day.
Duke Johnson has been the perfect ambassador for Miami football.
Linebacker/safety Su'a Cravens was at USC's Junior Day and recently picked up a Clemson offer.
Running back JoJo Kemp has USF as his early leader.
Derek Dooley rips the SEC's new oversigning rules.
Posted on: February 13, 2012 8:05 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Another day, another top recruit for Urban Meyer. After taking an unofficial visit to Columbus over the weekend, Austintown (Ohio) lineman Billy Price decided to end his recruiting early and commit to Ohio State on Monday.
"I was up there Saturday for a banquet and got a tour ahead of time," Price told Rivals. "It kind of clicked on campus. I really realized Columbus was my home. Talking with the academic staff, some of the football staff and some of the students, it really seemed to be my place."
The 6-foot-4, 280-pounder can play on either side of the line but will probably wind up on defense when he steps on campus next year. Price already had a host of offers from schools such as Michigan, Notre Dame and Tennessee but Ohio State just felt like the place for him.
"It is a huge thing with the fact that my family will be able to come to the home games and some of the away games," he said. "Then, everybody is supporting what you are doing and watching you play every Saturday in front of 105,000 people is unreal."
Price is the third commitment for the Buckeyes' class of 2013, all of whom are in-state recruits. He racked up 40 tackles and three sacks as a defensive tackle last season as a junior.
Posted on: February 9, 2012 9:46 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
As usual, expect lots of commitments at Texas' Junior Day.
Urban Meyer calls the Big Ten's gentlement's agreement "nonsense" and Lane Kiffin defends him.
Defensive tackle Deadrin Senat has a big future ahead of him at Florida State.
Georgia may add a "mystery" football recruit.
The final rankings tell the story of how Oregon's past recruiting classes fared.
Alabama has their eye on Georgia's prized quarterback commit.
For Oklahoma and others in the state, recruiting is very much a junior-driven thing.
Ross Els is getting busy as Nebraska's new recruiting coordinator.
Some video fo Tosh Lupoi talking his departure from Cal and recruiting at Washington.
Hawaii had a late add to their 2012 class in Juco defensive end Quenton Brown.
Posted on: February 7, 2012 4:40 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2012 4:44 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
One of my favorite things after each Signing Day is to go back and look at past classes and see how they turned out. SI.com's Andy Staples re-ranks the classes each year and there are plenty of pieces on various sites (here's one on Auburn and one on Tennessee) analyzing how programs turned out talent and others fizzled with five-stars. I stumbled on this study from 2011 on Twitter today and felt it offered some very interesting information.
Among the notable nuggets:
- There's a direct correlation between a team's home attendance and the number of stars on the team. According to the study, for every five-star recruit on the team, attendance will increase by 885 fans.
- There's no relationship between amount of 3+ star players on a team and overall winning percentage in general. However, the study also controlled for schedule/conference and found that more star players on a team usually means a higher winning percentage than those in their conference with fewer star players. 45% of the time a team with the most stars finished with the best or second best winning percentage.
- Not surprisingly, the survey found Boise State's Chris Petersen as the coach to get the best results from good-but-not-great talent.
- USC, Ohio State and Florida were the top three programs in terms of top recruits drafted. Amazingly, nearly a third of USC's players were drafted into the NFL.
- Virginia Tech was the program singled out for developing non-star recruits into draft picks.
- Looking for a coach that will take to you the next level? Bob Stoops, Urban Meyer and Nick Saban are the best active coaches at it while Pete Carroll was the best from 2006-2010.
Again, read the full thing here and see all the details.