February 01, 2012
1. Greenberry pulls a stunner
Rivals100 wide receiver Deontay Greenberry had been committed to Notre Dame for quite some time. He was expected to sign with the Irish on Wednesday, joining good friend Tee Shepard, who is already enrolled in South Bend. However, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound four-star prospect from California pulled the ultimate stunner on Wednesday when he chose to sign with Houston instead. Greenberry had officially visited Houston last weekend but nobody thought much of the trip as it was thought he was simply doing a favor to Jamie Christian, a new assistant for the Cougars that was recruiting Greenberry previously at Arizona State. The nation's No. 49 overall prospect is by far the highest-ranked player to ever sign with Houston.
2. Davis switches
It is almost impossible for any school to get a top player away from LSU and out of Louisiana. Alabama received a commitment from five-star Landon Collins last month and the Tigers took another huge hit when the state's No. 3 prospect, outside linebacker Torshiro Davis, made a last-minute switch to Texas. Davis was one of the earliest commits for the Tigers in the class and, as late as Tuesday night, seemed 100-percent solid to LSU. He ended up holding a late morning press conference, though, where he announced his intentions to be a Longhorn. The switch meant LSU was shut out on the top three prospects in the state of Louisiana.
3. UCLA wide receiver haul
New head coach Jim Mora needed to upgrade the wide receiver corps at UCLA but the prospects did not look incredibly bright heading into signing day. However, the Bruins stole a big pledge from California very late Tuesday night in three-star prospect Kenneth Walker and then continued the momentum on Wednesday. Four-star wide receiver Javon Williams ended up choosing UCLA on Wednesday morning and was quickly followed by another top prospect at the position. Rivals100 wide receiver and U.S. Army All-American Jordan Payton was a very early USC commit before pledging to Cal at the Army game. He then switched to Washington a few weeks later to follow his recruiter but shocked quite a few people when he eventually ended up signing with UCLA. The three pass-catchers give the Bruins a big-time receiver haul all in the last 12 hours.
4. Five-star flip
Dante Fowler Jr. had been committed to Florida State for 14 months heading into Wednesday's signing day. The Seminoles simply needed to hold on to him for one more day than they were able to though. The five-star defensive end decided to sign with rival Florida. Fowler simply stated that he felt like the situation in Gainesville was better for him and, on a day where the Seminoles won big, was the one big hit they took.
5. Miami wins big
Though Florida State made headlines with several very good late pickups, fellow Sunshine State program Miami also had a big day. The nation's No. 1 cornerback, five-star Tracy Howard, was thought to be a Florida-Florida State battle just a week ago. The Hurricanes were a mere afterthought a few months ago but ended up keeping the local star home on signing day. Miami was not done, though, as three-star running back Jawand Blue was an even bigger surprise when he switched from Virginia Tech on Wednesday. The Hurricanes showed that they are a force again in South Florida.
- Brian Perroni, Rivals.com Texas Recruiting Analyst
February 01, 2012
As infuriating as a bad driver on the interstate, the fast-paced world of recruiting was thrown into gridlock with Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes athlete Josh Harvey-Clemons committing to Georgia but not signing and then regretting his commitment.
Due, in large part, to his family.
Georgia, Florida and Florida State coaches are sitting in the passing lane and collectively yelling: Get out of the way Gramps.
Harvey-Clemons was adopted by his grandparents, Woodrow and Vanessa Clemons, following the tragic passing of his parents and according to multiple reports — like this one from the Atlanta Journal Constitution — Woodrow will have a major say in the recruiting process.
Harvey-Clemons was rated as the top player in the Peach State and committed to Georgia just after 9 a.m. Wednesday but as of mid-afternoon, his Letter-of-Intent still hadn't been faxed to Athens, Ga.
According to ESPN.com, the family of Harvey-Clemons, the county's No. 31 recruit as an athlete, wasn't thrilled with his choice. Many believed Florida State was the runnerup, but the network reports the Clemons family prefers Florida.
"There's definitely some surprise [at Georgia] and concern," said Jake Rowe of UGAsports.com.
Meantime, a source in Gainesville, Fla., tells Rivals.com the Gators haven't given up on Harvey-Clemons. Florida is "still swinging," according to the source.
Florida was the first program to offer the 6-feet-5, 208-pound Harvey-Clemons, who projects as an outside linebacker in college but also could play receiver or even safety. For weeks, the talented player said Georgia and Florida were his co-leaders.
But Florida State jumped into the mix after a good visit to Tallahassee two weeks ago. Harvey-Clemons then made an official to Miami last weekend, and afterward said the Hurricanes were also being considered.
Calls and texts to Harvey-Clemons and his legal guardian have not been returned.
This is the second consecutive year that a major recruit has committed on national television only to delay his decision. Class of 2012 offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandijo committed to Auburn only to change his mind hours later and send his Letter of Intent to Alabama.
Each of the coaches from Florida, Georgia, and Florida State appeared to be well aware of the influence that the grandfather played in the decision and took turns attending church with the elder Clemons who had attended the same church for nearly 50 years.
A report in the Atlanta Journal Constitution said that each had visited the church on trips up to win over the family, and used the collection plate as a recruiting tool.
"We gave everybody a heads up, and they were surprised to see [Muschamp]," Woodrow Clemons told the paper. "And the collection plate was equally surprised."
February 01, 2012
One-time Notre Dame commit and four-star cornerback Ronald Darby selected Florida State on Wednesday, helping an already-strong Seminole class surge even more.
Darby, ranked the No. 2 cornerback in the nation, was rumored to be a Florida State lean for some time leading up to his commitment to Jimbo Fisher's program. Those rumors turned out to be correct as Darby's Wednesday decision proved.
"Clemson tried to make a run but he weighed his options and felt he could come in and play early and play nickel right away at Florida State" said Potomac assistant coach Donnell Douglas. "He also figured he and Marvin Bracy could be a great 1-2 punch in the return game as well. He fell in love with the coaches, the facilities and likes the track coach and that program there. In the end it came down to Clemson and Florida State to be honest."
The four-star corner visited Notre Dame and Maryland early in the college football season. Late in 2011 he took a trip to Auburn and he finished with officials to Florida State and Clemson. His last trip was to Clemson but the Tigers weren't able to overtake Florida State, a school that had already firmly established itself as a frontrunner.
"He was a little torn over it the last few days," said Douglas. "But he kept coming back to Florida State."
Darby respected the fact that Florida State backed off after his commitment to Notre Dame and that's something that ultimately ended up helping the school. He has also bonded with the school's other commitments and the coaching staff's track record convinced him that they would know how to use his skill set.
- Mike Farrell, Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst
February 01, 2012
For Ken Ekanem National Signing Day meant the incessant phone calls would finally stop and a huge weight would be removed from his back.
"I've known for a little over a month that I was going to go to Virginia Tech," said Ekanem. "I wanted to take a visit and make sure everything was what I thought it would be. Some schools started backing off because of my knee injury. But even before I got hurt I knew I wanted to go to Virginia Tech. We have a pretty good class and I'm very happy about it."
Ekanem talked about the recovery process his is going through after tearing his ACL.
"I'm doing a lot better and healing pretty fast," said Ekanem. "My quad is progressing very well and everything seems to be ahead of schedule."
Virginia Tech recruited Ekanem, a high school outside linebacker, as a defensive end. The position change does not seem to have affected his recruitment.
"I'm going to play defensive end at Virginia Tech," he said. "I'd like to play as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Virginia Tech moves their defensive ends around a lot and use them in many different ways."
Overall it has been a great National Signing Day for the Hokies. But Virginia Tech was dealt a blow by one of its most high-profile recruits.
"I thought we had Korren Kirven in the bag but he went to Alabama. I talked Joel Caleb about it last week and he felt good about Korren too," Ekanem explained. "I talked to Korren not too long ago and it seemed like he was leaning Tech's way but I guess he flipped. I heard Nick Saban visited his school and house last week. That's probably why he switched."
- Mike Farrell, Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst
February 01, 2012
Making an early impact on the college level not only requires outstanding physical tools, but also the mental capacity to pick up a college system in a short amount of time. One other key factor, though, is coming into a situation where opportunity exists to see the field early. These five players from the Class of 2012 possess that combination and should be making headlines early in their college careers.
DE Jonathan Bullard, Shelby (N.C.) Crest (Florida)
Bullard was the top overall performer for the East team throughout the week at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, and one of the reasons he set himself apart is because he brings such a wide array of attributes to a defense. Listed at 6-4 and 265 pounds, Bullard has the size and strength to push around offensive linemen and be stout in run support. But he also possesses and explosive first step and great technique when rushing the passer. Florida head coach Will Muschamp frequently pointed out the Gators lack of success getting to the quarterback this past fall, and Bullard can come in immediately and address that weakness. The Gators are also not deep at the defensive end position, evidenced by the fact they had to move natural defensive tackles like Sharrif Floyd to the end spot at times to address needs.
WR Stefon Diggs, Olney (Md.) Good Counsel (TBD)
Five-star wide receiver Stefon Diggs will not declare his college intentions until after National Signing Day, but the 6-0, 185-pound prospect is such a unique playmaker he is sure to see the field soon after his arrival on the college campus of his choice. One area where Diggs can certainly help a team next fall is in the return game. His combination of speed, agility and creativity makes him a threat to take one back every time he touches the football, but those same attributes should help him see the field early at wide receiver as well. Another attribute that is crucial to making an early impact at the college level is confidence, and Diggs possesses that in bunches. Last fall for Good Counsel he totaled 1,443 yards of total offense and 13 touchdowns while adding four interceptions double as a cornerback on defense.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Springfield (Mo.) Hillcrest (Missouri)
Not surprising to see the No. 1 player in the country make the list, and Green-Beckham gets extra points because the 6-6, 220-pounder already looks college ready. He creates mismatches with his size on the outside, but also has the speed to take short passes and turn them into long-gainers. There is a lot of pressure coming onto a college campus with as much fanfare as Green-Beckham has, but he's already showed he can handle that this past fall when he caught 119 passes for 2,233 yards and 24 touchdowns despite every defense he faced geared to stop him. What's interesting is that he now goes to Missouri which has not been known to feature at downfield passing attack. They will certainly mix that in now with Green-Beckham in the fold, but the big receiver also has the ability to be a force in the short and intermediate passing game.
DT Ondre Pipkins, Kansas City (Mo.) Park Hill
Ranked as the No. 14 player in the country and the No. 3 defensive tackle nationally, Pipkins certainly has the talent to see the field early in his college career, but that possibility is enhanced by the situation he is going into at Michigan. The Wolverines lost all-conference second team nose guard Mike Martin to the NFL following the 2011 season, and have little depth or proven talent to waiting in the wings. Michigan coaches have already told Pipkins to arrive on campus ready to contribute, and it is not out the question he could be the starting nose tackle by the end of fall camp. At 6-3 and 330 pounds, Pipkins is also one of the most physically ready defensive tackles in the 2012 class. He has a wide, sturdy frame, but wears his weight well and the bulk is more muscle than outright girth. We also like the work ethic and drive Pipkins displayed at the U.S. Army Bowl: key factors he will need to seize the opportunity at Michigan next fall.
February 01, 2012
In arguably the biggest surprise National Signing Day switch in Mack Brown's career at Texas, the Longhorns scored big on Wednesday morning when they swiped a top national prospect from one of college football's powerhouse programs. And to make it even more impressive, Texas got the elite prospect to decommit from the big in-state school to shock the world with a pledge to the Longhorns.
Texas fans, welcome Torshiro Davis to the Longhorns' 2012 recruiting class.
Davis, a standout defender from Shreveport Woodlawn High School, shocked the football recruiting world this morning when he faxed in his letter of intent to the Longhorns, snubbing a commitment from LSU that had stood for 363 days. It was a decision he kept under wraps until the very last minute.
"He just sat down and thought about best place for him," former Woodlawn head coach DeCarlos Holmes said.
Though he'd been a longstanding commitment to LSU, Davis had taken visits to both Alabama and Texas. He maintained throughout the recruiting process that he was leaning heavily towards sticking with his LSU pledge, but in the last few days began to give more consideration to Texas.
Davis has a built a strong relationship with UT defensive tackles coach Bo Davis. Texas signing Mack Brown to a recent contract extension was a factor. A pass-rushing specialist, the ability to play DE for the Longhorns as opposed to linebacker for LSU was also an aspect that weighed into Davis' final decision.
"You need pass rushers in the Big 12," Holmes said. "He went to (Army All-American Game) and played linebacker. He didn't get a lot of action. He's a pass rusher."
The decision to flip his commitment at the last minute was one Davis struggled with. His loyalty to the LSU coaches and the in-state LSU fans was tough to overcome. In the end, Davis made the decision that went against just about everyone's expectations.
"He became his own man. He didn't let anyone make the decision for him," coach Holmes said.
Davis' relationship with UT assistant coach Bo Davis dates back to coach Davis' days at Alabama. He coached Torshiro at a camp in the ninth grade, and the two have maintained a close friendship ever since.
February 01, 2012
D.J. Reader will be playing both football and baseball in college and he ended up choosing between two schools that are fine with him playing both sports.
It came down to Clemson and Maryland for the Greensboro (N.C.) Grimsley two-way lineman and ultimately the Tigers won out.
"Clemson is a really good place to be and they are a team on the rise," said the 6-foot-3, 306-pounder. "I like the coaches, they are hard workers who care about academics."
Reader's decision will come as a surprise to some, as Maryland had appeared to be in the driver's seat for a good portion of his recruitment last week and into the early part of this week. Clemson's coaches made an effective case that Reader can help the baseball program while manning a spot on the defensive line.
Ranked as the No. 19 offensive guard in the nation, Reader has done it on both sides of the ball for Grimsley. He's ranked the No. 20 prospect in the state and is yet another top prospect that has opted to leave the state of North Carolina in this class.
- Mike Farrell, Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst
February 01, 2012
First Coast (Jacksonville, Fla.) High and its star linebacker Reggie Northrup are not strangers to Florida State.
Apparently the tradition of First Coast to FSU will continue.
On Wednesday morning, Northrup decided to continue the pipeline and become a Seminole.
"I just committed to Florida State. That place just felt like home for me. I knew after the official visit that was where I was headed, "said Northrup.
He chose FSU over Miami, Arkansas, North Carolina and Ohio State.
Florida State has had a steady stream of First Coast signees in years past, and this season, the linebacker position was an imperative need. So much so, FSU coaches put the full court press for Northrup despite his commitment to Miami. A week prior to his official visit on Jan. 20, Lawrence Dawsey and Odell Haggins both dropped in to see him. Then, a few days before his trip to Tallahassee, linebackers coach Greg Hudson and receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey returned to Jacksonville to see him.
"It was all a big family at FSU so that was a big difference for me. I have such a close relationship with Coach Dawsey. I can't wait to get there and get to work," he said.
Although Northrup visited FSU three times previously, his official visit was an eye opening experience. He got a better understanding of the academics, football program and got more in-depth time with the coaches. He especially took notice of how much the coaches love their players and the family atmosphere.
Northrup added a little spice to the decision on National Signing Day when he had hats of North Carolina, Miami and Clemson all on the table. However, in making his decision Northrup ripped open his shirt where he had a Superman shirt and underneath was a FSU shirt.
"I wanted to keep it pretty much a secret about what was going to happen and keep everyone guessing," said Northrup.
He also talked about where he will be lining up in what linebacker position.
"I can play either Will or Mike linebacker, but it doesn't matter to me. I feel that I bring a lot of hitting to that position. I just can't wait to get to work," he noted.
Some of the factors he considered when breaking down all his finalists were if he could picture himself at that school, a quality coaching staff and being able to compete for a starting spot. He seemede to find all three at Florida State.
The 6-foot-2, 218-pound, four-star prospect has shown that he can play all three linebacker positions (weak side, middle and strong side). However, he played the weak side position most this past season at First Coast and that appears what FSU likes as well.
In his senior season, Northrup had 196 tackles including 10 sacks and 39 tackles for loss and helped lead his Bucs to the state title game.
Rivals.com ranks Northrup as No. 30 at his position and No. 40 in the state.
-- Michael Langston, Warchant.com
- FlaVarsity.com's David Hickox contributed to this report.
February 01, 2012
Missouri City (Texas) Hightower wide receiver Bralon Addison had seemingly been one of Texas A&M's strongest commitments in recent weeks. One of the original members of the so-called "AggSwaggMovement," the Rivals250 prospect said he would not be taking any more official visits after tripping to College Station in early January.
However, that changed this past weekend when the 5-foot-10, 185-pound four-star prospect decided to take an official visit to Oregon. The Ducks were long seen as a program that could challenge the Aggies for his signature so the trip was a bit worrisome to A&M fans.
When Addison finally announced his college decision on Wednesday morning, it turns out the Aggies had reason to be concerned when he announced he would sign with Oregon.
"Oregon came into the picture after the release of coach (Mike) Sherman," Addison said on Wednesday morning. "They started talking with me. We went and looked at the campus on my official visit and there is nothing like it. Their facilities are amazing. Their academic building was amazing.
"I talked with Oregon's broadcast journalism program while I was there. They have one of the best."
Addison says the decision truly was made at the last moment.
"I haven't slept much in the past several days with all the calls and the messages," he said. "I made my decision at about four this morning."
Addison had grown very close to the Texas A&M commits over the past six months and he says, because of them, it was tough to choose a different school.
"I have talked with a few of the A&M guys," he said. "I know some of them will be mad. But I hope they can understand it was the best decision for me. I will always root for them no matter who they are playing, Alabama, LSU, whoever. "
Addison was accompanied by good friend Chance Allen on his official visit to Eugene this past weekend and the one-time Oklahoma State pledge played a big part in Addison choosing the Ducks.
"Oregon is much farther (than A&M), Addison said, but I am not doing it alone. Chance will be coming with me. We have been best friends since before I can remember."
-- Brian Perroni, Rivals.com Texas Recruiting Analyst.
- AggieYell.com reporter Courtney Roland contributed to this report.
February 01, 2012
As he stood on the turf of the Alamodome in San Antonio in early January after being named co-MVP of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Dorial Green-Beckham was being peppered with the same recruiting questions he never really felt comfortable answering.
In the middle of it, the 6-6, 220-pound seemingly NFL-ready receiver - considered not only this year's top recruit but perhaps the top recruit in many years - reached out his big hand toward a hole in the crowd and at his 6-year-old sister Eliza.
"You can come over here," he said.
With that, he continued answering queries about his college intentions, not revealing a hint of where he might go. As it turns out, one of the biggest clues may have been wrapping both of her arms around one of his legs, looking up at him with love.
Green-Beckham announced on Wednesday morning at Hillcrest High in Springfield, Mo., that he is headed to Missouri, a campus roughly two hours from his home.
The proximity, Green-Beckham said, made a difference.
"Just to stay home and have all those guys [family, friends] come out and see me [was big]," he said.
It was the most anticipated announcement of National Signing Day - the day high school football recruits can formally sign a National Letter of Intent, which commits them to a school.
And one that may have the greatest impact. Green-Beckham appears to be that good.
Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell calls him a rare talent.
"He dominates with his body and his strength and he has big hands that snatch the ball out of the air," Farrell said. "He's a natural red-zone threat, he can be a possession guy who can move the chains and make tough catches over the middle and along the sidelines and he has that deep threat ability."
Green-Beckham had an unstoppable senior season, catching 119 passes for 2,233 yards and 24 touchdowns on the way to breaking the national record for receiving yards with 6,447. He won numerous national Player of the Year awards.
"Guys come in here and they say he's the best they've ever seen and that's coming from people who have seen a lot of great players," his coach and father John Beckham said during his recruitment.
Simply put, Green-Beckham isn't your usual high school hot shot. That's been apparent for some time on and off the field.
Recruits can handle the process in any number of ways.
Some declare their intentions early - in fact, some juniors already say they have made up their minds. Others talk openly throughout the process, continually winnowing down a list of schools.
Then there was Green-Beckham. Recruited since his freshman year, the only indication he ever gave of his intentions was a list of five schools he would visit: Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Alabama and Texas.
Any speculation on which school was in front was just that - speculation. No one outside of his immediate family had any idea which hat he would grab when he had his nationally televised moment.
Of course, that was likely because of his family situation.
Green-Beckham, along with his younger brother Darnell, moved in with John and Tracy Beckham as foster children when Dorial was 12. It was the final stop of a Blind Side-type childhood that was filled with neglect and abandonment and too many situations that just didn't work out.
He and his brother slowly built a relationship with the Beckhams, who adopted them a few years later.
His dad doubled as his football coach, helping him become the player he is. His mom is thrilled by his exploits on the field, but prouder of him off it.
"To see him when all of these awards is great," she said in San Antonio after he received one of his handful of national Player of the Year awards. "But to see him grow into the man he is today is just so special."
Green-Beckham has never felt comfortable with his celebrity as a high school superstar.
He stopped doing interviews in the weeks leading up to signing day. And while he was always polite and respectful during Army week, it was obvious he struggled with his stature as perhaps the biggest star in a game full of them.
"I'm just from a small town in Missouri," he said repeatedly.
The closeness and comfort he has with the Beckhams was apparent, too. And it undoubtedly played a part in his decision. As was his desire to be closer to Darnell, a high school sophomore who is in remission but is still receiving treatment for Leukemia.
And then there was Eliza.
Any college in the country would have made room for Green-Beckham, but it was obvious on that afternoon in San Antonio, she wasn't going to let anyone take her big brother far away.
Obvious also, that he wasn't really interesting in going very far.
- Tom Bergeron, RivalsHigh Senior Editor