NCAA Football

Wisconsin National Signing Day 2015: 5 Takeaways from Badgers' Class

Head coach Paul Chryst and the Wisconsin Badgers football team signed a solid recruiting class for the 2015 cycle. 

According to 247Sports, the Badgers have the No. 33 class in the country. It also ranks as the No. 4 class in the Big Ten conference. 

In total, Wisconsin signed 21 prospects—20 from the high school ranks and one from a junior college. Various roster needs were met throughout the class. It's also a very eclectic one from a geographical standpoint. Chryst and his staff pulled prospects from all across the nation.

This piece will look at five takeaways from the new batch of signees headed to Madison. While this isn't an overly flashy class, it's one that should help build depth moving forward. 

 

A full list of the signees can be found here. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports, unless otherwise noted. 

 

 

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Tyrone Wheatley Jr. to Michigan: Wolverines Land 4-Star TE Prospect

College football fans will recognize the name of Tyrone Wheatley Jr., the son of the former Michigan star by the same name. And fans of Michigan will be thrilled to see that Wheatley Jr. has decided to join the Wolverines.  

Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports.com passed along news of the decision.

The 6'6" and 260-pound Wheatley is considered a 4-star tight end by 247Sports. He's ranked as the 312th-ranked prospect in 247Sports' Composite Rankings, the No. 12 tight end and the top prospect from the state of New York.

Wheatley is also a highly regarded defensive end. Along with his 16 receptions for 190 yards and two touchdowns during the 2013 season, he also added 41 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, two sacks, an interception, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

You can see him in action below.

But it appears as though he'll be a tight end at the next level. Alex Gleitman of 247Sports broke down one of his practices during preparation for January's Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl:

[Wheatley] is one of the most physically imposing players on the East team, but it is his athleticism and soft hands at that size that make him the outstanding prospect that he is.

Wheatley had an outstanding today in general skeleton drills, as well as the scrimmaging and goal line sessions, flashing enough speed to get free from defenders, as well as using his strength and body size to get positioning in shorter yardage situations.

Wheatley's father, Tyrone Wheatley, has a substantial background in football himself. He was a standout running back for Michigan in the early '90s and spent 10 years in the NFL with the New York Giants and Oakland Raiders, rushing for 4,962 and 40 touchdowns. He's also currently the running back's coach at Michigan, joining Jim Harbaugh's staff this winter.

In other words, if Wheatley Jr. ever needs any advice, he'll certainly know where to turn. He may play a different position than his father, but the experience of being a student-athlete at a major university is one his father can relate to.

And given his pedigree, it would hardly be surprising if Wheatley Jr. ended up being an excellent player for Michigan.

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Oregon National Signing Day 2015: 5 Takeaways from Ducks' Class

The Oregon Ducks, coming off perhaps their most successful season in school history, have landed one of their best recruiting classes in 2015. The Ducks, with 22 commitments, finished the recruiting season with the No...

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National Signing Day 2015: Best Recruit Announcements and Comments

National signing day can be either miraculous or treacherous depending on what team you support. But there's no denying the special moment it brings to the nation's top high school players.

Millions tune in throughout the day to see elite recruits tell the nation where they'll be headed, and the implications are far-reaching. A player can turn a rivalry on its head by flipping from one school to another or make a name for himself—for better or worse—with signing-day shenanigans.

With Wednesday marking the end of the 2015 recruiting cycle, plenty of those moments unfolded once again to make for another memorable signing day. Let's look at the most intriguing moments.

 

The Byron Cowart Circus of 2015

National signing day marks the end-all decision for top recruits as they put the pen to paper and send their letter of intent to their school of choice. Byron Cowart missed that last step by design.

The sweepstakes for the nation's No. 3 overall player and No. 1 strong-side defensive end seemed to come to a close when Cowart announced his intentions to sign with Auburn on ESPNU, per ESPN College Football:

Then, the weirdness ensued.

A report from ESPN.com's Andrea Adelson stated that Cowart actually signed letters of intent with both finalists, Auburn and Florida, leaving them with his high school coach, Sean Callahan. According to Callahan, Cowart has yet to make a decision and will wait as long as it takes to send in the papers:

Both scholarships were signed and given to me. He did not want to fax anything off. All he wanted to do was make a verbal commitment to Auburn. His family did not want anything faxed off until everybody feels clear on where he needs to be. He's confused and still needs time. And he does have time to figure it out.

His mother and mentor told him to hold up. ... I have no idea when this will go off. I'm not in that circle right now with who's making that decision.

While it's rare to see a recruit yet to make up his mind even after announcing his decision on national television, you can't really knock Cowart for doing his due diligence. He's facing a life-altering decision, and while it may leave diehard fans impatient, he has every right to do so.

 

Elite DE CeCe Jefferson Headed to the Swamp

Wednesday promised to be a make-or-break day for Florida's recruiting class pieced together in last-minute fashion by new head coach Jim McElwain.

With a couple of huge commitments, it looks to have been made instead of broken.

The first domino fell with the commitment of top offensive tackle and No. 2 player overall Martez Ivey, per 247Sports' JC Shurburtt. But that might pale in comparison to the impact of CeCe Jefferson's commitment, which Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman noted as the game-changer for Florida's class:

With Florida having already boasted a powerful defense in former head coach Will Muschamp's final few years at the helm, Jefferson figures to add even more punch to a stingy Gators defense.

As indicated by ESPN Stats & Info, he should bring an improvement to an already-stout Florida pass rush:

"I feel at home there," Jefferson told ESPNU following his announcement. "I got the chance to talk to coach McElwain about two to three times ... And I felt like that was home for me. I fit great in the type of defense they're trying to bring."

McElwain and Co. faced the daunting task of going up against the biggest recruiters in football—even Muschamp, who is now Auburn's defensive coordinator—and succeeded.

Jefferson has long been a blue-chip recruit in the class and a top priority for a lot of schools, but the in-state Gators found a way to nab him Wednesday.

 

UCLA (Not ITT Tech) for Top RB Soso Jamabo

Notable 5-star running back Soso Jamabo made headlines when he announced his finalists as ITT Tech and the University of Phoenix last week.

However, he found his way to a more traditional college football power on signing day.

Jamabo was actually picking between UCLA and Texas when the television cameras came on Wednesday, and he made it clear he's headed west as he spurned the in-state Longhorns, per ESPN College GameDay:

The 6'3", 210-pound running back is powerful yet nifty and figures to fit in well with UCLA's multifaceted offense that needs a bell cow. With a 4.55-second 40-yard dash, he should find his way through the line early and often to gash Pac-12 defenses.

But according to Jamabo himself, it's about much more than football:

There's no denying the girls in Los Angeles, but Jamabo also showed with his decision that he knows the far-reaching impact of it.

The Bruins are in need of some offensive firepower with plenty of key departures following 2014, and now Jamabo can be a central figure in the replacement of said players.

 

All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

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Arkansas Football Recruiting 2015: National Signing Day Grades and Analysis

The Arkansas Razorbacks rounded out 2015's national signing day with a strong class, landing Hjalte Froholdt, C.J. O'Grady and Will Gragg. These commits will have a big impact on the Razorbacks' future.

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee break down the class and dish out their grades.

What do you think of Arkansas' class? Check out the video and let us know.

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The Commitment: Watch 5-Star Iman Marshall's Epic Recruiting Announcement

The decision is here.

247Sports 5-star recruit Iman Marshall has narrowed his decision down to LSU, USC, UCLA, Michigan, Notre Dame and FSU. Where will the No. 1 cornerback in the 2015 class continue his football career?

Watch as Marshall reveals his decision in this unprecedented music video.

 

Music courtesy of BDE (Bonus) by Mac Miller/Rostrum Records.

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Ohio State Football Recruiting: Meet the Buckeyes' 2015 Class

For the fourth consecutive year, Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes have signed the Big Ten's best recruiting class.

It was a pressure-packed morning for the coaching staff, but the Buckeyes officially welcomed 27 incoming freshmen on Wednesday—an impressive group that ranks sixth nationally in the recruiting standings. Unsurprisingly, Meyer helped Ohio State surge to a strong finish, getting commitments from three players in the 48 hours leading up to national signing day.

Even more importantly, the Buckeyes hung on to prized pledges who were wavering on their commitments down the stretch.

Coming off their surprising run through the Big Ten title game and the first-ever College Football Playoff, Meyer reflected on the positive roll the Buckeyes are on.

“Lot of momentum right now at Ohio State," Meyer said at his signing day press conference, according to Eric Seger of The Ozone.

Let's meet the 27 new Buckeyes. 

 

Building the Fence

Year in and year out, one of Meyer's top priorities is securing the best talent Ohio has to offer. Dating back to the 2012 class, the Buckeyes have landed 15 of the state's top 30 players, highlighted by last year's class, which featured six of the Ohio's top seven recruits.

This year wasn't any different. Meyer and the Buckeyes cleaned up with their in-state recruiting efforts, signing eight of Ohio's top 13 prospects.

Justin Hilliard, Ohio State's lone 5-star recruit, headlines the group. The 6'0", 225-pound standout from Cincinnati is rated the No. 2 outside linebacker in the country, and he's joined by Jerome Baker, another linebacker prospect who's rated as OSU's third-best prospect.

Cornerbacks Eric Glover-Williams and Denzel Ward, defensive end Dre'Mont Jones, linebacker Nick Conner, wide receiver Alex Stump and quarterback Joe Burrow—all of whom are 4-star prospects—joined Hilliard and Baker, giving Meyer the homegrown talent he was looking for.

 

Loading the Trenches

Anyone who watched Ohio State's improbable run through the College Football Playoff saw the importance Meyer placed on winning the battle up front. On offense, he needs his line to be strong enough to bully its way downfield, but he also needs agility to trigger the Buckeyes' second-level blocking. On the other side of the ball, he wants his defensive line to confound the opponent with a combination of power and speed.

Winning the trenches was the difference for Ohio State this postseason, so it shouldn't be a surprise that Meyer aimed to load up on big men. 

Nearly 45 percent of the Buckeyes' 2015 class is made up of linemen. 

The centerpiece of Ohio State's defensive line haul is Jashon Cornell, a 4-star edge-rusher out of Saint Paul, Minnesota, who enrolled early to get a head start on his collegiate career. He was one of six defensive linemen to pledge to the Buckeyes this year—a group that's bolstered by intriguing prospects such as Robert Landers (3-star defensive tackle) and Joshua Alabi (3-star defensive end). 

Offensively, the Buckeyes sealed one of the surprises of the day when they got a commitment from Isaiah Prince. The 4-star offensive tackle decommitted from Alabama in late January, and many thought he would wind up with home-state Maryland. But his visit with the Terrapins last weekend wasn't enough for Prince to turn away the opportunity of joining the reigning national champions.

Along with Prince, the Buckeyes bolstered the interior of their line with 4-star guard Matthew Burrell and 3-star Mirko Jurkovic. A trio of 3-star offensive tackles—Grant SchmidtKevin Feder and Branden Bowen—give Ohio State excellent depth on the edges.

  

The Ones Who Almost Got Away

It wasn't a drama-free day for the Buckeyes.

Ohio State had to sweat out the final decisions from its top offensive commitments on Wednesday. Torrance Gibson, a 4-star dual-threat quarterback hailing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Michael Weber, a 4-star running back from Detroit, committed to the Buckeyes months ago, but both wavered down the stretch.

First up was Gibson, who began to explore his options after the emergence of Cardale Jones during Ohio State's improbable national title run. The dual-threat signal-caller recently visited Auburn, LSU and Miami, all of which were closer to home and had favorable depth at quarterback.

As it turned out, none of that mattered. Gibson reaffirmed his commitment to Ohio State during a press conference at his school on Wednesday, giving Meyer another outstanding quarterback to develop.

Once the Gibson news broke, all eyes turned north to Weber, who was feeling immense pressure from the home-state school. After Michigan hired Jim Harbaugh, the Wolverines went after the talented ball-carrier with everything they had in an effort to regain his commitment.

It was too little, too late for Harbaugh, though. Weber, who ran for 2,268 yards and 29 touchdowns during his senior year, stuck with the Buckeyes.

With Gibson and Weber on board, Ohio State's future backfield looks to be very dangerous. 

 

Sprinting to the Finish

Recruiting classes can be made or broken on the final day of the recruiting cycle, and fortunately for Ohio State, Meyer is one of the best closers in the country. Not only did the Buckeyes manage to keep Gibson and Weber, they also secured three big commitments down the stretch.

On Monday, Meyer recovered from Carlton Davis' deflection by flipping South Carolina commit Damon Arnette. The 3-star cornerback joined defensive backs Glover-Williams, Jamel Dean, Ward and Joshua Norwood, giving Ohio State the depth it was pursuing for its secondary.

To close things out, Meyer beat Nick Saban and Alabama for a pair of 4-star prospects on signing day. K.J. Hill, a blazing pass-catcher out North Little Rock, Arkansas, is rated the No. 16 wide receiver and the No. 152 prospect nationally. He was joined by Prince, the 6'6", 272-pound offensive tackle who decommitted from the Tide last month.

Ohio State's strong recruiting finish matched the way it closed out the 2014 season on the field. And with the way Meyer is recruiting, the Buckeyes are primed to continue their domination of the Big Ten and compete for national titles.

 

All recruiting rankings and information via 247Sports.

David Regimbal covers Ohio State football for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

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Equanimeous St. Brown to Notre Dame: Fighting Irish Land 4-Star WR Prospect


Notre Dame is hoping it just landed the next big-time wideout in college football after Equanimeous St. Brown officially committed to the Fighting Irish.

Irish Sports Daily had the news: 

The 4-star wide receiver ranks 19th among players at his position in the class of 2015 and is the 160th-best recruit overall in the country, according to 247Sports' composite rankings.

Listed at 6'5" and 205 pounds, St. Brown offers great size for a receiver. He needs to add some more muscle in order to hold his own against defensive backs at the college level, but once he hits South Bend, he will get the kind of strength-and-conditioning program that will help him get the necessary bulk.

Of course, size is useless if you don't know what to do with it.

St. Brown picks the ball out of the air. He uses his body well to leap above opposing defenders, and more importantly, he's able to react quickly if he sees the ball is under-thrown.

Most taller receivers tend to lack top-end speed, but St. Brown runs a 4.44 40-yard dash, according to his 247Sports profile, which shows how athletic he is. He may not be a true speedster, but once in the open field, it will be difficult for most defensive backs to catch him in stride. 

Route-running is a slight area of concern, as is his ability to change directions quickly. 247Sports rates him as an eight and seven out of 10 in both categories, respectively, along with marks of seven for agility and the potential to record yards after the catch.

You can see a vine of St. Brown running an out at the Rivals Camp Series below.

The physical tools are all there for St. Brown to become a major playmaker in college. It's up to Notre Dame's coaching staff to mold him into a consistent target.

There's no doubt that St. Brown has the mental makeup to quickly absorb the playbook and his coaches' advice.

Sports Illustrated's Chris Johnson profiled the prep star in July 2014, explaining both how St. Brown got his name and why he's among this year's most coveted recruits.

Perhaps the most unusual part of the story was when Johnson described St. Brown's cosmopolitan nature:

For starters, he is fluent in three languages: German, French and English. His mother, Miriam, was born in Germany and makes Equanimeous and his two brothers read German aloud for 10 minutes on the way to school every morning. "German magazines with political articles in it or scientific articles," Miriam said. “With words they’ve probably never heard."

St. Brown also visits Germany every year, lived in Paris with his mom and brothers for six months as a fifth-grader and attended a French school in Orange County for seven years. While St. Brown took the standard SAT in English, he scored well on both the French and German SAT subject tests and took the French Advanced Placement exam in May, even though his school doesn’t offer an AP French class. (St. Brown’s mom said he might also take the German AP exam.)

Because of his height, his ceiling is off the charts. St. Brown's floor is that he's a red-zone threat, which is still a valuable asset for even the best teams in the country.

The phrase "remember the name" comes to mind. After taking one look at Equanimeous St. Brown's name on the depth chart, that's something you won't get out of your head any time soon.

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Missouri Football Recruiting 2015: National Signing Day Grades and Analysis

The Missouri Tigers rounded out 2015's national signing day with a strong class, landing Drew Lock, Terry Beckner Jr. and Natereace Strong. These commits will have a big impact for the future for the Tigers.

Bleacher Report College Analyst Michael Felder, Adam Kramer, Barrett Sallee break down the class and dish out their grades.

What do you think of Missouri's class? Check out the video and let us know!

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