NCAA Football

Rashan Gary to Michigan: Wolverines Land 5-Star DT Prospect

The class of 2016's best defensive player has landed. Defensive tackle Rashan Gary gave his verbal commitment to Michigan on Wednesday, ending a process that included scholarship offers from nearly every major program.

Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report relayed Gary's decision.

The defensive tackle from Paramus, New Jersey, who is the No. 1 overall prospect in 247Sports' composite rankings, was also considered a top target of Ole Miss, Alabama, Auburn, USC and Clemson. The Crimson Tide held an early lead during the process, with a majority of 247Sports' experts ranking Nick Saban and Co. high heading into Gary's senior year.

Paul Myerberg of USA Today noted Gary is the first No. 1 overall recruit to sign with a team outside the SEC since Terrelle Pryor committed to Ohio State in 2008.

A personal recruitment from coach Jim Harbaugh helped sway the race in Michigan's direction. The Wolverines moved up rapidly after Harbaugh's hire, becoming a significant favorite near signing day and ousting a number of early front-runners, including Penn State.

The Nittany Lions were the first major program to express interest in Gary, offering him in June 2013 and keeping him close to the vest. He'd already visited campus three times before the end of his junior year. Most other programs had chosen to send their coaches Gary's way instead of having him come to campus.

Michigan was able to ascend into consideration in part due to the presence of Chris Partridge, Gary's former coach at Paramus Catholic. Harbaugh hired Partridge as a recruiting coordinator, though how much sway he has is unclear.

"Chris would never steer him to a school," Paramus Catholic offensive coordinator Greg Russo said last year, per Darren Cooper of the Record. "Rashan is going to go visit places in the spring. He has a lot of things set up. At the end of the day, if Rashan's mom and him and his support staff here at Paramus Catholic feel like [Michigan] is the best place for him, then it is. He will do great wherever he goes."

Listed at 6'5" and 293 pounds, Gary was probably ready to play major collegiate football two years ago. He's a big, explosive athlete who wreaks havoc in the backfield by combining his strength and quickness off the ball. In 2015, he recorded 55 tackles, 13.5 sacks and four forced fumbles, per 247Sports.

From a skill-set standpoint, it's hard to find a more complete defensive tackle. Gary is springy enough to be an elite pass-rushing threat and strong enough to disrupt the run. Once he gets into a major college program and works with a position coach, it shouldn't take him long to develop into a contributor. It'd be a surprise to see him take a redshirt, even with the depth Michigan already has in place.

All of that is a long way away, though. For now, Jim Harbaugh has a big cornerstone in what's shaping up to be a strong 2016 class.

 

Recruit star ratings and rankings via 247Sports, unless otherwise noted.

Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter.

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John Simpson to Clemson: Tigers Land 4-Star OG Prospect

Clemson solidified its offensive line in a big way Wednesday, as it secured a commitment from highly touted class of 2016 guard John Simpson.

Paul Zoeller of the Post and Courier provided a photo of Simpson making his decision:

Simpson is a 4-star prospect who ranks as the No. 7 guard in his class, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. At 6'4" and 290 pounds, the North Charleston, South Carolina, native seemingly already has the body needed to contribute at the collegiate level.

That is why many of the top programs in the southern United States courted the Fort Dorchester High School star. Florida, LSU, South Carolina and Alabama all offered him scholarships, in addition to Clemson, per 247Sports.

While Simpson developed into a dominant offensive lineman in high school and became one of the most coveted players in the nation at his position, he has surprised himself with his success to this point.

According to David Shelton of the Post and Courier, Simpson never expected to excel in the high school ranks, let alone play top-level college football:

Honestly, I never thought I was that good and I figured I would struggle just to be a starter at Fort Dorchester. I never saw myself as that talented. But the coaches at Fort Dorchester, coach (Steve) LaPrad and my line coach, coach (Joey) Still, they really pushed me and helped me see my potential. I owe who I am as a player to those guys.

Not only does Simpson have a chance to compete against the best college football players in the nation, but he also could soon develop into one of them in his own right.

His talent was on full display at the Army All-American Bowl practices, as he went toe-to-toe with some of the top pass-rushers in his age group, as seen in this video courtesy of 247Sports' Rusty Mansell:

In addition to that, Simpson showed off his impressive athleticism by outrunning the other guards who were invited to the game, per Barton Simmons of 247Sports:

While it's unlikely Simpson will be asked to sprint down the field often, he certainly seems capable of operating in an uptempo offense if need be.

At the same time, he is big and powerful enough to grind down opposing defensive linemen with his run blocking, so he appears to be the total package.

His all-around skill set should play extremely well in the Tigers' explosive offense. Should he become a starter or at least receive significant playing time as a freshman, he will block for a pair of elite players in the form of quarterback Deshaun Watson and running back Wayne Gallman.

Clemson has established itself as one of the nation's top football programs on the heels of its national championship game appearance this past season, and Simpson has a golden opportunity to continue building upon that reputation.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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Landon Dickerson to FSU: Seminoles Land 4-Star OT Prospect

Florida State just received a big boost to its offensive line after 4-star offensive tackle Landon Dickerson committed to the school on Wednesday.

247Sports reported Dickerson's decision.

The 6'5", 293-pound tackle is the 31st-best overall prospect and fourth-best offensive tackle in the nation. Coming out of Hudson, North Carolina, Dickerson is the No. 2 player from the state, according to 247Sports.

An athletic tackle who exhibits plenty of toughness, JC Shurburtt of 247Sports described Dickerson: "He looks like a lumberjack to be honest. Like a guy that spends all day chopping wood, throwing bulldozer tires or whatever other piece of symbolism you'd like to use."

You can see his speed off the snap, as ESPN's Craig Haubert watched Dickerson at The Opening, a premier camp for the nation's top prospects:

Dickerson could very well step in and start for the Seminoles, as he already seems fully developed and ready for college football, with a competitive edge that will allow him to succeed in the trenches, as Shurburtt explained.

"Too often, there are offensive line prospects that look the part and are great athletes, but they just are not very tough," Shurburtt wrote. "That's not lacking with Dickerson. ... Real football is a tough person's game, regardless of position, but particularly in the trenches."

Dickerson has the ability to succeed in both the pass and run block while possessing the kind of speed to follow the play downfield and provide support. That will prove invaluable to the Seminoles offense, especially with the running game. 

While there's still plenty of time before the fall, it already looks like Dickerson could start at the college level tomorrow, as his commitment to Florida State will certainly help improve not only its offense, but the well-being of its quarterbacks and leading rushers.

With Sean Maguire set to take over under center at Florida State, Dickerson, if he does play his freshman year, will be responsible for protecting the quarterback who will replace Everett Golson. 

While Maguire has had experience starting for the Seminoles, a stout offensive line will do wonders to put the quarterback's mind at ease in 2016. 

Dickerson will also have an opportunity to block for star running back Dalvin Cook, who could find himself in the Heisman Trophy conversation next season. 

Florida State has some vital skill players who are going to need protection in the future, and it looks like the Seminoles are confident Dickerson is just the man for that job. 

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Aaron Robinson Flips Commitment from Florida to Alabama

Welcome to national signing day, where surprises are expected. According to the Miami Herald, former Florida pledge Aaron Robinson spurned the Gators and flipped to Alabama.

The 3-star cornerback announced his decision during Deerfield Beach High School's signing ceremony.

Alabama extended a scholarship offer to him on Jan. 2, and the late charge paid off.

Robinson had been committed to Florida since June 2015, but he told the Herald that head coach Jim McElwain never made the trip. Robinson said:

"Coach McElwain being down—not being able to, not coming to visit me at all, knowing I'm a Florida commit—it actually took a big part of me and my family, my mother, we didn't like it at all. It wasn't the best thing for me. I didn't feel secured after that."

247Sports' composite rankings lists the 6'1", 178-pounder as the No. 57 cornerback prospect in the nation. Robinson also held offers from USC, Miami and Tennessee, among others.

Robinson finished the 2015 season with 41 tackles, four interceptions and four pass breakups, per Edgar Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel.

Robinson is slated to join a young and talented secondary in Tuscaloosa, headlined by sophomores Minkah Fitzpatrick and Marlon Humphrey. Though Cyrus Jones graduated, Tony Brown also returns for the Crimson Tide.

After arriving on campus, Robinson will compete with fellow 2016 Alabama cornerback signees and 4-stars Nigel Knott, Shyheim Carter and Jared Mayden—each of whom are Top 150 prospects nationally.

According to ESPN's Derek Tyson, Robinson "still needs a test score," so he must finish strong academically to officially enroll at Alabama.

Nevertheless, Robinson became the second player to back out of his Florida pledge on national signing day. Shavar Manuel, a 4-star defensive tackle, revealed on Bleacher Report that he will sign with Florida State.

Florida will attempt to fill Robinson's void with a 5-star cornerback Kristian Fulton, who is scheduled to choose between the Gators, Arkansas and LSU at 12:45 p.m. ET, according to Julie Boudwin of NOLA.com.

Update: Fulton chose LSU, per Anthony Chiang of the Palm Beach Post.

All recruiting information via 247Sports. Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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Auston Robertson Facing Misdemeanor Battery Charge, Reopens Recruitment

Auston Robertson, a 4-star defensive end from Fort Wayne, Indiana, will not sign with Michigan State on national signing day and will reopen his recruitment, he announced on Twitter:

Robertson, 18, is currently facing a misdemeanor battery charge in Fort Wayne, per Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press. It's unclear how much those charges are contributing to his delayed decision.   

The police report filed against Robertson last month indicates he was arrested on charges related to an October incident with a female classmate. The classmate claims that he touched her inappropriately while at school. The arrest was not made public until Wednesday. 

Robertson is considered the No. 101 recruit nationally and ninth-best weak-side defensive end in the 2016 class, per 247Sports. Listed at 6'5" and 260 pounds, he's one of the most physically ready players who's committed to Michigan State. 

This is Robertson's second brush with the law. He had charges of criminal mischief, damaging or defacing property and resisting arrest dismissed in September. Because of rules prohibiting coaches from commenting on recruits who have not committed, Spartans coach Mark Dantonio has not publicly said anything on the matter. 

Robertson gave his verbal to Dantonio last June and hadn't wavered until the final moments before he was due to sign. At the very least, the timing suggests one of the two parties decided it would be best to wait his legal situation out.

“What made Michigan State the right fit for me was every time I go up there it’s a family atmosphere,” Robertson said when committing, per Aubree Reichel of the Journal Gazette. "I have relationships with all the coaches who make it feel like a home to me. I’m blessed. I feel like I handled the process pretty well. I can contribute my pass-rushing abilities. I’m going to take my talents and really tear it up.”

Robertson previously considered Notre Dame and Ohio State in addition to Michigan State, but both schools had long since moved on.

247Sports' Crystal Ball metrics have not been adjusted since Robertson signed in East Lansing. He did not indicate which schools he'd be considering beyond Michigan State, so the Spartans still have to be considered a favorite. That said, he'll need to get his off-field problems in order before any other major college program takes a chance.

Robertson has until April 1 to sign a letter of intent if he wants to be eligible in 2016. 

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter

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Ahmmon Richards to Miami: Hurricanes Land 4-Star WR Prospect

Class of 2016 4-star wide receiver prospect Ahmmon Richards committed to Miami on Wednesday.

InsideTheU.com shared an image of Richards after his announcement:  

Coming out of Wellington High School in West Palm Beach, Florida, Richards is ranked as the 148th overall prospect, 23rd-best prospect in Florida and the 28th-best wide receiver in the nation, according to 247Sports' composite rankings

He isn't the biggest or necessarily the strongest receiver at 6'1 ½", 171 pounds, but he makes up for it in agility and his on-field sense. 

Richards has shown a great knack for knowing where he is on the field and where his defenders are while staying locked onto the ball. It's something that could make him a viable option from out wide as well as in the slot. 

Of course, there will have to be an acclimation period if he does become a slot option with Miami. At the college level, he'll have to make adjustments to his routes in order to avoid blitzes and coverage schemes. But with his kind of versatility, he'll be a vital asset to the Hurricanes offense.

Miami's passing game was one of its strongest aspects last season. The Hurricanes ranked 29th in the nation with 277.4 yards per game. In an offense that likes to spread the wealth, three different receivers had over 40 receptions and 600 receiving yards. 

The Hurricanes, though, did lose two of those three receivers, Herb Waters and Rashawn Scott, to graduation and needed to resupply that position this offseason. 

Acquiring Richards is a big help toward that cause. He not only will get to learn under experienced receiver Stacy Coley, the third receiver in the aforementioned trio, but he'll also be catching passes from quarterback Brad Kaaya, who is set to start his third consecutive season in the Miami offense. 

 

Stats courtesy of NCAA.com.

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No. 1 Kicker Quinn Nordin Commits to Michigan Wolverines

Kicker Quinn Nordin has made more headlines than some 5-star prospects during his recruitment, which he wrapped up on national signing day by announcing his decision to join the Michigan Wolverines.

Nordin, the nation's No. 1 kicker and No. 692 overall prospect in 247Sports' composite rankings, announced Wednesday morning that he is signing with Michigan:

For a kicker, the 3-star Rockford, Michigan, native is no stranger to the spotlight. Last July, Nordin announced his commitment to Penn State in a music video that featured a private jet:

Nordin was the subject of the college football world's attention again in January, when Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh planned to have a sleepover at Nordin's house at the exact minute when the recruiting "dead period" ended.

Harbaugh did just that, spending the night at Nordin's house and going to school with him the next day. The Michigan coach then drove Nordin to Ann Arbor for his official visit. Nordin decommitted from Penn State a little more than a week later.

Harbaugh talked about the sleepover Wednesday, shortly after Nordin signed, at the program's "Signing of the Stars" event, per the Detroit Free Press' Mark Snyder:

The sleepover strategy worked wonders for the Wolverines.

Nordin, who was also considering USC, told Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press he and Harbaugh "probably had spoken 20 times" since the sleepover—and Nordin initiated the phone calls.

"Ever since then, me and him are making a really good relationship," Nordin said. "He's an awesome guy. He's very serious about what he does and he gets the best out of each and every one of his players."

Harbaugh would love to get the best out of the nation's top kicking prospect. Nordin has been taped hitting a 65-yard field goal and drilling other long-range kicks on arena football goalposts:

Nordin will have a chance to compete for the starting kicking job at Michigan from day one of his college career.

The Wolverines return senior kicker Kenny Allen, who hit 18 of 22 field-goal attempts in his first year as a starter in 2015.

 

Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Justin Ferguson is a college football writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.

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Connor Murphy to USC: Trojans Land 4-Star DE Prospect

The defensive end recruiting crop got a bit thinner on Wednesday, as Connor Murphy officially committed to USC.

Blair Angulo of Rivals shared word of Murphy's commitment to the Trojans.

In early January, he announced on Twitter that he would be picking from a list of five schools that included Michigan, Alabama, USC, Oregon and Arizona State. 

Not yet regarded as an elite-level prospect, Murphy has all the tools to be one of this year's most underrated players. 

According to 247Sports' composite rankings, he is the 255th ranked prospect, the 18th-ranked weak-side defensive end and the fifth-best player in Arizona. But with his 6'7", 250-pound frame, there's certainly room for him to develop. 

Given his height, there's every reason to think Murphy can become an impact player with some small adjustments to his game. ESPN.com's scouting report noted his biggest flaw is a lack of bulk with his lanky height: 

Will need to add bulk to improve his ability to anchor or get off of blocks quickly to make a play at the line of scrimmage. Increasing upper and lower body strength would be beneficial in both the run and pass game. ... Murphy displays good upside and will continue to develop both physically and technically for the next level.

That's hardly a major knock, as all it takes to add bulk is more time in the weight room and some training with an experienced staff, which Murphy will certainly have access to at USC.

Size and athleticism are two things that every college coach looks for on the defensive line. Murphy has the length of a player like J.J. Watt, which isn't to say that's who he will turn into, but the physical attributes could make him one of this year's recruiting steals. 

After undergoing significant changes last year, a big recruiting class for 2016 is the best way for the Trojans to get a leg up in the Pac-12. 

Fortunately, the commitment of Murphy gives new USC head coach Clay Helton one of his biggest additions this signing season.

The Trojans already got one of the biggest recruits to enroll, defensive end Oluwole Betiku, so adding another high-profile player to the defensive line gives Helton a foundation to build around. 

The ability to get after the quarterback is a rare skill that has become increasingly important as college football has become more pass-heavy than ever. Murphy's ability to attack the backfield and bat passes down at the line of scrimmage presents him with a great opportunity in Helton's defensive scheme. 

Some more-heralded prospects will be going to USC this recruiting season, but Murphy has the potential to be better than any of them.

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Connor Murphy to USC: Trojans Land 4-Star DE Prospect

The defensive end recruiting crop got a bit thinner on Wednesday, as Connor Murphy officially committed to USC. Blair Angulo of Rivals shared word of Murphy's commitment to the Trojans...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Damian Alloway to UCLA: Bruins Land 4-Star RB Prospect

Damian Alloway, the No. 3 all-purpose back in the country in 247Sports' composite rankings, announced with Bleacher Report on Jan. 29 that he will attend UCLA this fall. The 5’8.5”, 170-pounder had 11 Division I offers, but narrowed down his final decision to Notre Dame and UCLA. 

UCLA confirmed the announcement on Wednesday:

Alloway showed interest in teams such as California, Oregon and Arizona State in addition to UCLA, but Notre Dame seemed to be the leader as his recruitment wore on. 247Sports' Crystal Ball predictions only gave the Bruins a 17 percent chance to land the in-state product, but he obviously liked what he saw in the program after he took his official visit in late January.

Even before that visit, the speedster talked to Brandon Huffman of Scout.com about what impressed him about UCLA:

Coach Meat (Demetrice Martin) and Coach Yarbs (Eric Yarber) have been recruiting me the whole time and I have a great relationship with them.  They've been pretty cool and then all my Ground Zero guys, Demetric Felton, Lokeni and Leni Toailoa and Krys Barnes, plus Breland Brandt, they're recruiting me. And Nathan Meadors is too.  I've never been on campus with a tour or able to talk to the academic people, so I'm doing that on my visit and getting the full experience.

Alloway said he was impressed with UCLA head coach Jim Mora after meeting him last year—for good reason. After finishing above .500 just five times in 12 seasons prior to Mora's arrival in Los Angeles, the Bruins have combined to go 37-16 the past four years.

The back's playmaking ability will fit in well with the Bruins. As you can see in the highlight video below from MaxPreps, the shifty Alloway has a knack for making defenders miss:

Alloway had hinted that he would announce his decision before the new year but instead waited until now. With his decision finally made, UCLA has a versatile athlete who could make a big impact early in his career.

The Summit High School star caught 55 passes for 1,084 yards and 23 touchdowns while rushing 17 times for 163 yards and two more scores his senior year, per Russell Ingold of the Fontana Herald News. Ingold also said he was "terrific at returning kickoffs and punts" and "played well at cornerback on defense." 

In a video posted on Scout.com by Huffman, Alloway said returning kicks is his favorite part of the game. "I mean, that's when you can really show your speed and get into the open field," he said. "To go 100 yards, I mean, that's a 100-yard touchdown and nobody can take that away from you."

He most likely will find himself on offense as a slotback or a receiver but does have potential to play defense as well. Whether he finds himself as a starter right away will certainly depend on how he practices and fits in with the team, but the fact he brings experience at numerous positions should enhance his chances at cracking the lineup.

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Vavae Malepeai to USC: 4-Star RB Decommits from Oregon, Joins Trojans

Running back Vavae Malepeai reportedly flipped his commitment from Oregon to USC on Wednesday during national signing day festivities.

Sam Spangler of KHON2 passed along the news, which the network's sports director, Rob DeMello, confirmed with the coveted recruit's parents.  

Malepeai is a 4-star prospect who rates just outside the top 200 nationally for the 2016 class, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. More importantly for the Trojans, he checks in as the No. 8 running back among the incoming group.

He powered his way into the Hawaiian record books during his senior season at Mililani High School. He leaves the state with the all-time rushing records in both yards (4,549) and touchdowns (71), according to USA Today.

Along with his rushing ability, it also sounds like USC is getting an all-around good person. Kalani Takase of ScoringLive passed along comments from Mililani athletic director Glenn Nitta about how Malepeai handled himself at the school:

Besides being really humble, just the way he carries himself on campus, it's not like, 'I'm Vae Malepeai.' He's just another student on campus and he doesn't bring attention to himself. He's always courteous, always says hello, he's very respectful. I mean, on the field he's an animal, but off the field he's just a teddy bear. It's amazing just to see his demeanor off the field—quiet, unassuming—everything that you want in your student-athlete is how Vae is.

The Trojans feature a crowded backfield depth chart, led by Ronald Jones II and Justin Davis, who both rushed for over 900 yards during the 2015 campaign. So Malepeai will need to fight for every ounce of playing time he receives at the outset.

That said, he's a high-upside prospect, and that talent should eventually shine through, even if it takes a season or two before he finds himself in a defined role. It's certainly a nice signing-day addition to the USC class, which 247Sports currently ranks just outside the top 10.

 

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Vavae Malepeai to USC: 4-Star RB Decommits from Oregon, Joins Trojans

Running back Vavae Malepeai reportedly flipped his commitment from Oregon to USC on Wednesday during national signing day festivities...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Jeffrey McCulloch to Texas: Longhorns Land 4-Star OLB Prospect

One of the nation's top linebackers has decided where he'll spend the next few years. Aldine Davis product Jeffrey McCulloch announced his commitment to Texas on Wednesday, choosing the Longhorns over Oklahoma, Alabama and a number of other high-profile programs.

ESPNU showed McCulloch revealing his school of choice:

McCulloch is the No. 59 overall player and the fourth-ranked outside linebacker in the 2016 class, per 247Sports' composite rankings.

The Houston native has made a name for himself as an explosive talent, earning invitations to most of the nation's biggest camps. According to 247Sports' Steve Wiltfong, he made 59 tackles (18.5 for loss), 9.5 sacks and 11 quarterback hurries during his junior season.

"I just try to be an aggressive pass-rusher who can cover anybody down the field," McCulloch told Damon Sayles of Bleacher Report in February 2015. "Honestly, I didn't think [my nickname, "The Shark"] would stick. I thought it was just us being silly at first. Then after awhile, I heard teammates saying it, then friends were saying it, then teachers were saying it."

Despite the fervor surrounding his commitment, experts have long considered him a near-lock for Texas. 247Sports' crystal ball predictions gave the Longhorns a 100 percent chance of landing McCulloch. Head coach Charlie Strong's background as a defensive mastermind helped Texas stand out in his initial recruitment. 

”I like having a defensive head coach,” McCulloch said, per Jason Higdon of Horns Digest. “The practice has high intensity and the stadium is awesome and is packed with great fans. Coach Strong is building a championship contending team."

McCulloch brings an overall skill set that could make him an instant-impact player. He's listed at 6'2 ½" and 230 pounds, which could allow him to shift into a number of different roles on defense.

It's not unreasonable to think he'd be an excellent inside linebacker, since he's equipped with the toughness and roving speed to make plays on the outside.

Either way, it's a huge coup for Strong as he continues building his 2016 class. The Longhorns appear well on their way to building a defensive foundation that can push them into the future.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter. 

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Nate Craig-Myers to Auburn: Tigers Land 4-Star WR Prospect

Highly sought-after wide receiver Nate Craig-Myers changed the 2016 class' landscape when he reopened his recruitment, but the Tampa, Florida, native has finally settled on a school after he committed to the Auburn Tigers on Wednesday.

Chad Simmons of Scout.com reported Craig-Myers' decision.

The Tampa Catholic High School standout is a 4-star prospect who is rated as the No. 6 wideout and No. 43 overall player in his recruiting class by 247Sports.

The 6'2", 205-pound pass-catcher initially committed to Auburn, but he withdrew his commitment in May, per Josh Newberg of 247Sports.

That gave hope to some of the other schools that showed interest in him, including North Carolina, Ole Miss, Florida, Florida State and several others.

With the Auburn commitment out of the picture, Tom D'Angelo of the Palm Beach Post speculated that Craig-Myers could heavily consider the Seminoles due to familial ties:

#FSU in play for nation's No. 1 WR Nate Craig-Myers of Tampa who had de-committed from Auburn. Noles LB Jacob Pugh is his cousin.

— Tom D'Angelo (@tomdangelo44) May 7, 2015

While FSU certainly emerged as a top option, Craig-Myers made it clear he would continue to consider Auburn even after the decommitment, per Wesley Sinor of AL.com:

They'll always be a school I have interest in because they are the first school that really gave me an opportunity to show my talent. I just want to sit down and talk with my mom and we'll go from there. ... They always have the same message—how important I am to them. Nothing changed. Even when I opened up my decision, it still didn't change. I just want to open up things and see every other school.

Craig-Myers fully realized just how much value he had when he re-entered the recruitment pool, and he used that to his advantage by doing his due diligence before settling on a school.

It can be argued that he was indecisive initially, but things are constantly evolving in college football, so it is tough to blame him for wanting to re-evaluate his position.

Now that Craig-Myers is seemingly comfortable with where he's going, the focus shifts toward his impact as a player in 2016 and beyond. As one of the top wide receivers in his class, there will undoubtedly be expectations for him to contribute instantly.

That may not ultimately come to fruition since every player transitions to the collegiate game differently, but there is no question Craig-Myers has the talent and skill set needed to be a star.

There's a reason why almost every top program in the country was in pursuit of Craig-Myers, and he'll likely be given every opportunity to prove that he was deserving of that interest.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter

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National Signing Day 2016: Afternoon Announcement Schedule and Predictions

Wednesday will reveal the destinations of some of the best high school prospects around the United States as national signing day kicks off. 

In what will be an all-day affair, recruits will be announcing their decisions beginning at 8 a.m. ET and could go until at least 8:30 p.m. ET, per 247Sports.com. However, we'll take a look at the prospects that will be making their announcements during the afternoon portion of the schedule. 

Here is the schedule of the most notable recruits that will be making their school choices on Wednesday afternoon. ESPN2 will be showing all the announcements from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET. 

One of the first recruits to make his decision on Wednesday afternoon is the No. 1-ranked player coming out of the class of 2016 in defensive tackle Rashan Gary

From Paramus, New Jersey, Gary is a 6'5", 293-pound lineman who has been unblockable at the high school level. He has the agility of a defensive end and the strength of an interior lineman along with the closedown speed to catch any kind of rusher. 

247 Sports' crystal ball predictions puts Gary at an 83 percent chance to head to Michigan. But Alabama is also looming. 

Another defensive tackle, No. 9 national recruit Derrick Brown will also be making his decision during the afternoon session. Unlike Gary, Brown is more of a run-stopping defensive tackle who is packing on almost 30 more pounds. 

Per 247Sports, it looks like Brown's decision will be coming down to either Georgia or Auburn. 

There are two other top-20 prospects, in No. 11 Mique Juarez and No. 15 Lyndell Wilson, both of whom are linebackers.

These are just some of the plethora of young, up-and-coming stars that will be lighting up the gridiron on Saturdays very soon. A number of schools are going to be very happy come the conclusion of national signing day as their rosters are going to improve big time. 

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Joejuan Williams to Vanderbilt: Commodores Land 4-Star CB Prospect

One of the most talented and versatile defensive backs in the Class of 2016 made his final collegiate decision on Wednesday, as Joejuan Williams committed to play for Vanderbilt. 

According to 247Sports, the Hendersonville High School standout is a 4-star player. Williams is an intriguing player for many reasons, but chief among them may be his size. At 6'2" and 195 pounds, he is very big for a cornerback, which could potentially lead to a switch to safety.

Per Andrew Ivins of Rivals.com, Notre Dame was among the schools during the recruiting process that expressed interest in trying him at both cornerback and safety.

Williams figures to get a look at multiple positions in 2016, which undoubtedly increases his value since he is capable of being utilized in so many different situations.

Due to his overall talent level and ability to do so many different things on the field, he was courted by a number of top schools, including Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss and many more, according to 247Sports.

“Vandy pursued him for two years, and it’s a big thing that they got him. He’s a homegrown guy, but he’s also one of the biggest signees they’ve gotten," said Chris Smith of Scout.com, per Adam Sparks of the Tennessean.

Williams had no shortage of factors to consider when making his decision, but per Michael Bratton of FoxSports.com, entering a winning atmosphere was chief among them:

It remains to be seen if Williams made the right decision in that regard, but he can certainly help contribute to a winning cause if his impressive skill set translates to the college game.

He already has a leg up on the competition due to his size, and he still has time on his side in terms of preparing to make the jump. Players aren't always able to make a smooth transition from high school to college, but Williams seems to have everything he needs to be an impact player right off the bat.

The exact role he will play has yet to be determined, but all signs point toward Williams being a special player regardless of where he is ultimately placed on the field.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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Dontavious Jackson to FSU: Seminoles Land 4-Star LB Prospect

Class of 2016 4-star inside linebacker Dontavious Jackson committed to Florida State on Wednesday, per Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com.

Jackson is ranked as the 90th-best prospect in the nation, the fourth-best linebacker prospect in the nation and No. 13 out of all recruits coming out of Texas, according to 247Sports.com.

The 6'2", 239-pound linebacker holds solid athleticism at the position, but what is most impressive about him is his ability to identify a play, exhibit enough patience to make his move and execute his plan of attack. 

He's quick enough to catch some of the most elusive runners and strong enough to throw them around like rag dolls. With that kind of skill set, it wasn't a surprise seeing him compete at the Under Armor All-America Game.   

Jackson will be an added boost to Florida State's run defense, and if he is able to develop his ability to pressure the passer, he is going to be a well-rounded force over time for the Seminoles defense. 

 

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Keyshon Camp to Pittsburgh: Panthers Land 4-Star DT Prospect

The Pittsburgh Panthers made a critical late addition to their 2016 recruiting class on Wednesday when defensive tackle Keyshon Camp joined the fold, head coach Pat Narduzzi announced: 

The 6’4”, 275-pound Camp is a 4-star prospect, per 247Sports’ composite rankings, and the No. 264 overall prospect in the class of 2016, No. 27 defensive tackle and No. 38 player from the state of Florida.

The Florida native drew interest from many of the best programs in the country, including Ohio State, Michigan and USC. Lindsey Thiry of the Los Angeles Times said Camp took official visits to Michigan and USC during the season. 

He was actually part of the Trojans’ class until January, when he decided to open up his recruitment again. He shared his mindset at the time on Twitter:

Ari Wasserman of Cleveland.com noted the decommitment came closely after Ohio State offered him a scholarship. The Buckeyes turned to Camp when fellow defensive line prospect Rashard Lawrence elected to attend LSU instead of joining Urban Meyer’s class, but he chose to attend Pittsburgh instead.

Camp’s decommitment from USC was just one twist in his recruitment. He initially decided to stay close to home (Lakeland, Florida) and join Miami’s class, but he ultimately elected to keep his options open with nearly a year remaining until signing day and decommitted.

Camp also drew plenty of interest from Missouri during his recruiting cycle, but the Philadelphia Eagles hired Tigers defensive line coach Chris Wilson. Wilson was a critical figure in Camp’s recruitment, and Ryan Donnelly of Rivals said that hire “could be interesting in the recruitment” of Camp.

It is no wonder so many schools pursued the defensive tackle. He is a physical presence who can stuff runs up the middle and force pressure right in a quarterback’s face. If he fills out even more at Pittsburgh, he will be capable of occupying multiple blockers at once and creating more openings for his teammates to attack off the edge.

Scout Florida analyst Corey Bender discussed Camp in 2015, per Allen Trieu of the Detroit News, and said the defensive lineman “really caught everyone’s attention” at The Opening Regional, which drove his stock way up.

The Panthers deserve plenty of credit for beating out blue-chip programs in pursuit of Camp. Coach Narduzzi impressed with an 8-5 record in his first season, and the program will only continue to improve if he lands recruits like Camp for the foreseeable future.

Narduzzi has a defensive background from years as Michigan State’s defensive coordinator, and he likely connected with Camp along those lines during the recruiting process. Pittsburgh was a middling 49th in the nation in scoring defense in 2015 and needs to bolster that side of the ball to consistently compete in the ACC.

Adding someone like Camp is a great place to start.

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Jauan Williams to FSU: Seminoles Land 4-Star OT Prospect

The offensive line is the foundation of every football team, and Jauan Williams is regarded as one of the best tackles in the 2016 class. Now, he will become a foundation piece for the Florida State Seminoles.

“I am going to Florida State,” Williams said, per Chris Nee of 247 Sports. “Because of Coach Trickett and Coach Fisher. They are great.

According to 247Sports' composite rankings, Williams is a 4-star prospect and the No. 15 offensive tackle in the 2016 class. 

At 6'7", 303 pounds, the Washington, D.C., native is built like a second- or third-year college offensive lineman, and he plays with a mean streak. 

Here's evidence of Williams' nastiness on the field from Nike's The Opening in 2015, per Barton Simmons of 247Sports:

JC Shurburtt of 247Sports described the video above as exemplary of Williams' game at this moment:

Now, this isn't a perfect rep. He's a little clumsy with his hands and upper body, but watch how well he moves his feet. Also, take note of the frame, which surely will become more developed (i.e. strong) within a college strength and conditioning program.

Williams is still learning to harness his size and physical gifts as a blocker. Using 247Sports' 1-10 scale, he rates as a six in run blocking and a seven in pass blocking. 

After being the leader for Williams services, Florida State was able to haul in the star offensive tackle. He told SB Nation Recruiting in December the Seminoles were his top choice, making life easier for head coach Jimbo Fisher. 

The Seminoles have put together another strong recruiting class, ranked fifth by 247Sports, with Williams only solidifying this program's spot among the nation's elite.

Even before Williams announced his decision, Simmons wrote that Florida State was well on its way to having the ACC's best recruiting class for 2016. 

"Not only does Florida State have the top class in the ACC," Simmons wrote, "the Seminoles don't seem like they're anywhere close to being done heading down the homestretch."

Even coming off a down year in 2015, which still saw the team win 10 games, Florida State is well stocked to make a return to the top of the ACC and compete for a spot in the College Football Playoff next season. 

There's clearly plenty of talent for Williams' new college coaches to work with. He's the total package in terms of what teams want a tackle to look like. 

Once everything clicks for Williams—and there's no reason to think it won't—there's no telling how great he can become. Development is a process, but that's why coaches get paid a lot of money.

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Deontay Anderson to Ole Miss: Rebels Land 4-Star Safety Prospect

Dynamic 4-star safety Deontay Anderson announced Wednesday he will play college football for the Ole Miss Rebels.

Anderson announced his commitment through a Bleacher Report video:

Anderson is the second-ranked safety in the 2016 class, the eighth-ranked player out of Texas and the 53rd-best prospect overall in 247Sports' composite rankings.

The Manvel High School star from Texas has all of the physical faculties to be an elite player in Ole Miss' secondary. Strong football instincts and a knack for stepping up in run support should help Anderson see the field quickly—on special teams at the very least.

Tom Lemming of the CBS Sports Network highlighted how fast Anderson is, citing his prowess as a track sprinter:

Where he has some room for improvement is in coverage. The 18-year-old did make strides in that area as a senior, hinting at just how strong of an all-around player he has the potential to be.

TexasFootball.com's James Lott wrote in August 2014 that he believes Anderson has the makings of being a pro someday:

This is one of the best HS football players I have seen this year. Jumps out at you in person up close, even as a freshman, leaving me to say 'coach, who the hell is that kid.' Offered as a sophomore by Alabama, LSU, Texas and others. One of the best 2016 prospects in the country. NFL safety in the making. Can change the outcome of the game by himself. Can fly. Sprinter on the track team.

Listed at 6'1" and 192 pounds by 247Sports, Anderson already has the length, strength and the style of play to be effective on the back end. Anderson shows a knack for preventing receivers from winning 50-50 balls, something that will come in handy as he adjusts to the NCAA level.

What should help Anderson in that regard is his demonstrated ability to act fast toward the ball once it's thrown. He flashes exceptional closing speed and can deliver crushing, well-timed hits. 

Another element to Anderson's game that may discourage opposing quarterbacks from throwing at him is his field vision. In addition to thriving in the defensive backfield at Manvel, Anderson has proved to be a great returner, so he could be deployed on kickoff or punt returns for Ole Miss if he doesn't fit into the team's immediate defensive plans.

The Rebels had the 104th-ranked pass defense last season and need tremendous improvement in that area to have a real chance at SEC contention. That isn't necessarily Anderson's forte, but he's the type of safety who can step into the box and help Ole Miss remain stout versus the run.

Stud defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche is headed to the pros as a 2016 NFL draft entrant, so his absence figures to loom large on the front seven. Any contribution Anderson can provide therein is a plus—or he could help the team with field position if he can step up as a return man. 

That type of feel for what to do with the ball in his hands makes Anderson a threat to take an interception to the end zone whenever he gets the opportunity.

Keep Anderson in mind over the next few years as his role with the Rebels evolves, because he should prove to be one of the better players in the country to come out of the 2016 class.

 

Recruit star ratings and rankings via 247Sports, unless otherwise noted.

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