NCAA Football News

Devin Asiasi to Michigan: Wolverines Land 4-Star TE Prospect

Michigan added one of the most intriguing recruits in the 2016 class on Wednesday with a commitment from Devin Asiasi. While it may take some time before he makes a major impact for the Wolverines, he's got the tools to become a star.

Sean Merriman of the Big Ten Network passed along word of Asiasi's decision to join the Wolverines.  

Asiasi is a 4-star prospect who ranks as the 74th best prospect in the class of 2016, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. He's rated as the No. 3 tight end prospect in the country and is also the 12th-best prospect from California.

He's been viewed mostly as a tight end throughout the recruiting process, and it's probably where he'll begin his college career. That said, he's also gained experience at defensive end and possesses the physical tools to excel there if he were to commit to it.

There aren't many players in the class who can match Asiasi's combination of size (6'3", 270 lbs) and athleticism. He's tough to defend because he can expose a defense down the seams but is also strong enough to develop into a key target in the red zone.

While everyone is focused on his talent on the field, Asiasi is prouder of another aspect of the latest stop on his football journey, Bleacher Report's Damon Sayles noted.

"I'll be the first one in my family to go to college," Asiasi said. "That's my inspiration. That's what drives me every morning. Every time I see my cousins, they'll say, 'You're the one.' They say I'll be the one to show that you can do way more than what's being done."

That's certainly a major accomplishment, but it's still on the gridiron where he'll likely make a name for himself for the next handful of years. Jamie Uyeyama from Son of a Coach provided an overview of what he sees from Asiasi on the offensive side of the ball:

He's not explosive out of his breaks, but is a solid route runner that uses his body very well to gain separation. He has very good hands and catches the ball away from his body. He's a weapon over the middle of the field in short and intermediate areas. He's comfortable to line up in the slot as well as in-line. He's just so big that safeties and linebackers will struggle to cover him if used properly.

The last part is key. He's a prototypical modern tight end because he can split out wide or work from the line. Regardless of where he lines up, he's usually too strong for a safety or a corner but too quick for many linebackers.

His initial breaks need work, he can benefit from reading coverage schemes better, and he'll need to become a more consistent blocker before moving into an every-down role. At the outset, using him in select packages to utilize his offensive upside is the best move.

Heading to Michigan should put Asiasi in an ideal situation. He won't be counted on right away because of the presence of Jake Butt, but he should learn a lot from one of college football's top players at the position and then have a chance to significantly increase his role in his second year.

Butt racked up 51 catches for 654 yards and three touchdowns during the 2015 season. He's made major strides in his all-around game since joining the Wolverines and should be a top draft prospect after another year of seasoning in Ann Arbor.

Michigan's newest tight end will hope to follow a similar path.

Ultimately, Asiasi isn't a polished product quite yet. Once he gains experience and gets some more coaching, however, there's a good chance he'll become a nightmare to defend.

 

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Quartney Davis to Texas A&M: Aggies Land 4-Star WR Prospect

After reopening up his recruitment, Quartney Davis is right back where he started. Texas A&M announced that the 4-star wideout committed on Wednesday. 

Davis is a big addition to the Aggies passing attack ahead of the 2016 season. According to 247Sports' composite ranking, he's the No. 24 wide receiver and No. 128 overall in his recruiting class. The Houston native will join fellow 4-star wideout Clyde Chriss and 3-star WR Kendrick Rogers.

In June, Davis announced he had committed to the Aggies but walked back on that decision in December. Rather than any significant issues with Texas A&M, he cited a need to fully explore his options before making a choice:

Plenty of schools attempted to capitalize on Davis' indecision, with Fox Sports Southwest's Howard Chen reporting that Missouri, Oklahoma, Ole Miss and Houston were among those to offer him a scholarship. In the end, though, Davis still decided that the Aggies would be the best team for him.

Missing out on Davis would not only have hurt the Aggies roster for next year but would've arguably had a major symbolic impact on Texas A&M, given the school's upheaval on offense once the 2015 season ended.

Jake Spavital is no longer the offensive coordinator, which might be addition by subtraction in the eyes of some fans. Not quite so positive, the Aggies also lost Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray, the top two quarterbacks on their depth chart for 2016. Head coach Kevin Sumlin added graduate transfer Trevor Knight to be the short-term solution at QB, but it still hasn't been a great offseason for A&M.

Getting the commitment of Davis again will help continue the team's positive momentum after Knight's transfer.

The Aggies are a great fit for Davis. Not only do they have the kind of high-powered attack that will showcase his game, but the presence of fellow wideouts Ricky Seals-Jones, Josh Reynolds and Christian Kirk will allow him to learn and develop his game early in his college career.

Davis has great size (6'2.5", 181 lbs) for his position, and when you add that to his impressive speed, he'll be a dangerous target in the Texas A&M offense. Not only is Davis built to do the dirty work on inside routes, but he can beat opposing secondaries over the top on deeper routes down the field.

The great thing about Davis is that even if he fails to hit his massive ceiling, he should still be a difference-maker on the field, especially in the red zone, thanks to his vast skill set. He ticks just about every box on the checklist for an elite wide receiver: above-average speed, agility, route-running, large wingspan/catch radius and an ability to make the simple and difficult catches alike.

In a few years, Davis could emerge as the best talent to come out of Texas A&M's recruiting class. 

 

Recruit star rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

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College Football Preseason Top 25 Ranking Post-2016 National Signing Day

National signing day has come and (for the most part) gone. High school prospects from around the country have made perhaps the biggest decisions of their lives, and now it's time to move forward.

With that in mind, it's time to revisit our offseason Top 25 with the new roster additions. 

Consider this an updated version of our super early Top 25, not a roundup of the top 25 classes on signing day. All the same projection criteria apply as before—which players and coaches are returning/leaving?—but with the addition of new faces who could contribute right away.

With that, let's get to it. Here's your post-signing day preseason Top 25.

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Notre Dame National Signing Day 2016: 5 Takeaways from Irish's Class

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — On a day where Notre Dame football head coach Brian Kelly mentioned dabs, DMs and drama, the Irish officially welcomed in a solid crop of 23 signees in their 2106 class.

“Today is a celebration,” Kelly said. “But it shouldn’t be the highlight of their career moving forward.”

There still could be more to come for Notre Dame, who have a pair of targets undeclared. In the meantime, let’s assess the Irish's class and look ahead at those careers.

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E.J. Price to USC: Trojans Land 4-Star OT Prospect

Per Scott Schrader of 247Sports, 4-star offensive tackle E.J. Price announced he will attend USC.   

Hailing from Archer High School in Lawrenceville, Georgia, the 6'6", 311-pound Price is the 84th-best overall prospect in the 2016 class and ranks as the eighth-best offensive tackle, according to 247Sports. He is also the 10th-best prospect coming out of the state of Georgia. 

Price will be able to dominate the line of scrimmage in the running game with his size. The possibility of his body getting even bigger is a scary thought for opposing pass-rushers. 

With such a big body, reaction time will be important on the offensive line, as he needs to make sure he can stay in position close to the ground and use his strength as leverage.

Price does possess enough speed, which is surprising with such a frame, to keep up with his backs to provide vital blocks. 

Price isn't the only highly touted lineman headed to USC, as he joins fellow 4-star commits Frank Martin II and Nathan Smith in the Trojans' class. The Trojans offensive line is in need of some help, too. Last season, USC allowed 38 sacks in just 14 games. 

It didn't fare much better in the rushing game, ranking 70th in the country. 

Price's versatility and sheer size could help improve both of those numbers, especially because he will be on the inside, breaking open lanes for USC's running backs. 

 

Stats courtesy of NCAA.com.

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5-Stars Ben Davis, Mack Wilson Will Carry on Alabama's Great LB Tradition

Less than a month after his fourth national championship victory at Alabama, head coach Nick Saban continues to provide Crimson Tide fans with reasons to celebrate.

The program picked up a pair of commitments from two of America's most coveted defenders Wednesday when 5-star linebackers Ben Davis and Lyndell "Mack" Wilson announced intentions to attend college in Tuscaloosa:

Considered Alabama's top two in-state prospects, this duo provides plenty of promise for future defensive dominance.

Davis, rated No. 1 nationally among inside linebackers in composite rankings, is a 6'3", 240-pound Gordo High School standout. Wilson, who stands 6'2", 220 pounds, attends Carver High School and is considered the No. 2 outside linebacker in this 2016 recruiting cycle. 

Both players were nominated as finalists for the Butkus Award, which is annually handed out to the country's premier high school linebacker. They developed a bond early in the recruiting process, routinely hinting at the possibility of lining up alongside each other next season and beyond.

"Mack is my dude. ... He's been talking with me about playing together all the time, but we'll see how it goes," Davis told Bleacher Report during the 2015 season.

The duo took different routes to Tuscaloosa but arrive with similarly immense expectations.

Davis, the son of all-time Alabama tackles leader Wayne Davis, looks to carry a lofty family legacy. Despite strong speculation he was a Crimson Tide lock from the start, official visits at Auburn, Georgia, LSU and Notre Dame proved otherwise.

"My dad will support whatever decision I make 110 percent," Davis told Bleacher Report last year. "He hasn't really pushed me toward one school or another. He just wants to make sure I'm comfortable with the situation wherever I go."

Ultimately, he didn't need to look far for the right fit after exploring several alternative options.

Wilson previously mentioned Florida as a favorite, but Georgia emerged as Alabama's main competition by signing day. Former Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Kirby Smart charged hard in his new role as Bulldogs head coach, though it wasn't quite enough to pry Wilson away from his former mentor.

He and Davis undoubtedly maintained dialogue during the final phases of their respective lengthy decision-making processes. 

"We're like brothers. We really only met two years ago, but it's grown and gotten better. I trust him, and he's just like a close brother to me," Wilson told John Garcia Jr. of Scout.

New Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt previously served in the same position at Georgia, where he pursued both playmakers on behalf of Georgia. He adds to a stockpile of young, elite athletes who will be groomed to eventually replace outgoing Alabama defenders in the coming years and provide supplemental support as they develop.

Wilson totaled 115 tackles—18 for loss—and five sacks in 2015, per MaxPreps. Davis tallied 119 tackles and seven touchdown receptions as a senior, according to Joey Chandler of the Tuscaloosa News, claiming MVP honors at the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic.

The list of Saban-era linebackers who reached collegiate stardom and eventual NFL opportunities includes Courtney Upshaw (Baltimore Ravens), Dont'a Hightower (New England Patriots) and potential 2016 first-round draft pick Reggie Ragland. Those predecessors help establish a certain tone of authority in Saban's defensive attack.

The position is a point of pride in Tuscaloosa that predates Saban's arrival. 

Lee Roy Jordan was a physical leader of the 1961 national championship team and went on to make five NFL Pro Bowls. Derrick Thomas dominated in the late 1980s and is among the most prolific pass-rushers in history, earning induction into both the professional and college football Hall of Fames. 

There's a lot to live up to for this exciting tandem of Crimson Tide newcomers. Given their reputation on the recruiting trail, Alabama fans will closely monitor their emergence moving forward.

 

Unless otherwise noted, quotes were obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake.

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Aaron Hansford to Texas A&M: Aggies Land 4-Star LB Prospect

One of the 2016 class' premier outside linebackers has finally found a home, as Aaron Hansford committed to Texas A&M Wednesday.

Adam Friedman of Rivals.com reported Hansford's decision.

The 6'2", 210-pound native of Washington, D.C., is rated by 247Sports as a 4-star prospect, and he is the No. 12-ranked player in the country at his position.

Many of the top schools in the nation courted Hansford in an attempt to land his unique skill set, as evidenced by this listing of his top 10 choices, according to Bleacher Report's Tyler Donohue:

Remarkably, Texas A&M wasn't even on Hansford's radar in December, yet it ultimately managed to leapfrog at least 10 other schools.

With so many great programs pursuing him, Hansford decided to take his time before coming to a final decision.

Per ESPN.com's Gerry Hamilton, that was a conscious move on the part of the St. John's College High School standout based on his comments during the fall:

I don't really have a timetable. I want to make a decision as soon as I feel like I'm comfortable with the school and the environment. I don't know when that will fall. It could be after the season, around the Under Armour Game or close to signing day. I don't really know because I want to make the correct decision and not regret it later.

Now that Hansford has finalized his choice, the focus shifts toward what he will bring to the table during his freshman season and beyond.

While he is a smaller linebacker in terms of weight, his speed and athleticism set him apart from many of his peers and are perhaps the biggest reasons why he was so coveted. According to 247Sports, Hansford boasts a 40-yard dash of 4.51 seconds, which is comparable to many defensive backs.

As seen in this video from Under Armour All-America Game practices, courtesy of Rivals.com, his quickness makes him a major asset in pass coverage:

Hansford also figures to excel when it comes to tracking ball-carriers from sideline to sideline because of his speed, which is why it is easy to envision him being a star in the college game.

He may need to bulk up a bit in order to develop into a premier NFL prospect down the line, but he has a chance to be successful at the collegiate level based solely on his current physique and skill set.

Teams coached by Kevin Sumlin are primarily known for their offenses, but defense was actually the Aggies' biggest strength in 2015, as they ranked 29th in the nation in points allowed.

Sumlin is clearly looking to build upon that, and bringing in an athletically gifted linebacker like Hansford should keep the positive momentum rolling.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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Terrell Hall to Alabama: Crimson Tide Land 4-Star DE Prospect

Class of 2016 4-star defensive end Terrell Hall, who withdrew his commitment to the Ohio State Buckeyes in August, announced on Wednesday that he will play college football at Alabama.

Brandon Parker of the Washington Post provided a video of the announcement: 

Hall is the sixth-ranked weak-side defensive end prospect in the country and the 64th-best recruit overall in the 2016 class, according to 247Sports.

The 6'5", 250-pound product of St. John's College High School in Washington, D.C., possesses the type of body and skills that can help him make an immediate impact for Alabama.

To go with his incredible measurements, Hall has the raw skills and instincts to be a productive college player. He has a knack for placing his hands in the proper place to fight off blockers and disengage, rarely leaving himself out of position.

Hall is always around the football thanks to his massive reach and innate ability, but he does have good technique for someone whose athletic skills allowed him to dominate high school competition. Hall's discipline versus the run and ability to diagnose plays and react quickly stand out.

Thanks to his quick first step and exceptional acceleration, offensive linemen have difficulty handling Hall as a pass-rusher as well.

The Crimson Tide could use help on their defensive front seven. They lost A'Shawn Robinson, Jarran Reed and Reggie Ragland from their national championship team to the 2016 NFL draft, yet coach Nick Saban has a deep stable of players to pull from thanks to his loaded recruiting classes.

There's at least some chance Hall could jump into the rotation at defensive end and have an impact as a situational player. Starting right away in the SEC, especially in Tuscaloosa, would be quite an achievement, but it's more likely Hall will yield to incumbent edge players this coming year. 

Hall could stand to add a few moves to his arsenal, but the 17-year-old already has great bend—and the coaching Hall will receive from Alabama should help him hone the finer points of his game.

Although he isn't quite as hyped as the 5-star recruits in his class, Hall's ceiling is high. If he continues on his current trajectory, he can be a multiyear starter for Alabama as a force on the edge.

If he realizes his potential, Hall may become a dominant player and emerge as one of the biggest stars from the 2016 class as a junior or senior.

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National Signing Day 2016: Recruit Commitments, Comments and Twitter Reaction

Wednesday marks the biggest day of the college football year. National signing day gives every program across the country hope for the future, a feeling that even one major commitment can be the missing piece to winning a national championship.   

Even though a lot of marquee players have already given their verbal commitment prior to national signing day, there was still a wealth of talent able to completely change the dynamic of college football. 

The biggest fish waiting to be reeled in was star defensive tackle Rashan Gary. A New Jersey native, Gary is a 5-star prospect and the top-ranked player overall in 247Sports' composite rankings. He's listed at 6'5" and 293 pounds with a 4.7-second 40-yard dash under his belt. 

Gary had been linked heavily to Michigan leading up to national signing day and gave the Wolverines his commitment on ESPN with his family in tow:

The wins keep coming for Michigan under head coach Jim Harbaugh. He already built a terrific recruiting class before Wednesday, ranked fifth overall by 247Sports, but securing a dynamic game-changer on defense transforms everything. 

If you don't know what Gary is capable of doing, ESPN's Derek Tyson provided a visual reminder from The Opening:

Gary was doing that against offensive tackle Gregory Little, whom 247Sports ranked as the No. 3 overall prospect in this year's class. 

Landing Gary also saved Harbaugh the agony of losing a high-profile recruit at his Michigan recruiting party. Jim Weber, formerly of Lost Lettermen, provided what the scene may have looked like at that party with one famous Michigan alum:

While the Wolverines certainly look a lot better in recruiting rankings now, their rival Ohio State is among the top classes this year. According to 247Sports' rankings, the Buckeyes own the nation's third-ranked class with 25 total commitments, including 16 rated at least 4-star prospects. 

The crown jewel of Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer's class this year is defensive end Nick Bosa, brother of Joey Bosa. The younger Bosa is the eighth-ranked player overall and plays on the right side of the line. 

Even though Joey is taking his skills to the NFL, possibly as the No. 1 pick in April's draft, Meyer made it clear there won't be any lapse in having Nick on Ohio State's defensive line, per Bill Landis of Cleveland.com:

While not surprising, it's not an insignificant statement for Meyer to make because Bosa suffered a partially torn ACL in November. 

Bosa's father told Ari Wasserman of Cleveland.com it will "be close" if his son is going to be ready when Ohio State opens fall camp in August: "He's doing fantastic. Part of it is having the best surgeon in the world, part of it is great genes and part of it is his sick work ethic."

One interesting recruiting point for Meyer, per Kenny Roda of WHBC 1480 in Canton, Ohio, is how well Ohio State's head coach does in his current home state and former home state:

There are many reasons Meyer is successful as a head coach, not least of which is his ability to take care of his own backyard. 

While Ohio State can bask in the glow of being No. 3 right now, two programs that came into Wednesday in low-key fashion have made a lot of noise as the hours have progressed, per ESPN College Football:

Low key is certainly a relative term for Alabama. It's become habit for the Crimson Tide to boast one of the nation's two- or three-best recruiting classes every year. 

The big jump for Alabama was scoring inside linebacker Ben Davis, who immediately endeared himself to fans in Tuscaloosa with his choice of head gear on ESPN:

According to ESPN Stats & Info, Davis' commitment also continued Alabama's trend of securing top-ranked players at various positions:

Davis also gives Alabama head coach Nick Saban some insurance at inside linebacker with 2015 SEC Defensive Player of the Year Reggie Ragland graduating. 

Moving to the other team, Texas and head coach Charlie Strong desperately needed something good to happen following back-to-back seven-loss seasons. 

Bruce Feldman of FoxSports.com believes the Longhorns' surge is the biggest story on national signing day:

The Longhorns made a big move especially when you consider that three weeks ago all the major online recruiting services had UT ranked in the 30s. As Stew Mandel and I discussed on The Audible back then, those rankings shouldn’t have come as a shock given that Texas had just come off a dismal 5-7 season where the Longhorns didn’t even make a bowl game; that there was a staff shake-up involving another offensive scheme change; and that head coach Charlie Strong’s job status had been a hot topic there all fall.

The Longhorns' bump came thanks to securing a lot of help on defense, including safety Brandon Jones (No. 40 overall), outside linebackers Jeffrey McCulloch (No. 59 overall) and Erick Flowers (No. 75 overall) and defensive tackle Chris Daniels (No. 183 overall). 

One thing those players have in common is they are all from Texas. Strong coaches in a football hotbed and should have no problem adding impact players in his home state, as he proved capable of doing this year. 

More encouraging for fans in Austin, Strong sent a text message to Bonnie Bernstein of Campus Insiders about his plans after a big national signing day:

Strong got a bum rap for Texas' problems the last two years, but he was put in a no-win situation. He was still working primarily with players brought in to run Mack Brown's system, so now the 55-year-old has been able to build his roster. 

History also looks favorably on Strong entering 2016. He went 7-6 in each of his first two seasons at Louisville before going a combined 23-3 the next two years, which led to him getting the job at Texas. 

Another national powerhouse somehow managing to have a quietly successful national signing day is Clemson. The Tigers should be cashing in after playing for a national title last month, but the way head coach Dabo Swinney and his staff are going about it is unusual. 

While other top classes are built on high-ceiling talent and depth, Clemson is virtually all the former. The reigning ACC champions are tied with Georgia for the second-fewest commitments (19) among top-10 classes, but 14 players are rated as 4- of 5-star prospects. 

Bumping Clemson into the elite group was a commitment from star cornerback Trayvon Mullen. The tall cornerback also gave Swinney another boost in the state of Florida, where he has been fantastic lately, per ESPN Stats & Info:

Making Mullen's commitment even sweeter for the Tigers is they beat out ACC rivals Florida State and Louisville for his services.

The Seminoles won't be shedding a tear over losing Mullen because they still have 247Sports' No. 1 class in the country, but the sting of seeing Clemson get better at their expense does put a damper on the party in Tallahassee. 

College football's future takes shape on national signing day. All of the traditional powers expected to dominate in recruiting have held their own, but the field looks deeper now than it has in a long time.

Texas is on its way back, Michigan is having a fantastic run with Harbaugh, and Clemson is dazzling with its ability to land impact players. The landscape in college football is changing with great options for elite players to choose from, so success no longer means having the best class. 

It's all about finding the best players who fit in with a system. That's reflected in Wednesday's signing day results. 

 

Recruiting and commitment info per 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

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Jordan Elliott to Texas: Longhorns Land 4-Star DT Prospect

Less than a week before national signing day, Jordan Elliott decommitted from Michigan. The 4-star defensive tackle made his backup plan clear Wednesday, announcing he will attend Texas.

"I just want to make my family proud," Elliott said about his commitment, per Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman.

The Westside (Houston) star had been trending toward Texas for some time. 247Sports' Crystal Ball metrics made the Longhorns a favorite throughout the process, eventually spiking once Elliott announced he was joining defensive end Rashad Weaver and defensive back Antwaine Richardson among the late Michigan decommits.

Elliott had been indecisive throughout his recruiting process. He had verbals to Houston and Baylor in 2015 before being swayed by Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh. A visit to Texas on Jan. 22 was the final straw with Elliott and Michigan, though, and the Longhorns looked like an easy choice heading into signing day.

"For now, it's no secret that Texas is a favorite to land Elliott," Bleacher Report's Damon Sayles wrote last week. "And while it's no guarantee the Longhorns will land him, you can bet that head coach Charlie Strong, defensive line coach Brick Haley and the rest of the coaching staff are going all-in to get the 6'3 ½", 306-pound tackle to sign."

Signing Elliott is the latest boon as part of a late recruiting push from Strong and Co. Texas has made a concerted push toward the top of the rankings over the last few days, landing running back Kyle Porter on Tuesday and having a number of balls in the air before Wednesday.

"As far as recruiting, this is the University of Texas," Strong said during the season, per Davis of the American-Statesman. "The players are going to want to come here. So they can hear all the noise, but the ones that really want to come, they’re going to come anyway. I don’t let it bother me."

Ready-made from a physical perspective, Elliott is ranked No. 115 overall and 14th among defensive tackles in 247Sports' rankings. He was an Army All-American Bowl selection but did not have the breakout senior season most expected. After putting up 78 tackles and 12 sacks during his junior season, he accumulated only 30 tackles and four sacks as a senior.

Texas should expect Elliott to step in and be a difference-maker early, whether it's in his first or second season. He has enough physical tools that the transition to major college football shouldn't be a problem, and it appears after a lot of indecision he's finally found a home. 

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No. 1 Recruit Rashan Gary a Major Haul for Michigan, Should Start Right Away

Michigan landed the most anticipated pledge of national signing day when 5-star defensive tackle and No. 1 overall recruit Rashan Gary announced his commitment to the Wolverines.

Gary selected the Wolverines over offers from programs such as Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, LSU and Ole Miss. 

With Gary in the fold, Michigan and head coach Jim Harbaugh have assembled a class that sits at No. 6 nationally and second in the Big Ten, only behind rival Ohio State.

Now that Gary is bound for Ann Arbor, what does his commitment mean to the Wolverines? 

It's monumental in a number of ways. 

For starters, as Paul Myerberg of The USA Today noted, it's the first time a non-SEC program has landed the nation's No. 1 overall recruit since 2008. 

Perhaps more importantly than making a national splash, his presence fills a need at defensive tackle that was among the most pressing objectives the Wolverines had in their 2016 cycle. 

According to Ourlads, the Wolverines lost two of their top four interior defensive linemen to graduation.

While Gary would have to beat out a pair of upperclassmen to earn a starting nod, as Bleacher Report's Tyler Donohue noted, he's not a typical D-line recruit.

From a physical standpoint, Gary has college measurables at 6'5", 293 pounds with a sub 4.8-time in the 40-yard dash. Additionally, he's versatile and athletic enough to play defensive end in pass-rush situations. 

As his trainer, Peter Kafaf, mentioned to Donohue, what separates Gary from the pack is how advanced he is in learning the nuances of being an elite defensive lineman.

"He is two years ahead of almost any high school lineman in the country when it comes to college-level technique," Kafaf told Donohue. "That technique builds off itself, so I expect him to be perfecting it during these next few seasons while other kids are just attempting to learn it."

Gary was practically unblockable going against the nation’s top offensive line prospects at The Opening—the premier showcase on the summer camp circuit—in each of the last two years.

Todd Huber, who is the director of football at Student Sports, works closely with offensive and defensive lineman at camps such as The Opening. He’s gotten to work with Gary extensively over the last two years and noted that Gary is among the most dominant performers he’s seen since he’s been involved with the event.

"As an offensive lineman, you've got to pick your poison because of the leverage and effort he plays with,” Huber told Donohue. “If you stop Rashan on his first move, he'll throw another one at you. If you stop his second move, he's ready to counter with another.” 

Of Michigan’s 32 sacks last season, 21.5 were logged by departing seniors, as detailed by CFBStats.com

Gary, who notched 110 tackles and 27.5 sacks over the last two seasons at Paramus Catholic High School (New Jersey), is a freakish athlete who can infuse the Wolverines defense with an immediate pass-rush presence. 

With the package of attributes he will bring with him to Ann Arbor, Gary is capable of making an impact the minute he steps foot on campus.

 

Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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Jonathan Kongbo to Tennessee: Volunteers Land 4-Star DE Prospect

According to 247Sports' Ryan Callahan, 4-star JUCO defensive end prospect Jonathan Kongbo has signed with the University of Tennessee on national signing day.   

Per 247Sports, Kongbo is the No. 1 recruit across the board among all JUCO prospects. 

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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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