NCAA Football News

FSU Football Recruiting: Top 2015 Recruits Committed to Seminoles

Wednesday’s national signing day was the official start to the post-Jameis Winston era in Tallahassee for Florida State, and the Seminoles wasted little time maintaining their spot near the top of the college football mountain.

Coach Jimbo Fisher and his staff brought in the No. 3-ranked class in the country, according to 247Sports’ team rankings, and will look to parlay that into a national championship after losing in the Rose Bowl to Oregon this past season. 

The only way the Seminoles will realistically take home the title this season is if the first-year players contribute along the way. Here is a look at some of the top Florida State commits who could do just that in 2015.

 

Derwin James, Safety

Derwin James is a 5-star prospect and the No. 1 safety in the country, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings.

He checks in at 6’2” and 201 pounds and features the prototypical combination of size and speed that makes him a defensive coach’s dream safety at the next level. He hits like a linebacker and covers plenty of field with his athleticism and quickness, which helps against both the run and the pass.

James will patrol the middle of the field for the Seminoles and dish out hits to receivers who dare cross his path. He can also sneak into the box and deliver those blows to running backs as an extra defender who can shut down the opponent’s ground game.

Fisher commented on James’ abilities, via Corey Clark of the Tallahassee Democrat: “The size, the speed, the instincts, the intelligence and when he hits you he hits you. He comes downhill and really hits you. But he's also got great ball skills. He's not just one of those hitters."

It sounds like the Seminoles have their safety of the future.

 

Josh Sweat, Defensive End

Josh Sweat is a 5-star prospect and the No. 1 weak-side defensive end in the nation, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings, and he checks in at 6’5” and 240 pounds.

Let TJ Gaynor of Sporting News describe Sweat’s best trait on the field:

Acceleration. Sweat was born to rush the passer. His surname precisely describes what dozens of offensive line coaches will begin to do when they see him on film for the first time in the years ahead.  The “Avatar” is about as real a deal as I’ve seen in a pass rusher since Jadeveon Clowney terrorized high school left tackles.

That’s right, the Seminoles may have landed the best pass-rusher since Jadeveon Clowney, which should be terrifying news for ACC quarterbacks.

Sweat’s pure speed jumps right off the page when watching him play, and he should be able to blow past offensive linemen from the moment he steps on the field. What’s more, he is a powerful hitter when he gets to the quarterback, and his strong hits can take their toll on the opposing signal-caller as the game progresses.

Sweat could be something of an enforcer on Florida State’s line. 

He is also solid against the run because he uses that speed to pursue ball-carriers in the open field better than arguably any defensive lineman in the entire 2015 class. The Seminoles are going to need that type of defensive production to make up for the loss of Mario Edwards Jr. and Eddie Goldman, who could both hear their names called in the first round of the upcoming NFL draft.

 

Tarvarus McFadden, Cornerback

Think Florida State got the defensive side of the ball covered in its 2015 class?

Tarvarus McFadden is a 5-star prospect and the No. 3 cornerback in the nation, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings, and could contribute right away for the Seminoles. After all, P.J. Williams is no longer on campus and looking forward to NFL Sundays, which represents an opportunity for McFadden to make a name for himself as a freshman.

McFadden is listed at 6’2” and uses that length to jam receivers at the line and make a play on the ball while it is in the air. That physicality will help him win battles in the ACC during his freshman campaign, and his speed will prevent him from getting beat deep on a consistent basis.

Gaynor also offered a scouting report for McFadden, and one passage in particular should stand out to Florida State fans:

Ridiculous return skills. A threat to take it the distance whenever the ball’s kicked his way. Covers an incredible amount of ground in a single bound. Superman stride length.  Despite his super strides, still able to gear down while at full speed to change lanes and get to green grass.

The surest way to get on the field as a freshman is through special teams. It sounds like McFadden could be responsible for some fireworks on that unit come fall. 

All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.

 

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Alabama Football Recruiting: Top 2015 Recruits Committed to Crimson Tide

Alabama and the No. 1 ranking seem to go hand in hand. While the Crimson Tide didn't finish the 2014 season at the top of the rankings, they still bring in the top class to regain a stranglehold on college football.

Nick Saban's classes have been ranked No. 1 by 247Sports since 2011 and retained that mark in 2015. Headlined by the Elite 11-winning pro-style quarterback Blake Barnett, who is already enrolled, the Tide continue to roll in recruiting.

Following national signing day, here's a look at the top recruits from the latest Bama class.

 

Blake Barnett, Pro-Style Quarterback

Getting one of the best quarterbacks in the country never hurt anyone. After Blake Sims filled in admirably after A.J. McCarron graduated, the Tide now have a potential quarterback to lead the offense.

With offensive weapons like Derrick Henry and Calvin Ridley already around him, Barnett has plenty to work with in Bama's offense. Drew Champlin of AL.com offered his take on the signal-caller:

Barnett emerged as Alabama's top quarterback target in June and committed shortly after a visit to Tuscaloosa. Barnett is enrolled for spring practice and will get a fair shot to compete for the starting job with four returning scholarship players. He was one of Alabama's top recruiters among commits and he'll probably be a top player host for recruiting visits going forward. Alabama was looking for a true dual-threat quarterback with a big arm and found that with Barnett.

Jacob Coker will likely be looking to sit at the top of the depth chart this year, but Barnett has an outside shot to take the reins immediately. His combination of talent and a huge arm gives Lane Kiffin a perfect fit for his offense.

If he doesn't start in the opener against Wisconsin, Barnett might still earn time during the season. In the tough SEC, a trial by fire might be necessary for the young signal-caller. Even with the difficult tests ahead, look for Barnett to thrive with the Tide.

 

Calvin Ridley, Wide Receiver

If there was any bigger hole to fill for Alabama than quarterback—again—it was replacing Amari Cooper. By adding Ridley, the Tide now have another sure-handed receiver for Barnett to build chemistry with.

ESPN Stats & Info points out just how crucial the commitment was for Bama:

247Sports also has him listed as the No. 1 receiver, though he has a smaller frame than fellow standouts like George Campbell and Preston Williams. Thanks to his breakaway speed and playmaking ability, Ridley should help keep the offense dynamic moving forward.

On a team that consistently churns out top wideouts like Julio Jones and Cooper, "Showtime" has a chance to be the next to break out.

 

Kendall Sheffield, Cornerback

One huge component in the Tide winning another recruiting title was adding Kendall Sheffield. The No. 4 cornerback in the country will now pair up with Minkah Fitzpatrick to improve the secondary for years to come.

Despite his early commitment, Sheffield's pledge to the Tide was in question heading into national signing day. Taylor Hamm of 247Sports noted Texas A&M was still courting Sheffield ahead of Wednesday:

Along with his talents on the football field, Sheffield is also a great track athlete. As a hurdler, the 18-year-old posted an impressive time of 13.85 seconds in the 110-meter hurdles, according to 247Sports.

Equipped with elite athleticism and agility, Sheffield will fit in perfectly with Alabama. Expect him to make a huge impact when he finally gets his chance to shine on the college football stage.

 

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USC Football Recruiting: Top 2015 Recruits Committed to Trojans

USC recruiting is back—with a vengeance too.

Last year, it was Adoree' Jackson and others. This year, Iman Marshall and a bevy of top-tier recruits help the Trojans flirt with the No. 1 overall class while putting together quite the body of work the past few years, as ESPN Stats & Info details:

Wednesday was further validation that USC is free from the shackles to proceed with Steve Sarkisian's vision as the Trojans get back to contention.

 

USC 2015 Recruiting Class

Full class available at 247Sports.

 

Notable Top Commits

Iman Marshall, CB

Believe the hype around Iman Marshall, who also considered LSU, Michigan, Florida State, Notre Dame and a plethora of others before Wednesday's announcement.

Truthfully, the Long Beach Poly High School product never figured to travel far come national signing day, though.

A late surge from Jim Harbaugh and Michigan created a bit of a stir, but at the end of the day, the 5-star cornerback will suit up for the Trojans and make an impact right away.

Thank a 6'1", 190-pound frame with 4.5 40-yard dash speed as well as great play recognition and ball skills.

In the high-flying Pac-12, quarterbacks are going to have a few problems with USC in the coming years.

 

Rasheem Green, DL

They rarely make them like Rasheem Green. 

The 5-star defensive tackle comes in at 6'5" and 275 pounds, and his excellent burst off the line will allow him to wreak havoc in opposing backfields sooner rather than later.

A Gardena, California, native, Green says much more than locale and program prestige went into his decision, as captured by TrojanSports.com:

Green's arrival is a great sign for the future of the program. There was little doubt about the Trojans' ability to get the signature before Wednesday, though, considering only Arizona State really had a strong shot at him to begin with.

Now that things are official, Green and his coaches can get down to business—making the lives of Marshall and others behind him easier.

 

Osa Masina, OLB

Fellow linebackers John Houston and Porter Gustin seem to get most of the headlines, but do not forget about Osa Masina out of Brighton High School in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The 5-star linebacker is the future of the Trojans linebacking corps. Recent comments by Sarkisian, via the team's Twitter account, show this well enough:

It says a lot about where the Trojans stand right now when the staff can reel in the top overall prospect from Utah. Masina comes in at 6'3.5" and 230 pounds and can contribute right away, although the future is what should scare the rest of the Pac-12 the most.

In tandem with Houston and Gustin, the USC defense is going to return to its elite roots quickly.

 

Player rankings based on 247Sports' composite ranking system. All recruit measurements and stats courtesy of 247Sports.

 

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Ohio State Football Recruiting: Top 2015 Recruits Committed to Buckeyes

Urban Meyer bests Michigan's Jim Harbaugh, and Ohio State rests in the top 10 overall classes.

So yes, 2015 national signing day was a great day for the Buckeyes.

Just a few weeks removed from bringing home a national title, Meyer and his staff's work ensures future contention. The Buckeyes fended off the Big Ten as a whole in the process, and 4-star quarterback Joe Burrow took to social media to poke fun at the Wolverines:

It is hard to find fault with the 2015 Ohio State class, especially thanks to some of the most prominent names.

 

Ohio State 2015 Recruiting Class

Full class available at 247Sports.

 

Notable Top Commits 

Justin Hilliard, OLB

Go figure Ohio State lands the best in the state, right? 

Justin Hilliard, a 5-star linebacker and the No. 1 overall prospect from Ohio, is the face of Meyer's 2015 class.

By all accounts, he's quite happy with the fit too:

His father, well, not so much—at least in a way, as Tom VanHaaren of ESPN points out:

In all seriousness, though, Hilliard is a monster on the field and the obvious future leader of the linebacker corps. At 6'0" and 225 pounds with room to grow, the St. Xavier High School star figures to grab a starting spot before long.

Hilliard is also important for the simple fact that his public commitment some time ago helped Ohio State's recruiting efforts turn a corner, as other recruits followed suit.

 

Torrance Gibson, QB

A dual-threat quarterback who hails from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Torrance Gibson is a critical piece of Ohio State's future once the logjam at quarterback clears.

Gibson is a 4-star recruit who ranks as the No. 6 athlete in the country. While the wait proved excruciating, Meyer says the investment will pay off down the road, as captured by Bill Rabinowitz of the Columbus Dispatch:

No kidding.

At 6'4" and 204 pounds with a 4.50 40-yard dash, Gibson is quite the high-upside recruit to monitor over the years as the coaching staff grooms him for a big role.

It says a lot when a recruit such as Gibson turns away from LSU, Auburn, Miami and Alabama. 

 

Isaiah Prince, OT

Meyer and Ohio State beat Alabama and Maryland yet again when Isaiah Prince donned a Buckeyes hat Wednesday morning.

Prince, a 4-star offensive tackle and the top prospect in the state of Maryland, leaves Eleanor Roosevelt High School as a prospect who can make an impact at the next level right away if necessary.

That does not figure to be necessary, though. The Buckeyes signed five linemen in the 2014 class and have plenty more in the pipeline thanks to Prince and others.

His commitment is noteworthy, though, as it is yet another example that shows Meyer's Buckeyes are here to stay.

 

Player rankings based on 247Sports' composite ranking system. All recruit measurements and stats courtesy of 247Sports.

 

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Miami Football Recruiting: Meet the Hurricanes' 2015 Class

The Miami Hurricanes have nearly wrapped up the 2015 recruiting cycle now that national signing day has concluded.

Five players had already enrolled, but the Hurricanes signed 15 more on Wednesday, Feb. 4, attempting to bolster a program that's seen better days.

While head coach Al Golden has a history of signing prospects in the weeks following national signing day, the Hurricanes ended the drama-filled event with the No. 26 unit in the nation.

But after a disappointing end to the 2014 campaign, Miami's signing day was somewhat anti-climactic. Overall, it's a solid haul that addresses their needs, but it still lacks the superstar presence many supporters desire and demand.

 

Offensive Skill Positions

The Hurricanes once had a quartet of 4-star running backs committed, but local product Mark Walton was the only one who lasted until signing day. Miami must replace school-record-holder Duke Johnson, and Walton now provides the roster with a skill set similar to the departed star's.

Lawrence Cager pledged to the Hurricanes at the Army All-American Bowl in early January and stayed true to his word. The 3-star receiver was the No. 7 player from the state of Maryland.

Barring a late addition, Jerome Washington rounded out the skill-position signings. Rated the country's 19th-best junior college prospect and No. 1 tight end, the 6'5", 260-pounder fills an immediate need, provides necessary depth and has the physical tools to become a starter.

Miami is only losing one player at running back, receiver and tight end, so the numbers certainly work. But all things considered, this portion of the class was underwhelming.

 

Those Who Do the Dirty Work

It was no secret: Golden and Co. needed to replenish the offensive line and continue to improve the defensive side of the trenches. So the Hurricanes signed six offensive linemen and four defensive linemen.

Miami grabbed 4-star offensive tackle Tyree St. Louis, 3-star defensive end Scott Patchan and 3-star defensive tackle Ryan Fines, all from IMG Academy.

St. Louis won't necessarily play immediately, but the 4-star is likely the O-line signee most prepared to join the rotation in the near future. Patchan is somewhat reminiscent of NFL-bound Anthony Chickillo, while Fines is a project Miami must develop.

Bar Milo, a high-school teammate of Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya, decided to make the cross-country trip from Southern California to South Florida. The 4-star offensive lineman, along with JUCO transfer Jahair Jones, are potential immediate-impact players on the line.

On a similar note, 3-star defensive tackle Kendrick Norton chose the Hurricanes on signing day, per Justin Barney of The Florida Times-Union. Norton has an excellent chance to break into the two-deep as a freshman.

Golden had high praise for Richard McIntosh, a 3-star defensive end from Fort Lauderdale.

A trio of 3-star offensive linemen in Brendan Loftus, Hayden Mahoney and Tyler Gauthier represent useful depth, though they probably won't see significant playing time until 2017.

The Hurricanes also announced the addition of former 5-star and Florida Gators defensive tackle Gerald Willis, who must sit out 2015 due to NCAA transfer rules. His on-field talent is undeniable, but Willis is followed by a variety of question marks, as noted previously by the Tampa Bay Times.

 

Linebackers and Defensive Backs

Miami's most glaring need entering the final week before signing day was at linebacker, but Golden managed to snag local 3-star James King, according to Peter Ariz of CanesInSight.

King joined Charles Perry and Jamie Gordinier, giving the Hurricanes a decent selection on the outside. Miami could have used an inside linebacker but struck out on the trail.

Headlined by 4-star early enrollee Jaquan Johnson, the secondary is undoubtedly the strength of the Hurricanes' 2015 class. Johnson's high school teammate Sheldrick Redwine exchanged Louisville red for Miami orange on national signing day, per David Furones of The Miami Herald.

Golden plucked 6'2" Michael Jackson out of Alabama, who fits the mold of Ladarius Gunter as a future outside cornerback.

With Deon Bush and Rayshawn Jenkins returning, the Hurricanes took a reasonable risk on a local product. They added Robert Knowles, a late-rising, high-ceiling prospect at safety.

 

Complete 2015 Class

Each player who has signed is listed in the table below, which is organized by the 247Sports composite rankings. For reference, 4-star prospects are highlighted, and every remaining player is a 3-star.

 

Note: Stats courtesy of CFBstats.com. All recruiting information via 247Sports and rankings based on 247Sports' composite rankings.

Follow Bleacher Report college football writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.

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Corona Del Sol's Cassius Peat Picks Michigan State

On Wednesday morning, 3-Star Corona Del Sol outside linebacker Cassius Peat (6,4", 235 pounds) decided to take his talents to a surging Michigan State program that has played in two major bowl games the last two seasons, according to Sports360AZ.com.

The top linebacker recruit out of the state of Arizona originally had committed to UCLA back on Oct. 13, but decided to revisit his options once the 2014 high school football season had concluded. By revisiting his options, Peat's list back on Dec. 29 included Michigan State, UCLA, Arizona State, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.

In his senior season with the Aztecs, he recorded 45 total tackles, seven tackles for a loss and four sacks. He’ll look to bring physical strength and athleticism to a Michigan State defense that finished seventh in the nation for the 2014-15 season.

A stout Spartan defense has been ranked among the best in the country the last four years. This past season, Mark Dantonio’s squad held opponents to 294 yards per game, 97.5 rushing yards per game and 19.9 points per game.

Cassius, the son of former NFL football player Todd Peat, and younger brother of both Todd Jr., who transferred from Nebraska to Glendale Community College in 2012, and former Stanford offensive tackle Andrus Peat, was the ninth best recruit in the state, according to ESPN’s Recruiting Nation heading into Wednesday. 

Peat is currently finishing his final season of high school basketball on a nationally ranked Corona Del Sol team that is looking to win a fourth consecutive Division I state championship.

With Peat making the decision to travel east to Michigan State, he won’t be the only highly touted recruit from the area headed to East Lansing. Quarterback Brian Lewerke (Pinnacle HS/Phoenix, AZ), who was ranked as the third-best prospect in Arizona, will become a Spartan as well.

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