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Drew Richmond Decommits from Ole Miss: What's Next for Rebels, 4-Star OT?

The rumors about 4-star offensive tackle Drew Richmond had been out on social media for several days. He was believed to be a soft Ole Miss commit looking to explore other options—more specifically, Tennessee.

The rumors became reality on Monday evening, as Richmond officially decommitted from the Rebels, according to David Johnson of 247Sports. Richmond was Ole Miss' top-rated offensive tackle and had been committed to the Rebels since early September.

With national signing day happening on Wednesday, Richmond once again is a free agent. At least for a few hours. 

It would be considered something of an shocker if Richmond, the nation's No. 3-ranked offensive tackle, didn't end up signing with Tennessee. Per Johnson, Richmond is expected to sign his letter of intent with the Volunteers at his high school, Memphis University School, on Wednesday morning.

Richmond took his official visit to Tennessee over the weekend, took in a basketball game, met with head coach Butch Jones and the other coaches, reconnected with players and hung out with recruits.

Richmond's made the trip from Memphis to Knoxville several times on his own dime, so the experience wasn't new to him.

What he did leave with, however, was unexpected love from the Volunteers fans. At the Tennessee-Auburn basketball game, fans were on hand chanting his name.

The loss is huge for Ole Miss, as he was expected to form a talented duo with 4-star offensive guard Javon Patterson.

It's even more of a big deal because of the timing of it all. Head coach Hugh Freeze and his staff now have roughly 24 hours before commits become signees—and the number of available elite offensive linemen around the country is slim.

At 6'5" and 310 pounds, Richmond is the kind of prospect that most offensive line coaches love to mold. He has great size already, but look for the school of his choice to add bulk to his frame.

Richmond is a solid run-blocker, someone who likes to block until the whistle is blown. Additionally, his length can make him a problem for many defensive ends in pass coverage.

Freeze and his coaching staff, however, still have solid commitments from 3-star tackles Alex Givens and Michael Howard in addition to Patterson, so the Rebels aren't bare in the cupboard when it comes to talent up front.

Look for Ole Miss to try and close on other positions from now until Wednesday. Landing athletes such as 5-star defensive end CeCe Jefferson, 4-star wide receiver Damarkus Lodge or 3-star cornerback Jalen Julius would cushion the blow of losing Richmond.

As for Richmond, look for him to be a college signee by 10:15 a.m. ET on Wednesday—most likely wearing the color of UT Orange.

 

Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Damon on Twitter @DamonSayles

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Analyzing the Twitter Buzz About Chris Clark as National Signing Day Nears

Top tight end recruit Chris Clark stands to be one of the more intriguing storylines once national signing day rolls around.

While once comfortably committed to Michigan ahead of Ohio State and Michigan State, Clark made it known that should Brady Hoke be fired, he would decommit from the program and reopen his recruitment. Once Hoke was relieved of his coaching duties in December, that is exactly what Clark did, with UCLA in particular waiting on the edges to see what happened.

But once Michigan hired Jim Harbaugh a few weeks later, Clark was back in play for the Wolverines, and he could be one of the most important pieces of the new coach's first class.

Despite decommitting after Hoke was fired, Clark started to show more and more interest in Michigan once Harbaugh was brought on. But it wasn’t that easy, as UCLA was ready pounce on the opportunity to bring Clark to the West Coast.

Things looked pretty good for the Wolverines when Harbaugh decided to pay a personal visit last week.

Some experts say Michigan, some say UCLA. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of consistency in the picks.

You can’t always tell based on social media interactions, but Clark has been following a few people in and around the UCLA program recently. Wide receivers Logan Sweet and Daniel Eaton and associate head coach Adrian Klemm are among the Bruins Clark has followed recently. He also recently followed the school's official Twitter account.

On the other hand, though, according to Derek Volner of ESPN Media Zone, Clark is supposed to announce his decision at 8:30 a.m. ET Wednesday morning, which will be little early for those all the way on the West Coast.

But as late as Monday night, Clark himself didn’t even know where he was going to end up.

Scary to think signing day is Wednesday and I still don't know where I'm going 😞 this is so tough

— Chris Clark (@Clark8Chris) February 3, 2015

Wherever Clark ends up, he is going to have an instant impact. Rated as the No. 2 two tight in 247Sports' composite rankings, any team would love to have him.

Although it is almost impossible to ever count out Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer in the recruiting game, it feels like the decision is going to come down to either UCLA or Michigan.

Bleacher Report's Adam Biggers wrote an article why Clark should choose the Wolverines over the Bruins, but things still don't seem to be decided for Clark.

It feels almost like a coin flip could be the deciding factor between the two schools, but my gut says Clark ends up sticking with his original commitment and heads to Michigan.

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Which Program Will Finish the Strongest on National Signing Day 2015?

National signing day is inching closer and closer, and with numerous big-name recruits still uncommitted, the nation's top programs are making their last-ditch efforts to secure the next big class.

Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee, Adam Kramer and Michael Felder dish out which schools they believe will close out national signing day the strongest.

Who has the best shot of stealing the headlines on Wednesday? Check out the video and let us know! 

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National Signing Day 2015: Predictions for Most Coveted Football Recruits

Future college football championships will be decided Wednesday by a group of kids who are still worried about chemistry classes and who they are going to invite to the senior prom.

National signing day for 2015 recruits is Wednesday, and there are still a number of top-notch athletes who have not verbally pledged to a school. Some of the most important battles for college football coaches occur off the field as they give final pitches to these undecided recruits, hoping to secure a highly rated class.

Here is a look at some of the most coveted recruits who have not committed to a school yet and some predictions for their final landing spots.

*Recruiting information and star ratings courtesy of 247Sports’ composite rankings.

 

Recruiting Battle to Watch: Cornerback Iman Marshall

In today’s college football landscape with no-huddle offenses putting up 40 points a game like it's nothing, landing highly rated defenders on national signing day has become quite important.

One such defender, cornerback Iman Marshall, has not decided where he will play next season.

Marshall is a 5-star prospect, the No. 4 player in the country and the top-rated cornerback, per 247Sports’ composite rankings. He checks in at 6’1” and 190 pounds and has the skill set to be a playmaker at the next level.

Tom Luginbill of ESPN.com provided an enticing scouting report:

The versatile Iman Marshall is the complete package at the corner position. He brings size, ball skills and athleticism that could project at different positions throughout the secondary. He possesses great transitional quickness for a perimeter defender with his frame and closing speed to shut down receivers in man coverage. He also has the big frame and physicality, range and ball-hawking skills to add value at safety.

Marshall has everything you could ask for in a cornerback, and he even has the versatility to play safety if needed. His ability to play multiple positions, along with the speed and physicality to mix it up on special teams, will help him play right away, regardless of which school he chooses.

He certainly has an interesting choice ahead of him, considering USC, Florida State, Notre Dame, LSU, Michigan and Oregon are all involved in his recruitment.

He recently took official visits to Florida State, Michigan, Notre Dame, LSU and Oregon (he visited the Ducks this past weekend), but the schools are going to have to wait until signing day to find out which one he chooses, via Jeremy Crabtree of ESPN.com:

Greg Biggins, Scout.com's national recruiting analyst, explained how close the race for Marshall truly is, via Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports:

He'll visit Oregon this coming weekend and may try and fit in a USC unofficial visit sometime before the dead period. USC is the childhood favorite and where everyone has predicted Marshall would end up, but there has been some recent buzz that they may not be the lock everyone (myself included) assumed. Jim Harbaugh came in for a home visit Monday night and the Wolverines have made a very positive impression. Marshall's father, Tony, went on the visit to LSU (only one so far) and will likely visit Oregon as well.

If USC truly is his childhood favorite team, that carries a lot of weight. However, the Michigan angle is intriguing as a late play after it made a splash by hiring Jim Harbaugh as its coach. Plus, Marshall's most recent visit was to Oregon, which probably made every other school very nervous, considering the top-notch facilities and overall Nike flash he was likely exposed to in Eugene.

What high school kid wouldn’t at least be enticed to play in Oregon’s uniforms at an elevated tempo out West?

If we are talking about pure need, Michigan could probably use Marshall the most.

While the recruiting bump from hiring Harbaugh will come next season when he has more time to recruit and make inroads with different high school prospects and coaches, Wolverines fans can’t be thrilled that their class checks in at No. 73 in 247Sports’ rankings (as of Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET) behind powerhouses like Kansas, San Jose State and Western Michigan.

Meanwhile, Michigan’s archrival, Ohio State, is busy polishing its national championship trophy and landing another top-10 class. Convincing one of the nation’s top players to come to Ann Arbor would be a monumental boost for this lackluster Michigan class and keep the momentum rolling from an offseason that included the Harbaugh hiring.

Of course, we are talking about a kid from Long Beach, California. The combination of the weather and hometown lure of playing for his beloved Trojans may be too much. Even Oregon is on the West Coast, as opposed to Michigan, Notre Dame and LSU, which could be a factor if he wants to stay closer to home.

It is worth noting that a whopping 94 percent of the crystal ball predictions on Marshall’s 247Sports page peg him as a future USC Trojan. 

Ultimately, USC seems to be pulling on Marshall’s heartstrings as his childhood favorite and the local school of power. Look for him to choose the Trojans on national signing day.

 

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Ultimate Guide to 2015 National Signing Day

1. What

This is recruiting’s Super Bowl. It’s the day college football diehards anticipate for 364 days. It’s excessive, intense and wildly entertaining. National signing day is a national holiday, one last football high before the offseason darkness is collectively accepted. 

Using antique contraptions known as “fax machines,” the premier high school players in the nation will learn about ancient communication technology while submitting national letters of intent to their future universities.

It’s your day, fax machines. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Please enjoy this moment and soak up every person who stares at you wide-eyed and full of mystery.

Before each player can make this entire process official by faxing this signed piece of paper, however, there will be drama. Hats will be lifted. Props will be used. Live animals will (hopefully) make brief cameos, all to announce where a 17- or 18-year-old will attend college.

The emotional toll will hit players, families, coaches and probably a large number of fans. There will be joy. There will be sadness. There will be indecision and overreaction.

The spectacle that is national signing day will make its presence felt shortly after the sun rises, and it won’t close down until well after the sun sets. One exhaustive recruiting cycle will end. Another will find life.

Pull up a chair, won’t you?

 

2. When

Wednesday. No, it’s not next Wednesday. It’s this Wednesday, February 4.

To maximize enjoyment, avoid work, conference calls, appointments and all human interaction. There’s no reason to leave home, really. Shut the phone off and don’t come up for air until the final commitment has been announced.

If this is news, you’re already behind. However, the following should help get you caught up.

 

3. Where

The coverage will come from many places. Commits from coast to coast will announce their decisions on live television, doing so from high schools located across the country.

There will also be cameras at most major universities, hoping to capture the fist pumps and smiles from coaches as national letters of intent start rolling in. These same coaches will also deliver press conferences once their classes are complete throughout the day. They will all sound very similar.

We really like our class.

We really hit on a lot of areas.

We think there are some real diamonds in the rough with this group.

We expect many of these players to contribute immediately.

Coachspeak, press conferences and decisions will be broadcast on ESPNU throughout the day. Coverage will begin at 8 a.m. ET and run until 7 p.m. ET. 

Blatant and unashamed plug: Bleacher Report will provide wall-to-wall coverage, delivering grades for each class with videos, instant reaction to the day’s most surprising turns and analysis on what classes mean to programs moving forward.

It’s going to be a long, wonderful, coffee-infused day.

 

4. Who

This is the most important part. It’s where 2015’s version of national signing day could deliver in a way the day hasn’t seen in some time.

Although last year’s national signing day offered up little in terms of shock and surprise, that will not be the case on Wednesday. Three of the nation’s top four prospects on 247Sports' composite rankings remain uncommitted and will finally reveal where they are headed. 

Look down the rankings some, and you’ll find more decisions waiting to be made. The list of recruits anxiously waiting to announce is deep, immensely talented and versatile.

There are many more, too. Fitting all of this into 24 hours won't be easy.

 

5. Who (Part Two)

Names, rankings and schools only scratch the surface when it comes to national signing day intrigue. The storylines to come out of Wednesday—and they will be plentiful—could ultimately help shape offseason and recruiting momentum moving forward.

When it comes to the 2015 class, there are storylines galore.

 

New Coaches Hoping to Close Strong

Michigan and Florida will enter national signing day with classes ranked outside of the top 40, according to 247Sports' team rankings. It’s an unusual position for programs that have had no issues attracting elite talent over the past decade. Then again, with major coaching changes, this year has been anything but ordinary.

Michigan helped itself by flipping Zach Gentry (No. 8 pro-style QB) in recent weeks. It would love to add Chris Clark (No. 2 TE), although it feels as though UCLA has the upper hand. The Wolverines simply need bodies, and although they may not load up on 5-star players, they will be active. Jim Harbaugh won’t go quietly in his first abbreviated recruiting cycle. 

Florida is hoping to generate similar buzz under new head coach Jim McElwain, and the stakes will be remarkably high for his first national signing day. The Gators are still very much alive with Martez Ivey, Byron Cowart and CeCe Jefferson, three of the top seven players overall.

As a result, national signing day could be a historically successful day in Gainesville. With ample room in the class to fill, it could also be a momentum-killer if the majority of Florida’s targets head elsewhere.

 

Auburn vs. Florida: Touch Gloves, Guys

Hoping to spoil Florida’s national signing day festivities is Auburn, and there is no person more excited about those demolition prospects than new Tigers defensive coordinator and former Gators head coach Will Muschamp

These two SEC schools are going head to head for some of the prospects mentioned above. Throw in Alabama and Ole Miss—as is the case for CeCe Jefferson—and we’re looking at a lovely Battle Royale. 

It will be wildly entertaining from a distance. The coaches involved, however, would likely describe it with a far different word unfit for this website. 

The stakes are high for everyone on national signing day, but for SEC rivals Florida and Auburn, they will be slightly elevated.

 

Respect the Flip: “Committed” Players to Keep an Eye On

A verbal commitment is just that: an agreement with words and nothing more. In the recruiting world, many players who verbally committed to a program leading up to national signing day fax in their LOIs without controversy.

Others have a sudden change of heart, and they decide—with the clock ticking—to take their talents elsewhere. The surprises are inevitable; it’s simply a matter of locating where they may come from. Here are a few to keep an eye on. 

 

Kyler Murray (No. 1 Dual-Threat QB, No. 33 Overall)

After committing to Texas A&M, Murray took a visit to Texas, and many believed that Austin would be the QB’s future home. After recommitting to A&M following the uncertain stretch, will one of the nation’s most electric talents have one more trick up his sleeve?

 

Terry Godwin (No. 1 Athlete, No. 28 Overall)

Speaking of electric players, the nation’s top-ranked athlete could provide one of national signing day’s most fascinating developments. As it stands, Godwin is verbally committed to Georgia. But Gus Malzahn and Auburn are coming hard, hoping to have something to say about that. 

 

Deondre Francois (No. 3 Pro-Style QB, No. 65 Overall)

Francois has perhaps the biggest arm and best deep ball in the class. He’s also a Florida State commit, although a recent tweet—that he further stated was courtesy of a "hack"—said he was decommitting from the Seminoles. Florida could be a potential suitor if Francois decides to make a change. The Gators would love to have him. 

 

Torrance Gibson (No. 6 Athlete, No. 75 Overall)

Where will he play? That’s a question being asked about Torrance Gibson that carries quite a bit of meaning. The Ohio State commit is one of the nation’s top dual-threat quarterback options, although some schools see him at a different position. His recruitment has been a roller coaster, and one more surprise—perhaps one working in Auburn’s or LSU’s favor—could cap off a wild ride. 

 

Kendall Sheffield (No. 4 CB, No. 20 Overall)

One of Alabama's prized defensive commits could be on the move. He will be, if Kevin Sumlin has anything to say about it. Sheffield, still committed to the Crimson Tide, could ultimately sign with Texas A&M. Nick Saban is not one who typically loses major recruits near the finish line, however, so perhaps the interest will be nothing more than text in a preview.

 

6. Why

This is a celebration. Whether you’ve been glued to the process for every turn or you’re only catching up now, national signing day has just the right amount of football. 

The class assessments, rankings and prognostications will be made in bulk quantities. The reality, however, is that no one knows exactly what an individual class will mean.

In a way, that’s what makes this day special. It’s about optimism. It’s about assessing needs and whether those perceived needs were answered. It’s about the potential and that rare glimmer of hope that fans can experience in unique ways.

More importantly, it’s about the kids who have waited years to embrace this day. That, more than anything, is why national signing day has become a magnificent spectacle.

There will be suspense, nerves, tears, awkwardness and overpowering joy, all packaged into one day. The full emotional spectrum will be explored, which is precisely why it deserves your utmost attention.

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The Ultimate National Signing Day Hype Tape

National signing day is upon us, and the hype is real. The 2015 recruiting class is chock-full of incredible athletes that can make an immediate impact in the college football world.

Check out the Bleacher Report hype tape for national signing day.

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CFB Recruiting 200: Top 25 Wide Receivers

After thorough study using specific scoring criteria, Bleacher Report recruiting analysts Sanjay Kirpalani and Tyler Donohue have graded the top 200 players in the 247Sports' composite rankings and provided in-depth analysis. As national signing day draws near, Bleacher Report provides a position-by-position breakdown of the best college football recruits. Here we present the Top Wide Receivers.  

Other Positions 

 

Elite athletes continue to shift toward wide receiver more than ever, making it one of the deepest positions in this class. Top-tier pass-catchers who can slice apart defensive schemes often serve as catalysts for high-octane college offenses and open things up for teammates.

We continue our review of the top 200 overall recruits in 247Sports' composite rankings by taking a closer look at these talented downfield targets. We scored each player on a 100-point scale that measures route running, hands, blocking, release, speed and agility.

 

*All prospects studied and graded by Bleacher Report national recruiting analyst Tyler Donohue

*Players listed in order of 247Sports' composite rankings.

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College Football Recruiting 2015: Top Available Prospects and Predictions

A few names will single-handedly alter the landscape of collegiate football recruiting on national signing day. 

The event on Wednesday, February 4, will feature some of the top recruits' decisions as ESPN broadcasts the action for 11 hours and travels to 14 different campuses.

Suffice it to say, the recruiting world has come a long way since the time recruits would mail in a letter and news agencies and the globe would learn about the commitment a day later.

More than ever, fans understand the impact a single player can have, too, with the 2015 Super Bowl fresh on the mind—where unknowns Chris Matthews and Malcolm Butler made big plays to help birth an instant classic.

Of all the names set to make decisions, a few stick out the most.

 

Top Prospect Predictions

Martez Ivey, OT

Martez Ivey is the type of recruit who will drive fans and coaches mad.

That's a good thing—he does not seem to get tied to coaches because he understands the sport is a business. The Apopka, Florida, native reveals this in a recent interview with ESPN's Derek Tyson:

I'm not really big in to specific coaches. They come and go because it's a business. Nothing's guaranteed in their position so I'm not really a coaches guy. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I like a school because of ‘this coach and that coach.' That's just how I feel about it. Like coach Muschamp was at Florida recruiting me and now he's at Auburn recruiting me. So coaches-wise, I don't really get caught up in that.

Interestingly enough, Ivey's top two schools figure to be Florida and Auburn at this point.

A 5-star recruit and the top offensive tackle in the class, it is no wonder the top schools have an interest in Ivey, who comes in at 6'5.5" and 275 pounds. That size combines with strength and speed measurements normally not seen in a recruit at this stage.

Ivey is the type of tackle who can make a difference right away at the next level. His smart approach to the decision likely means that Florida wins out despite the departure of Will Muschamp.

Prediction: Ivey commits to Florida.

 

Byron Cowart, SDE

Auburn and Florida are also the main programs in on Byron Cowart, a 5-star defensive end out of Armwood High School.

At 6'4" and 250 pounds, Cowart touts the athleticism to apply pressure to quarterbacks on a regular basis, although he will need to further bulk to better stand tall against the run.

Regardless, the top programs see the long-term potential in Cowart, who now has a concrete announcement time, per ESPN.com's Jeremy Crabtree:

Truthfully, it is difficult to see how Cowart winds up anywhere but Florida.

The Seffner, Florida, native continues to come up in chatter surrounding the Gators, and it was not too long ago that another top prospect, CeCe Jefferson, revealed that he and Cowart may be a package deal, per Donovan James of rsenreport.com:

For a team with a new head coach, the Gators seem set to make out like bandits.

While Ivey boosts the future of the offensive trenches, look for the local product Cowart to do the same on the defensive side of things.

Prediction: Cowart commits to Florida.

 

Iman Marshall, CB

Defensive backs might just be the most important thing in football outside of the quarterback position these days. 

It makes sense, then, that USC, LSU, Michigan, Florida State, Notre Dame and many more are in a line that wraps around the block for Long Beach Poly High School's Iman Marshall.

Marshall is a 5-star recruit and the top corner in the 2015 class. At face value, his 6'1" and 190-pound frame is ideal for the position, as is his 4.5 40-yard dash speed.

Try not to forget great recognition and ball skills, either.

Many, including NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah, are stressing over the announcement:

While the Marshall show made the rounds to a bevy of the nation's top programs, it would be a shock if he does not remain local.

USC remains the overwhelming favorite on his 247Sports profile page for good reason; ditto for Scott Schrader's crystal-ball projection that says Marshall signs with the Trojans.

Any other commitment at this point would be an upset.

Prediction: Marshall commits to USC.

 

Daylon Mack, DT

At this point, Daylon Mack's commitment seems a formality.

The allure to Mack is obvious. Rarely does a 5-star defensive tackle who weighs in at 6'0" and 330 pounds come around. Based on a tweet from the man himself, it seems Texas will win the sweepstakes:

ESPN's Gerry Hamilton seems to back up this thought process:

Then again, perhaps this is what Mack wants the globe to think. After all, Texas A&M and TCU are still in the running at 247Sports, distancing themselves from Auburn and Baylor.

One lucky program will land a space-eating tackle who will produce right away, making the jobs of linebackers and defensive backs behind him easier.

In crunch time, all signs point to Texas.

Prediction: Mack commits to Texas.

 

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

 

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Alabama Football Recruiting: Predictions for Top Rumored 2015 Prospects

Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide produce one of the best recruiting classes each and every year. In 2015, it appears to be the same old story, as most of the school's priority targets have already committed to Saban and Co. prior to national signing day.

Still, there are a few recruits who remain undecided and would certainly give the boost necessary for the Crimson Tide to find their way back into the National Championship Game. After all, this team is going through yet another period of flux, as several key players from last season have declared for the NFL draft.

As we await to find out which prospects will further replenish Alabama's ranks on national signing day, let's take a look at a few of the team's coveted uncommitted recruits and predict their ultimate intentions.

 

CeCe Jefferson, DE

Many schools around the nation wait with bated breath to hear Jefferson's decision on national signing day. The 5-star defensive end has recently narrowed his list of potential landing spots to Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Ole Miss, according to Derek Tyson of ESPN.com.

Adding the 6'2", 275-pound Jefferson would provide an enormous upgrade to all of those aforementioned schools' defensive fronts. The 5-star recruit is highly athletic with a very quick burst off the snap. His speed around the edge make him a dangerous pass-rusher. He needs to improve holding contain against the run but is extremely fast and excels in pursuit of ball-carriers.

In December, Jefferson's top choice appeared to be Ole Miss. Here's what the defensive end had to say during an interview with Barton Simmons of 247Sports:

Ole Miss, I would say Ole Miss is my top school right now. Ole Miss is great man. Coach (Hugh) Freeze, what he has going is amazing. I took my official when they played Bama and it was like no other. They treated me well. The program's great. The guys are great and I just know if I go there I'll get taken care of and they'll get me prepared for the next level and I'll get a great education. And plus I know Coach Freeze is going to be there for a while, great stability.

Although, as we know, these things can change.

If Jefferson is looking for stability, he needs to look no further than Alabama. Saban continues to churn out NFL players and coaches one of the nation's top teams year after year. Perhaps Jefferson finally realized that fact since his comments regarding Ole Miss, as he was recently seen sporting some Alabama attire at school, via John Talty of AL.com:

Yes, it's just a shirt with the logo of one of Jefferson's potential colleges, but at this juncture, it's the best indication of which way he's leaning.

Prediction: Alabama

 

Drew Richmond, OT

In a rather surprising turn of events, this 4-star offensive tackle decommitted from Ole Miss late Monday night, according to a report from Riley Blevins of The Clarion-Ledger. That opens the door for both Alabama and Tennessee to claim the recruit.

Richmond is a threatening presence in the trenches, standing at 6'5" and weighing 310 pounds. His frame certainly looks the part of an elite tackle, and his combination of powerful upper-body strength and a wide base makes him a force when blocking for the run. Also an asset in pass protection, Richmond is quick off the snap and can square up in a hurry to thwart faster edge-rushers.

While Alabama isn't out of the running for Richmond, the Crimson Tide are long shots to land the coveted offensive lineman. Not only did Richmond decommit from Ole Miss immediately after spending the weekend at Tennessee, but several experts are already predicting him to become a Volunteer. Here's one example, via Dan Wolken of USA Today:

Alabama's recruiting class is tremendous, but it will not include this Memphis-born offensive tackle. The hometown team will win this one, as he heads to Tennessee.

Prediction: Tennessee

 

Daylon Charlot, WR

Grabbing an elusive wide receiver in this year's recruiting class would certainly help ease the burden of losing the prolific Amari Cooper to the NFL draft, and Alabama has a great shot at replacing the former Crimson Tide star with the 6'0", 193-pound Charlot.

A blend of good size, speed and athleticism is what makes Charlot an intriguing prospect. According to hudl.com, he's produced some impressive workouts, reaching a 40-inch vertical and running the 40-yard dash in a blazing 4.35 seconds. That kind of speed will provide his next offense with a home run threat and instant game-changer.

Currently, Charlot is debating between Alabama and LSU. However, there's some very good news for the Crimson Tide here. According to James Smith of The Times-Picayune, the Tigers may miss out on the wide receiver due to a delayed offer:

Charlot was disappointed that it took LSU longer than other programs to offer him and the Tigers have been battling the sour taste in his mouth throughout the whole process. LSU wide receiver coach Adam Henry has kept things interesting by making leaving Louisiana a difficult decision for Charlot. He was supposed to take an official visit to Miami this past weekend, but cancelled the visit after Alabama took a firm stance about his impending travel plans.

The end of Smith's report speaks volumes as well. If Charlot was willing to cancel his trip to Miami after Alabama expressed its dissatisfaction with the visit, we can speculate he is leaning in the Crimson Tide's direction. After all, he won't want to ruffle the feathers of Saban before committing to play for him.

Prediction: Alabama

 

All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.

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Michigan Football Recruiting: Predictions for Top Rumored 2015 Prospects

Michigan hasn't made much of a big recruiting splash before national signing day, but that could change in the blink of an eye.

The team's program was on a swift decline with Brady Hoke at the helm, finishing the 2014 season with a 5-7 record and missing out on a bowl appearance for the first time since 2009. The Wolverines were in complete turmoil, but that didn't stop them from making a move that will define the future of the school's football team: the hiring of head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Not only is Harbaugh a brilliant football mind, but his history of success is well known. Rest assured, that will severely help with the team's recruiting process. With several key targets remaining uncommitted and national signing day just around the corner, let's take a look at a few prospects coveted by Michigan and predict their intentions.

 

Iman Marshall, CB

Nabbing Marshall could be the crown jewel of Michigan's recruiting class. The 5-star cornerback is ranked fourth in the 247Sports composite rankings and has been drawing interest from a bevy of schools. Currently, he is deciding between Michigan, Florida State, USC, LSU and Notre Dame.

Marshall is such a coveted prospect because of his great combination of size and athleticism. At 6'1" and 190 pounds, he has the prototypical length for an outside cornerback. He uses his size to his advantage, controlling receivers off the line in press coverage and gaining leverage in jump-ball situations.

As quick and agile as he is strong, Marshall has the speed to cover faster wide receivers, running the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds and possessing fluid hips and great anticipation, which allows him to flourish in multiple coverage packages.

Michigan was seen as a big underdog for Marshall due to the corner's childhood favorite team being USC, according to Bruce Feldman of FoxSports.com. However, Rivals.com tweeted an interesting turn of events:

With Harbaugh in the fold at Michigan, Marshall came away impressed following his visit to Ann Arbor, and he tweeted this picture soon after:

This is where the addition of the team's new head coach will start paying dividends. Expect to see Marshall in maize and blue in the near future.

Prediction: Michigan

 

Chris Clark, TE

Clark had originally committed to Michigan back in 2014; however, upon the firing of Hoke, the tight end decided to jump back on the open market. It's difficult to fault Clark for this, as the future of the Wolverines was in doubt, and he had to look out for his best interests.

Still, this news came as a big hit to Michigan, especially with the school losing Devin Funchess to the NFL draft. Clark was thought to be the next big weapon, as his athleticism, soft hands and 6'6", 247-pound frame makes him a consistent threat up the seam and in red-zone situations.

Well, here's another instance where Harbaugh may strike again. During an interview with Nick Baumgardner of MLive.com, the 4-star tight end expressed the return of his interest in Michigan if the team hired the former San Francisco 49ers head coach.

"I've got to wait and see if it's 100 percent a done deal, but I'd really like to have the opportunity to talk with [Harbaugh] and just take it from there," Clark said. "But, yeah, Michigan would be a school that I'd have a lot of interest in again. Hopefully he'll be the head coach."

As we know, Harbaugh became the coach soon after.

According to a tweet from ESPN's Tom VanHaaren, Clark is currently torn between Michigan and UCLA:

Since that announcement, Clark hasn't shown any signs of leaning one way or the other. Although, the prediction here is the tight end lands with the Wolverines. A coach like Harbaugh and the opportunity to log some playing time right away on a team that is in need of a viable tight end will be too enticing for Clark to pass up.

Prediction: Michigan

 

Shelton Johnson, DE

Johnson, a Delray Beach, Florida, native, could be a tough get for Harbaugh and Co. The defensive end is a big target for the Wolverines, but he has yet to decide between Michigan, Florida State, Miami and Virginia Tech.

At 6'5" and 220 pounds, Johnson has a lean build and can stand to add some muscle before facing bigger competition at the collegiate level. Still, he's a highly athletic prospect who has the length and agility to act as an edge-rusher or play outside linebacker. His addition will add plenty of versatility to his team's front seven.

Unfortunately for Michigan, you just can't win them all. While Johnson has been quiet about his recruiting process, expect the defensive end to stay closer to home and commit to a Florida-based school. According to a tweet from Warchant.com, that school could be Florida State:

The Seminoles have a well-built program that will provide Johnson with plenty of consistency. While Harbaugh's presence at Michigan certainly alludes to the fact the defensive end will get that same kind of stability in Ann Arbor, location will be the ultimate deciding factor.

Prediction: Florida State

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Ohio State Football Recruiting: Predictions for Top Rumored 2015 Prospects

There isn’t a program in college football that is better set up for extended recruiting success than Ohio State, and that will continue on Wednesday’s national signing day.

After all, the Buckeyes are fresh off a national championship, have Urban Meyer leading the way and don’t have any other major programs to deal with inside their football-rich state’s borders. Even Alabama’s Nick Saban has to contend with Auburn in his own backyard. 

The Buckeyes are trying to parlay those recruiting advantages into late pushes on a number of the nation’s top remaining prospects. Here is the latest on a few of them, as well as some predictions for their eventual landing spots.

 

Porter Gustin

Porter Gustin is a 4-star prospect on 247Sports’ composite rankings and the No. 4 outside linebacker in the nation. He checks in at 6’5” and 245 pounds and is versatile enough to play either linebacker or defensive end.

He is fast and athletic in the open field and is a tenacious pass-rusher. The prospect of Gustin rushing the passer alongside Joey Bosa is certainly enticing for Ohio State fans. 

Gustin’s recruitment is coming down to USC and Ohio State, although Arizona State is something of a dark-horse candidate still. Gustin himself noted that he will make his decision Tuesday:

Considering Gustin just visited Ohio State this past weekend, it is probably a positive thing for the Buckeyes that he is making his decision in the immediate aftermath. There is something to be said for making a last impression, and Meyer is certainly known as a closer on the recruiting trail.

A source close to Ohio State discussed that visit, via Jeremy Birmingham of Eleven Warriors:

(The visit) seems to be going well. It seems like the family has been "won over" but I'm less sure on (Gustin) himself. I think they like it here. Urban has pretty much taken this one on personally. It's unlike anything I've ever seen.

Gustin visited Ohio State with his father and grandfather.

There are a lot of positives from that quote from Ohio State’s perspective. For one, Meyer is directly involved and just may have flashed those three national championship rings Gustin’s way during the process. That can make quite an impression on someone looking to succeed at the next level, and Meyer’s history speaks for itself.

What’s more, winning over the family is an important part of the recruiting process. 

Between Meyer’s direct involvement, the family’s positive experience and the fact that Gustin is announcing right after visiting Columbus, the prediction here is that he is a Buckeye on national signing day.

 

Mike Weber

When Michigan hired Jim Harbaugh, it was only a matter of time before the new head man in Ann Arbor went head-to-head with the current king of college football, Meyer. Their first battle appears to be for the services of running back Mike Weber.

Weber is currently committed to the Buckeyes as a 4-star prospect on 247Sports’ composite rankings and the No. 9 running back in the nation. He is 5’9.5” and 219 pounds. He mixes power and speed and is capable of stepping in right away as a potential playmaker for either team.

Given the respective rosters (and the mediocrity Michigan has been stuck in for years), the Wolverines would probably rely on him more right away, but the Buckeyes are the defending champions with one of the most explosive offenses in all of college football.

The possibility of playing in that system has to be enticing.

Weber is an intriguing prospect because he originally committed to his hometown Wolverines and then changed his mind and went with the Buckeyes. Now that Harbaugh is back in the picture, Michigan fans are hoping Weber changes his mind one final time.

Weber discussed his thought process, via David Goricki of The Detroit News:

I grew up a Michigan fan and it's always been a school I wanted to go to, play for, and that's why I made my decision to go there early. But when it went downhill and they lost Brady Hoke and didn't know who they would bring in, I committed to Ohio State. Then they hired (Jim) Harbaugh, but I was pretty solid on Ohio State because I wanted to try something different.

How you take that quote likely depends on which side of the rivalry you fall on.

If you are a Michigan supporter, the fact that Weber grew up a Wolverines fan could be a reason for optimism. Perhaps Harbaugh can stoke that fanhood again and convince Weber to stay home. If you are an Ohio State fan, the “but” after “then they hired Harbaugh” is all you need to hear. He seems to have his mind made up.

Birmingham offered his opinion in a separate piece:

My take, from as unbiased a perspective as I can offer, is that people are assuming Weber will flip to Michigan because he's from Michigan and was committed to the Wolverines. I personally believe that many are underestimating how much Weber likes — and has liked for a long time — the Buckeyes. I've said before that people very close to Weber indicated to me over the summer that Ohio State was his first choice even prior to committing to Michigan… No matter how close he is proximity-wise to Michigan, he's closer relationship-wise to the Buckeyes and their coaching staff, which has been a consistent force in his recruitment, an advantage over Michigan's staff.  

Birmingham said it best—relationships will win out over proximity and the Harbaugh hiring. Consider this Meyer’s first victory in what promises to be plenty of battles with Harbaugh both on the field and on the recruiting trail.

 

Terry Beckner Jr.

Terry Beckner Jr. is a 5-star defensive tackle on 247Sports’ composite rankings and the No. 13 overall player. He is 6’4” and 293 pounds. He stuffs the middle on running plays and creates a push on passing plays that helps him get to the quarterback.

Beckner Jr. is from East Saint Louis, Illinois, and could very well choose to stay closer to home with Missouri when his recruitment is over. However, the Buckeyes have made something of a late push for the dominant Beckner, seeing as how he visited Columbus just a couple of weeks ago.

Still, his final official visit was to Missouri, which is where 68 percent of the crystal ball predictions on his 247Sports page have him going.

While the Buckeyes could use Beckner in the middle of the defensive line after the departure of Michael Bennett, Beckner will choose to stay closer to home with Missouri. Even if it seems like he does, Meyer can’t win all the recruiting battles.

 

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LSU Football Recruiting: Predictions for Top Rumored 2015 Prospects

Les Miles can only hope that national signing day goes better than last year's 8-5 campaign. 

Make no mistake—LSU is doing pretty well so far when it comes to the 2015 class. A No. 8 overall rank in 247Sports' team recruiting rankings is not as high as some would prefer, but the talent is certainly on its way to Baton Rouge.

Look, 5-star cornerback Kevin Toliver is a big get, as is 5-star wide receiver Tyron Johnson.

The Tigers need more, though, to keep up with the SEC arms race. Based on recent chatter, additional help might just be on the way. Miles and Co. are still in the running for several names, all of which fit nicely into the bigger puzzle.

 

Iman Marshall, CB 

Hey, miracles happen. 

After all, 5-star cornerback Iman Marshall does say LSU first in the above video.

In all seriousness, though, the Tigers are right in the thick of things with other major programs such as USC, Michigan, Florida State and Notre Dame.

As Greg Biggins of Scout.com tells Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman, though, the recruiting frenzy that surrounds Marshall is quite the convoluted mess:

He'll visit Oregon this coming weekend and may try and fit in a USC unofficial visit sometime before the dead period. USC is the childhood favorite and where everyone has predicted Marshall would end up, but there has been some recent buzz that they may not be the lock everyone (myself included) assumed. Jim Harbaugh came in for a home visit Monday night and the Wolverines have made a very positive impression. Marshall's father Tony went on the visit to LSU (only one so far) and will likely visit Oregon as well.

For what it's worth, Marshall took to social media to speak on his visit to LSU:

LSU should be, too, as even being in the running for a talented, 6'1" and 190-pound corner at this stage of the game is great news.

Unfortunately, that may be as far as it gets for the Tigers. A Long Beach, California, native who spent his days at Long Beach Poly High School, Marshall is most likely to stay local with the USC Trojans.

Prediction: USC

 

Leo Lewis, ILB

If Leo Lewis, a 4-star-inside linebacker, lands with the Tigers, it will go down as a masterful performance by the staff.

Lewis, the No. 1 interior player in the country, hails from Brookhaven, Mississippi, but he already decommitted from Ole Miss—something LSU appears to be a large part of, as James Smith of NOLA.com details:

The Tigers had done a magnificent job recruiting Lewis, and it all starts with Wilson's work on getting Lewis to change his official visits around allowing LSU to get the final one before the so called "dead period." While a lot of Mississippi State folks feel confident he will choose the Bulldogs, Lewis should be a Tiger on National Signing Day.

As 247Sports' Ryan Bartow points out, the proverbial writing seems as if it has been on the wall for a while:

The decommittment is big news for LSU no matter how viewed. The 6'3", 225-pound thumper seems ready leave the state and the only logical destination outside of it is Baton Rouge.

Prediction: LSU

 

Daylon Charlot, WR

Alabama and LSU have been in a two-program war for the services of Daylon Charlot for about a year.

A former Crimson Tide commit, the Patterson, Louisiana, native decommitted from Alabama in December and announced he would make a decision on national signing day. The initial controversy arose while Charlot—that's right—was on a visit with the Tigers.

Whatever Miles and Co. have in the water is working.

The 4-star wideout is worth the fight, as his athleticism, speed and impressive catch radius mean he can make an impact right away if allowed.

That may be Charlot's ultimate goal. In that case, Alabama will win out with Amari Cooper and others on to other things meaning he would receive early playing time.

If not, Charlot figures to stay home and play for LSU while following in the footsteps of recent names such as Odell Beckham Jr.

Prediction: LSU

 

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

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Penn State Football Recruiting: Top Impact Performers from Early 2015 Class

Penn State head coach James Franklin is a miracle worker.

As the nation gears its attention toward national signing day, many are in for a surprise—the Nittany Lions are right there with Auburn, Notre Dame and the nation's other top programs in terms of 2015 class grades, coming in at No. 12 overall at 247Sports.

Franklin simply finds a way. The 2015 class is 24 members strong with a whopping 13 4-star recruits. Some committed outright. Franklin managed to steal others.

Based on Franklin's usage of freshmen during last season's 7-6 campaign, the victories on the recruiting trail will only continue to translate to the field.

When it comes to top commitments expected to push for early playing time, a few come to mind right away.

 

Sterling Jenkins, OT

Sterling Jenkins is a large human.

At 6'8" and 307 pounds, the 4-star recruit figures to provide relief to a struggling unit right away.

Relief is exactly what the Nittany Lions need, too, as last year's debacle is one that will not fade for a long time. Not only did Franklin use defensive tackles as backup guards, the line as a whole helped the rushing attack to average just 101.9 yards per game and allowed 44 sacks in the process, per ESPN.com's Brian Bennett.

Jenkins needs plenty of work in the technique department when it comes to passing downs, but the Lions can plug him in at least on the interior, and it will be an upgrade in comparison to last year.

In tandem with other commits, such as tackle Ryan Bates and guard Steven Gonzalez, Jenkins leads a 2015 class that will improve the offensive trenches.

 

Saquon Barkley, RB

Franklin is by no means in desperate need of another running back right out of the gates next season. 

After all, Akeel Lynch is still around after rushing for 678 yards and four touchdowns last season. Joining him off of the redshirt list will be Mark Allen, Johnathan Thomas and Nick Scott.

Saquon Barkley is talented enough to surpass all of them anyway.

A 4-star recruit out of Whitehall High School, Barkley is a bruiser at 5'11" and 190 pounds who can hurt defenses between the tackles and also act as a reliable three-down back thanks to consistency as a receiver.

Barkley also recently shared a positive note about a visit from Franklin:

All it takes is for Barkley to show well in August and the Lions will suddenly have a deeper platoon at the position than anyone imagined.

That folks, is a great problem to have.

 

Johnny Petrishen, S

Franklin loves his versatile prospects.

Johnny Petrishen is a recent addition to the 2015 class, as Onward State captures, and he gives his new coach plenty of options:

A 3-star safety recruit from Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Petrishen touts 4.48 40-yard-dash speed, making him a valuable asset at more than just safety.

There is a potential safety spot up for grabs, although other commits, such as Jarvis Miller and Ayron Monroe, will compete for playing time all over the roster, too.

 

Shareef Miller, DE

The value of rotational depth along the defensive line at any level cannot be understated.

At Penn State, Shareef Miller is the most explosive lineman in the Lions' class, as well as a recent grab. It is clear that the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, native is all-in with Franklin, as captured by Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

While only a 3-star end, Miller has the sheer talent and the athleticism to contribute right away, although that will likely be reliant on his ability to add clean bulk to his 6'5", 230-pound frame.

Miller leads a strong class that includes Kamonte Carter and Ryan Buchholz. As far as immediate upside goes, Miller offers quite a lot.

 

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

 

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USC Football Recruiting: Predictions for Top Rumored 2015 Prospects

This year's national signing day is a decisive moment in USC history. 

The program will either cash in and announce to the collegiate landscape that it is back to its prominent ways and free of past scholarship shackles—or it will take the silent approach as top prospects elect to not participate in somewhat of a rebuild.

Be honest, though—USC will emerge a winner by day's end.

Head coach Steve Sarkisian is in the midst of building something special. Over at 247Sports, the Trojans rank No. 3 overall despite just a pair of 5-star recruits.

The best, though, may be yet to come.

 

Rasheem Green, DL

The Trojans appear to be in a two-team race with the Arizona State Sun Devils for the services of Junipero Serra High School product Rasheem Green.

Green, a 5-star defensive tackle, hails from Gardena, California, a locale that has become quite the pipeline for the Trojans in recent years. That figures to continue, at least according to Greg Biggins of Scout.com, who spoke to Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman on the matter:

"USC has been a longtime leader and it will be a pretty big shock if he ends up anywhere else," said Biggins. "ASU is probably running No. 2 right now and he'll announce on Signing Day as well."

At 6'5" and 275 pounds, Green offers a quick burst off the snap that would help the Trojans be even more athletic up front.

Arizona State figures to be out of the running. USC is local for Green, and the chance to be a part of something special is hard to ignore. 

Prediction: USC

 

Iman Marshall, CB

Iman Marshall is the crown jewel of many 2015 recruiting classes, although USC appears to have an advantage on LSU, Michigan, Florida State, Notre Dame and others when it comes to the 5-star cornerback.

After all, Marshall hails from Long Beach Poly High School, and the Trojans recently paid him a visit, as the high school's football team captures on Twitter:

That said, Trojans fans might not want to write anything in stone just yet.

Biggins notes that other contenders for Marshall's services continue to make a strong case:

He'll visit Oregon this coming weekend and may try and fit in a USC unofficial visit sometime before the dead period. USC is the childhood favorite and where everyone has predicted Marshall would end up, but there has been some recent buzz that they may not be the lock everyone (myself included) assumed. Jim Harbaugh came in for a home visit Monday night and the Wolverines have made a very positive impression. Marshall's father Tony went on the visit to LSU (only one so far) and will likely visit Oregon as well.

At 6'1" and 190 pounds with 4.5 40-yard dash speed, according to 247Sports, it is easy to see why so many of the nation's top programs are doing everything they can to make a last-minute push.

While efforts from Oregon and other locales are nice, USC is the home team and can offer everything Marshall desires as the Trojans gear up for a run at the Pac-12.

Prediction: USC

 

Porter Gustin, OLB

Talk about impossible to figure out.

Porter Gustin, a 4-star outside linebacker from Salem Hills High School, seems to have a three-way tie between USC, Ohio State and Arizona State.

Gustin, who comes in at 6'5" and 245 pounds, has now visited all three, but the last figures to be at a major advantage. The last being the reigning champion Ohio State Buckeyes.

According to Jeremy Birmingham of Eleven Warriors, Urban Meyer and Co. are serious about a commitment from Gustin:

"(The visit) seems to be going well," a source close to Ohio State shared. "It seems like the family has been 'won over' but I'm less sure on (Gustin) himself."

Gustin is at Ohio State with his father and grandfather, and the source shared things were going very well with them. The most important and interesting portion of his information? Urban Meyer — usually the "closer" during a recruitment and a visit — seems to have taken this one on himself.  

That said, Gustin's profile page at 247Sports touts Justin Hopkins' crystal ball projection as his picking the Trojans.

Right now, it seems the Buckeyes are at a major advantage. They got to Gustin last and it sure does not hurt they just won a title.

Prediction: Ohio State

 

John Houston, LB

No worries about a potential whiff on Gustin, though—the Trojans figure to land John Houston.

Houston is a 4-star linebacker also out of Junipero Serra High School and figures to be a lock for the Trojans, per Ryan Bartow of 247Sports:

For his part, the process is in no way easy, as Houston told Rahshaun Haylock of Fox Sports West:

"It's hard to me just trying (to narrow it down) because it's good factors in each and every school," Houston said. "Right now I'm just trying to figure out which factors are good for me."

Houston is the sort of athlete the Trojans need in their linebacking corps as a 4.6 40-yard-dash time (via 247Sports) for a 6'3" and 211-pound linebacker pops off the page.

Unless Oklahoma or Arizona State pulls off a miracle, it appears Houston will head to the Trojans.

Prediction: USC

 

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

 

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USC Football Recruiting: Predictions for Top Rumored 2015 Prospects

This year's national signing day is a decisive moment in USC history. The program will either cash in and announce to the collegiate landscape that it is back to its prominent ...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Auburn Football Recruiting: Predictions for Top Rumored 2015 Prospects

Few college football teams have as much riding on national signing day as Auburn.

Gus Malzahn has already put together a solid class with blue-chip high school prospects and JuCo stars like Jovon Robinson and Jason Smith. However, this quality group can become elite with a few commitments from the top players still available.

The Tigers are in the running for some of the best uncommitted players in the nation and these players can be the difference for a potential championship run in the future. Still, there is a big difference between being considered by a top prospect and actually signing him.

Here is a look at the top players still on the board for Auburn with predictions for where they will land on signing day.

 

Martez Ivey, Offensive Tackle

Generally considered the best offensive line prospect in the class, Martez Ivey has offers from just about everyone and is almost certainly going to end up somewhere in the SEC. The question is which team will be able to grab a commitment.

Ivey has stated he is down to Florida and Auburn, with both sides having pros and cons for the offensive tackle. However, his recent statement to Derek Tyson of ESPN Insider is certainly interesting:

I'm not really big in to specific coaches. They come and go because it's a business. Nothing's guaranteed in their position so I'm not really a coaches guy. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I like a school because of ‘this coach and that coach.' That's just how I feel about it. Like coach Muschamp was at Florida recruiting me and now he's at Auburn recruiting me. So coaches-wise, I don't really get caught up in that.

Considering Florida's former head coach, Will Muschamp, is now on staff at Auburn, you would think the coach would have a lot to do with the decision. However, this quote makes it seem like he was willing to stick with his previous favorite even though the Gators have made a coaching change.

Jim McElwain might have gotten a late start in the recruiting process for Florida, but he seems like he has a good chance of securing a commitment from Ivey.

Prediction: Florida

 

Byron Cowart, Defensive End

Like Ivey, Byron Cowart will likely be deciding between Florida and Auburn on national signing day. Florida State is also technically in the running, although the Seminoles seem like they are on the outside looking in.

Meanwhile, Matt Hayes of Sporting News argued that Muschamp's switch from head coach of Florida to defensive coordinator at Auburn will make a big difference in the recruiting process:

It’s not like the Florida administration didn’t know this could happen; the steps are easy to connect. Fire a popular coach among recruits, hire a coach with few recruiting ties to the state of Florida and it gets ugly quickly. [...]

It’s mind-boggling, really. The big, bad Gators — the program with more resources than any other in the SEC; the flagship school in the state of Florida — is on the verge of a colossal signing day embarrassment.

Although this doesn't seem to be the case with Ivey, Cowart appears to be much more connected with Muschamp, especially considering he will be playing directly for him on the defensive side of the ball. 

Putting him on an already solid defensive line will also help the 5-star recruit go from good to great.

Prediction: Auburn

 

CeCe Jefferson, Defensive End

There are more teams in the running for CeCe Jefferson, although it once again has an SEC hint to it, as noted by Bleacher Report's Tyler Donohue:

However, Bleacher Report's Sanjay Kirpalana notes why Ole Miss has become a favorite:

Considering he had already used an official visit to see the Rebels last October, his return trip in the late stages of his recruitment is a strong signal of his interest in the Rebels program.

Jefferson made waves in late December when he named the Rebels his leader. While that may have been initially met with some skepticism, there's a growing sentiment that Hugh Freeze and his staff sit in great position for him.

Although Ole Miss was considered a joke in the SEC West just a few years ago, Hugh Freeze has shown the ability to get the most out of defensive players in recent years. Jefferson has the talent to be an NFL star in just a few years, and playing for the Rebels will give him a good opportunity to get there.

Prediction: Ole Miss

 

Terry Goodwin, Athlete

Technically, Terry Goodwin is already committed to Georgia, but Malzahn isn't giving up on the No. 1 athlete in the nation, according to 247Sports.

With plenty of other top players still needing recruitment, the Auburn coach spent time with Goodwin's family in an attempt to flip the versatile playmaker:

It's easy to understand why everyone would want Goodwin on their team. The Georgia native has great athleticism and the ability to play multiple positions at the next level. He could certainly fill one of a number of holes in the depth chart for the Tigers.

Unfortunately, Michael Carvell of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously spoke to the 5-star recruit who said he was "100-percent committed to UGA."

Even with the latest in-home visit, Goodwin doesn't seem likely to change his mind.

Prediction: Georgia

 

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Notre Dame Football Recruiting: Predictions for Top Rumored 2015 Prospects

Head coach Brian Kelly has already put together an impressive group of recruits for Notre Dame, but some extra commits on national signing day could help make the 2015 class special. 

With big-time prospects like Brandon Wimbush, Aliz'e Jones, Tristen Hoge and others, the Fighting Irish have the potential for a top-10 class. After a poor second half last season, any influx of talent will be valuable.

Even with the current crop of players, a few uncommitted recruits at key positions could end up being extremely valuable for the future. Here is a look at the top available players Notre Dame fans should be following this week.

 

Dexter Williams, Running Back

Although a lot can change in a few weeks for an 18-year-old football player, Dexter Williams seemed to enjoy his time at Notre Dame at the end of January.

According to Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel, the 4-star running back said the Irish were in the driver's seat after his visit, providing a lot of praise for Kelly:

It went great. I had a great conversation and it shows me that he wants me a lot. He wants me to be a part of the Irish. It makes me feel great and it shows me he actually really cares about me. With me just being up there and now he's down here three days later shows me a lot ....and I know Notre Dame has started their recruiting for 2016 so it shows me a lot that he fit me into his schedule.

I really appreciate it and it shows he cares and he wants me.

The former University of Miami commit is still considering signing with the Hurricanes, but the momentum seems to be moving toward the Irish.

With Williams' combination of size (6'0", 192 lbs) and speed, the Florida native has a chance to make an early impact wherever he lands. At this point, that landing spot appears likely to be South Bend.

Prediction: Notre Dame

 

Equanimeous St. Brown, Wide Receiver

Equanimeous St. Brown is a serious force on the football field.

The 6'5" receiver has the size to be a true end-zone threat throughout his collegiate career and can be a safety net all over the field for whoever is under center. As he continues to improve his route-running skills, he has the chance to be one of the better receivers in the nation.

This is good news for Notre Dame because St. Brown seems destined to join an already impressive receiver class at South Bend. Bleacher Report's Damon Sayles believes the Irish are a heavy favorite to land the receiver, especially considering Utah is the only other school he officially visited.

All signs point to St. Brown wearing a golden helmet in the future.

Prediction: Notre Dame

 

Justin Reid, Safety

The Fighting Irish need to land a safety in this class, which makes signing one of the next two players of major importance.

Justin Reid has the better pedigree as the younger brother of San Francisco 49ers star Eric Reid, but he also has a tougher choice between his three favorites:

Although he doesn't necessarily need to follow in his brother's footsteps, most of Reid's family has gone to LSU, including both of his parents, according to Jerit Roser of The Times-Picayune. There will certainly be other factors in the decision, but staying close to home and playing for a school that knows how to develop defensive backs makes the Tigers a great decision.

Prediction: LSU

 

Arrington Farrar, Safety

Although it seemed like Arrington Farrar was all set to play at Stanford, he had to change up his plans after failing to pass admission standards for the California school, according to Michael Carvell of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Carvell also reported the safety took a late visit to Notre Dame:

Farrer is a 4-star prospect from Georgia with good size and instincts for the position. Although he will likely need some time to bulk up at the next level before competing for a starting spot, he has a chance to make an impact sooner than later.

With a relatively light depth chart at the position, signing with the Irish seems like a solid choice.

Prediction: Notre Dame

 

Nathan Meadors, Athlete

Few Notre Dame targets have as much versatility as Nathan Meadors, who has the ability to play just about any skill position at the next level. He was a dual-threat quarterback and a safety in high school, but his next coaching staff will have the opportunity to do with him what it chooses.

Unfortunately for the Irish, he appears likely to stay in California for his collegiate career.

According to Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports, "UCLA is considered the favorite and the Bruins had Meadors on campus this past weekend."

Notre Dame can pull off an upset on signing day, but the likelihood is that Meadors joins a UCLA class in need of some more depth.

Prediction: UCLA

 

Recruiting information and rankings via 247Sports unless otherwise noted. 

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Nick Saban and the Inner Workings of His Alabama Recruiting Machine

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Close your eyes and imagine the scene:

The 17-year-old recruit walks into Nick Saban's corner office on the second floor of the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility just off Bryant Drive in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. At the sight of the 5-star high school player and his family, Saban rises from behind his massive cherry desk and presses a button on a remote control, which shuts the door.

The coach loves this trick and smiles devilishly. There's a liquid glimmer of mischief in his eyes, revealing a side to Saban the recruit has never seen on television.

The recruit notices that, even in the dim light of Saban's inner sanctum—where the shades are usually drawn, as if to conceal secrets—the three national championship rings on a coffee table gleam brilliantly, like sunshine bouncing off the ocean. Saban guides the player and his family onto an overstuffed sofa. The coach takes a seat across from them in an easy chair. Between them are the rings. Then Nicholas Lou Saban Jr., age 63, lays on his singular brand of the hard sell.

We will win championships here. You see these rings? We'll get more of those. And I will prepare you for the NFL. We've had more NFL draft picks in the last five years than anyone. Anyone. The best come here. You'll have to earn your way onto the field as well as your right to stay on it. We have a process here. It's an everyday thing. We focus on what is directly in front of us, not end results. We want you, but know that we will win with or without you.

According to several former and current Alabama players, this is how Saban seals recruiting deals.

Saban may often appear distant and uninterested in public settings, but here in his wood-paneled office, his face lights up when he talks to a high school player about coming to Tuscaloosa. He sits on the edge of his chair and speaks with increasing animation, like an excited English professor delving deep into a discussion of Chaucer.

When a recruit is in Saban's thrall, each sell session the coach delivers comes off as the most important and urgent of his career. This is part of the magic of Saban at closing time.

"I was set to go to Auburn, and then I sat in Coach Saban's office, and that changed everything for me," said Josh Chapman, now a defensive tackle with the Indianapolis Colts, who was one of the first players to sign with Alabama after Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa in January of 2007. "You just feel he's got a plan for you and that he's the guy who will get you to the NFL. And he's got a presence like no one I've ever met."

Is Saban the best recruiter in college football history? It's a legitimate question to raise, especially now on the eve of national signing day, when he will sign a class that will win the Rivals.com recruiting national title for the fifth straight year—and sixth out of the last seven years.

On Wednesday, Saban is slated to land commitments from Rivals' top running back in the country (Damien Harris), its top-ranked wide receiver (Calvin Ridley), its No. 2 safety (Minkah Fitzpatrick), its second-ranked dual-threat quarterback (Blake Barnett), its third-best guard (Lester Cotton) and its third-ranked defensive tackle (Daron Payne)—just to name a few.

This would be a once-in-a-career haul for virtually anyone who has ever coached college football; for Saban, it's a typical class—just another day at his spacious office.

"Nobody has had a recruiting dynasty like this in college football," said Mike Farrell, a national recruiting analyst for Rivals. "This is another great class for Saban. He can now basically go into any state he wants and get its best player. In the last few years, he's done this in Texas, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and I could go on and on. Players simply believe that if you can play for Saban, you'll do two things: win a national championship and get drafted into the NFL."

The success of Saban on signing day, of course, is more complex than that. But what is it, exactly, that makes him such an artful recruiter? How has he built this Alabama recruiting machine, which is humming with such ruthless efficiency and shows no signs of slowing down?

"There are no secrets," Saban said. "It's about one thing, man, one thing: hard work."

Indeed, Saban and his staff devote time every working day of the year to recruiting, whether it's writing letters, making phone calls or watching game film. The staff compiles comprehensive reports on every prospective recruit, noting how accurately he fits the physical prototype the team is looking for at his position.

No detail is too extraneous; they'll assess ankle movement, hip flexibility and knee dexterity. They examine how each recruit communicates to his teammates on the field, how he reacts to getting beaten or manhandled by his opponent and how he behaves once he's achieved success on the field. They also probe into his behavior at school, assessing his study habits and his social conduct.

Even before Saban steps into the homes of prospects or invites a recruit to his office, Alabama usually has delved "seven deep" into the player's life, meaning they've contacted his friends, family, teachers, coaches—virtually anyone who has had an interaction with that player and shaped his development.

How did Saban, for instance, know to talk to future All-American Barrett Jones about playing the violin when Jones visited Saban's office? Because Saban had read a dossier on Jones' life that detailed how the offensive line recruit from Germantown, Tennessee, had given violin concerts as a child.

But more than anything, the background work by the Alabama staff is aimed at discovering whether a player can flourish in Tuscaloosa.

"We didn't even want to know about a guy's physical ability until we had gone more than a few layers deep into his life to find all the answers about him and see if he had the character to fit at Alabama," said Jim McElwain, the Crimson Tide's offensive coordinator from 2008 to '11 who is now the head coach at Florida. "We wanted to know if he had the drive to succeed and the character to handle all that we were going to demand of him.

"It's hard at Alabama. It's not for everybody. You can't be an ego guy at Alabama. Nick won't tolerate it, no matter how much talent you have. But that's why he goes so many layers deep into a player's life before really getting serious about recruiting him."

In evaluating the physical ability of players, Saban doesn't rely on game tape alone. He (or a staff member) always talks to a high school player's coaches and grills them with questions.

What's the player's character like? Can he digest and understand complex concepts? Is he a team leader? Is he a good teammate? What's his family background? Has he gotten in any trouble at school or with the law? How does he practice? Does he listen? Does he show up on time for meetings and appointments? Does he attend all of his classes? Is he dependable? Is he active in the community? How does he react to adversity? Can he play through pain? How will he perform when 100,000 pairs of eyes will be trained on him?

Saban, in short, wants to know every possible detail about every player.

Alabama's recruiting war room sits close to Saban's office. Only key personnel are allowed inside the room, which has a grease board that covers an entire wall and features the players Alabama is targeting for the next four years; the board includes information such as each prospect's grade-point average and the names of the school or schools each is leaning toward.

What happens in this room every day, to Saban, is nearly as important as what transpires on autumn Saturdays at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

"We were constantly revising the athletic evaluations of the players in that room," said Curt Cignetti, Alabama's recruiting coordinator and receivers coach from 2007 to '10, who is now the head coach at Division II IUP in Indiana, Pennsylvania. "We also had character evaluation and academic evaluation."

"Recruiting with Coach Saban never stops...because it's the lifeblood of the program," McElwain said. "Nick doesn't care if a kid has 100 offers or zero offers; he just wants to know if he can fit in the Alabama program. And if Nick offers a kid, his [recruiting] stars will jump up. But no one at Alabama is concerned about stars or what so-called recruiting experts are saying about players. That's just background noise.

"The evaluation process Coach Saban has is incredibly exhaustive," McElwain continued. "There are position-specific sets of critical factors that we looked for in a high school player. If the player had many of those critical factors, we felt that physically, he'd have a chance to succeed at that position at Alabama. It's as much a scientific approach as is possible to what is ultimately a subjective matter. I don't think anyone in the nation can evaluate talent better than Coach Saban."

When Saban meets recruits, he's not smooth like an Urban Meyer (who won national titles at Florida in 2006 and '08 and at Ohio State last month) or folksy like a Steve Spurrier (who won a national title at Florida in 1996 and is now at South Carolina) or eccentric like a Les Miles (who won a national title at LSU in 2007 and is still there). Rather, Saban is paternal and authoritative. He has a clear plan not only for his program, but also for each and every recruit.

Saban maps out, down to every hour of every day, the recruit's schedule for his upcoming years at Alabama. He explains in detail how he's going to make each young player perform better both on the field and in the classroom as well as how he's going to help each player grow into a person of substance.

Want to know why Alabama players remove their hats when they shake the hand of the mother of a prospective recruit? Because Saban teaches proper manners as much as proper football techniques.

"A lot of coaches will try to become really close friends with recruits, but that's not Nick. He's matter-of-fact and all business," said Todd Grantham, who was a defensive line coach under Saban at Michigan State in the late '90s and is now the defensive coordinator at Louisville. "When coaches do become buddies with the recruit, and then the recruit gets on campus and the coach is no longer his best friend, that's when problems can occur. But Nick just lays it all out there: 'Here's what we have to offer both academically and athletically. I'll launch you to a NFL career. Take it or leave it.'"

"Nick only hires coaches who have reputations for being good recruiters," said Cignetti. "Every assistant recruits an area, so Nick wants assistants that have relationships with high school coaches in the specific area that he will be in charge of recruiting. Recruiting is information-gathering and sales. Once we get film of the player, the position coach will evaluate it. He then passes his evaluation along to Nick. And then if Nick decides to make an offer, he's very good at giving people attention, which is really what people want. He's good at developing and maintaining relationships.

"He's very, very smart, and he has the recruiting down to science. I think he could have been successful in any business he went into because he's the rare person who is intellectually gifted and extremely driven. He sets the tempo for everything at Alabama. Everything."

"When you work for Coach Saban, you better make sure you are on top of the guys you are in charge of recruiting," said Sal Sunseri, who was the linebackers coach at Alabama from 2009 to '11 and recently became the Oakland Raiders' linebackers coach. "Persistence is what makes Coach Saban such a good recruiter. If he wants a guy, he'll make that guy feel like no one wants him more than Alabama. That's why you have to be very prepared to respond to Coach Saban when he asks you about a player you are recruiting.

"It's all about developing relationships with high school coaches, with parents and with the players. Really, those relationships are the key, and Coach Saban is always making sure that his assistants are keeping up with those relationships. Saban has more drive than anyone I've ever met."

The source of Saban's relentless nature—the key component to his recruiting success—can be traced to his childhood. At the age of 11, Saban began working at his father's gas station in tiny Monongah, West Virginia, only weeks after his dad had started coaching a Pop Warner team. At Saban's service station, father and son would throw a football to each other in front of the pumps until a car pulled in. One of them would then grab the nozzle and pump the gas while the other would check the engine oil and clean the windshield.

Young Nick did a little bit of everything at the station: He checked tire pressure, washed cars, collected money, made change, did grease jobs, changed oil and air filters and replaced oil. One time, his father, known locally as "Big Nick," asked him to clean out a drain in the floor of the station. By the time "Little Nick" finished hours later, it was as spotless as fine dinner china.

"The biggest thing I learned and started to learn at 11 years old was how important it was to do things correctly," Saban said. "There was a standard of excellence, a perfection. If we washed a car—and I hated the navy blue and black cars because when you wipe them off, the streaks were hard to get out—and if there were any streaks when [my father] came, you had to do it over."

That standard of excellence extended to the football field, where Saban became the starting quarterback for the Idamay Black Diamonds at age 11. The coach, Big Nick, cared deeply about his boys.

With what little extra income he had, he purchased a used bus that he drove to pick up his players for practice and drop them off afterward. After painting the bus orange to match the team's color, his wife plastered positive sayings, inspiring quotations and affirmations on the inside of the bus—such as "when the going gets tough, the tough get going"—for the boys to read as Big Nick drove 40 miles daily along the narrow, winding roads chiseled into the West Virginia mountains, traveling up and down the hills and hollows to the four different towns where his players lived.

He considered them his own blood. In return, not wanting to disappoint the man who had given them so much, they played their hearts out for Big Nick. Little Nick carefully studied it all.

Big Nick was a natural-born perfectionist, and his attention to detail was rare among Pop Warner coaches. He wasn't as concerned with results as much as he was with his players performing at their maximum potential, which was something he reminded his players of nearly every practice. Little Nick soaked it all in. Many of the phrases his father used—"Invest your time, don’t spend it"—the son still utters today.

The Idamay Black Diamonds strung together winning streaks of 26 and 33 games. Though Big Nick's team didn't possess the most talent, they had something more powerful: desire, toughness and strength.

"He took these country kids that didn't have an opportunity to play, taught them how to be successful, how to compete," Saban said of his father. "That certainly is something that stuck with me as a person and as a player. ... It made me better. The work ethic he taught, the standard of excellence, the integrity that you do things with, the attitude that you carry with you and the character that you carry with you, what you do every day. Those kinds of values affected me."

And they have shaped him into the recruiter he is today.

The tale of how Saban landed future New England Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower is instructive because it reveals two more keys to Saban's recruiting prowess: his eye for spotting talent (especially talent that fits into his system) and his high-revving internal motor that can power him through the longest of recruiting trip binges.

On a spring day in 2007, Saban and Cignetti were scheduled to leave Tuscaloosa at 7:30 a.m. in a private plane and fly to Huntsville, Alabama, to check out a few players. Then they would jet to Nashville, Tennessee, to see more recruits, then swing by Lewisburg, Tennessee, to watch Hightower practice, then return to Nashville to view another potential recruit compete in a track meet at Brentwood Academy.

Finally, after more than 12 hours in the air and on the road, they would return to Tuscaloosa, weary but wiser about the talent in the region.

By the time Saban and Cignetti arrived at Marshall Country High in Lewisburg, Hightower and his teammates were in the indoor practice facility for the first day of spring practice. As Hightower performed various drills with no pads, he noticed that a man on the sideline was following his every move. Confused, he asked a teammate, "Is that one of our new coaches?"

"No."

"Then who is it?"

"That's Alabama coach Nick Saban," the teammate replied. "Um, he's here to see you."

Saban liked what he saw in Hightower, whose only scholarship offer at the time was from Ole Miss. Saban covets big players. He repeatedly tells his assistants that "heavyweights knock out lightweights." And Hightower was big for a linebacker: 6'4," 240 pounds and capable of running a 4.6 40.

After watching him for a few minutes, Saban turned to Cignetti.

"What do you think?" he asked.

"We need to offer him," Cignetti replied.

Hightower didn't talk to Saban that afternoon, but later that night, the coach called Hightower's home. Though Saban had not personally seen Hightower play in a game, he offered him a scholarship. At the time, Hightower wasn't pegged by most recruiting services to be a blue-chip player, but Saban trusts what he sees more than what he reads when gauging a player's potential.

"What I saw that day in the indoor practice facility at his school was probably the most athletic linebacker in the country," Saban recalled. "I was blown away. I knew right away he could be a perfect fit for what we want to do."

Hightower didn't immediately accept Saban's offer, but he couldn't stop thinking about how Saban had flown all the way to his small Tennessee town just to watch him practice. He must really care, Hightower thought, and he must really, really want me. (Hightower would commit a few months later.)

When Saban and Cignitti left Marshall High, they stopped at a 7-Eleven convenience store. Neither had eaten all day. Cignetti purchased a candy bar. "What, do you have a sugar problem or something?" Saban joked.

Saban wouldn't eat until the coaches returned to Tuscaloosa at 8 p.m. that Friday evening. As the pair walked off the plane at the Bama Terminal, Saban looked at Cignetti, who was exhausted. The head coach, grinning wickedly, said, "Just another day in the NCAA."

At that very moment, in the gathering darkness on the tarmac, Cignetti didn't know if he'd ever seen anyone look as blissfully content as did Saban. 

Another one of Saban's favorite sayings is, "Right is never wrong." This means, in Saban's world, the right thing must always be vigorously pursued. When it comes to recruiting, "right is never wrong" means pouring as much energy as possible—both physical and intellectual—into getting the best players on his team.

But what makes this philosophy work is the full-blast, crank-it-up-to-10 intensity of the man who espouses and teaches and lives it.

"When you work for Nick, you always feel like it's 4th-and-1 on the goal line and the Super Bowl is on the line," said Phil Savage, who coached with Saban at the Cleveland Browns in the 1990s and remains a close friend. "He's the pacesetter. Players at Alabama today will swear to you that they've never seen him close his eyes in meetings and that they've never seen him yawn.

"He's got a lot of firepower in that engine. You feel like if you don't get something done, then you're letting him down. It's intense with him. ... More than any coach in America, Nick understands that the jockey doesn't carry the horse, it's the horse that carries the jockey. He knows he needs talent to win, and that's why he'll never get out-recruited by anyone."

The final weapon in Saban's recruiting arsenal is his wife, who was once a cheerleader for the Idamay Black Diamonds. When a prospect takes an official visit to Tuscaloosa, he and his family will typically spend time with Terry Saban, or "Miss Terry" as everyone at Alabama calls her, including Saban himself.

Elegant, refined, an adept conversationalist and as warm as a living room fireplace on a winter's night, Miss Terry is the maternal figure over the entire program. She hosts a recruiting party after the A-Day game each spring at the Sabans' sprawling home on Lake Tuscaloosa, which is a few miles north of campus.

While Saban works the grill and talks X's and O's with the recruits, Miss Terry will open the windows and doors to let the spring breeze refresh the house, and she'll move from family to family with the skill of a royal. Terry spends countless hours with the players once they arrive on campus, and in many ways she's Saban's ultimate closer—the person who makes the parents of recruits feel that their child will be taken care of in Tuscaloosa.

"Terry does a fantastic job, I think, of being very supportive, not only in the things we do, or try to do, in terms of recruiting and getting to know and develop relationships with people that are important to feel comfortable when they come and visit our university," Saban said. "... She's quick to tell me when we're running it too much up the middle, when we're not passing enough, when we don't blitz enough on defense. I get lots of feedback on all those things. So I would say that she's probably as big a part of the program as anyone in terms of her time, her commitment."

Terry Saban may cringe at the thought of being cast as a key player in her husband's vaunted recruiting process, but she is. In fact, she was his original recruit, falling for his charms as a dimpled-cheeked teenager on their first date in 1968 when Saban took her to the Lee Movie Theatre in Fairmont, West Virginia, to see Gone with the Wind.

Yes, even back then, there was something about Nick Saban that attracted 5-star talent.

 

Lars Anderson is a senior writer at Bleacher Report and the author of The Storm and The Tide, a book about the tornado that devastated Tuscaloosa and what the Alabama football team did to help the city recover. This story is a combination of original reporting and reporting done for that book.

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Ranking the Best Feuds in College Football

Is there anyone’s hand at work that you wouldn’t shake?

Let’s say it’s customary to gather around the fax machine and shake hands at the end of each work week—who wouldn’t you touch with a 10-foot pole?

Though the following coaches may not be in a full-on Hatfield-McCoy caliber feuds, they may not want to be friends on Facebook, either.

Whether it’s a few poorly-chosen words that the media plastered all over the internet, a recruiting battle or a perceived injustice in a game, these guys aren’t exactly what you’d call chummy.

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National Signing Day 2015: TV Schedule, Predictions for Top Remaining Recruits

National signing day can make or break the immediate future of any college football team. Some teams, namely Florida State, Alabama and Clemson, have already come away with a handful of top-ranked recruits; however, most schools anxiously await the decisions of the remaining uncommitted prospects.

Interestingly enough, three top-five players are still uncommitted, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. These 5-star recruits will surely be the main attractions when their ultimate decisions are revealed on Feb. 4. Until then, all we can do is speculate.

Due to the importance of these impending decisions, national signing day can be viewed in a number of different ways—top-10 announcements will be televised, other recruits' commitments will be revealed online and most schools have signing day coverage across the Web.

To ensure you don't miss the outcome for your favorite team or recruit, here's a look at the full national signing day schedule, followed by predictions for the top remaining prospects.

 

National Signing Day Schedule

Date: Wednesday, Feb. 4

Time: 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. ET

Channel: ESPNU

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Player Announcement List: ESPNMediaZone.com

School-Specific Coverage List: CBSSports.com

Twitter Announcements: @ESPNCFB, @CollegeGameDay

 

Uncommitted Recruit Predictions

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

 

Terry Beckner Jr., DT

Let's take an in-depth look at Beckner here. After all, the 6'4", 293-pound defensive tackle is one of the most sought-after recruits, and with five schools still in the running for his services, there isn't a clear indication of which he'll pick.

Currently, Missouri, Ohio State, Auburn, Florida State and LSU could potentially land Beckner, and each of those teams makes perfect sense. Missouri, Auburn and LSU have sound defenses, Florida State continues to compete for national titles and Ohio State just won the inaugural College Football Playoff.

So, what makes Beckner a highly coveted prospect?

While Beckner is already a mauler in the trenches due to his great combination of size and strength, he has a frame that will easily support more weight. Adding a bit of muscle to eclipse the 300-pound mark would make him a terror in the collegiate ranks and catch the eye of many NFL scouts.

Versatility is another of Beckner's sought-after traits. Not only is he one of the most talented defensive tackles in the class of 2015, but he has the skill set to flourish at any inside position along the defensive line. No matter if he resides on a 4-3 or 3-4 base defense, expect Beckner to excel at either the 3-technique, 5-technique or nose guard.

Adding to his well-rounded skill set is a great deal of athleticism. He has a great burst off the snap that allows him to explode into a would-be blocker and knock his off-balance opponent into the backfield. Once in the backfield, Beckner routinely causes problems, as he plays with a high motor and regularly makes plays in pursuit of the ball-carrier.

Now, the burning question: Which school is most likely to gain his services?

At this time, the front-runner has to be Missouri. During a recent visit to the school, the Tigers pulled out all the stops to make Beckner feel at home, including displaying some massive support in the arena, via Mark Kim of ESPNU:

While Beckner's trip to Missouri more than likely helped the Tigers' chances of bringing in the 5-star recruit, the school's reputation for churning out NFL defensive linemen should make the thought of attending Missouri even more enticing.

In 2013, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson went 13th overall to the New York Jets. One year later, defensive end Kony Ealy was picked in the second round by the Carolina Panthers. This year, defensive end Shane Ray is expected to be a first-round selection and potential top-10 pick.

Again, every school on Beckner's short list makes sense for the 5-star recruit, but Missouri appears to stand out above the rest.

Prediction: Missouri

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