High-SchoolFootball: Recruiting

Wright expelled from Don Bosco Prep for tweets

January, 20, 2012
Yuri WrightDanny Wild/US PresswireYuri Wright is rated as the No. 4 cornerback in the ESPNU 150, but after being expelled from FAB 50 No. 1 Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) for explicit tweets, his future could be up in the air.
In what could prove a cautionary tale to top recruits, Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) senior Yuri Wright was expelled Thursday for explicit comments he made on Twitter, according to The Star-Ledger. The tweets were racial in nature and sexually graphic, leading the school to take action against its star cornerback. Wright is ranked as the nation's No. 4 cornerback and No. 40 overall recruit by ESPNU.

Reports had swirled this week that Michigan had backed off recruiting Wright because of his tweets. Wright is also considering offers from Colorado, Notre Dame and Rutgers.

Click here to read more about the story from ESPN.com.

Brandon Parker covers high school sports for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.
ToddGurleyTom Hauck/ESPNHSTodd Gurley, a senior tailback at Tarboro (N.C.), will announce his college decision on Friday. His top four schools are Clemson, Georgia, NC State and UNC.
Todd Gurley, a senior at Tarboro (N.C.), is one of the top-rated running backs in the nation, possessing the ability to play multiple positions. As a highly sought-after recruit with offers from the likes of Auburn, UNC, Georgia, Virginia Tech, Clemson and NC State, Gurley agreed to chronicle his senior season and recruiting experience leading up to his decision through a diary with ESPNHS.

What's up World!

This Friday the 13th at 2 p.m. is when I will be announcing the school that I'll be taking my talents to next year. On this blog, I will be writing about my top four schools.

The first school I'd like to talk about is UNC. Now, UNC was one of the first schools I had at the top of my list from day one, just to be able to visit them so many times helped me get a feel for the college, and actually at one point of time I thought that was gonna be the place for me for the next four years. But when all the NCAA investigation stuff happened, I kind of fell back to see how everything was gonna work out. I still always kept them on my list, though.

With NC State, if you don't know, one of my bros committed there in K'hadree Hooker (Follow him on Twitter @bighook74) and I also got cool with a lot of other recruits during this process who had committed there. So I knew I would have NC State on my list the whole time. Plus, it's close to home, so all of my family and friends could come see play. Also, being there multiple times on campus to basketball games, the spring game and the football game vs. Maryland — the atmosphere was crazy!

My next top school is UGA, which is a school I visited three times and I see why people say it's a great school. First of all, the food is the best and that's my favorite thing about the school. My bro Keith Marshall goes there now and that would be good to have two NC boys in the backfield representing for our state. Plus, the relationship I developed over time with (running backs) coach Bryan McClendon and coach Richt has been great. Two great coaches running a great program.

My last school is the Clemson Tigers, a school I always wanted to play for after watching C.J. Spiller run there and break records. That was something I dreamed about and now that I have the opportunity to go there, it's just crazy to have my dreams come true. My Clemson visit was the best out of all the schools I visited because the time I had with the players was so much better then every other school, so that's a plus in my book. Even though they offered me late and stopped recruiting for a while, I didn't really care about that because that's just the business of it, so it didn't affect me too much.

I'd like to thank God first for blessing me with this opportunity, my coaches, friends, family, and my town of Tarboro. And a special shoutout to my bros who have been with me through this recruiting process — K'hadree Hooker, Keith Marshall, and Ronald Darby

That's it for now. Thanks for reading all my blogs, follow me on Twitter for more updates @TG1UNO and stay tuned Friday at 2 p.m. for the big announcement!

Mr. Football USA Week 10 Tracker

November, 1, 2011
Mike DavisTom Hauck/ESPNHSFlorida-bound RB Mike Davis of Stephenson (Stone Mountain, Ga.) had another big game last week, rushing for 246 yards and two scores.
One of the biggest individual honors a high school football player can receive is Mr. Football USA, the title bestowed upon the nation’s most outstanding player each fall by ESPNHS.

Below is a look at the top candidates in the chase for the 2011 Mr. Football USA. Every Tuesday during the regular season we’ll update the totals of many leading contenders as well as examine some of the new names that are emerging as strong contenders.

RB Johnathan Gray, Aledo (Aledo, Texas)
This week: The nation's top-rated running back in the updated ESPNU 150, Gray carried 31 times for 265 yards and seven touchdowns in Aledo's ESPNU-televised 67-42 shootout win over Birdville (North Richland Hills, Texas).
Season totals: 181 carries for 2,241 yards and 44 touchdowns rushing, 16 catches for 346 yards and four scores receiving; Aledo is 7-2
Stock – Up: Gray’s big night on TV made him the second all-time leading scorer in the history of high school football, passing former N.C. State RB T.A. McLendon. He is now 21 touchdowns and 146 points behind the all-time high school leaders in those two categories, former Michigan RB Mike Hart, who prepped at Onondaga (Nedrow, N.Y.). A deep playoff run including more performances like this past week puts those numbers within striking distance, considering Gray has already scored 48 times through nine games this fall.

WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Hillcrest (Springfield, Mo.)
This week: The nation’s No. 1 ranked WR by ESPNU had his ninth 100-yard game of the year Friday, catching 11 passes for a whopping 303 yards and four touchdowns in Hillcrest's 35-7 win over Republic (Republic, Mo.).
Season Totals: 98 catches for 1,985 yards and 21 touchdowns, one rushing touchdown; team is 9-1
Stock – Up: Green-Beckham is now the all-time leading receiver in high school football history at 6,110 yards and counting, breaking the previous record held by former Evangel Christian (Shreveport, La.) WR Abram Booty.

Read More »

Launching Pad: Clemson in on Adams

October, 27, 2011
Montravius AdamsTom Hauck/ESPNHSDooly County (Vienna, Ga.) DT Montravius Adams has landed his first offer from the Clemson Tigers.
Each week ESPNHS will shine the light on a few non-seniors who are emerging as prospects to watch on the recruiting radar. Here is this week's Launching Pad.

DL Montravius Adams, Dooly County (Vienna, Ga.)
Adams is a stout, strong run-stopper with good pass rushing ability. The 6-2 , 280-pounder is quick off the ball and can disrupt an offense from the tackle spot. He was a second team all-Region 4 selection as a sophomore after posting over 70 tackles and 15 sacks in 2010.

This season he leads his team in tackles and is starting to get the attention of opposing offensive coordinators that look to slow him down with double and triple teams. College coaches have started to take notice as well. The defensive tackle reports an early offer from Clemson and is receiving mail from Alabama, Georgia, Nebraska, and Oregon. Florida stopped by his school this week and he thinks they may be close to offering.

Last spring, he attended the Orlando Nike Combine and registered a 74.04 SPARQ Rating on the strength of his 40-foot power ball toss and 24-inch vertical jump. His performance landed him on the All-Combine team. He attended the Tallahassee Nike Camp a couple months later and held his own in a strong field that featured Faith Academy (Mobile, Ala.) DL Chris Casher, Lakewood (St. Petersburg, Fla.) DL Dante Fowler, and Pierce County (Blackshear, Ga.) DL Quavon Hicks.

Adams tells ESPNHS, “This season started off slow for our team dropping the first two games, but we’ve won six in a row. My goals for the season were to make the playoffs and finish with over 100 tackles.”

After Adams takes care of his junior season on the gridiron he will look to attend ESPNHS events again this offseason to increase his recruiting stock. – Kynon Codrington

OL Bradley Bozeman, Handley (Roanoke, Ala.)
Handley High is undefeated and sitting pretty at 9-0 this season and standout offensive line prospect Bradley Bozeman has had plenty to do with the team's success in 2011. Bozeman has been enjoying himself thoroughly in the trenches, on both sides of the ball.

“We are really dominating on offense and defense this season. I have been going both ways all year, and I haven’t graded below an 80 in any game,” Bozeman shared with ESPNHS, “I think we have what it takes to win it all this year.”

The 6-5, 315 pound offensive tackle committed to No. 2 Alabama way back in June, and doesn't seem to be wavering on that choice one bit.

“Recruiting has been going well. I haven’t taken any visits besides ‘Bama, and I am really loving Tuscaloosa a little more each time I go visit.” - Nick Ekbatani

Read More »

Mr. Football USA Week 9 Tracker

October, 25, 2011
Dorial Green-BeckhamJohn Fedele/ESPNHSHillcrest (Springfield, Mo.) WR Dorial Green-Beckham needs just 62 yards this week to eclipse the national record for career receiving yards.
One of the biggest individual honors a high school football player can receive is Mr. Football USA, the title bestowed upon the nation’s most outstanding player each fall by ESPNHS.

Below is a look at the top candidates in the chase for the 2011 Mr. Football USA. Every Tuesday during the regular season we’ll update the totals of many leading contenders as well as examine some of the new names that are emerging as strong contenders.

RB Johnathan Gray, Aledo (Aledo, Texas)
This week: The new No. 1 rated running back in the updated ESPNU 150, Gray 20 times for 160 yards and four touchdowns while also catching three passes for 128 yards and another score in Aledo's 49-3 win over Azle (Azle, Texas).
Season totals: 148 carries for 1,964 yards and 37 touchdowns rushing, 16 catches for 346 yards and four scores receiving; Aledo is 6-2
Stock – Same: Gray’s continues to accumulate single-season and career stats that jump off the page. He now has scored 1,058 career points, placing him No. 3 all-time nationally and just 18 points (three touchdowns) behind No. 2 on the list, former NC State running back T.A. McLendon. He also tied the all-time Texas state mark with his 43rd career 100-yard rushing game.

WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Hillcrest (Springfield, Mo.)
This week: The nation’s No. 1 ranked WR by ESPNU had his eighth 100-yard game of the year Friday, catching nine passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns and also scored on a 27-yard reverse in Hillcrest's 56-6 rout of Marshfield (Marshfield, Mo.).
Season Totals: 87 catches for 1,682 yards and 17 touchdowns, one rushing touchdown; team is 8-1
Stock – Slightly Up: Green-Beckham is now up to 5,806 career receiving yards and is just 62 yards away from breaking the national career receiving yardage record held by former Evangel Christian (Shreveport, La.) WR Abram Booty.

Read More »

ESPNHS Alumnus of the Week: DeMarco Murray

October, 25, 2011

Talk about making an entrance. On Sunday, Dallas Cowboys rookie and third-string running back at the beginning of the season DeMarco Murray, ran for 253 yards against the St. Louis Rams, breaking Emmitt Smith's single game rushing record for a Dallas Cowboys running back of 237 yards (set at Philadelphia against the Eagles on October 31, 1993). The record total included a first-quarter 91-yard touchdown run that is second longest in Cowboys history, after a NFL-record 99-yard run by Tony Dorsett in January 1983. Sunday was Murray's first start as a pro after Felix Jones was injured the prior week versus the Patriots, but if his record-setting day is any indicator, it won't be his last start. Today we take a look back at Murray when he was in high school with an ESPNHS Alumnus of the Week feature.

DeMarco Murray attended Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, a school that is now a national power currently sitting at No. 9 in the POWERADE FAB 50 rankings, but was just building as such with the help of Murray and others in the mid-2000s. Murray was a star from the beginning of his Gael career as a sophomore in 2003, when he rushed for 1,395 yards and 17 touchdowns to earn all-conference honors.

A year behind another top notch recruit at Gorman, LB Ryan Reynolds who went onto a solid career at Oklahoma, Murray was no secret after his breakout sophomore campaign, especially when he showed up at the 2004 Stanford Nike Camp and posted the ninth-fastest 40-yard dash time at 4.49 seconds out of over 500 participants. Current NFL wideouts Desean Jackson (4.43) and Brandon Gibson (4.46) were a few of the handful who bested Murray in the 40 that day, but his star was clearly on the ascent, as he landed early offers from the likes of Oklahoma, Florida, Nebraska and Wisconsin prior to the start of his junior season that fall.

DeMarco Murray
Tom Hauck/ESPNHSDeMarco Murray, who ran for a Cowboys' record 253 yards on Sunday, shown here at the 2005 Stanford Nike Camp, where he clocked a 4.52 40-yard dash.
Murray didn't disappoint as a junior, rushing for 1,271 yards and 12 touchdowns on just 138 carries in eight games while also catching 19 passes for 223 yards to earn ESPNHS Junior All-American honors. He returned again to the Stanford Nike Camp in May of 2005 to once again post one of the event's fastest 40s (4.52 on a slow track, eighth-best out of 500-plus competitors). The then 6-foot, 183 pounder also showed his terrific pass-catching ability to dominate in drills, a pre-cursor of what would come in his college career.

As a senior in the fall 2005, Murray rushed for 1,947 yards and 27 touchdowns and also caught 22 passes for 624 yards and 7 touchdowns, earning him ESPNHS All-American honors, all-state honors and the 2005 Sunset Region Offensive Player of the Year award. He even chipped in 64 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions on the defensive side of the ball to lead Gorman to a 9-3 record. Murray visited Florida, Oklahoma, USC and Penn State before selecting the Sooners during the 2006 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Considered one of the top running backs of his class alongside Chris Wells, C. J. Spiller and Michael Goodson, Murray was rated the nation's top RB and No. 6 overall in the ESPNU 150 for the Class of 2006 by ESPN, the nation's No. 2 all-purpose back and No. 35 overall player by Rivals.com and the nation's No. 8 RB and No. 37 player overall by Scout.com.

Brian Stumpf is the director of football events for ESPN HS. You can follow him on Twitter at @BrianStumpfESPN.

Launching Pad: McCrary up to 40 offers

October, 20, 2011
Johnathon McCraryTom Hauck/ESPNHSJunior QB Johnathon McCrary out of Cedar Grove (Ellenwood, Ga.) has a lot to smile about when it comes to football and recruiting.
Each week ESPNHS will shine the light on a few non-seniors who are emerging as prospects to watch on the recruiting radar. Here is this week's Launching Pad.

DT Caleb Brantley, Crescent City (Crescent City, Fla.)
Although the 2011 season hasn’t been very good to Crescent City High, currently sitting at 1-6, the same can’t be said for their interior stalwart defensive tackle Caleb Brantley. Brantley, a 6-3, 295 pounder, has been a load for all of Crescent City’s opponents, and has been very productive, despite playing for a team with six losses.

“I am averaging over nine tackles a game," Brantley shared Wednesday. "Most of the teams we play like to run the ball, so I don’t get a chance to pass rush as much as I’d like. But when I do, you can count on me getting in the backfield. Despite our record, our defense rarely gets scored on.”

Brantley holds an early offer from Florida State, but he told ESPNHS that he expects his recruitment to pick up once he gets his film out.

“Everyone is waiting to see how I play. I come off the ball hard, I never give up much ground, and I have a real nose for the ball. I’ve been working to improve my strength in the weight room. If I keep working like I do, I know I can be the best in the state.”

He had impressive showing last spring at both the Orlando Nike Combine, where he made the all-combine team and posted an 84.24 SPARQ Rating on the strength of a 42-foot power ball toss, and also at the Florida State Nike Camp.

QB Johnathon McCrary, Cedar Grove (Ellenwood, Ga.)
The Cedar Grove field general is emerging as one of the top quarterback prospects in the Southeast for the Class of 2013. As a sophomore last fall, McCrary threw for 3,345 yards and 25 touchdowns while adding 10 rushing scores and leading his team to the third round of the Class AAA playoffs.

McCrary also plays point guard for the Saints hoops team and has been a starter since his freshman year. Duke, Georgetown, Kentucky, and North Carolina have shown interest in his hardwood skills. The multi-sport star comes from an athletic pedigree, as his father Greg McCrary played tight end in the NFL for six seasons.

Last spring, McCrary attended the Georgia Elite 11 and Nike Camp. His sister attends Georgia and the ‘Dawgs are among his top five schools. The 6-3, 180 pounder reports over 40 offers and has an early favorite list that includes Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Oregon. He has already taken unofficial visits to Alabama, Georgia, and Georgia Tech this fall.

McCrary told ESPNHS this week, “All of the schools that standout have good situations and fit me. I took a visit to Georgia Tech because I wanted to check it out, but their offense isn’t for me.”

This fall he has already passed for 1,800 yards and 22 touchdowns to go with five rushing scores. His team is 5-3 overall with a 4-1 district mark. Earlier in the season he suffered an eye infection and chose to cut himself to relieve the pressure, so that he wouldn’t miss his team’s game. When asked about his individual success he stated, “To be successful you have to overcome adversity. I’m a big believer in overcoming obstacles and having faith will lead to success.” – Kynon Codrington

OL Mike McGlinchey, William Penn Charter (Philadelphia)
The 6-8, 285 pounder told ESPNHS on Wednesday that things couldn’t be going any more swell over in Philadelphia. William Penn Charter (4-2) is off to their best start in over three years and McGlinchey has been providing his services on both sides of the ball, and making his presence clearly felt.

“Its hard to keep stats as an offensive lineman, but I know I have a ton of pancake blocks, and I don’t give up any sacks. I also have a lot of sacks and forced fumbles on defense.”

McGlinchey’s massive frame and exceptional athleticism make him a very desirable recruit. He holds offers from the likes of Boston College, Virginia, and Penn.

“I feel recruiting is really going to start heating up. I have a few offers right now, but I am hearing from a lot of schools. I’m excited for whats to come.” - Nick Ekbatani

ATH Jalen Ramsey, Brentwood Academy (Brentwood, Tenn.)
Aside from a blowout loss in the opener to POWERADE FAB 50 No. 5 Trinity (Louisville, Ky.), Brentwood Academy has had an excellent campaign to this point and now stands at 7-1 with two games remaining in the regular season. One key cog in the Eagles big year so far is do-it-all junior athlete Jalen Ramsey, a 5-11, 180 pounder who has lined up at cornerback, strong safety, running back and wide receiver.

Ramsey, who figures to be recruited primarily as a defensive back, has seen more time at running back on offense then he expected this fall, shifting to the backfield when injuries struck at the position and rushing for 348 yards and six scores to this point, while also catching 10 passes including a seventh touchdown. He hasn't been tested much at cornerback but does have 30 tackles and three interceptions.

An explosive athlete who didn't see much time last fall as a sophomore at Ensworth School in Nashville, Ramsey burst upon the recruiting scene with a breakout showing at the Atlanta Nike Combine last March. He clocked an impressive 4.63 40, a 4.19 shuttle and jumped 40.9 inches in the vertical to finish with an eye-opening 104.94 SPARQ Rating, good for fifth-best at the event out of over 1,000 participants. His SPARQ Rating was bested only by Cory Batey and Kofi Amichia, two players who were invited to The Opening, and also UAB commitment Destin Challenger and LB John Silas, another senior who holds Division I scholarship offers.

The showing put Ramsey on the recruiting map, and after a few strong showing at college camps over the summer he picked up offers from Arkansas State, Kentucky and Tennessee. Since the season started this fall, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech and most recently Purdue have also offered scholarships.

In addition to the schools that have already offered, Ramsey is communicating with Penn State, Michigan State, South Carolina, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Georgia, Cincinnati, and Miami on a regular basis.

"He has visited Tennessee and Arkansas State already this fall and will visit Vanderbilt this weekend," Ramsey's father Lamont told ESPNHS Thursday. He has plans to visit Kentucky, Louisville and Cincinnati.

Know of an underclassman prospect who should be featured in the Launching Pad? E-mail Kynon Codrington (Southeast),Nick Ekbatani (Linemen), Brian Stumpf (national) or Michael White (Midwest/Northeast) with your nominee.

Mr. Football USA Week 8 Tracker

October, 18, 2011
One of the biggest individual honors a high school football player can receive is Mr. Football USA, the title bestowed upon the nation’s most outstanding player each fall by ESPNHS.

Below is a look at the top candidates in the chase for the 2011 Mr. Football USA. Every Tuesday during the regular season we’ll update the totals of many leading contenders as well as examine some of the new names that are emerging as strong contenders.

RB Johnathan Gray, Aledo (Aledo, Texas)
This week: Gray ran for six touchdowns (4, 1, 40, 70, 15 and 47 yards) and 243 yards on just 14 carries as Aledo thrashed Boswell (Fort Worth, Texas) 73-30 on Friday night.
Season totals: 128 carries for 1,804 yards and 33 touchdowns rushing, 13 catches for 218 yards and three scores receiving; Aledo is 5-2
Stock – Slightly Up: Gray’s continues to accumulate single-season and career stats that jump off the page. He now has scored 1,028 career points, placing him No. 3 all-time nationally and just 48 points (eight touchdowns) behind No. 2 on the list, former NC State running back T.A. McLendon.

WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Hillcrest (Springfield, Mo.)
This week: The nation’s No. 1 ranked WR by ESPNU had his seventh 100-yard game of the year Friday, catching five passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns in Hillcrest's 49-0 rout of West Plains (West Plains, Mo.).
Season Totals: 78 catches for 1,493 yards and 15 touchdowns; team is 7-1
Stock – Same: Green-Beckham is now up to 5,617 career receiving yards and is just 191 yards away from breaking the national career receiving yardage record held by former Evangel Christian (Shreveport, La.) WR Abram Booty.

Read More »

Launching Pad: Wiggins adding offers

October, 13, 2011

Each week ESPNHS will shine the light on a few non-seniors who are emerging as prospects to watch on the recruiting radar. Here is this week's Launching Pad.

DB Reon Dawson, Trotwood-Madison (Trotwood, Ohio)

Trotwood-Madison has been emerging as one of the top programs in Ohio ever since former NFL defensive back Maurice Douglass took over as head coach a few years back. This year Coach Douglass could very easily have one of the best secondaries in the nation, led by senior Bam Bradley and 2013 ESPNU 150 Watchlist prospect Cam Burrows.

Junior Reon Dawson has made this group even stronger and has been playing out of his mind since the start of the season. Not too many opponents have been able to pass on the Rams, so midway thru the season Dawson's stats will not do justice to what his impact has been. On the year he has with two interceptions, a fumble recovery and six pass break ups.

When asked about his performance this year, Dawson told ESPNHS, "Everything is going great, I am just trying to play at my highest potential and win games for our group of seniors. We have a big game this week and with a win it would be our fourth straight league crown."

He has made sure to take advantage of playing for Coach Douglass by asking as many questions as possible. "Coach Doug(lass) has been such a great coach, he will do anything to help me reach my full potential. He has really taught me a lot on how to read receivers body language and most important how to watch film to learn and get better."

Currently weighing just 170 pounds, Dawson is prepared to put in the work to get bigger this spring. One huge advantage already going for Dawson is his height at 6-2. He understands that this is something to take advantage of makes sure to watch corners on Sundays who have similar length to see how the attack and play receivers.

As far as recruiting goes, Vanderbilt is his lone offer but schools such as Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State, and Wisconsin are coming on strong, and the one school he most wants to hear from is Ohio State. Dawson currently holds a 3.3 GPA. - Michael White

DE Lewis Neal, James B. Hunt (Wilson, N.C.)

Neal is an ultra athletic defensive end prospect who is making a lot of noise out in North Carolina with his steady play. Hunt is undefeated (7-0) headed into a big game this Friday against Southern Nash (Bailey, N.C.). Neal told ESPNHS that he has been enjoying every bit of his junior season. His opponents on the other hand, can't say the same.

“I feel like I am playing great so far this year," Hunt tells ESPNHS. "I’m averaging at least 9 tackles a game and I don’t let anyone beat me. I don’t care how big or strong they are… I won’t lose because I won’t quit; I always want more.

“We are undefeated and doing very well because we are all playing together. No one puts themselves over the team and we all have each others back.”

Neal is sitting on an early offer from N.C. State and you can expect his list to grow as he gains more exposure. – Nick Ekbatani

OL Evan Voeller, West Linn (West Linn, Ore.)

Voeller is a 6-4, 285 pound run-blocking machine who was part of a group of select underclass offensive linemen who really shined during the NFTC tour in 2011. He has since seen his game reach new levels and is pleased with his overall play during his junior season.

“I trained very hard to get quicker and stronger and it has paid off. I’m a much better run blocker because of it, and my OL coach has been raving about my improved footwork.”

West Linn is certainly benefitting from the talented junior’s improved play. The Lions are 5-1 and have paved the way with their run-heavy offense.

Washington is the first to offer Voeller, and he told ESPNHS that he feels Oregon, Stanford, and Duke might be on the verge of offering as well.

“I have been out to Seattle, and I really like it. I am going to the Oregon-ASU game this weekend. I’ll probably check out a Stanford game as well.” – Nick Ekbatani

DB Shaquille Wiggins, Sandy Creek (Tyrone, Ga.)

The Sandy Creek Patriots have had a great deal of success on the gridiron in the past decade, producing five 10+ victory seasons since 2003, back-to-back state titles over the past two seasons and prominent alumni like NFL star Calvin Johnson of the Lions as well as Redskin DT Kedric Golston and Texans guard Andrew Gardner. This fall it's more of the same for the 6-0 Patriots, and a major reason why is 5-9, 160 pound junior cornerback Shaquille Wiggins.

Wiggins, who moved to Sandy Creek from Atlanta's Westlake High School over the summer, has been an immediate playmaker in the Patriots' secondary, intercepting seven passes and returning two for scores already this fall, while also forcing a fumble and catching a touchdown pass on offense as well.

The play-making corner also impressed this past spring at the Georgia Nike Camp and picked up his first few offers over the summer from Cincinnati, Ohio University, Michigan, Ohio State, Toledo and Ball State after a swing through several college camps in the Midwest.

The offers haven't stopped there for Wiggins.

"My latest offer is from Tennessee," Wiggins told ESPNHS on Monday. "So far this fall I've been to games at Auburn, Florida and Tennessee and I'm planning to go up to the Notre Dame-USC game on Oct. 22nd and also the Michigan-Ohio State game in November."

Wiggins thinks Florida could also be close to offering and he's also hearing from other schools such as LSU, Oregon and Wisconsin. - Brian Stumpf

Know of an underclassman prospect who should be featured in the Launching Pad? E-mail Kynon Codrington (Southeast),Nick Ekbatani (Linemen), Brian Stumpf (national) or Michael White (Midwest/Northeast) with your nominee.

Launching Pad: Top Juniors Emerging

October, 6, 2011
Milan CollinsTom Hauck/ESPNHSBishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.) QB/Ath Milan Collins already has one offer from Syracuse
Each week ESPNHS will shine the light on a few non-seniors who are emerging as prospects to watch on the recruiting radar. Here is this week's Launching Pad.

OL Kyle Bosch, St. Francis (Wheaton, Ill.)
St. Francis has been enjoying the luxury of utilizing Kyle Bosch on both sides of the ball in 2011. The Spartans are 4-2 on the season and have a big game this weekend against Marmion Academy (Aurora, Ill.).

Bosch spoke to ESPNHS a little more about his junior season.

“This season is going real well. We are 4-2, and are looking to get our fifth win this week. Offensively we have been blowing up. I have been tallying at least 10 pancakes a game, and even though our defense is more linebacker orientated, I have been making a good amount of plays at DE as well.”

The talented underclassman boasts eight scholarship offers, including one from the Stanford Cardinal, who are undefeated and currently ranked No. 7 in the country.

“Recruiting is amazing. I am very excited about the offers that I have this early in my junior season, and I definitely plan on seeing what each school has to offer. I will be attending the Stanford-Notre Dame game as well as the Alabama-LSU game here in the next few weeks.” - Nick Ekbatani

QB Milan Collins, Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.)
The smooth athlete made the most of his opportunities last spring, attending the State College and Durham Nike Camps as well as the Elite 11 in Happy Valley. He was able to stand out at both events consistently delivering the ball with accuracy and nice zip. At 6-1, 185-pounds he has some athletic tools that help him extend plays and make throws on the run.

In June, he received his first offer from Syracuse. It was a big time pick up for the talented signal caller. His dad told ESPNHS, “The Nike Camps helped elevate his game. The competition was great and he learned from the instructors. It’s a big reason he was offered.” Maryland, Michigan State, Oregon, Penn State, and Wisconsin have sent mail and are keeping tabs on him.

Last fall, Collins passed for 1,276 yards and nine touchdowns while rushing for 493 yards and scoring twice. Local media outlets listed him as a pre-season player to watch and honorable mention all-state team selection.

This season, he has accounted for over 1,000 yards of total offense and nine scores through four games and has lined up at safety. Syracuse offered at QB, but some programs want him at DB.

He has been invited to a few college games, but could not make it due to scheduling conflicts. At the moment he doesn’t claim a favorite school. Whether he ends up playing QB or DB Collins has the tools to be a contributor at the next level. – Kynon Codrington

QB Joshua Dobbs, Alpharetta (Alpharetta, Ga.)
Sometimes a change of scenery can make all the difference. It certainly has this fall for junior quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who after coming over to Alpharetta from Wesleyan (Norcross, Ga.), where he backed up senior Andrew Frerking (now at Baylor), has lit the Georgia high school football landscape on fire in 2011.

Dobbs, a 6-3, 190 pounder, passed for 376 yards and four touchdowns in a 27-14 win over West Forsyth last week and currently leads all Georgia quarterbacks in passing yardage so far this fall with 1,768 yards. He's completed 139 of his 220 passes for 14 touchdowns with six interceptions, helping Alpharetta to a 5-1 start. And the colleges are taking notice.

"So far Joshua is getting regular emails and mail from Stanford, Auburn, Duke, Ole Miss, Georgia, Florida, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Cincinnati, Princeton and others," Dobbs' mother Stephanie told ESPNHS.

"We've already been to Florida twice for games on unofficial visits, plus Duke and Clemson as well. We'll be visiting Stanford, Princeton, Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt and also Ole Miss as well later this fall."

Dobbs camped with both Stanford and Princeton over the summer and currently lists those two institutions as his early leaders. - Brian Stumpf

DT Jay Ellison, Harris County (Hamilton, Ga.)
Ellison, an athletic 6-2, 280 pounder, is an absolute load up front on both sides of the ball for Harris County. Opposing teams have had to double-team him on virtually every down just to keep him covered up! While on offense, Ellison has been blowing holes open from his tight end spot, contributing heavily to Harris County’s (4-2) offensive production.

ESPN HS caught up with the Class of 2013 up-and-comer on Tuesday.

“I am playing pretty good at this point in the season, but I still have room for improvement. I feel I am a more efficient pass rusher, thanks to improving my leverage and ability to shed blocks.”

Ellison has been extended scholarship offers by the likes of South Carolina, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Michigan, and Tennessee.

“Recruiting has been going great. I wouldn’t say I have any favorites this early, but I am going to go check out some schools pretty soon. I am actually going to watch the Tennessee-Georgia game this weekend. I’m very excited to see both schools play.” - Nick Ekbatani

Know of an underclassman prospect who should be featured in the Launching Pad? E-mail Kynon Codrington (Southeast),Nick Ekbatani (Linemen), Brian Stumpf (national) or Michael White (Midwest/Northeast) with your nominee.

Launching Pad: Bower a top '13 DE

September, 29, 2011
Tashawn BowerTom Hauck/ESPNHSClass of 2013 defensive end Tashawn Bower made an impression at the Rutgers Nike Camp this past May
Each week ESPNHS will shine the light on a few non-seniors who are emerging as prospects to watch on the recruiting radar. Here is this week's Launching Pad.

RB Dontea Ayres, Wicomico (Salisbury, Md.)
It was two years ago the Dontea Ayres caught grabbed the attention of ESPNHS as just a freshman at the Baltimore Nike Combine where he posted the highest SPARQ Rating of his class at 74.25. This year the 5-9, 208 pound running back is off to a strong start leading Wicomico to a 4-0 record.

So far he has rushed for 511 yards and 12 touchdowns on just 36 carries. When breaking that down it amounts to 14.1 yards per rush and a touchdown on every third carry. What is most impressive is that he done this in playing in only eight quarters since he has yet to play in a game after halftime.

"My offensive line is amazing, they are the ones doing all the work and all I have to do is just hit the hole. Actually our entire team is pretty strong and this year could be very special,” Ayres told ESPNHS on Wednesday.

Barring any setbacks, the speedy back (ran a 4.66 at last year’s Nike Combine) will surely surpass his 1,156 yards rushing from last year and needs just one more touchdown. Just after his breakout performance in 2009, Wicomico coaches told ESPNHS they would not be surprised if he was the top back in the state as a senior.

What needs to be known is how strong this young man is, Ayres was proud to mention that he is benching 455 pounds and can rep 225 up to 30 times. Everything he does he excels at, including in the classroom where he is carrying a 4.1 GPA.

Just recently he picked up his first offer from Duke and has stirred up interest from Stanford, Maryland, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech and Virginia as well. - Michael White

DE Tashawn Bower, Immaculata (Somerville, N.J.)
Out in Jersey, Tashawn Bower made a name for himself as a sophomore and is doing it again this fall. The 6-5, 235 pounder had 52 tackles and eight sacks in 2010 to earn ESPNHS Sophomore All-American honors, and then earned all-combine honors at the Philadelphia Nike Combine, where he posted an 89.67 SPARQ Rating. In a big win against Union (Union, N.J.) this past Friday, the superstar DE was all over the place, accounting for over 10 tackles, including a sack for a safety.

“In the offseason, I really wanted to improve my speed off the ball and my ability to play better with my technique. I’m much quicker this season, and I am doing a better job at playing half a man, which is making pass rushing a lot easier.”

Bower has been no secret to college coaches and recruiting gurus alike, holding numerous scholarship offers for quite sometime. Bower talked recruiting with ESPNHS on Wednesday, stating, “Recruiting has finally been slowing down a bit because of the dead period. But I really feel that it is just the calm before the storm.”

“I don’t think I can name any favorites this early. But I can say that receiving scholarship offers from schools like Florida State, Tennessee, and Ohio State is an incredible experience. I am very grateful to be receiving the interest of schools of that caliber.” - Nick Ekbatani

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ESPNHS Alumnus of the Week: Matthew Stafford

September, 19, 2011
xTom Hauck/ESPNHSMatthew Stafford showed all the tools back at the 2005 Elite 11 and six years later has the Detroit Lions tied atop the NFC North with the Green Bay Packers
Two weeks into the 2011 NFL season the Detroit Lions are showing signs that they are ready to take the next step and be a contender in the NFC, jumping out to a 2-0 start. One of the main reasons for the Lions' bullish start is that third-year QB Matthew Stafford is healthy and living up to the potential that the first overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft has always shown. Through the first two games of the 2011 season, Stafford has passed for 599 yards and seven touchdowns (tied for the most in the NFL). Today we take a look back at Stafford when he was in high school with an ESPNHS Alumnus of the Day feature.

From the first time Matthew Stafford took the field at Highland Park (Dallas) High School as a starting sophomore quarterback in 2003, he was ticketed for future stardom, and to this point the now 6-3, 230 pound quarterback has been one of a few anointed high school superstars to actually realize that dream at the highest level. Blessed with gifted arm talent and also the requisite work ethic, Stafford impressed from day one as a Scot, passing for 2,945 yards and 36 touchdowns in '03, earning District 12-4A Sophomore of the Year as well as ESPNHS Sophomore All-American honors.

Graduation hit the Scots hard and while Stafford's numbers slipped a bit as a junior (1,748 yards and 18 TDs), his physical talent and tremendous potential was still undeniable. He chose Georgia from over 50 suitors in May and after attending the Las Vegas Elite 11 regional camp that June, Stafford was selected to the 2005 Elite 11 finals, at which he earned MVP honors over a tremendously talented field that also included eventual NFL first round picks in Tim Tebow, Josh Freeman and Jake Locker.

Stafford went out with a bang as a senior in 2005, completing 209 of 322 for 4,018 yards passing and 38 TDs while also rushing for eight scores as he led his team to the Class 4A championship, its first state title since 1957. He was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year for Texas and finished ranked as the No. 1 QB and fifth player overall in the ESPNU 150 for the Class of 2006.

Launching Pad: Turner holds two offers

September, 15, 2011
xTom Hauck/ESPNHSOrange Lutheran (Calif.) OL John Lopez already has one offer from UCLA.
Each week ESPNHS will shine the light on a few non-seniors who are emerging as prospects to watch on the recruiting radar. Here is this week's Launching Pad.

WR Dylan Cantrell, Whitehouse (Whitehouse, Texas)
Cantrell, a 6-2, 190 pound junior, showed tremendous athletic potential this spring on the Nike Combine tour and has backed it up on the field this fall so far at Whitehouse. One of the top performers at the Dallas Nike Combine this April, Cantrell posted one of the nation’s top SPARQ Ratings at 126.15, on the strength of a 4.55 40 yard dash and a 38.2-inch vertical jump.

This fall the lanky pass-catcher has been equally as impressive in between the lines as he was on the camp/combine circuit. Cantrell caught 10 passes for 161 yards and two scores this past week against Sulphur Springs (Sulphur Springs, Texas) and through three games he has accumulated 28 receptions for 423 yards and six touchdowns.

“I don't have a preference on schools yet, it is too early,” Cantrell told ESPNHS on Monday. “I have received a lot of letters but so have other kids. I don't know who is really interested or not.

“I am going to SMU this weekend. They invited me to a home game. So has Oregon, Notre Dame, CaI, Tulsa, Baylor, and Penn State.” - Brian Stumpf

OL John Lopez, Orange Lutheran (Orange, Calif.)
The big fella’ out of SoCal powerhouse Orange Lutheran was a man amongst boys… while essentially being a boy amongst men at the 2011 USC Nike Football Training Camp. One of the few underclass OL in attendance, Lopez showcased tremendous potential and punished opposing defensive linemen during the one-on-one drills.

Orange Lutheran is off to a 2-0 start on the 2011 season. The Lancers rushed for over 281 yards in a big win against Los Osos (Rancho Cucamonga, Ca) last week thanks to the stellar play of Lopez and the rest of the Orange Lutheran offensive line.

“I worked really hard on my conditioning during the off-season and improving my awareness and ability to know my assignments since last season has really allowed me to be a bully down in the trenches," Lopez told ESPNHS on Tuesday. "I haven’t checked the stats yet, but I know I have a ton of pancake blocks.”

Lopez has seen his improved gameplay directly correlate with increased recruiting attention. “Recruiting has been exciting. Coming home everyday to a mailbox full of letters, I sometimes feel overwhelmed. I'm excited to start planning all my trips. I plan to visit the schools that prove they are truly interested in me”.

Lopez holds an early offer from UCLA and you can expect to his list of offers pile high as the season progresses. - Nick Ekbatani

WR Alex Montgomery, Cypress Bay (Weston, Fla.)
Montgomery is a 6-2, 194-pound junior that plays in a predominately run oriented offense. However, that doesn’t stop him from making plays in the passing game when his team decides to throw the ball. He is the go-to receiver for the Lightning, who finished as the 2010 Class 6A state semi-finalists last fall, when Montgomery earned third team All-Broward County by The Miami Herald, catching 23 passes for 596 yards and nine touchdowns.

Montgomery told ESPNHS this week, “I’m looking to finish with over 800 yards receiving and double my TD’s from a year ago this year. When my number is called I want to have an impact.”

Last spring, the sure-handed wideout attended the Miami Nike SPARQ Combine and posted an 80.07 SPARQ Rating on the heels of a 4.29 shuttle time. In addition, he participated at the Miami Nike Football Training Camp and caught the eye of a few recruiting experts that cover the South Florida area.

He is hoping his hard work will pay off with his first offer before the season is over. Schools like Florida and Florida State are sending him mail. Currently, he is receiving the most interest from the University of Miami and plans to attend their game against Ohio State this weekend. – Kynon Codrington

RB Aregeros Turner, Copley (Copley, Ohio)
Don't for one second overlook this 5-9, 170 pound, because despite his size, Turner is a hard-nosed junior running back. Last spring at the Ohio Nike Combine, Turner posted a 78.72 SPARQ Rating on the strength of a 4.19 shuttle time and 4.66 40-yard dash. As a sophomore he played on both sides of the ball but.

A year after rushing for just under 1,200 yards, Turner looks to be on the verge of becoming one of the best running backs in the Midwest as a junior. He’s already on pace to surpass those numbers by rushing for 504 yards and four touchdowns on 54 carries through his first three games, helping the Indians to a 2-1 record.

College coaches have already taken notice with Tennessee and Illinois extending early offers with another handful of national programs showing a great deal of interest. Oregon is one the schools in the mix and has stood out to Turner for quite sometime.

"I really like the program with how my school runs the same offense, with my speed I feel I would be a great fit there", Turner told ESPNHS on Wednesday about his interest in the Ducks.

"I am going to be very busy in October checking out the following games – Tennessee vs. Alabama, LSU vs. Tennessee and one at Illinois. I definitely would love to get to a game in Oregon as well."

Other schools recruiting Turner include Alabama, Syracuse, West Virginia, Michigan and Michigan State. - Michael White

Know of an underclassman prospect who should be featured in the Launching Pad? E-mail Kynon Codrington (Southeast), Nick Ekbatani (Linemen), Brian Stumpf (national) or Michael White (Midwest/Northeast) with your nominee.

ESPNHS Players of the Week

September, 1, 2011
One player of the week is chosen from each region of the country. No player will be chosen more than once during a season.

(After games of Aug. 25-27)


David Sills, Red Lion Christian (Bear, Del.)
The freshman quarterback, who committed to USC as a seventh-grader, enjoyed a more than solid start to the season in guiding Red Lion Christian past defending Ohio Division V state champion Ursuline (Youngstown, Ohio) 54-18. Sills completed 17 of 21 passes against the host Fighting Irish for 221 yards and four scores. Red Lion Christian plays two more Ohio teams this season and also will meet teams from Virginia, Maryland, Florida and New Jersey. That could give the team and its quarterback more chances to impress.


Von Smith, West Oktibbeha (Maben, Miss.)
The junior quarterback recorded the third most prolific passing effort in state history with 532 yards in a 50-30 win over Montgomery County (Kilmichael, Miss.). Smith completed 20 of 23 passes with five going for touchdowns. The state mark is 562 yards. Smith's favorite receiver was senior wide receiver Dwight Quinn, who landed seven passes for 319 yards and four scores. Quinn’s yardage total is second in state history, just nine away from the record. Smith passed for more than 2,900 yards and 29 touchdowns as a sophomore.


Eric VanSwol, NorthPointe Christian (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
In his first-ever varsity start, VanSwol played only one half in a 61-13 romp of Bridgman (Bridgman, Mich.), but set a state record with seven touchdown passes. In addition to breaking the record for most touchdown passes in a half, VanSwol also tied the state mark for scoring passes in a game held by several players, including Wes Leonard of Fennville last season. VanSwol also completed 19 of 21 aerials for 348 yards in his two quarters of play.


Dorial Green-Beckham, Hillcrest (Springfield, Mo.)
Well, we’ll go ahead and get Green-Beckham chosen as a player of the week right off the bat. The freakishly-talented 6-foot-5, 220-pound wide receiver with sprinter’s speed showed an ESPNU national TV audience why he’s the No. 2 player in the ESPNU 150. He caught 18 passes for 284 yards and three touchdowns as Hillcrest defeat Seneca (Seneca, Mo.), 48-26. Green-Beckham achieved his career high for receptions in the game. Entering the season, Green-Beckham had career totals of 181 catches for 4,120 yards and 51 touchdowns.


Chad Chalich, Coeur d’Alene (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho)
In his first outing of the season, Chalich, who led Couer d’Alene to last year’s Class 5A state championship, completed 28 of 34 passes for 384 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-24 triumph over Rocky Mountain (Meridian, Idaho). The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder is not a national recruit like Eagle, Idaho’s Tanner Mangum. But while Mangum was out for most of last year with an injury, Chalich passed for 2,844 yards and 32 touchdowns and also ran for 541 yards and six more scores. Chalich also averaged 14 points per game last year for Coeur d’Alene’s basketball team.

Joplin, Mo. -- After a summer full of hype and national attention, Dorial Green-Beckham finally stepped on the football field on Saturday night.

And the Springfield (Mo.) Hillcrest receiver didn’t disappoint. Green-Beckham was a dominating force as Hillcrest defeated Seneca (Mo.) 48-20 at Hughes Stadium. He finished with 18 receptions for 284 yards and three touchdowns as his Hornets cruised to a 1-0 record.

“It’s just how the game worked out," Hillcrest coach John Beckham when asked if he planned to go to Green-Beckham 18 times in the game.

Beckham looked back to the approach of former Houston Oilers coach Bum Phillips who used to get questions about why he gave Earl Campbell the ball so much.

“(He) used to say, ‘I figure I have a cannon so why not shoot it?',” Beckham said. “We have a cannon for one more year and we are going to shoot it from time to time. He was playing really well, he was getting open so we got him the ball."

Rated No. 3 overall in the ESPNU 150, Green-Beckham showed why he is generally considered the top receiver in the nation with his game-changing performance.

“I had some ups and downs but I came out and did the best I could do,” Green-Beckham said. “I made big plays for the team and tried to play my part, do the best I could do for my teammates.”

Productive but not perfect

Hillcrest quarterback Matt Futrell had a productive, but not perfect, game while leading his squad to a double-digit victory. The senior finished 28 of 47 pass attempts for 473 yards and five touchdowns but also threw three interceptions.

He was pleased with the win but knows he’ll have to improve when Hillcrest travels to Arkansas to play Rogers (Ark.) Heritage on Sept. 1. “I had a pretty good night but I can definitely improve a lot,” Futrell said. “I just have to improve next week, stay focused and get better.”

Biggest play not made by DGB

Hillcrest sophomore Juwan Johnson made a huge play for the Hornets. With his team holding a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter, Johnson caught a slant pass then raced 72 yards down to the Seneca three-yard line.

Stuart Andress’ three-yard touchdown run gave Hillcrest a 14-6 lead and Seneca could not cut the lead under double digits for the rest of the game.

Overlooked Stars

With their offense putting up 48 points in the victory, the Hillcrest defense was the overlooked unit against Seneca. The Hornet defense allowed 218 total yards, including 84 rushing yards, and recovered two fumbles. They allowed 4.4 yards per play and held Seneca to 2.2 yards per rushing attempt.

“The defense did an outstanding job,” Futrell said. “They were put in tough situations and got us the ball back.”

Senior linebacker Donovan Mathis led the way for the Hornet defense with 10 tackles while senior linebacker John Taylor had seven tackles, including four sacks and one pass breakup.

Brandon Chatmon is a staff writer for SoonerNation.com