Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Top position classes: WR
By Gerry Hamilton
With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes. For the full series, click here.
Nationally (and SEC) While the Baylor Bears had an exceptional wide receiver class, the nod here goes to LSU. Not only did the Tigers sign the nation's No. 1 receiver in Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian), but also the No. 3 ranked receiver in Trey Quinn (Lake Charles, La./Barbe) and ESPN 300 No. 271 D.J. Chark (Alexandria, La./Alexandria Senior) and No. 283 Tony Upchurch (Pearland, Texas/Dawson). In Dupre, LSU snagged the No. 17 prospect overall on signing day. He has a tall, lengthy frame with a near ideal size-and-speed combination and elite high-point ball skills. Quinn will enter LSU as an advanced route-runner with separation skills and the ability to pluck the ball outside of the framework of his body. Chark brings initial quickness and the vertical speed to take the top off a defense, and Upchurch is a big body who continues to add bulk and could eventually transition to a flex type of position.
The Tigers had the nation’s best wide receiver class; here’s which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:
ACC Clemson not only had a terrific class at the running back position, but also at wide receiver with a strong class of pass-catchers being an absolute must in this cycle. Dabo Swinney and staff might not have signed an electric difference-maker on the level of Sammy Watkins in this class, but a solid trio of ESPN 300 prospects are next up at Clemson in No. 83 Artavis Scott (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake), No. 152 Trevion Thompson (Durham, N.C./Hillside) and No. 167 Demarre Kitt (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek). Add in 2013 ESPN 300 No. 170 Kyrin Priester (Snellville, Ga./Fork Union Military Academy) as a post-graduate and the Tigers more than addressed the key need. With Scott, Kitt and Priester already enrolled and available for spring practice, expect to see the group hit the field running in the fall of 2014.
Big 12 If not for LSU, Baylor would have had the top group of wide receivers in the country. Art Briles and his staff continue to identify and bring in speed at the position, and their 2014 class is as impressive as any. How talented is this group? All three wide receivers signed are ESPN 300 prospects, and No. 4 ranked athlete Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau) also will begin his career on offense. The headliner is No. 30 overall K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant), who is a blend of instincts, timing, quickness and smooth and natural movement. Pure speed comes from No. 231 Ishmael Zamora (Alief, Texas/Elsik) and No. 294 Chris Platt (Willis, Texas/Willis). Zamora and Platt can be seen this spring defending multiple track state titles won as juniors.
Big Ten There might not have been a program with a more glaring need at wide receiver than Penn State, and new coach James Franklin helped deliver in a big way. No. 8 athlete De'Andre Thompkins (Swansboro, N.C./Swansboro) will begin his career at receiver, and will be joined by ESPN 300 No. 118 Saeed Blacknall (Manalapan, N.J./Manalapan) and No. 159 Chris Godwin (Middletown, Del./Middletown) and high three-star Troy Apke (Pittsburgh/Mount Lebanon). Thompkins is already enrolled and will have the opportunity to refine his skill set, and Blacknall brings a physically imposing frame and vertical speed to go with it. Godwin brings more size and top-end speed, while not an explosively quick starter.
Pac-12 Arizona State might not have signed ESPN 300 wide receiver Nick Alexander (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster), but the Sun Devils still signed the conference's best class. Leading the way is ESPN 300 No. 216 Jalen Harvey (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) and his elite ball skills, as well as four-star junior college transfer Eric Lauderdale (Fayetteville, Ga./Saddleback College). The duo brings size and sure hands to Tempe, Ariz., with Lauderdale expected to make an instant impact.