NCF On The Trail: Brandon Powell

Will Muschamp: They call him Flipper

February, 3, 2014
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They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning,
No one you see, is smarter than he,
And we know Flipper, lives in a world full of wonder,
Flying there under, under the sea!

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It may be a 1960s TV show, but try getting the theme song for "Flipper" out of your head once it's stuck there. It's about as easy as getting Florida coach Will Muschamp to stop recruiting a prospect he wants.

In three years as chief recruiter for the Gators, Muschamp has clearly displayed a penchant for getting committed recruits to change their minds.

Dante Fowler
Courtesy Fowler FamilyDante Fowler, right, flipped from Florida State to Florida in 2012.
He's done it so often, some Florida fans call him Flipper.

The first big splash came in 2012 when defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., a prized recruit in Florida State's No. 2-ranked class, made a dramatic switch to Florida on signing day after being committed to the Noles for more than a year.

Muschamp's persistence over that time period and insistence that Fowler would get on the field earlier with UF paid off.

"It was real difficult,” Fowler said on signing day. "Being committed for a year and growing up a Florida State fan all my life -- I always hated Florida, and I always told myself I would never go to Florida, and now I’m about to be playing for them. It’s kind of crazy."

That was just the start of the craziness.

Last year Muschamp upped the ante with six more flips, four just before they signed as early enrollees in January 2013. In fact, three of Florida's four linebackers in that class -- Matt Rolin (from South Carolina), Alex Anzalone (Notre Dame) and Jarrad Davis (Auburn) -- flipped from other schools.

The key to flipping recruits, Muschamp said, is not a secret. It's a simple approach.

"You stay on guys," he said, "and try to make valid points you’ve made throughout the entire recruiting process all the way through."

He's done it again this year, getting three of his nine early enrollees to flip.

Each of the three -- cornerback Jalen Tabor (Arizona), athlete Brandon Powell (Miami) and offensive tackle Kavaris Harkless (Louisville) -- changed their minds as late as the first week of the spring semester.

None was more last minute than Harkless, who was on campus at Louisville the day before his first class when he changed his mind and flew back to Florida. Harkless was swayed by the departure of coach Charlie Strong, who left Louisville for Texas.

When the coaching change news broke that weekend, so did Harkless' commitment to Louisville.

One of Harkless' coaches at Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian, Gerard Ross, saw firsthand how UF coaches laid the foundation for Harkless' change of heart. Ross says it's a matter of the Gator coaches continuing to build relationships even after their targets have committed elsewhere.

"They do a good job of staying in contact with those guys that they really want who are committed to other places," he said. "That way if something ever changes that kid's mind, then that whole time they've been there with that kid. The [recruit] has something to fall back on."

It used to be taboo in recruiting to go after a committed prospect. Now, the taboo is a relic of a bygone era. It's open season on all commits until the ink has dried on the official letter of intent.

"These days in recruiting it's a little different than when I came out," said Ross, who played cornerback for FSU from 2002-05. "These days you almost can't blame the kids for trying to find a school pretty early and finding themselves a spot, because you can't oversign anymore. At the same time, the coaches almost have to stay on those kids who do commit early. There's a window when that kid might flip.

"Back in the day when a kid committed, that was pretty much it. That's where he was going. But nowadays, college football is becoming a business."

A business in which coaches move frequently for new jobs, often shaking up recruiting classes in the process.

It's something Florida has experienced on both sides -- from losing recruits when former coach Urban Meyer retired (twice) to cherry-picking players like Harkless, who found himself far from home and without a coach.

"That's recruiting, you know?" Harkless said from Louisville in early January, just before he left for Florida. "I still have respect for Coach Strong, because he has to go where it's best for his family. I'm just doing the same."

After announcing Harkless among his nine early enrollees in January, Muschamp talked about the increase in drama and decommitments on the recruiting trail. This rockier road, he said, is here to stay.

"The earlier and earlier recruiting goes, you’re going to continue to see this. That’s not stopping," Muschamp said. "I think the earlier it is, young men are making decisions before maybe they have the information or they’re sure of what they want to do or how they’re going to do it. I think you’re going to continue to probably see this."

Translation: Beware the Flipper.

Like a song stuck in your head, Muschamp isn't going to stop anytime soon.

Weekend recruiting wrap: ACC 

January, 13, 2014
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A national championship was just the beginning of a great week for Florida State as the Seminoles secured several commitments from top recruits that should keep the Noles in a position to return to the national title game for years to come.

Gators lose WR Ermon Lane

January, 10, 2014
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The Florida Gators have lost another member of their 2014 recruiting class.

This time it’s ESPN 300 wide receiver Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead) who announced on Twitter that he was backing off of his pledge to Florida.



Lane’s decision didn’t come as a surprise to many Florida fans. Lane is close friends with running back Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central), who flipped his commitment from Florida to Florida State less than two weeks ago. Lane, the No. 28-ranked player in the country, has set up only one official visit and that is to FSU on Jan. 31, the weekend before national signing day.

In the last two week the Gators have lost three ESPN 300 recruits, Lane, Cook and Chris Lammons (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Plantation), while adding, Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C./Friendship Academy), Brandon Powell (Deerfield Beach, Fla/Deerfield Beach), Gerald Willis III (New Orleans/Edna Karr) and Kavaris Harkless (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian) during that same time period.

It appears the Florida coaching staff suspected this could potentially happen. The Gators recently offered wide receivers De’Andre Thompkins (Swansboro, N.C./Swansboro), a Penn State commit and Florida State commit C.J. Worton (Homestead, Fla/South Dade). Worton is planning to visit Florida this month.

The Gators now have 20 verbal commitments including 11 ranked in the ESPN 300.
Florida remains hot on the trail with the pickup of ESPN 300 athlete Brandon Powell (Deerfield Beach, Fla./Deerfield Beach). Read below to see how our scouts feel he'll perform in The Swamp:

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Gators add ESPN 300 RB Brandon Powell

January, 10, 2014
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Florida was able to get its second commitment in as many days as four-star athlete Brandon Powell (Deerfield Beach, Fla./Deerfield Beach) switched his commitment from Miami to Florida on Friday morning.

The news was first reported by Zach Abolverdi of the Gainesville Sun, and Deerfield Beach head coach Allen Jackson later confirmed via text message. The 5-foot-9, 171-pound athlete, who is being recruited by Florida to play running back, is expected to enroll in classes at Florida sometime on Friday.

The Powell addition is important for the Gators. After Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central), the No. 4 running back in the country, flipped his commitment from Florida to Florida State, the Gators were left with a void at running back. Powell has speed and playmaking ability that has been missing from the Florida backfield in the last two seasons.

"Powell is reminiscent of Miami's Duke Johnson, but shorter and leaner,” his Recruiting Nation scouting report reads. "On pure skill-set alone, Powell would be considered one of the elite backs in this class, but he just isn't blessed with the measurables coveted by coaches. High-risk, high-reward player who could be a feature return specialist. Durability is always going to be a concern.”

With Powell on board, the Gators now have 21 verbal commitments including 12 ranked in the ESPN 300.

As for Miami, Powell was the second South Florida prospect to change his commitment in the last two days. The other, cornerback Nigel Bethel II (Miami/Booker T. Washington) flipped his commitment from Miami to Texas Tech on Thursday evening. The Hurricanes still have 26 commits including 11 ranked in the ESPN 300.

Big 12 recruiting storylines: Oct. 24 

October, 24, 2013
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In the past week, the top players in Texas for 2014 and 2015 announced their commitment to the same school. One of the top playmakers in the Lone Star State switched his commitment to a Big 12 school. West Virginia got a visit from an athlete committed elsewhere.

We’ll take a look at those topics and a few others in this week’s edition of Big 12 recruiting storylines.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Big Ten 

September, 16, 2013
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It wasn't an exciting weekend for recruiting, but there was still news in the Big Ten. Here is a look at the weekend in recruiting.

Biggest offer:

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From official visits past and future to a commitment, the Big Ten was buzzing with headlines this week.

Here’s a look at a few programs that highlight a busy week in this week’s Big Ten storylines.

Boiler Up


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Big Ten class rankings analysis 

September, 11, 2013
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Week three of the regular season and there still isn't much movement with Big Ten recruiting. The class rankings didn't shift too much because there wasn't a lot of news outside of Ohio State's new addition to the 2014 class.

Big Ten recruiting reporters give you a look at some of the trends and things to watch within the conference recruiting landscape:

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Best ACC classes by position 

September, 10, 2013
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Florida State has the top class among ACC schools right now, but that is taking the Seminoles’ entire 23-recruit class into account. The Noles don’t have the best class at every position, as some of Florida State’s top rivals are looking stronger at certain positions. Here’s a look at which ACC school has the best class by position:

Quarterback

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ACC recruiting storylines: Aug. 8 

August, 8, 2013
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As recruiting begins to slow a little, thanks to the opening of fall camps around the country, news isn't as plentiful as it was over the summer. But still, there were some coming and goings inside the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Miami continues at home

ESPN 300 athlete Brandon Powell (Deerfield Beach, Fla./Deerfield Beach) was all set to head off to Tennessee when it came time to sign his letter of intent. That is until the Hurricanes got a hold of him. He promptly decommitted from the Volunteers on Saturday and pledged to Miami just a short while later. The Hurricanes' class is up to 25 commitments for 2014 and 11 of them are ranked in the ESPN 300.

North Carolina loses a running back

D'Ernest Johnson (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee), a three-star running back, had been committed to North Carolina since late May. But this week, he decided that his commitment was no more. Louisville, the reigning Sugar Bowl champions, have made a big move for Johnson and are now considered the favorite.

Pitt looking for help north of the border

ACC newcomer Pittsburgh has turned to Canada for a defensive end option. Julien Kafo, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound lineman from Vanier College in Montreal has an offer from the Panthers. Pitt is up against the likes of Connecticut, Indiana, and Minnesota to land him. He will make an official visit to see the Panthers at some point this fall.

Virginia lands ESPN 300 ATH


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SEC class rankings analysis 

August, 7, 2013
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The Southeastern Conference, once again, is dominating in the Recruiting Nation team rankings. Ten of the top 25 teams hail from the SEC and all but one school (Missouri) is in the top 40. Three SEC teams, Alabama (No. 2), Tennessee (No. 3) and Georgia (No. 5), rank among the top five. There was some movement in the rankings this week, here's a closer look at how the SEC fared.

Trending up: With the addition of Racean Thomas (Oxford, Ala./Oxford), the Auburn Tigers jumped up two spots from No. 17 to No. 15. Thomas is the No. 5-ranked running back and the No. 34th-ranked player overall in the ESPN 300. With the commitment of Thomas, the Tigers have 14 commitments including seven in the ESPN 300. Vanderbilt also jumped up two spots from No. 25 to No. 23 by adding ESPN 300 safety Kyle Gibson (Seffner, Fla./Armwood). Alabama, Texas A&M and Ole Miss all moved up one spot each in the updated rankings.

Trending down: After losing ESPN 300 defensive back Chris Hardeman (Houston/Alief Taylor) LSU dropped from No. 8 to No. 10 in the rankings. With players such as Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/St. Augustine), Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La./West Monroe) and Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Edna Karr) still on their radar, the Tigers still have a good chance to end up with a top five class. Tennessee also dropped one spot from No. 2 to No. 3 after losing four-star athlete Brandon Powell (Deerfield Beach, Fla./Deerfield Beach). Powell quickly switched his commitment to Miami after decommitting from the Vols last Saturday. Missouri is the only team in the SEC not represented in the top 40. The Tigers have 17 commitments but only one is ranked higher than a three-star prospect.

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ACC class rankings analysis 

August, 7, 2013
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The SEC has dominated the recruiting rankings for much of the past decade, but the nation’s top conference is chasing the ACC right now. The ACC, which has received its share of criticism the last few years, has the nation’s top class and another team in the top five of the rankings. Florida State remains No. 1 and Miami is No. 4, which finally might validate each fan base’s claim that the Noles and Canes are “back.”

Trending up: The Hurricanes jumped a spot from No. 5 to No. 4 after flipping south Florida product Brandon Powell, who was previously committed to Tennessee. Powell, an ESPN 300 athlete, inched Miami closer to a top-three ranking as the Vols sit just one spot ahead of Miami. Last week, Miami landed No. 13 defensive end Trent Harris, the third highest-rated recruit in Miami’s class. Harris joins local defensive end product Chad Thomas, another ESPN 300 member who committed to Miami in late July. In all, the Canes now have 11 ESPN 300 commitments and 13 four-star pledges.



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The decision of ESPN 300 athlete Brandon Powell (Deerfield Beach, Fla./Deerfield Beach) to flip from Tennessee to Miami gives the Hurricanes another notable commitment from South Florida.


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Vols get playmaker Brandon Powell

June, 16, 2013
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Four-star athlete Brandon Powell (Deerfield Beach, Fla./Deerfield Beach) has committed to play for Tennessee.

Powell announced his decision Sunday morning on Twitter. The news was confirmed by multiple media reports throughout the day:

 

 

Auburn, California, Cincinnati, Duke, Florida Atlantic, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, LSU, Marshall, Massachusetts, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Northwestern, Pittsburgh, Purdue, South Florida, Temple, Tulane, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Western Michigan and Wisconsin also offered.

Last fall, the 5-foot-9, 169-pound prospect rushed for 1,180 yards and 13 touchdowns, caught four touchdown passes and returned two punts and two kickoffs for scores.

Tennessee, which currently sits at No. 7 in ESPN RecruitingNation's class rankings, has 16 commitments for 2014.

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