NCF On The Trail: jalen ramsey

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- There's no consolation prize when you lose a recruiting battle, just an empty feeling and an empty space on the big board.

It hurts even more to lose a player on signing day, when there is no tomorrow and no other players on the big board to turn to.

Under coach Will Muschamp, Florida has had its share of wins on the recruiting trail. It's also had some impactful losses.

Here's a look at some of the top players the Gators missed on in recent years.

2011
ESPN class rank: No. 12


[+] EnlargeTimmy Jernigan
Melina Vastola/USA TODAY SportsThe Gators were once a frontrunner for Timmy Jernigan, but he ended up at FSU where he became one of the nation's top defensive tackles.
It would hardly be fair to pin most of the Gators' head-to-head recruiting losses in this class on Muschamp, who was hired in mid-December 2010. He inherited a recruiting class ranked in the top 10 from then-retired coach Urban Meyer, and Muschamp was commended for keeping the bulk of the class together. For example, Muschamp had less than a week to make an impression on Nick Waisome before the nation's No. 2-ranked cornerback decommitted from Florida and flipped to FSU. Not Muschamp's fault.

But the head coach and his staff did have several weeks to take the recruiting baton and try to close with a couple of uncommitted gems from the state of Florida. The Gators were considered frontrunners at one time for DT Timmy Jernigan and LB Curt Maggitt, who ended up at Florida State and Tennessee, respectively. In both cases, Muschamp was unable to capitalize on his reputation for defense and lost the two prospects to offensive-minded head coaches.

2012
ESPN class rank: No. 4

The Gators suffered a painful loss in January when DE/LB Jordan Jenkins picked Georgia. He was a top priority and the UF coaching staff had put a lot of time and effort into his recruitment. The bad news foreshadowed what can only be described as a signing day nightmare, as Florida struck out with eight uncommitted recruits and another who made his decision shortly thereafter.

Desperate for help at receiver, Florida was spurned by two of the top prospects in the nation, Nelson Agholor (USC) and Stefon Diggs (Maryland), who have already shown flashes of brilliance on the field. The Trojans were also the beneficiary of defensive tackle Leonard Williams, who said he made up his mind on the morning of signing day. Florida was a painfully close second, and Williams made an instant impact as a freshman starter.

Muschamp also felt good about keeping offensive lineman Avery Young in his home state, but he ended up at Auburn, where he started on last season's national runner-up. Another Floridian, the nation's No. 1 cornerback, Tracy Howard, was considered a lock for the Gators until he took a visit to Miami on the last weekend before signing day and changed his mind.

And who could forget the gripping saga of No. 1 outside linebacker prospect Josh Harvey-Clemons? He announced his decision to go to Georgia in the morning on ESPNU's signing day show. His family was shocked. They wanted him close to home in Valdosta, Ga., and thought he would choose UF. The situation turned surreal when his grandfather and legal guardian refused to sign the letter of intent. It took a full day to sort out, but Harvey-Clemons faxed his letter of intent to attend Georgia the morning after signing day.

2013
ESPN class rank: No. 2


The headline in the local newspaper was "Muschamp set up for stress-free signing day". Indeed, most of the drama took place in January when Florida signed eight early enrollees, including three top-rated players who flipped to Florida late in the process. It was a strong rebound for a coach who took some criticism with the way he closed out his class the year before.

But there were some misses, recruits who could have played a big role for the Gators in what turned out to be a woeful 2013.

Cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive lineman DeMarcus Walker, both top-40 prospects in the ESPN 300, picked FSU over Florida. Walker, from Jacksonville, Fla., originally committed to Alabama over UF. When he wavered many thought the Gators would be the beneficiary. Instead he flipped to the Seminoles just before enrolling in January. Ramsey, who had been committed to USC for months, changed his mind when Trojans coach Lane Kiffin came under fire. Instead of choosing the Gators, where his high school teammate QB Max Staver was committed, Ramsey ended up at FSU and made a huge impact as a starter on the Noles' national championship team last season.

Offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, ranked No. 1 at his position and No. 5 overall, was another tough loss. Like Jernigan two years before, Florida was a frontrunner at one time. Both prospects went to the same high school in Lake City, Fla, just 45 minutes north of Gainesville. Tunsil ended up at Ole Miss, where he started all but four games as a true freshman.

FSU after two more Tennesseans 

February, 7, 2013
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Florida State is making its presence felt in middle Tennessee.

First, the Seminoles landed four-star cornerback Jalen Ramsey from Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy, stealing him from USC on national signing day. Now, thanks, in part, to Ramsey's signing, the Noles could be close to landing two more highly regarded prospects from the Nashville area.

USC: 2014 prospects to watch 

February, 7, 2013
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With signing day 2013 having wrapped up, it's time to turn our attention to 2014 recruits. Here are five in-state players USC will be targeting for next year's class:

[+] EnlargeKeller Chryst
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comUSC is one of the many schools chasing after junior quarterback Keller Chryst.
QB Keller Chryst
Palo Alto

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Florida State's recruiting class might have looked a lot different if it weren't for the hire of defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

Pruitt's appointment in Tallahassee directly resulted in no fewer than two commitments from top-40 players destined elsewhere that the Seminoles wouldn't have had a shot at otherwise.

Beginning with DeMarcus Walker (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) on the night of the national championship, Pruitt's move orchestrated one of the headlines of the season. Minutes after Nick Saban and Alabama hoisted another national championship trophy, the Tuscaloosa-bound Walker switched his commitment to Florida State and enrolled at the school the next day.

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Tee Martin is USC's secret weapon 

February, 7, 2013
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While it’s safe to say signing day didn’t quite go as planned for the Trojans on Wednesday, there are still some positives to take away from it all -- most obviously the fact that although small in numbers, USC’s class is filled to the brim with talent.

[+] EnlargeMarqise Lee and Robert Woods
Icon SMITee Martin is one of USC's best recruiters, opening up a pipeline into the Southeast.
With an eye toward the future, there is one more reason to be optimistic if you’re a Trojans fan, and that’s the effort and ability showcased on the recruiting trail by one of the staff’s youngest coaches, Tee Martin.

Lured away from Kentucky in late February 2012, Martin was a hit with just about every player, parent and coach he came in contact with over the past year, solidifying his standing as one of the top up-and-coming recruiters in college football.

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Noles land ESPN 150 CB Ramsey 

February, 6, 2013
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Jalen Ramsey wasn't concerned about USC. He simply fell for Florida State.

The long-time Trojans commitment donned a Florida State hat and signed with the Seminoles on national signing day during a ceremony at his school. There were no other hats on the table where Ramsey signed. There was no tomahawk chop. Ramsey quietly committed and signed and left behind the drama.

"My decision was solely on Florida State and how I felt about them," the four-star prospect said. "I'm just excited."

Ramsey originally committed to the Trojans over the summer, but openly considered other schools and took visits to Florida, Washington and Mississippi as well as USC and FSU.

USC would make a late push on Tuesday evening to try to sway Ramsey back but his mind was made up.

"I just felt so comfortable there at Florida State," the No. 14 prospect said. "The coaches there, I trust them. They're good Christian men. I'm Christian so I'm trying to stay in that. It's close to home so I can see my family more. I just want to get there and help them win a championship."

The 6-foot, 190-pound Ramsey told reporters he had to turn off his Twitter account and Facebook page because he was receiving so many negative messages from fans of other schools. When asked about the recruiting process, he said, "It's the toughest thing I've ever done in my life. I wouldn't recommend it for anybody. But it's a blessing. I wouldn't trade it for anything. It is very stressful."

What is the impact of Ramsey’s decision?


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The One Who Got Away: RB Thomas 

January, 31, 2013
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In a topsy-turvy recruiting season that has had Trojans fans teetering on the brink of insanity with the decommitments of one-time USC verbals Eddie Vanderdoes, Max Redfield, Eldridge Massington, Sebastian LaRue and Kylie Fitts -- not to mention the uncertain status of others such as Jalen Ramsey and Torrodney Prevot -- it’s worth taking a quick look back to signing day 2011. While the saga of the Class of 2013 has been filled with plenty of drama, nothing compares to the way Lane Kiffin and his staff were rocked by the last-second defection of De’Anthony Thomas.


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Signing day primer: Florida 

January, 23, 2013
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- There are just a couple of short weeks remaining until national signing day, and the Florida Gators have met a majority of their recruiting needs. With graduation, transfers and players leaving for the NFL draft, there are a few areas Florida head coach Will Muschamp would still like to shore up.

Key holes to fill

The Gators lost key personnel along the offensive line, wide receiver, linebacker, running back and secondary and are hoping to replenish their talent with junior college transfers and incoming freshmen.

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Signing day primer: Florida State 

January, 23, 2013
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Who is leaving: Florida State is losing three top-flight defensive ends to the NFL draft this season, led by draft-eligible junior Bjoern Werner. Senior Tank Carradine's stock would have been much higher if not for a late knee injury in the regular season finale against Florida. Brandon Jenkins, who was lost for most of the 2012 season because of a foot injury, will also be heading to the pros.

The offensive line only loses one player, junior Menelik Watson, but it is a big one. He's likely to go in the first couple of rounds and had a major impact for Florida State in just one season.

Xavier Rhodes is the lone corner departing, but it's also a big one. Aside from Rhodes, the secondary will return largely intact.


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Signing day primer: USC 

January, 23, 2013
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Team needs: With all-conference cornerback Nickell Robey declaring for the NFL draft and the graduation of safeties T.J. McDonald, Jawanza Starling and Drew McAllister, adding depth in the secondary is a pressing need for the Trojans. Given Matt Barkley’s departure, it was imperative that USC sign another quarterback to pair with Max Wittek and Cody Kessler.

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Big weekend ahead for Trojans 

January, 17, 2013
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videoLOS ANGELES -- The big one has arrived.


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Following a summertime commitment to USC, ESPN 150 cornerback Jalen Ramsey (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood Academy) believed his recruitment would slow down considerably.

That certainly hasn’t been the case.

Ramsey, the No. 4-ranked corner, officially visited Florida State over the weekend, a trip that was planned following the hire of new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt from Alabama. The top-ranked prospect in Tennessee previously visited Florida (Sept. 21), Mississippi State (Nov. 30) and Washington (Dec. 7), and has his fifth and final trip scheduled to USC for this upcoming weekend.


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SAN ANTONIO -- ESPN 150 cornerback Jalen Ramsey (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood Academy) has been committed to USC since July 16, but a lot has changed with the Trojans since then.


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ESPN 150 CB Ramsey talks final visit 

December, 20, 2012
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Tennessee is working hard to get back in the race for ESPN 150 cornerback and USC Trojans commit Jalen Ramsey (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood Academy). Apparently, it's going to take a lot more work.

The Volunteers have put the hard press on the No. 1 prospect in the state. Ramsey said he has spoken to new UT coach Butch Jones, running backs coach Jay Graham, defensive coordinator Willie Martinez and tight ends coach Mark Elder since the group was hired this month.

Jones was hired to replace Derek Dooley, who was fired after the 2012 season, and Dooley never had a strong connection with Ramsey. Unlike Dooley, Jones has a history of success at various programs.

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UW goes to Texas for Trevor Walker 

December, 14, 2012
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The Huskies went into Texas and landed a safety.

The addition of three-star standout Trevor Walker (Arlington, Texas/Mansfield Timberview) provides a prominent piece to Washington’s 2013 recruiting class. But his addition means more than just adding another name to an already impressive list.

[+] EnlargeWashington's Steve Sarkisian
Derick E. Hingle/US PRESSWIRESteve Sarkisian went into Texas and secured a pledge from three-star safety Trevor Walker on Friday.
Walker announced his decision Friday. When it came time to pick a school, he selected UW over Vanderbilt and Ole Miss. He had more than 25 offers, but he chose to play college football in Seattle, one week after taking his official visit.

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