Commentary

What we learned this weekend

Originally Published: September 19, 2011
By ESPN Recruiting | ESPN.com

Five things we learned from across the country this weekend:

Atlantic Coast

The Mountaineers will be formidable in the big cities
West Virginia won a recruiting battle ground game when it beat Maryland, 37-31. The two teams will constantly be facing off in the mid-Atlantic area. Despite being a four-hour drive apart, the two teams have very different things to sell prospects, such as different conferences (for now) and different lifestyles (city versus country). Yet West Virginia can offer something Maryland currently can't -- a more successful program. The Mountaineers have a history of success and a top-25 program. Maryland is rebuilding.

The win was especially big for Mountaineers assistant coach Daron Roberts, who recruits against Maryland in its backyard.

"My philosophy is the more games we win, the better we'll do at recruiting," Roberts said. " The jury is still out as to how well will do in that area against Maryland."

So far, the Mountaineers have done well. They have 18 commitments and can start to focus on the 2013 class. Six 2012 pledges are from the areas surrounding Washington, D.C. The win over a red-hot Maryland team can only help.

"We hope that it does," Roberts said. "For us, Baltimore and D.C. are critical areas. We feel like we have to do a good job in those areas in order to be a good football team. We felt good that we could go to Maryland in our first road game and get a win in a recruiting hotbed for us."

• For the rest of what we learned about the Atlantic Coast, check out Dave Hooker's blog Insider

Florida

Williams checks out SEC battle and an old friend
One of the marquee visitors for this past weekend's Florida-Tennessee showdown was Daytona Beach (Fla.) Mainland's ESPNU 150 defensive lineman Leonard Williams.

The 6-foot-4, 265-pound Williams, who is No. 106 in the ESPNU 150 and the No. 8 DT, enjoyed the atmosphere during Florida's 33-23 victory over the Volunteers and the chance to see his former teammate, Tennessee running back Marlin Lane.

"Leonard had a great time at Florida, he just went for the game but he loved being in the stadium and hearing the crowd," Mainland assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Keynodo Hudson said. "He also enjoyed seeing Marlin score a touchdown for Tennessee. That's one of his best friends."

According to Hudson, Williams is going to plan out a schedule for his official visits over the next couple of weeks. Williams has said that Auburn and USC will definitely be getting visits and he plans on making his announcement at the Under Armour All-America Game.

• For the rest of what we learned about Florida, check out Corey Long's blog Insider

Midlands

Career marks every week for Texas RB
Bryan Driskell (McKinney, Texas/McKinney Boyd) has been fortunate to say he has had a career night in three of his four games this season.

Driskell, a 2013 running back who has caught the attention of several high-major programs, rushed for 276 yards and had five touchdowns (four rushing) in a win Thursday against Garland (Texas) Lakeview Centennial. The week before, Driskell rushed for a career-high 340 yards and two scores in a win over in-town rival McKinney.

"I really don't keep up with how many yards I have," said Driskell, who has looks from Oklahoma, Alabama, UCLA, Notre Dame, Arizona and others. "The offensive line has been amazing for me. They make my job look so easy."

The five touchdowns Thursday tied a career high that he set in his first game of the season against another in-town foe, McKinney North (167 rushing yards, five rushing TDs). Driskell's low game of the year was a 73-yard production against Flower Mound (Texas), in which he also rushed for two scores.

For the season, Driskell has 856 rushing yards and 14 total touchdowns, 13 rushing.

• For the rest of what we learned about the Midlands, check out Damon Sayles' blog Insider

Midwest

Trotwood-Madison's defense is loaded
Wayne (Ohio) no longer has Braxton Miller at quarterback, but Trotwood-Madison's defensive showcase Friday night was impressive nonetheless. Based on talent, there might not be a better defense in the entire state than the Rams' starting 11. Senior safety Bam Bradley -- who has offers Ohio State, Penn State, Stanford and Tennessee, among others -- is a big hitter and always around the ball. Junior cornerback Cam Burrows has just about every BCS school contacting him. Linebacker Mike McCray is also a Class of 2013 member who already has a number of offers. Collectively, they led a defense that held Wayne to seven points before a couple of late, garbage-time touchdowns. McCray says there's no special recipe to the Rams' stout defense. "Just playing hard 24/7, 110 percent," he said. Talent helps, too.

• For the rest of what we learned about the Midwest, check out Jared Shanker's blog Insider

Southeast

Underclassmen impress
After watching four weeks of high school football, the three top prospects I have seen so far are all underclassmen -- Robert Nkemdiche (Grayson, Ga./Grayson), Antonio Conner (Batesville, Miss./South Panola) and Jabrill Peppers (Ramsey, N.J./Don Bosco).

Nkemdiche, 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds, will likely be among the top prospects in the country next season. The defensive end has size, speed, power, quickness and a nonstop motor. He's relentless and one of the top prospects I have seen in 20 years of covering recruiting.

Conner is a versatile prospect from the Magnolia State. He has been spectacular this season returning punts and kicks, showcasing his big-play capability and outstanding speed. This future college safety prospect is a fierce hitter and competitor. Conner, like Nkemdiche, is a member of the Class of 2013.

Friday, I watched Ramsey Don Bosco Prep, and it is loaded with talent. Its senior class is led by ESPNU 150 defensive linemen Darius Hamilton and cornerback Yuri Wright and four-star safety Elijah Shumate. But the top player on the field when Bosco defeated Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee was sophomore cornerback/running back Peppers. Only 15, he already has good size at 5-11 and 185 pounds. Peppers is fast and physical. He can cover and run. Peppers has a chance to be one of the elite players in the Class of 2014. Oh, by the way, he told me after the game he wants to play in the SEC.

• For the rest of what we learned about the Southeast, check out Jamie Newberg's blog Insider

West

OL Murphy could play for some colleges right now
There is a lot of hype surrounding San Clemente (Calif.) four-star offensive linemen Kyle Murphy, and after watching his Tritons dismantle Carlsbad (Calif.) La Costa Canyon 58-7 on Friday, he more than lived up to his lofty reputation.

Simply put, Murphy, ranked No. 26 in the ESPNU 150, is one of the most college-ready offensive linemen you'll see at the high school level. He's 6-foot-7, 285 pounds and actually looks lean because of how athletic his frame is. He runs like a linebacker, plays with great toughness and has just the right amount of nastiness you have to have to play in the trenches.

"I'm a perfectionist, I always think I can play better," Murphy said. "I'm more physical than last year but I can still work on my technique, just polishing up some things. It was fun though. I felt strong and as a team, we played really well."

• For the rest of what we learned about the West, check out Greg Biggins' blog Insider