Saturday, January 7, 2012
Army All-American Bowl commitments
By Damon Sayles and William Wilkerson
ESPN Recruiting Nation
Here is a look at all the commitments made during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Sanders sticking with Stanford
Arguably the worst-kept secret at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl became legitimate late in the fourth quarter. Barry Sanders is heading to Stanford.
Sanders announced to the 39,011 at the Alamodome that he has committed to Stanford, choosing the Cardinal over Florida State and Alabama. He also chose Stanford over Oklahoma State, the alma mater of his Hall of Fame football father with the same first name -- who was in attendance.
"I get the chance to play with the greatest student-athletes in the world," Sanders said.
Sanders' much-anticipated announcement was somewhat watered down when Thursday reports out of Oklahoma stated a source confirmed Sanders would choose Stanford on Saturday. He saw people congratulating him on his Facebook page, yet he didn't respond to posts.
For a day and a half, the trademark smile usually on the face of the ESPNU 150 running back was replaced by a look of frustration. Yet he wouldn't let that get in the way of his focus.
"Nothing changed because of [Thursday]," Sanders said after hearing about the reports. "I talked to a couple of friends. I still feel good. Every day I feel more comfortable with my decision.
"Things got out of hand quickly. It was wild. I haven't said anything to anybody about committing. I appreciate the support [on Facebook], but I didn't say anything."
Sanders, ranked No. 78 among all national prospects, is considered the third-ranked player in Oklahoma and the sixth-ranked running back nationally.
At 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, Sanders brings speed, power and elusiveness to the Cardinal.
Sanders added that he has yet to find out his academic status at Stanford, another reported rumor he has had to answer.
"I honestly don't know if I have qualified for Stanford," he said. "I'm waiting to get accepted. I've done all I can do. Now I'm just waiting to see if what I've done is enough."
Cal lands Thompson, too
Shaq Thompson, the No. 2 player in California and the No. 3 safety in the nation, as ranked by ESPNU 150, is headed to Cal.
Thompson (Sacramento, Calif./Grant) let the rabbit out of the hat Friday when he announced his decision in a Twitter post: "Talk to my moms... College I'm attending Cal Golden bears... GO BEARS."
The tweet was later removed from his account, but he announced his decision Saturday on national television during the fourth quarter of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl at the Alamodome.
"I really liked all the coaches, and I liked the atmosphere there," Thompson said. "The biggest thing there is the education. I feel like I don't make it to the NFL, I can get a good job with a degree from Cal."
A bruiser in the secondary with legitimate speed, Thompson became the third official Cal commit Saturday, joining four-star receiver Jordan Payton (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian) and ESPNU 150 defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy (Monrovia, Calif.).
"We just all feel real comfortable there," Thompson said, "and we're going to change the game. A lot of good players are going to Cal. They should be pretty good in the next couple of years."
In high school, Thompson saw time at safety, running back and quarterback.
Thompson originally committed to Cal in the spring but opted to open up the process, and took official visits to Arizona State, Cal, Notre Dame, Oregon and Washington. USC also was involved.
Florida lands Bullard
Four-star defensive end Jonathan Bullard (Shelby, N.C./Crest) verbally committed to Florida during the fourth quarter of the U.S. Army Bowl.
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound defender chose Florida over Clemson and South Carolina.
Bullard is ranked as the No. 11 defensive end and the No. 83 player overall in the ESPNU 150. He will join high school teammate Rhaheim Ledbetter at Florida. Ledbetter has been committed to play safety for the Gators since July.
With the Bullard commitment, the Gators now have 19 verbal commitments, eight of which are in the ESPNU 150. Bullard is the first defensive end commit for Florida.
Shumate picks the Irish
Four-star safety Elijah Shumate (Ramsey, N.J./Don Bosco) committed to Notre Dame over Rutgers and South Carolina.
Shumate (6-foot-0, 205 pounds) is the No. 14 safety in the country and No. 6 player in New Jersey.
Shumate had one of the more impressive offer lists in the country. In addition to his finalists, he had offers from UCLA, Georgia Tech, Georgia, Michigan, Oklahoma, Arizona, USC, Colorado, Connecticut, Boston College, Maryland, Michigan State, North Carolina, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, Illinois, Central Florida and Miami.
He is one of four players from Don Bosco to play in this season's U.S. Army All-American Bowl. It's believed to be the first time that many players from the same high school played in this game at the same time.
Shumate showed off his versatility in helping Don Bosco win its sixth consecutive Non-Public 4 title with two rushing touchdowns and an interception returned for a score in the state title game. Don Bosco went wire to wire as the No. 1 team in the 2011 Fab 50.
Cal lands McCarthy
ESPNU 150 defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy (Monrovia, Calif.) announced during the third quarter of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl that he will attend California.
McCarthy, who wavered on making his decision Saturday, chose Cal over an offer from USC. A four-star player, McCarthy (6-foot-5, 311 pounds) is ranked No. 43 among all national prospects. He is the fourth-ranked defensive tackle and fifth-ranked player in California.
Alford staying home at Southern Miss.
ESPNU 150 athlete Anthony Alford (Petal, Miss./Petal) committed to Southern Mississippi over Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
In addition to his final three, Alford had offers from LSU, Nebraska, Clemson, Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee. He is the reigning Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year.
Alford's high school coach, Steve Buckley, was just hired by Southern Miss to become its assistant head coach and running backs coach. Alford and Buckley helped lead Petal to the Class 6A state title last month.
Alford had not taken official visits to any of his final schools but had them planned for later this month. He was to visit Ole Miss on Jan. 13, Southern Miss on Jan. 20 and Mississippi State after that. It's unclear whether he will follow through with all three visits.
Alford (6-foot, 210 pounds) is rated as the No. 14 athlete and No. 98 prospect overall. But he'll likely play quarterback in college if he doesn't decide to play professional baseball.
Alford, a center fielder, is projected to be a high-round draft pick in this summer's Major League Baseball first-year players draft. He was a member of the 2010 USA Junior Olympic National Team.
If he does decide to go to Southern Miss, he'll play both sports. All three of his finalists gave him that option. He sought the advice of Ole Miss freshman Senquez Golson, who is playing both sports this season, and is excited about the challenge.
Seymour picks Trojans
Four-star athlete Kevon Seymour (Pasadena, Calif./John Muir) announced during the third quarter of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl that he will play college football at USC.
Seymour, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound senior who played cornerback Saturday, chose the Trojans over Cal, Oregon and UCLA. He is the 19th-ranked player in California. Seymour can line up on offense or defense, and he can be a return option on special teams.
McCord to Miami
ESPNU 150 defensive end Tyriq McCord (Tampa, Fla./Jefferson) chose Miami over Southern California, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.
McCord (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) is rated as the No. 13 defensive end and No. 99 player overall.
It's not a surprise that McCord chose to stay in-state although he thoroughly enjoyed his unofficial visit to USC and his official visit to Georgia.
McCord also had offers from Florida State, South Florida, Notre Dame, Michigan, Ole Miss, North Carolina, Illinois, TCU and Texas Tech.
Gamecocks dig Jordan
Four-star safety Jordan Diggs (Cape Coral, Fla./Island Coast) has committed to South Carolina. His father, Shed Diggs, was a linebacker for the Gamecocks in the mid-1980s.
He chose South Carolina over Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
Diggs (6-0, 195) is the No. 16 safety overall and No. 45 player in Florida.
Diggs also held offers from programs from around the country. His offers list includes Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Connecticut, South Florida, Notre Dame, Kentucky, Louisville, Boston College, Maryland, Minnesota, Ole Miss, North Carolina, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Central Florida, Florida International, Kansas, Middle Tennessee and Purdue.
Payton picks Cal
Four-star receiver Jordan Payton (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian) made it official during Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl, choosing California over UCLA, Notre Dame and Michigan.
Payton, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound receiver with solid speed and hands, announced via Twitter on Friday that he would choose Cal. He is ranked No. 21 in California and No. 25 nationally among receivers.
Cardinals strike again
Four-star outside linebacker Keith Brown (Miami, Fla/Norland) committed to Louisville over Miami and Illinois. It was the second consecutive commitment for the Cardinals at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Brown originally picked the Hurricanes, under Randy Shannon, in September of his junior year. He switched to Illinois in November just before former coach Ron Zook's departure. He officially visited the Fighting Illini on Nov. 11 and the Cardinals on Dec. 9.
Brown's high school teammates Under Armour All-American athlete Randy Johnson and three-star offensive tackle Ereck Flowers have committed to Miami. Three-star receiver Brandon Snell (Miami, Fla./Carol City), who previously attended Norland, is a Louisville verbal.
Brown (6-foot-1, 225 pounds) is rated as the No. 27 outside linebacker in the country and the No. 43 player in Florida. His brother, linebacker Lamar Atkins, is committed to Illinois.
He also had offers from Florida, Florida State, South Florida, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Ole Miss, North Carolina, Rutgers, Clemson, Wisconsin, Alabama, Central Florida, Florida International, Purdue and Texas Tech.
Louisville lands Dawson
Four-star linebacker Nick Dawson (Charlotte, N.C./Phillip O. Berry) committed to Louisville over Clemson and North Carolina State.
Dawson (6-foot-2, 222 pounds) is the No. 13 inside linebacker overall and the No. 16 player in North Carolina. He also had offers from Auburn, Arkansas, USC, Maryland, North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Miami and Tennessee.
Dawson could have followed teammate and fellow U.S. Army All-American Germone Hopper to Clemson but opted to go with the Cardinals.
He named Louisville his favorite after he took his official visit Dec. 19.
Nance staying home
Four-star linebacker Brian Nance (Euless, Texas/Trinity) said during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl that he will play college football at Baylor.
Nance, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound linebacker, chose Baylor out of offers from the Bears, Arkansas and UCLA. Nance is considered the 15th-best linebacker in the country.
"The [Baylor] coaches act just like our Trinity coaches," Nance said. "They treated me like a family, and the players all respect each other. I like schools like that. I just want to fit in. They have a good recruiting class, and they're an up-and-coming program.
"When I went to the game [against Rice], I was there watching the fans. A lot of people knew me in the stands. Plus, I've seen a couple players I played against in seven-on-seven. I just liked everything about it."
Nance added that even though he chose Baylor, he still plans to take visits to Arkansas and UCLA. He flies to Los Angeles the weekend of Jan. 13 and will schedule a visit to Arkansas shortly afterward.
Bush picks Miami
ESPNU 150 safety Deon Bush (Miami/Christopher Columbus) announced his commitment to Miami before the kickoff of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday in the Alamodome.
Bush (6-foot-1, 177 pounds) chose the Hurricanes over Alabama and Auburn. He is the No. 4 safety and No. 65 prospect overall.
Bush also had offers from Florida State, LSU, Purdue, Florida, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Louisville, Boston College, Michigan, Ole Miss, Rutgers, Ohio State, West Virginia, Florida International, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Damon Sayles covers recruiting in the Midlands for ESPN Recruiting. He can be reached at email@example.com. William Wilkerson covers University of Texas football and recruiting for HornsNation.