The parents section at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln continues to get more and more interesting. And star-studded.
Nebraska had already received Herbie Hancocks on a National Letter of Intent from Ben Miles, son of former LSU head coach Les Miles, and Keyshawn Johnson Jr., whose father Keyshawn Johnson played for Mike Riley at USC and went on to star in the NFL, as part of their Class of 2017. Thursday night, at the end of a two-day visit, the son of another very famous member of the football community committed to the Cornhuskers as a walk-on.
Kade Warner (pictured, far left) is the son of Kurt Warner, the former St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals quarterback who was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier this month as part of the nine-man 2017 class.
Unlike his dad, Kade Warner plays wide receiver, catching 83 passes for 1,063 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior at Desert Mountain High School in Arizona. The 6-2, 205-pounder’s 241 career receptions are a record for the state.
He didn’t have any scholarship offers coming out of high school, but did choose Nebraska over walk-on opportunities at, among others, Arizona State, Iowa and UCLA.
National Signing Day went smoothly for Penn State, and then got a little better with a late addition. With all 20 players expected to sign officially locked in without any hassles on Wednesday, Penn State added one more piece to the roster with the late addition of four-star safety Tariq Castro-Fields from Maryland.
Rivals ranked Castro-Fields as the 26th best safety in the country and the fourth-best player from the fertile state of Maryland. Maryland was among those hoping to get good news from Castro-Fields on signing day. The Upper Marlboro, Maryland recruit checks in at 6′ 2″, 173 lb. At Penn State, he will join former high school teammate Zechariah McPhearson, a cornerback who committed to Penn State in the Class of 2016. The addition of Castro-Fields helps solidify the depth in the defensive secondary for Penn State and allows some mixing around in the backfield.
Penn State seemed to get off to a sluggish start on the 2017 recruiting cycle, but as the Nittany Lions roared their way to a Big Ten championship and a thrilling Rose Bowl performance (albeit a loss to USC), it seemed James Franklin and his staff benefitted from a renewed sense of confidence around the program in recruiting efforts. Among the talented players to commit to Penn State since the Big Ten championship game victory over Wisconsin include five-star defensive back Lamont Wade, four-star defensive back Donovan Johnson, four-star linebacker Ellis Brooks., and four-star wide receiver Kahlee Hamler.
Ohio State and Michigan may continue to set the pace for Big Ten recruiting, but Penn State continues to perform admirably under Franklin’s leadership. With a Big Ten championship under his belt and another solid recruiting class coming in, the future continues to look bright for the Nittany Lions. Penn State looks to have locked in a top 15 recruiting class and could be on the fringe of a top 10 finish, although this may be all for this year’s recruiting class.
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer takes great pride in coaching the Buckeyes and keeping some of the state’s top high school talent in Columbus. Considering the depth of talent throughout the state, it is no wonder why he would want to do so. As Ohio State puts the finishing touches on its Class of 2017, Meyer will look back at a strong recruiting effort that will net one of the top classes in the country, but he cannot help but regret not getting more players from Ohio to be a part of the recruiting class.
Ohio State’s Class of 2017 includes seven players from the state, including four of the top 10 players from the state. Among those are the state’s top two recruits according to Rivals, offensive lineman Josh Myers and athlete Brendon White. Wide receiver Jaylen Harris and defensive back Amir Riep are the other top 10 Ohio recruits to commit to Ohio State. For the sake of comparison, Ohio State’s Class of 2016 included four of the state’s top 10 recruits as well. Ideally, Meyer admitted, he would like to see roughly half of his recruiting class made up of Ohio players.
The tradeoff, of course, is excelling with recruiting efforts in other states and regions that have helped Ohio State construct a roster that helps separate them from the rest of the Big Ten (and win a national championship). That’s a pretty solid tradeoff. Ohio State’s Class of 2017 is highlighted by a five-star defensive back from Florida (Shaun Wade), a five-star offensive lineman from California (Wyatt Davis), a five-star defensive end from Maryland (Chase Young) and a five-star defensive back from Texas (Jeffrey Okudah), just to name a few. None of the six five-star players to sign with Ohio State hail from Ohio. In fact, no recruit from the state was given a five-star ranking by Rivals, although there were plenty of four-star players to choose from.
More often than not, Ohio State is going to get the cream of the crop from the state of Ohio. Top players in the state will always go elsewhere, like athlete JaVonte Richardson heading to Kentucky, quarterback Sean Clifford going to Penn State and defensive end James Hudson going north to Michigan this year, but the Buckeyes will always have a strong recruiting base right in their backyard. Meyer knows keeping strong connections in the state are essential, but some years he will have to go out of state to put together the best possible class he can.
National Signing Day is upon us once again. Or, as it might as well be known now, the day Nick Saban and Urban Meyer bash everyone’s head together one more time. The next class of All-Americans, of Heisman Trophy winners, of future stars and wacky headlines becomes official on Wednesday, and no one truly knows which players will ultimately belong where. And that’s the magic of it all.
Let’s dive right into some storylines.
– Nick or Urban? Urban or Nick? Heading into Wednesday’s festivities, Alabama and Ohio State are in a neck-and-neck duel for the best class according to the 247Sports composite rankings. Alabama holds a slight lead with 310.26 total points to Ohio State’s 308.78, but Ohio State (94.62) holds the edge over the Tide (93.01) in per-player average. Alabama owns five 5-stars and 14 4-stars among its 24 commitments, while Ohio State has landed five 5-stars and 13 4-stars among its 20 pledges.
– A Smart blueprint. The harbinger of Saban’s ultimate dominance came on Signing Day in 2008 when, after a 7-6 debut, Alabama inked a No. 1 class in its first full cycle under the new staff. Kirby Smart was there for that rise, and now he’s repeating the script in Athens. After an 8-5 debut campaign, Smart’s first full class has leaped from No. 8 to No. 3 nationally, per 247 composite. With two 5-stars and 18 4-stars among its 23 pledges, Georgia won’t likely catch Alabama or Ohio State but is a safe distance away from Michigan for the No. 3 ranking.
– Texas becomes the No Star State. In a year that should give longtime observers flash backs to the dark days of the 1990’s, only four of the top 20 players in the state of Texas are committed to in-state schools. In fact, Ohio State may sign as many Texas blue-chippers as the in-state schools combined, with No. 1 defensive back Jeffrey Okudah, No. 1 linebacker Baron Browning and No. 1 running back J.K. Dobbins already in the fold and an outside shot at landing No. 1 overall player Marvin Wilson. At present, only linebacker Anthony Hines (Texas A&M) and offensive lineman Jack Anderson (Texas Tech) are committed to in-state schools among the state’s top-10 players.
– Is Signing Day going to be… boring? Only 17 of the national top 100 players of the 247 composite ranking are uncommitted as of this writing. Among the top 25, only Wilson (an LSU lean) and Georgia linebacker Aubrey Solomon (Michigan or Alabama) remain uncommitted. Though the headliners may not offer much in the way of suspense, there are still plenty of second- and third-tier players lining up for our entertainment on Wednesday. If we’re lucky, perhaps one will announce his school choice while riding on the back of a dolphin.
The new college football season may still be a long way away, but it is never too early to place your bets on who you think will win the Heisman Trophy in the 2017 season. The very early favorite, according to odds released by Bovada on Monday, is Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Bovada gives Mayfield 11/2 odds to win the Heisman Trophy this fall. He is followed by Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett (6/1), which sets up a nice Heisman Trophy showdown in September when the defending Big 12 champions head to Columbus for the second game in a home-and-home series that was won by Ohio State in Norman in 2016. Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, is listed with 7/1 odds, with USC’s rising star quarterback Sam Darnold listed at 9/1.
Penn State’s dynamic duo of running back Saquon Barkley and quarterback Trace McSorley each have 10/1 odds, along with Washington quarterback Jake Browning.
Looking back to the early odds from last January, Barrett and Mayfield each had 10/1 Heisman odds. Louisville’s Jackson was not on the radar.