Malik McDowell

Young talent from SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 highlights FWAA Freshman All-America team

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The state of Texas is ripe with football talent. A total of nine players named to the Football Writers Association of America’s Freshman All-America team hail from the state of Texas, including Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett and Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine. A total of 30 players were named to the FWAA Freshman All-America Team, and Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin was also honored following his first season as head coach of the Broncos.

This year’s Freshman All-America team features six players from the SEC. The Big 12 and Big Ten each have five players represented. The Pac-12 has four players and the ACC has two.

The freshman All-America team chosen by the football writers features some of the top young running backs in the sport. In addition to Perine, Oregon’s Royce Freeman, Georgia’s Nick Chubb and LSU’s Leonard Fournette all were honored. Fournette was chosen as the all-purpose selection by the football writers. These are all players that give the 2015 season reason to believe running bacsk could thrive.

Here is the full Freshman All-America team as organized by a select panel of Football Writers Association of America members.

OFFENSE

QB J.T. Barrett, Ohio State

RB Nick Chubb, Georgia

RB Royce Freeman, Oregon

RB Samaje Perine, Oklahoma

WR Devonte Boyd, UNLV

WR KD Cannon, Baylor

AP Leonard Fournette, LSU

OL Brian Allen, Michigan State

OL Tejan Koroma, BYU

OL Toa Lobendahn, USC

OL Brandon Ray, Western Kentucky

OL Cam Robinson, Alabama

DEFENSE

DL Derek Barnett, Tennessee

DL Myles Garrett, Texas A&M

DL Malik McDowell, Michigan State

DL Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, Arkansas State

DL Kemoko Turay, Rutgers

LB DJ Calhoun, Arizona State

LB Nyles Morgan, Notre Dame

LB Craig Suits, Tulsa

LB Taylor Young, Baylor

CB Mackensie Alexander, Clemson

CB Adoreé Jackson, USC

S Quin Blanding, Virginia

S Kamari Cotton-Moya, Iowa State

SPECIAL TEAMS

P JK Scott, Alabama

K Matthew McCrane, Kansas State

PR De’Mornay Pierson-El, Nebraska

KR Darius Phillips, Western Michigan

HEAD COACH

Bryan Harson, Boise State

Sparty yes! Long recruiting saga over for Malik McDowell

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One of the more bizarre stories coming out of National Signing Day back in February has come to a conclusion, hopefully. Malik McDowell, the prized five-star defensive end from Michigan, has finally submitted his official letter of intent to Michigan State. Michigan State is the school he wanted to attend this whole time, but family drama made for a complicated signing process even though McDowell committed to the Spartans on signing day.

Despite his intention to go to Michigan State originally, his parents not signing off on the decision did not keep Michigan State from being a winner on signing day. Now that the issues have been sorted, the Spartans remain one of the big winners of the most recent recruiting season. McDowell took a look at Ohio State but never wavered on his commitment to the Spartans, perhaps just waiting for his parents to come around to the decision.

The addition of McDowell is obviously a big win for Michigan State. Adding one of the top players from within the state is always significant when it means you keep that level of talent away from in-state rival Michigan and the likes of Ohio State. Coming off a Big Ten and Rose Bowl championship does not hurt, and Michigan State’s defensive style certainly must have been a solid selling point for Mark Dantonio and the staff.

Ohio State leaving Big Ten in dust in recruiting rankings

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The SEC may be dominant at the top fo the Rivals team rankings a little more than midway through National Signing Day, but the Ohio State Buckeyes are once again in the mix among the top recruiting classes in the nation. Ohio State is also leaving many of their Big Ten rivals in the dust when comparing recruiting profiles so far.

The updated team rankings compiled by Rivals currently sees Ohio State ranked third overall, trailing Alabama and LSU and sitting just ahead of defending BCS champion Florida State and an impressive Tennessee class. The Buckeyes have 23 players in their Class of 2014, including 15 four-star recruits and one five-star player. That is some serious quality depth being added to the roster in Columbus by Urban Meyer and his staff. You have to move all the way down to No. 21 to find the next Big Ten team in the Rivals team rankings and only two other Big Ten schools are ranked in the top 25 according to Rivals.

The 2013 Big Ten champions from Michigan State are ranked 21st overall. The Spartans lost a commitment to Ohio State today when defensive end Darius Slade out of New Jersey made a last-minute decision to sign with Ohio State. That took some of the steam out of the recruiting victory for in-state talent Malik McDowell, but the Spartans continue to develop tough players that sometimes fly under the radar.

Penn State is putting together a solid class despite missing some scholarships as well. The Nittany Lions are currently ranked No. 23 by Rivals after completing their day’s action. Penn State head coach James Franklin and his staff did a solid job in a short period of time by adding six four-star players to add depth wherever possible. Franklin has said many players should expect to be available to play right away this season due to limited roster options under NCAA sanctions.

What should be concerning for the big Ten is the fact Penn State was able to pull together just the third top 25 class with NCAA sanctions while programs such as Michigan (No. 31), Nebraska (No. 32) and Wisconsin (No. 33) are lagging behind. If the Big Ten is going to compete with the likes of the SEC and Pac 12, these are all programs that will have to put together some more respected classes in the future.

Of course, Ohio State has dominated in recruiting since Urban Meyer arrived as head coach two years ago and last year the Buckeyes failed to win the Big Ten. Recruiting victories are nice, but Michigan State will tell you what victories really matter.

Rivals.com Big Ten Team Rankings

No. 3 Ohio State
No. 21 Michigan State
No. 23 Penn State
No. 31 Michiagn
No. 32 Nebraska
No. 33 Wisconsin
No. 36 Indiana
No. 52 Minnesota
No. 53 Maryland
No. 57 Rutgers
No. 60 Iowa
No. 65 Northwestern
No. 71 Illinois
No. 74 Purdue

Heated recruiting battles lead to awkward moments

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With National Signing Day coming up (Wednesday, February 5) recruiting battles are coming down the final stretch with heated recruiting battles being fought this weekend. For many of the top rated recruits around the country, some awkward moments are bound to happen.

One of the top pliers in the state of Michigan recently experienced one of those moments once a recruiting dead period had been lifted b the NCAA. Malik McDowell, from Michigan, had assistant coaches form Michigan, Michigan State and Alabama waiting for a chance to talk with him recently, but apparently one coach could not wait to get his turn for a one-on-one conversation. According to a story shared by McDowell to the Detroit Free Press, Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison walked in and interrupted a conversation between McDowell and Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi.

“Michigan State was here, then Michigan came, they just walked right in and sat down,” McDowell said to the Detroit Free Press. “That was pretty funny. I was just sitting there watching … (Coach) Narduzzi was sitting right here. It just all stopped. Then (Mattison) was like, ‘Oh, is this a bad time?’ It made me laugh.”

Last week assistant coaches from Florida (Joker Phillips and DJ Durkin) and Florida State (Charles Kelly) attended a high school basketball game with the family of Georgia defensive end Lorenzo Carter. The coaches sat on opposite ends of the family at the basketball game, which made for a humorous shot captured by The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

“It was a little awkward at first, but then you just relax,” Carter’s mother, Lisa, told the AJC. “They’re people, we’re people, and you just have normal conversation. It will all work out how it supposed to in the end. But they are good people at Florida and Florida State. Both sides have great coaches. I enjoy talking to both of them. They have funny stories.”

This weekend figures to be just waiting for more recruiting awkwardness around the country, with this being the final full weekend coaches will be able to make their sales pitches before National Signing Day.