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January 6, 2014
Where they're headed: All-star pledge roundup
With the three major high school all-America games played over the weekend, it was a big time for college commitments. Here's a look back at each of the pledges announced during the games.
UNDER ARMOUR ALL-AMERICA GAME
WR Speedy Noil, New Orleans (La.) Edna KarrCommitted to: Texas A&M
The Buzz: The No. 4 wide receiver in America, Noil was expected to pick in-state LSU but spurned the Tigers in favor of red-hot Texas A&M. Florida was his third finalist, but there was never much chance of him landing in Gainesville. Noil's decision was one of the all-star season's biggest surprises.
RB Leonard Fournette, New Orleans (La.) St. AugustineCommitted to: LSU
The Buzz:The No. 1 running back in America, Fournette narrowed his options to LSU and Alabama prior to arriving at the Under-Armour All-America Game. When the time came to announce his choice, though, he opted for the in-state program. LSU missed on a few important targets during all-star week, but landing Fournette, the No. 3 overall player in the class, certainly softened the blow.
DB Jalen Tabor, Washington (D.C) Friendship Collegiate AcademyCommitted to: Arizona
The Buzz: If Noil was one of the period's biggest surprises, Tabor represents one of the new year's biggest upsets. The five-star cornerback chose Arizona over Alabama and will serve as a one-man momentum jolt for Rich Rodriguez's program going forward. Five-star prospects don't find their way to Tucson, Ariz., often, so Tabor's choice was massive news in the desert.
WR Travis Rudolph, West Palm Beach (Fla.) Cardinal NewmanCommitted to: Florida State
The Buzz: Rudolph's own father thought his son was Alabama bound until he picked up a Florida State hat during his in-game announcement. The Tide and Seminoles joined Auburn on the receiver's list of finalists. There's little doubt that the season FSU is currently having gave it a bump over the Tide when decision day arrived.
DE Gerald Willis III, New Orleans (La.) Edna KarrCommitted to: Florida
The Buzz: Not even a four-win season could stop Florida from landing Willis, the No. 49 overall player in the class. Willis chose the struggling Gators over LSU and Texas A&M. Florida assistant Derek Lewis, who recruits Louisiana for the program, played a major part in selling Willis on a team that, at least on the surface, looks unstable.
DB Tony Brown, Beaumont (Texas) OzenCommitted to: Alabama
The Buzz: LSU and Alabama battled over Brown until the very end, lending some drama to his decision. There were mixed predictions on where the No. 3 cornerback in the country would land, but Nick Saban proved too tough to defeat. Brown said that, in the end, both he and his parents felt more comfortable in Tuscaloosa.
DB Jamal Adams, Lewisville (Texas) HebronCommitted to: LSU
The Buzz: LSU plucked Adams out of Texas and did so despite Texas A&M's best efforts. Texas was also heavily recruiting Adams, but the lack of a head coach at the time of his announcement made choosing the Longhorns an impossibility. Ole Miss and Florida rounded out the safety's list of finalists.
U.S. ARMY ALL-AMERICA BOWL
RB Joe Mixon, Oakley (Calif.) FreedomCommitted to: Oklahoma
The Buzz: Mixon's recruitment was hard to check throughout, as the five-star prospect changed frontrunners as often as most people change socks. Oklahoma and UCLA were two of the major constants in the process, and most expected he would land at one of the two. In the end, Mixon pledged his services to the Sooners, where he hopes to make an impact carrying the ball and catching passes out of the backfield. Mixon, the No. 9 overall prospect in the Rivals100, is as versatile a player as there is in this class.
OL Brian Wallace, St. Louis (Mo.) Christian BrothersCommitted to: Arkansas
The Buzz: Arkansas went head-to-head with Alabama and won in this instance. The situation was a bit of an upset as Wallace was high on the Tide's recruiting board and was wrestled away by a rebuilding Arkansas program. Wallace chose the Razorbacks based on his relationship with the coaching staff. The four-star lineman represents a massive recruiting victory for Bret Bielema and company.
WR Jamil Kamara, Virginia Beach (Va.) Bishop Sullivan CatholicCommitted to: Virginia
The Buzz: A four-star prospect with plenty of options, Kamara elected to stay in-state and play college football at Virginia. His decision didn't shock many, as it was obvious which way he was leaning for some time. The Cavaliers beat out fellow finalists Wisconsin and Pittsburgh. Kamara ranks as the No. 118 prospect in the 2014 class.
LB Dwight Williams, Gardena (Calif.) Junipero SerraCommitted to: UCLA
The Buzz: Williams was seen as an Oklahoma lean until he picked UCLA. And while he named a larger group of finalists, the Sooners and Bruins were the only schools actually left in the running when decision day arrived. Williams has the type of speed needed to contribute at the Pac-12 level immediately but he may need to add weight before he truly makes an impact in the college game.
DB Erick Smith, Cleveland (Ohio) GlenvilleCommitted to: Ohio State
The Buzz: Ohio State has a knack from keeping top area talent close to home, so nobody gasped when Smith chose the Buckeyes. Following his commitment, Smith said Ohio State was "always" where he wanted to go to college, saying he only waited to announce his intentions so he could experience the recruiting process. Smith is ranked as the No. 11 safety in the nation.
WR Frank Iheanacho, Houston (Texas) WestsideCommitted to: Texas A&M
The Buzz: Iheanacho was a virtual unknown at this time last year but saw his recruitment explode as a senior. At the time of his announcement, he claimed double-digit scholarship offers, most of which came from perennial football powers. Iheanacho chose the Aggies over Oregon, Arkansas, Missouri and others.
TE Bryce Dixon, Ventura (Calif.) St. BonaventureCommitted to: USC
The Buzz: Dixon chose UCS's new coaching staff over the more established in-state brand of Jim Mora's UCLA program. When asked why he decided to pick the Trojans, Dixon discussed USC's tradition and Steve Sarkisian's offense. Despite being technically committed, Dixon may still visit both UCLA and Miami.
LB Nyles Morgan,Crete (Ill.) MoneeCommitted to: Notre Dame
The Buzz: The 75th-ranked prospect overall, Morgan chose Notre Dame over fellow finalist Vanderbilt. But while the Irish and the Commodores were the last two teams left standing, the 222-pound linebacker once had 33 offers from which to chose. Morgan took official visits to Notre Dame, Florida, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt before making his decision.
ATH Marshon Lattimore, Cleveland (Ohio) GlenvilleCommitted to: Ohio State
The Buzz: Prying a player out of Ohio is difficult even for Alabama, which could not tear Lattimore out of Ohio State's grip. The four-star prospect took official visits to Alabama, Georgia Tech and Ohio State and came into All-Star week already settled on the Buckeyes, though he kept that to himself until making his public declaration. Lattimore could play either defensive back or wide receiver at the college level, but most expect him to line up at cornerback.
SEMPER-FIDELIS ALL-AMERICAN BOWL
DL Kammy Delp, Pomona (Calif.) Diamond RanchCommitted to: Arizona State
The Buzz: Delp, a three-star prospect, committed to Arizona State weeks before he announced his choice to the public and guarded the information as tightly as possible. Delp's listed group of finalists included Washington State, UCLA, Washington and Oregon State.
LB Jimmie Swain, Olathe (Kan.) NorthCommitted to: Oregon
The Buzz: Swain was once committed to TCU but broke that pledge after the Horned Frogs limped to the finish this season. A three-star prospect, Swain focused on Oregon, Arkansas, Michigan State and Texas A&M after his de-commitment but settled on the Ducks after he and his family were wowed during an official visit to Eugene.
WR Adonis Jennings, Sicklerville (N.J.) Timber CreekCommitted to: Pittsburgh
The Buzz: A four-star receiver, Jennings chose Pitt over 19 other scholarship offers. Jennings, who was once committed to Rutgers, said the driving force behind his decision to attend Pitt was a combination of the style of offense and his desire to capture early playing time. Arkansas and Iowa joined Pittsburgh on his list of finalists.