Programs starting to target sophomores

prospects emerge at Top Gun
Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei tight end Kyle Penniston earned an offer
from Florida State before cracking a high school starting lineup.
"I don't think I could have imagined this a year earlier," Penniston
acknowledged. "When they offered me, I thought I was dreaming or something."
Dreams are coming true for more and more rising sophomores nowadays. Even the
ones who aren't yet atop their high school depth charts.
Penniston is one of 72 prospects in the Class of 2015 with verbal offers. That
represents a dramatic change from the recent past and a notable example of how
much the recruiting process has accelerated.
"I remember just a couple of years ago when (2012 Notre Dame signee)
Davonte Neal of Arizona got an early offer as a freshman and it was a
real rarity," national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said. "Now,
it's not much of a rarity."
Indeed, four players from the Class of 2015 already have made verbal
Elkton (Md.) Easter Christian Academy quarterback David Sills committed
to USC when he was just 13 years old. Nashville (Tenn.) Ensworth safety
Donovan Sheffield announced in June he would attend
Vanderbilt. Florida State already has a pair of commitments
from rising sophomores: Auburndale (Fla.) athlete Derwin James and
Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast quarterback De'Andre Johnson.
And they might not even be the youngest committed prospects around anymore. The
Seattle Times reported Wednesday that Washington had received a commitment from
Tate Martell, a 14-year-old quarterback from San Diego heading into the eighth
According to the database, 67 of the 121 FBS non-academies have
offered at least one 2015 prospect. Florida State leads the way with 12 offers,
while UCLA is close behind with 11.
"It is getting crazy," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. "We said
(offering) juniors (was too early). Then we said sophomores. Then we said
freshmen. We all keep doing it because the other guy does it. It's become a
Penniston caught the attention of the Seminoles last fall when he played for
Orange (Calif.) Lutheran and backed up Christo Kourtzidis, a four-star
recruit who signed with Florida State in February. Penniston, who has since
transferred to Mater Dei, said the Seminoles had tapes of him from last season
and also saw him this spring.
Although Florida State represents Penniston's lone offer thus far, plenty of
other 2015 prospects already have received multiple offers. Glen St. Mary (Fla.)
Baker County defensive tackle
CeCe Jefferson, Orlando (Fla.) Timber
Creek athlete Jacques Patrick and Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) University
School running back Jordan Scarlett already have nine offers each.
Farrell believes this trend is a result of legislation passed by the NCAA two
years ago that prevented colleges from making written offers to prospects before
Aug. 1 prior to their senior years. The previous starting date had been Sept. 1
of their junior years.
The move was designed to delay the recruiting process, but it only caused
coaches to act even earlier. The legislation didn't include any types of limits
on verbal offers, so colleges are making more verbal offers than ever.
Moreover, there's a sense the school that waits to offer a prospect might fall
too far behind to catch up. So the schools are making offers earlier and
"It's backfiring," Farrell said of the NCAA legislation. "It's speeding up the
process by at least a year when the NCAA hoped to slow it down by a year."
The result is that some 2015 prospects are receiving offers before they've even
made much of an impact on their high school teams. It isn't unusual for a
recruit to get an offer based more on potential than production, but it's
particularly apparent in the 2015 class.
Bryce Perkins moved up to the varsity team at
Chandler (Ariz.) High late last fall and alternated between quarterback and
receiver. He likely will play receiver this fall while also backing up senior
quarterback Darell Garretson, who has an offer from San Jose State.
Yet even though he likely won't emerge as a full-time starting quarterback for
his high school team until the fall of 2013, Perkins already has received offers
from Arizona State and UCLA.
Perkins has the physical tools, as he's already 6-foot-3 and about 180 pounds,
according to his high school coach. He comes from a quality high school program.
And he has family connections as the younger brother of Paul Perkins, a
three-star prospect who signed with UCLA in February as an all-purpose athlete.
"It's his demeanor and his confidence," Chandler coach Shaun Aguano said. "He
has a few mechanical issues with his throwing, but that will be easy to fix.
He's one of the best athletes on our team right now. He was a state finalist as
a freshman in the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles, so he'll be a top track star.
We've sent a lot of kids [to college] who are playing right now, and he's as
good as they were at this level."
Diamond Bar (Calif.) wide receiver Cordell Broadus, the son of rap star
Snoop Dogg, played just four games of varsity football last fall after initially
delivering a dominant performance for his school's freshman team. He already has
received an offer from UCLA.
Although Broadus caught only one pass in varsity action last season, Broadus
delivered a solid performance at a UCLA summer camp. He also is already 6-foot-1
and 185 pounds.
"UCLA did a great job of seeing his potential," Diamond Bar coach Ryan Maine
said. "I think they're very smart for offering him. He's going to get a lot of
offers, I believe, based on his size, his strength and his work ethic. I wasn't
surprised [by the offer]. He's physically a gifted kid. It doesn't matter who
his dad is. When you see him, he's a specimen."
Not every school is jumping aboard this trend.
While many schools are offering players earlier and earlier, TCU coach
Gary Patterson indicated he's taking the opposite approach. TCU hasn't offered a
single 2015 prospect. Big 12 rivals Oklahoma and
Oklahoma State and Texas also haven't made any offers to incoming
"I felt the last couple of years -- with the early commitment stuff -- I felt we
had a couple of guys come in that maybe it was about getting a great
private-school education, maybe it wasn't about winning a national
championship," Patterson said. "And so, if you've noticed in our commitment
deal, up until lately in the last [several] weeks, I think we only had three of
four [2013] commitments. Probably, if anything, I backed up a little bit as far
as making sure that I've been a little more patient."
Patterson represents one of the exceptions.
More and more often, coaches are racing to offer prospects early in their high
school careers. That's particularly true of programs that recruit Florida
heavily. Of the 72 Class of 2015 prospects with offers, 22 come from Florida.
"I don't like it, but there's nothing I can do about it," Clemson coach
Dabo Swinney said. "That's the way it is. I'm hesitant to offer guys in the 10th
grade. There are certain guys who can qualify for that, but not many. It makes
it tough. You've got to hold on to them that much longer. Secondly, they've
still got some maturing to do as a person. They've got to have a couple more
years of good decision-making and production as a player.
"It's definitely a new era we're in, but it's where we are."
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