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January 11, 2013

Visit weekend preview: First crop for Stoops

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Recruits are allowed to take official visits for the first time in 2013, and with National Signing Day less than a month away, schools are gearing up to take full advantage of the face time.

At Kentucky, new head coach Mark Stoops has a double-digit total of players set to visit Lexington as he looks to lure his first crop of recruits.

The headliners making the trip are Oklahoma State receiver commit Ra'Shaad Samples and dual-threat quarterback and former USF pledge Asiantii Woulard.

Samples and Woulard will draw the most attention from Wildcats fans, but the coaching staff will be doing its best to win over Aregeros Turner, Jojo Kemp and Boaz Joseph, all of whom are coveted by other schools but who could be locked up if they enjoy their stay.

USC commit Jason Hatcher from Louisville (Kent.) Trinity is also expected on campus, although Kentucky will have to do a tremendous selling job to have a shot.

Read on for the inside scoop on those story lines and more from the big weekends across the country.

Stay tuned for updates/additions throughout the day. Last update: Florida State, Georgia Tech, Michigan, N.C. State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Toledo and Washington at 11:45 a.m. CT

Official Visit Weekend Previews: Jan. 12, 2013
The Crimson Tide are fresh off their third BCS national championship in four years under Nick Saban. This weekend the Tide will host four uncommitted Rivals100 players, including two five-stars. Offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil from Lake City (Fla.) Columbia and Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington linebacker Matthew Thomas will also be on campus. The push to flip long-time Florida State commit Austin Golson will continue as the Prattville (Ala.) High lineman will be in Tuscaloosa.
No time to relax
The Razorbacks will be hosting seven players this weekend, but five are current commits. The trio of players from nearby Fayetteville (Ark.) High will be on campus. Making the less-than-one-mile trip will be Alex Brignoni, Brooks Ellis and Austin Allen. The school will be hosting two offensive lineman who are committed to other schools, with 6-foot-1 center and Kansas-commit Zach Fondal joining 6-feet-10 Tennessee offensive line target Dan Skipper on campus.
This is not a major recruiting weekend for the Tigers outside of having a couple of big name -- and long-standing commits -- on campus. Four-star quarterback Jeremy Johnson will be in town fresh off an impressive week at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The Montgomery (Ala.) Carver product will be there with receiver Earnest Robinson of Pinson Valley (Ala.) High. Robinson has been committed for nearly a year and wants to play with Johnson. Also attending are defensive back Brandon King, Duron Singleton and Antonio Longino.
Commits highlight weekend
This weekend is the largest of any for the Clemson staff, as it welcomes nearly 20 prospects. The four headliners are all on defense. Olney (Md.) Our Lady of Good Counsel athlete Dorian O'Daniel has been a Clemson commitment since April. O'Daniel has maintained a solid relationship with the staff and has been helping to keep Clemson target Ben Boulware. Boulware committed to Clemson before O'Daniel, but the pair have built a strong bond. On the defensive line, Vienna (Ga.) Dooley County tackle Montravius Adams and Honolulu (Hawaii) Monanalua end Scott Pagano will be on campus. Pagano has been a Clemson commit since July and has remained solid every since. Adams has offers from nearly every major college, but Clemson has stood out as the Tigers were his first offer, nearly seven months before anyone else. The five-star could be a huge addition to the class for Dabo Swinney.
Visitors, Part I | Visitors, Part II
The first weekend of the recruiting visit season will be a tune-up for future weeks in Gainesville as the Gators are welcoming only three players on campus. Four-star Keanu Neal of Bushnell (Fla.) South Sumpter and three-stars Jarran Reed of Scooba (Miss.) East Mississippi Community College and Chris Thompson of Gainesville (Fla.) High will all be on hand. Neal was one of the first commits for the Gators class, and his visit is more of a formality. Thompson's official is nothing more than a 10-minute drive onto campus from his hometown. Each can work on the JUCO prospect Reed who is already committed to Ole Miss. Many other targets for the staff are on other officials this week, which would leave many to believe the last shot to showcase the program may give them an inside track.
Light weekend in Gainesville
FLORIDA STATE: Warchant.com | Visit Dates | Commit List
The Florida State Seminoles host a crucial weekend for official visitors as 15 top prospects are headed to Tallahassee. The impressive group is led by Rivals100 standout linebacker E.J. Levenberry Jr., an FSU commitment. Levenberry has long been a Seminole commit, but the visit will be important in building a bond with new position coach Charles Kelly. Also headlining this weekend's group of talent is five-star corner Jalen Ramsey of Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy. Ramsey has been a USC commitment for months, but speculation has surrounded him since the announcement was made; and while there is sun in Southern California, it also shines just as bright in Florida. In addition, FSU commitments Levonte Whitfield, Davin Bellamy, Jesus Wilson and Marquez White are all expected to be on campus this weekend. Top targets for the school who will be on the ground are tight end Arshad Jackson of Hampton (Ga.) Lovejoy, Miami commitment Jeremy Kerr from St. Petersburg (Fla.) High and athlete Eddie Jackson of Lauderdale Lakes (Fla.) Boyd Anderson round out the huge weekend.
Latest on official visits
Georgia Tech, riding high off the Sun Bowl win over USC, will host 11 prospects for its first official visit weekend of the year, including eight commitments. The three prospects in the group who are not committed are three-stars lead by Ricky Jeune from St Joseph's (N.J.) and defensive end Jaylen Miller from Gaffney (S.C.) High. The duo will be joined by Georgia native and Tech legacy Ty Griffin from Kennesaw (Ga.) McEachern. The Jackets also hope to lock down longtime quarterback commit Damon Mitchell of Egg Harbor City (N.J.) Cedar Creek, who has been wavering on his commitment to Tech. Rumors are circling and speculation is that his interest in Wisconsin and Rutgers has grown -- and his planned official visit to Rutgers on Jan. 25 cannot make the staff fell too secure. The Jackets will have all three offensive line commits -- Chris Griffin, Shamire DeVine and Jeremi Hall on campus as well to help convince Mitchell to stay.
Jeune talks Ga. Tech official
With double-digits visitors on hand this weekend, it is a fantastic opportunity for new coach Mark Stoops to land some top talent. Two four-star players are showing genuine interest in the 'Cats. Oklahoma State commit Ra'Shaad Samples is very close to switching his commitment and a visit to Lexington this weekend could be a tipping point for the talented Dallas (Texas) Skyline receiver. Former USF quarterback commit Asiantii Woulard will also be on campus and taking in the sales pitch. Woulard is believed to be a Wildcat lean but would love to stay home and play for the Florida Gators. It is still uncertain if the Gators will offer the Winter Park (Fla.) High player making, UK the odds-on favorite.
Weekend visit preview
Michigan will be hosting two current commitments with Wexford (Pa.) North Allegheny offensive lineman Patrick Kugler and Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech defensive back Delano Hill both being on campus. Each has been to Ann Arbor before, but the chance to see the school on officials should only help their solid commitments. More importantly, the Wolverines will be looking to flip in three committed visitors from other programs. Four-star offensive lineman Cameron Hunt of Corona (Calif.) Centennial , three-star lineman Dan Samuelson of Fishers (Ind.) High and three-star Trotwood (Ohio) Trotwood-Madison running back Reon Dawson will all be on hand. Hunt is a California commit while Samuelson and Dawson are committed to Nebraska and Illinois, respectively.
NORTH CAROLINA STATE: TheWolfpacker.com | Visit Dates | Commit List
The first official visit weekend for new N.C. State coach Dave Doeren will ease him and his staff into the routine of ACC officials as the team is hosting just a few visitors. The highlight of the trip will most certainly be the N.C. State basketball game against No. 1 Duke on Saturday at noon. There are five uncommitted visitors expected to be on campus, led by a trio of three-star players, including tight end Troy Fumagalli, defensive back Sean Paul and receiver Marquez Valdez. Two-star defensive end Mark Wilson and two-star defensive back Dravious Wright will be joined by unranked athlete Malcolm Means on campus. All of the players in attendance are uncommitted except for Wilson who committed to Old Dominion in July.
In what may be its biggest visit weekend yet the Ohio State coaching staff will be hosing many of the top prospects left in play for the program. Arguably the top target for the Buckeyes this weekend will be Rossville (Ga.) Ridgeland safety Vonn Bell. Bell is coming off of a strong performance at the Under Armour All-American Game and is torn between Ohio State, Tennessee and Alabama after long having been considered a Vols lean. The receiver position is also catching plenty of attention this weekend as Cleveland Heights (Ohio) four-star Shelton Gibson, Nashville (Tenn.) Ensworth four-star Cornelius Elder, East Mississippi C.C. four-star Corey Smith and Frankfort (Ky.) Franklin County three-star Ryan Timmons will all make their official visits. There is enough room for one, maybe two, of those players to join the program, and of the group all except Timmons holds an acceptable offer right now.
Biggest visit weekend yet?
The Sooners are ready for the New Year to start, and the program is hoping to pick up the momentum that was stolen in the Cotton Bowl with a major recruiting weekend. OU will welcome seven players to Norman -- six of whom are uncommitted and could pay major dividends. Topping the list is four-star defensive back Tahaan Goodman from Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) High. Goodman played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and has shown to be a terrific player and quality person. He has already visited UCLA and is considered a soft lean to the West Coast school, but he has proven to be a tough player to read. Joining Goodman is another four-star safety from California as Fresno Central East prospect L.J. Moore is making his next-to-last official visit this weekend. Moore has already been to Notre Dame and Oregon State; his last visit will be to Arizona State next weekend. The third four-star to check in on the Sooners will be Devin Lauderdale, a 5-foot-11 receiver from Houston (Texas) Bellaire. Lauderdale lists six schools at the top and has visits to Oklahoma State and Notre Dame in the coming weeks so this is the Sooners chance to shine.
OKLAHOMA STATE: OState.com | Visit Dates | Commit List
The lone recruit coming in to Oklahoma State this weekend is five-star receiver Laquon Treadwell from Crete-Monee (Ill.) High. Treadwell announced that he was going to make his decision on Jan. 17 and that Oklahoma State was going to be his last visit. His announcement led to speculation that either Oklahoma State is the leader or he has already made his decision to go to Ole Miss and this is a courtesy trip. Treadwell is the top-ranked pass catcher in the Rivals100 and will have the full attention of the Cowboys' staff.
Treadwell set to announce
New coach Willie Taggart will go right to work with a 10-member official visit weekend. Of those coming to campus, there are just three USF commits, three undeclared prospects, and four players who have given a pledge elsewhere who the Bulls will try to flip. The three biggest targets -- literally and figuratively -- are prospects who would make their home in the trenches. Louisville commit Derrick Calloway, a 6-foot-1, 310-pound defensive tackle from Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee, is a prime target. Also in Tampa will be uncommitted four-star offensive tackle Denver Kirkland. The 6-foot-5, 333-pound Kirkland helped push Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington to a state title and would be a major coup. Kirkland has long stated that he wanted to be a package deal with 6-foot-4 defensive tackle Ira Denson from Madison (Fla.) High. The four-star Denson will also be taking in the sights in Tampa.
Latest on official visits
This is a huge visit weekend for Stanford as eight of the program's 10 commitments will be in attendance. The two players that will not be making this first trip weekend of the new year are four-star linebacker Peter Kalambayi from Matthews (N.C.) Butler and three-star tight end Greg Taboada from Atlanta (Ga.) Marist. Three additional players will be in NorCal and on campus. North Hollywood (Calif.) Harvard Westlake offensive lineman Thomas Oser, Belton (Texas) High tight end Durham Smythe and four-star receiver Devon Allen from Phoenix (Ariz.) Brophy will join the near-complete recruiting class.
Big visit weekend
A near blank slate for Tennessee this weekend as only five players are expected to be on campus. Two are current commits and one is not expected to wind up with the Vols. Chongo Kondolo is a three-star offensive lineman from Fresno (Calif.) City Community College and two-star Santa Ana (Calif.) Community College tight end Woody Quinn are the uncommitted prospects drawing attention from new coach Butch Jones and staff. Four-star Jermaine Grace from Miramar (Fla.) High will be in Knoxville as well, but on Tuesday he said that he was 90 percent set on Miami.
The Horned Frogs will play host to a quartet of players who could all have an impact on this class. The group is headlined by four-star defensive tackle Andrew Billings of Waco (Texas) High. This is the second of three visits for the 6-foot-1, 305-pounder as he has already taken in Texas and will visit Baylor in two weeks. A pair of three-stars will also be making the trip. Auburn (Ala.) High athlete Cameron Echols-Luper will visit this weekend after de-committing from Texas A&M earlier this month. He will visit Texas Tech next weekend but the Frogs feel as though they are the leader for the 6-foot prospect. Damarious Randall of Mesa (Ariz.) Community College will be in attendance, making his first of two scheduled visits this month. Randall is a 6-foot cornerback who wasn't recruited to play football out of high school, electing instead to play baseball. He had six interceptions on the season and has seen his stock improve dramatically.
The Rockets will be hosting double-digit players this weekend, and only two are current commits. One local player who will be making the short drive to campus hoping to receive an offer is Jack Linch from Toledo (Ohio) Whitmer. The standout linebacker does not have an FBS-level offer, and this could be his chance to impress the staff. It will not be all players with a quick drive into the city as Toledo will be hosting players from all over the country including two JUCO players from California. Defensive back Curtis Riley from Fullerton (Calif.) Community College and wide receiver Kaelin Clay from Walton (Calif.) Mt. San Antonio Community College will make the cross-country flight. Clay originally signed with California in the Pac-12 before leaving school in 2011 and is now looking for a chance to revive his career.
Big recruiting weekend looms
Washington is wasting little time in welcoming visitors onto campus this year, and it has a solid mix of seven commits trying to sell five uncommitted prospects this weekend. The headliner of the group is without question five-star Reuben Foster from Auburn (Ala.) High. Foster had been committed to Alabama and then Auburn but has since opened his recruitment after Trooper Taylor was fired from the AU staff. Foster has been linked to Georgia, LSU and Washington with the caveat that he would likely commit to whatever major program hired Taylor. His trip to the Pacific Northwest will likely land him in the lap of stellar recruiter Tosh Lupoi, whose style is similar to Taylor's on the recruiting trail. Foster will be making the trip with his former La Grange (Ga.) Troupe teammate Maurice Swain. The hope for Husky fans is a package deal as even the most optimistic estimations have Washington trailing for both players. Joshua Outlaw, Ralph Kinne and Joe Sanders are the three other uncommitted players who will be in Seattle this weekend.
UDubNation Recruiting Board
WASHINGTON STATE: WazzuWatch.com | Visit Dates | Commit List
Already with 22 commitments, the Cougars' staff will look to put the final touches on the recruiting class by hosting seven players. Mike Leach and staff have not backed off committed players, as two members of Pac-12 schools will be in Pullman. La Puente (Calif.) Bishop Amat receiver Darren Andrews will check out the school. Andrews was committed to Duke and is now a pledge to UCLA but will go visit Wazzu. He is the No. 99 receiver in the Rivals rankings and has offers to Houston and Hawaii as well as Washington State. Three-star defensive back Kevin King of Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd will also be taking a trip north. The Washington commit is the No. 53 safety in the country and has been committed to the Huskies since August, but has shown some waver in that pledge. The most intriguing player coming to Pullman is Hunter Jarmon from Waco (Texas) Midway. Jarmon is the highest-rated player scheduled to be in attendance, but the rumor is that his interest in Washington State took a hit as his lead recruiter, Eric Morris, went to Texas Tech under its new head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

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