25 College Football Recruits in Dire Need of Strong High School Senior Season

Edwin WeathersbyAnalyst IJuly 17, 2013

25 College Football Recruits in Dire Need of Strong High School Senior Season

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    When following a prospect's recruitment, we tend to focus solely on where he is leaning and which school he signs with. We forget that recruits are still high school football players who have great pride in their prep programs. Many prospects choose to focus on their team's season before they begin to concentrate on recruiting.

    Recruits face great pressure when they enter their final high school season. Some have to live up to the hype they've gained on the recruiting trail. Others face the tough task of repeating great junior seasons, when they put up huge numbers. Whatever the situation may be, every recruiting class has a group of prospects who need to have strong senior campaigns. 

    A quarterback headed to a dominant SEC team must live up to the hype of a 5-star prospect. A running back who had a monster junior season needs to repeat his performance as a senior. A defensive end whose team went undefeated in 2012 must increase his workload.

    Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals247Sports ESPNU.

    Stats are from prospect's profiles available at 247Sports.


25. Traevohn Wrench, RB

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    Traevohn Wrench is a fine running back prospect who is committed to Kansas. Charlie Weis knows how to evaluate offensive players, and Wrench is one of the best recruits that he's secured a commitment from while at Kansas.

    However, Wrench, who is 6'0" and 180 pounds, is in need of a strong senior season because he is underrated. Wrench is No. 288 in the 247Sports Composite Rankings, and it is time for him to catch the attention of the rest of the country. 

    Although he rushed for more than 2,200 yards and 25 TDs in 2012, Wrench must do more if he wants to move up the board. 

24. Damien Mama, OG

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    Damien Mama, who weighs 370 pounds, is one of the most physically imposing players in America. However, the 6'4" guard's weight is an issue, as his weakness is conditioning.

    As a blocker who excels at punishing defenders, Mama may have limited potential due to his lack of stamina. He must finish his high school career strong, as showing observers that he is in shape and in great conditioning is key for his development.

    If Mama continues to show a lack of stamina, he will have to redshirt as a freshman to spend time re-working his body composition and improving his conditioning. 

23. Khairi Clark, DT

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    Florida may be receiving a dominant defensive tackle prospect in Khairi Clark. He shows great strength, athleticism and can be explosive at the snap—at times.

    Clark must stay focused for the duration of his senior season at Chaminade-Madonna Prep in Florida. Consistency has to be stressed, as Clark is inconsistent with his snap quickness and will take plays off. For him to reach his full potential, he must have the mindset to be dominant on every play.

    If Clark has a disappointing senior campaign, he may be on his way to being a bust.

22. Koa Farmer, S

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    Koa Farmer is an underrated safety prospect from California, as the defensive back is ranked No. 499 in the 247Sports Composite Rankings. Football players are competitive by nature, and being ranked that low will not sit well with Farmer.

    If he wants to improve his ranking, he needs to have a great senior season for Riverside Notre Dame in California. Farmer has to make sure his solid play speed, ball skills and hitting ability are on full display every Friday night in the fall. The California commit is a sleeper prospect, but deserves more attention.

    A big senior season will end with Farmer being recognized as one of the best players in California. 

21. Ronnie Clark, S/OLB

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    Ronnie Clark is an outstanding defensive prospect with a high ceiling. He attends Calera High School in Alabama, and he is a player with a wide range of skills.

    Clark, who is 6'3.5" and 210 pounds, is a big safety with good range. He plays with great instincts while also flashing solid ball skills. However, Clark only had two interceptions as a junior and needs a strong senior season to increase that total.

    If Clark fails to get more interceptions in 2013, he will become a greater candidate to be moved to outside linebacker.

20. Deionte Gaines, WR

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    Deionte Gaines, who is 5'8" and 157 pounds, is not big nor is he intimidating on the field. Gaines' lack of size is his biggest obstacle, as according to 247Sports he only has four scholarship offers. 

    However, Gaines has great speed and quickness with the football. He can be used on screens, reverses and vertical routes as an offensive player. Gaines also is a dangerous returner. He deserves more recruiting attention than he has received, as he could be a great weapon for a college program.

    Gaines needs a huge senior season for Dr. Phillips High School if wishes to catch the attention of FBS schools close to Orlando, Fla.

19. Jordan Poland, OT

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    After re-classifying into the 2014 class—and exhausting his athletic eligibility—Jordan Poland will not play football in 2014, per Barton Simmons of 247Sports. However, he still needs to have a strong "senior season."

    Poland, who is 6'8" and weighs more than 330 pounds, must work hard on his leverage, hip flexibility and pad level. He has excellent size, but linemen with his height usually struggle with bending their knees, as they tend to play too high. 

    Poland has a unique opportunity to focus on his skills and improvement, as opposed to preparing for an opponent every week. He must take advantage of his situation.

18. Treon Harris, QB/CB/ATH

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    Treon Harris plays for powerhouse Booker T. Washington in Miami, Fla. He is a great athlete who can play several positions, but according to his father Tim, per Jamie Newberg of Scout.com, Harris chose Florida State because he wants to play quarterback. 

    Harris, who is 5'11" and 180 pounds, has a brighter future as a defensive back. However, if he wants to play quarterback for the Seminoles, he will need to continue to prove that he has the skills for the position. Harris threw for more than 2,500 yards and 35 TDs as a junior, while rushing for 751 yards and 15 TDs.

    As a senior, he needs to improve upon those solid numbers, while also displaying better mechanics as a quarterback.

17. Jeff Jones, RB

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    Jerry Kill is a coach who has a good feel for coordinating an offensive attack. However, he has not had much success at Minnesota since he needs a great player to provide a jolt to his program.

    Jeff Jones is Kill's top commitment, as he is one of the most exciting players in Minnesota. Jones, who is 5'11" and 196 pounds, rushed for more than 1,000 yards and scored 12 total TDs in 2012. Much hype surrounds Jones (247Sports), as he has the talent to become Kill's best player as a true freshman.

    Although he had a solid junior season, Jones needs to double his production as a senior. He must finish his Washburn High School career with a grand finale so that he can live up to his hype in the state of Minnesota. 

16. JuJu Smith, ATH

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    JuJu Smith attends Long Beach Poly High School in Southern California. The program is a factory for football players, as it annually produces great talent.

    Poly has a rich tradition of winning, as it has won 19 CIF-Southern Section titles, but the Jackrabbits lost in the 2012 California Division-1 State Championship game. Smith is "The Man" this year for the powerhouse program, and it is insisted that he have a dominant senior campaign.

    He plays receiver and safety for the Jackrabbits and is a versatile player. If Poly wants to win another CIF title and get back to state title game, Smith must accept the pressure that comes with being top dog at Long Beach Poly.

    Smith must dominate as a senior if he wants to go down as one the best players ever to wear a Poly uniform.

15. Drake Harris, WR

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    Brady Hoke has recruited well during his tenure as head coach of the Michigan Wolverines. However, Hoke had not landed a true elite receiver prospect until Drake Harris committed to Big Blue during the spring.

    Harris, who is 6'4" and 180 pounds, has deceptive speed. He is not a sudden athlete, but has smooth athleticism and great hands. Harris had an excellent senior season for Grand Rapids Christian in Michigan, where he caught 91 passes for more than 2,000 yards and 25 TDs.

    The combination of the pressure to live up to the hype of being Hoke's first elite receiver recruit, along with repeating his junior season's totals make the 2013 season critical for Harris. 

14. Damian Prince, OT

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    Damian Prince, who is 6'6" and 300 pounds, is a great left tackle prospect with quick feet. He has good agility, plays with solid balance and is a finesse blocker.

    A weakness in Prince's game is that he lack's the mentality to physically dominate his opponent on every down. Prince does not always play strong at the point of attack, nor does he routinely punish defensive linemen.

    Being called finesse is not ideal for any offensive lineman, and Prince needs to register several pancake-blocks in every game in 2013 to make sure he does not enter college with a negative label. 

13. KD Cannon, WR

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    KD Cannon (as it's spelled at 247Sports) has some of the best ball skills of any player in the country. Cannon caught 102 passes in 2012 which is remarkable for a high school player.

    However, Cannon is in need of a strong senior season, not to impress college coaches or fans, but to satisfy his offensive coordinator. Mount Pleasant offensive chief Eddie Milner told Erin Hartigan of Scout.com that he does not get why there is hype around Cannon.

    Perhaps Milner was just attempting to motivate his talented pupil, but nonetheless Cannon should be fired up to dominate Texas competition in a manner no one has seen before. 

12. Kyle Allen, QB

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    Johnny Manziel will likely enter the draft after the 2013 season. Kevin Sumlin will be forced to have an open quarterback competition to settle on a new starter.

    Matt Joeckel, Matt Davis and Kenny Hill will be battling for the right to replace the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner. However, Texas A&M has a commitment from quarterback Kyle Allen, and he has the ability to make the quarterback derby interesting.

    Allen, who attends Desert Mountain High School in Arizona, will need to have an outstanding senior season if he wants to come to College Station with the credibility to challenge for the starting quarterback position. 

11. Lorenzo Carter, DE

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    Norcross High School won the Georgia Class AAAAAA State Championship in 2012, finishing 15-0. The team was led by 2013 Alabama signee Alvin Kamara, who is one of the top incoming freshmen at the running back position.

    Kamara is gone, but Norcross still has great players such as running back Myles Autry and elite defensive end Lorenzo Carter. For Norcross to have another undefeated season—and to win another state title—Carter will have to come up big.

    He will have to dominate as a defensive end by menacing offenses, pressuring passers and commanding double teams. Also, Carter, who is a great athlete, may even have to make a big impact as a tight end/H-back. 

10. Adoree' Jackson, CB

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    College coaches do not like to pass up on recruits with the potential to develop into outstanding cornerbacks. A football team can never have too many cornerbacks, and prospects who display the potential to excel at the position are coveted on the trail.

    Adoree' Jackson has the athleticism, quickness, speed and instincts to be an All-Conference cornerback. He is an outstanding prospect, and according to Scout.com, as he has offers from many elite programs,

    However, Jackson told Brand on Huffman of Scout.com (subscription required) that he has informed college coaches of his intent to play receiver at the next level.

    Jackson is viewed as a cornerback prospect, and if he wants coaches and observers to take him seriously as a receiver, he needs to have an iron-strong senior season at the position. 

9. Cameron Robinson, LT

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    Cameron Robinson is the best offensive lineman in the country, as he is the new No. 1 prospect on the 247Sports board. Many talented football players are members of this class, but Robinson does belong among the elite.

    As with any player who is ranked No. 1, he will have a target on his back. Louisiana defensive ends will be looking to make a name for themselves by beating the great left tackle for a sack this fall. To keep his No. 1 ranking, and to make a case why he should play as a true freshman, Robinson is in need of a big senior season.

    Much scrutiny will come with any sack he surrenders at West Monroe High School in 2013. 

8. Jalen Hurd, RB

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    Big running backs with speed are always great to get on the recruiting trail, and Jalen Hurd is one of the best in the country. He is committed to Tennessee, as Butch Jones will likely give Hurd playing time as a true freshman.

    However, before Hurd heads to Knoxville, he has a tall challenge ahead of him at Beech High School in Tennessee. Hurd rushed for 3,357 yards and 43 TDs in 2012, which are ridiculous statistics. The challenge for him will be if he can match his junior season's performance, as defenses will be loading the box to stop him in 2013.

    Achieving the marks he set in 2012 will be tough, but if Hurd fails to approach those numbers as a junior, people will think his junior campaign was a fluke. 

7. David Sharpe, OT

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    David Sharpe entered the 2014 recruiting cycle as a little-known offensive tackle prospect, but he has risen up the 247Sports rankings and he is now No. 11.

    Sharpe is a terrific athlete, as he displays quick feet, excellent agility and has great potential.

    The 2013 season will be crucial for Sharpe because he will need to prove he is deserving of his high ranking. Sharpe must have a strong senior season for Providence in Jackson, Fla. or he could finish the 2014 recruiting cycle back where he started.

6. Leonard Fournette, RB

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    Leonard Fournette, who is a special running back, has been dubbed "The Next Adrian Peterson" by B/R's "Full Ride" video team (see clip). 

    If that is not a sign of the great hype surrounding Fournette, than no better omen exists.

    Fournette is a 6'1", 225-pound beast of a running back who does it all. He has the strength to run with power, the quickness to elude defenders, the speed to make big runs and the hands to catch passes.

    With all of the hype that Fournette has, comes much pressure to produce on the field. He absolutely must have a jaw-dropping senior season for St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, La. to validate his hype. 

5. David Cornwell, QB

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    The Oklahoma Secondary School Activites Association declared David Cornwell eligible to play this season for Norman North High School in Oklahoma, according to ESPNU. He is also one of the top quarterback talents in the country.

    Cornwell, who is committed to Alabama, has amazing arm strength. He can throw with touch, as he displays great ball-placement skills. With the news of his eligibility, his lofty ranking as a prospect at ESPNU and his commitment to a strong program such as Alabama, Cornwell needs to come out firing strikes in the fall.

    People want to see what all the fuss is about with him. He has to play well this season, and he must put up great numbers.

4. Sean White, QB

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    After winning the MVP award at the Elite 11 Finals (ESPNU), Sean White put himself on the recruiting map. He beat out great quarterback recruits such as Keller Chryst, Kyle Allen, David Cornwell and Deshaun Watson for top honors at the prestigious camp.

    White is also committed to Auburn according to his profile at 247Sports. He entered the 2014 recruiting cycle without much fanfare, but he is now among the most popular recruits in the country. 

    He is now an Elite 11 MVP and a quarterback who is expected to start in the SEC, so the pressure is now on his shoulders. White must rise to the occasion, or be viewed as a quarterback who just had a good showing at a camp without pads. 

3. Will Grier, QB

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    Will Grier shredded North Carolina defenses in 2012. He threw for 5,785 yards and 69 TDs, while also rushing for 813 yards and eight TDs. 

    Statistics like that are only achieved in video games.

    He had an impressive season last year, but will return to Davidson Day in North Carolina to try to top those numbers. It may be impossible for the Florida commit to improve on last year's statistics, but Grier must at least approach them.

    Grier has a chance to be one of the most productive players in North Carolina high school football history. 

2. Da'Shawn Hand, DE

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    Da'Shawn Hand is an elite defensive end prospect, but he is not the nation's No. 1 recruit according to 247Sports' rankings and its composite rankings

    Hand's stock is slipping, as he is ranked 10th by Scout.com, where Jamie Newberg (subscription required) also stated Hand was a disappointment at The Opening, which is a prestigious football camp that is sponsored by NIKE. 

    Hand, who is 6'4" and 254 pounds, has to play with his head on fire in 2013. He is not ranked as high as many believed at the start of this cycle, and if he wants to move back up the board, he needs a great senior campaign. 

1. Morgan Mahalak, QB

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    Morgan Mahalak is the biggest enigma in the 2014 recruiting class. He has limited reps as a quarterback since he has spent time at receiver.

    Mahalak, who is 6'3" and 190 pounds, is committed to Oregon. He has yet to go through a full season as a starting quarterback, but he will be the starter this season for Marin Catholic in California. It is rare for a quarterback to receive a scholarship offer without having a year of starting experience.

    Mahalak needs to a strong 2013 season to validate Oregon's belief that the young, but inexperienced quarterback has the skills to succeed at the college level. 

    Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns.