What We Love About the 2014 College Football Recruiting Class

Tyler Donohue@@TDsTakeNational Recruiting AnalystFebruary 4, 2014

No. 1 overall recruit Leonard Fournette.
No. 1 overall recruit Leonard Fournette.Credit: 247Sports

Every recruiting class includes a slew of storylines that ultimately shape the narrative on national signing day.

The 2014 cycle features several intriguing player journeys and recruiting trends, including an expanded social media presence that gives outsiders an opportunity to peer into the world of a coveted college football prospect.

Suspense currently looms large with less than 24 hours separating us from signing day.

Coaching staffs are scrambling, teenage student-athletes are deliberating and college football fans across the country are clamoring for any late indications of what may lie ahead.

Wednesday will come and go, leaving some programs satisfied and others to wonder what went wrong. Then the process will quickly resume, as the top 2015 prospects step up to claim their place in the spotlight moving forward.

Before we push the reset button on recruiting, it's an appropriate time to review how we arrived at this point. Here's a quick look back in the rear-view mirror at some of the elements that make this 2014 recruiting class uniquely special.


Beasts In the Bayou

Nearly nine years after Hurricane Katrina threatened to annihilate New Orleans, the region is producing some serious football talent.

The Big Easy and its surrounding areas continue to draw attention from America's top-level coaches.

Running back Leonard Fournette, a St. Augustine High School star, rose to No. 1 in 247Sports' composite rankings. He committed to LSU in early January and figures to contend for a feature role in the Tigers' backfield as a freshman.

Fellow Purple Knights standout Jermaine Roberts, a 4-star cornerback, will suit up for Texas. St. Augustine linemen Courtney Garnett and Joseph Paul will pair up at Oklahoma.

John Curtis Christian High School produces premier talent at a prolific rate. The program has played in a state title game every season since 1996 and claimed another Louisiana championship in 2013.

The Patriots were propelled in part by 5-star prospect Malachi  Dupre, a wide receiver who remains uncommitted down to the wire. He is considered a slight LSU lean but Florida State, UCLA, Alabama and Ole Miss remain in the mix.

Teammate Kenny Young accompanied Dupre during an official visit to UCLA last weekend. The 4-star linebacker is likely to decide between the Bruins, LSU, Arkansas and Texas A&M.

Defensive backs Terrence Alexander and Mattrell  McGraw patrolled the Patriots' secondary. Alexander is currently weighing offers from Ole Miss, Stanford and Notre Dame, while McGraw is expected to decide between Texas A&M and Oregon.

Edna Karr High School's football program includes a collection of quality recruits, headlined by the 5-star duo of wide receiver Speedy Noil and defensive tackle Gerald Willis. Noil picked Texas A&M, while Willis is set to become a Florida Gator.

Brother Martin High School guard Will Clapp adds to Les Miles' in-state haul at LSU.

The New Orleans area boasts four of the top 34 overall prospects in this class, according to 247Sports' composite rankings (Fournette, Noil, Dupre and Willis).


Video Game Numbers Galore

Fantasy football doesn't exist at the high school level (right?), but some of the nation's top prospects would warrant consideration for the No. 1 pick with consistent jaw-dropping performances.

Let's start with North Carolina quarterback Will Grier, who enrolled early at Florida. The 6'3", 187-pound passer threw for 4,989 yards and 77 touchdowns, per Max Preps.

Grier also gained 1,251 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground.

Fellow North Carolina standout Elijah Hood had his way with opposing defenses during a dominant senior season. The UNC running back commit rushed for 3,640 yards and 53 touchdowns, per Max Preps.

Not to be outdone, ball-carrier Nick Chubb ran wild for Cedartown High School (Ga.). The future Georgia Bulldog rumbled for 2,690 yards and 41 touchdowns, tallying at least 250 yards in seven games, per Max Preps.

Shuler Bentley, a 3-star quarterback headed to Old Dominion, lit up the scoreboard for South Carolina powerhouse Byrnes High School. He threw for 5,031 yards and 71 scores, according to Max Preps.

California playmaker Shay Fields and Tennessee star Josh Malone stood out among receivers.

Fields, a Colorado commit, caught 82 passes for 1,617 yards and 17 touchdowns, per Max Preps. Malone, an early enrollee at Tennessee, tallied 71 receptions for 1,404 yards and 19 touchdowns, according to 247Sports.

On defense, Alabama commit Christian Miller rises above the rest. The South Carolina linebacker compiled 188 tackles and 24 sacks last season, per 247Sports.


Desmon White Overcomes the Odds

Texas quarterback Desmon White led DeSoto High School to state title contention while posting gaudy statistics.

However, his stature threatened to eliminate any chance of him reaching the next level.

White, who stands at 5'5.5" and weighs less than 160 pounds, accounted for nearly 12,000 offensive yards and 120 touchdowns during the past three seasons, per 247Sports.

He entered the 2013 campaign without a scholarship offer at the FBS level and things remained that way into October.

Pic courtesy of DeSoto HS/Rita Bell

When North Texas became the first team to pull the trigger on an offer, White immediately accepted. Less than three weeks later, he flipped his commitment to TCU.

White went from a relative recruiting afterthought to a player preparing for a future in the Big 12 Conference. He is expected to compete at slot receiver for the Horned Frogs.


Trey Quinn Establishes New National Receiving Record

It took just two seasons for someone to surpass current Missouri star Dorial Green-Beckham's career receiving yardage record. LSU commit Trey Quinn did the honors with another sensational season at Barbe High School.

He hauled in 108 passes for nearly 2,000 yards and 23 touchdowns. Quinn, who had 115 catches and more than 2,100 yards as a junior, moved into the top all-time spot among high school pass-catchers.

His career concluded with 6,566 receiving yards. Quinn's 357 receptions and 70 receiving touchdowns also rank among the nation's all-time best receiving statistics.


Recruits Use Social Media to Share Experience

The days of completely relying on recruiting "insiders" and official school ceremonies for recruiting information are over.

Prospects are more social media savvy than ever before, and many gave us the play-by-play of their nationwide recruitment processes.

From incoming mail and official visits to coaching-change reactions and final commitments, we are continuously updated on what happens behind the scenes.

The whirlwind process provides plenty of excitement and players were willing to share the ride with strangers on Twitter, Instagram and countless other forms of social media platforms throughout the journey.

Expect to see several signing day ceremony updates on Twitter throughout Wednesday.

This new trend has given fans an opportunity to become more familiar with incoming freshmen who may not actually reach the field for a few years. It also establishes a deeper personal connection between players and fans.


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