Florida State picked up a commitment from ESPN 300 quarterback Sam Howell on Monday night. The No. 289-ranked prospect overall is the first quarterback to commit to the Noles under new coach Willie Taggart and adds to an already strong 2019 class.
Howell, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound pocket passer out of Sun Valley High School in Monroe, North Carolina, chose Florida State over offers from Florida, Ohio State, Georgia, Michigan, Ole Miss, Oregon and plenty of others.
A big reason for his commitment to Florida State was new Seminoles offensive coordinator Walt Bell, who recently joined Taggart after leaving the same position at Maryland.
“Coach Bell went [to Florida State] and it felt like everything was falling into place,” Howell said. “It just felt right.”
Bell had recruited Howell while at Maryland since Howell was 15 years old, and the two have established an excellent relationship throughout the process.
The Florida State coaches tried to land a few quarterbacks in the 2018 class, including James Foster, who signed with previous Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M. But the short amount of time Taggart and his coaches had to recruit before February’s signing day prevented them from landing a signal-caller in the class.
Landing Howell now gives Bell and Taggart an excellent prospect to add future depth behind Deondre Francois, James Blackman and Bailey Hockman. With Howell in the mix, the staff can take its time evaluating other quarterbacks, if the Seminoles were to add a second to the class.
Florida State now has five ESPN 300 commitments in the 2019 class with Howell, defensive back Akeem Dent, and defensive linemen Michael Morris Jr., Tru Thompson and Quashon Fuller.
“Oh, no. Heck, no!” Holyfield said Tuesday of a possible return to boxing, which he last did competitively as a middle schooler. “I’ve been out of it too long, and I wouldn’t want to go in there and get hit again. I don’t want to get punched anymore. I get hit enough running.”
That would be running with a football. And he’s going to stick with that a bit longer.
In fact, Holyfield’s football career is just beginning to take off, in college anyway. At least it looks that way as the Georgia Bulldogs move toward the end of spring practice in Holyfield’s third year. All signs are point to the rising junior from College Park with the famous last name being Georgia’s primary ball carrier when G-Day kicks off this Saturday (4 p.m., ESPN, News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB).
In a position largely defined by the “survival-of-the-fittest” model, Holyfield has both survived and proved the most fit this spring. As the Bulldogs prepare to play before an estimated crowd of 78,000 at Saturday, Holyfield is the odds-0n favorite to play the role of Georgia’s No. 1 tailback. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel have moved on, of course, and heir apparent D’Andre Swift is slightly gimpy with a groin injury.
But Holyfield might’ve been the man anyway. In fact, that’s exactly what some of his teammates were saying about him on Tuesday.
“That’s a man right there,” said defensive end David Marshall, who gets to tackle Holyfield almost every practice. “I love how he practices, I love how he comes hard every play. I’ve never seen him slacking, ever.”
Holyfield and fellow junior Brian Herrien have managed to stay healthy while getting the majority of repetitions in Georgia’s considerable running back corps this spring. Ballyhooed freshman signee Zamir “Zeus” White is running drills but has not been cleared for contact while recovering from December knee surgery. Fellow blue-chip recruit James Cook hasn’t arrived yet. Georgia also has a small selection of walk-ons at running back, including sophomores Prather Hudson and Ian Donald-McIntyre.
But Holyfield has created the buzz in camp. Not only does he look physically imposing, he has been playing a high level, as well.
“He’s a physical, tough guy, one of my favorite competitors out there,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said last week. “He’s got to pass protect better. He’s got to work on it, and that’s been a big emphasis for him. But I’m excited to see where he goes. He’s had some really good, tough runs this spring.”
Holyfield’s opportunities to show his stuff have been very limited since he signed with the Bulldogs out of Atlanta’s Woodward Academy. Playing a mop-up role behind Chubb and Michel the last two seasons, he has only 56 career rushing attempts for 322 yards.
But he has averaged 5.8 yards on those carries and recorded 2 touchdowns. Both of them were impressive, but especially the 39-yarder early in the fourth quarter against Florida last October. He capped it off with a Superman dive into the end zone.
“Breaking that was really a confidence builder for me to know I can play on this level,” Holyfield said.
Holyfield, who is listed at 5-foot-11, 217 pounds, is known as a strong, tough runner. But that play and the 90-yard kickoff return against Notre Dame that was nullified by a holding penalty demonstrated that he also has speed and some moves.
But Holyfield is exceptionally strong and works hard to be that way. He doesn’t mind telling people that he can hang with Chubb when it comes to pumping iron.
“I try to do what he could do,” Holyfield said. “I look at his numbers and try to get to those.”
Asked if he matched any, Holyfield said, “Oh, yeah. Ask Chubb” — but he withheld details.
Doesn’t matter. Playing running back is all about performing on the field. And while Saturday won’t be a sanctioned college football game, Holyfield’s excited to show Georgia fans what he has to offer in 2018.
“I’m looking forward to G-Day and running the ball in front of a lot of people,” Holyfield said. “As I get the ball more I think everybody will see all the things I can do.”
At one time, Holyfield was known as that Atlanta running back who looks strikingly similar to his famous father, world heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield. But his goal is to be known as an exceptional football player by his own right. And he’s working hard to make it happen.
“It’s not really a shadow,” he said of his father’s fame. “If it is, it’s just motivation to get out of it.”
With time running out for Romeo Langford to make his decision, flashbacks of Trae Young’s decision come to mind. The Kansas Jayhawks patiently wait.
Three schools are in the running to land Romeo Langford, the No. 2 shooting guard in the country and No. 6 player overall according to rivals.com. Other sources have him ranked higher, but you get the point. This guy is special. His decision will come sometime this month, when he chooses either Indiana, Vanderbilt, or the Kansas Jayhawks.
Langford is the likely choice to become Indiana’s Mr. Basketball for 2018, where he averaged 35.5 points at New Albany High School. This situation is very similar to that of Trae Young. Young’s senior year he averaged 42.8 points per game for Norman North in Oklahoma. He waited as long as possible to make his decision as well, before choosing to be the man rather than part of a team at Oklahoma University.
Hindsight may be 20/20, but Young may have made a wrong decision. His stock actually went down as his freshman year went on. He took the college basketball world by storm, becoming ESPN’s adopted love-child as he lit up the scoreboards. As soon as teams figured out that his teammates couldn’t pick up the slack, the Sooners started to fall.
Young was on an island all by himself. His team was no good, and unfairly, he was blamed by many in the media. Romeo Langford won’t be the hated player that Young was, but their paths are the same.
If Langford wants to be the man and pad his stats, Indiana will likely be his destination. Like Young, where better to be the man than right where you live. He has a better chance of being noticed at Vanderbilt, as he will be playing on a better team facing teams like Kentucky and Louisville throughout the season.
Now, if Langford wants to be seen there is only one school to choose. Kansas. The Jayhawks are playing on national television every week. The consecutive conference title streak will grab attention as long as the streak continues. Plus, Kansas is favored to be the preseason No.1 team next season by practically every source. Even with the recent departures.
Langford won’t be averaging 35.5 points at Kansas. Had Young chosen the Jayhawks rather than the Sooners, he wouldn’t have averaged the numbers he did either. That just doesn’t happen when you are surrounded by other talented scorers in college.
Speculation on where Langford will play has gone on for months, especially since he narrowed his teams down to three. The fear coming from Kansas fans relates directly back to Trae Young. Bill Self is known for letting his guards play freely, which is a common reason for the recent success he has had at that position. Playing at home prevailed with Trae Young.
On paper, if Langford joins Kansas, the backcourt may be one of the most dangerous backcourts in history. There is definitely reason to get excited about Romeo’s decision here. The Jayhawks may have benefitted from him taking his time since Malik Newman and Lagerald Vick both announced they were leaving.
Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Eye on the Tigers, a rundown of everything happening in LSU Tigers recruiting, with Sam Spiegelman. Today, we discuss LSU’s pursuit of Louisiana’s top running back John Emery Jr. After releasing his top eight schools, the 4-star prospect broke down the Tigers’ chances.
LSU remains strong contender for John Emery Jr.
John Emery Jr. is down to eight.
On Friday, the elite Louisiana tailback trimmed his impressive double-digit offer sheet down to eight. Emery went in-depth on the process and how he settled on eight here.
As we dip further into the spring, the nation’s No. 5-ranked running back will continue to make unofficial visits. He has already been to LSU, Michigan, Auburn and Florida, with stops at Georgia and Tennessee expected in April. Emery’s most recent stop in Baton Rouge came on March 17 as he took in the Tigers’ first spring scrimmage. The return visit marked Emery’s first time back on campus since the fall.
Of course, it’s worth mentioning that Emery was a mainstay at LSU at this time a year ago after garnering an early offer. He attended a handful of home games in the fall, but began exploring his out-of-state options in January. Simply put, he was doing his due diligence.
“We lost a tad bit, but we’re back on it,” Emery told SEC Country in regard to his communication with the Tigers staff. “Everything is good right now. We’re still communicating. By taking these [out-of-state] visits, I can focus on some other schools, too, but the communication is still the same. I’m still feeling the love and everything is good.”
Emery made a visit to Michigan during LSU’s elite junior day in January. He was at The Plains for LSU’s second junior day function, but made his way up I-10 as spring practice rolled on.
LSU running backs coach Tommie Robinson and New Orleans area recruiter Mickey Joseph quickly took advantage of having the elite running back on campus again, devoting a good deal of attention to Emery for much of the afternoon. It did not take long for Emery to reconnect with the staff.
“LSU, I can see myself there,” he said. “I love LSU. It’s home. Every time I go there, it’s a good time. I can make big things at LSU. Also, I’ve been taking these visits to other schools, seeing Michigan and Florida, and I’ve felt at home at other schools. I want to go where I’d feel comfortable living the next three or four years.
“When I first got offered by LSU, it was a great feeling. My feelings for LSU never decreased. I love LSU.”
If anything, visiting out-of-state schools has provided Emery with some perspective in this long-winding recruiting process.
After all, Emery spent the majority of his time last year in Baton Rouge. He’s well aware of what’s in Robinson’s current running backs room and the need for an alpha in this 2019 recruiting class. Making visits to other schools has merely given Emery a long-awaited opportunity to compare and contrast all of his options.
“LSU showed a lot of love when I was there,” Emery said. “I’ve been talking to Coach T-Rob and they’re trying to figure out who’s going to be the No. 1 running back. I was checking out those running backs. I know they have Clyde [Edwards-Helaire], they have [Tae Provens]. I was watching him. They’re trying to figure it out, but I don’t want to get too caught up with that.
“My visits have been great. I’ve noticed some differences. I’ve been to LSU a couple of times and they wanted me on campus for a junior day before spring ball started up. I wanted to shoot out and see the differences, and that’s been amazing for me to see the differences. I’m enjoying it.”
In Emery’s newly released top eight, there’s LSU and a host of other SEC powers, including Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Florida and Auburn. Additionally, Southern Cal and Michigan made the cut.
The 4-star running back has been to most of those campuses this spring, and if not, has plans to do so before he slices his top group down to three ahead of his senior season at Destrehan (La.) High School. A commitment date is tentatively scheduled during the December signing period.
It appears as if it will be LSU versus the field with an emphasis on the depth chart and what transpires during the season. Each of the schools embedded in Emery’s top eight have enticed him in different facets and he can see the positives in all the pitches.
“At LSU, it’s love, and definitely when I go there, it’s home and it feels like home,” Emery explained. “When I go out-of-state, schools like Michigan and coach Jim Harbaugh, it was businesslike, straightforward. That’s the difference. Auburn was business. Do your time and do what you got to do for the school and take care of your own business.
“When I go to LSU, it’s business, but it’s home, too. It’s love. I love the school, so it’s going to be a hard decision for me at the end.”
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