As the name suggests, Thanksgiving is a day for giving thanks. So in the spirit of the holiday, we decided to take a look at the committed prospects that college coaches should be most thankful for when they sit down for dinner on Thursday night.
Christian Hackenberg may possess the most arm talent of any 2013 quarterback.
1. Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
It was February of 2012 when Christian Hackenberg committed to Penn State University. At that time, he would have no idea what he was signing up for.
While the Jerry Sandusky scandal had been unveiled, the devastating sanctions ultimately handed down by the NCAA hadn’t yet been revealed. When the NCAA hammer did hit nearly five months later, Hackenberg – the headliner and lynchpin of Penn State’s 2013 class – had every excuse to run for the hills. He didn’t.
While Penn State’s once elite 2013 class has been stripped down all the way to No. 34 in the country according to 247Sports, Hackenberg, his No. 2 ranking among pro-style quarterbacks nationally and his five-star rating have remained. Bill O’Brien, an offensive mind, has his quarterback of the future and in some ways, that allows him a program for the future.
Hackenberg’s commitment has remained a steadying presence for the Nittany Lions and the rest of their commit list and his right arm may just be strong enough to keep a proud program afloat through some dark days.
2. Dorian Johnson, OT, Pittsburgh
A five-star prospect on 247Sports and the No. 2 offensive tackle in the country, Johnson had the requisite offer list for those kinds of accolades. Ohio State, Notre Dame, Alabama and others all wanted Johnson but the Pennsylvania native stayed home to build a program with Chryst.
Jalen Ramsey won the decathalon state championship in Tennessee in his first year ever competing.
Not only will Johnson be a foundation for Chryst’s offensive line of the future but he might be a domino that springs the likes of five-star wide receiver Robert Foster to join the fold.
3. Jalen Ramsey, CB, USC
USC has stumbled to a disappointing season to date but it’s hard to place much blame on the high-powered Trojan offense. The defense on the other hand hasn’t held up its end of the deal and Jalen Ramsey can’t get to the west coast soon enough.
Perhaps the most college ready cornerback in this class with regard to physical maturity and pure athleticism, Ramsey could step on the field from day one at USC, and the Trojans may ask him to.
But that’s not all that Lane Kiffin should be thankful for. In Ramsey, not only is Kiffin thankful at the opportunity to land an elite college-ready player at a position of need, he’s also pulling the 6-0, 195-pounder right from the heart of SEC country and out of the hands of SEC powers like Alabama and Florida.
With Ramsey continuing to take official visits, Kiffin may hold a second thanksgiving dinner in February when that fax machine lights up with a Tennessee area code.
4. Kelvin Taylor, RB, Florida
As Will Muschamp attempts to transform Florida from a spread offense with a stable of scat backs and slot receivers into a physical bruising downhill offense, Kelvin Taylor is coming along at just the right time. Taylor is what a Muschamp prototype looks like at the running back position. He’s stocky, he’s powerful, he’s explosive and he’s durable.
Currently sitting at fifth nationally on the all-time rushing leaders list, Taylor has played against weak competition at the high school level but his frame, his skill set, his durability and his pedigree (son of Florida great Fred Taylor) are all college ready.
5. Shane Morris, QB, Michigan
Denard Robinson has been a phenomenal player for Michigan and a nightmare for defensive coordinators but he continues to look like a square peg in a round hole since Rich Rodriguez was sent packing. In Shane Morris, Brady Hoke will finally have a pure passer and a pure quarterback to run his pro-style system.
Morris has what some call the strongest arm in the country and he couples that with a unique poise in the pocket. Hoke will draw on both of those attributes in Ann Arbor but he will also benefit from Morris’ personality off the field. The 247Composite five-star has been an active recruiter and an ambassador for the Michigan program since his commitment all the way back in May of 2011. There’s no telling how many commitments Morris may have impacted in some capacity through his efforts at camps, combines and national all-star events across the country.
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