James set to make unofficial visits


Under Armour All-American running back Jordon James (Corona, Calif./Corona) is getting heavy attention from multiple programs across the country and plans to hit the road this summer for some unofficial visits.

Florida will be one stop for James. He will be in Gainesville for the Gators' Friday Night Lights Camp in July. He says Florida is one of the schools (along with Notre Dame, UCLA, California, Washington and Stanford) recruiting him the hardest, and everyone has an equal chance.

"My options are wide open," James said. "Location is not a factor with me."

Academics and playing time are a couple of factors, though.

"Education is No. 1 because it is important," he said. "Also, I want to compete for a starting job and I want some national exposure."

James, 5-foot-10 and 188 pounds, said he plans to take all five of his allotted official visits during the football season and will make his announcement at the Under Armour All-America Game in January.

Jordan, who played only five games last season because of a broken arm, is excited about being back at spring practice this week. He ran a 4.4 40-yard dash at the Santa Monica Under Armour combine, proving his speed never suffered during the layoff.

"I am glad to be back," he said. "I am getting into a rhythm with my offense again and in sync with my team."

The leaderboard


While Ohio State and Florida State have been on the short list, it's hard not to believe that the Seminoles are firmly on top of the leaderboard for Under Armour All-American cornerback Lamarcus Joyner (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Saint Thomas Aquinas). In an interview earlier this week, Joyner talked about how he admired Deion Sanders and Terrell Buckley, arguably the two best DBs in FSU history. "I like their swagger," he said. Buckley currently is an assistant at Florida State.

The hot sell

A spotlight on a hot school in recruiting right now:

West Virginia Mountaineers

The Mountaineers recently plucked speedy receiver Fred Pickett (Belle Glade, Fla./Glades Central) out of South Florida, and also got a commitment from linebacker Jessel Curry (Buford, Ga./Buford). With a light in-state talent base, West Virginia must recruit the Southeast, along with western Pennsylvania, the Northeast and Ohio, to stock its roster. Bill Stewart has a good group of recruiters, led by assistant head coach Doc Holliday, who have recruited South Florida for years.

Recruiter to watch

Eddie Gran, running backs coach, Tennessee
Despite the controversy surrounding Vols head coach Lane Kiffin's remarks about Pahokee, Fla. (in Palm Beach County, part of Gran's territory), the veteran assistant is still able to recruit the talent-rich area with some success, landing sleeper linebacker Ralph Williams out of Gulliver Prep in Miami late last week. "He keeps it real, and he told me what was what about Tennessee," Williams said. "What really got me was that he told me he was going to make sure that I do what I am supposed to do in the classroom and that they would be behind me 100 percent." The Vols are on the short lists of a number of other prospects in that area thanks to Gran.

Others to watch
Doc Holliday, West Virginia: He and Gran are probably the two best out-of-state recruiters when it comes to South Florida. Holliday recruited it for Florida and North Carolina State previously, and this area is a gold mine for the Mountaineers.

Joe DeForest, Oklahoma State: He has brought in nearly half (3 of 8) of the Cowboys' current commits, including ESPNU 150 Watch List defensive end Chase Rome (Columbia, Mo./Rock Bridge).

Coast-to-coast notes

On the move
Defensive lineman J.R. "Ego" Ferguson's father, Ego Ferguson Sr., confirmed his son is transferring from St. John's Prep in Fredrick, Md., to Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., to play for coach Robert Prunty.

"We decided today that we were going to move to Hargrave this coming year for football," he said. "We appreciate everything St. John's has done for him academically and athletically. We had the opportunity to go play with a post-graduate team at Hargrave and elevate his competition. He has a desire to be the No. 1 player in the country, and we think they will help him."

Ferguson and his family will start a summer round of unofficial visits. In the next two weeks, they will visit Notre Dame, Boston College and other schools in the Northeast. In early July, North Carolina, Clemson, Florida State and LSU should get unofficial visits, along with Florida and Miami.

Ferguson Sr., said his son is up to 46 offers, with Stanford and South Florida being the most recent.

Just a bad rumor
According to sources within the Southern California program, the Trojans did not pull the scholarship offer to Under Armour All-American receiver Markeith Ambles (McDonough, Ga./Henry County), putting an end to stories circulating that USC was backing off Ambles.

Henry County head coach Mike Rozier said Tuesday that the rumors were just that … rumors. Rozier said USC assistant Todd McNair had spent two hours at the school checking up on Ambles last Friday, and that Ambles was still scheduled to take an unofficial visit to USC in early June. Rozier also added that he and Ambles both were scheduled to attend the USC Rising Stars Camp on June 24-25 in Los Angeles.

Texas two-step
It was quite a steal for Baylor when Under Armour All-American safety Ahmad Dixon (Waco, Texas/Midway) de-committed from the University of Texas and committed to Art Briles and the Bears.

Baylor was able to get in on Dixon because Levi Norwood -- the son of Baylor defensive coordinator Brian Norwood -- goes to Dixon's school, and the two formed a close friendship. Briles was able to convince the Waco DB to stay in his hometown by selling him on the idea that he'll be part of building something that is potentially special at Baylor, instead of struggling for early playing time at Texas with its loaded roster.

It was a big recruiting upset for Briles and the reason why Baylor -- though not a power by any stretch of the imagination -- is a team to watch in the near future in the Big 12 South. Briles did a great job at Houston before taking the Baylor job, and he and his staff are establishing themselves as one of the rising programs in college football.

Look out for Litton
There are currently three major quarterback prospects in the Carolinas for the 2011 class, with Christian Lemay (Matthews, N.C./Butler), Everett Golson (Myrtle Beach, S.C./Myrtle Beach) and Justin Worley (Rock Hill, S.C./Northwestern) all on the radar early.

There could be a fourth, as Price Litton (Charlotte, N.C./Providence Day) has been impressive at camp stops (including the Athens Nike Football Training Camp) and is getting attention from a number of programs, including Notre Dame.

Sleeper safety Dontae Johnson (Pennington, N.J./Pennington Prep) says Virginia, North Carolina State and Connecticut are among the top schools he is considering at this time. The 6-3, 190-pounder has more than a dozen offers. … Southern California could be looking at offering receiver/athlete Da'Rick Rogers (Calhoun, Ga./Calhoun). Rogers holds offers from Georgia, Florida, Florida State and others and has been looking hard at the Gators and Bulldogs. … Running back Anthony Wikerson (Tustin, Calif./Tustin) says he will make unofficial visits to Stanford, UCLA and California in the near future, but he has not nailed down dates.

JC Shurburtt covers recruiting for ESPN.com. He can be reached at jcsespn@aol.com.