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‘ESPN Watch List’ of college football recruits for 2014 revealed Friday

The “Watch List” will surely have some future participants in the Under Armour All-America High School Football Game.
(Photo by Scott Clarke / ESPN)

The 2012 college football season isn’t even a month old and ESPN’s is already projecting the high schoolers that will be incoming freshman for 2014.

On Thursday during ESPNU’s Recruiting Nation at 5 p.m. ET the “ESPN 300 Watch List” will be revealed for college football recruits, with a first look at the high school Class of 2014’s standout players.

Front Row grabbed a few minutes of time with ESPN’s Senior Coordinator of Recruiting, Jeremy Crabtree, to discuss what goes into compiling the list.

How many people work on the list and for how long?
The “ESPN Watch List” is put together after months and months of initial research, countless hours of film study and in-person evaluations on prospects all over the country. Evaluating high school football recruits is an extremely tough task, and we believe it takes a trained eye to spot talent at such an early age since many of the players on the “Watch List” are only 15 or 16 years old. That’s why we’re confident that the list coordinated by Senior National Recruiting Analyst Tom Luginbill, National Recruiting Analyst Craig Haubert and our entire RecruitingNation scouting team is the best early list out there.

What do fans have to look forward to with the class of 2014?
It’s easy to see that college football recruiting has been sped up over the past five years, but looking at the “Watch List” it’s crystal clear that the trend isn’t slowing down one bit.

More kids are making decisions earlier and earlier and the list includes more than 50 kids that have already made college decisions. And it’s not just traditional teams like Texas and LSU that usually have early recruiting success that have pledges from quality players. The “Watch List” includes players that have already committed to BYU, Missouri, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Stanford, Utah, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin — teams you might not ordinarily associate with early recruiting success.

While our scouts aren’t officially ready to anoint somebody as the top player in the nation, one guy really high on their radar is Da’Shawn Hand from Woodbridge (Va.) High School. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound defensive end already has dozens of scholarship offers to consider, including major programs like Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Stanford and Virginia Tech.

It’s also a little too early to make sweeping assumptions about the class of 2014, but it does continue to look like the Southeast is the strongest region in the nation.

Florida leads the way with more than 50 players on the list, followed by Texas, Georgia, and California. Georgia continues to climb the charts in popularity and many college coaches now consider it the third-best state for talent behind Florida and Texas.

High School Football Programming Reminder
ESPNU will air a Florida high school rivalry with historic implications on Friday (8 p.m. ET) when Glades Day visits Yulee. The game will feature the No.1 (Kelvin Taylor, Glades Day) and No. 2 (Derrick Henry, Yulee) all-time leading rushers in Florida high school football history.

NFL legend Emmitt Smith is now No. 3 on that list. Taylor (ESPN 150: No. 22) is committed to Florida and is the son of Jacksonville Jaguars great Fred Taylor. Henry (ESPN 150: No. 48) will make his college decision earlier in the day on Friday after visiting Tennessee and Alabama this month.

According to ESPN The Magazine, in the past five years, Florida has produced the most ESPN 150 recruits of any state (148).

To keep up with recruiting news and information, follow @RecruitingESPN.

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