Team USA National Signing Day Recap

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Team USA is home to some of football’s finest. Since the Under-19 National Team’s inception in 2010, the American roster has been filled with top quality talent.

From the likes of Todd Gurley and Tyrann Mathieu to N’Keal Harry and D’Andre Swift, the opportunity to wear the red, white, and blue is an honor players don’t pass up.

On National Signing Day, the latest crop of Team USA members announced their intentions for the next level.

Team USA Signees

Jacob Copeland – WR

Team USA’s highest-ranked wide receiver, Jacob Copeland, decided to take his talents to Gainesville.

The four-star prospect, who was originally committed to Florida before backing off his pledge in November after the coaching change, recommitted to the Gators on National Signing Day.

“Florida has always been a top school for me and Coach Mullen going there just made it official,” Copeland told SEC Country. “He and Coach Gonzales have been recruiting me since they were at Mississippi State and we just kept it going at Florida. They got a new coaching staff and I like what they’re doing. They have a good background.”

The Pensacola, Florida native chose the Gators over Alabama, Florida State, and Tennessee.

Listed at 6-foot, 192-pounds, Copeland was a priority target for new head coach Dan Mullen. His playmaking ability is a welcome addition to Florida’s receiver group.

Ranked as the No. 12 wideout in the nation by 247Sports, the Under Armour All-American caught 29 passes for 613 yards and two touchdowns last season at Escambia High School.

With the way the Gators’ offense has struggled over the past few years, Copeland’s the type of talent that can revitalize their anemic attack.

Jaylon Reed – CB

Team USA cornerback Jaylon Reed declared he’s headed to Starkville.

The three-star prospect, who decommitted from Tennessee and Mississippi State during his recruitment, recommitted to the Bulldogs on National Signing Day.

“I was down there all weekend and they reassured me that I was a priority,” Reed said to the Clarion Ledger. “That made the difference in the end. I knew Sunday before I left Starkville I was committing there.”

The Olive Branch, Mississippi native chose Mississippi State over Ole Miss, Memphis, and Tennessee.

Listed at 6-foot-1, 170-pounds, Reed hopes to be in the secondary rotation for the Bulldogs’ 12th-ranked pass defense this fall.

The Mississippi All-Star record 56 tackles, two interceptions, and 18 pass deflections last season at Olive Branch High School.

As a top-20 player in the Magnolia State, Reed’s the latest Mississippian to stay home and play in-state.

Nigel Bethel Jr. – CB

Another Team USA cornerback decided to play at home.

Nigel Bethel Jr., who was previously committed to Florida, pledged to Miami on National Signing Day.

“I love Miami. I wanted to stay close to home,” Bethel stated to InsideTheU. “At first the coaches were telling me that they had a lot of DBs committed, but then they got a chance to see my film and they just said that they want me bad.”

The three-star prospect chose the Hurricanes over UCF and Florida.

Listed at 5-foot-11, 160-pounds, Bethel Jr. has a chance to make an early impact next season as starting cornerback Malek Young suffered a career-ending neck injury in January.

The Miami, Florida native played on both sides of the ball last year at Northwestern High School.

“He really stretched the field for us as a wide receiver,” Northwestern head coach Max Edwards expressed to the Miami Herald. “He also did a tremendous job at corner.”

Ranked as a top-250 player in the Sunshine State, Bethel Jr. adds to Miami’s talented 2018 secondary haul.

Tavion Thomas – RB

Team USA running back Tavion Thomas revealed he’s going to the Buckeye State.

The three-star prospect, who was committed to Oklahoma at first, signed with Cincinnati on National Signing Day.

“I ain’t want to go too far from home, I wanted my people to be able to come to the games,” Thomas voiced to the Bearcat Journal. “Then when I went to Cincinnati, they really wanted me and they put a plan together for me. They have been in touch with me before I even really considered Cincinnati. They never really left me alone.”

The Dayton, Ohio native chose the Bearcats over Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

Listed at 6-foot-2, 225-pounds, Thomas expects to be an immediate contributor to Cincinnati’s ground game this fall.

The Offense-Defense All-American rushed for 1,007 yards on 150 carries with 11 touchdowns last season at Dunbar High School. He also caught eight passes for 110 yards and one score.

Ranked as a top-15 player in the state of Ohio, Thomas is a major coup for Cincinnati and head coach Luke Fickell.

LaMarius Benson – OL

Team USA offensive lineman LaMarius Benson publicized his intentions to relocate to Orlando.

The three-star prospect, who was initially committed to South Carolina, pledged to UCF on National Signing Day.

“When I first got to UCF, I didn’t know anyone,” Benson told The Covington News. “Then I got to talk to the coaches, and I began to feel wanted there. Everything just felt natural.”

The Covington, Georgia native chose the Knights over South Carolina.

Listed at 6-foot-3, 330-pounds, Benson has the potential to be a mainstay up front for UCF in the future.

Ranked as a top-150 player in the Peach State, the East Side High School product is a big win for new head coach Josh Heupel as he looks to continue the Knights success next season.

Ches Jackson – OL

Team USA’s starting right tackle Ches Jackson disclosed where he’ll attend college this fall.

The three-star prospect, who was committed to Appalachian State at one point, signed with Colorado State on National Signing Day.

With the Rams losing three starting offensive linemen to graduation, Jackson has an opportunity to get on the field next season.

The Tifton, Georgia native chose Colorado State over Appalachian State.

Listed at 6-foot-5, 270-pounds, Jackson has the ability to develop into a quality blocker for the Rams.

Ranked as a top-250 player in the Peach State, the Tift County High School product brings much needed size and skill to Fort Collins.

Geno Albini – LS

Team USA long snapper Geno Albini is moving to Tucson.

The Dripping Springs, Texas native accepted a preferred walk-on spot and committed to Arizona on National Signing Day.

As the Wildcats had frequent issues on field goal and punt snaps last year, Albini fills a crucial need for new head coach Kevin Sumlin.

The Wimberley High School product received interest from Arkansas, TCU, and Texas A&M before deciding on Arizona.

Ranked as the No. 18 long snapper in the country by Kohl’s Kicking, Albini will look to win the starting long snapper job in fall camp and solidify the position for his duration in the Grand Canyon State.

“Albini recently attended the Spring Texas Showcase and showed again why he needs to be one of the higher rated snappers in the country,” a Kohl’s Kicking coach stated. “He has continued to refine his technique and is snapping with a quick and explosive motion. Albini is a snapper that runs well and provides a snap that is easy for the punter to handle.”

Listed at 5-foot-11, 200-pounds, the long snapper has a bright future in the Pac-12.