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Now that Jadeveon Clowney has officially signed with the South Carolina Gamecocks, Fox Sports’ Thayer Evans has published an excellent profile of the final weeks of the Rock Hill star’s recruitment.
In it we learn that Clowney would’ve committed to the Alabama Crimson Tide if he wouldn’t have had to play out of position, Clemson Tigers coach Dabo Swinney is a startingly sweet man, and Nick Saban talks a lot. Saban is also short, "like five-foot-five" according to our subject, but that's not news. Clowney says he didn’t make up his mind until a week ago, telling his mother it was Carolina over Clemson.
Clowney has listed friends and family as his primary reasons for picking Carolina over Alabama, though in this story he also specifically mentions the female population from each school in separate anecdotes. Clowney describes South Carolina’s female students as being “all on you,” while he insists he didn’t have anything to do with Clemson’s ladies.
Don’t know about you, but that pretty much explains the whole thing to me.
Though his listing of Bama’s party life as his favorite could explain why his mother felt so uneasy about sending him across state lines.
Speaking of Joseanna Clowney, it’s safe to say we know have the answers to any lingering mysteries about how Swinney landed such an excellent 2011 class. From reminding a group about her birthday to making a point of establishing eye contact, Swinney seems to get the importance of winning over family better than Saban or Steve Spurrer do, in this story at least.
That and he told Jadeveon Clowney that he loves him.
Good news for any South Carolina fans worrying about Jadeveon Clowney's somewhat iffy quotes after his televised commitment to the Gamecocks: Clowney's decision is official now that South Carolina has his National Letter of Intent, according to 247 Sports' South Carolina site.
Don't know what a National Letter of Intent is? Here's an explanation:
By signing a National Letter of Intent, a prospective student-athlete agrees to attend the designated college or university for one academic year. ... An important provision of the National Letter of Intent program is a recruiting prohibition applied after a prospective student-athlete signs a Letter of Intent. This prohibition requires participating institutions to cease recruitment of a prospective student-athlete once a National Letter of Intent is signed with another institution.
Basically, Clowney's going to Columbia for the fall and can't be recruited by any other schools now. Will that settle the most skittish South Carolina fans, who will probably worry about Clowney transferring until he's either graduated or left for the NFL Draft? No. But it's at least confirmation that Jadeveon Clowney will be a South Carolina Gamecock for the 2011 season.
For more on Jadeveon Clowney and what his college choice means, check out our South Carolina blog, Garnet and Black Attack.
The New York Times caused a brief kerfuffle over the weekend when they published a story suggesting that Jadeveon Clowney’s academic record strongly resembled the academic record of someone who might have to attend a prep school prior to attending a university.
Clowney says this will not be an issue for him:
“That’s taken care of … I’m going to get in.”
The practice of sending recruits with suspect academic records to a prep school is very common, with recruits usually landing some place like Hargrave Military Academy for a year or two prior to entering their committed university. This in itself is not the interesting part of Clowney receiving some kind of assurances about his academics.
Clowney’s case is interesting in the larger context of South Carolina recruiting. Prior to 2007, Steve Spurrier had difficulty getting certain recruits through admissions at South Carolina. These certain recruits often had what you might call challenged academic backgrounds, and turned out to be a point of debate between Spurrier and the school administration.
Admissions issues between Spurrier and the administration have been all but nonexistent recently. Not coincidentally, Spurrier’s first SEC East championship team and the team’s first appearance in the SEC Championship happened once Spurrier started getting his recruits into the school without friction.
This should not suggest that Spurrier’s greasing the wheels inappropriately for his recruits, but should suggest that one of the issues keeping South Carolina from taking off sooner under Spurrier was his inability to get his recruits the same exemptions granted to athletes at some other SEC schools. Without that change, Spurrier never gets his hands on someone like Clowney, and certainly wouldn’t be the coach of the likely favorite in the SEC East for 2011.
Jadeveon Clowney's commitment to South Carolina has our Gamecocks blog, Garnet and Black Attack, more than a little happy to land the nation's No. 1 recruit, both because of how good Clowney could be and because of what this recruiting win might mean.
And make no mistake, this is likely going to be remembered as a watershed moment in the rivalry (with Clemson) as well as the larger history of USC's program. If Clowney ends up being as good as advertised, we're going to remember this day for a long time. It's great for the program's image. USC was on display and looking good for a national audience today. Clowney and USC are currently on the front page of ESPN.com and will be the day's most significant story in sports. The announcement ceremony was nationally televised. These kinds of moments used to be rarities for Carolina, but they've been more and more common over the past few months. When we beat Alabama and Florida and Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery were becoming household names, I said that the exposure we were receiving would bolster this program's profile and recruiting to our continued benefit. Clowney's signing is another one of those types of moments.
South Carolina won the SEC East last year, and was in the SEC Championship Game with eventual BCS national champion Auburn until a fluke Hail Mary stretched the Tigers' lead just before halftime. With Clowney and an excellent recruiting class joining the Gamecocks' strong offensive core, South Carolina fans will be dreaming even bigger in the future.
For more on Jadeveon Clowney and what his college choice means, check out our South Carolina blog, Garnet and Black Attack.
Jadeveon Clowney's televised decision to commit to South Carolina was not without its strange moments, which is more or less how these things go. Travis Haney of the Charleston Post and Courier is at South Pointe High School and collecting quotes, and he paints a picture of a teenager who may have made the least worst choice instead of the best.
From Haney's Twitter feed:
Clowney said he really liked Alabama, but his mom vetoed it because of distance.
Clowney on what he expects as a freshman: "Playing time ... and making a lot of plays." Says he'll start.
Clowney's mom: "I'm just glad it's over. I'm tired. ... Maybe I can get some rest now."
Clowney on Gamecocks' future: "Oh, it's going to be big." Mentions a national championship. Ambitious one, this guy.
Just spent a few minutes talking with Clowney's mom. Interesting. Sounds like she wanted him to go to Clemson. Liked coaches there better.
Sounds like playing in SEC is what separated Clemson and South Carolina. If Tigers were in SEC, this would have been slam dunk.
Clowney said Clemson had more to offer? I've heard a lot of things in past 10 min that make you go, 'Why did he pick South Carolina?'
If that gives South Carolina fans some pause, they should be comforted by the fact that Clowney's Letter of Intent has his signature on it, and that he's not alone, not nearly, in sounding indecisive even after a televised decision. (Remember Cyrus Kouandjio?)
For more on Jadeveon Clowney and what his college choice means, check out our South Carolina blog, Garnet and Black Attack.
Jadeveon Clowney will be a South Carolina Gamecock. But will the South Carolina Gamecocks win SEC and national titles with him in Columbia?
The National Football Post analyzed the careers of the last 25 years of top recruits, and found just six that won national championships: Ricky Watters at Notre Dame; Marquette Smith, Chris Weinke — albeit ten years after his original commitment in 1990 — and Anquan Boldin at Florida State; D.J. Williams at Miami; and Vince Young at Texas.
What's more, the Post writes:
You could easily make the case that only four of these six played significant roles during their teams’ national title runs — Watters, Weinke, Williams, and Young. What does this mean? Even if you sign the No. 1 recruit and win the national championship, there’s still a chance you won that national championship without much help from your former blue-chip recruit.
So if history is any guide, Clowney won't be the only reason South Carolina wins, if it does, and might not make much of an impact even if they do. Logic dictates otherwise, given Clowney's colossal talent, but it's interesting to note that having the best recruit in the country has been less beneficial than one might think.
Jadeveon Clowney's commitment to South Carolina might make the Gamecocks defense the best in the SEC East in the fall. It could also help get Steve Spurrier back to the SEC Championship Game, and maybe bring the Gamecocks their first-ever SEC Championship.
That's partly thanks to how good Clowney is: he'll arguably be one of the most talented defensive ends in the SEC as soon as he suits up, and might make up for the losses of talented seniors like Chris Culliver and Patrick DiMarco. Best in the SEC East is a possibility; more likely, Clowney just means the drop-off from the strong 2010 defense to an above-average 2011 defense isn't as severe as it could have been.
Above-average, though, might be enough to make the Gamecocks the SEC East favorite: with Stephen Garcia, Marcus Lattimore, and Alshon Jeffrey all back in Columbia in the fall, the South Carolina offense could be the most potent it has been under Spurrier. And considering that a less-experienced offense helped the Gamecocks make the 2010 SEC Championship Game, it's likely that the 2011 vintage will be better.
Clowney's announcement completes a strong South Carolina recruiting class, and keeping a huge in-state prospect from leaving the Palmetto State has worked well for the Gamecocks with Lattimore and Jeffrey.
This fall, Jadeveon Clowney will be a South Carolina Gamecock. And with that, recruiting for the class of 2011 is done.
In his nationally televised announcement on ESPN this morning, Clowney, wearing a garnet shirt and a black tie, chose South Carolina over Clemson, joining an impressive class put together by Steve Spurrier, staying in the Palmetto State, and heading to a school he feels comfortable with.
Clowney went wire-to-wire in his senior season as the nation's consensus top recruit, and should make an immediate impact in the SEC. He joins a South Carolina defense that was capable up front in 2010 — the Gamecocks recorded 41 sacks, fifth in the country — and could start from Day One.
His choice of South Carolina over Clemson and Alabama — on his 18th birthday — likely has to do with the Gamecocks' long courtship of him; Clemson closed fast, and would have added Clowney to maybe the nation's best haul of linebackers, and Alabama presented an opportunity to join an NFL Draft assembly line, but there was likely too much ground for each school to make up and not enough time to do it.
Clowney's announcement completes the full schedule for the Class of 2011's recruiting announcements.
Jadeveon Clowney is set to reveal his college choice this morning on ESPN, ending months of speculation by recruiting experts about where the massively talented defensive end will ply his trade at the next level. Here's what you need to know in brief.
Time: 10:15 a.m. Eastern.
TV broadcast: ESPN, in a SportsCenter break-in.
Location: South Pointe High School, Clowney's alma mater to be, in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Trivia: Clowney was a Stallion in high school.
Teams considering: Clowney's down to South Carolina and Clemson, by most reports, but Alabama could still be in the mix.
Why it matters: Clowney is one of the most coveted high school recruits ever, and should be a fierce defensive end in college and possibly in the NFL.
Prediction: Clowney's talked about staying where he feels comfortable; that will be the deciding factor in him becoming a Gamecock.
Further reading: Check out the rest of our college football recruiting StoryStream for a history of Clowney's decision to announce his college choice on Valentine's Day; check Shakin the Southland and Garnet and Black Attack for reactions from Clemson and South Carolina fans, or head to Garnet and Black Attack's open thread for real-time reactions.
Jadeveon Clowney, the top prize of 2011 college football recruiting, will announce his commitment to South Carolina, Clemson, or Alabama at 10:15 p.m. ET on Monday. His decision will be broadcast live on ESPNU and covered right here, of course. The defensive end is choosing between South Carolina, Clemson and Alabama.
So what would a Clowney signature mean for each of the schools in the running. Let's take a look?
South Carolina Gamecocks: Saving face among rivals. Carolina watched four blue chippers head across the state to Clemson on National Signing Day. The Cocks also rate fourth in the SEC East, last among schools that actually care about football.
There's more to it than just PR, of course -- the Gamecocks lose a starting DE in Cliff Matthews, who finished second among the team's defensive linemen in tackles and third in sacks. Devin Taylor is entrenched at one starting DE spot, but Clowney would have a chance to contribute in Columbia as a freshman.
Clemson Tigers: Replacing Da'Quan Bowers. While Clemson just pulled off one of its best recruiting hauls in a long time, there's still going to be something missing next year on the defensive line.
Specifically, a Bronko Nagurski winner and ACC Defensive Player of the Year who led the nation in sack yardage and tackles for loss yardage. Clowney, as talented as he is, has miles to go before he's as good as Bowers. But Bowers, also a five-star DE thought to be the best in the nation, logged significant snaps as a freshman. No pressure!
Alabama Crimson Tide: Stirring up competition. The Tide already have three four-star DEs in this year's class -- Xzavier Griffin, Jeoffrey Pagan, and D.J. Pettway -- so why not give them all someone to outwork?
Bama's the longest shot of the three schools thought to be more or less in the running, which is a good thing for the sanity of non-defensive ends everywhere.
Clowney's announcement is scheduled for 10:15 a.m. EST on February 14, at his own South Pointe High School. The event will be carried live on ESPNU. For more South Carolina and Clemson athletics news, visit SB Nation's Garnet And Black Attack and Shakin' The Southland.
One of the nation's most highly touted recruits, Jadeveon Clowney, is going to announce Monday that he will attend either South Carolina or Clemson. Maybe. The New York Times is now raising concerns that Clowney might not qualify to play for either of the Palmetto State's programs based on his academics.
Two people with knowledge of his classroom performance while attending South Pointe High School in Rock Hill, S.C., have raised questions over how he will be able meet the N.C.A.A.’s minimum academic standard if he wants to play next season.
The most damning assessment comes from Troy Davis, who coaches football at Hargrave Military Academy. Davis' program gets a lot of its players from recruits that don't meet the NCAA's standards and need a couple of years of better grades to play football at the highest level.
Troy Davis, the coach at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., said he had reviewed Clowney’s transcript and described it as consistent with those of other prospects who had failed to meet the N.C.A.A.’s standards. ...
Speaking of students who had enrolled at Hargrave, Davis said "it was pretty common" for a nonqualifier to have a transcript like Clowney’s.
The other source, in case you're wondering, is one of Clowney's high-school teachers. Again, this is someone you might expect to know of which he speaks. None of which is to stay that Clowney won't qualify; we'll find out soon enough once he chooses a school and that university starts working with the NCAA to get to the answer.
But the celebration among fans of the school that does get Clowney might be dampened a bit by knowing that it's not the end of the recruiting process. In this case, it's just the beginning.
Huge news on the college football recruiting front, where we learned this morning that the top-ranked football prospect in the class of 2011, Jadeveon Clowney, has decided which school he's going to sign with ... and he's still not telling anybody. But hey, he knows! Progress!
In an interview with Josh Kendall of The State before his basketball practice on Thursday (courtesy the Charleston Post and Courier), Clowney said that he made his final decision three days ago and has only told his mother. The choice was based on "who I felt at home around the most and how I'm going to feel when I'm playing with the people."
The Worldwide Leader is interpreting this as a tip of the hat to South Carolina, although Clemson has been very much in the mix since National Signing Day. Alabama, for what it's worth, has reportedly pretty much conceded, and doesn't really have anything to cry over after poaching Cyrus Kouandjio from Auburn at the thirteenth hour.
Clowney's official announcement is still scheduled to take place at his high school on his birthday, next Monday morning at 10:15. (If he needs any more help firming up his choice, we've provided a handy guide to South Carolina football programs.) For more on Clowney and the two schools still in the race, visit SB Nation's Garnet And Black Attack and Shakin' The Southland.
We're just under a week away from the signing of the very last unsigned (and best) blue-chip prospect in the college football recruiting class of 2011: Jadeveon Clowney, a strongside defensive end with a name as outstanding as his hair, will announce his college choice next Monday, which also happens to be his birthday. With a flourish of a pen, Clowney will change the football fortunes of one team; he's already narrowed his choices to the three programs to which he took official visits: Alabama, Clemson, and South Carolina. (For whatever this is worth, Clowney has expressed a desire to stay close to home, and Alabama fans don't hold out much hope of swiping him from the Palmetto State.) And while he's been remarkably closemouthed about the process so far, did Clowney tip his selection on Monday in an interview with the New York Times?
As it turns out, Clowney’s choice to delay his announcement might have helped Clemson’s chances.
"Clemson had a good recruiting class," Clowney said Monday in a telephone interview. "If I go, they would have an even better one. They had all the top linebackers, and I was thinking I could join them."
Landing Clowney would be a huge get for a Dabo Swinney recruiting class that's already bursting with five-star recruits.
Clowney's announcement is scheduled for 10:15 a.m. EST on February 14, at his own South Pointe High School. The event will be carried live on ESPNU. For more South Carolina and Clemson athletics news, visit SB Nation's Garnet And Black Attack and Shakin' The Southland.
Jadeveon Clowney, the nation’s No. 1 college football recruit, has set a time for his scheduled decision announcement. Accoring to Palmetto Sports, Clowney will choose between the South Carolina Gamecocks and Clemson Tigers at 10:15 am EST on Feb. 14, live from South Pointe High.
That’s a Monday morning, meaning Jadeveon Clowney hates the Palmetto State’s entire economy and is about to pull off his plan to cripple statewide office productivity. ESPNU will broadcast his commitment live.
Clowney may still be considering the Alabama Crimson Tide and others, but there’s no reason at this point to think his decision won’t come down to Carolina and Clemson, with the Gamecocks the clear front-runners for his services. Despite a widespread rumor and some actual interest, he did not take a visit to the Oregon Ducks.
A Clemson surprise would complete one of the most amazing hauls in Tiger history, while Carolina fans are counting on Clowney boosting the Cocks class closer to those three very highly ranked classes belonging to SEC East rivals. If Carolina does land Clowney, he’ll be signee No. 32 for the Gamecocks this year.
After 2011 National Signing Day, there were three unsigned recruits out of the Rivals 100. One, Cyrus Kouandjio, inked a letter of intent to play for Alabama at the end of the week. The highest-ranked uncommitted player, Jadeveon Clowney, is scheduled to announce his choice on his birthday, which isn't until next Monday. The third prospect, quarterback Jacoby Brissett, announced his intent Friday to sign with the Florida Gators, and as of Monday morning, it's official. His letter of intent has been received in Gainesville, and the Gators have another QB in the fold:
"Jacoby will be a good fit in our program," said head coach Will Muschamp. "He is an outstanding quarterback and we are excited to have him join the Gator family."
Even after the announcement, Brissett's status as a Gator was a bit up in the air thanks to the strenuous objections of his mother over his spurning of Miami:
"I’m very disappointed. I didn’t like the way Florida handled the process. I’ve never been able to meet the head coach. ... I’ve never met (Will Muschamp) face-to-face and I find that very disrespectful and I’m just hurt with the whole process with the Gators. I was hoping that he would respect me and go to ‘The U’ because ‘The U’ showed respect to his mom."
Brissett is the 75th-ranked prospect overall in the Rivals 100, and listed as the third-best quarterback in the 2011 recruiting glass. For more on him and other Florida Gators athletics news, visit SB Nation's Alligator Army.
Finally, Cyrus Kouandjio has decided on a college. And it's Alabama.
Kouandjio had considered a strange set of schools, including New Mexico and Iowa, both before and after his commitment to Auburn. And he was supposed to announce his commitment on Monday.
But this commitment seems like a final one, according to Scout's Andrew Bone:
Cyrus Kouandjio signs letter of intent with Alabama. Arie posted the news on Twitter. @kristenkenney was informed earlier. It is official.
Kouandjio may be the best offensive line prospect in this year's class. He has great size and could round into a dominant offensive tackle, especially with the talent and coaches around him at Alabama.
Cyrus Kouandjio, the coveted high school offensive tackle, has yet to announce whether he will commit to Alabama or Auburn. On Friday, Kouandjio's high school coach says that he is planning to announce his decision on Monday. From the Tuscaloosa News:
"I spoke with Cyrus and Cyrus said that he would say something on Monday," DeMatha High School coach Bill McGregor said this afternoon in response to a question about a report that the recruit will make an announcement after the weekend. "Hopefully everything will come to a conclusion and ending on Monday."
The senior had been the subject of no small amount of drama during National Signing Day, when he surprised many by opting not to sign a letter of intent with any college. Be sure to check back with this StoryStream on Monday for updates. And for more on the teams in question, check out SB Nation's Alabama blog, Roll Bama Roll, and our Auburn blog, Track Em Tigers.
The latest news on top-five overall prospect Cyrus Kouandjio, the nation's top-ranked offensive lineman who committed to but did not sign with the Auburn Football Tigers, is that there is nothing to report. There is no national letter of intent waiting in the Auburn football offices. There has been no quantifiable move towards Alabama, where his brother Arie plays, other than the indecision itself. There has been no further word on his considering Iowa, just to throw everybody for a loop. For now, we hold, and wonder with our own Roll Bama Roll at the radio silence out of Tuscaloosa:
Everything written on the subject to date continuously talks about Gene Chizik and the Auburn coaching staff speaking with Kouandjio, but not a single time has there been a mention anywhere of Cyrus speaking with Nick Saban.
Exactly how does that make any sense whatsoever? Either we have just detached ourselves from this one entirely and are just letting it runs its course, or for some reason we are avoiding any conversations with McGregor -- who is seemingly informing the media every time he talks to one of the coaches in consideration here; seriously, I think he has about ten journos on speed dial at this point -- and are just going about this directly and privately via Cyrus and his family members. Either way a legitimate possibility, I suppose.
Kouandjio was reportedly to decide today, but radio scuttlebutt has his high school coach absent from campus this morning and no timetable has been announced. The possibility of a family vote to decide his fate has been raised. Cyrus' brother wants him with the Tide, and so does his dad:
"Yeah, that's where my hope was. I was thinking that's where he would be going because his brother could be a good mentor for him too," the father said.
This isn't to say he'll decide for him, although that would certainly speed things up:
I can't decide for him because in the long run, two or three years from now, I don't want him to come back and say, ‘I went there because of you.' I want him to show courage, with the burden of any aspect of his decision.
You can all see where this is headed, right? Our congratulations in advance to Division I-A's fightin'est coach and the New Mexico Lobos for the college football recruiting coup that nobody saw coming.
Bob Stoops and his merry band of assistants landed a typically strong class for the Oklahoma Sooners on 2011 National Signing Day, bringing home a relatively small class (17 commits) that put a premium on quality: two Rivals five-star recruits, seven four-stars, and eight three-stars. Two late decommits and two last-minute poachings added a fine layer of entertainment to the day's proceedings: The Sooners lost Cooper Washington to Texas Tech, adding to last week's defection of to TCU, but swiped DB Bennett Okotcha from Notre Dame and TE Nila Kasitati from Baylor to make up the difference. SB Nation's Crimson and Cream Machine came away happy with the tradeoff:
Without last minutes swapping and midnight hour recruiting National Signing Day wouldn't have the appeal and luster it has. Let's be honest, this is what we wanted. Without stuff like this we wouldn't have guys like Ryan Broyles and Corey Nelson on the roster. When all was said and done the Sooners had swapped two three-star players with two three-star players and the class remained every bit as solid as it was before Brandon Carter ever thought of switching to TCU. It just made finalizing the class that much more fun!
LSU landed the SEC's fourth-ranked class on 2011 National Signing Day, per Rivals, including five-star high school players La'El Collins, Anthony Johnson, and Jarvis Landry. More interesting to us are two of their lesser-ranked players: One who may be seriously underrated, and one who we cannot wait to see on the loose in Baton Rouge nightlife settings.
The latter first: Former Georgia quarterback Zach Mettenberger, last seen neck-and-neck with Aaron Murray for the starting position as a true freshman before being arrested and subsequently banned from the city of Valdosta (lordy, but we do love this kid), committed to the Tigers back in December, and will provide a counterpoint to the skillset of Jordan Jefferson as a redshirt sophomore:
Mettenberger is a big, strong pocket passer with underrated mobility. From watching his spring game tape, I come away most impressed with his ball fakes and ability to put touch on the football (something neither QB we currently have has mastered yet). He appears to work through his progression nicely and delivers a very catchable ball. Mett also has a big arm and should really rejuvenate the vertical passing attack LSU has lacked for the past three years.
Rasco is a studly Evangel DE who seems to have gotten an unfair shake by recruiting services. His 4-star rating is respectable, but after a week of dominant practices at the A.A. Bowl, ranking him outside of the top 150 seems a bit absurd. Rasco brings a lot to the table, including a well-rounded skill set as both a pass rusher and run defender. At 6'3, 250 pounds, he has the size to step onto the field immediately.
For more recruiting goodness, check out And The Valley Shook's full rundown of the 2011 signing class.
Yesterday, Cyrus Kouandjio picked Auburn in a televised commitment decision. Then he backed off, and seemed to be waffling between Auburn and Alabama. Now, it's going to take some time for Kouandjio to come to a conclusion — and Iowa is back in the mix.
Kouandjio's father tells the Tuscaloosa News that things are up in the air:
"If he makes a decision today, you will have it tomorrow in the morning," Jean Claude Kouandjio, the father, said. "He's still confused. We keep talking with him, I don't think he's ready yet. He's the one that who wants more time."
"He's deciding between Alabama, Auburn and even Iowa," Jean Claude Kouandjio said. "It may even come back to Iowa. He's considering his options even more now. Those three (schools) have been floating in his mind"
This is a total bummer for New Mexico's Mike Locksley, who was totally waiting for Kouandjio to make his Lobos a three-win team.
For a storied program like the Texas Longhorns to finish a season, any season, out of bowl contention is unthinkable in this century. For them to be so very bad at running the football is almost as unnatural. The 'Horns wrapped up 2010 ranked 66th nationally in rushing offense, with leading rusher Cody Johnson averaging a bewildering 53.82 yards per game. needed a backfield threat in a bad, bad way, and on 2011 National Signing Day, he landed one.
The big fish is Malcolm Brown from Cibolo, Texas, a Rivals five-star running back ranked first in his position and a top-ten national prospect. Our own Burnt Orange Nation sees a bright and busy future on the field for this kid:
Brown is the ideal every-down, workhorse back, with a strong, compact build that allows him to break arm tackles and absolutely truck players at the high school level -- it's hard not to love Brown's physical running style. Early in his junior highlight film, he uncorks a spectacular run that includes two jaw-dropping spin moves along the sideline that shows off his balance to full effect. The major question about Brown is his top-end speed, but he's plenty fast and certainly doesn't get caught from behind in high school.
Hop over to Burnt Orange Nation for a good day's worth of reading on Texas football recruiting in 2011 (including a look ahead to the class of 2012).
De'Anthony Thomas, the last five-star recruit to choose a college football team on 2011's national signing day, has announced he'll play for the Oregon Ducks, not the USC Trojans. He's the nation's top ATH, the No. 5 overall, the No. 2 from California. The athlete from Los Angeles was offered by five west coast schools plus Florida. At only five-foot-nine and 160 pounds, projecting as a speed back, cornerback, slot receiver, or kick returner.
How Los Angeles is he? He's even nicknamed "the Black Mamba." So for him to join Oregon says something about the allure of Chip Kelly's offense. (By the way -- that show the Ducks put on this year was largely led by members of recruiting classes ranked No. 32 and No. 19. What'll Kelly pull off with a top-10 class?)
But how Oregon is he? Well, just look at him:
Thomas has been a longtime USC commit, but recently took a visit to Oregon that led to him dressing up in very Oregon fashions, to the disappointment of Trojans fans. At one point Washington even entered the discussion. USC put together a top-two class (as of this writing), partially on the strength of Thomas' commit, while Oregon crept very near the top 10 without him.
One of the most bizarre storylines of this National Signing Day appears to be winding its way to a close, with Floyd Raven's name officially being added to Texas A&M's list of signees. You might recall that Raven earned even more attention than usual for a four-star cornerback after his mother forged his letter of intent, part of a poorly-considered plan to get her son to attend Ole Miss.
Yes, he has a photo and bio on the Aggies' site and everything. So that would seem to end a recruitment saga that has included (as our Ole Miss blog Red Cup Rebellion dutifully recounts) Raven committing to a team that had not offered him a scholarship, then flipping and flopping back and forth between A&M and Ole Miss. That drawn-out affair might also be why the Raven tweet from A&M came a few hours after the account called Signing Day "a wrap."
Which proves one of the unwritten rules of National Signing Day: It will never be boring as long as Houston Nutt is gainfully employed as a head coach.
Cyrus Kouandjio hasn’t signed his Auburn Tigers letter of intent as of late National Signing Day, and he doesn’t look like he intends to, either. Today, at least. Kouandjio announced on ESPNU this morning that he’d be headed to the Plains, but reportedly had second thoughts almost immediately.
He’s been quoted as saying, I have big doubts about my decision. I feel like I may have made the wrong choice," and adding on Facebook, “Just not completely sure…want to be around the fam and just wait.”
Most are speculating he’s thinking about joining his brother Arie as a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide. That would count as fam, wouldn’t it? Those around him have no idea what he’s thinking, or at least not enough to comment publicly:
“I don’t know what to say,” DeMatha Coach Bill McGregor said. “I don’t know if it’s a lot of drama about nothing or if he wants to change his mind.”
From the sound of it, the nation’s No. 4 recruit will join its No. 1 in settling on a school after signing day, though there’s no way of knowing just how long he’ll wait. Maybe he’ll announce on his birthday a la Jadeveon Clowney — anybody know when that is?
Devin Lucien, a four-star wide receiver from Encino, California, has announced he'll join the UCLA Bruins as a member of their 2011 football recruiting class. Crespi High School's all-time leading receiver, he's ranked as the nation's No. 22 receiver and the No. 21 player from Cali.
Lucien had narrowed his choices to some combination of Arizona State, Colorado, Miami, and Utah depending on who you asked, though he also took visits as far away as Kentucky. Utah appeared to be the longshot coming into signing day, but the six-foot-one, 190-pounder clearly has a thing for current and future Pac-12 schools.
Oh you didn't know about the Canes?
Marqise Lee, a two-sport star and four-star safety from Gardena, California's Junipero Serra High School, has signed a letter of intent to play college football with the USC Trojans. Recruited as an "athlete", Lee is ranked third nationally at his uncategorized position and is listed as the fourth-best prospect in the talent-rich state of California. Lee had offers from eight of ten former Pac-10 schools, as well as Michigan, and took official visits to USC, Miami, and Florida. The 'Canes and Trojans were reportedly his final two choices.
Here's what our friends at Rivals had to say about his athleticism:
Overall his frame is very lean with plenty of room to add serious muscle. His long lower body is the reason he is dangerous in space.
Very dangerous in space because of his smooth lateral movement and strong running stroke. He has enough athleticism and size to possibly project as a receiver, safety or huge corner. Lee also has shown home-run speed and could possibly score from any part of the field.
With high school classmate George Farmer, a five-star wide receiver already committed to the Trojans, USC has completed one of those rare package recruiting deals that haunt the dreams of message-boarders but almost never seem to materialize..
For more on Lee and for all your USC athletics news, visit SB Nation L.A. and Conquest Chronicles, and track the madness of today's whirlwind of announcements via our 2011 National Signing Day schedule.
In an abrupt departure from the usual oooh-he-switched-hats drama we're usually treated to on National Signing Day, there's a very different sort of circus brewing down in Louisiana, where Floyd Raven, a four-star cornerback from Reserve's East St. John High School, had his letter of intent forged by his mother, who reportedly wanted him to attend Ole Miss:
Putting a crimp in her plans was the fact that her son was set on attending Texas A&M, where he faxed his real LOI today. Raven had gone back and forth between the two programs, and even had a brief dalliance with Michigan, but has received Houston Nutt's blessing to head to the Aggies.
For more on the Raven rigamarole, visit SB Nation's Red Cup Rebellion, where they're understandably flummoxed, and I Am The 12th Man, who should be popping corks right about now, and keep up with all the announcement drama on our 2011 National Signing Day schedule page.
Jermauria Rasco, like most high school football stars in Louisiana, will stay home for his collegiate career: the defensive end from Evangel Christian in Shreveport has committed to play for Les Miles on this National Signing Day.
The Tigers prevailed in the skirmish for Rasco's services despite a run at Rasco by Texas...
(It's) down to Texas and LSU. Considering Rasco never made an official visit to Texas, even with Mack Brown camping out with his whole coaching staff in Mama Rasco's living room, expect Rasco to be an LSU Tiger on Wednesday.
...and Florida getting Rasco's last official visit. But between proximity and the history of brilliant defensive line play at LSU under Les Miles (Glenn Dorsey, Tyson Jackson, Drake Nevis), Baton Rouge was always Rasco's most logical landing spot.
Offensive tackle prospect Cyrus Kouandjio may have said he was committing to Auburn today live on ESPNU, but nothing on National Signing Day is official and binding until a signed letter of intent finds its way to a fax machine at a school. As of 2:30 p.m. EST on National Signing Day, that letter has not found its way to Auburn, and Cyrus Kouandjio may not be signing with anyone today. For the rookies out there, welcome to National Signing Day! Expect delays at best, and chaos at worst.
Continued chaos—described on air by ESPN’s Pat Forde as “a situation”—surrounds Louisville running back commit DaMarcus Smith, who may have reversed field today and signed with UCF. This would not stop Louisville from having their best recruiting class in years in Charlie Strong’s second year, but it would be a loss and a serious coup for George O’Leary’s Conference-USA champs.
Finally, in the “SEC-As-Separate-Universe” category of sporting news, someone in the Alabama media community attempted to sway a recruit toward committing to the Tide. Cameron Clear would only mention that it was a website, and would not mention which one specifically approached him.
Rutgers has ebbed under Greg Schiano after a surge to the top of the Big East behind the efforts of Ray Rice, but the Scarlet Knights are making recruiting headway again, this time by securing the commitment of New Jersey defensive tackle Marquise Wright.
Our Rutgers blog, On the Banks, likes Wright's potential a lot, but isn't against switching his position:
Wright had a productive senior season, is highly-rated and has a lot of offers, and Rutgers doesn't have a lot returning up front. On the other hand, Rutgers did not initially offer Wright, not getting involved in his recruitment until several weeks ago. Many similar DTs have not panned out here, as Greg Schiano's defenses usually emphasize speed, agility, and athleticism even for interior linemen.
Taking that into account, and the team's need for offensive linemen in the recruiting class (having only Keith Lumpkin and JUCO Dallas Hendrikson on board), Wright would make a lot of sense moving to guard. Good defensive tackles are hard to find, but one reason that is the case is because they have an extremely high bust rate. Switching defensive linemen to offense is fairly common (read up on Jimmy Johnson's Miami teams some time), and that seems like a reasonable assumption here.
For more on Wright and the rest of Rutgers' recruiting class, including Savon Huggins, join the discussion at On the Banks. Our National Signing Day schedule has the full slate of high-profile announcements.
Ohio State has a fantastic recent history with linebackers, and adding one of the nation's best to their 2011 recruiting class will only help bolster that legacy: Richmond, Virginia linebacker Curtis Grant has committed to the Buckeyes.
Our Along the Olentangy had noted that Urban Meyer's departure from Florida made it possible for Ohio State to swoop in on Grant.
Grant is arguably the biggest recruit left on Ohio State's board and one of the biggest in the nation, period. He's ranked as the #2 overall recruit in the country by Rivals and has offers from literally every program in America. He's been linked to almost as many programs as he has offers, but much of his recruitment has centered around the Florida Gators. When Urban Meyer left, it opened up an opportunity for others to jump in, and jump in they did.
Since Meyer's retirement, Grant has taken four official visits to his four final suitors, Ohio State, Florida, Virginia, and UNC. According to the UNC Scout site, Curtis Grant informed UNC commit Norkeithus Otis that he was down to two schools on his official visit this past weekend, Ohio State and UNC.
Grant's a five-star prospect at both Rivals and Scout, and possesses a combination of size and speed that gives him elite pursuit ability and should make him productive early and possibly dominant later in his career.
6’3, 275 pound defensive tackle prospect and number three defensive tackle Gabe Wright has announced his commitment to the Auburn University. He did so after his high school teammate Isaiah Crowell unveiled his commitment to Georgia with a live bulldog puppy. His was nowhere near as cute, though it was personalized and premeditated.
That is most certainly not a reference to Nick Saban, and instead refers to Nick Fairley. Yes, most definitely NOT a reference to Nick Saban.
In summary, Wright is yet another massive and massively quick defensive tackle from the Deep South. Wright already benches 400 pounds and has a huge upper body ideal for fighting off larger offensive linemen in the trenches. He’ll have to work on his lower body development a bit and therefore certainly has ample room to grow in that department. His conditioning is also a category he could improve in, but he is a defensive tackle so we’ll grade him on the curve of "fat but quick dudes who hate treadmills."
More importantly though, Wright is fast and has great one-on-one skills, something sorely lacking in many defensive tackles of his size and strength.
Please check out SBNation's Auburn blog Track 'Em Tigers for all Auburn National Signing Day news, and also note that our National Signing Day schedule has the full slate of high-profile announcements.
Isaiah Crowell, a Rivals five-star running back prospect, has announced he'll play college football for the Georgia Bulldogs. Crowell is a 5'11", 210-lb. bowling ball of a player out of Columbus, Georgia's Carver High School, and is the nation's fourth-ranked recruit at his position. Overall, he's listed as the third-best prospect in the state of Georgia and the 23rd-ranked prospect nationally.
Crowell may be diminuitive, but don't be fooled; he comes by that five-star rating honestly:
With Crowell it is not so much the weight as it is what the weight can do: at 210 he squats 455 and benches 315. The word muscular gets thrown around a lot with him, and it should since he's not dissimilar to Trent Richardson in build.
Crowell fielded offers from Alabama, Georgia, Cal, Florida, Miami, USC, and Auburn over the course of his recruitment, but took official visits only with the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide. He currently tops our Signing Day Stunts Leaderboard thanks to OMG PUPPY LOOK LOOK:
For more on Isaiah Crowell and for all your Bulldogs athletics news needs, visit SB Nation Atlanta and Dawg Sports. Keep up with the whirlwind of announcements at our 2011 National Signing Day schedule page.
Nebraska's been restocking Bo Pelini's defense with talented prospects for years now — Ndamukong Suh, Jared Crick, and Prince Amukamara say hello — and getting defensive tackle Todd Peat to commit (scroll down) on National Signing Day is just another good moment.
Corn Nation has been excited about Peat's potential to commit to the Cornhuskers:
This year's signing day suspense hero might be Todd Peat, a defensive tackle from Tempe, Arizona, that visited Lincoln the past weekend. He's narrowed his list to Arizona State, Oregon State and Nebraska. Bo Pelini over Dennis Erickson and staying close to home? Anything can happen! Woohoooo!!!!! Where's that internet stream? Is it up already?
If Peat can even approximate Suh or Crick, it's likely Nebraska and Huskers fans will be very happy with this commitment.
Christian Heyward, a four-star defensive tackle from San Diego's Point Loma High School, has committed to play college football for the USC Trojans. Ranked sixth nationally at his position by Rivals, and the No. 10 overall prospect in the state, Heyward entertained offers from close to 20 top programs, including Arkansas, Boise State, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, and Stanford, and narrowed his final choice to USC, Oregon, and San Diego State.
In the continued saga of Sudden Hot Commodity Brady Hoke, the coach's decamping for Michigan played a part in San Diego losing out on a hometown prospect:
"It was the best decision for me in the end," [Heyward] said.
He said he enjoyed his meeting with SDSU coach Rocky Long, but added that the departure of Brady Hoke to Michigan weighed in his decision.
Cyrus Kouandjio, an offensive tackle from Hyattsville, Maryland, has signed with the Auburn football Tigers. The DeMatha High standout is the nation's top-ranked OT prospect per Rivals, the top prospect in Maryland, and the fourth-ranked high school recruit overall.
Kouandjio had offers from such storied programs as Iowa, Miami, USC, UCLA, and Oklahoma, but his final decision came down to Alabama, Auburn, and New Mexico. Yes, the New Mexico coached by Mike Locksley. Yes, that's this guy. We do not understand this any more than you do, we assure you.
Kouandjio weighs in at 6'7" and 322 lbs., and comes slathered with metaphor-laden praise:
Massive, athletic body with wide shoulders and barrel chest. Kouandjio also has very long, muscular limbs and resembles a cross between a giant tight end and WWE wrestler.
First, Brent Calloway was committed to Alabama. Then he switched his commitment to the Crimson Tide's in-state rival, Auburn. Now, on National Signing Day, Calloway has flipped back to Alabama.
Our Alabama blog, Roll 'Bama Roll, thinks this is all quite funny:
And Brent Calloway ends up in Tuscaloosa, spurning Auburn when it counted. Cue the hilarious feedback from the Auburn Fambly complaining about the undue influence of his parents (amusing, I know). Either way, while it's nice to have Calloway's talent on hand, the kid is going to have to get it together mentally and commit to playing the game before he's going to make any real contributions on the field. The raw talent is obviously there, but admittedly he's a bit of a risk.
Auburn fans might not be so happy. Calloway's recruitment was contentious, with plenty of verbal darts being thrown back and forth, and it wouldn't be surprising if the full story of his commitment becomes one of the more memorable ones of this season.
Delvon Simmons, a 6’ 5", 265 pound defensive tackle out of McKeesport, Pennsylvania and the fifth-ranked defensive tackle prospect in the nation, has decided to sign with the University of North Carolina in a Signing Day surprise. Prior to the announcement Simmons was rumored to be choosing between USC and Oregon, and had already allegedly marked North Carolina off his list of potential schools.
Simmons’ commitment to the Tarheels continues a top 20 effort for Butch Davis that might be considered miraculous given the extremely negative press surrounding North Carolina in 2010. Carolina fell into an ineligibility scandal regarding improper agent contact and lost half of their starters for the opener against LSU. They were then forced to ride out the aftershocks of the remainder of the season, including the eventual permanent declaration of ineligibility for keystone defensive tackle Marvin Austin.
Nevertheless, a huge commit along the defensive line is textbook Davis recruiting since he’s been a defense-first coach since his days at Miami and has stocked the Tarheels’ line in recent years with blue-chip talent like Austin.
Our National Signing Day schedule has the full slate of high-profile announcements.
Quietly, Virginia is building one of the nation's most surprising recruiting classes. Adding athlete Dominique Terrell just adds to that, and our Streaking The Lawn loves Terrell's potential and coach Mike London's hustle:
You want the ball in his hands. Scout.com describes him as "quicker than fast" with "outstanding change of direction" and "surprising toughness." The sentiments are echoed by ESPN, which adds that he can cut at full speed with little wasted motion, and that he has "RB-like vision and terrific open field run instincts." The scouting services are drooling all over him, and say that he can play in pretty much any position. He was the Area Offensive Player of the Year. As a senior, Terrell put up 2,070 rushing yards, while passing for 1,419 yards and a combined 45 touchdowns.
Terrell joins athlete Darius Jennings in committing to Virginia on National Signing Day.
For more on Terrell, including video highlights, and on the rest of Virginia's recruiting class, join the discussion at Streaking the Lawn. Our National Signing Day schedule has the full slate of high-profile announcements.
USC and Oregon fans will have to wait today for the decision by top recruit De'Anthony Thomas (who played CB/RB in high school) on where he will be playing football in the fall. Thomas' father said they will be waiting until 7 p.m. PST to make the announcement at Thomas' high school.
Thomas has long been an official commit to Lane Kiffin and USC, but last week took a surprise visit to Oregon and there is now heavy speculation that he will sign with the Ducks instead. Whatever the outcome, the school that gets Thomas' commitment will be getting the universally agreed upon top athlete in the nation.
Regardless of Thomas' commitment, USC will still have one of the highest rated recruiting classes this year, even coming off of a post season ban and several NCAA sanctions.
Stephone Anthony is one of the best linebacker recruits in the nation, and he will be playing his college football with one of the nation's best linebacker prospects at Clemson. Anthony's commitment joins Tony Steward's as one of the day's surprises, as Clemson is building a strong defense with great last-minute commitments.
Anthony will move one state east: he's a North Carolina prospect, and had kept North Carolina as one of his three finalists with Clemson and Virginia Tech. But his move bolsters Clemson's class, which is now tremendously deep at both linebacker and wide receiver, and might sneak into the top 10 in various recruiting rankings.
Clemson's been here before, though. The Tigers signed Da'Quan Bowers, the nation's top recruit, in 2008, but Bowers' fantastic performance at defensive end was only good enough to make him a top-five 2011 NFL Draft prospect, as Clemson struggled to break through in the ACC.
Curt Maggitt, a very large outside linebacker from West Palm Beach, Florida, has signed a letter of intent to play college football with the Tennessee Volunteers. The four-star prospect from Dwyer High School in West Palm Beach, Florida made a verbal commitment to the Vols on Signing Day eve:
"After talking to my brother, my dad and my coach, I did what was best for me ... And Tennessee is best for me."
What made Tennessee the best place for the 6-3, 195 pound weakside linebacker was the people in Knoxville.
"The coaching staff, the players there, they all made you feel at home," Maggitt said. "The made me feel so welcome on the visit and they were so real with me. And they offer the opportunity to play early."
Maggitt fielded offers from a couple dozen top programs, including half of the SEC (Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, and South Carolina) as well as Florida State, Miami, Wisconsin, and Notre Dame.
For more on Maggitt and for all your Tennessee Vols athletics news, visit SB Nation's Rocky Top Talk, and keep up with all today's announcements at our National Signing Day schedule page.
Big guys don't typically make stealthy moves, but offensive lineman Spencer Region's last-minute switch to Clemson counts as that sort of surprise. That's because he was once committed to both Alabama and Auburn, and came into National Signing Day with offers from neither school.
Region took his last official visit to Clemson, though, and that was apparently enough to sway him to play his collegiate career in orange and white. The massive (6'5", 331 pounds) offensive line prospect should fit into Clemson's line as one of the larger guards in the nation, but recruiting observers are skeptical that Region's truly done picking schools after his tumultuous recruitment.
This is the peril of playing the recruiting game, even for coveted players like Region: play out the string for too long, and you're the one who will get played.
Tim Jernigan, a four star defensive tackle of enormous proportions from Lake City, FL, has committed to Florida State this morning. Jernigan made his announcement without theatrics in the gymnasium of his high school while holding his nephew. His nephew looked like a rag doll in his hands, which he should have because Jernigan is absolutely humongous.
Jernigan’s stock really rose during the All-Star exhibition season where he dominated, but his physical assets coming out of high school are eye-popping. Thick is one word you will hear to describe him; another is “terrifyingly huge,” since Jernigan is already 275 pounds coming out of high school and it is a lean 275 at that.
Tomahawk Nation credits FSU assistant Odell Haggins for snagging a longtime Gator fan for the ’Noles:
A lot of credit goes to Coah Odell Haggins with securing the commitment. Jernigan who lives only 40 miles from University of Florida campus, was considered a Gator lean early in the recruiting process. He started visiting Florida State in the summer of his 8th grade year for Seminoles Football camps. Haggins coached Jernigan during that football camp years ago and Haggins and Jernigan developed a close bond.
Notre Dame has been burning up the recruiting trail under Brian Kelly, and the Irish are still on fire on National Signing Day. Anaheim athlete Troy Niklas — he may play on either the offensive or defensive line in college — has committed to Notre Dame over USC. Our Notre Dame blog, Rakes of Mallow, loves Niklas' size (he's 6'7", 243 pounds), and also loves snatching him away from the other big boys:
Great news for the Irish, who went head-to-head with the Trojans and came out with another big athlete win. In addition to Notre Dame and USC, Niklas also had offers from Stanford, Oklahoma, Florida, Nebraska, Tennessee, UCLA, Cal and Oregon State.
Huge get for the Irish, although it's a question as to whether the big guy lands at defensive end or offensive tackle.
Nickolas Brassell, a four-star wide receiver with an admirably Dickensian name, has signed a letter of intent to play college football for the Ole Miss Rebels and/or Black Bears. Brassell, a senior at South Panola High School in Batesville, Mississippi, is highly regarded as a top high school football recruit, ranked by Rivals as the second-best prospect in the state. He was offered by five SEC programs (Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Tennessee), as well as Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, and USC.
Alabama was said to be the Rebs' main competition for Brassell's services, but home turf won out in the end. Whether this will make a significant dent in the Crimson Tide's top-ranked recruiting class of 2011 remains to be seen.
For more on Brassell and for all your Ole Miss athletics news needs, visit SB Nation's Red Cup Rebellion, and browse our 2011 National Signing Day schedule page for other high-profile commitment announcements.
Derek Dooley's tenure as Tennessee head coach hasn't been uniformly smooth, but he's bringing the Vols' recruiting efforts in for a nice landing on National Signing Day. Tennessee signed Nashville offensive lineman Antonio Richardson this morning, and our Rocky Top Talk loves Dooley's ability to keep a top in-state prospect in Volunteer orange:
The state of Tennessee isn't always known for having the best high school football talent, but Richardson - at 6'6", 310 lbs - can compete right away at offensive tackle in Knoxville. Tennessee's played four freshmen on the offensive line last year, but with Richardson and several others in this class the Vols will have plenty of depth to get the best five on the field this fall.
After missing out on Marlon Brown and several other highly-touted in-state prospects in the past, the Vols did a great job locking up the best talent in the state this year. Dooley is clearly capable of going outside the borders, as he'll have to do to compete, but it's also nice to get the best players available in the Volunteer State.
Tony Steward continues a trend of out-of-state ventures for top 100 commits this morning by committing to Clemson University. Luginbill’s on television saying Steward liked Clemson’s small-town atmosphere, but it’s worth nothing that he’s also committing to a defense run by the Tigers’ defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. Steele is a linebackers guru, and was likely a serious edge in the recruitment of the nation’s number one outside linebacker prospect.
(He’s also a former Florida State assistant, though whether he gave any inside intelligence on the darker side of Tallahassee living is in the course of Steward’s recruitment is unknown. No one in college ever recruits negatively. Nope. Never.)
Steward continues a recent streak of five-star coups by Clemson on signing day. His commitment will likely bump Dabo Swinney’s class up from Rivals’ current number ten ranking, thus proving that as inconsistent as the Tigers can be on the football field, they maintain a tradition of being a heavy hitter in the world of recruiting.
See the entire National Signing Day schedule here.
Darius Jennings, a four-star prospect being recruited as an "athlete," has signed with the Virginia Cavaliers, spurning multiple top programs including Penn State, Georgia Tech, Iowa, Michigan, and Oregon. Jennings starred at the Gilman School in Baltimore, and is regarded as a top high school football recruit, ranked fourth in the state by Rivals.
SB Nation's Streaking The Lawn is understandably smitten:
Jennings is getting recruited most likely as a wide receiver for Virginia, though by all accounts, he has the versatility and athleticism to play at pretty much any skill position. He's got good speed, but more importantly, he's elusive, moves smoothly, and has impressive jump-cut and burst ability. He was named the 2010 Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year and was a consensus all-state selection. In 2009, he rushed for over 2,000 yards and threw for 733 yards - a total of 35 touchdowns. He's quick off the line and demonstrates great body control. At QB, he's more of a running QB than a passing QB, though he could certainly qualify as a dual threat.
For more fast facts on Jennings, including several video highlight packages, join the discussion at Streaking the Lawn. Our National Signing Day schedule has the full slate of high-profile announcements.
Marcus Roberson took until National Signing Day to make a decision after apparently committing to and decommitting from Auburn this week. But in the end, he chose the only school he was considering in his home state, committing to Florida this morning.
Roberson, a defensive back from St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, chose Florida over Auburn and Texas Tech, both schools he had previously committed to. During his topsy-turvy recruitment, Texas Tech hired his uncle, Otis Mounds, as an assistant coach, and briefly held Roberson's commitment in January. Then, this week, Roberson committed to Auburn on Monday morning but was off the Tigers' recruiting board by midday on Tuesday. Never say recruiting isn't subject to change!
The lure of playing for Will Muschamp on defense and staying in state likely proved too strong for Roberson. He'll follow former Gator Major Wright's footsteps from St. Thomas Aquinas to Gainesville, but should play cornerback.
Surprise! It’s February 2nd and another huge, talented anomaly of human physiology and anatomy has chosen Alabama as the place to display their football talents. Jeoffrey Pagan, a 6’ 4", 272 pound defensive end out of Asheville, North Carolina, sealed his commitment to the Crimson Tide with the faxing of his letter of intent to Tuscaloosa this morning.
Pagan joins the usual class of brilliant talents for the Crimson Tide, becoming one of 13 four-star recruits in this year’s haul for Nick Saban. Pagan will play defensive end in Alabama’s 3-4 scheme, but may redshirt due to being obviously physically gifted but in need of the usual freshman/sophomore development to get his lower body strength and technique online and running. Pagan joins fellow commit Quinton Dial as huge gets for Alabama on the day.
A day of few surprises is what coaches prefer on Signing Day, and thus far that is what Nick Saban has for his annual recruiting breakfast.
Lamar Dawson, a Rivals four-star inside linebacker ranked third nationally at his position, has committed on this National Signing Day morning to play for the USC Trojans. One of the nation's top high school football recruits, Dawson is regarded as the top prospect in his home state of Kentucky, where he was a standout at Danville's Boyle County High School.
Our friends at Rivals were impressed with both Dawson's size and speed during his senior season:
He is a huge linebacker who can run and is not afraid of contact. Dawson also has excellent ball skills and could be a difference-maker by intercepting passes and scoring rather than just falling to the ground. His overall athleticism will allow him to play more than one of the linebacker positions at the next level.
Dawson had offers from ten Divsion I-A programs, and took official visits to USC, Kentucky, Oregon, Tennessee, and Central Florida. His recruitment was supposedly coming down to the wire, but the notoriously closemouthed young man never did tip his hand, and misinformation on his destination flew fast and furious right up to the eleventh hour and then some.
Aundrey Walker, four star offensive lineman out of Ohio football factory Glenville High, has committed to USC over Ohio State and Michigan State. Walker wasn’t definite to any school down the stretch, but the big man leaving Ohio to go to Southern California is surprising especially when you consider how strong Jim Tressel has been in the Buckeyes’ home turf.
Overall Class Rating: The jury is still a little out, but anywhere between a B+ and an A, depending upon whether they can land the last remaining fence-riders.
USC is in the running for these players, though they have yet to commit.
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, who is rated as the No 1 recruit in the country. Everyone wants him. He is reported to have over 50 scholarship offers. Why? He played in the Under Armour All-American Game and was very disappointed with his 2 sack, 1 forced fumble performance. He's the number 1 recruit and what he worries about most is being a bust. That means despite his accolades, the kid has his head screwed on straight and intends to work hard. And, he's charismatic. He played in the NC/SC shrine bowl and wooed all the other defensive linemen. After the game, the reporters stuck microphones in the face of Clowney and all other recruits. Clowney continued to repeat his mantra of "still undecided," but South Carolina and Alabama are the front runners. What did the rest of them say? "I'm going wherever Clowney goes." A guy with great talent and a good attitude that will be a strong presence in the locker room -- hell, I want to employ him.
Jerrell Adams, TE/DE, who looked like he was going to Clemson until yesterday when he flipped and indicated USC was his choice. He has good hand work and he is very quick for a defensive lineman.
Phillip Dukes, DT, is a man child. He is big, strong, and doesn't give up any ground. Just like Adams, he appeared to have leanings to Clemson, but recently also signaled the Cocks were his favorite going into signing day.
Of those that have committed:
Brandon Shell - Offensive Tackle from Goose Creek SC. He is 6'7" and 310 pounds. He has great footwork and excels at pass protection.
Damiere Byrd - Wide Receiver. Highly touted. He has great speed, very elusive, and is smart. A little on the small side, but has elements of a Santana Moss. He needs a big receiver to make him more effective, but South Carolina already has that, so expect him to stretch the field.
Sheldon Royster - Defensive Back. One of the top safeties in the nation. He has decent size, speed, and he is a hitter. He isn't afraid to play in the box.
Kelcy Quarles - Defensive Tackle. Has incredible athleticism, size, and leadership skills. He's a man-child. He spent his senior season at a prep school, got his weight down, and got his skills up. It paid off.
Most Likely Early Contributor(s)
Again, I hate to sound like a broken record, but if Clowney signs, he would obviously help the most from day 1. If Clowney leaves Spurrier at the altar, then Brandon Shell could start immediately. He needs to work a little more on his drive blocks, particularly with Lattimore in the backfield, but he would immediately improve the Cocks' protection schemes.
Top Class Sleeper(s)
Rory Anderson - Tight End out of Georgia. The kid is 6'5" and only 205 pounds. He has great blocking skills as well as great hands and concentration. Once he puts on some size in a college program, I think he'll round out the Gamecock offense.
The One That Got Away
We'll wait till February 14th and hope we don't have to update this section.
Wide Receiver Sammy Watkins who is locked onto Clemson. He has all the talent one looks for in a wide receiver. He is going to give the Cocks fits for years to come. Also, Charone Peake (4 Star WR), also at Clemson; he is a solid athlete and a solid kid. The Tigers definitely cleaned up at WR. I'd take their whole class.
I'm From Mizzourah
Mauldin. He's got all the talent, but he may never make the grades.
Strongest Position Group
By far, the Gamecocks have amassed a world of talent on the defensive front, whether Clowney comes or not. If he comes, they will rotate in fresh stars all game long without much loss in firepower.
Weakest Position Group
For a Spurrier team, this class is conspicuously devoid of high-grade quarterback talent.
Spurrier was brought in to do what no one else could -- turn a perpetually mediocre program into an annual powerhouse. At times, it has appeared he would sputter, but slowly but surely, he is actually bringing them along. They used to be Clemson's doormat -- not so much anymore. They used to be Tennessee and Florida's doormat -- not so much anymore.
Where is the evidence? They are starting to hold onto local recruits. Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Tennessee -- hell even Nebraska -- used to pick over the state of South Carolina like it was the milk isle the day before a snowstorm.
Now Spurrier has as many as 30 commitments and he has the state's top talent still dangling on the line, and they are almost all in-state. Folks in South Carolina have always maintained the state held its own in football talent. Sure, it's a small state, but the kids here are tough, fast, athletic and heretofore upwardly mobile.
Whether Spurrier completely accomplishes his task of turning the program around remains to be seen, but he has given us an early indicator. He has reversed the talent drain . . . and to think, the knock on him has been he's lazy and no longer recruits.
Did class address need?
South Carolina lost twice to the national champions, once to Kentucky, and dropped another game to Arkansas (no shame). Notably, Marcus Lattimore missed substantial playing time in two of those losses; against Kentucky, they were way up, Lattimore never came back from halftime, and they never scored again -- that is all you need to know about what caused South Carolina's fortunes to rise, and what could easily cause them to fall. What were South Carolina's needs? To give Lattimore help and make it so the kid didn't have to touch the ball 40 times a game to give South Carolina a chance to win. In this vein, South Carolina accomplished it's goal. They got some mega commitments and an overall athletic class. Damiere Byrd and Shamier Jeffery -- Alshon's younger brother -- add blazing speed to a receiving core that already has the capacity to stretch the field. They added talent on the O-Line. Had they landed a kick-ass quarterback, I would say they have surrounded Lattimore with what he needs to gain the same yardage on 25 touches that is currently requiring 40.
But the real gains are on defense. The D-Line the Gamecocks is amassing is nothing short of terrifying (if you wear Orange -- be it Gator Orange, Volunteer Orange, or Tiger Orange). South Carolina also has several solid recruits coming into the secondary. If Staley gets his grades up and comes back from a stint in JUCO, the linebacker core could be just as formidable.
I love what the Gamecocks are doing by recruiting locals. These kids know each other. They respect each other. The rivalries they built against each other in high school serve as a push-off point for bonding in the locker room. They are also playing for their state. South Carolina needs a little moxie. They need a chip on their shoulder if they are going to break through. The fact that they are not only in the running for the highest talent in the state, but the front runner, is a huge turnaround.
Where are they now? Suffering from growing pains. It's a good sign that they have to wait until February 14th -- Clowney's birthday -- to find out whether they have a top-25 class or a top-10 class. It means they are almost there. It also means, however, they are not quite there. There is only one reason Clowney would consider Alabama or other powerhouses over South Carolina -- he thinks they stand a better chance of winning SEC titles and winning national championships.
Good Job Spurrier, but you can't rest yet. You are still the underdog, and you will be next year too, and the year after that, but you are making progress.
Erique Florence, a four-star safety out of Valley, Alabama ranked third nationally at his position by Rivals, has announced his commitment to Auburn. The Valley High School standout had serious offers from over a dozen top programs, including Alabama, Arkansas, USC, Florida, and Stanford, and to hear him tell it, he lost some sleep trying to narrow the field:
"Last week was one of the toughest I've had," Florence said. "I'd go to bed at one o'clock in the morning and then get up early. It was long week. Parents and friends, and going to church, that's one of the main things to get a lot of stress off you."
It's comforting to know that at this stage of the college football recruiting process, top high school players are just as sick of it all as we are of hearing about it.
For more on Florence and for all your Auburn athletics news needs, visit SB Nation's Track Em Tigers.
Overall Class Rating: (B-) Meh. In Pinkel et al's defense, this was probably the worst year for Missouri high school talent in recent memory. The top recruit, Darrian Miller (RB), didn't even receive a Missouri offer. The next best recruit, Dan Tapko (TE/DE), wants to play a position (TE, hand on the ground) that Missouri doesn't field. Further, the Tigers had an unusually small number of scholarships to offer. So ... this class is has an extra helping of Pinkel's two favorite dishes: Under the radar Texas athletes and unheralded offensive linemen.
Top 5 Players
Sheldon Richardson, DT-College of Sequoias (St. Louis originall)
A top-10 recruit out of high school, if you even tangentially follow Mizzou sports, you know this guy. Richardson has caused more heartburn in the Show Me State than the inventor of buffalo wings. We are still not sure he'll ever make it to Mizzou -- he now has to take one more class to get his associate's degree after planning to enroll at semester -- but he has at least signed with us. A potential game changing defensive tackle at 6-foot-4 290 pounds -- the same size he was in high school when he returned kicks -- Richardson is easily the most important recruit in the class.
Gerrand Johnson, DT - Rayville, LA
Apparently we are going to win the war in the trenches. Johnson was originally committed to University of Louisiana-Monroe and, thus, flew under the radar a bit. He's already on campus to rave reviews from Rivals and insiders. It isn't like the interior of the Tiger line -- especially after Dom Hamilton's broken ankle -- was covering itself in glory last year, so there's an opportunity for Johnson to see time in the trenches next season.
Corbin Berkstresser, QB - Lee's Summit, MO
Say what you will about Gary Pinkel, but the man clearly knows that a successful college football program centers on keeping the QB position staffed with high level performers. That seems like a "Duh" proposition, until you watch teams like the Huskers flail around with the Zac Lee's of the world. There were some grumblings from the Tiger faithful when Berkstresser verbaled more than a year ago, but not so much after his 3300+ yard, 36 TD, 692 rushing senior performance in Lee's Summit's newly installed spread offense. A prototypical Big 12 quarterback build at 6-foot-3, 225 lbs, he should carry on the Tiger quarterback tradition nicely after we see the last of James Franklin and Ty Gabbert.
Shane Ray: DE - Bishop Miege, KS
Ray verbaled to the Tigers eons ago, but Pinkel and Andy Hill had to survive a late push from Notre Dame to secure this Bishop Miege, Kansas star. The Tigers, even with the premature loss of Aldon Smith, are insanely deep at defensive end, so expect Ray to spend a year putting on weight before the Tigers unleash him on opposing quarterbacks.
Unknown Texas Athlete
I'm most certain of one thing from this recruiting class: There will be a breakout "surprise" Texas athlete. I have absolutely no idea who, though. Your candidates are: Clarence Green (6', 195), Brandon Durant (6-foot, 180), David Johnson (6-foot, 200), Ian Simon (5-foot-11, 180) and Earnest Payton (6-foot-2, 195). I'm especially interested in Johnson, one of the top 110m hurdlers in the country, and Earnest Payton, an oversized corner. Both flew under the radar for a variety of reasons, but seem to have unusually impressive speed/size/athleticism.
Most Likely Early Contributors
DE Sheldon Richardson - This falls squarely in the "duh" category. Considering we have been waiting for Richardson to contribute to the Tigers since the Dead Sea was merely sick, dude better contribute early.
Top Class Sleepers
WR Brandon Hannah: Hannah is (allegedly) a very impressive athlete in Big 12 ready 6-foot-3, 215 pound body whose high school career was beset by injuries. Nobody knows what to expect from Mr. Hannah because nobody has seen him play competitive football for the better part of two years.
The One That Got Away
Damn near Sheldon Richardson, who, at various times, had begun to seem like General Sherman from the Simpsons. The biggest fish that got away was Dan Tapko (TE, Rockhurst), to Oklahoma. This one hurts mostly because (1) it is Oklahoma and (2) you hate to lose a big time athlete from one of Missouri's more productive/storied programs. But Tapko wanted to play with his hand on the ground on offense, and barring a serious change of heart by Dave Yost, we don't really employ anyone in that role.
KU fans would like to think that Anthony Pierson (RB, STL) is this guy, but I'm not at all sure he still had a Missouri offer. At the very least, the coaching staff no longer had him as a priority. So, I'll answer in the general sense: Any top-100 recruit. Pinkel is famous for his stubborn streak, and his insistence that the Tigers never pay attention to anyone else's evaluation of recruits. This year was proof as the Tigers seemingly only recruited less heralded players. I'm as willing as the next bloke to give Pinkel the benefit of the doubt, but damn, this was a boring recruiting year.
I'm From Mizzourah
Sheldon Richardson again. He's seemingly been talking trash since Al Onofrio was coach. Time to put up, or at least show up.
Strongest Position Group
The lines. Ray, Richardson and Johnson all have star-potential on defense and the Tigers will sign at least four offensive linemen.
Weakest Position Group
Wide Receiver. Brandon Hannah and Wesley Leftwich both have big question marks. Hannah's as noted above; Leftwich opened lots of eyes by consistently running the fastest 40 times at every camp he attended, often clocked in the 4.3 category -- from a white kid from mid-Missouri --but he accounted for next to no offense at Columbia Hickman this season. Is he just a workout warrior?
What's it all mean, Tom Lemming?
This class was, in large part, a "get Sheldon Richardson here and tread water until the massive 2012 in-state talent arrives." The Tigers clearly targeted the trenches, wrapped up their number on quarterback target over a year ago and then went after Texas -- and from one Oklahoma: Kentrell Brothers -- athletes. We aren't going to know if those athletes are going to pay off for awhile, but I'd be hesitant to question Gary Pinkel's eye on such things. After all, three of his previous Texas finds -- Ziggy Hood, Sean Weatherspoon and Danario Alexander -- are playing in the league now.
Overall Class Rating: (C) After a couple years of decent hauls, this is an underwhelming class on paper for Sherman. Position needs are addressed, but the overall lack of blue chips and immediate contributors is of concern. The staff seemed to turn their eyes toward a big 2012 class months ago as the team performed better on the field. If this is the sustainable goal, the Ags will need a big 2011 of living up to expectations. As for this year's class, I'm told Sherman will be giving his Signing Day presser over chamomile, crumpets, and the light sounds of big band out of a phonograph.
Taylor Bertolet - K - Rivals #1 Kicker. The Ags plucked this mule out of the natural recruiting pipeline of Reading, Pennsylvania. I did everything I could to keep a damn kicker out of my Top 5, but as you'll see shortly, things get bleak. Read on!
Joey Cheek - OL - Rivals #21 OL. Cheek committed way back in the summer of 2009 and is an early enrollee. At 6'7" 270, he has an ideal frame with room to add 40 lbs. or so primarily in the upper body. He has athletic feet and can get downfield and wreak havoc on linebackers and the secondary. Cheek shirts in my opinion.
Devonta Burns - DB - Rivals #43 DB. Burns garnered decent offers around the country and gave his verbal to A&M this past spring. He measures out at 5'11" 185 and played some safety in high school. He has a decent motor, so it will be interesting to see if the coaching staff turns him into a corner or bulks him up into a safety.
Shayvion Hatten - OL - Rivals #40 OL. What was perhaps the thinnest position unit of any program in the Big 12 under the waning days of Fran has become an area of depth and promise for the Ags. Hatten had a nice senior year and had offers from Mizzou, Tech, and Florida State among others. He is a gaunt 265 lbs., so a project to be sure. If you can ink a trench player by the name of Shayvion, you do as such, gang.
Donnie Baggs - LB - Rivals #26 LB. This was probably the most pressing position of need in this class and Sherm responded accordingly by landing four. I was tempted to place commit Shaun Ward out of Florida in this slot, but there is too much smoke around a last minute departure by him. Baggs is a fast, smaller LB that fits DeRuyter's 3-4 nicely. He is an early enrollee, and if he produces a nice spring and summer, he could be getting meaningful snaps in September.
Most Likely Early Contributor(s)
Taylor Bertolet - senior kicker Randy Bullock is doing his damndest to eat himself out of a kicking job (yes, you read that correctly), and Sherm wouldn't mind flipping the duties to a fish with some modicum of consistency.
LeMarc Strahan - Strahan hails from the breeding grounds of one Cam Newton down the road in Brenham at Blinn. He is an ox of a man at DT weighing in at a hearty 365 lbs. with the ability to anchor the defense at nose tackle. No word yet on if Reverend Cecil Newton brokered his deal.
Top Class Sleeper
I'll throw QB Johnny Manziel in this slot out of Kerrville Tivy. Manssiere? No, Manziel. Johnny is smart like a computer and put up these video game numbers his senior year: 65.7%/3609 yards/45 TD/5 INT through the air and 1674 yards/9.8 YPC/30 TD on the ground.
The One That Got Away
Plugerville RB Kenny Williams who is a Tech verbal pimped along the Ags up until the final weeks. He is of similar build to Christine Michael and has the ability to contribute as soon as he gets on campus. I'm told his handling of the recruiting process might be somewhat of a red flag. Tech views this as a resume builder.
I love teams that have big backs that tote the ball, so I'm bullish on Horn commit Malcolm Brown. Brown is the ideal RB when your team is up in the second half and you want to slowly bleed a defense to death. Route running and topline speed might be his areas of weakness, but that is really picking nits.
I'm From Mizzourah
Frankly, I'm not sure on anyone in this class. As mentioned earlier, there are no locks. I'm not wild on star ratings, but if that is the barometer, Sherm has found value in some three stars.
Strongest Position Group
DB gets the nod here, but it could be the LB corps if Shaun Ward somehow doesn't decommit.
This easily goes to the defensive line where only one prospect is lined up - JUCO LaMarc Strahan. There is no one to play the edge, and depth here was already an issue. I don't know all the ins and outs of the recruiting on this position, but it seems like a major disappointment for 2011.
A frustrating, ho-hum signing day waits for a program that is hopefully turning the corner. Winning recruiting battles over UT and OU at this point should not be the goal of this coaching staff. Losing on too many recruits to programs like Tech, TCU, Oklahoma State, and Baylor is unacceptable and the most glaring threat to an A&M resurgence. The underwhelming nature of this class can be masked by what is being purported as a big 2012, but coaching up this batch is going to be tantamount.
Did class address need?
If "need" was defined as replenishing depth in areas like the OL, LB, and DB, then yes, "need" was addressed. This seems like a reactionary mindset for a rebuilding program, but Sherman has also showed he can find value where others have not.
This class is essentially the opposite of a Dennis Franchione class. Fran loved the splash commitment of a skill player who might have personality issues. He all too often neglected minor things like depth and position needs which ultimately led to his demise. Fran's rate of attrition was inexcusable and a real indictment of his priorities in recruitment. To date, Sherman has recruited kids who stay out of trouble and stay on the team. I think if he finds eight two-year starters in this group it can be remembered as a success. Wednesday will come and go. Time for the staff to burn up the highways for a big 2012 pull. Gig ‘em.
Top 5 Commits
Zach Mettenberger - QB
The Georgia transfer via Kansas JUCO has a good chance to unseat Jordan Jefferson, who went two months last fall without throwing a TD and ended up as one of the least efficient passers in the SEC. Those two stats obviously correlate but the kid did beat Alabama, which always accrues some good will in Cajun country, a place Nick Saban temporarily officed. However, if consistency is the goal and Mettenberger can steer the ship, he'll get a chance. He deserves a shot based on his Geico caveman wig alone.
La’El Collins - OT - #6 overall (Rivals), # 3 (247)
The hometown kid from Redemptorist High arrives on campus with an NFL ready frame at 6'5, 306 (315 if he's fed recently) and should slide right in tackle for the departing Joseph Barksdale. Watching this kid on film recalls a low budget Godzilla remake where La'El flings would-be defenders across the field before they expire in a flash of smoke. Then mutant Jadeveon Clowney knocks out an endzone section and the two clash at midfield before getting sucked into Middle Earth, causing the entire planet to explode. Since Clowney will likely be attending South Carolina, there's a good chance you can catch the sequel live from Death Valley.
Jarvis Landry - WR - #18 overall (Rivals), #17 (247)
DeSean Jackson redux. The DB butcher from Lutcher, LA, Landry has a quick burst out of his cuts and runs perfect routes. Combined with shifty speed, these skills help offset his slight stature and enable him to break free for long TDs. Although his reported weight varies by 16 lbs between Rivals (178) and 247 (194), they agree on one thing -- Landry is one of the top WR prospects in the country.
Anthony Johnson - DT - #8 overall (247), #17 (Rivals)
Eyeball his profile picture and Johnson looks somewhere between the age of 38 and 45. These young men from the bayou -- they may scare young children but you will warmly accept them on your defensive line. At 6'4 and a chiseled 295, Johnson has the athleticism to play strongside DE. His one known flaw is that he's slow to turn his hips as a cornerback. Assuming Les Miles doesn't move him to the secondary prompted by a vision from his weekly voodoo clock management rituals, Johnson will wreak havoc early for LSU's defensive front.
Kenny Hilliard - RB - #63 overall (Rivals)
Hilliard has a similar build to former Ohio State Beanie Wells. He has deceptive speed at the second level and looks to be the next great big back for the Tigers. Nephew of former LSU and Saints star Dalton Hilliard, Kenny overcame significant reading disabilities to gain academic eligibility. He rushed for more than 2400 yards and 34 TDs -- as a sophomore -- earning ESPN's Rise player of the year honors.
Most Likely Early Contributor(s)
Look for Zach Mettenberger to challenge for the starting job this summer and take over signal calling duties by October. A true pro-style QB in the German nihilist mold, Mettenberger's style fits into the new system better than Jordan Jefferson, disregarding potential ballhawking LBs and DBs with equal disdain. He's similar in skill and stature to Ryan Mallett (Ark) without the desire to bring out his inner gangster. Man-child La'El Collins has been penciled in as a freshman starter at LSU since the 4th grade.
Top Class Sleeper(s)
LB Trevon Randle could break through and contend for playing time in place of departing Kelvin Sheperd at LB. At 6’1" with 4.46 speed, anything is possible. Life is but a grand buffet with replenishing gifts of unlimited cars, women, and cash. Sorry, I thought this was the Auburn class preview. But they'll throw Trevon a nice crawfish boil in the spring. Randle needs to hit the weights as 205 is more like Kicker size in the SEC. Another 10-15 pounds should do it and that will only take a week if he goes on the La'El Collins diet.
The One That Got Away
For a while it looked to be DE Jermauria Rasco. Big time player that will announce on today and it's down to Texas and LSU. Considering Rasco never made an official visit to Texas, even with camping out with his whole coaching staff in Mama Rasco's living room, expect Rasco to be an LSU Tiger on Wednesday. Stud DT Timmy Jernigan will also announce tomorrow and is likely headed elsewhere - to FSU, Bama, or Florida.
The Tigers missed out on CB Floyd Raven of Reserve East St John High School to Ole Miss. Losing out on any stud in-state DB hurts, but losing one to Houston Nutt is a multiplier of pain.
I'm From Mizzourah
Three guys I’m not sold on are Quentin Thomas (DE), Ronald Martin (DB), and Terrance Magee (ATH). None were highly recruited by other SEC schools, but Les Miles has amazingly kept his job by seeing things we don't.
Strongest Position Group
Defensive Line. Miles knows the key to success in the SEC is to be big and fast on the line of scrimmage. Basically, recruit guys like Anthony Johnson. It certainly worked out for Auburn with Nick Fairley. Historically, the Tigers' success over the last decade can be attributed to their strength on defense – specifically the DL. There may be another Glenn Dorsey in this group.
Weakest Position Group
Really, Les. One LB? The Tigers were relying heavily on Kelvin Shepherd last year as they were already thin at the position. There is some young unproven talent back there but an already depleted core needed some help. It doesn’t look like the Tigers will get any help from this class. Trevon Randle, come on down and crack some heads.
Were Needs Addressed?
The Tigers will round out this year’s recruiting class with a few surprises. It happens every year and I there could still be an 11th hour miracle with Rasco and Jernigan. This would put an exclamation point to a stellar defensive haul. In addition, the Tigers got what they really needed in a pro-style quarterback. Zach Mettenberger returns to the SEC with a chip on his shoulder after being let go by Georgia. Big-time arm, experience and size will give him an edge in Spring practice. Other than at LB, the class is well rounded.
Life for Les Miles should be less stressful in 2011. He has pulled in another top 5 class and has a young team heading into next season. The Cotton Bowl victory over a semi-quality Texas A&M team has silenced many of the Tiger faithful who have wanted him gone for years. The release of Gary Crowton and hiring of Steve Kragthorpe has generated a buzz in BR, as in Tiger fans started drinking heavily when the Krag was named OC. Hopefully, he can deliver the passing game that has been virtually non-existent the past few years. With young RB’s Spencer Ware, Alfred Blue and Jakhari Gore the offense should ascend to the top of the SEC West behind the stability of a veteran offensive line. However, special teams take a hit with the loss of kicker Josh Jasper. The nation’s leading place kicker had amazing accuracy and the speed to convert fakes, sometimes off the dribble. Newcomer James Hairston (Jesuit, Dallas TX) has big shoes to fill. The defense showed what it is capable of in the Cotton Bowl. Even with star Patrick Peterson having a quiet game, the emergence of Tyrann Mathieu, Eric Reid and other young players showed there might not be much drop off when captains Peterson, Nevis and Shepherd depart. Miles has been known to play guys who are the best at their position regardless of seniority. If things fall in place and the Hatter chews his grass wisely, it could be a special year in Death Valley.
The De'Anthony Thomas recruiting saga is already on its way to an end just two days after it began. Thomas had been firmly committed to Lane Kiffin and the Trojans before suddenly, and surprisingly, showing up on Oregon head coach Chip Kelly's doorstep last weekend. Thomas took a trip to Eugene, reportedly loved his time at Oregon and here we are, waiting on the top athlete in the class of 2011 to choose between the Ducks and Trojans.
Thomas will announce his decision to the world on Wednesday at 5 p.m. in a ceremony at Crenshaw High School. No matter what he decides, this is already shaping up to be good television. Either he created a buzz to come out and say it's always been USC, or he's turning his back on Kiffin and the Trojans for Oregon, a recruiting coup of immense proportions.
And which way is he leaning as of now? If you ask ESPN recruiting analyst Greg Biggins, the Ducks will be quacking tomorrow evening.
Of course we can't sign off without one last DeAnthony Thomas (Los Angeles, Calif./Crenshaw) note. The update as of 3 p.m. PT is that Thomas will sign with Oregon.
Remember, it's recruiting and 18-year-old kids we're talking about. Everything can change at a moment's notice, especially with another night to sleep on the decision before signing a Letter of Intent tomorrow evening.
Keep an eye on Thomas and the rest of the Wednesday's action in our handy national signing day StoryStream.
Overall Class Rating: (B+) They are still addressing quantity at the 11th hour, and the Tevin Mitchell defection stings worse than anyone wants to admit, but this class still started out like gangbusters and should be considered a national top-10.
Top 5 Recruits
Charles Jackson: No. 6 CB, No. 100 overall
Tyler Moore: No. 5 OT, No. 67 overall
Bubba Starling: No. 6 QB, No. 119 overall
Jamal Turner: No. 7 QB, No. 140 overall
Aaron Green: No. 8 RB, No. 61 overall
Most Likely Early Contributors:
Mauro Bondi: Kicker. We have an opening. And he has a 62-yarder under his belt in camp. Feeling sorry for this kid -- every NU kicker for the next 25 years minimum will be considered a disappointment.
Daimion Stafford: Witness Yoshi Hardrick -- JC recruits are expected to contribute quickly.
Aaron Green: Would really like to spend a year bulking him up, but Roy Helu's graduation and some continued academic problems may speed him to the field.
Top Class Sleeper
Ameer Abdullah is the popular pick, having made a Rivals sleeper list or two, but I'm going to go with Taariq Allen here. Why? Two reasons.
No. 1: Supply and demand. The performance from this position has been spotty at best, and the recruits aren't exactly lining up.
No. 2: In Bo Pelini I trust. I'm thinking of Quincy Enunwa here, not exactly hotly pursued by others, but we saw something and he ended up seeing time as a true freshman last year. Pelini also felt strongly enough that he took a visit to Massachusetts in December to nail it down. And we have to play someone besides Brandon Kinnie and Enunwa next year. Right?
On the other hand, I could be waaaaaaaay off here.
I was going to go with David Santos back around October, but for a change the recruiting community actually caught on to a kid exploding his senior year. He's a sleeper no more.
The One That Got Away
Braylon Heard's ACT. Okay, okay, I just wanted him here in the spring.
Tevin Mitchel is the one that stings. While I'm not that sure how a kid from Little Rock that spent life prior to his visit oblivious to the fact that Arkansas folk really dig their football would have done in the classroom, I can't mount up with other Husker recruitniks and act like he's no big loss.
That's a hole in the class that won't be plugged with similar quality.
The One That's Gonna Get Away
Bubba Starling. The Major League Baseball Draft is June 6th. The last day to sign players with college eligibility is August 15th. He will actually draw some raves for a couple of weeks of fall practice before leaving with his millions.
Zach Sterup has all the physical tools, but I'm not going to be sold on a Class C-1 athlete until I see it. He is in need of bulking up and will be dealing with a huge jump in competition. Not saying that the potential isn't there; I'm just not sure that four stars were justified.
Strongest Position Group
Probably addressed the biggest need -- the offensive line. Four Rivals four-star guys, including Tyler Moore (No. 5 at his position), Ryne Reeves (No. 4), Ryan Klachko (No. 12), and Zach Sterup (No. 26), as well as Price, easily makes this position the cream of the crop. Well, in my mind, anyway.
A case can be made for QB with Starling and Turner, the 6th & 7th ranked dual-threat QB's, but I still put the chance of Starling ever suiting up for a game at less than 10%.
Weakest Position Group
WR and TE. Not much happening at defensive line recruiting, but that's a fairly deep position. Receiver recruiting has just been brutal. There are obviously some major openings at WR and the TE position, which appeared so deep just a year ago and is now basically down to a two-man show. And they're in the same class.
WR was a disappointing position to the point that it cost us a game single-handedly against the last-place team from the South Division. The WR coach is also the recruiting coordinator and we managed to land one three-star WR from Massachusetts and no tight ends, barring late additions.
Very, very disappointing.
This recruiting season had Nebraska coming out strong early and then tapering off at the end of the year. Much like the team itself.
The middle and end of the year has been more notable by who we lost than who we gained. However, we did see the recent additions of Mauro Bondi (huge need filled by a big leg), Joseph Carter (shores up a thin D-Line class) and Ameer Abdullah (very undersized but if he can survive... well, I'm shushing that voice that keeps saying Mario Mendoza).
As noted above, receiver is glaring area of failure and there's no help coming unless a complete shocker emerges.
Did class address needs?
For the most part, yes. QB, RB, O-line? Check. LB, DB? Check. WR? No. D-line? So-so, but see below.
Signing Day Surprise Wish List:
To quote Rick Pitino, Brion Carnes and Corey Cooper aren't coming through that door this year. Our wish list is simple:
Todd Peat, Jr.
If we add him, the D-line portion of the class suddenly becomes top-notch. Keeon Virgile would be nice, but we are still pretty well stocked at LB, and David Santos is going to be a monster.
It appears that our finish may have hurt us a bit with a few people -- okay, so I only that read that about Niklas Sade, and who really cares what a kicker thinks? Honestly, outside of the rare guy like Alex Henery, most players want to duct tape these guys to goal posts and -
Alright, I'm rambling. Some people are going to consider this class disappointing mainly due to its fast start in the top 10. Compared to the other top-10 classes, Nebraska's was relatively light on numbers, and everyone was just waiting for us to blast into the top five.
Didn't happen, but this class is still high on talent (the Huskers' current star average of 3.5 per player is 10th in the country and basically even with classes three through nine) and quality. Most any school would have taken any of our top five -- check their offer lists.
We've got our first defector of 2011 National Signing Day! Jalen Grimble, a top high school football recruit (rated four stars by Rivals) out of Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, has decommitted from USC in favor of the Miami Hurricanes. Nevada's top prospect and the nation's No. 20 strongside defensive end cited academics as a reason for the switch:
Grimble said late Tuesday he plans to sign this morning with the Hurricanes, bringing an end to a frenetic scramble for one of the nation's most coveted pass rushers. Grimble originally committed to Southern California in May.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Grimble said. "The coaching staff is great. The school's in a nice area. The student-to-teacher ratio is 11-to-1. You could go across the country and that's hard to find.
Grimble's recruiter at Miami? You guessed it: Brennan Carroll, son of Pete Carroll and former Trojans assistant.
[HT: Along The Olentangy.]
It's 2011 national signing day, college football recruiting Christmas. And you wouldn't charge downstairs to open your presents without a detailed schedule that depends on a giant television network wrangling teenagers into public speaking events, would you?
ESPNU will be broadcasting all day long, planning to show at least eight commits live, three of which appear to be happening all at once. But four- and five-star players will be announcing all day long, beginning with Erique Florence at 8 a.m. ET. Also, it's surprising to note so many defensive tackles will be announcing around lunchtime (six of them!), as they're among the players least prone to missing meals.
Fans of schools like Alabama, Auburn, FSU, Ohio State, and USC should stay glued to this signing day StoryStream, but plenty of other teams have dogs in todays fights as well.
Based on Rivals' latest schedule, almost all of which I've been able to confirm elsewhere, and the list of expected announcements provided by ESPN, here's the current slate. Remember, of course, that we're talking about 17-year-old boys, so things can change without warning. Also in the case of players like Kouandjio, weather may impose delays of its own.
Still, here's a list of four- and five-star players who are expected to announce today (all times ET):
Erique Florence on ESPNU (No. 69, safety - Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, USC) [UPDATE: Signed with Auburn]
Lamar Dawson (No. 45, ILB - Kentucky, Tennessee, Oregon, UCF, USC) [UPDATE: Signed with USC]
Darius Jennings (No. 191, ATH - Ohio State, Virginia, Wake Forest) [UPDATE: Signed with Virginia]
Timmy Jernigan on ESPNU (No. 29, DT - Alabama, Florida, FSU, LSU, Tennssee) [UPDATE: Signed with Florida State]
Delvon Simmons (No. 80, DT - Oregon, Pitt, Texas Tech, USC) [UPDATE: Signed with UNC]
Stephone Anthony on ESPNU (No. 24, OLB - Clemson, FSU) [UPDATE: Signed with Clemson]
Christian Heyward (No. 94, DT - Oregon, San Diego State, USC) [UPDATE: Signed with USC]
Todd Peat Jr. (No. 182, DT - Arizona State, Nebraska, Oregon State) [UPDATE: Signed with Nebraska]
Dominique Terrell (No. 204, ATH - Miami, Virginia, West Virginia) [UPDATE: Signed with Virginia]
Marquise Wright (No. 149, DT - Michigan State, Rutgers) [UPDATE: Signed with Rutgers]
Curtis Grant on ESPNU (No. 2, ILB - Florida, North Carolina, Ohio State, Virginia) [UPDATE: Signed with Ohio State]
Isaiah Crowell on ESPNU (No. 22, RB - Alabama, Georgia) [UPDATE: Signed with Georgia]
Gabe Wright on ESPNU (No. 141, DT - Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Tennessee) [UPDATE: Signed with Auburn]
Jermauria Rasco (No. 168, DE - Florida, FSU, LSU, Texas) [UPDATE: Signed with LSU]
Marqise Lee (No. 36, ATH - California, Oregon, USC) [UPDATE: Signed with USC]
Devin Lucien (No. 190, WR - Arizona State, Colorado, Miami, UCLA)
De'Anthony Thomas (No. 5, CB/RB - USC, Oregon)
Overall Class Rating: B+
Top 7 Players: Mike Bellamy; Tony McNeal; Eric MacClain; Sammy Watkins; Charone Peake; Cortez Davis; Lateek Townsend
Most Likely Early Contributor: Mike Bellamy is five-star running back who is absolutely enough, though it would be nice to have gotten another bigger back. Five-star WR Sammy Watkins should be a considerable and immediate upgrade for a group that struggled to even catch the ball last year, let alone get yardage. And let's not forget Charone Peake (four-star WR), Cortez Davis, and Martavis Bryant (four-star WR).
Top Class Sleeper: Tony McNeal (QB) is a nice prospect, and Cole Stoudt should him give good competition.
The One That Got Away: DE Ray Drew, who committed to Georgia. Also, Jeoffrey Pagan -- we dropped pursuing him, thinking we had legitimate shots at Phillip Dukes and Jerell Adams, which would prevent us from having to cross-train Pagan as a DE and DT. I know Pagan was ultimately playing the game, but you would think the coaches would have fought a little harder if they knew they were wasting their time with Dukes and Adams.
Hey, Jealousy: Ja'Daveon Clowney gave a courtesy visit this weekend, but likely just to mollify a random relative. He has said for a while he wants to play for the Cocks or the Crimson Tide, which makes you wonder whether he just likes dark red; so, we were never in the running. I really thought we had a chance for Dukes and Adams (both four-star recruits) . . . both have now indicated they'd rather play for Spurrier.
I'm From Mizzourah: Stanton Seckinger, a WR, played private school ball in Charleston, South Carolina. I'm not saying this means he's potentially overrated, but . . . well, actually, that's exactly what I'm saying.
But he is big and supposed to be athletic. He is joining a strong wide receiver class, and the other guys are more proven commodities. I hope he can transition well to big time ball, otherwise his pants will look pretty all year long.
Strongest Position Group. Wide receiver. Good thing too, as that's where they needed the most help.
Weakest Position Group: The secondary, which has been a traditional strength at Clemson, so this is somewhat of a concern.
Narrative: Clemson played for the ACC Championship in Dabo Swinney's first year at the helm. Consequently, Clemson faithful were riding high hopes despite CJ Spiller's departure to the Buffalo Bills. Spiller was all-world at Clemson and my concern that he was the only reason Clemson wasn't absolutely horrid on offense proved true, unfortunately. Without him, the holes the O-Line created didn't look quite as big, and they closed with extreme prejudice.
Coming into 2010, the line was in dire need of stepping up. Injuries prevented them from reaching full potential, however. An unproven backfield mixed with an inexperienced line made the Clemson faithful long for the days of Danny Ford, Terry Allen, and the option. I heard uttered more than once, "Didn't we used to be a good run team?" and yes, that is true, if grammatically incorrect.
The passing game was no refuge. After signing a deal to play professional baseball, Kyle Parker acted more like Roger Doyal in the movie Major League than he did a gritty gunslinger. When he actually got a ball to his receivers, they dropped it. In mild defense of the wide receivers, most of the balls that got close to being on target were still high and behind them.
When Clemson was on offense, the most exciting place in the stadium was the Dippin Dots line. The chick selling them was hot and their flavor selection had improved. Who knows how good the defense could have really been if they only had to play half the game?
Clemson hit a home run with wide receivers. Together, they should make any quarterback look good for years to come. Watkins, Peake, and Bryant have the makings of an all-star trio. And Tiger fans should even express cautious optimism for Seckinger.
With their help, the university bookstore may even start selling quarterback jerseys again. McClain is a decent recruit at tight end in the sense that he is a big ole stud, but he has been known to drop a ball, which gives me cause to wince and wonder whether Dippin Dots are going to increase in price.
What makes offenses go, however, is the O-Line, and here I feel they stumbled a little. I would give them a C+ at best. They put a lot into the pipeline (Shaq Anthony, Isaiah Battle, and so on), but most of them look like long-term projects, and the team needs help now.
Offense is nice, but Clemson fans have always demanded a strong defense, and most years, they have gotten their way. On the defensive front, the recruits look big, strong, and fast. Michael Dean Perry would be proud. To continue in that tradition, the team needed most help at linebacker, and they got it, particularly if they land Stephone Anthony (I'm putting my money on Clemson) and Tony Steward (I'm putting my money on FSU).
Even without them B.J. Goodson and Townsend are solid, and Davis (who was recruited to be a DB and listed that way on most websites) could slide in and make a nice OLB. Defensive ends Corey Crawford (four stars) and Joe Gore (three stars, but underrated) will be nice bookends up front. In the middle, DTs DeShaun Williams and Grady Jarrett look good. DT Kevin Dodd, if he can qualify, could be the steal of the class.
Did class address need? Yes, for the most part. We need immediate help at WR and LB more than any other area. We did a decent job of addressing this on the LB front as of right now and a solid job on the WR front, with several players that have talent and have a chance to see significant playing time next year.
Overall: I think this is a nice group of immediate contributors (Bellamy, Watkins, Peake, McClain, Crawford, Anthony, and at least one DT), guys who will redshirt (Stoudt, Shaq Anthony, Norton, Battle, Gore, and Humphries) and some developmental risk/reward types (Dodd, Maybank, and Seckinger) with a couple of 'glue guys' (Colton Walls and Robert Smith).
Closing Thoughts: If we can land Stewart and Anthony, it may cement this class as outstanding across the board, but I still think our O-line and DB positions would remain average at best.
Overall Class Rating: (B) A very subjective grade this year, given the circumstances. Ordinarily, a roster of commitments like the one that the Wolverines currently have would be cause for much angst and hand-wringing amongst the Michigan faithful. There's a dearth of elite talent -- at least in the eyes of the recruiting experts -- with no five-star recruits and a relatively small number of four-stars.
But the normal standards for evaluation can't be applied this year due to the coaching change. Given that Brady Hoke has had only three weeks to cobble together a recruiting class, he's done quite well. He's done an admirable job keeping most of the previous commitments on board, and he's also been able to bring some new prospects into the fold. This is not a lost class, as many had feared, but a respectable one that should make a meaningful contribution over the next few years.
Top 5 Players:
Greg Mattison, Defensive Coordinator: OK, so he's 61 years old and won't be making any plays on the field. But there's no doubt that he has been the most important guy that Hoke has brought on board.
Mattison has been a defensive coordinator at the very highest levels of the college game -- Michigan, Notre Dame, Florida -- and pro game. And his most recent experience as coordinator of an elite defense in Baltimore, coaching superstars such as Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs, gives him (and Hoke) instant credibility and cachet with recruits.
Blake Countess, CB: A consensus four-star player and Army All-American game participant, Countess is a tough, physical player with excellent cover skills who is Michigan's highest-rated defensive back recruit, according to Rivals.
After RichRod's firing, Countess seriously considered Penn State, but Mattison had a big hand in convincing him to stay Blue.
Justice Hayes, RB: Another consensus four-star, Hayes is Michigan's highest-rated recruit. He decommitted from Notre Dame and pledged to the Maize and Blue late last year, staying true to his commitment even after RichRod was canned and being very active in recruiting other players to come to A2.
There was a lot of speculation that he was recruited as a slot receiver by RichRod, but he will almost certainly be a running back in the Hoke/Borges offense.
Brennan Beyer, DE: The only other consensus four-star in the class, Beyer committed early in 2010 and has not gotten a lot of publicity as a result. Considering he's around 220 pounds, he's undersized for a defensive end, so don't expect to see him in action until 2012.
Antonio Poole, LB: A high three-star/low four-star recruit, Poole is a ball-hawking linebacker who committed late to Michigan because he wanted to play for Mattison. He has the potential to be the best Michigan linebacker since David Harris and Shawn Crable.
Most Likely Early Contributors
Matt Wile, K: It's a sad commentary on our special teams and our recruiting class when the most likely early contributor is a kicker. However, anyone who witnessed 2010 season-long kicking debacle knows that we desperately need help at that position.
Wile is rated as the No. 4 kicker in the country by Scouts and was selected to participate in the Under Armour All-American game, so he's got talent. Before anyone gets too excited, it's worth noting that Brendan Gibbons was selected to participate in the Army All-American game when he was a high school senior, but since arriving in A2 he's shown that he can't hit water even if he fell out of a boat and lost his job to a walk-on.
If LB Leilon Willingham commits, as expected, then he could also see the field right away. Michigan has only one entrenched starter at linebacker, Kenny Demens, so there is plenty of opportunity, and Willingham already has the size (6-2, 240 lbs) to hold his own at the college level.
Top Class Sleepers
Kellen Jones, LB: Jones is a high three-star/low four-star recruit from Texas who committed early last year, so he hasn't gotten the publicity of other prospects. But he is an aggressive, physical player with great instincts.
Thomas Rawls, RB: Rawls has had questions about his grades and his ability to qualify academically, as well as a much-publicized love for Michigan, all of which suppressed interest in him. As a result, he doesn't have the offer list one would like to see, but he has the combination of size (five-foot-10, 210 lbs) and speed that could make him an ideal fit for the physical, pro-style offense that Hoke and Al Borges want to implement.
The One That Got Away
Kris Frost, TE/LB and Anthony Zettel, DE: Frost was a five-star and Zettel a high four-star, both of whom were very high on Michigan but ended up committing elsewhere (Auburn and Penn State, respectively) because of the prolonged uncertainty about the Michigan coaching situation.
Two high-profile casualties of Dave Brandon's handling of RichRod's status. If Brandon had fired RichRod after the Ohio State debacle, it's very likely that both of them would have committed to Michigan.
Demetrius Hart, RB: A five-star talent who was the MVP of the Under Armour All-American game, Hart was a Michigan commit when RichRod was coach, but his much publicized commitment was toast because of the uncertainty regarding RichRod's job status.
Hart was going to enroll early, but he was not willing/able to wait for RichRod's situation to be resolved and ended up changing his commitment to Alabama instead. Hart is a dynamic runner who would have immediately upgraded the running back situation and been the perfect complement to Denard Robinson in the backfield.
I'm From Mizzourah
Keith Heitzman, DE/TE: The second player to commit to Hoke, Heitzman was completely off the radar prior to Hoke's arrival in Ann Arbor. A three-star recruit, Heitzman decommitted from Vanderbilt in order to give his verbal to the Maize and Blue, and he had a somewhat underwhelming offer sheet dominated by MAC schools and lower-tier Big Ten programs (Illinois was his best non-Michigan offer).
However, it should be noted that Heitzman was an accomplished player in high school, earning first-team All-State honors in Ohio's largest division ahead of a couple Ohio State commits and a Wisconsin commit.
Strongest Position Group
Michigan still has six players left on its board, barring any last-minute off-the-radar surprises. Two of those players -- consensus four-star Leilon Willingham and high three-star/low four-star Frank Clark -- are linebackers, and both are reported to be leaning strongly to the Maize and Blue.
If they commit, to go along with current commits Kellen Jones, Antonio Poole and Desmond Morgan, then the linebacking corps will be the strongest group. This would be a very welcome development, given the recent mediocrity of Michigan's linebackers (which has been a major contributing factor to the unprecedented crapulence of the defense during the RichRod era).
If Willingham and/or Clark do not commit to Michigan, then the six defensive back commitments would constitute the strongest group. Blake Countess and Raymon Taylor are very legitimate high-level talents, but overall it appears that this is a little more of a quantity-over-quality group. All six players played cornerback in high school, but at least a couple of them are thought to be candidates to bulk up and move to safety.
Given the abundance of young defensive backs that we already have on the team -- whose growing pains were unfortunately on display in 2010 for all to see -- depth in the secondary should not be an issue in the years to come. The key will be whether any players step up.
Weakest Position Group
This is an easy one, since we don't have a single wide receiver in the class. Due to the current depth at that position, Hoke decided that he wasn't going after any wideouts in this class, despite having the inside track on a couple four-star talents.
Not sure I agree with that approach, but then again my opinion doesn't matter.
Did class address need?
This class does a pretty good job of addressing need, given the situation. There is a lot of help for the defense in this class, especially among the back seven and at the defensive end positions.
Tate Forcier's departure created a need for quarterback depth, which was filled by three-star Russell Bellomy from Texas. He was also offered by Michigan State, Purdue and Boise State, among others, and those programs have a reputation for identifying under-the-radar quarterback talent.
There are no glaring deficiencies in this class, except for maybe defensive tackle, although Michigan is still in the running for three-star Darian Cooper. A little more help for the offensive line would have been good as well, but there still are three (and possibly four) O-linemen in this class, including 330-pound Chris Bryant.
This year's class was not considered one of the top 25 classes in the country even before RichRod was fired, which is unheard of for a Michigan recruiting class. And athletic director Dave Brandon seemed to go out of his way to undermine this recruiting class.
First, he inexplicably waited until the first week of January to fire RichRod, just four weeks before National Signing Day -- a prolonged state of uncertainty that caused Michigan to lose out on some top recruits. Then it took another week to hire Brady Hoke to replace him, but not before the Michigan football program took even more hits to its reputation by supposedly being turned down by preferred choices Jim Harbaugh and Les Miles.
In the eyes of the sports world, the winningest program in college football had fallen so far that it couldn't even convince its own former players to come back to Ann Arbor to lead the program (a problem compounded by Brandon's absurd claim that he never actually offered the job to Harbaugh or Miles, which later caused LSU's athletic director to basically call him a liar).
Since Hoke came to A2, however, things have turned in a positive direction. No recruiting expert thought that Hoke would be able to salvage this year's class, since he was so far behind, but Hoke has been able to pull that off. Not only will Michigan have a full complement of players in the class, but there are several recruits who should be significant contributors for Michigan in the years to come. The 2011 class will most likely never be considered among Michigan's best, but it could have been much, much worse.
Next year will be the true test for Hoke and his staff. Michigan is a perennial top-10 recruiting power and one of the few schools that has always recruited nationally, and it will be considered a failure if Hoke doesn't live up to those standards in 2012. Next year sets up well for Michigan, since the Midwest talent in next year's class is reputed to be the best in a long time, and Hoke has said that he will be emphasizing in-state and regional recruiting.
We'll see. Given what Hoke and Mattison have been able to do with this year's class, though, there is reason for hope in Ann Arbor.
Overall Class Rating: (B-) I've got this class ranked a little lower than most due to the lack of balance. It's an A- class on offense and a D on defense, unless we pull in some late out of state pass rushers.
Top 5 Players:
1. Jace Amaro, TE - He's probably the best receiving prospect at the position to come out of Texas since Jermicheal Finley. He'll play with his hand on the ground and flexed out wide.
2. Le'Raven Clark, LT - If you were paying appropriate attention to the Under Armor game, then you swapped Clark and Westerman on your draft board. Hence, the late push by Texas.
3. Tony Morales, C/G - Was one of the top linemen at every camp he attended.
4. Marcus Kennard, WR - A JUCO deep threat with good size and impressive offer list.
5. Ronnie Daniels, RB - The only knock on this guy is he's from New Mexico. However, when you throw the measurables and film in, you're looking at big back with some sub-10.7 hundred meter times to his name. Impressive on the hoof and could fill out to 220. Now, you're looking at Matt Forte potential. Ideal running style for zone blocking.
Most Likely Early Contributors:
TE Jace Amaro, WR Marcus Kennard - A couple of need positions for the Red Raiders and two guys with the measurables to play early.
Top Class Sleepers:
RB Ronnie Daniels - I've seen a plethora of big backs in Texas over the last decade that couldn't run. Although, his film is sometimes comical against the level of competition, make no mistake about it, he's a big-time prospect, if playing in the Metroplex.
OL Matt Wilson - No coach in the conference does a better job evaluating talent than Matt Moore. I've been informed by a fellow Raider and high school coach in Coldspring's district that there is impressive footage of Wilson throwing around Cedric Reed in their matchup. If he's good enough to whip the guys UT is signing, then he'll be good enough here.
The One That Got Away:
DB Marcus Roberson - Landing a big-time corner prospect would have been just what the doctor order. Had a chance to sky rocket his draft stock with Blackmon, Fuller, Broyles and Gordon on the schedule.
DE Cooper Washington (OU), DT James Castleman (OSU) and DE Jimmy Bean (OSU) - This is a region where Tech alums outnumber OU and OSU grads by a margin of 10:1. The inherent pull of such in-state recruits to the state of Oklahoma is intangible in value. Field a respectable unit and good Texas defensive prospects won't give you the cold shoulder anymore. Reference Spike Dykes, who was 7-3 in the Big 12 against Indian Country, by controlling the Metroplex and West Texas for these type of players.
I'm From Mizzourah:
LB Blake Dees - An Alabama kid, whose 6'0", 235-lb frame, may prevent him from being effective in coverage or spun down to DE.
Strongest Position Group:
WR/TE - Amaro and Kennard are highlights of the class. Derek Edwards has a lot of Lyle Leong qualities with an extra step. Jakeem Grant nearly made my sleeper list as he was one of the fastest players in Texas this year, despite his diminutive size.
Weakest Position Group:
DT - Once a strength of the class, the tide quickly turned with the defections of Castleman (OSU) and Jon Lewis (TCU) late in the game. Too late to scramble around and find quality replacement options at talent starved position. Sickening, how good I felt about this group at one time.
Bear in mind, that every recruiting class is never as large as perceived. Rarely has anyone batted .500, even at the historical powerhouses, and 20%-25% is closer to the standard at such places. In other words, every player signed is a project. Typically, only 4 or 5 players at most will get a shot on Sundays at places like UT, Alabama, Ohio State and OU. There aren't a ton of NFL players running around anywhere and championships are typically won by the teams, who stockpile the most over a 2 or 3 year period. With 300 million people in the country and 85 scholarships per school, evaluations have become more critical than ever.
While I feel 2011 was a solid year in-state for offensive players, this was one of the weakest years in recent memory for defensive talent. I just didn't see many difference makers on that side of the ball. More decent starters than anything, and I'm not sure we even landed one of those unless Bradley Marquez and J.J. Gaines make the switch to defense. We're re-tooling with a different personnel strategy, so the extra scholarships may come in handy for 2012. If we land the Pennsylvania pass rushing duo of Branden Jackson and Desimon Green, then my opinion changes from disappointing to good enough for me.
What I do like about this class is a few guys with NFL measurables and potential athleticism on offense, which should keep us in striking distance with our competition.
Landing four-star LB Lamar Wilson on National Singing Day would go a long way toward shoring up Joker Philips’ 2011 Kentucky Wildcats recruiting class. The Cats have just a single commit rated four stars or higher by Rivals, and their class is expected to roll in ahead of only Vandy in the SEC. Yikes!
The Bluegrass State’s 2010 Mr. Football and the nation’s No. 3 inside linebacker, Dawson is also under hot pursuit by the Tennessee Volunteers, taking a visit just this past weekend. He’s also recently stopped by UCF and USC, though UCF isn’t really in the picture. Oregon is also in the mix, but Tennessee is considered Kentucky’s primary competition for Dawson’s services.
He’s a big, powerful linebacker who’s also a good enough athlete to play tight end and running back for Boyle County, earning Parade All-American honors.
Kentucky has lost recruiting ground to Louisville in the state, and it’d take a couple big signing day gets plus some Cardinals losses to change that. But inking the six-foot-three, 230-pounder from just down the road in Danville will be priority No. 1 for Big Blue.
Stay tuned to this StoryStream for more college football recruiting news as we count down to 2011 National Signing Day.
Overall Class Rating – D – Rivals rated KSU's 2011 haul the worst class in the revamped Big 12 alongside Iowa State, and with good reason. There’s not much there, with nothing better than a three-star, although ESPN says KSU picked up a four-star this weekend (see below).
Meshak Williams/DE/6-3/230/Hutchinson CC (KS) — #37 Juco per Rivals
Williams originally signed with K-State out of high school in Georgia but didn’t meet academic requirements. He can get off the edge quickly and should be a big boost to K-State’s pass rush.
Ian Seau/DE/6-3/235/La Costa HS (CA) — #18 DE per ESPN
Junior’s nephew probably would have followed in his footsteps at USC if not for the mess Pete Carroll left. Instead, the undersized end with good speed and quickness committed to K-State this weekend. It’s probably a good thing he came before this week’s blizzard.
Kip Daily/DB/6-0/181/Blinn College CC (TX) — no rating available
The best of three juco cornerbacks Snyder brought in, Daily hails from the same school that produced Michael Bishop and Cam Newton.
Lamonte Clark/DT/6-4/310/Ballou Senior HS (D.C.) — DT #39 per ESPN
This mammoth of an 18-year-old has a good wingspan to help him break up passes, and could be the only good thing D.C. natives Chris and Billy Cosh have provided to the program in two years.
Sam Harvill/DT/6-0/254/Shiloh Christian HS (AR) — DT #46 per ESPN
Harvill set a world record by bench pressing 505 pounds……when he was 15. Today he benches 585 and he put up some impressive high school stats but most schools took a pass on him because they say he’s too short and doesn’t have enough bulk.
Most Likely Early Contributor(s)
To go along with Daily, Seau and Williams:
Justin Tuggle — Dual threat quarterback from Blinn probably isn’t the next Bishop or Newton, but then again, neither is his competition at K-State.
Allen Chapman and Nigel Malone — Two shutdown corners from City College of San Francisco.
Angelo Pease — The Hutchinson CC standout is listed as an athlete, although K-State plans to bring him in as a running back. That’s what he played last season after spending his freshman year as the quarterback. He’s another guy who would have been with K-State two years ago if he had done better in school or on standardized tests.
Dillon Wilson — If Anthony Cantele struggles like he did at the beginning of his sophomore season, this kicker from Midlothian High School in Texas could be ready to fill in.
Top Class Sleeper(s)
Daniel Sams was being recruited by several big time schools before he got expelled from Salmon HS in the New Orleans metro area for undisclosed reasons six games into his junior year. Many of those schools rescinded their offers, although he still turned down offers with Miami and Oklahoma. More offers came during his senior year after he was restated and averaged 11.5 yards per play as a quarterback, running back and wide receiver, amassing at least 600 yards and 7 touchdowns at each position.
The One That Got Away
Marcus Kennard committed to KSU early and would have been the crown jewel of this class had he not changed his mind and decided to go to Texas Tech, where I suppose he will see the ball more. The 6-4 four-star juco receiver would have immediately provided K-State with an impact player who could have been its tallest receiver and a much-needed downfield threat. Instead, the ‘Cats will have to settle for 6-4 Jade Cathey, who won’t be nearly as good as Kennard this year, if ever. But Cathey did break Liberal’s receiving yards record during his junior season — which is impressive if you’re familiar with Kansas football — and judging by the second comment under this highlight package, he has a very supportive mother.
Even at the peak of the Bill Snyder era it’s hard to imagine why a superstud touted by some as "the best athlete in Kansas history" would want to go to school in Manhattan, Kansas, but today Starling probably didn’t even read the first line of his scholarship offer from Kansas State. Instead, the dual-threat quarterback from little Gardner-Edgerton was told by Nebraska he could be the next Eric Crouch, and he took the bait. Sort of. Even if he signs to play at Nebraska on Wednesday, it’s unlikely Starling will ever step foot on a football field or in a classroom in Lincoln, or anywhere else. Unless you think his agent, Scott Boras, is going to let Baseball America’s top prospect play a sport where people are trying hard to tackle him. Oh by the way, Starling could probably find a spot on Frank Martin’s team, too.
I'm From Mizzourah
It’s hard to imagine a guy who leads off his YouTube highlight package with the fact that he got a 17 on his ACT is going to have an outstanding college career. Honestly, nothing else really stuck out about Danté Barnett, who played wide receiver in high school with another K-State 2011 recruit. Sometimes that means one is riding the coattails of the other, and since I’m not going to bet against Tyler Lockett (Kevin’s son, Aaron’s nephew), that leaves Mr. Barrett with the short end of the stick.
Strongest Position Group
You may have noticed that four of the top five recruits are defensive linemen.
Weakest Position Group
Other than Arthur Brown, K-State does not have a single linebacker, which seemed like something of an urgent need as opposing offenses opened up holes as large as a double-wide pickup for most of this season. Get on it, coaches.
Short-term bandaid. The best case scenario for this class is that it allows Snyder to keep it together this year, develop some of the younger players, and maybe provide some reason for future recruits to come to Manhattan and help him build up the program again. That’s more or less what Daniel Thomas was able to do the last two years, and hopefully Bryce Brown can live up to the hype he had when he graduated high school in 2009 and someone like Tuggle can exceed the relatively small expectations. Snyder has always been good at finding talent out of nothing, as former walk-ons like Jon McGraw (Kansas City Chiefs), Jordy Nelson (Green Bay Packers) and Rock Cartwright (Oakland Raiders) can attest. The Wildcats still probably need and will get more jucos to round out the class (particularly on defense and the offensive line, but the overall quality is not going to get any better.
Did class address need?
As far as bringing in guys who can immediately shore up the defense and fill the gaping hole at running back left by Daniel Thomas and William Powell, the class could potentially do the job. But that’s expecting a lot, and certainly other than the stained Brown brothers, there’s no one who looks like an All-Conference type player.
It’s never a good sign when some of the best things you can say about a class are that the recruits had relatives who were really good at football, or even worse, they come from schools that produced college stars at their positions. But that seems to be the case here. Coach Snyder, I hope you’ve got some magic tricks left in the bag.
Despite a fistful of indicators that seem to point to Marqise Lee donning a USC Trojans hat on 2011 National Signing Day, he's not in the fold just yet. The four-star safety from Gardena, California's Junipero Serra High School is being recruited at the ever-popular and nebulous "athlete" position, where he's ranked third nationally by Rivals and tabbed as the No. 4 prospect in the state. He's also a high school basketball star, in case you weren't already impressed, but plans to focus on football, to the delight of fans of young men hitting each other everywhere:
Lee holds offers from over a dozen schools, and has taken visits to Oregon, USC, Miami, and Florida. Cal is also in the mix, and is said to be high on his list of prospective school choices, but the Trojans and 'Canes reportedly hold the edge.
What may push Lee into Lane Kiffin's supple embrace is the verbal commitment to USC by his high school teammate, five-star receiver George Farmer. It the Trojans are successful on this fishing expedition, the pair could end up as one of the rare package deals that actually goes through.
Stay tuned to this StoryStream for more college football recruiting news as we count down to 2011 National Signing Day.
When you have the coaching chops of Al Golden and the amount of talent in South Florida at his disposal can he really fail? While he might not have been the sexiest hire, he might have been the smartest, even if the majority of Cane fans remain unimpressed.
Don't feel bad, Uncle Luke, you're in the same raft as Michigan and Florida fans. Starved for success, often times fan bases can only be satiated by the splash hire. But if you look at Notre Dame, is there any doubt that Brian Kelly has the Domers on the right path?
Looking at the other two squads that compose the Sunshine State Troika, I predict Muschamp will have Florida rapidly climbing the interstate totem pole, and it's up to Golden to make sure Ibis keeps pace with the Gators and a rejuvenated Seminole program. Ah yes, Florida St...
The Seminoles are back and killing it on the recruiting trail like it was Bobby Bowden's hay day. With Bowden off to graze, Jimbo Fisher has re-established a recruiting momentum that had seemingly been lost for decades. In Florida the only measure of success that matters besides National Championships is recruiting prowess. One begets the other.
It's on Golden's shoulders to get Miami's buzz back after the failed Randy Shannon era. While Shannon's tenure didn't go as planned, the cupboard isn't bare. Bringing bart Art Kehoe to square up the Canes' OL was a great hire. And luckily for Golden, Coral Gables is in South Florida where the talent on the sidelines is only eclipsed by the talent on the South Beach sidewalks. It's recruiting El Dorado whether you're doggy paddling the dating pool or seeking out the next NFL Pro Bowler.
As stated, Shannon didn't leave the cupboard bare, but the ingredients needed to make a seven course meal and reassert themselves among the college football hierarchy just aren't there. With that in mind, let's take a look at all things Miami Hurricane recruiting as we head into Signing Day.
To put it bluntly, save for one recruit, this isn't a Miami standard class. To emphasize this, I'll point out that they have two kickers signed. Two kickers? I'm guessing Miami bass music is back, but to verify, check with @realuncleluke.
Amongst a host of decent talent sits one gem. If you watched the Under Armour All American game you would know that it was the white guy opposite of Jadaveon Clowney. While he's not in the superhuman class that Clowney is, Anthony Chickillo is a disruptive force off the edge that will require more than just a tackle to slow him down. A guy as talented as Chickillo basically gives you a man advantage on defense.
Once you get past Chickillo, the class is pretty average. Golden has proven to be able to within conference with less than stellar talent but it's a big step up from the MAC to the ACC. Or is it?
For a school like Miami with direct access to south Florida talent, this class has to be considered a huge disappointment. But with coaching staff flux and the resurgence of FSU, it's not all that surprising. With only 15 commits onboard and the bulk of them rated 3 stars by Rivals, the Canes have a lot of work to do in the next two days to be able to call this class a success.
Top 5 Commits
Anthony Chickillo - DE - #3 DE, #44 overall (Rivals)
Other than Jadaveon Clowney, Chickillo was the best defensive lineman in the Under Armour All American game. Chickillo blends an exceptional first step with high effort. Is this what Mike Mamula was supposed to be?
Bryant Dubose - DE
An excellent counterpart to Chickillo, Dubose has better size and a high ceiling . There's an outside chance that he plays tight end.
Phillip Dorsett - WR
A much-needed playmaker that can do damage after the catch, Dorsett continues the pipeline from St. Thomas Aquinas to the U.
Dallas Crawford - DB
Spurned the cross country move to USC in order to help restore that Canes’ swagger.
Kevin Grooms - ATH
Grooms is one of the few recruiting coups Miami pulled over interstate rivals Florida and Miami.
Chickillo has can't miss written all over him. Keep your TFL stat log handy.
Top Class Sleeper
I really like the long lean frames of DE Ricardo Williams and LB Antonio Kinard. With dedication and good tutelage, these guys could turn into monsters. With Jethro Franklin and Michael Barrow as position coaches, respectively, half of that battle is already won.
The One That Got Away
Heralded QB Teddy Bridgewater was committed to Miami but switched his commitment to Louisville soon after Randy Shannon was let go. Considering he's a hometown kid and the Canes' lack of depth and recent tradition at the position, losing Bridgewater is a major pox on this recruiting class.
Karlos Williams is a difference maker in the secondary from day one. He's one of the best safety prospects of the last decade and losing him to rival Wide Right is a bad beat. Williams has all the tools to become an FSU version of the late great Sean Taylor.
I'm From Mizzourah
It's not just a few guys, there are questions about the class as a whole. While Miami will be ranked low by the recruiting pundits, deservedly, there's still a lot of raw talent coming to the school. The true worth of a recruiting class isn't known for years later so with proper development, this class still has a chance to be good but it certainly lacks upfront star power. The 2011 class will be judged by Miami's onfield success and Coach Al Golden has his work cut out.
Strongest Position Group
DE is loaded with Chickillo, Dubose, Ricardo Williams, and Olsen Pierre. Look for the jumbo sized Pierre to swing down to tackle and provide some snaps there.
Weakest Position Group
For a school once known as Quarterback U, the Canes have yet to secure a verbal pledge with the decommitment of Bridgewater. Also, they have yet to acquire a pledge from a running back, another position rich with tradition.
What's It All Mean, Tom Lemming?
Golden has been put in a tough spot. Miami has lost virtually all of the clout and goodwill they had with recruits that had somehow carried over a full decade since the dominant run of the 2001 squad. While Miami is down, Florida is picking up steam with Muschamp and Florida State is on a recruiting tear not seen since the Bobby Bowden glory years. Fortunately for Cane fans, Golden has proven his coaching worth by routinely beating teams with more talent. But it's a big step up from Temple to Coral Gables and the fanbase certainly isn't jazzed about the hire. He'll have to continue that trend and work hard to restore momentum on the recruiting front. Stealing a coveted player from the Gators or Noles on Wednesday would certainly help get that process started.
Were Needs Addressed?
An emphatic NO, but with staff turnover that's to be expected. Golden has made good use of the little time he has had securing 11 pledges in the past month alone, but it's too little too late.
With the resurgence of Florida State on the recruiting landscape and rival Florida still enjoying goodwill from their recent championship run despite a subpar 2010 season, Miami is behind the eight ball and will have to rely on box score wins to get their swagger back.
Can it be done? Of course. Is Golden the man for the job? Time will tell.
OVERALL CLASS RATING - (A-) That might sound way too high for some, leaving me open to accusations of being drunken on the Frogs recent success (besides my new favorite cheap wine Arrogant Frog), but I have never been a huge fan of the star ratings and will build my case here in a bit.
THE BEST OF BUNCH - I think it says a great deal about how far Pat has taken the program when you look at the best of this class and see that it compares favorably with any school in the Big East and almost any school in the state of Texas.
Trevone Boykin - Very good quarterback prospect who is a great athlete. Biggest knock is his height which might be closer to 6' than 6'1", but he has one of the strongest arms in the state this year, runs very well, amassed over 9,000 yards and 80 touchdowns at West Mesquite, and most importantly wants to be the guy with the ball in his hands with the game on the line. Boykin can help the Frogs at more than one position and they have more talent athletic talent at the quarterback position with Paschall, Brown, Carter, Boykin, and Merka since the days of Gulley, Ankrom, and Rascoe, but this is a guy who could be special a the quarterback position.
LaDarius Brown - The best athlete in a very athletic TCU class and maybe the best athlete in the State this year. Brown is legitimately over 6'1", has a big frame that can easily carry more weight, good natural strength, a 40" vertical, good quickness, and is very physical on both sides of the ball. The only knock is he hasn't posted a great 40 title, but with above average football speed he could be a star on either side of the ball.
- I have no problem with the idea of students walking around campus with t-shirts featuring Carter. When a Sooner tries to tell me that a guy they consider to be a real steal isn't that big a loss my ears are open. Carter has great vision, has the time of quickness you want in a slot receiver, and runs fearlessly.
Jamelle Neff - Committed in the summer and while he didn't draw much fanfare, he has a very good offer list. He has a big frame that can carry more good weight and is physical, which has been the hallmark of the TCU offensive line.
Kolby Griffin - A huge early commit last February, Griffin was thought by many to be one of the top 5 corners in the state coming into the season and has long arms, solid build, and good speed.
Chuck Hunter - Possibly the steal of the class. Hunter is only 17 and has a soft body that doesn't look impressive at first glance. Once the ball is snapped you see the quick hands, great first step and pursuit that you find in many of the defensive tackles you see in the SEC. Hunter is from a high school program that demands toughness and hard work and this is a guy that could be a fixture in the TCU defensive front for multiple years.
Cameron White - Tall, good frame, very good quickness and above average acceleration for a tall receiver. He does need to get stronger and work on routes, but he has the physical traits that can't be taught and could see early time for TCU.
MOST LIKELY EARLY CONTRIBUTORS - LaDarius Brown has the tools and physical style of play that projects to early time at wide receiver. He will be a bit raw, but with a combination of size-above average quickness-great leaping ability it is easy to see him playing early.
Jason Verrett is a Juco signee already on campus who should push for a starting position at cornerback.
TOP CLASS SLEEPER - Travosky Garrett and not just for the name. He is a legit 6'1" and 190, ran a 24.4 200 and triple jumped over 47' as a junior. Garrett hasn't played a great deal of football so he still is learning the intuitive side of the game, but he has the size-speed-agility that TCU has molded into a physical safety with speed and coverage skills.
Jon Lewis is another player to keep an eye on for the future. He is a bit undersized at defensive tackle right now, but he has the frame to gain weight, has a good quick feet and hands, and was effective against some very good high school competition. Lewis is one to watch after he gains some more weight, strength, and refines his technique.
THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY - Greg Townsend, Jr. of USC. Dad was a Frog, but he only was in Ft. Worth for a year and a half, wasn't exactly properly used in Bob Junko's defensive scheme, and I don't recall any player say that playing for F.A. Dry was an endearing experience. Junior would have given the Frogs an above average pass rushing prospect of which you never can have too many on your roster and a bit of recognition nationally to close this recruiting season.
HEY, JEALOUSY - I'd rather look at who I want the Frogs to sign in 2012 and that list begins and ends with Jonathan Gray. Far fetched? So was the idea of TCU winning the Rose Bowl a few years back.
I'M FROM MIZZOURAH - This is a tough category for any of Pat's classes because no team has done a better job of finding gems than the Frogs. Dominic Merka was recruited as quarterback, but has the size, frame, and athleticism to play elsewhere on the roster. I am just not convinced he is capable of playing quarterback at the level TCU will need in the Big East.
STRONGEST POSTION GROUP - Split between two groups. The Frogs reloaded in the secondary with prospects Aldridge, Bailey, Garrett, Griffin, Hackett, and Verrett. All fit the physical mold TCU has had great success in recent seasons, Griffin and Verrett could see early time at cornerback and the other four project to grow into big, fast, physical safeties that make Pats's 4-2-5 so effective.
Losing three four of its leading receivers from the 2010 TCU landed a receiver group of Brown, Carter, Porter, and White not only combines with two tall, fast receivers with two smaller, more explosive slot players, but it would not be surprising if 3 of the 4 see significant snaps by mid-week.
WEAKEST POSITION GROUP - Running back. While TCU did sign a couple of players in Bush and Carter who can fill the utility roll that Jeremy Kerley was so effective for the Frogs, there is no true running back in the 2011. That isn't an issue with the returning talent at running back and Jonathan Gray in the 2012 class.
DID THE CLASS ADDRESS THE FROGS' NEEDS?- The 2010 team was a senior-dominated one and that class rightfully got a great deal of credit for elevating the program's national profile. What has gotten overlooked by many is that while TCU will lose some big names this is a program that has a great deal of young talent spread across the roster. The Frogs are especially deep in the lines and Patterson went out and landed three good prospects at defensive tackle, an early entry defensive end prospect in Terry who is the type of player they have had great success developing, and three offensive line prospects who fit the mold they used to create this year's line. TCU losses three of its four most productive receivers, but landed four great prospects to compete with returners Boyce, Hicks, and Dawson. Finally the loss of six of the ten defensive backs from their two-deep will be replaced with six defensive back prospects that seem to be mirror images of the players that are leaving Fort Worth. As mentioned above, it would have been great to land Townsend, Jr. to give the Frogs not only an above average pass rushing prospect, but also so late recruiting season fanfare. Overall the class meets all of the Frogs needs and when you consider the job Pat and his staff have done not only finding recruits but fitting them into the TCU style of play, you have to like the 2010 class.
CLOSING THOUGHTS - When Jim Wacker's team in 1984 went to the Astro-Blue Bonnet bowl it was followed up by what might be the best TCU modern day recruiting class with Houston Madison's Ronald Giles and Jerod Delaney, Jasper's Reggie Davis, Eastern Hills Mitchell Benson, and O.D. Wyatt's Falanda Newton. What happened afterward is an ugly chapter in TCU, but I mention that class for a specific reason. In focusing specifically on the 2011 class being Patterson's best overall class on paper what gets missed is the great job Pat and his staff have done improving the quality of players found on both lines currently in the TCU program, the speed and athleticism in the skill positions on offense and back seven defensively, and the fact that TCU signed multiple prospects that were widely sought and not just a collection of cast-offs and undiscovered gems. I am not a huge fan of recruiting rankings, but using it as a comparative tool with other schools in the Big East you see that in 2007 and 2008 TCU was not ranked in the 50 classes in the nation while the Big East was represented by WVU, Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse, and Louisville. In the 2009, 2010, and 2011 TCU has moved up in the rankings and I think it will be bore out in the Frogs being able to compete for the Big East title from the start in 2012.
Other than Mack Brown -- who along with Major Applewhite kept an entire class together minus Westerman after total staff upheaval -- I'm not sure any staff has done a more impressive job of recruiting than Lane Kiffin and company.
Admit it, after USC was put on sanctions you thought this could be the beginning of a long slide back to mediocrity. I did. Notre Dame and UCLA fans relished the notion. Teams trending negatively just don't put together classes like the one the Trojans have. But a coaching staff comprised of a mixed bag of excellent recruiters, schematic wizards -- oh, and Lane Kiffin -- is feeling alright about life on probation. In Southern California, USC is still king. Rap sheets are to be celebrated after all.
This will give USC the best class in the league, yet again. It's as constant as the smog and unstable fault lines.
Top 5 Commits
George Farmer - WR - #3 overall (247), #11 (Rivals)
Farmer is a cut above the rest of the crop of 2011 WRs. Look for George to cultivate an early bond with SC signal caller Matt Barkley and yield bountiful yards after catch in Pac 10 country.
De'Anthony Thomas - ATH - # 5 overall (247, Rivals)
There's lots of smoke stemming from Thomas' recent visit to Eugene that hints at a possible signing day switch from Troy to Nike. You don't see many kids listed at 5'9 160 lbs on national Top 10 lists but Thomas fearless in run support and a witch in coverage. Play him in the backfield on offense, motion him out wide, and send him to the middle east for peace talks. Kid can do it all.
Greg Townsend Jr. - DE - , #33 (Rivals), #46 (247)
Blending ideal size (6'4, 255) with superior genetics, Greg Townsend Jr. is a well rounded prospect that should contribute early. Townsend has been one of Kiffin's best recruiters and wants to restore dominance in Troy quickly. And kids from Beverly Hills usually get what they want.
Tre Madden - LB - #91 overall (Rivals)
Madden has the type of athleticism coaches dream about. After coaching Derrick Brooks for years, Monte Kiffin has to be ecstatic to coach a guy with similar skills. At 6', 215 lbs, Madden was athletic enough to play some QB in high school.
Jalen Grimble - DL
The cousin of current Trojan TE Xavier Grimble, Jalen projects to the other side of the ball. He's a versatile defender than can play DE on running downs and DT on passing downs.
Look for RB Amir Carlisle to join the five guys just mentioned as potential first year contributors. The slight yet speedy Carlisle should see early playing time on special teams while also being worked into the backfield rotation. He needs to add some muscle but he possesses the type of speed that you don't waste on the bench.
DeVante Wilson continues the recent run of talent coming out of the Inland Empire town of Corona. 6'4, 230 with a 30" vertical leap, Wilson has a long frame with raw instincts off the edge.
The One That Got Away
If De'Anthony Thomas does in fact switch his commitment to Oregon that will hurt the Trojans ranking considerably. The Thomas storyline will be one of the most closely watched developments of signing day. Another signing day decision comes from Florida's Kent Turene. The LB and former commit still has USC in the hunt along with Texas Tech, Nebraska, and Georgia.
USC didn't lose many battles on the recruiting front but one they did lose was OLB , which is surprising given the fact that Gibson is a teammate of George Farmer Junipero Serra High School in Gardena.
I'm From Mizzourah
Massive Defensive Tackle Antwaun Woods has all the talent to dominate the interior line like Sedrick Ellis before him, but if he doesn't keep his weight down and improve his conditioning it might take a while for him to contribute.
Strongest Position Group
There's a lot of strengths within this class, but we haven't even mentioned the most important position in Troy, QB1. With eight stars worth of QB's already on campus, perhaps the most prestigious position in all of college sports looks to be in good hands. Both Max Wittek and Cody Kessler have the skills to continue the rich tradition of drop back pro-style USC quarterbacks. I give the slight edge to Wittek, but don't forget about 2010's Jesse Scroggins when it comes time to replace Barkley.
Weakest Position Group
Although they have four offensive lineman coming in, the quality isn't up to USC standards. Three of them rate as three stars and recent commit Cyrus Hobbi rates as a four star. No Deuce Lutui in this group.
What's It All Mean, Tom Lemming?
When you're the lone true regional power recruiting in a talent laden area you're supposed to pick and choose your players as you see fit. But with Southern Cal being on probabtion for the next few years, the job that Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron have done selling their program is nothing less than phenomenal. This class addresses almost every need with a heavy emphasis on quality defensive front seven talent. But with all the great work done by the staff, their most pressing need is keeping Thomas in the fold. He's a true difference maker regardless of where you play him. Losing him to Oregon will hurt much in the same manner that losing Cliff Harris to the Ducks previously did.
Were Needs Addressed?
Save for the aforementioned OL and DB position groups, this class fills all of it's needs. The defensive line and linebacking corps should rate with anyone's nationwide.
While Oregon has overtaken SC on the gridiron, the Trojans have put together a class that should help them level the playing field. By the time they're off probation they should be positioned nicely to challenge for conference championships in the newly established Pac 12.
Overall Class Rating – A – This is probably the best class in the country if Bama doesn’t miraculously wrangle the nation’s top prospect, Jadeveon Clowney. Impressive depth, with elite talent across the board. Jimbo Fisher skipped the shot across the bow and deployed a tandem carpet bombing on Gainesville and Coral Gables.
Top 5 Commits
Karlos Williams – S – #7 overall (247), #8 (Rivals)
The best safety in the country. Defensive MVP of the Under Armour All Star Game. 6’2, 210. Yes, please. Come across the middle and he’ll scalp you with a smile.
Nick O’Leary – TE – #16 overall (247), #33 (Rivals)
The best TE in the country
Tony Steward – LB – #12 overall (247), #13 (Rivals)
Steward has yet to commit as of press time, but is a strong Seminoles lean. He has just about everything you could want from a LB, with elite size, speed, and athleticism.
Cornellius Carradine – DE – #1 JUCO (Rivals)
Carradine had offers from Alabama, UGA, Arkansas, and Ohio State, amongst others. The next great Noles DE? The name certainly qualifies.
James Wilder – RB – #27 overall (247), #11 (Rivals)
Perhaps the most talented OLB in the country, he has so far insisted that he will play RB in college. This one is going down to the wire in a fierce battle between the Noles and in-state rival Florida Gators.
Most Likely Early Contributors
Cornellius Carradine – JUCO DE is already on campus.
Nick O’Leary – steps onto a roster currently lacking a quality TE while boasting an NFL-ready body. Clutchy bloodlines from the Nicklaus clan never hurts.
Top Class Sleepers
Arrington Jenkins is a four-star talent at LB rated as a three-star because his grades were thought to give him the chance to enroll at a four-year college. He has supposedly made great progress and should qualify.
The One That Got Away
The recruitment of five-star DE Aaron Lynch was a veritable Magical Mystery Tour. Lynch committed early to Notre Dame, switched his pledge to Florida State amidst rumors he didn’t have the grades to make it to South Bend, before switching back to the Irish just days before the deadline for early enrollment. He’s already taking classes in South Bend, so if he changes his mind again he’ll have to transfer.
It all starts up front on defense, and Tim Jernigan might be the best defensive lineman in the country not named Clowney. FSU still has a decent shot at Jernigan, but it says here that the big DT heads to Gainseville, no doubt lured by their proud tradition of dudes named "Tim". Can a faith-based charity mission to the Phillippines be far away?
I’m From Mizzourah
James Wilder, Jr. is a big-time athlete, but he’s not worthy of the 5-star rating he carries on Rivals as a RB.
Strongest Position Group
FSU has eight, yes EIGHT, offensive linemen committed, five of whom are rated as four-star players on 247. It’s no secret what position Jimbo has targeted to help retool the Noles’ offense.
Weakest Position Group
FSU has but a single QB committed, Jacob Coker, and he’s rated as a three-star by both 247 and Rivals.
What’s it all mean, Tom Lemming?
Total dominance. This class started strong, with four commits in 2009, and eight more commits before the 2010 season began. It continued strong as FSU took advantage of poor seasons by their main rivals to steal recruits once thought to be locks elsewhere. Nick Waisome, the top cornerback in Florida, was a longtime Gator commit who may or may not have been kicked to the curb by Will Muschamp for being too small (Waisome is listed at 5’10", 170). He’s now a Seminole. Nick O’Leary was thought to favor Miami, but the tides turned after FSU’s beatdown of the Canes in October. 6’6" WR Kelvin Benjamin was a Miami and then a Florida lean at times during his recruitment before committing to FSU. The Noles are famous for signing day switcheroos and this year is no different. Four-star New Jersey OL Josue Matias already switched his commitment from Rutgers to FSU yesterday. Steward should hop on board on National Signing Day. FSU still has a shot at DE Jermauria Rasco and DT Timmy Jernigan, though they’re probably running second or worst for both of those guys.
So did Jimbo adress his needs with his first full class in Tallahassee? I’m of the opinion that the biggest need for any program in any year is to bring in a busload of elite talent across the board. Need met.
Given the comparatively futile recruiting by the rest of the ACC in general and Miami in particular, it’s hard not to see this class playing a huge role if the Noles turns things around as quickly as Fisher hopes. Absurdly, FSU already has six commitments for the class of 2012, all of whom should be national top-100 types. The talent gap between the Seminoles and the rest of the league should soon be so large that the members of this class will play in multiple BCS games, if not a MNC game.
In his first year of recruiting for Notre Dame, Brian Kelly and his staff have come up aces. Combing the country for the players they need to fit their schemes, Kelly has filled vital needs, increased overall team speed, started and creating a future front seven that has the potential to be dominant.
The 2011 Fighting Irish class of 23 verbal commitments come from 14 states. Interestingly, Kelly and his staff offered prospects from 33 different states.
"I've found that prayers work best when you have big players." --Knute Rockne
Following Rock's advice, the Irish recruited some talented big men.
My Top 8:
Aaron Lynch - The top defensive end in Florida showed how dominant his pass rush could be in the Army All-American game. 247 rates Lynch the 6th best player nationally.
Matthew Hegarty - This offensive tackle should protect Irish QB's blindsides for years.
Ishaq Williams - The #1 or #2 ranked weakside defensive end is destined to play outside linebacker. His impressive speed will enable to cover RBs and rush the passer.
Ben Koyack - The top ranked tight end in this year's class will provide another receiving weapon in Kelly's spread offense.
Stephon Tuitt - Rivals' number two SDE should be a disruptor and stuff the run.
Ben Councell - Councell has risen from 3 star ranking to Rivals' #5 weakside defensive end after a monster game at the Carolinas Shrine Bowl with thirteen tackles. Ben will join Ishaq as an outside linebacker with both coverage and pass rushing abilities.
George Atkinson and DaVaris Daniels - The Irish get two of 247s top fifteen wide receivers. Atkinson is picked as one of the top ten fastest prospects in the nation.
Most Likely Early Contributors - Aaron Lynch, Ishaq Williams, Stephon Tuitt. Lynch and Williams have enrolled early and will benefit from the strength and conditioning program and spring practices prior to the 2011 season.
"Motivation is simple. You eliminate those who are not motivated." --Lou Holtz
Top Class Sleepers - These players are motivated. Ben Councell - The Asheville, NC DE/OLB has emerged due to recent performances, but many coaches long preferred him to higher ranked DEs. Everett Golson - This dual threat quarterback switched from North Carolina to the Irish. He is sixth all-time nationally with 148 passing touchdowns, but lacked media coverage in South Carolina. Cam McDaniel from Texas powerhouse Coppell ranked 4th nationally in scoring, 18.6 pts/game, but is neglected in RB rankings.
The One That Got Away - Savon Huggins, Jersey City, NJ. Rivals #7 RB chose in-state Rutgers.
Hey, Jealousy - George Farmer, Gardena, CA. The top ranked WR in this class and #3 overall player by Rivals chose USC.
I'm From Mizzourah - Matthias Farley, Charlotte, NC. Matthias could eventually be a good safety, but needs to show himself against the stiffer competition Irish practices will bring.
"It isn't necessary to see a good tackle. You can hear it." --Knute Rockne
Strongest Position Group - Defensive Line - The Irish have one of the better defensive line recruiting groups in recent memory, which may soon evoke Rockne's saying. Some like Ishaq Williams and Ben Councell will become OLB. Stephon Tuitt, Aaron Lynch and Chase Hounshell, who decommited from Florida, will stay on the DL. Brad Carrico and Tony Springmann have the flexibility to play offensive line or defensive line. Notre Dame may still get another commitment that would bolster the DL from Troy Niklas, who will choose on National Signing Day between USC and ND.
Weakest Position Group - Running Back - With recent misses on Savon Huggins and Amir Carlisle and Cam McDaniel possibly headed towards split end, the Irish lack a true running back in this class. Rivals does not even rank Notre Dame in the top 50 teams for running back.
"Show me a good and gracious loser, and I'll show you a failure." --Knute Rockne
Narrative: When Jordan Prestwood, OT, and Aaron Lynch decommited for Florida State in October and Stephon Tuitt baled for Georgia Tech in January, the Kelly staff fought back, regaining Lynch's and Tuitt's commitments. They convinced Chase Hounshell, DE, to switch from Florida to Notre Dame. They fought for Everett Golson to become their QB, and got commitments from Cam McDaniel and Bennett Okotcha of Coppell.
Did class address need?
Four areas were huge needs for the Irish –
1. Defensive End - Two starting seniors were backed up only by two commits offered late last year after Kelly was hired. The Irish had had only those two commits in two years. This need was filled in spades.
2. Outside Linebackers - The Irish needed speed and pass rushing ability and got Williams, Councell and Anthony Rabasa.
3. Cornerback - Only two CB commitments in three years required a freshman this enter the two deep. The Irish have three cornerback commitments.
4. Safety - One safety in two years left the Irish thin at the position. Eilar Hardy and Matthias Farley will provide them with help in that crucial area.
Overall: The Irish fill all their needs with the 2011 class. The defensive line haul is astounding and the subject of national recruiting services kudos. Notre Dame showed a rebirth in being able to draw top ranked talent to South Bend from across the country. The Irish's strong finish in November and bowl win against Miami, combined with this Irish recruiting class full of speed, power, and depth portends continued improvement in South Bend. We can also consider their biggest addition to next year's squad to be Michael Floyd, who opted to return for his senior season, anchoring the wide receiver corps.
Closing Thoughts: We may look back on the 2011 class as the turning point for Irish fortunes. Kelly aids his potent offense by recruiting a top notch defense. Tactically, the Irish can enter 2012 by targeting some top recruits instead of scrambling to fill positional needs and bringing along players a year too quickly. Expect Kelly to concentrate on recruiting up the middle - RB, QB, C, NT, ILB, S - while further upgrading the talent and speed across the board in South Bend. The 2011 Irish team will show how much Kelly and his staff can coach his players up to their full potential.
Traditionally, the Big East doesn't pick up many of the nation's elite players. This season won't be much different, which is no surprise considering the season that was.
Currently, only four players on the ESPNU 150 are committed to Big East schools and Louisville is reaping the lion's share with three of them. Yes, Louisville.
The Cardinals expect to receive commitments from S Gerod Holliman (No. 49 in ESPNU 150), WR Eli Rogers (No. 83) and QB Teddy Bridgewater (No. 143) on Wednesday. Bridgewater has actually already enrolled at UL so it would be super-awkward if he didn't commit.
The key to Louisville's success and the big reason they'll easily have the Big East's best recruiting class is their ability to snare top talent from Florida. Football recruiting coordinator Clint Hurtt will have earned his vacation in a few weeks.
The Cards have 19 commitments, with several players on their board still undecided. Of those commitments, 11 are from Florida, including seven from Miami.
"I think they have been doing the best job out of any program that has come into this area," Miami Southridge High School coach Patrick Burrows said. "This area is familiar to a lot of those guys, and they're doing a great job here."
The Big East is ripe for the picking and there's no reason Louisville won't be able to return to form if they keep this up.
The only other school in the conference to snare an ESPNU 150 athlete is Rutgers. That would be RB Savon Huggins (No. 28). Huggins tried to have a little fun when he made his announcement, briefly wearing a UNC hat before replacing it with a Rutgers cap, but it was a foregone conclusion he'd end up with the Scarlet Knights.
Rutgers has been looking for a supreme playmaker since Ray Rice and many feel they might have just found him.
One Big East team that won't be showing up in the list of top classes is Pitt. Before Dave Wannstadt was fired, the Panthers were en route to a another solid recruiting class. Then Wanny was fired, the Mik Haywood fiasco went down and Todd Graham was left to pick up the pieces as quickly as possible.
Graham came in with six recruits still committed and has now worked that list back up to sixteen, with more expected on the way. There are a few fairly big fish out there that have Pitt on their list, but even if they don't land any big fish, it's been an admirable climb back up for Graham and the Panthers.
Debate the validity of ranking college football recruiting classes all you want, but real games don't start up again until September, and assigning winners and losers for 2011 National Signing Day is the only way we, as a nation, will be able to assert tribal superiority over our most hated gridiron foes between now and spring camp injury pools. (Everybody does those, right?) With less than 24 hours to go before creaky fax machines wheeze to life in football offices from coast to coast, here are the current clubhouse leaders in college football recruiting, as ranked by our friends at Rivals:
3. Florida State
9. Notre Dame
And the takeaways:
• We're still ______. Alabama suffered multiple embarrassing losses in 2010, and Texas was shut out of postseason play entirely, but those are program pedigrees that speak for themselves. The recruiting triumvirate powerhouse you do want to worry about is Florida, languishing down at No. 17 even after the installation of legendary recruiter Will Muschamp as head coach.
• Now is the season of ... Jimbo! It wasn't hard to see this one coming, but with coaching swaps at Miami and UF, FSU has the state on apparent lockdown.
• Returning to glory, any day now. After everything USC and Notre Dame have been through as programs in the past couple years, safe to say they could disband scholarship football entirely, field only club teams, and still land top high school football recruits, year after year after year.
• Save our skipper! Will a stellar 2011 recruiting class cool the toasty seat of Mark Richt? That's the buzz around the lately-troubled program that's been raking in blue chips by the handful.
• Clemson? Yeah, I think that one threw us all for a loop.
Stay tuned to this StoryStream for more college football recruiting news as we count down the hours to 2011 National Signing Day.
It's hard to knock a recruiting class ranked in the top 15 of every major service. Considering how few scholarships Oklahoma has to give, it's even more impressive. Scout has the Sooners at 13th overall, but when you adjust for class size, they move to fifth. Rivals has Oklahoma at 12th overall, but, again, adjusting for class size, they move up to third. ESPN.com has the Sooners as sixth. What's more is that between walk-ons Brandon Wegher and Londell Taylor, Oklahoma has a couple of very serious athletes not taking up any scholarship room. Wegher will probably get his scholarship with the 2012 class, but Taylor is paid for thanks to his minor league contract.The only thing separating Oklahoma from an A+ is the group at offensive line. Overall Class Rating: A
1) Brandon Williams: Think Demarco Murray circa 2007. Some guys have great acceleration, but just good top speed (Quentin Griffin). Some have elite top speed, but just good acceleration (DJ Monroe). Williams is the rare player who has both.
2) Jordan Phillips: Has the highest ceiling of any lineman, offense or defense, in the Class of 2011. I'm including guys like Christian Westerman and Jadeveon Clowney. At 6-foot-6, 300 pounds, this guy can do a backflip flat-footed. The guy is a freak of an athlete. Put him at a top flight school in Texas, California or Florida, and he's probably ranked as one of the top five players on all the services.
3) Trey Metoyer: If he gets a qualifying ACT score, he's going to challenge for a starting spot in fall camp. He's not fast like Stills, and he's not as precise of a route runner. But he's bigger, more physical, and is going to be much more adept at coming down with the ball on vertical and deep routes.
4) Archie Bradley: He put on a very serious performance at the Elite 11 camp, finishing in the top 3, despite having the disadvantage of being committed full-time to playing baseball during the summer and offseason. If Oklahoma can get him on campus and committed to playing football full-time, he's Sam Bradford redux. Unfortunately, the odds of this happening are next to zero. He's a projected top 20 pick in the MLB draft, as he's ranked as one of the top pitching prospects in America. Londell Taylor got picked in the 14th round, and he's coming back 3 years later on a full ride paid for by MLB. Bradley can go get a $1.5 million signing bonus, and come back if he wants to play on MLB's dime.
1) Brandon Williams: Taking a play out of the Kenny Stills playbook, Williams enrolled for the spring to get a leg up on the competition in fall camp. I think this will be the difference between spending the year on special teams and getting 10-to-15 carries a game from the jump. Coaches have been extremely impressed with his athleticism after just two weeks of testing.
2) Londell Taylor: Also arriving in the spring, he was an early commit recruited in the same 2007 class as Travis Lewis and Ryan Broyles. Unlike those two, he got drafted in baseball and tried his hand there. I see him contributing early because he's already on campus, and he's already making a very serious impression on the coaches and the team with his maturity and leadership.
Danzel Williams: You know how you watch tape of a player, and you can just tell you've got something special even though you can't quite put your finger on why? That's Danzel Williams. Whether it's on returns or at cornerback, he's going to make an impact.
Brandon Carter: His future at defensive back would've been extremely bright under Willie Martinez, but I just can't knock the kid for going to TCU. His heart was on offense, and they gave him a chance to play his position of choice for a great program. Looking forward to seeing him in 2012 when OU heads to Amon Carter Field.
Garrett Greenlea and Sedrick Flowers are the only two guys OU offered that I really hoped we would land. Both need to improve in pass protect, which we teach quite well, but both bring in great frames and use their hands well. With the way our OL has been, all the talent we could get there wouldn't hurt.
Athletes. Guys like Jordan Phillips, Brandon Williams, Nathan Hughes, Danzel Williams, and others like them exemplify what appears to be OU's new attitude in recruiting. Phillips could be an outstanding DT, but he could also be an NFL left tackle and even play some tight end. Hughes has the speed and ability to be a run stopping DE, but he could also put on 30-40 pounds and play inside if he needed to. Danzel Williams could play RB, CB, and should definitely get a shot at KR/PR.
Offensive tackle: For the reasons I discussed above. But LB is a close 2nd. PL Lindley seems like a bit of a reach, and while Londell Taylor's leadership and maturity are impressive, I'm curious to see if that translates into results on the field.
Instead of rehashing analysis you can figure out yourself, let's look at what's really important about this Sooners class and about what Oklahoma has been doing.
1) Spring forward! Oklahoma is encouraging freshmen to graduate early and get involved in spring drills as a way to get a leg up on fall competition. Ask Kenny Stills and Tony Jefferson if that worked for them. Then ask them if trying to use things like logic and reason with the Norman PD worked. But I digress. Take a look at the OU roster for winter conditioning, and already three of the six high school All Americans are working out on campus with the team. Kenny Stills' ability to be a threat from day 1 is in large part attributable to his work with Landry Jones and the offense for the 8 months prior to fall camp.
We're seeing Stoops go after freshmen who are going to be athletically ready to go from jump street. We're also seeing high schools producing more players who are physically and mentally ready to play. Marshall Musil was a damned terror in the spring game at FB, but he still lost his job to Trey Millard (and for good cause) in fall camp. Roy Finch would've been getting carries against Utah State if he hadn't hurt his foot. Geneo Grissom and Torrea Peterson were both going to be getting into the 4 man rotation at DE and DT respectively, but both got injured before they got their shot. True frosh Daniel Noble did get into the DT rotation before he went down with a brutal concussion. Corey Nelson saw playing time despite his position being filled by Travis Lewis.
2) The Door is ALWAYS Open: Guys who are considered "risky" by Texas and other programs (Trey Metoyer -grades, Brandon Williams-personal issues, Brandon Wegher-personal issues) are going to OU to get a fair chance to be treated like everyone else at a top level program. OU has proven that if you're willing to keep your damned nose clean, it will give you a chance to prove yourself. Screw up, and they'll show you the door. Lynn McGruder came to OU after getting the boot from Tennessee for marijuana possession. He left OU a hero after helping Mark Bradley pull a family (OSU fans, no less) out of their overturned van on the side of I-35. Can you imagine the courage? Just to be willing to touch an OSU fan? That's like cuddling an opossum. It's just going above and beyond the call.
It's a calculated risk, but it's not something Bob Stoops takes lightly. This is a guy who spends his free weekends visiting sick kids at OU Medical Center. It's about more than winning games to Stoops. As a completely not-seamless segue, keep an eye on Brandon Wegher. He's going to have to sit out 2011, but he'll have two years of eligibility left for 2012 and 2013. He was a damned good RB at Iowa, and I think he'll give us a Chris Brown type power back presence when he does hit the field.
Last but not least, it appears OU is convinced that we'll be losing some scholarship players this spring (cough cough KICKERS cough cough). I say that because we just brought in Notre Dame commit Bennett Okotcha for an official visit where he received a scholarship offer, and we're also going after Baylor TE commit Nila Kasitati. Kasitati looks like a TE in the Gabe Ikard, Brody Eldridge and Eric Mensik vein.
It wouldn't be National Signing Day week without intrigue, and sure enough, a juicy college football recruiting tidbit popped up over the weekend: De'Anthony Thomas, a five-star prospect from Crenshaw High in Los Angeles, made a visit to Eugene and the Oregon Ducks. The Ducks made the national title game this year, and entertain top athletes all the time, so why is this news? Because Thomas has been verbally committed to Pac-12 rival USC since May. Clutch those pearls!
Thomas is Rivals' top-ranked "athlete", the second-ranked overall prospect in the state of California, and the No. 5 overall prospect nationally. (He is also apparently nicknamed "the Black Mamba," but does not bear a striking resemblance to Uma Thurman.) This would be quite the get for Chip Kelly & Co., but SB Nation's Addicted To Quack urges caution when trying to read too much into this:
While apparently Thomas had a great visit, it sounds like reports of a commitment are premature. If the Ducks could somehow get Thomas on signing day, this would be an astounding coup. There have been no reports that Thomas has even been interested in Oregon throughout the entire recruiting process, in fact, Rivals doesn't even list Oregon under "College Choices." I find it hard to believe that a switch this late in the game is even possible. But hey, we can always hope, and watch his highlight tape.
Even without a commitment of Thomas, the Ducks will almost definitely sign the best class in school history.
Stay tuned to this StoryStream for more college football recruiting news as we draw ever closer to 2011 National Signing Day.
Auburn enjoyed its best season in many years in 2010, riding Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton to a BCS National Championship Game victory over Oregon. That's the sort of thing that tends to pay dividends with high schoolers, and the strong state of Auburn football recruiting is testament to that.
The Tigers have pulled in 23 commitments so far, a haul that are has them ranked sixth by Rivals among 2011 classes. And if Auburn can win the commitment of Cyrus Kouandjio, this class could jump to fourth or third.
Auburn only has one five-star recruit — Kris Frost — but its class is solid and should give Gene Chizik a lot of depth to work with.
LB Kris Frost, Matthews, NC. After initially committing while Auburn could not accept him, Frost is the lone five-star recruit in this class and should star at linebacker for years.
LB Brent Calloway, Russelville, AL. Auburn swayed him from Alabama.
DB Marcus Roberson, Fort Lauderdale, FL. Chose Auburn for now over hard-closing Florida; could flip.
OL Christian Westerman, Chandler, AZ. Decommitted from Texas.
QB Kiehl Frazier, Springdale, AR. Won't be the next Cam Newton — he's not nearly Newton's size — but hails from the same town as Mitch Mustain.
Again, Kouandjio is the big fish left for Auburn to reel in. If the Tigers can do that, this is easily a top-five class.
For more on the Tigers recruiting class of 2011 and for all your Auburn athletics news, visit SB Nation's Track 'Em Tigers.
Alabama's Crimson Tide ebbed a bit in 2010. After winning the 2009 national championship, their title defense got snagged on a rugged SEC season. But with Nick Saban at the helm and most of his staff intact, Alabama's football recruiting is as strong as ever, and that crew has assembled a recruiting class that should have fans yelling "Rammer Jammer" for years.
The Crimson Tide are currently ranked first by Rivals for their 2011 recruiting efforts, and the 21-person class could get even better this week. Alabama is in the mix for a number of the top 10 remaining uncommitted recruits, and it would not be a stunner for Jadeveon Clowney, Cyrus Kouandjio, or Isaiah Crowell to toss on a script A hat on National Signing Day.
Looking at the commits Alabama already has, it's tough not to be impressed with both variety and depth.
DB Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix, Orlando, FL.
RB Demetrius Hart, Orlando, FL. Hart and Clinton-Dix are both five-star recruits and were high school teammates; scoring them as a package deal gives Alabama playmakers at running back and safety, and reaffirms that Alabama has pipelines everywhere.
DE Quinton Dial, Scooba, MS.
DT Jesse Williams, Yuma, AZ. Dial and Williams are junior college players who should be able to step in and ably provide some of the pass rush the departing Marcell Dareus did.
WR Bradley Sylve, Port Sulphur, LA.
DE Xzavier Dickson, Griffin, GA.
The Crimson Tide could solidify this class as a clear-cut national number one by wooing any one of Clowney, Kouandjio, or Crowell to Tuscaloosa. Bringing two or three in would make the Alabama recruiting class number one with a bullet.For more on the Crimson Tide's recruiting class of 2011 and for all your Alabama athletics news, visit SB Nation's Roll 'Bama Roll.
The Georgia Bulldogs are still plenty pedigreed when it comes to college football recruiting: With the 2011 National Signing Day less than 48 hours away, Mark Richt and his assistants have hauled in a class that emphatically quiets (for now! haha!) any talk that next year might be the final season for this coaching staff. The top five commits you'll see in Athens this fall, barring some unforseen disaster:
• Defensive end Ray Drew (Thomasville, Georgia): This here's the big fish. A Rivals overall top ten recruit, Drew pledged his allegiance to the Bulldogs last week, and has been vocal in his efforts to get other prospects to join him.
• Quarterback Christian LeMay (Matthews, North Carolina): The Bulldogs may have already found the successor to young Aaron Murray under center, but the rangy LeMay comes with some discipline questions.
• Cornerback Malcolm Mitchell (Valdosta, Georgia): The nation's top-ranked CB has yet to sign a letter of intent, but committed verbally to the Dawgs in late January.
• Tight end Jay Rome (Valdosta, Georgia): Mitchell's high school teammate ranks fourth nationally at his position, and went fancy for his commitment, donning a UGA hat on ESPNU earlier this month.
• Wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley (Camilla, Georgia): Rounding out an already-cozy stable of wideouts is this 4.4-running wunderkind.
Two wild cards the Dawgs are supposed to have good shots at landing remain unaccounted for as of Monday morning. Five-star running back Isaiah Crowell (Columbus, Georgia) will announce his college choice on Signing Day, while juco nose tackle John Jenkins is scheduled to make his commitment on Saturday, February 5.
For more on the Bulldogs' college football recruiting class of 2011 and for all your Georgia athletics news, visit SB Nation Atlanta and Dawg Sports.
Ah, the comforting hum of the fax machine. Oregon's football recruiting has the school positioned for a pleasant National Signing Day, which should be a nice way to recover from a crushing last-minute loss to Auburn in the BCS Championship Game. This is especially true since the bumper crop of talent the coaching staff is poised to bring in will make another shot at the title more likely than it has been in Duck history.
The Ducks have 23 recruits on the docket for 2011. Unlike recent efforts, this Oregon class is not a collection of hard-working overacheivers from the three-star bin. The Ducks have already landed Athlete Colt Lyerla, a five-star commit who could play linebacker or tight end, though his lean toward offense is one of the factors that pushed him toward Oregon in the first place. (The article jokes about coaches fighting over Lyerla, but seriously, there will be a bloodied lip in the coaches' room in Eugene over him.)
The Ducks also may have snagged another five star recruit from USC over the weekend. Cornerback and Trojan commit De'Anthony "Black Mamba" Thomas of Crenshaw High. It's all a lovely recruiting rumor at this point, but Thomas did visit Eugene on the final weekend of the handshake season, and did reportedly enjoy his visit. like Lyerla, he can play either way (cornerback/running back).
The other four-star highlights from Oregon's class:
OL Tyler Johnstone OL, Chandler, AZ.
WR Devin Blackmon , Fontana, CA. He is apparently so good with the ball in his hands that he could play QB. Given Oregon's recent QB injury curse, this could totally happen.
DB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Chino Hills, CA. Listed as a DB, but could end up on offense.
OL Andre Yruretagoyena, Scottsdale, AZ.
WR Tacoi Sumier, Miami, FL.
LB Anthony Wallace, Dallas, TX.
ATH Christian French, Cedar Rapids, IA. The rare four star double-adjective signee.
WR Rahsaan Vaughn, San Mateo, CA.
QB Jerrard Randall, Hollywood, CA.
Remaining drama: Very little for the Ducks in an orderly and wholly successful (to this date) signing class. They may be going to the wire for the Black Mamba, and if Lane Kiffin is involved theatrics are always a possibility, but otherwise this should be a pleasing harvest for Kelly and his staff.
The Ohio State Buckeyes are looking unsurprisingly strong heading into 2011 National Signing Day, with a recruiting class that includes nine players ranked among Rivals' four-star prospects, but with less than 48 hours to go before faxes start rolling in, Jim Tressel is still crossing his fingers for a few blue-chippers.
Two of these big gets have already signed letters of intent and will presumably be full participants in fall camp. Braxton Miller, a quarterback from Huber Heights, Ohio, is the nation's top-ranked quarterback, and a dual-threat runner who'd be a logical eventual successor to Terrelle Pryor. Ryan Shazier, an outside linebacker out of Plantation, Florida, is ranked 14th nationally at his position.
The other seven four-stars are verbal commits, but have not yet signed. In alphabetical order:
• Michael Bennett, defensive tackle from Centerville, Ohio
• Brian Bobek, offensive lineman from Palatine, Illinois
• Chase Farris, defensive end from Elyria, Ohio
• Doran Grant, defensive back from Akron, Ohio
• , defensive end from Toledo, Ohio
• Steve Miller, defensive end from Canton, Ohio
• Nick Vannett, tight end from Westerville, Ohio
Still outside the fold but high on the wish lists of Buckeye country:
• Linebacker Curtis Grant (Richmond, Virginia), the nation's second-ranked prospect overall, and currently being fought over by Ohio State, Florida, UNC, and Virginia.
• Quarterback Cardale Jones (Cleveland, Ohio), who's more of a pro-style player, but who took an official visit to Columbus over the weekend and has a late-arriving offer from Jim Tressel as of Sunday.
• Wide receiver Ja'Juan Story (Brooksville, Florida) is a Florida commit, but visited the Buckeyes weekend before last. Plot thickening?
• Offensive lineman Aundrey Walker (Cleveland, Ohio), the nation's top-ranked prospect at the guard position. Has an offer from the Buckeyes ... and one from Florida State, Michigan State, and USC.
For more on the Buckeyes' college football recruiting class of 2011 and for all your Ohio State athletics news, visit SB Nation's Along The Olentangy.
Duke's beatdown at St. John's hands on the basketball court made this weekend a bad one for the ACC and a good one for the Big East when it came to games that were actually played in the real world. But in the paperwork world of recruiting, it's the ACC winning at the Big East's expense.
First, Florida State improved its fantastic recruiting class by getting New Jersey offensive lineman Josue Matias to switch his commitment from Rutgers. Seminoles fans will be happy with this pickup: our Tomahawk Nation notes that Matias drew great praise from a longtime FSU observer:
This Matias kid, who has flipped to FSU, is something else physically. Saw him on his visit in December. Looks like an NFL lineman already. Can't tell you about his footwork, technique or anything else ... but Matias will be most impressive looking OL FSU has had in long time.
But Florida State's in-state and in-conference rival got a big commitment on the weekend, too. Miami landed Florida defensive end Bryant Dubose, who had been committed to Louisville, adding to a recruiting class that has gotten better in a hurry as new coach Al Golden makes up ground lost with the firing of Randy Shannon.
Though the nation’s No. 1 prospect, South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney, is likely to end up a member of the South Carolina Gamecocks, he’s not announcing his decision until well after National Signing Day. The terrifying force from Rock Hill is expected to wait until Feb. 14 to announce whether he’ll be among the stream of talent heading into the SEC this year.
But there are still plenty of top recruits who will be announcing their college choices on Wednesday and could end up playing in the SEC.
Virginia LB Curtis Grant has narrowed his choices to Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, and Ohio State. He’s visited all four schools in the past five weeks. The nation’s No. 2 recruit according to Rivals, he could provide a major boost for a Gators class that hasn’t been up to standards yet. A coaching change will tend to have that effect.
Stephone Anthony, the second-best player from North Carolina, also lists Florida among various ACC schools as a front-runner. He visited the Tar Heels this weekend, but has developed a strong relationship with Florida coaches.
Cyrus Kouandjio, a Maryland OT and the nation’s No. 4 player, lists Alabama and Auburn along with Iowa, USC, and New Mexico (?). He visited the Plains this weekend, but says he’ll wait until Tuesday night to decide.
Florida LB Tony Steward, the nation’s top outside linebacker, also had Bammers and Barners checking on his every move, but he’s narrowing his list to Clemson and FSU.
Georgia’s Isaiah Crowell is rated as the best running back in the country, and could become the second top-10 Peach Stater in a week to commit to Mark Richt’s “Dream Team” plan. The Dawgs have battled Alabama for several recruits this year, and this one will come down to a border war as well. He recently canceled an Auburn visit.
And Sunshine State DT Timmy Jernigan, considered the nation’s No. 2 at his position, has Bama, Florida, LSU, and Tennessee on his list, plus FSU. He’s only visited the latter three during recent months, most recently the Vols, but has spent plenty of time in Gainesville during the Gators’ long recruitment.
The Pac-12 has been hard at work this recruiting season as teams throughout the conference put together strong classes ahead of Wednesday's national signing day. The conference boasts five teams currently within the Scout top-25 with two -- the USC Trojans and Oregon Ducks -- sitting inside the top-10 as of now. Though the conference was down as a whole in 2010, Stanford and Oregon's BCS berths opened some eyes to the quality football being played on the left coast.
Here's a quick rundown of a few of the top classes, led by the USC Trojans.
Because of a pending appeal, the USC Trojans are moving ahead at full-speed as signing day nears. The Trojans initially expected to be able to only sign 15 players this year, but the appeal has put the restriction on hold as the NCAA decides USC's fate. With the green light to sign freely, Lane Kiffin's staff has already locked up 25 verbal commitments and may end up signing as many as 30 players in the class of 2011.
Leading the way for the Trojans is DeAnthony Thomas, a versatile speedster from Crenshaw High School. Thomas was a recruiting analyst's dream, with scouts drooling over his ability to play a variety of different positions on both sides of the ball. Thomas is joined by fellow five-star recruit George Farmer, the No. 3 wide receiver in the country according to Scout.com. With sub-4.4 speed and a track background, Farmer is a speedy wide receiver with the ability to stretch the field.
In total, the Trojans have secured commitments from three five-star and nine four-star players this year. USC doesn't yet know when the scholarship limits of the NCAA sanctions will take effect, or if the NCAA will reduce the initial sanctions, making this class crucial to Kiffin's future success. A top-5 class with nearly 30 players gives the Trojans a solid foundation to weather the storm should the NCAA uphold the initial restrictions, limiting USC to just 15 new scholarships a year over the next three years.
The Oregon Ducks have parlayed their rise to national prominence into a top-10 recruiting class in 2011. Head coach Chip Kelly has 23 verbal commitments ahead of signing day, and the Ducks may not be done yet. Kelly continues to recruit high-caliber athletes, looking for speed and versatility to fit within the Ducks' system.
The Ducks picked up a big commitment at the US Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 8 when Colt Lyerla chose the Ducks over a host of other BCS offers. Lyerla is the No. 4 outside linebacker in the country, possessing the size to shed blocks and the speed to drop into coverage from his linebacker spot.
Oregon may have found its quarterback of the future in the class when Kelly secured a commitment from dual-threat quarterback Jerrard Randall. The No. 14 quarterback in the class of 2011, Randall has a cannon for an arm and the ability to make plays with his legs. His speed in the running game makes him a perfect fit for Kelly's spread-option offense, ensuring the Ducks will reload at quarterback after the Darron Thomas era ends.
Despite not having a marquee name, or five-star talent, the Ducks have a strong class from top-to-bottom. Of the 23 players to commit to the Ducks, 11 are four-star talents, according to Scout.com. 22 of the 23 commits are three-star and above, putting the star-average of Oregon class among the nation's elite.
Just two years removed from an 0-12 season, the Washington Huskies have put together a class that sits on the edge of the top-10 in the nation. Head coach Steve Sarkisian has secured the top in-state talent in 2011 while reaching into California to round out the class. Sarkisian has 25 commitments already, but may add a few more ahead of signing day.
The class is led by Washington's two best prep athletes: Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Named the Parade Magazine Player of the Year, Williams is a physical wide receiver that terrorized defenses throughout his career at Skyline High Schoo. Seferian Jenkins is the No. 2 tight end in the country, possessing great size and athleticism in a pass-catching role. The two serve as the cornerstones in a class that's quickly climbing the rankings.
Joining them are four other four-star commits -- including homegrown recruits Bishop Sankey and Taniela Tupou. With Jacoby Brissett, the No. 9 quarterback in the country, still considering the Huskies ahead of signing day, Washington's class could go from great to one of the nation's best by the time all is said and done.
Overall, the Pac-12 is stocking up on talent in the class of 2011. Seven classes are currently in the top-50, with another two just outside. With seven five-star players -- the designation for the nation's elite in the recruiting world -- and 42 four-star committed to Pac-12 schools thus far, the future looks bright for the conference as it begins life with 12 teams in 2011.
Ray Drew, the five-star defensive end prospect who committed to Georgia on Friday, spends his spare time preaching as an ordained minister. Therefore if the following quote sounds a little familiar, then there's a very good reason for that. In addition to being a talented football player, Drew handles the pitch like an experienced pulpit-rocker.
"I just want to say to Jay at the end of his announcement, I heard your call," Drew said. "And now I’ve given an answer. Isaiah Crowell, we’re waiting on you; Antonio Richardson, we’re waiting on you; John Jenkins, we’re waiting on you; and Jeoffrey Pagan, we’re waiting on you. Come join what we’re putting together, the Dream Team. But remember, a dream is only a dream until you make it reality. So I’m calling you out on this one. I hope you’re not afraid to be thrown into the fire. I hope you’re not afraid to be the ones to make the change."
I may or may not have heard an organ and some tambourine in the middle of that. There is usually a fine line between football and church in the American South, but in this case it's disappeared completely. By the time this is over Ray Drew may be a better recruiter than anyone Georgia has on their staff, and that is not an insult to UGA's recruiters.
Rounding up a few straggling blue-chips making a few final official visits as we close in on National Signing Day 2011. The national championship team down in Auburn, you'll be unsurprised to learn, is gearing up for a big weekend with some multi-starred prospects.
• Five-star offensive tackle prospect Cyrus Kouandjio, whose name sounds like an action hero in a John le Carré novel, will visit Auburn this weekend. Alabama and USC are among the other schools in the mix for his services.
• Five-star running back Isaiah Crowell
is also scheduled to visit Auburn over the weekend has canceled his visit to Auburn, effectively narrowing his choices to Georgia and Alabama. Note that Crowell hails from Columbus, Georgia, directly across the state border from Auburn.
• It's a big day for Auburn and Columbus, and for Carver High School, as Crowell teammate Gabe Wright, a four-star defensive tackle, will also visit the Tigers this weekend.
• In news not related to large cats, four-star offensive tackle Troy Niklas of Anaheim will visit Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are vying for Niklas with USC and Stanford.
Stay tuned to this StoryStream for more college football recruiting news, all the way up to National Signing Day on Wednesday.
Checking in with reactions to top-rated defensive end Ray Drew's commitment to the Georgia Bulldogs. Which major media outlets should learn to take a joke? Let's find out!
• Let's get this out of the way first: For those of you assuming that Ray Drew's status as a licensed minister comes courtesy of some fly-by-night website, be disabused: Andy Staples wrote in early January that Drew has a true calling, and is a frequent preaching participant in local church services.
• UGA's Rivals outpost is quick to point out that whatever fun Drew's been having with recruiting hounds the past few weeks, he's no prima donna:
"He has the ideal body for a 3-4 defense as an OLB. But his growth potential should allow him to become a 260 pound defensive end," Rivals.com analyst Barry Every said. "He approaches the game with an excellent attitude and should become a leader on and off the field for the Bulldogs.
• About that internet fun: The Orlando Sentinel was one of many outlets to take Drew's "shock the world" hints seriously, despite weeks of indicators that Drew was clearly having a laugh at various tracking services' expense with every new intimation:
Ray Drew will "shock the world" today; does that mean Miami?
SPOILER ALERT: No.
• Some saw the pick as a letdown after promises of shocking news, although didn't the obvious pick make it a surprise? Huh?
• Back to the serious: Stewart Mandel points out that this class may be a reliable indicator of the relative warmth of Mark Richt's seat in the captain's chair at Athens.
• SB Nation Atlanta celebrates the Dawgs' victory over various forms of large cats, and highlights just how big a get this is for the Georgia Bulldogs (and they're not kidding about the offers; Drew had more than 20 before he was through):
Rivals considers Drew the nation’s best defensive end, the No. 2 player in the Peach State, and the No. 9 player overall nationwide. He had offers from oh gosh like every school you’ve ever heard of.
• And over at DawgSports, they've already starting coming up with nicknames for Drew. Clubhouse leader: "The Pastor of Disaster."
Stay tuned to this StoryStream for more college football recruiting news, as we close in on National Signing Day.
Ray Drew, a five-star defensive end prospect from Thomasville, Georgia, has committed to play football for the Georgia Bulldogs. Drew made his announcement at Thomas County Central High School, where he played for the Yellow Jackets, a coincidence that does not appear to have pushed him to sign with Georgia Tech despite receiving an official offer.
Drew's recruitment has been a hair-pulling ride for hardcore recruitniks, with red herrings dropped willy-nilly on his Facebook and Twitter accounts. Georgia OC Mike Bobo showed up at the school for the announcement, however, so we suppose it's best Drew didn't pull any more tricks.
To the video! Here are some of the fun things Ray Drew can do for you, Bulldog Nation.
Drew is currently the highest-ranked player in Georgia's 2011 recruiting class. For more on Drew and other Georgia commits, join the discussions at Dawg Sports and SB Nation Atlanta.
It's Ray Drew Day! The five-star defensive end out of Thomasville, Georgia is scheduled to make his announcement at 10 a.m. EST at his high school. (A note to our friends in the wooly wilds of the message boards: Ray Drew is a licensed minister, so you're going to hear a lot of calls to dub this "Revelation Day." Resist them. Thanks so much.) We like Drew; more than any other top prospect he seems to be winking at the process as much as enduring it. By his own admission, however, even his high spirits are wearing thin:
"Oh, I know where I’m going," the 6-foot-5, 250-defensive end said on the eve of the big announcement. "I made up my mind a while ago. I’m ready to get it out and get it over with. I’ve had fun with it, but it’s taken its toll."
Drew holds offers from over 20 I-A programs, and has taken official visits to Clemson, Georgia, LSU, Auburn, and MIami. SB Nation's DawgSports is convinced he's headed to Athens, and has an open thread set up for discussion and debate. SB Nation Atlanta has a good rundown on the rest of the top Georgia football prospects.
Stay tuned to this StoryStream, where we'll be covering Drew's announcement and other college football recruiting news throughout the day.
It's the question on every recruitnik's mind, once that "When is National Signing Day?" one is resolved: which teams will win the college football recruiting tussles this year that will translate into conference championships and BCS National Championship Game appearances in the future?
To the first, in case you didn't know: 2011 National Signing Day is next Wednesday, February 2, taking place on the customary first Wednesday in February date. On that glorious Wednesday, high school students will prop up the dying fax industry by sending Letters of Intent to schools and smile broadly at cameras while playing team hat roulette — you may have heard of the "hat dance," which is the same thing.
Teams expected to make huge splashes with top five classes on National Signing Day 2011 include Texas, which has the state of Texas locked down despite the departure of Will Muschamp to Florida and the gutting of Mack Brown's staff; Florida State, resurgent in the talent-rich Sunshine State after a good year in Jimbo Fisher's first season; Alabama, which continues its strong recruiting under Nick Saban; LSU, which should rake in a typically impressive haul of talent; and USC, which has weathered NCAA sanctions with some relentless recruiting by Lane Kiffin and his staff.
Of course, not every recruit will have an announcement about his commitment on National Signing Day. Some highly-coveted players, like Ray Drew — a Georgia defensive end and licensed minister who calls himself the Pastor of the Pass Rush — will announce earlier or later than National Signing Day.
But we'll have comprehensive coverage of all the ups and downs of the final push in recruiting in this StoryStream, including national updates and reactions from team blogs.
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