Posted on: January 31, 2012 2:36 pm

Bill O'Brien not concerned with PSU's recruiting

Posted by Tom Fornelli

National Signing Day is on Wednesday, but new Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien has some other things on his mind right now. He's currently in Indianapolis working on a game plan for the New England Patriots offense in Sunday's Super Bowl. Which is a game that is a rather big deal in the world of football, just in case you've never heard of it.

Of course, it's because of the double-duty that O'Brien is pulling that he hasn't been able to pay much attention to helping put Penn State's 2012 recruiting class together, and when asked about it on Tuesday, O'Brien gave an answer that probably won't be music to the ears of Penn State fans.

"I'll get a fax of our signees. I already have a pretty good idea of who they are going to be," said O'Brien. "It's really about the Patriots and making sure we're ready for today's practice, tomorrow's meeting and Sunday's game."

Not exactly what you want to hear from your head coach, is it?

That being said, Penn State knew the deal when it hired O'Brien, and was well aware of the possibility that he could still be working with the Patriots at this point, so it's hard to get mad at O'Brien for feeling this way.

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Posted on: January 26, 2012 3:53 pm

PODCAST: Recruiting Update

Posted by Tom Fornelli

We are less than a week away from national signing day. That one day a year where 18-year old high school kids become the most important people in the college football world as they officially sign their letters of intent to attend the school of their choice. So in the latest episode of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast, we bring you up to speed on what you may have missed and what you should expect next week.

Our own Bryan Fischer joins Adam Aizer to talk about the top classes and players in the country, about the recruiting Urban Meyer has already done now that he's at Ohio State, and whether or not Florida State is on the verge of losing a key quarterback recruit to Alabama. All that and even more.

So be sure to check out the podcast below, and while you're at it, head over to our Eye on Recruiting blog to make sure you stay updated on all the latest developments.

Remember, all of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcasts can be downloaded for FREE from the iTunes Store.

You can listen to the podcast in the player below, pop out a player to keep browsing, or download the MP3 right to your computer.

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Posted on: January 10, 2012 12:58 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2012 12:59 pm

Big 12 Recruiting Reset

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Now that the 2011 season has come to an end it's time to move on to the next phase of the college football year: recruiting. With the Big 12 Recruiting Reset we fill you in on what you may have missed in the Big 12 and what you should expect to see between now and signing day.


1. Texas - Texas always has one of the best recruiting classes in the country and the Big 12, but lately it hasn't done much for the Longhorns on the field. Though that could change with players like running back Johnathan Gray and wide receiver Cayleb Jones to help a struggling offense, and defensive tackle Malcom Brown to keep things rolling on defense. Of course, with Texas right now, you can't look past quarterback Connor Brewer who may actually see time in the 2012 season as the Longhorns continue to look for their quarterback.

2. Oklahoma - The Sooners have Landry Jones returning in 2012, but are losing his favorite target in Ryan Broyles. Not to worry, though, as the Sooners have added a few top receivers in their 2012 recruiting class. Players like Trey Metoyer, Derrick Woods, and Durron Neal may all see time on the field for Oklahoma next season. Though considering the problems the Sooners have had at running back and the transfer of Brandon Williams, you do have to wonder if Oklahoma would be better off adding another running back to its class to join the impressive Alex Ross

3. TCU - TCU will join the Big 12 next season, and it seems that the Horned Frogs have already got the recruiting aspect that they'll need to compete down. There aren't a lot of headliners in the current class, but it's deep. Quarterback Tyler Matthews could be the heir apparent to Casey Pachall, and players like defensive back Edward Pope, running back Daje Johnson and defensive end Devonte Fields will all make their presence known in the coming seasons. 


1. Dorial Green-Beckham - At 6'6 and 225 pounds, when people compare this wide receiver to Randy Moss, they aren't blowing smoke. He's the top player in the 2012 class and he has offers from just about every school on the planet, including both Texas and Oklahoma. 

2. Stefon Diggs - Diggs is the best receiver not named Dorial Green-Beckham that is yet to commit to anybody, and it seems he's down to about eight schools right now, including Oklahoma.


1. Kansas - Considering how Kansas has looked on the field the last few years, it's not surprising to see the Jayhawks have one of the weaker recruiting classes in the Big 12. Which also may explain why the school hired Charlie Weis, who recruited well at Notre Dame. Weis has some work to do before signing day to add to a class that currently consists of only 9 players.

2. Kansas State - Kansas State's has 12 commitments for its 2012 class, and while Bill Snyder seems to have magical powers, he may need to use them to add a few more names to that list before February gets here.

Keep up to date with all the latest recruiting news leading up to National Signing Day with our Eye On Recruiting Blog with Bryan Fischer. 

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Posted on: July 29, 2011 4:26 pm

Everett Withers introduced as UNC interim coach

Posted by Chip Patterson

On Friday afternoon, Everett Withers was announced as the interim head coach of the North Carolina football program. Withers takes over just days after the abrupt dismissal of Butch Davis and less than a week before players report back to campus for training camp.

The way in which Davis was dismissed, and the timing in particular, has divided the North Carolina fan base and left many Tar Heels (players included) searching for answers. The administration made it clear they believed the best move was to promote from within immediately, and on Friday they officially introduced Withers to the media.

"We believe that he has the leadership, skills, and ability to take on this very difficult task," said athletic director Dick Baddour in his introductory comments. "We firmly believe he has the talent to stabilize this team and rally the players around each other."

Withers has served as North Carolina's defensive coordinator and secondary coach the last three seasons. He is a native of Charlotte, NC and spoke about watching Tar Heel greats like Amos Lawrence growing up, wishing one day he could play for North Carolina. Withers joked that he wasn't fast enough to play for the Tar Heels, but it was at Appalachian State where he played for then-coach Mack Brown. Withers said he has stayed in touch with Brown over the years, and credits the Texas head coach for helping start him down the coaching career path.

Taking over for Butch Davis amid NCAA allegations and possible sanctions is no easy task, particularly this close to the season. Withers explained his first task is to get the players and staff on the same page, ensuring everyone that they can get through these turbulent times together.

"We won't flinch as a football staff or a football team," Withers said. "What I mean by that is that we've been through a lot already, nothing that comes at us will bother us."

Still, Withers was unable to avoid questions regarding contact with Coach Davis (with whom he still texts) and if he had any knowledge of the wrongdoing while on staff at North Carolina. The former defensive coordinator explained that while previously he was consumed with the X's and O's of the defense, his primary job now is to hold the players accountable for their actions, and ensure the program is moving in the right direction towards success.

Withers, who is clearly not at a loss for adages, explained is simply: "It's not how heavy the load but how you carry it."

North Carolina reports to camp on Aug. 4 and begins practicing the following day.
Posted on: July 29, 2011 9:13 am

UNC's opponents see opportunity in Davis' exit

Posted by Chip Patterson

With Everett Withers officially named the interim coach at North Carolina, we can begin to take a look at how Butch Davis' dismissal will resonate across the ACC.

The initial reactions from other teams across the league seem to be that this fallout in Chapel Hill could mean opportunity for other teams. CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Travis Sawchik writes that Clemson could reclaim a recruiting hot-spot they once commanded.

"[North Carolina] was a fertile recruiting ground during [Clemson's] golden age during the 1980's," said Sawchik. "A weakened Tar Heel program could help Clemson recruit the bordering state, which it pluched five-star LB Stephone Anthony, who is from the Charlotte area, this spring."

But the advantage won't just be to other in-state schools and neighboring states. Steve Gorten, of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, said that while Davis was in Chapel Hill, Miami had "one big headache to deal with every season." Davis had a 3-1 record against his former team, often knocking off the Hurricanes as an underdog until Miami notched a 33-10 win against the Tar Heels in 2010. Just like he had at Miami, Davis was bringing in NFL-caliber talent to North Carolina and will no longer be a threat to the Hurricanes on the recruiting trail.

Withers, who has served as the Tar Heels' defensive coordinator, will be introduced as the interim coach during a press conference Friday afternoon. For now, it seems the "interim" tag is firm and the plan is for the next athletic director to hire the new head coach in time to sign the 2012 recruiting class. Until that next coach is named, expect the rest of the ACC to make up as much ground as possible on the recruiting trail.
Posted on: July 13, 2011 10:41 am
Edited on: July 22, 2011 4:30 pm

JaMichael Johnson mock recruiting profile

Posted by Chip Patterson

Last Friday, a 16-pound baby boy named JaMichael Johnson was born in Longview, TX.  When the news broke, the nation turned their attention towards the infant born at nearly twice the size of the average baby.  His father, the 6-foot-7 Michael Brown, says he sees football in his son's future.

Really?  That's a huge shock, especially in Texas.

In these days with school's targeting prospects at a younger age seemingly every year, it is not entirely unrelastic to think that this name was not written on a card and stashed in the desk of some recruiting coordinators.  Size like that is not normal, and abnormal size combined with athleticism seems to be the trend in the trenches these days.

So @knickstew did some hard research and compiled a recruiting profile for Johnson, who will likely start planning his unofficials by November.

Posted on: March 2, 2011 12:33 pm

Kouandijo's view of Iowa changed with rhabdo case

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Last month on National Signing Day, Cyrus Kouandijo became a bit of a household name in the college football world. The offensive lineman out of Maryland high school football powerhouse Dematha originally committed to Auburn on signing day. He then quickly changed his mind, and over the next week there was plenty of speculation as to why Kouandijo had changed his mind, and where he'd end up.

Eventually Cyrus would choose Alabama, where his older brother Arie Kouandijo had spent the 2010 season as a redshirt lineman. Just another chapter in the Alabama-Auburn rivalry. Of course, there was a third school that had been in the running for Kouandijo's services, and that school was Iowa. In fact, in a recent interview with The Sporting News, Kouandijo says that Iowa was the front-runner pretty early, but it turns out that the outbreak of rhabdomyolysis amongst 13 iowa football players after an offseason workout swayed his decision.

"At first I really, really, really wanted to go to Iowa," Kouandijo answered when asked where he was leaning in the fall. "I even told my best friend that I was going to Iowa. But when everything went down with them with the workouts and all, that was different. I had a bad vibe when I went there. Alabama may be far from home, but Iowa—living-style wise—it’s just out there and just not me. I wouldn’t have been able to thrive in that environment. I love their coaches and I love their team, but it was really just out for me."

I must admit that I do find it odd that Kouandijo's view of Iowa City itself changed. After all, the school was located in the same place before so many football players had to be hospitalized. So it seems that Kouandijo began looking at the school through a different lense following the rhabdomyoysis outbreak. After all, it's not like Tuscaloosa or Auburn are in the middle of giant metropolitan areas themselves.
Posted on: February 21, 2011 1:29 pm

NCAA to get more involved in recruiting

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It's been quite an enlightening year in the world of college football recruiting. We've learned a lot about the contact between players and agents in the recruiting process, as well as of alleged solicitation of money by player's parents. Which, when you get down to it, has shown that the NCAA has been on the outside looking in more often than not. I mean, if these are the cases that are being caught and brought to the public's attention, try and imagine everything that has gone on that we don't know about.

It seems that the NCAA has thought about this, and that's why it is planning on getting a lot more involved in the world of college football recruiting in the immediate future.
The NCAA enforcement staff will focus on football recruiting in a new way in the coming months, a project Vice President of Enforcement Julie Roe Lach has discussed with member institutions and the media since assuming her new position last fall.
The initiative – which is not guaranteed to lead to a football-focused, dedicated staff like the Basketball Focus Group – is part of a collaboration between the major-enforcement and agents, gambling and amateurism staff. The latter group made headlines last summer for uncovering various agent-related violations among football student-athletes at several Division I institutions.
Five investigators from major-enforcement and two from the agents, gambling and amateurism staff will spend the next several months building relationships in the football recruiting world (both scholastic and non-scholastic) and gathering information about what is happening in that sport. AGA Director Rachel Newman Baker will lead the group. The intent is to make sure the enforcement staff becomes as knowledgeable about football recruiting as it has grown to be about basketball recruiting.
“We have an idea of what’s going on, but we don’t want to assume anything,” Lach said. “We are trying to find out what the issues are that we need to be tackling. The idea is just to get more information."
In other words, instead of finding out what has happened after the fact, the NCAA plans to be in on the process as it's happening. According to our own Bryan Fischer, he talked to a couple of members of the NCAA that told him they were handing out cards to as many players and coaches as they could. This way both sides can remain in touch about what is going on during that player's recruitment, and could possibly help stave off any kind of trouble. It also sends a message to everybody that the NCAA is aware of what's going on, which may help keep violations from occuring.

Now, while the NCAA still has a long way to go before it can clean up the world of recruiting in its entirety, it's nice to see that it has taken this important first step and that it's now a priority.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com