Posted on: February 2, 2011 11:09 pm

Video: The Pac-12 Surprises On Signing Day

Posted by Bryan Fischer

CBS College Sports analyst Tom Lemming breaks down signing day results from the Pac-12.

  More Recruiting Coverage can be found here at CBSSports.com
Posted on: January 23, 2011 1:56 pm

NFC Championship players a long way from recruits

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Today’s NFC Championship game between Green Bay and Chicago pits two great rivals and many of the NFL’s best players against each other. Although some were all-world recruits coming out of high school, most were not. Just listen to the players when they announce their alma maters, mixed in with the USC’s and Florida’s are Abilene Christian and a few directional schools.

B.J. Raji was a two-star, 6-foot-2, 295 pound defensive tackle from Washington Township (NJ) in the class of 2004. His only other offers were from Rutgers and Wisconsin and he selected Boston College shortly after his official visit there. An anchor for the Eagles defense, he was a third-team AP All-American and first-team All-ACC pick his senior year. The Packers selected him ninth overall in the 2009 NFL Draft.

Packers starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers was jealous of Raji’s offer list. After having zero Division I offers out of high school in Oroville, CA, Rodgers went to Butte Junior College. Cal coach Jeff Tedford noticed Rodgers while recruiting a tight end at Butte and eventually turned him into one of the most productive quarterbacks in Cal history. After some thought he could be the overall number one pick in 2005, he slid to Green Bay with the 24th overall pick and the rest is (fairly recent) history.

Despite having a famous last name, Clay Matthews was an unranked linebacker in the class of 2004 coming out of high school. He walked-on at USC and used the weight room to transform himself. He eventually received a scholarship in 2006 and was part of a fearsome front seven at USC in 2009 that was one of the best defenses in college football. The Packers grabbed Matthews with the 26th pick in 2009 and he will likely end up as the NFL’s defensive player of the year.

Similar stories are abound on the Bears as well. Brian Urlacher was actually a wide receiver coming out of high school and only held offers from New Mexico and New Mexico State. After heading to New Mexico, head coach Dennis Franchione flipped Urlacher to linebacker and he eventually led the nation in tackles his junior year. Selected ninth overall in 2000, the seven time Pro-Bowler has been a mainstay on the Bears and one of the most recognizable defenders in the league.

Unlike the aforementioned players, Julius Peppers might be the player with the most hype coming out of high school and college. A Parade All-American coming out of South Nash Senior High (NC), Peppers went on to finish second on the all-time sacks list at North Carolina and won the Bednarik and Lombardi Awards. The second overall pick in 2002, Peppers was the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year and hasn’t looked back since.

Numerous other players took off-the-beaten paths to get to the NFC Championship game though. Bears running back Matt Forte was a two-star back who went to Tulane. Starting tackle J’Marcus Webb was a top recruit from the Dallas-area who signed with Texas. He eventually transferred to a junior college before finishing up at West Texas A&M. Devin Hester was a five-star corner who took his talents to ‘The U’ and had great success there. The Packers A.J. Hawk was a three-star linebacker from Centerville (OH) who eventually became one of the best Ohio State linebackers in recent memory and a first round pick.

As many of these players will tell you, it’s not about where you start, it is how hard you work and how you finish. A win today and another in a few weeks and any star ratings they may have had in high school will just look funny while they're holding up the Lombardi Trophy.

Posted on: January 15, 2011 11:02 am

1/15 Recruiting Roundup

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The NFL playoffs are still going strong this weekend but most college coaches won’t watch a second. Why? This is one of the biggest official visit weekends on the recruiting calendar. One of the many reasons there’s really no offseason in college football. 

- Former Purdue commitment, Marcus Caffey, has changed his mind and is headed to Kentucky. The running back is the seventh player from Georgia to head to the Wildcats. 

- Highly rated linebacker Curtis Grant is taking his official visit to Florida this weekend. He is considering Florida, Ohio State, North Carolina and Virginia. His host will be one of last year’s top recruits Ronald Powell.

- Washington commitment Joel Willis has changed his pledge to a school a little closer to home. The Pacifica (CA) athlete is the latest commit to an impressive California Golden Bears class of 2011. 

- New Colorado coach Jon Embree is experiencing his first recruiting weekend since coming to college from the pros. As Kyle Ringo notes in this story, Embree has made up significant ground given the state of recruiting in the wake of lame duck head coach Dan Hawkins. Things have gotten off to a good start as Colorado has picked up their second verbal commitment under Embree in quarterback Stevie Dorman. 

- Also coming from the pros and going back to college, Charlie Weis made his first recruiting trip as a member of the Florida staff. The former Notre Dame head coach visited quarterback Jacoby Brissett and defensive end/outside linebacker Curt Maggitt. 

- Great story on the academic turnaround of LSU pledge Kenny Hilliard. An Army All-American this year, Hilliard is now getting it done on and off the field. 

- Finally, be sure and check out MaxPreps.com’ ranking of the top 20 recruiting classes as we approach signing day. Plenty of time for teams to move up or down but it’s a good overview of where everybody’s at right now.
Posted on: January 14, 2011 9:09 am
Edited on: January 14, 2011 10:23 am

1/14 Recruiting Roundup

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Nineteen days until signing day and the coaches are already hitting the recruiting trail hard to close out their classes. That said, at least most of them play on Saturdays on green grass unlike the coaches in the first link.

- This is not recruiting related but worth passing on as New Braunfels (TX) Canyon High has replaced their stadium turf - Eastern Washington-style. The red turf, the first in the nation at the high school level, might not be the only colored turf in the state of Texas as the University of Texas San Antonio is considering an orange field. Although I like the Boise State blue field, the way things are going, I wouldn't want to be the ones that eventually have a pink football field. 

- The South Florida Blur, a 7-on-7 travel team sponsored by SoFlaFootball.com and Under Armour, has released its roster full of underclass all-star talents. All-star teams from Florida, Texas, California and others are always an amazing collection of talent on the field.

- Staying in Florida, one of the top uncommitted quarterbacks has moved Florida State and LSU down on his list. Jacoby Brissett has quickly become a hot name out on the recruiting trail and after taking a visit to South Carolina, is expected to choose between Miami, Florida and Washington.

- Clemson has backed off recruiting running back Marlin Lane after he didn't firm up his commitment to the Tigers. Clemson currently has one running back commit, stud Mike Bellamy.

- Former Ohio State receiver, and son of Cris Carter, Duron Carter will not be returning to Ohio State his junior college coach confirmed. Maimi is an option for Carter, who is from Ft. Lauderdale.

- Stanford commit Amir Carlisle will visit USC this weekend. Carlisle expressed interest in the Trojans before committing to the Cardinal so it will be interesting if this visit opens up his recruitment in the wake of the Stanford coaching change. Another Stanford-commit who is on the fence with the coaching change, linebacker James Vaughters, is also having second thoughts due to the likely departure of defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

- MaxPreps.com has an update on Sam Meredith, who will head to San Diego State despite the departure of Brady Hoke to Michigan. MaxPreps.com also named Pearland (TX) coach Tony Heath as its U.S. Air Force National Coach of the Year.

- Mississippi State added defensive end Barron Dixon to their recruiting class after canceling a visit to Vanderbilt. Though he is listed at defensive end, he is expected to slide inside to tackle.
- Tosh Lupoi continues to do excellent work and has built Cal's defensive line into one of the best in the nation with the recent commitment of Brandon Scarlett from Portland (OR). Scarlett was pursued by several schools around the country.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com