Posted on: November 23, 2011 12:55 pm
Edited on: November 23, 2011 1:05 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
In such an unstable business, it sometimes is still stunning to see how quickly the recruiting landscape can change.
As news circulated Wednesday morning that Ohio State would (finally) hire former Florida and Utah head coach Urban Meyer, it's clear that the though the toughest recruiting battles lie in SEC country, the Midwest is about to become a battleground for some of the top players in the region and elsewhere.
Meyer's recruiting prowess is unmatched, unless your name is Pete Carroll or Nick Saban and want to make an argument. He won two national championships at Florida, took Utah to a 10-2 season in his first year and an undefeated season and BCS bowl in 2003. He knows the Midwest and Ohio State in particular after serving as a graduate assistant under Earle Bruce and head coach at Bowling Green. An Ohio native, he knows how to go into powerhouses such as Glenville High and get some of the best the region has to offer. Connections to the state of Florida and the rest of the Northeast will prove fruitful as well as he transitions the Buckeyes to his spread offense. Meyer recruited NFL players by the dozen to Gainesville and should have no problem doing so to Columbus.
Even rumors of the hire has had an impact on the Buckeyes current recruiting class.
“I believe Urban Meyer,” defensive end Adolphus Washington told the Columbus Dispatch after committing to Ohio State. “I hope so.”
Meyer's hire is the latest move that has quickly turned the Midwest into an SEC-esque recruiting area. Brian Kelly has gone after defensive linemen and some of the nation's best to help put together a top 10 class last year for Notre Dame. The Irish are the favorite to land the top quarterback in 2012 and appear likely to grab another highly regarded class in 2012. Rival Michigan hired Brady Hoke and he has put together the country's best class that will sign this February. His defensive coordinator, Greg Mattison, coached with Meyer at Florida and knows him well - an interesting subplot. All three head coaches should also find plenty of success getting recruits from across the country.
Ohio State has always recruited well. Despite likely NCAA sanctions coming, Meyer should be able to do even better than Jim Tressel did given his legendary relentlessness on the recruiting trail. With three big names in the Midwest, numerous issues at Penn State and the NCAA easing up on rules regarding communication with recruits, Meyer should be a big splash that causes little drop off for the Buckeyes when the team rankings are announced after Signing Day.
Posted on: November 15, 2011 12:56 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 12:56 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
A few days after decommitting from Missouri, Allen (Texas) running back Jonathan Williams committed to Arkansas last Friday - flipping from a future SEC school to a current one.
"[Visiting] was something I wanted to do and something I felt like I needed to do to see if I'm making the right decision for college," Williams told HawgSports.com. "I've never seen fans like Arkansas fans before; everybody in the whole state goes up there for Arkansas. I got to walk around campus and see the dorms and stuff. I got to see different frat houses that people go to so it was a good experience."
The 6-foot, 195-pounder is ranked as the sixth best tailback in the country by Maxpreps and second best in the state of Texas. He held a double-digit number of offers but settled on the Hogs thanks in large part to a coaching staff that didn't stop recruiting him despite an early commitment to the Tigers.
"Coach Tim Horton is a good guy and I got to meet Coach [Bobby] Petrino, so I really liked the coaching staff as well," he said. "Their offense, I like it because it's a pro-style offense and it gets you ready for the NFL. They run the ball and pass the ball so you know it's going to be a balanced offense and that's what stands out to me."
Williams has been limited by various injuries his senior season but is expected to be a key component in the Eagles playoff run as a nationally ranked high school team. His commitment is Arkansas' 20th for the class of 2012 and the second at the running back position.
Posted on: November 11, 2011 11:36 am
Edited on: November 11, 2011 11:36 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Though Alabama didn't win their 'Game of the Century' against fellow SEC West member LSU, the Crimson Tide did come out of it with a commitment from Collierville (Tenn.) offensive tackle Brandon Hill.
“I committed to Alabama three hours before the game on Saturday,” Hill told BamaOnLine.com. “I was talking to my mom and she always asks me what college I want to go to and that she wants me to be close. I’ve always been thinking to myself that I would get that feeling on what college to go to when I’m asking myself ‘why wouldn’t I go to that college?’ When I got to Alabama over the weekend and we were talking about academics and all that, I thought ‘Why wouldn’t I go to Alabama?’”
The 6-foot-6, 350-pounder also held offers from Georgia, Kentucky, Memphis and Ole Miss but picked Alabama due to a number of factors, including sending a good number of their players to the NFL.
“Most players that go to Alabama and do well go to the league and I want to make my dreams come true," he said. "Why wouldn’t I want to go to Alabama and go against the best of the best every day? The atmosphere, the academic plan, and the coaches all stood out."
Hill's commitment gives Nick Saban and staff an even 20 commitments - three of whom are offensive linemen - for the class of 2012 with a few months left until Signing Day.
Posted on: November 10, 2011 12:40 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Recruiting is tough for Arizona's interm head coach Tim Kish.
An interesting letter that Penn State has sent out to recruits with their recruiting class is in a holding pattern.
Missouri's recruits are split on the move to the SEC next year.
The Tigers already lost a commitment from running back Jonathan Williams.
Wisconsin added wide receiver Reggie Love to their recruiting class.
Alabama commit Darius Philon suffered a knee injury but the extent is unknown right now.
Auburn pledge Zeke Pike has been suspended for violating team rules. Not the first time he's had issues.
An Ohio State recruiting notebook with plenty of details.
Posted on: November 9, 2011 2:51 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2011 3:06 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Look up and down the depth charts of NFL teams and you'll find five starting quarterbacks from SEC schools. 15% of the league seems like a good number but for a conference that has won five straight national championships and is widely considered to be home to the best football in the country, it's much smaller than you'd expect. After all, one school - USC - has three starting quarterbacks in the league and one was a career backup in college.
In light of the so-so quarterback play around the SEC this year (apart from Arkansas' Tyler Wilson and generally from Georgia's Aaron Murray), the question should be asked: Why can't SEC teams recruit great quarterbacks? There's not a single SEC quarterback in the top 20 in passing efficiency and a signal-caller has thrown for more than 350 yards in a game this season just twice. Twice. They play great defense in the league but that doesn't explain why Jarrett Lee throws up easy interceptions from time-to-time or the position is an open door at schools like Ole Miss.
One reason the league has struggled to churn out good quarterbacks is schools generally don't find many good ones in their own backyards. Tennessee feels great about their (now injured) quarterback Tyler Bray but remember he's from California. Of those starting quarterbacks in the NFL, Matthew Stafford is from Texas and Jay Cutler played high school football in Indiana. Both had solid careers in college but have blossomed at the next level while Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow has struggled to produce at the next level. Is it conservative coaching (or lack of any good QB coaching), systems, too much defense or something in the water? States like Florida have been known to produce a good quarterback from time-to-time but it's just not a strength of the region. In the end, it comes down to recruiting a quality player and there just haven't been enough of them headed down South.
This season for example, Alabama lost out on five-star quarterbacks Gunner Kiel and in-state prospect Jameis Winston. Sure a big time quarterback commits to an SEC school from time-to-time but generally, you don't have top high school players at the position flocking to play at schools in the league. Meanwhile, Pac-12 and Big 12 schools, among others, keep churning out great passers. Increasingly, it seems, the high-flying offenses elsewhere have attracted the good ones and resulted in diminished play at SEC schools. Even when they do grab a big name, such as Florida's John Brantley, things just haven't worked out. Russell Shepard went to LSU with great fanfare but is now a play-making wide receiver as another example.
In the class of 2012, Auburn has the highest rated prospect at the position in Zeke Pike but there are plenty of questions about his mechanics, arm strength and maturity. Newcomer Texas A&M might have the best recruit in dual-threat Matt Davis. In 2011 the Gators grabbed two of the best in the country but we'll see how they play down the road after being thrown to the wolves as freshmen. One of them, Jeff Driskel, is the first consensus top quarterback to go a league school in years. Recruiting is an inexact science - look at powers like Texas struggle to find "the guy" - but it seems like more schools have a QB lab with issues in the SEC.
It's tough to succeed with great defenses but you can't fault lack of skill position on offense for lack of production if look at the rosters and incoming classes. There are plenty of reasons why each school in the SEC has struggled with quarterback play over the years - from development to playing against tough defenses - but ultimately it comes down to recruiting the right guys. There is a secret to success and conference schools have seemingly found it at every position but one. We'll see if things improve going forward but for now, no one is confusing the SEC as the cradle of quarterbacks.
Tags: Aaron Murray, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Big 12, Florida, Georgia, Gunner Kiel, Heisman Trophy, Jameis Winston, Jarrett Lee, Jay Cutler, Jeff Driskel, John Brantley, Matt Davis, Matthew Stafford, NFL, Ole Miss, Pac-12, Russell Shepard, SEC, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Tim Tebow, Tyler Bray, Tyler Wilson, USC, Zeke Pike
Posted on: November 8, 2011 6:48 pm
Edited on: November 8, 2011 6:48 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Though he hasn't even taken so much as an unofficial visit to see the school, Lauderdale Lakes (Fla.) cornerback Daniel Gray committed to Tennessee sight unseen late Tuesday afternoon.
"They play my type of coverage," Gray told VolQuest.com. "I really trust coach (Terry) Joseph and know he can help me get where I want to be as a player."
Gray will visit Knoxville in early December but will also take official visits to several other schools before Signing Day. The 6-foot, 165-pound defensive back also held offers from Ole Miss, Nebraska and Texas Tech among others and has liked Tennessee for years thanks in large part to former All-American safety Eric Berry - one of several defensive backs Gray models his game after.
"I feel like I'm a very physical player," he said. "I try to be physical at the line in man coverage and I feel like with my speed, I can run with receivers."
The 19th commitment for the Vols class of 2012, Gray is the third defensive back of the group.
Posted on: November 7, 2011 7:05 pm
Edited on: November 7, 2011 10:43 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
If you were a recruit in the southeastern part of the country, chances are you were at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa for the game built up to be the biggest of the century.
There were over 100 official and unofficial visitors taking in Alabama-LSU Saturday and just about all of them used a synonym of the word "awesome" to describe the atmosphere. No doubt the defensive recruits were a little more impressed at the level and style of play than the offensive recruits but no matter who it was, there were nothing but positive vibes from the experience.
"It was a great game," cornerback and Alabama commit Geno Smith told TideSports.com. "It was a great atmosphere, and I enjoyed the game a lot even though it was a tough loss. It was a fun game."
Smith was one of several Tide commitments in attendance as an unoffiical visitor. With several five-star recruits in on their official visits, such as tackle Arik Armstead and defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, recruiting others to join Alabama's class of 2012 was going on by several commits despite the raucous atmosphere.
"It was so hard to talk to people," linebacker Reggie Ragland said. "It was that loud on the field, so I had to get up in people's faces just to talk to them. I know once the game got started, it was hard for the guys playing the game to even hear."
Yes Alabama lost a close game in overtime but there were plenty of positives to take away for those in attendance. Winning is the most important thing in recruiting but a loss to a team like LSU, in that atmosphere, with that head coach, means the Tide won't suffer on the recruiting trail. Come Signing Day, there will be plenty of players who forgot the outcome but remembered what it felt like being in the stadium and on the Crimson Tide sideline.
The biggest effect could be felt in the class of 2013. Five-star defensive end Robert Nkemdiche was among the double-digit number of underclassmen prospects in attendance and someone several coaches came over to talk to.
“Everything is still pretty much the same - Alabama and LSU are my top two," he told 247sports. "I liked the game and both teams have very good defenses. I haven’t been down to LSU yet. I really like Alabama, though.”It wasn't the game of the century but it was Nick Saban's off the field given the quality and quantity of recruits looking on. It's some what early to truly digest if what happened in Tuscaloosa will have a lasting impact with some but we have plenty of time between now and February to figure it out.
Missouri moves to the SEC
The other big news over the weekend was Missouri's move to the SEC (finally, officially). It's important to note that the Tigers will be placed in the Eastern division and will have a game every year against West division "rival" Texas A&M. If you're on the MU coaching staff nothing could make you happier.
Without question, the move is a step up in competition but that doesn't mean Missouri can't compete. They'll still be able to go into Texas, which they have successfully under Gary Pinkel, just as often as they have. They'll also be able to make in-roads in talent rich states like Georgia and Florida with trips every other year. Like most schools, they're not going to be consistently recruiting five-star type players but playing in the SEC is something plenty of players value and will be a selling point.
One player the move could help with is top-ranked Dorial Green-Beckham. Though the talented wide receiver has kept pretty mum on his recruiting, he has talked glowingly about playing in the SEC and proximity to home is a huge factor for him. Though many consider Oklahoma and Arkansas the front-runners for his signature, the move certainly doesn't hurt the Tigers pursuit.
More than anything, winning some games next year will go a long way in the class of 2013.
Penn State issues already having an effect
As big as Alabama-LSU was this weekend, it paled in comparison to the story out of Penn State. We're at an early stage in all of this but no doubt that recruits are beginning to take notice of what is going on in State College.
The Nittany Lions currently have 16 commitments for the class of 2012 and many are taking a wait and see approach right now. As we've seen at other schools dealing with a big scandal, it will take some time to see what will happen with many of the players recruited by the staff at Penn State. Some players choose a school because of academics, location and what not - those will likely stick with their pledge. Others headed to school for a particular coach or Joe Paterno in particular, might find themselves taking additional visits and contacting other schools in order to have options on Signing Day.
Five-star and top defensive end Noah Spence appeared to be dropping PSU, tweeting that the school might not be for him Monday afternoon. It still too early to tell what's going to happen with Penn State's recruiting going forward but it's hard to say things will be ok given the news coming out of the area recently.
Video of the week
This week's spotlight is on running back Keith Marshall, who had quite the game on Senior Night with five touchdowns.
Posted on: November 3, 2011 6:12 pm
Edited on: November 3, 2011 6:15 pm