Tag:Brent Venables
Posted on: March 7, 2012 12:15 pm

Clemson picks up commit number three in McDonald

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Clemson is hoping that the best season in recent school history will translate into even more success on the recruiting trail and it appears to have paid off in the form of a commitment on Wednesday morning from Hialeah (Fla.) linebacker Isaac McDonald after a Junior Day visit this past weekend.

“They showed us a really good time. They showed us that they’re willing to do things for student-athletes that make them want to come to their school,” McDonald told CUTigers.com.

The 6-foot-5, 200-pounder also held offers from Louisville, South Carolina and West Virginia among others. New defensive coordinator Brent Venables played a big role in McDonald picking Clemson over the other schools recruiting him hard however.

“He was talking about how he was a coach at Oklahoma for 12 years, but when he switched schools, they made them feel like he was at home,” McDonald said.

Clemson is now up to three commitments in the class of 2013. McDonald racked up 75 tackles and five sacks last season as a junior playing multiple positions.

Posted on: February 20, 2012 5:12 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 5:39 pm

Monday Mailbag - Sooners, Aggies and Davonte Neal

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Starting a new feature on the blog as the recruiting season picks up and spring ball starts across the country: The Monday Mailbag. My colleague Bruce Feldman runs a similar feature on Friday that is a must-read but there are plenty of questions out there that need answering and, well, I'm here to answer them since college football is very much a 24/7/365 sport nowadays. So without further ado, let the smorgasbord of questions commence.
Great start to the mailbag because it's a chance to bring up Dennis Dodd and Brett McMurphy's early top 25 ballots. I'm sure there's some griping from plenty of fans about how both have the order but I pretty much see eye-to-eye on most of the picks. To answer the question, I see a few teams that are a tad over-hyped going into next year, starting with Oklahoma, especially at number three overall. Are they top-10 worthy? Absolutely with 15 starters coming back and quarterback Landry Jones among them. But the way they struggled down the stretch last season was worrisome, especially with the injuries to Dominique Whaley and Ryan Broyles and how the offense just wasn't the same. I'm guessing the coaching staff will put more emphasis on spreading the ball around and hope for a boost in the run game with all of the tailbacks healthy to provide more consistency. Don't discount the loss of defensive coordinator Brent Venables either, the guys were not around for when Mike Stoops was and he didn't recruit them so it will take a little time to develop some chemistry. With plenty of time to study it, I don't think the 'Belldozer' package will be as effective as it was in 2011 unless there's more passing to keep defenses honest.

One other factor that should be noted is it'll be a tough Big 12 this year with newcomers TCU and West Virginia both having good teams on top of rival Texas taking what should be a step forward this year. It's possible the Sooners have a better team than last year but doesn't mean they'll be able to take advantage. I also expect several of the incoming recruits to see extended playing time, especially among the tight ends and receivers (I'd guess Taylor McNamara and Durron Neal for sure) Stoops signed.

A few others that are a tad over-hyped: Wisconsin, Florida, Oklahoma State and Notre Dame. Under appreciated? You're looking at TCU, Kansas State, Nebraska and South Carolina.
Great timing for this question considering what the Aggies did on the recruiting trail over the weekend. Seven commitments is an impressive number and pushes the program to a nation's best 13 total commitments for the class of 2013. After already grabbing a top 15 class with the group they just signed, Kevin Sumlin and his staff have certainly hit the ground running. It helps tremendously that several of the coaches came over from Houston and had already been evaluating some of these recruits and developed a prior relationship. One of the things that I got when talking with Sumlin last month was that he certainly would make it a point to sell the fact that A&M was the only SEC program in the state. While Texas will almost always have the pick of the litter when it comes to in-state guys, you can tell recruits going forward will give a longer look at playing in College Station because of that. With the 2013 class, they have two excellent offensive linemen who are two of the top five or ten guys along the line in the state and they have a handful of speedy playmakers on both sides of the ball committed as well. Bottom line is that the program has jumped out to a big start and probably should be able to hold on and better what they did on Signing Day in 2012.

Darrell, surely you know by now not to go against the great Les Miles. The Mad Hatter had a great team last year that went through a lot off the field that some people forget. I think the national title game helped, in some respects, prepare this team for 2012 because it tempered expectations a little and also gave them a reason for the team to think, 'it's us vs. them,' in some respect.

I'm like most writers and have LSU #1 based on what they return and disagree that they lose "key" players so that prohibits them from taking the top spot in the preseason. It could be, for example, a positive that the rotation of Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson is over and the Tigers stick with talented transfer Zach Mettenberger, who many expect to grab hold of the job this spring.

LSU returns only five starters on defense but they rotated so many players in last season that I don't think it will be an issue for them as younger players like Anthony Johnson get more snaps. Incoming freshmen like Avery Johnson - Patrick Peterson's younger brother mind you - should be able to contribute early on special teams and offense to complement the strong run game the team should have. The national championship game really colored a lot of people's opinion of LSU the wrong way and it's sometimes good to remember that there's a lot of talent on this squad.
Neal is referring to Scottsdale (Ariz.) athlete Davonte Neal, who will be committing to a school Tuesday morning. His recruitment has been an interesting one, not only waiting nearly a month after Signing Day to pick but because of all the twists and turns he's taken. First off, he's a dynamic playmaker who is built to be a slot guy in a spread offense and get the ball in space. He's also a solid cornerback and should play early on special teams no matter what - there's a reason he's a top 100 player in the class of 2012.

Neal is quiet and it was like pulling teeth for a while to get him to mention a school he had interest in before his senior season ended. He's taken a lot of recent official visits and most have him picking between Notre Dame, Arizona and Arkansas tomorrow. I've heard good things about Notre Dame in this case but I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up staying close to home and picking Arizona either. His high school head coach was recently hired there and family is very important to Neal so there are definite draws for the Wildcats. Old CBS Sports pal Rich Rodriguez no doubt told the 5-foot-9, 170-pounder how well he'd fit in the offense down in Tuscon too. I'll stick with a cautious prediction of Neal going to South Bend but I would be surprised for him to state in-state either.

That will wrap things up for the first Monday Mailbag, plenty of others to come in the weeks and months ahead. Tweet your questions to me at @BryanDFischer on Twitter and I'll try and answer as many as I can.

Posted on: January 24, 2012 11:32 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 10:05 am

Big 12 Signing Day Overview

Posted by Bryan Fischer

National Signing Day is almost here and recruits across the country are gearing up for plenty of last-minute pitches and school visits as head coaches look to shape their program for years to come. The Big 12 is once again led by traditional powers Texas and Oklahoma but after that, it's not the drop off that other conferences have with a solid effort by just about every other school. Drawing on the talent-rich state of Texas makes recruiting easier than most but it's interesting to note how schools are developing other pipelines (such as the Sooners and California). The make up and look of the league is different and that makes this Signing Day particularly interesting down in the Big 12.

MaxPreps.com Top 25 Team Rankings, Big 12
College Commits Top 100 Moving
2. Texas 24 5
7. Oklahoma 16 4
24. TCU 20 0

Top storylines

1. Does Texas finish number one?

Mack Brown doesn't have the nickname of Mr. February for nothing, as the long-time head coach can certainly recruit. 2012 might be one of the most talented classes he' brought in during his time on the 40 acres, reeling in the state's top running back for the second year in a row, the top wide receiver, some talented front seven athletes and several offensive lineman who might be playing sooner rather than later. The Longhorns are in the running for a handful of national prospects as Signing Day rolls around so it's possible the current group of 24 picks up another top 100 player to give them an impressive six. If so they have a chance to take the top spot from Alabama and/or hold off Michigan, Florida or Ohio State. It's not a big chance but the Horns have a chance nevertheless.

2. Can Oklahoma move into the top five?

This was supposed to be one of Bob Stoops' smaller classes and for a time it looked like he was taking his time building it up. But things have started to pick up and while it's not as flashy as the school's Red River rival to the South, it brings in several quality pieces along the line and at receiver. In the running for the overall number one recruit and a handful of other top 300 players means the Sooners have nowhere to go but up and might be able to crack the top five depending on who they land. If that happens, it would be a major coup for Stoops considering he lost a talented recruiter in Brent Venables and had to help brother Mike readjust to recruiting players back to Norman.

3. How much better is TCU's class with the Big 12 draw?

From the looks of it, Gary Patterson is bringing in one of his most talented recruiting classes during his tenure in Fort Worth. If the Horned Frogs can't compete in the Big 12, it won't be for lack of resources - brand new facilities should be open by the season - or lack of talent. The team was young last season but still wound up taking the Mountain West conference title and upsetting Boise State and they'll add several players with top-end speed to help fill-out the depth chart. There's more skill position talent for TCU than lineman this year so that will be interesting to note going forward but in landing players like tight end Griffin Gilbert or Elite 11 quarterback Tyler Matthews, Patterson has shown that the conference realignment shuffling has paid off for the school on the recruiting trail.

4. Why is everybody Juco crazy?

One sign that this is something to keep an eye on in the conference this year is the mere fact that Brown is bringing a pair of Jucos to Austin for the first time in a decade. Charlie Weis is hoping for a quick talent influx at Kansas by taking on a host of Jucos and at least two transfers at quarterback. Tommy Tuberville has an impressive eight guys from the junior college ranks headed to Lubbock and, of course, Bill Snyder is going to have plenty lining his recruiting class. As things stand right now, all but one school - TCU - will be bringing in two Jucos come Signing Day which is a bit unusual for the Big 12 as a whole and something to keep an eye out for. It will be interesting to hear the coaches give their press conferences to discuss recruits and give the reason why they dipped into the Juco ranks more than usual this year.

Most impressive class: Texas

Most underrated class: TCU

Work left to do: Kansas

Top Players to Watch
Name Pos Committed
1. Dorial Green-Beckham WR Uncommitted
9. Johnathan Gray RB Texas
15. Cayleb Jones WR Texas
33. Malcom Brown DT Texas
48. Durron Neal WR Oklahoma
79. Taylor McNamara TE Oklahoma
84. Thomas Johnson WR Uncommitted
86. Kennedy Estelle OL Texas
88. Wes Lunt QB Oklahoma State
114. Connor Brewer QB Texas

Assistant recruiters of note:

Chris Chuff and Jim Gush , Baylor
Kenneth Pope, Iowa State
Ron Powlus, Rob Ianello and Buddy Wyatt, Kansas
Michael Smith, Kansas State
Josh Heupel, Mike Stoops and Jay Norvell, Oklahoma
Todd Monken and Glenn Spencer, Oklahoma State
Rusty Burns and Jarrett Anderson, TCU
Major Applewhite, Bruce Chambers, Stacy Searles and Duane Akina, Texas
Neal Brown and Robert Prunty, Texas Tech

Head coach under pressure: Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech

Top Big 12 class prediction: Texas

Top Big 12 signee: Johnathan Gray

Big 12 school-by-school
Program Commits Top Players Notes
- Team page
- Commitment list
22 WR Kiante Griffin
RB Rashodrick Linwood
DE Javonte Magee
LB Brian Nance
It definitely looks like the Bears experienced a little bounce from their remarkable season and back-to-back years of going to a bowl game. There's some very quick players in this group and Magee and Nance are absolute steals.
- Team page
- Commitment list
23 QB Grant Rohach
WR Quan West
OL Duaron Williams
West and Rohach might be hooking up in the passing game a lot down the road as each are very good gets for the Cyclones. After that, there's a lot of 'we'll see.'
- Team page
- Commitment list
13 DB Greg Allen
TE Charles Brooks
Not included but it'd be remiss to not point out is the fact that Weis landed two solid quarterbacks in Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps this year. After that it remains to be see what kind of impact this group can have.
- Team page
- Commitment list
15 WR Marquez Clark
LB Will Davis
Clark and Davis might be able to play early but as usual for Kansas State, it might take a few games or years to assess what the 2012 group can do.
- Team page
- Commitment list
18 OL John Michael McGee
TE Taylor McNamara
WR Durron Neal
WR Derrick Woods
The offense reloads at receiver quite well and Neal has a chance to be a special playmaker with his talent. The offensive line also gets a nice boost with McGee and Ty Darlington in the interior.
- Team page
- Commitment list
20 WR C.J. Curry
QB Wes Lunt
OL Michael Wilson
Curry could see plenty of early playing and looks like he's the latest in a long line of talented Cowboys receivers. The defensive players are all very solid with LB/DE Jeremiah Tshimanda a very intriguing player who can pass rush early on.
- Team page
- Commitment list
20 DE Devonte Fields
ATH Daje Johnson
QB Tyler Matthews
Very few teams in the country are bringing in as fast, collectively, a group as the Horned Frogs are. Johnson is a special talent and Matthews can take his time to develop into a nice signal-caller.
- Team page
- Commitment list
24 DT Malcom Brown
RB Johnathan Gray
WR Cayleb Jones
OL Curtis Riser
Just another ho-hum group of stars for the Longhorns. The class is highlighted by Gray, who set just about every record imaginable in high school and should be a factor early on in running the ball.
- Team page
- Commitment list
24 QB Clayton Nicholas
OL Michael Starts
WR Dominique Wheeler
Nichols is still a bit raw but is tough and has the tools to be a good quarterback in the Tech offense. Wheeler is a dynamic talent who easily has a chance to start early.

Posted on: January 23, 2012 5:24 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 6:32 pm

ACC Signing Day Overview

Posted by Bryan Fischer

National Signing Day is almost here and recruits across the country are gearing up for plenty of last-minute pitches and school visits as head coaches look to shape their program for years to come. While the past few years haven't been kind to the ACC in terms of on the field reputation, several schools are making quite the push on the recruiting trail. In 2010, no ACC team finished in the top 15 in the Maxpreps top 25 team rankings. In 2012, as many five could, including two top-five class possibilities. The league is very top-heavy but there's a clear talent influx headed to the East Coast with the upcoming class.

MaxPreps.com Top 25 Team Rankings, ACC
College Commits Top 100 Moving
6. Miami 31 6
9. Florida State 16 4
13. Clemson 20 2
15. Virginia Tech 26 0
20. Virginia 25 2

Top storylines

1. Can Miami close on a top 10 class despite NCAA cloud?

This isn't what head coach Al Golden signed up for but it's what he has to deal with - which he's done superbly so far. It's no surprise that they've gotten some of the best players in their backyard and really sold recruits on the program despite whatever looming NCAA sanctions are bound to hit during their careers. One thing to keep in mind is that the Hurricanes can offer plenty of early playing time given the losses they've had due to underclassmen declaring for the NFL Draft or graduation. There are several players that really aren't up to the caliber that Miami usually recruits but given Golden's track record of molding talent in previous stops, the full story on this class won't be written for some time. There are impact players on both sides of the ball, players who will add much-needed depth and potential redshirt candidates in what could be the ACC's largest class. A handful of players are still being recruited hard by other programs and will not doubt be hearing how hard the program will get hit by the folks in Indianapolis for the Nevin Shapiro scandal. It will be interesting to track down and see if the Hurricanes trend up or down on Signing Day in the team rankings.

2. Does Florida State close with a bang or go bust?

In his first year as head coach, Jimbo Fisher quickly brought the Seminoles back to national prominence in February by grabbing commitments from top recruits in talent producing Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. 2011 had an elite recruit at each position outside of quarterback and FSU finished with a top three class. It looked like the program was destined for a similar finish early in the 2012 recruiting cycle but have been hit by several defections (notably to Alabama) and the crown jewel this year, quarterback Jameis Winston, is a threat to sign with another school and/or get drafted by a major league baseball team. There's still several very talented players, especially along the defensive line, but you wonder if this group gets picked apart or if Fisher and the talented recruiters on his staff close with a bang.

3. Does Clemson bring in another big haul?

If there was one big surprise on Signing Day last year, it was how well Clemson did. One of the frequently asked questions seemed to be how the Tigers were able to pull so many highly regarded recruits but it appears that Dabo Swinney and his staff's recruiting ability is one of the best in the ACC and one of the top groups on the East Coast. This year's group of commitments has plenty of talented players who should see early playing time and help Clemson reload for another ACC title run this season. The group is heavy along both lines but the Tigers are in the running for some impressive skill position talent this final week and could be poised for another big Signing Day.

4. Better in-state battle: Miami-Florida State or Virginia-Virginia Tech?

The fact that Virginia is even in the discussion is a testament to what Mike London had done in terms of turning around the program. Both programs in the state are about done with their recruiting classes and the Cavaliers could wind up with more top 100 commitments than their in-state rival. Virginia Tech's group is deeper and more balanced but doesn't have quite the impact players at the top that you would expect. Still, both programs look like they'll have a strong class come February 2nd.

Further to the South, both Florida programs are locked into a battle that could see both wind up as top 10 classes when all is said and done. Miami will have a bigger, deeper class while Florida State will likely end up with a star-filled group of players that might not have the numbers. Both programs be in a battle down to the final hours to see who finishes with a higher class ranking from the looks of it.

Most impressive class: Miami

Most underrated class: N.C. State

Work left to do: Boston College

Top Players to Watch
Name Pos Committed
4. Mario Edwards Jr. DL Florida State
12. Jameis Winston QB Florida State
13. Nelson Agholor ATH Uncommitted
17. Eddie Goldman DT Uncommitted
25. Travis Blanks DB Clemson
41. Eli Harold DL Virginia
45. Joel Caleb ATH Uncommitted
56. Mario Pender RB Florida State
63. Michael Moore DE Virginia
72. Deon Bush DB Miami

Assistant recruiters of note:

Mike Siravo, Boston College
Chad Morris, Jeff Scott and Brent Venables, Clemson
James Coley, Dameyune Craig, Eddie Gran and Lawrence Dawsey, Florida State
Mike Locksley, Maryland
Mike Reed and Jerry Petercuskie, N.C. State
Matt Lubick, Duke
Brian Bohannon and Andy McCollum, Georgia Tech
Terry Richardson and Brennan Carroll, Miami
Chris Kapilovic and Vic Koenning, North Carolina
Anthony Poindexter, Virginia
Shane Beamer and Torrian Gray, Virginia Tech

Head coach under pressure: Randy Edsall, Maryland

Top ACC class prediction: Florida State

Top ACC signee: Mario Edwards, Jr.

ACC school-by-school
Atlantic Division Commits Top Players Notes
- Team page
- Commitment list
15 LB Steven Daniels
OL Win Homer
There's not a real impact player in this class and that's the biggest issue. A solid group of front seven players and lineman, the lack of skill position talent is notable.
- Team page
- Commitment list
20 DB Travis Blanks
ATH Germone Hopper
QB Chad Kelly
DT Carlos Watkins
Another very good class for the Tigers, Blanks is versatile and might be the best cover guy in 2012. Kelly has a strong arm and should take over for Tajh Boyd when the time comes.
- Team page
- Commitment list
16 DE Chris Casher
DE Mario Edwards Jr.
DE Dante Fowler Jr.
QB Jameis Winston
 This might be the best collection of D-linemen in the country. Edwards is likely to end up in Tallahassee and it's almost unfair to pair him with guys like Casher and Fowler off the edge. If Winston arrives on campus, then this group has great potential down the road.
- Team page
- Commitment list
23 RB Wes Brown
LB Abner Logan
OL Mike Madaras
 A solid effort by Edsall, it remains to be seen what kind of magic Locksley can work this year. Brown has a chance to play early in a variety of roles but there's a lot of talent that needs to be developed in this class.
- Team page
- Commitment list
22 DT K'Hadree Hooker
QB James Summers
DE Kenderius Whitehead
 Though the Wolfpack missed out on some of the top in-state talent, this is an underrated group that has a lot of solid contributors. Summers seems to be the guy going forward while Whitehead is a great addition on the DL.
- Team page
- Commitment list
17 QB Tyler Cameron
LB Dominique Gibson
 Jim Grobe doesn't play many recruits early so it will be awhile before we know how good any of this class will be but Cameron is a great pick up and one of the top QBs in South Florida.
Coastal Division Commits Top Players Notes
- Team page
- Commitment list
18 WR Max McCaffrey
DB Dwayne Norman
RB Shaquille Powell
Powell could have played at some bigger programs and is a hard runner who brings a lot to the table for the Blue Devils. There's a lot of skill position players who are not that fast but can contribute in a variety of areas.
- Team page
- Commitment list
17 ATH Dennis Andrews
DE Francis Kallon
QB Justin Thomas
 Thomas will be a very good fit in the option offense at QB and might be the fastest triggerman Paul Johnson has ever had. Yellow Jackets also look like they're getting a good overall group of linemen.
- Team page
- Commitment list
31 DB Deon Bush
DE Jelani Hamilton
RB Randy Johnson
DE Tyriq McCord
There's a ton of explosiveness in this class but there's also a few questionable players in this group in terms of talent level. After "Duke" Johnson's senior year, it looks like the Hurricanes are getting the two best players in the state in him and Hamilton.
- Team page
- Commitment list
17 LB Shakeel Rashad
OL J.J. Patterson
LB Phillip Williamson
 Between the NCAA, Butch Davis and the new staff, not much is expected of the Tar Heels' 2012 class. Losing QB Patton Robinette during UNC orientation to Vanderbilt is a huge blow.
- Team page
- Commitment list
25 DE Eli Harold
LB Kwontie Moore
DE Michael Moore
DE Courtnye Wynn
 Kwontie Moore is an impressive linebacker who can hit like Ray Lewis and run like a safety. The defensive linemen in this class should have plenty guys who see early playing time.
- Team page
- Commitment list
26 RB J.C. Coleman
RB Drew Harris
DE Jarontay Jones
DB Donaldven Manning
 Jones is a big time DE but the there's plenty of players who will re-stock the wide receiver and defensive back positions. Coleman and Harris are going to be a very good 1-2 punch in the back field very soon.

Posted on: September 6, 2011 1:31 pm
Edited on: September 6, 2011 1:33 pm

Texas defensive end latest Sooners pledge

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Oklahoma has been the center of attention in the college football world this week, thanks to realignment and due to the Sooners' number one ranking in all of the polls. Fans of the team received news of a different kind on Monday night however, as Euless (Texas) defensive end Polo Manukainio committed to the school.

"For the past three months I had been going back and forth between OU, Baylor and Arkansas," Manukainiu told SoonerScoop.com. "Oklahoma is perfect because it's not that far from home but it really isn't that close either."

The 6-foot-6, 250-pound end also was considering Miami and Nebraska among his double-digit list of offers but liked the pitch from Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops and defensive coordinator Brent Venables best.

"Coach Stoops said the same as Coach Venables," Manukainiu said. "He said that I'm physical enough and I've got the attitude and I'm humble enough to come in and play as a freshmen and get some playing time and he said that I have the academic knowledge to come and get though school and earn my degree. And also I could be lucky enough to go to the league with it and he believes I could do that."

Manukainiu is the 14th commitment for the Sooners in the class of 2012 and second at the defensive end position.

Posted on: March 10, 2011 5:35 pm

Oklahoma adds 2012 Texas athlete

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Head coach Bob Stoops has had a lot of success recruiting in the Lone Star state and he headed back to the well for Oklahoma's latest commitment, talented Rockdale (Texas) athlete Daniel Brooks, according to SoonerScoop.com.

Primarily a running back in high school, Brooks could end up as a defensive back upon enrolling in Norman.

"They've talked about using me some as a return guy, running back, a slot guy, and they are looking for me on defense," he told the website earlier this week. "Coach (Brent) Venables says would love to see me at defensive back. I'm going to find my place."

The 5-foot-10, 175 pound Brooks also held a scholarship offer from New Mexico and received his offer from Oklahoma just two days ago. He recently attended one of the Sooners' Junior Days and decided to end the recruiting process early after taking everything in.

Brooks is the Sooners' fourth commit in the class of 2012.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com