Posted on: February 21, 2012 1:01 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 1:14 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
The class of 2012 is, with one notable exception, signed and done with. That means it is time to turn everybody's attention to the class of 2013 and keep it there. Here are a few storylines to follow on the road to the first Wednesday in February next year - in no particular order.
1. Will Nick Saban be able to close on the country's top prospect?
Nick Saban has certainly earned the title of the country's top recruiter after pulling in the top overall class (or close to it) since arriving in Tuscaloosa. The one thing he hasn't done, however, is land the nation's top recruit. In the class of 2012, he went after Dorial Green-Beckham but couldn't make the final cut. A year before Saban narrowly lost out on Jadeveon Clowney to South Carolina. Is the third time the charm in Grayson (Ga.) defensive end Robert Nkemdiche?
One of the top athletes to play the position coming out of high school, Nkemdiche can play multiple positions in college and has something that you rarely see in some recruits - the drive to be great. At this point, most expect him to sign with the Crimson Tide but in recruiting, as in life, things sometimes have a way of making an unexpected turn. His high school head coach played on an Alabama national championship squad and Nkemdiche has gotten the full court press from the staff for a while. Still, he's listed other schools, taken visits to some like Georgia and has his brother at Ole Miss. It looks good for Saban but we won't find out for sure until next February.
2. Who wins the battle of the Midwest behemoths?
The past year has seen Midwest recruiting go from some yawns and a few eyebrow raises to must-read headlines on a daily basis thanks to Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer recruiting like mad. Hoke had the country's top recruiting class before ever coaching a game and Meyer was able to land an impressive class doing the same. It's been an interesting transformation in the Big Ten over the past few months and turned the conference into two programs and a cloud of dust.
Both are off to a very solid start with the class of 2013 with plenty of momentum from signing top five classes earlier this month. The Buckeyes have landed elite guys like Trotwood (Ohio) linebacker Cam Burrows and are certainly in the mix for plenty of top 100 players. The Wolverines had a monster recruiting weekend to power them to a total of 11 commits, and have a headliner (and one of the top quarterbacks in the country) in Shane Morris. Should be a fun few months as each program jockey's to out do the other on the recruiting trail.
3. Is this the class where being in the SEC really comes into play for Missouri and Texas A&M?
There's no doubt the move to the SEC played a role in the Aggies landing a top 15 class and the Tigers getting a commitment from the number one player in the country but the class of 2013 can really be a selling point for both staffs. More than anything, it gives recruits a chance to watch A&M play Alabama and Florida, see how their fans travel, what the coverage of the team is like and if Mizzou's James Franklin can top Vanderbilt's James Franklin.
Already Kevin Sumlin has jumped out to a big start and has more commitments than anybody in the country right now. He's gotten quality as well as quantity to boot. What remains to be seen is what happens if things take a turn for the worse this season on the field. Will doubts creep into recruits' minds if either school has issues and struggles to get wins? It's something to keep an eye on but, for the moment, things are looking good as each joins the best conference in the country.
4. How will realignment help/hurt West Virginia?
Realignment has made the Mountaineers very interesting on the recruiting trail. There was a lot to like about Dana Holgorsen's first year, capped off with a blowout win in the Orange Bowl and Geno Smith likely entering 2012 as a legitimate Heisman candidate. The staff had a solid effort in recruiting and really got some speedsters out of Florida and from close by (such as Deontay McManus to the right) to sign up for the ride to the Big 12. Yet it's clear that there will be a emphasis on recruiting Texas and the South more with the change in conferences.
As my colleague Bruce Feldman pointed out to me yesterday, all but one of the assistants on staff has ties to the Big 12 footprint and several know the back roads in Oklahoma and Arkansas very well too. Holgorsen's wide open offense will no doubt be a good selling points for kids running the spread across the South and maybe, by hiring defensive staff members with area ties the recruits on the other side of the ball will take a look at the Mountaineers in this cycle as well. Should be an interesting look at how the program handles playing in the Big 12 this year and going forward and whether that translates in terms of recruiting as well.
5. How many does USC sign in year two of scholarship cuts?
If you doubted Lane Kiffin's ability to recruit, well, you must not pay a ton of attention. Despite getting slapped with deep scholarship cuts, the oft-bashed head coach enters 2012 with a preseason top two team and just signed a top 10 class with some elite talent. A pair of All-Americans at wide out were no deterrent to Nelson Agholor, who was lured to USC from Florida. There were a few offensive line targets that the Trojans missed out on late - they still signed a great class at the position - but that might turn out to be a blessing in disguise because they can take a few early enrollees to boost numbers.
Bottom line, who and how many Kiffin's staff sign will be a storyline worth following on the West Coast.
6. Who emerges during the spring and summer camp circuit?
One of the reasons why recruiting evaluation have tended to improve over recent years is the rise in getting a look at top players competing against other top players on the offseason camp circuit. It's also allowed those in the industry to discover more guys who don't back down from a challenge and have the speed and skills to be FBS-caliber talent. Because recruits are not in pads, we don't get a complete picture of a player but we can find out even more about how they play and how their recruitment is going. In many ways, the camps and combines that happen across the country from late February through early July will allow everybody to see who's an elite recruit and who we need to keep an eye on when the pads come on during the fall.
7. What impact will social media have on the class of 2013?
Ask any of the class of 2012 about Twitter and Facebook and they'll say it's changed recruiting. Players from across the country are getting to know each other more and more, going beyond just texting back and forth to DMing and Wall posting as early commitments explain to others why their school is the place to be. Recruiting is becoming more and more interconnected and there is no doubt that the 2013 group will be at the forfront of the new wave of change.
Forget hat dances, keep an eye on how many top 100 guys commit via Twitter. Should be a lot more than last year.
8. Who is the top quarterback nationally?
Upside, production, measurables, arm strength... there are plenty of things that go into deciding who the top quarterback in the country is. The candidates are out there and it will likely boil down to one of Max Browne, Tyrone Swoopes, Shane Morris, Ryan Brurns, Kevin Olsen and a handful of others competing to be the top signal-caller in the final rankings. It's important to keep in mind that quarterback is one position that should see plenty of movement as players go through spring ball, camps, 7-on-7, Elite 11 competitions and finally their senior season.
Olsen, Burns and Browne are your typical pro-style quarterbacks with the size coaches look for and big arms to boot. Swoopes is a dual-threat who some have compared to Robert Griffin III or Vince Young because of how electric he is with the ball in his hands. Morris is the rare lefty that is vying for top billing. Several others are hot on their heels in order to be considered part of the elite QB group in 2013 and will be interesting to see how each does as the pressure mounts each passing week.
9. Can Stanford keep things going?
When was the last time you talked about Stanford recruiting? Prior to the class of 2012: rarely if ever (provided you are not the type that tailgates with wine). All the Cardinal did this year was snag a top 10 class and land one of the best group of offensive line recruits in the modern recruiting era. But can the program keep the momentum going with out Andrew Luck leading the charge on the field? That's a question everybody is asking and at first glance, the answer appears to be yes.
Since David Shaw, a former Stanford player himself, returned to Palo Alto as an assistant under Jim Harbaugh, the program has had a remarkably high success rate when recruiting. If an offer goes out and that player qualifies, there's a very good chance that player will end up signing. The hit rate for Stanford the past few years has been nothing short of remarkable considering the restrictions the staff is under but there's no doubt the education, new stadium, major league and BCS-level success that has happened in the Bay Area has turned the program from doormat to door opener. Should be fun to follow over the next few years.
10. Does somebody finish their class before the season?
Michigan, Texas A&M, Florida and Texas are off to hot starts. The Longhorns are taking a very small class this year so they could wind up filling up with only limited room for recruits based on who leaves for the NFL early. The other schools are recruiting at a pace that will have local analysts taking a vacation much earlier than normal. So, we're left to wonder, could somebody actually get 90% or more of their commitments before the season starts?
Tags: Alabama, Andrew Luck, Big 12, Brady Hoke, Bruce Feldman, Bryan Fischer, Cam Burrows, Dana Holgorsen, David Shaw, Deontay McManus, Dorial Green-Beckham, Elite 11, Florida, Geno Smith, Jadeveon Clowney, James Franklin, Jim Harbaugh, Kevin Olsen, Kevin Sumlin, Lane Kiffin, Max Browne, Michigan, Missouri, Nelson Agholor, NFL, Nick Saban, Ohio State, Orange Bowl, Robert Griffin III, Robert Nkemdiche, Ryan Burns, SEC, Shane Morris, South Carolina, Stanford, Texas, Texas A&M, Tyrone Swoopes, Urban Meyer, USC, Vince Young, West Virginia
Posted on: February 20, 2012 5:12 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 5:39 pm
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.
Tags: Anthony Johnson, Arizona, Arkansas, Avery Johnson, Big 12, Brent Venables, Brett McMurphy, Bruce Feldman, Bryan Fischer, Davonte Neal, Dennis Dodd, Dominique Whaley, Durron Neal, Florida, Houston, Jarrett Lee, Jordan Jefferson, Kansas State, Kevin Sumlin, Landry Jones, Les Miles, LSU, Mike Stoops, Monday Mailbag, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Patrick Peterson, Rich Rodriguez, Ryan Broyles, SEC, South Carolina, Taylor McNamara, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Zach Mettenberger
Posted on: January 27, 2012 10:54 am
Edited on: January 27, 2012 11:19 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
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. For a snapshot of the Non-BCS recruiting scene, we will take a close look at independents Notre Dame and BYU, as well as the five schools headed to the Big East in 2013: Boise State, Houston, San Diego State, SMU, and UCF.
1. How quickly will Gunner Kiel see the field at Notre Dame?
One of the storylines of Gunner Kiel's recruitment was the star quarterback's inability to make up his mind. Some have suggested that playing time is a big concern for Kiel, and there is no guarantee on when he may take the starting position. The first-string quarterback spot is there for the taking, but head coach Brian Kelly has already shown a happy trigger finger when it comes to switching signal-callers. How is Kiel, who seemed to be always eyeing greener grass, going take it if and/or when he is sent to the pine.
2. Will there be an effect from the assistant coach changeover at Boise State?
2012 kicked off with Chris Petersen losing two valuable members of his coaching staff to BCS schools. Will Muschamp tapped offensive coordinator Brent Pease to join his staff in Florida, then special teams coach Jeff Choate left to join Mike Leach's staff at Washington State just a week later. Both coaches played a big role in recruiting the 2012 class, and there was some concern that the staff shakeup could have an effect in recruiting. A firm commitment from QB Nick Patti after Pease's move to Florida was a good sign for Boise State. This class still stacks up well against previous groups, but you wonder if/when we will start seeing an on-field effect of this assistant exodus.
3. Schools on the move
Navy recently added themselves to the group of schools headed towards the Big East, leaving Army, BYU, and Notre Dame as the last FBS independents after 2015. The Black Knights have been fairly grounded in their independent status, but both the Irish and Cougars have flirted with the notions of joining one of the power conferences. In announcing their move to the Big East, Navy school officials mentioned the scheduling difficulties associated with being an independent. As more schools hold future dates for conference play, it had become increasingly difficult to assemble a competitive schedule without that built-in slate of opponents. If the Big 12 comes calling again to BYU, Navy's move might have the Cougars reconsidering their options.
Assistant recruiters of note:
Bob Diaco and Mike Denbrock, Notre Dame
Sean Beckton, UCF
Carlton Hall, Houston
Tony White, San Diego State
Jeff Reinebold, SMU
Tags: Arik Armstead, Austin Maass, Ben Weaver, Blake Davis, Bob Diaco, Boise State, Brent Pease, Brian Kelly, Bryan Fischer, Butch Pauu, BYU, Carlton Hall, Central Florida, Chip Patterson, Chris Petersen, D.J. Foster, Damien Neroes, Daniel Roundtree, Deontay Greenberry, DJ Foster, Donald Hopkins, Elijah Shumate, George O'Leary, Gunner Kiel, Houston, Jarron Jones, Jeff Choate, Jeff Reinebold, Jonathan Wallace, June Jones, Kendrick Mathis, Kevin Sumlin, Kwayde Miller, Mike Denbrock, National Signing Day, National Signing Day Overview, National Signing Day Preview, Nelson Agholor, Nick Patti, Non-BCS, Non-BCS Signing Day Overview, Notre Dame, Prescott Line, Rocky Long, Ron Darby, Ronald Darby, Ronnie Stanley, San Diego State, Sean Beckton, Seaver Myers, Sheldon Day, Signing Day, Signing Day Overview, SMU, Southern Methodist, Tanner Mangum, Taylor Oldham, Tee Shepard, Terrence Taylor, Tim Hines, Tomme Mark, Tony Levine, Tony White, Travis Averill, Troy Hinds, UCF
Posted on: January 26, 2012 3:55 pm
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.
Remember, all of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcasts can be downloaded for FREE from the iTunes Store.
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Posted on: January 23, 2012 5:24 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 6:32 pm
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.
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
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.
Tags: Abner Logan, ACC, ACC Signing Day Overview, Al Golden, Andy McCollum, Anthony Poindexter, Boston College, Brennan Carroll, Brent Venables, Brian Bohannon, Bryan Fischer, Carlos Watkins, Chad Kelly, Chad Morris, Chris Casher, Chris Kapilovic, Clemson, Courtnye Wynn, Dabo Swinney, Dameyune Craig, Dane Fowler Jr., Dennis Andrews, Deon Bush, Dominique Gibson, Donaldven Manning, Drew Harris, Duke, Duke Johnson, Dwayne Norman, Eddie Goldman, Eddie Gran, Eli Harold, Florida State, Francis Kallon, Georgia Tech, Germone Hopper, J.C. Coleman, J.J. Patterson, Jameis Winston, James Coley, James Summers, Jarontay Jones, Jeff Scott, Jelani Hamilton, Jerry Petercuskie, Jim Grobe, Jimbo Fisher, Joel Caleb, Justin Thomas, K'Hadree Hooker, Kenderius Whitehead, Kwontie Moore, Lawrence Dawsey, LSU, Mario Edwards Jr., Mario Pender, Maryland, Matt Lubick, Max McCaffrey, Miami, Michael Moore, Mike Locksley, Mike London, Mike Madaras, Mike Reed, Mike Siravo, N.C. State, NCAA, Nelson Agholor, Nevin Shapiro, NFL Draft, North Carolina, Patton Robinette, Paul Johnson, Philip Williamson, Randy Johnson, Ray Lewis, Shakeel Rashad, Shane Beamer, Shaquille Powell, Signing Day Overview, Steven Daniels, Terry Richardson, Torrian Gray, Travis Blanks, Tyler Cameron, Tyriq McCord, Vanderbilt, Vic Koenning, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Wes Brown, Win Homer
Posted on: November 14, 2011 8:19 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 8:28 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Had a chance to go out to see San Francisco Bay Area powerhouse De La Salle play California High last Friday. The Spartans have been one of the most successful programs in the country this decade and have sent plenty of players to Division I schools and eventually the NFL.
This year's squad has three seniors already committed to FBS schools and two juniors drawing plenty of attention as well. The headliner is four-star quarterback and Wisconsin commitment Bart Houston, who is every bit of his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame. Houston had a very good summer on the camp circuit and parlayed that into a solid season with the Spartans, leading them to a 9-1 record heading into the playoffs. If there's one thing you'll hear about him, it's that he's the perfect fit for the Badgers offensive system with a quick release, some mobility, good decision-making and the arm to get the ball downfield on post and fade routes.
Houston ended up 13-of-20 for 220 yards against California in a 24-3 win that didn't have the De La Salle ground game looking as sharp as it normally is. The signal-caller showed flashes of what makes him a top 100 player according to Maxpreps however, displaying nice touch on intermediate routes and spinning the ball well on short routes. There was only one or two decisions Houston would have liked back but was efficient the entire night and even added a short touchdown run. In short, you can understand why the Badgers went out of their normal recruiting areas to heavily recruit Houston because he certainly fits the mold of their previous quarterbacks to a T.
"Bart really impressed me with his accuracy, poise, leadership skills, pocket presence, and arm strength," analyst Tom Lemming says of Houston. "His accuracy is uncanny and he seems to put the ball on the money just about every time even when under pressure."
The best player on the field however was junior linebacker Michael Hutchings, who is also the top defensive player in the Bay Area and top underclass linebacker on the West Coast. At 6-foot-2, 210-pounds or so, Hutchings moves well in space and covers a whole lot of ground in the passing game. He likely will end up as an outside linebacker but it's not hard to see him bulking up and being able to play inside in a 3-4 scheme. Physically he has a big upper body and reminds some of former USC linebacker Keith Rivers. He got lost on a few plays but for the most part read his keys very well and you can tell he'll head to college with a plenty of experience.
"Last year we had a tough game against Cal High when I was on the field as a sophomore," Hutchings said. "It was definitely a grind, something we wanted to come back and get. I still say it was a sub par performance this game but they're a heck of a team."
The De La Salle linebacking corps is one of the best units in the country and also features California commit Michael Barton. The pair is close on and off the field and continue to develop into better players with the senior mentoring the younger linebacker.
"Barton is such a hard worker," Hutchings said. "Him and (Boise State commit Blake) Renaud guided me last year and now Barton has taken over this year. I just want to follow in their footsteps and keep the tradition going."
Hutchings is approaching the 15 offer mark and figures to see plenty more college coaches contact him in the coming months as the recruiting cycle shifts over to the class of 2013 on a full-time basis. Most of the Pac-12 has been in touch or extended an offer but even with plenty of time until Signing Day, Hutchings is already starting to develop a short list of schools.
"I have a group of favorites, USC, Cal, UCLA, Washington," he said. "And Oklahoma also.
"I was at Cal last week for the Washington State game. I looked at AT&T Park a little bit and got to be around the team. I probably won't take any other visits in the next couple of weeks but after the season in December I will."
Don't be surprised if this comes down to a USC/Cal battle with Hutchings committing some time over the summer following visits to both schools. Academics seem to be a big part of each school's pitch and the Bears have De La Salle alum and ace recruiter Tosh Lupoi assigned to the impressive linebacker. Though he's already successfully recruited Barton, it might be a little tougher for Lupoi to land Hutchings as USC is just one of several schools who are also making the future top 100 player a priority.
For now though, recruiting is being pushed aside as the Spartans turn their attention to the playoffs. With a title in hand thanks to a perfect 7-0 mark in the East Bay Athletic League and likely number one seed headed into the North Coast Section playoffs, another state championship is out there for the taking.
"We don't want to have any regrets," Hutchings said. "We want to go into every game, hit hard, don't make mistakes and have no regrets. We want to go into the playoffs and finish the season off right. As a junior, I just want to lead the junior and help the seniors win their state championship just like they did last year."
Georgia adds versatile quarterback
There weren't a ton of commitments this weekend but the most notable was Palm Beach (Fla.) quarterback Faton Bauta. A transfer from New York, he came in and won the quarterback spot at one of the big local programs - Palm Beach Dwyer - and has been dead set at playing the position in college, which Georgia appeared to recruit him at.
"My goal is set on being a quarterback at the next level and beyond. I am going to do whatever it takes and work hard every day like I do to get that goal I have set," he told UGASports.com. "My goal is still growing, to be an elite quarterback. I am going to keep working hard on my skills to do everything to make myself a better quarterback."
The 6-foot-4, 225-pounder is a versatile athlete and could play multiple positions in college such as linebacker or an H-back type. Bauta does have a strong-arm and is a hard-nosed runner who has passed for 1,006 yards on the season with 13 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Though he still has to learn some of the subtleties of being a quarterback, that's the position he'll start off at in college.
"What Aaron Murray does, I know he's a dual threat as well; he runs the ball well, and throws the ball well. For me, I'm going to strive to be the best quarterback I can be. And in my eyes, I know I can be Aaron Murray and more," Bauta said.
Georgia now has 14 commitments for the class of 2012 and though it is not as stacked as last year's 'Dream Team' was, adds the talented Bauta to a group that includes five-star offensive tackle John Theus and impressive defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor. The Bulldogs did take a quarterback with last year's class and have also received a pledge from 2013 signal-caller Brice Ramsey.
Video of the week
This week was a big one for Belle Glade (Fla.) running back Kelvin Taylor, who broke Emmitt Smith's (yes, that Emmitt Smith) all-time rushing record in the state of Florida on a 388 yard, six touchdown night Friday. The 5-foot-11, 210-pounder now has 8,975 yards and 141 touchdowns for his career and amazingly he's just a junior. He is the son of former NFL and Florida Gators running back Fred Taylor. It appears to be a Florida-Alabama battle for his commitment at this point with the Gators having a bit of an edge obviously.
Below is video of Taylor's run to break the record, a 34 yard scamper for a touchdown followed by him giving his mother the ball. He briefly discussed the record-setting performance here.
Pitt commit Rushel Shell also set a record over the weekend, rushing for more than 100 yards in his 39th consecutive game.
Auburn commit Zeke Pike will enroll early.
A few notes and some analysis of Oregon recruiting.
Texas commit Johnathan Gray is getting close to some very impressive records himself.
Adolphus Washington's visit to Cincinnati went very well.
Georgia is gaining ground with defensive end Jordan Jenkins after he visited for the Auburn game. The program also recently offered DeVondre Seymour, son of former All-Pro defensive tackle Richard Seymour.
Tags: Aaron Murray, Adolphus Washington, Alabama, AT&T Park, Auburn, Bart Houston, Blake Renaud, Boise State, Brice Ramsey, Bryan Fischer, California, Cincinnati, De La Salle, DeVondre Seymour, Emmitt Smith, Faton Bauta, Florida, Fred Taylor, Georgia, John Theus, Jonathan Gray, Jonathan Taylor, Jordan Jenkins, Keith Rivers, Kelvin Taylor, Michael Barton, Michael Hutchings, National Notes, NFL, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pac-12, Pitt, Richard Seymour, Rushel Shell, Texas, Tom Lemming, Tosh Lupoi, UCLA, USC, Washington, Washington State, Wisconsin, Zeke Pike
Posted on: August 4, 2011 7:33 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
We're right about halfway to Signing Day and that means it is time to take a look at the Pac-12 and see how the conference is shaping up on the recruiting trail. Here's a few accolades for a few of the programs who are making head way (or not) at this point in August.
Pac-12 Commitment List
Best class: Washington
Hard to believe in such a good year for talent in the West but the Pac-12 is home to only two Top 100 commits at the halfway point and one of them belongs to the Huskies (the other is committed to USC). Steve Sarkisian has mined California well for some players and added a pair of Elite 11 quarterbacks for the future. This class could still add some talented in-state linemen so the program could get even better by Signing Day.
Work left to do: Cal
The Bears have one of the smallest classes in the country and though they have four very good players in it... there's just four players. They have a possible freshman starter in quarterback Zach Kline and perhaps this summer's best wide receiver Bryce Treggs but there's been little movement in adding to them. The Bears are in on a lot of prospects and defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi is one of the better recruiters out there but things need to pick up in Berkeley.
Under the radar class: USC
It doesn't get the flash that it used to due to NCAA sanctions but the Trojans have a very good class that is getting close to being full. Arik Armstead can be an elite offensive tackle if he goes that route and Jabari Ruffin and Scott Starr are two very nice players who could log some major minutes down the road. Lane Kiffin has talked about not missing evaluations and so far, he's got a good class that may not be big on star power but does have a lot of talented athletes in it.
Top commit: Athlete Arik Armstead (Elk Grove, Calif.), committed to USC.
Loading up: Arizona and Arizona State on offensive linemen (4), Arizona State on linebackers (4), Stanford on wide receivers (4).
Frequent Fliers: Stanford with commitments from seven states.
Fence builders: USC, all of the school's commitments are from California.
Road to Signing Day storyline: Will anyone break into the top 10?
With USC on the sidelines due to a numbers crunch, the conference is looking for someone to step up and fill the void in a very good year for talent out on the West Coast. Arizona State is close to being full but they don't have any elite talent committed yet. Washington could certainly get there if they can pull one of the two Top 100 lineman from in-state. Oregon hasn't yet received any championship game bounce but they've been able to get some surprises late in the game recently. It's kind of hard to figure out if anyone will be able to crack the top 10 but there should be a few schools with a shot at it on Signing Day.
Top 25 Teams:
17. Arizona State
Posted on: March 31, 2011 5:07 pm
We react to recent news regarding Ohio State, the Fiesta Bowl, Auburn and Patrick Peterson. Plus, Recruiting writer Bryan Fischer joins us to discuss the top QBs and RBs of the class of 2012.