Posted by Bryan Fischer
We continue our daily conference-by-conference breakdown of Signing Day with a look at the Big East.
Overview: Head coach Charlie Strong knows what Florida talent can do in the college game and he certainly injected a lot of the Sunshine state into his class of 2011. In addition to some solid in-state guys, the wave of Florida talent, especially at the skill positions, should serve the Cardinals well going forward.
Hidden gem: Wide receiver DeVante Parker isn’t the highest ranked receiver in this class but with a redshirt year and a bit of polish, should turn out to be a contributor on offense.
Pencil in for the fall: Safety Gerod Holliman attracted a host of SEC offers but headed to Louisville instead. He should be able to play on special teams and in nickel packages right away but it shouldn’t be too long until he’s the starter.
Overview: A good year for talent in the Northeast and Greg Schiano was able to take advantage. Although he missed on a few kids in the state of New Jersey, Josue Matias comes to mind, the Scarlet Knight nevertheless have an impressive class for 2011.
Hidden gem: Defensive tackle Kenneth Kirksey originally signed with the class of 2010 but headed to prep school for a year. He’s a player who has the size to jump into the rotation at tackle right away and make an impact.
Pencil in for the fall: Running back Savon Huggins is the headliner in this class and he should jump in at running back right away. Several people have compared him to a bigger Ray Rice.
3. West Virginia
Overview: It’s no surprise to see several speedy offensive players in this class with the arrival of Dana Holgorsen to Morgantown. The final class of the Bill Stewart-era might not be the best brought in but it certainly is very good top to bottom.
Hidden gem: Running back Dustin Garrison is a small speedster out of Texas who impressed many on his high school’s run to a state championship this year. Very quick and very fast, he should fit in well for the Mountaineers.
Pencil in for the fall: The departure of Noel Devine leaves the running back spot open for the taking and Andrew Buie could be the guy that helps fill it. Like Garrison, he’s not the biggest back but he is very explosive and should do well in the passing game too.
4. South Florida
Overview: Although some didn’t think Skip Holtz took advantage of some of the in-state turmoil at programs such as Miami and Florida, he did sign a very solid class. There’s lots of needs filled and several solid contributors.
Hidden gem: A surprising get out of Alabama, offensive tackle David Simon has the size and strength you look for in a tackle. He probably is a bit of a project but he has the tools to develop in to a very solid offensive lineman.
Pencil in for the fall: With B.J. Daniels at quarterback, finding some young targets for him to throw to were key for this class. Receiver Andre Davis should be able to jump in right away and contribute a number of ways on offense.
Overview: Doug Marrone has slowly turned the program around this class should help fuel the push up the Big East ladder. There’s a lot to like on the offensive side of the ball coming and that’s good considering where the Orangemen were on offense last year (97th in the country).
Hidden gem: Receiver Brandon Reddish is a very good receiver who could develop into a very good slot receiver. Very fast with good hands, he could also make an impact on special teams early in his career.
Pencil in for the fall: Tight end Louie Addazio stayed with Syracuse instead of going with his dad, Steve, to Temple. Known more as a blocker than a receiver, Addazio should also help the ground game.
Overview: Despite the disappointing season, Butch Jones did turn things around a bit on the recruiting trail. There are several very good prospects in this group as well as a few guys who should use a redshirt to develop.
Hidden gem: Quarterback Stephen Weatherford is a nice player out of Florida with a very good arm. He needs to work on his footwork but could fit in nicely in the Bearcats’ offense.
Pencil in for the fall: Running back Jameel Poteat is a great pickup late in the process after previously committing to Big East rival Pitt. Very impressive when you watch him, Poteat has great speed to go along with his very good frame.
Overview: It was tough going through three coaches in less than two months and that shows up in this class. That said, new coach Todd Graham did a good job of keeping several recruits in the fold while getting several former Tulsa targets to head to Pittsburgh.
Hidden gem: Running back Malcolm Crockett might need to add a bit of weight to match his running style but he could be a very good fit in Graham’s offense down the road.
Pencil in for the fall: Safety LaQuentin Smith has great size and speed for his position and it wouldn’t shock anybody if he makes an impact right away. He’ll likely start out on special teams but he could be a factor early depending on how Pitt chooses to play him.
Overview: It’s no surprise to see the Huskies at the bottom of the Big East recruiting classes, Randy Edsall or not, UConn never brought in a highly regarded class. There are a few players who should develop in solid players but we still have to see how the new staff chooses to integrate them.
Hidden gem: Corner David Stevenson is small but he has enough speed and leaping ability to cover many of the Big East receivers.
Pencil in for the fall: Don’t be surprised if Marquise Vann immediately makes an impact on defense.