Posted on: August 3, 2011 11:33 am
Edited on: August 3, 2011 11:36 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
There are few programs that can expect a windfall on the recruiting trial without doing much at all. Such is the case at Utah where, by virtue of moving from the Mountain West to the Pac-12, the school has already begun to get better recruits out of high school just by selling the fact that they are now in a BCS conference.
"College football is all about recruiting," Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said. "80% of your success, or lack thereof, is tied directly to the athletes that you are able to get into your program. You obviously have to manage and develop those athletes once they get in your program but you have got to have the raw material. Being in a BCS conference now gives us a level playing field in that regard."
The Utes picked up several verbal commitments last year within days of the announcement that they were moving on to the so-called conference of champions. The program also beat out new division rival USC for running back Harvey Langi last year and are off to a very solid start with their class of 2012. Rival coaches have already remarked how much tougher it is on the recruiting trail with Utah fighting over some of the same players - just how Whittingham likes it.
"It's competitive, I'll tell you that," he said of recruiting this year. "That's something we anticipated and we didn't haves any surprises, we just knew that we're going to be battling with USC, UCLA, Cal, Stanford, Arizona, Arizona State and all of those schools for the top kids. It hasn't been anything we didn't expect."
There hasn't been a big change in how Utah goes about its business outside of a few coaches wearing polos with new logos though. Evaluation, especially during players' senior years, has been and will continue to be part of the Utes' secret to success.
"We evaluate hands on, our assistant coaches go out and beat the bushes," Whittingham said. "They watch film, they watch the kids practice, watch them in the weight room and all the things that the NCAA allows us to, we take advantage of. We don't rely on the Internet or recruiting services or anything like that. We've made a living on discovering that diamond in the rough.
"We've got a list as long as your arm of guys playing in the NFL on rosters right now that were not recruited or recruited very lightly."
Utah currently has nine commitments for the class of 2012 and is heavy (somewhat literally) with players on both sides of the line. An athlete such as in-state player Chase Hansen is a very good pickup for the school and he can end up at a number of spots on either offense or defense. Whittingham also added an Elite 11 quarterback this year in San Clemente (Calif.) signal-caller Travis Wilson.
In addition to being on the shortlist for a few top players, it wouldn't be surprising if the program picks up some recruits in this class that they'll eventually be able to add to that long list of NFL players. Not bad at all for switching conferences.
Posted on: May 9, 2011 11:09 am
Edited on: May 9, 2011 11:16 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
CBSSports.com senior writer Dennis Dodd rolls out an updated Post-Spring Top 25 today and while he names an MVP for each team, we figure every team is going to need an incoming freshman to step up if they want to keep their spot in the top 25 throughout the season. Here's each team's impact freshman out of their class of 2011:
1. Oklahoma: Dodd notes that the class of 2010 has turned out very well for the Sooners but they'll need a few guys from the class of 2011 to help fill out the depth chart. Running back Brandon Williams is a talented running back out of the state of Texas who is expected to play right away with DeMarco Murrary gone and the offense needing another player in their "diamond" formation with three running backs.
2. Alabama: Alabama's defense is expected to be one of the best Nick Saban has ever had but that doesn't mean a freshman can't be a contributor on special teams and with spot play on defense. Linebacker Trey DePriest enrolled early and seemed to make an impression on the coaching staff. Junior college transfer Aaron Douglas, a freshman All-American at Tennessee, could also end up being a starting tackle too.
3. LSU: Anthony Johnson was one of the top defensive tackles coming out of high school and he looked like he would be the next great LSU man in the middle after a very good spring for an early enrollee. He has the size and quickness to play right away and could make an impact as a pass rusher on third down as he gets acclimated to the speed of college football.
4. Oregon: The Ducks don't have to replace much on offense but they are looking for a few pass catching threats to step up for quarterback Darron Thomas. Another early enrollee and one of the highest rated recruits Oregon has brought in, Colt Lyerla could be one of the answers at tight end, receiver and running back. In short, he's a great athlete and Chip Kelly will find a way to get the ball in his hands.
5. Stanford: The Cardinal are pretty set on offense with Andrew Luck back and running the show but there are a few spots on defense where some freshmen could come in. The new staff must find two new linebackers for this upcoming season and it wouldn't be surprising if James Vaughters ends up making a push for one of them.
6. Oklahoma State: Already expected to have an explosive offense this year to possibly propel them to a BCS game, the Cowboys have high hopes for incoming running back Herschel Sims. Defenses will have to make sure they are ready for the passing game first and Sims might be able to take advantage of some daylight.
7. Texas A&M: Defensive leader Von Miller is off to the NFL (if there is an NFL next year) and while it will be hard for any freshman to replace that kind of production in College Station, look for linebacker Shaun Ward to at least be in the mix to play once he gets on campus.
8. Florida State: The Seminoles are going to have high expectations for the first time in awhile and there are high expectations being placed on incoming tight end Nick O'Leary. While most people talk about him as being the grandson of golfer Jack Nicklaus, the talented O'Leary is also quite a pass catcher who should play right away.
9. Ohio State: There could be two impact players for the Buckeyes depending on how things shake out in fall camp. Quarterback Braxton Miller is certainly in the race to be the starter with Terrelle Pryor suspended for five games and showed flashes during the spring. Linebacker Curtis Grant was one of the top players coming out of high school and should be able to fill in right away on defense.
10. Nebraska: The Huskers have their sights on a Big Ten title in their first year in the league and if they're going to take some pressure off quarterback Taylor Martinez, running back Aaron Green could be a big part of the offense.
11. Michigan State: Mark Dantonio fought off some big time programs for in-state linebacker Lawrence Thomas and one of the reasons why is Thomas is expected to come in right away and play well for the Spartans.
12. Wisconsin: The Badgers typically don't play many freshmen but tight end Austin Traylor could help break in a new quarterback as both a blocker and receiver.
13. Arkansas: Brey Cook knew the Razorbacks would need to replace both tackles and he enrolled early and ended up at the top of the depth chart coming out of spring ball. Anytime you can get a young freshmen start at tackle, you know you have a good one on your hands.
14. Boise State: Most of the freshmen for Boise State are expected to redshirt and develop but kicker Jake van Ginkel could end up the starter with a good fall camp because he has quite a leg.
15. Auburn: Where to start? The Tigers lose a lot of players to either graduation or the draft and several from this class are expected to compete for playing time. Don't be surprised if Kris Frost is a starter at linebacker and able to leave his mark on the Plains early on.
16. TCU: Gary Patterson expereinced a Rose Bowl bounce on the recruiting trail and landed a very good athlete in LaDarius Brown, who will be able to contribute right away on offense and special teams.
17. Virginia Tech: The Hokies need to replace a lot of their secondary and the incoming class is loaded with defensive backs as a result. Ronny Vandyke might be the one to step up based on his size and speed and help out right away.
18. South Carolina: This happens to be the easiest choice on the list since Jadeveon Clowney was the number player in the class of 2011. He should provide an instant pass rush threat to a team that didn't generate much from the front four last year.
19. Notre Dame: Irish fans came out of the spring singing the praises of Aaron Lynch and the early enrollee defensive end certainly put on a show to give them a reason for it.
20. Mississippi State: Defensive tackle P.J. Jones was one of the top guys in the incoming class and Bulldog fans hope he can be a factor early on under a new defensive coordinator.
21. Arizona State: There's very few spots avaliable for the incoming Sun Devils with so much of the starting lineup set with upperclassmen but Mo Latu should be able to provide some depth along the offensive line.
22. Utah: The Utes brought in a very good class and you could tell they sold the opportunity to be the first to play in the Pac-12 their entire careers at Utah. Running back Harvey Langi is a load with the football and junior college safety Keith McGill is a big body who can come in play right away.
23. Georgia: The "Dream Team" recruiting class will come into Athens with high expectations but top running back Isaiah Crowell should boost a rushing attack that was in the bottom three in the SEC last year.
24. West Virginia: New offensive coordinator/future head coach Dana Holgorsen should have an explosive offense led by Geno Smith and incoming running back Andrew Buie could be another speedy player to get the ball in his hands.
25. Florida: The Gators will transition to more of a pro-style offense under Charlie Weis so it's to be determined how everyone fits in but look out for tight end A.C. Leonard. He looks the part and could be a nice weapon for quarterback John Brantley.
Tags: A.C. Leonard, Aaron Douglas, Aaron Green, Aaron Lynch, Alabama, Andrew Buie, Anthony Johnson, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Austin Traylor, Big Ten, Boise State, Brandon Williams, Braxton Miller, Brey Cook, Charlie Weis, Chip Kelly, Colt Lyerla, Curtis Grant, Dana Holgorsen, Florida, Florida State, Gary Patterson, Georgia, Harvey Langi, Herschel Sims, Isaiah Crowell, Jadeveon Clowney, Jake van Ginkel, James Vaughters, Keith McGill, Kris Frost, LaDarius Brown, Lawrence Thomas, LSU, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Mo Latu, Nebraska, Nick O'Leary, Nick Saban, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, P.J. Jones, Ronny Vandyke, Shaun Ward, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Top 25, Trey DePriest, Utah, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Posted on: February 2, 2011 11:38 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Taking stock of the day in the Pac-12:
USC : Maybe you can't explain it, but you can't deny it, either: Lane Kiffin is a phenomenon on the recruiting trail. Whether it was pulling linebacker Lamar Dawson out of Kentucky, Ohio tackle Aundrey Walker (pictured) out of the clutches of Ohio State, or defensive lineman Christian Heyward from down the road in San Diego, the Trojans were every bit as everywhere on Signing Day as they were in their Pete Carroll heyday. Recruits like athlete Marqise Lee (likely the next USC stud safety) and Jan 28. guard commitment Cyrus Hobbi should be cornerstones for Kiffin for years to come ... not to mention longtime Trojan commitments like receiver George Farmer (the nation's No. 20 player) who signed on the dotted line as expected. Losing De'anthony Thomas to the current Pac-12 overlords in Eugene stings, no doubt, but it doesn't change the fact that no team in the country helped themselves more on Signing Day than Kiffin's. NCAA sanctions, schmenCAA schmanctions.
Oregon: The Ducks struck both early and late on Signing Day. They started at just after 8 a.m. EST by plucking Traverse City offensive lineman Jake Fisher out of northern Michigan, a player Chip Kelly would later say compares to any lineman in the country. Things got even better some 14 hours later when Thomas -- the nation's No. 15 player and a beyond-perfect fit for Kelly's light-speed offense and the open spaces it creates -- became the highest-profile Signing Day switch in the country. Inbetween those two highs the Ducks missed out on a handful of California prospects (like Heyward and Lee), but after signing what's likely the strongest class in school history and gleefully robbing Kiffin of his highest-ranked recruit, no one's going to complain.
Washington: As nice as the Duck haul was, before the Thomas news our Maxpreps team rankings still had the Huskies as the No. 2 class in the Pac-12 and the No. 15 class nationally. Steve Sarkisian didn't bring in any surprise last-minute signings -- in fact, their Signing Day might have been a net negative with tailback Kameron Jackson's flip to Cal balancing the addition of Ventura (Ca.) JUCO quarterback Antavius Sims -- but it was a day of celebration all the same after U-Dub dominated the state of Washington. Following last week's conversion of Washington State- committed tailback Bishop Sankey of Spokane, all five of the Seattle Times "Blue Chip" selections for the state wound up Huskies. They'll likely have to cast their net a little wider in the future, but locking down top-notch in-state talent like five-star tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Maxpreps' No. 27 player overall) is a excellent way to build on the momentum of the Huskies' Holiday Bowl win.
Utah: We mentioned in our Pac-12 Signing Day preview that the Utes would likely need to sign both Moreno Valley (Calif.) teammates Ryan Anderson -- a defensive back and Ute commit -- and Junior Pomee, a coveted wide receiver, to make a splash in their new conference digs. Instead, Kiffin and USC stole away both players. The Utes still signed several nice players (most notably running back Harvey Langi), but on paper this isn't the sort of class that announces the Utes as a major West Coast player.
Arizona State: When you lose a blue-chip hometown prospect on Signing Day because he just so happened to see a license plate from the state representing your competition , it has officially been a bad day. At least the Sun Devils kept quarterback Michael Eubanks from deserting to Utah ... but then again, they couldn't do the same with Chino (Calif.) athlete Quinton Pedroza, who flipped to the Utes. With only 13 players, the Sun Devil class appears to have neither quantity nor a particularly high level of quality.
UCLA: Signing Day wasn't actually all that bad for the Bruins; landing Washington D.C. defensive tackle Kevin McReynolds was arguably the biggest pickup of Rick Neuheisel's entire class, and the Bruins avoided any high-profile decommitments from players like California lineman Torian White (who'd had a serious flirtation with USC) or top receiving recruit Devin Lucien. But the glaring contrast between the hole UCLA had already dug for themselves on the recruiting trail and Kiffin's smashing Signing Day successes meant that the Bruins were going to end up looking like L.A. losers no matter what they did Wednesday.
CBS College Sports' Aaron Taylor breaks down the state of Pac-12 recruiting:
Tags: Antavius Sims, Arizona State, Aundrey Walker, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Bishop Sankey, Cal, Chip Kelly, Christian Heyward, Cyrus Hobbi, De'anthony Thomas, Devin Lucien, George Farmer, Harvey Langi, Holiday Bowl, Jake Fisher, Junior Pomee, Kameron Jackson, Kevin McReynolds, Lamar Dawson, Lane Kiffin, Marqise Lee, Michael Eubanks, Ohio State, Oregon, Pac-12, Pac-12 recruiting, Pac-12 Signing Day, Pete Carroll, Quinton Pedroza, Rick Neuheisel, Ryan Anderson, Steve Sarkisian, Torian White, UCLA, Utah, Video, Washington, Washington State
Posted on: February 1, 2011 8:33 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2011 8:34 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Here's what you'll need to keep an eye on during the Pac-12's first Signing Day with newcomers Utah and Colorado on board:
Players to Watch
De'anthony Thomas , ATH, Crenshaw (Los Angeles): Maybe no player in the country has had their recruitment take a more intriguing turn in the past few days than Thomas, a USC commitment who surprised nearly everyone but Chip Kelly and his staff by taking a last-minute visit to Oregon. Now rumors are swirling about the "Black Mamba's" ultimate destination, and whether it's the Trojans or Ducks, someone's going to end up with quite the prize in the 5'9" 175-pound blazer; he's No. 15 in the Maxpreps top 100 and has All-American potential at either tailback or cornerback.
Marqise Lee , ATH, Juniper Serro (Gardena, Calif.): Another top California athlete, another battle between the Trojans and Ducks (though Miami could reportedly also sneak in here). A livewire 6'1" and 185 pounds, and the Maxpreps No. 16 athlete, Lee could play either offense and defense but is expected to find his highest ceiling as a playmaking safety. Lee is believed to be a lean to USC and will announce at 3 EST.
Christian Heyward , DT, Point Loma (San Diego): Not all of the nation's top defensive lineman are in the Southeast. Maxpreps' No. 9 defensive tackle, Heyward recently named a top three of USC, Oregon and San Diego State, though some feel even UCLA could be part of the conversation. An accomplished pass rusher, Heyward could be at home as an end in a three down linemen set--part of the reason the dark horse Aztecs (who run a base 3-3-5) could have a legitimate shot, even if Heyward is favored to wind up in the Pac-12.
Team to Watch
Oregon: Despite boasting every recruit's favorite set of uniforms, the Ducks have never been a major player on the national recruiting scene ... until now. Led by Maxpreps 100 tight end Colt Lyerla and top-shelf talent hailing from locales as diverse as Miami (receiver Tacoi Sumler), Iowa (linebacker Christian French) and Arizona (offensive linemen Tyler Johnstone and Andre Yruretagoyena), the Ducks have already built their strongest class in years, potentially ever. If they can close the deal with the California-based talent listed above, the foundation could be built for a USC-like deathgrip on the conference over the next few years.
USC: Of course, maybe we shouldn't start worrying about the next USC when the original isn't going anywhere. Lane Kiffin has continued to prove his mettle as arguably the nation's most dogged recruiter, The Trojans have worked around NCAA restirctions to pull in 26 commitments already, including four members of the Maxpreps top 100, including Thomas, 6'2" receiver George Farmer, and the latest West Coast quarterback blue-chipper, Cody Kessler. If the Trojans can fend off the Ducks for the likes of Thomas and Lee, they'll claim the best class in the Pac-12.
Stanford: The Cardinal class has suffered somewhat with the departure of Jim Harbaugh, but David Shaw is still sitting on one of the best classes in the league behind national-grade recruits like Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) five-star Wayne Lyons (the No. 45 recruit overall and No. 4 safety) and Tucker (Ga.) linebacker James Vaughters. If Shaw can simply keep all the current Cardinal commits in the fold and signed on the dotted line, this is a group that will do nothing to slow the momentum generated by Harbaugh's tenure in Palo Alto.
The Below-the-Radar Storyline You'll Need to Follow
Many are expecting Utah to come into the Pac-12 and immediately begin throwing its weight around, but if the Utes do, it might not be because of a mind-blowing recruiting haul tomorrow. The Utes have always done a nice job of locating underrated local talent and have several gems in their current class, including in-state running back Harvey Langi (No. 53 in the Maxpreps top 100) and Moreno Valley (Calif.) defensive back Ryan Anderson. But quarterback Derrick Brown recently decommitted to Washington, one of five Pac-12 teams that land in the Maxpreps top 25 classes that aren't Utah. Landing Anderson --a threat to sign elsewhere -- and his teammate, highly-regarded receiver Junior Pomee, would be a huge help, though. In the end, how will the Utes measure up to their new conference mates?
More Signing Day coverage is here at CBS.
Tags: Andre Yruretagoyena, Chip Kelly, Christian French, Christian Heyward, Cody Kessler, Colt Lyerla, David Shaw, De'anthony Thomas, Derrick Brown, George Farmer, Harvey Langi, James Vaughters, Jim Harbaugh, Junior Pomee, Lane Kiffin, Marqise Lee, Oregon, Pac-12 Signing Day, Ryan Anderson, San Diego State, Stanford, Tacoi Sumler, Tyler Johnstone, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Wayne Lyons