Posted on: March 2, 2011 12:37 pm

Kouandijo's view of Iowa changed with rhabdo case

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Last month on National Signing Day, Cyrus Kouandijo became a bit of a household name in the college football world. The offensive lineman out of Maryland high school football powerhouse Dematha originally committed to Auburn on signing day. He then quickly changed his mind, and over the next week there was plenty of speculation as to why Kouandijo had changed his mind, and where he'd end up.

Eventually Cyrus would choose Alabama, where his older brother Arie Kouandijo had spent the 2010 season as a redshirt lineman. Just another chapter in the Alabama-Auburn rivalry. Of course, there was a third school that had been in the running for Kouandijo's services, and that school was Iowa. In fact, in a recent interview with The Sporting News, Kouandijo says that Iowa was the front-runner pretty early, but it turns out that the outbreak of rhabdomyolysis amongst 13 iowa football players after an offseason workout swayed his decision.

"At first I really, really, really wanted to go to Iowa," Kouandijo answered when asked where he was leaning in the fall. "I even told my best friend that I was going to Iowa. But when everything went down with them with the workouts and all, that was different. I had a bad vibe when I went there. Alabama may be far from home, but Iowa—living-style wise—it’s just out there and just not me. I wouldn’t have been able to thrive in that environment. I love their coaches and I love their team, but it was really just out for me."

I must admit that I do find it odd that Kouandijo's view of Iowa City itself changed. After all, the school was located in the same place before so many football players had to be hospitalized. So it seems that Kouandijo began looking at the school through a different lense following the rhabdomyoysis outbreak. After all, it's not like Tuscaloosa or Auburn are in the middle of giant metropolitan areas themselves.
Posted on: February 28, 2011 8:15 am

2/28 Recruiting Roundup

Posted by Bryan Fischer

A great weekend in the Northeast at the Badger Sports Elite 7-on-7 tournament. The skill position group in particular had several five-star talents in attendance.

- Clemson signed a highly ranked class in 2011 but they're still battling a perception problem with in-state kids, namely due to the fact that they're in the ACC and not the SEC.

- Across the state, South Carolina is finally taking advantage of the in-state talent, which has been the key to fueling their recent success.

- Some tidbits and highlights from several recruits interested in Arkansas or from the state.

- Sophomore running back Derrick Henry already has Florida, Florida State, Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama in his top five.

Posted on: February 14, 2011 11:32 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2011 11:35 pm

Alabama receives two Valentines, Florida nabs one

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Despite not getting the Valentine he really wanted today, Alabama head coach Nick Saban did pick up two from the class of 2012.

Powder Springs (Ga.) running back Kenyan Drake and Thomasville (Ala.) linebacker Tyler Hayes both pulled the trigger and verbally pledged to the Crimson Tide. In one of the quickest recruiting starts in recent memory for Saban, the two become the seventh and eighth commits respectively for the upcoming Alabama class.

The 6-foot-1, 190 pound Drake can also play slot receiver for the Tide and has run a reported 4.4 second 40-yard dash. A MaxPreps Georgia All-Region player, he picked up an offer at the recent Alabama Junior Day and had no problem pulling the trigger a few days later.

“The whole reason to get this out of the way for me was to put recruiting behind me and focus on school and my teammates and Hillgrove,” Drake told BamaOnLine.com. “The coaching staff was fantastic. The offense is geared towards getting the ball to the playmakers. It just had everything.”

Alabama also locked up a future star on defense in Hayes. The 6-foot-3, 220 pound in-state linebacker will likely end up as an outside linebacker but could grow into an inside linebacker or defensive end.

“I have loved Alabama all of my life. My family is all Alabama. It just made sense to get it over with," Hayes told BamaOnLine.com. “I had offers from Alabama and Auburn, and while Auburn was really nice, Alabama’s academics probably put it over the top. I loved the coaching staff too.”

Not to be left out, SEC rival Florida picked up a big - literally - commitment from 6-foot-3, 220 pound running back Matt Jones. One of the top running backs in the South, the Seffner (Fla.) product is a versitle runner who will be a very good fit in Charlie Weis’ offense.

“I love the staff and coach (Will) Muschamp is great,” Jones told FightinGators.com. “When I told coach Muschamp he was real jacked up and I made his day. He told me they needed a guy like me and great players want to play with other great players. I just want to go up there and compete. I plan on rocking the entire Gator nation.”

Jones becomes Florida’s third commit for the class of 2012. A few of his highlights are in the video below.

Posted on: February 14, 2011 3:09 pm

Clemson narrowly misses on Clowney

Posted by Bryan Fischer

In the words of Ricky Bobby from the movie Talladega Nights, “if you’re not first, you’re last.” The same saying applies to college football recruiting but in the case of Clemson and uber-recruit Jadeveon Clowney, it was a very close second to South Carolina.

That much is apparent after reading what Clowney and his mother told Charleston Post and Courier beat writer Travis Haney.

“When I did go to Clemson, I did like Clemson a lot,” Josenna Clowney said. “When it all came down, it was his decision. That’s what he wanted to do. There’s where he wanted to go. I think he was more comfortable with the South Carolina staff and the people down there.

Coach (Dabo) Swinney came to my house and he sat down and he talked to me. He really sounded good about Clemson. We took the visit. We weren’t even going to take the Clemson visit. He talked us into coming to Clemson.”

The in-home visit with Swinney and subsequent visit certainly left Ms. Clowney holding the Tigers in high regard.

“I really liked the way he talked me to me and the things he said,” she told FoxSports.com. “(Nick Saban and Steve Spurrier) talked good, too, about their school and their program. It just seems more sincere from Dabo.”

The comments from Clowney’s mother are certainly interesting but mesh with what many had heard prior to today’s announcement, that the Tigers became a major player down the stretch. Clowney himself also offered some insight into how Clemson and Alabama (his other finalist) were major players before South Carolina made a push.

“(In 2009-10), I thought Clemson and Alabama had a little more to offer,” Clowney said. “They’re big schools. Clemson’s in the ACC and they were winning at that point in time.”

Judging by a few of the message board posts, finishing second isn’t much of a consolation for Clemson fans. I would suggest they take a look at their class of 2011 though.

It’s a pretty good list of talent and should make up for the sting of not getting Clowney’s signature today. Sort of.

Posted on: February 10, 2011 5:05 pm

Specifics on Clowney announcement released

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The wait is almost over. The Jadeveon Clowney announcement is now only four days away, and with time drawing short, South Pointe High School and his hometown of Rock Hill have released the specifics of the nation's No. 1 recruit's big moment :
  • A press conference has been set for 10:15 a.m. EST Monday in the South Pointe auditorium
  • The conference will not be open to the public
  • Clowney will make his choice between (presumably) South Carolina and Clemson public and answer questions from the media before returning to class, where we're sure he and his classmates will enjoy a normal day of learning
  • ESPN will provide live coverage as well as local outlets including the Rock Hill Herald
  • SPHS's athletic director and Clowney's parents will also both make public statements.
With any luck, none of these details will change between now and then. It is just four days. But when it comes to Clowney's recruitment, four days is long enough for almost anything to happen.
Posted on: February 3, 2011 9:03 pm

Video: South Carolina Signing Day Recap

Posted by Bryan Fischer

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier looked to capitalize on the momentum from the Gamecocks' SEC East title and seems to have done so on the recruiting trail. Bringing in a large class for 2011, the Old Ball Coach looks to have quite a bit of talented headed his way.

Posted on: February 2, 2011 6:22 pm

DeMatha coach says Kouandjio 'looked miserable'

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Auburn fans won't want to hear it, but to listen to Cyrus Kouandjio's high school coach, his announcement today that he'd be playing for the Tigers left him far from satisfied.

Longtime DeMatha head coach Bill McGregor spoke to our colleagues at Maxpreps and told them that Kouandjio seemed "miserable" during what's typically one of the most joyous moments of a recruit's life:
"I figured everything was done (after the press conference) and all of a sudden Auburn calls and says that he hasn't faxed anything in.

"Then somebody said, 'Cyrus isn't happy with his decision.'

Kouandjio told McGregor, who is one of the nation's most successful coaches, "I don't know if it's the decision I wanted to make" ...

"The ironic part is that he looked miserable when he made his decision (on national television). It was like a cloud of gloom."
Kouandjio has reportedly elected to hold off on signing his letter of intent until a later date, a report he all but verified by writing on Facebook that he was "not completely sure" about his decision and would "just wait."

Putting that 2 together with the 2 of McGregor's comments, and it seems clear that Kouandjio's sure about very little regarding his decision at this point. Whether he ultimately sticks with his Auburn announcement, switches to the Alabama program to join his older brother Arie Kouandjio, or even throws the unthinkable curveball in the direction of New Mexico is anyone's guess right now ... including maybe even Kouandjio himself.

Posted on: February 2, 2011 5:50 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2011 1:44 pm

SEC Signing Day: Winners and Losers

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Taking stock of the day in the SEC:


No surprise that Nick Saban's crew put together yet another huge Signing Day, with the No. 1 spot in the Maxpreps team rankings wrapped up after adding No. 1 offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio to what had already been a massive haul. The Tide pulled in a perfect 3-4 defensive end in Jeoffrey Pagan (pictured) and flipped supremely athletic outside linebacker Brent Calloway back from Auburn (after he'd committed to the Tigers at the U.S. Army All-American game), two major missions accomplished. Top those off with the rest of the Tide's commitments -- including five-star teammates RB Dee Hart and S Hasean Clinton-Dix -- staying securely in the fold, and missing out on Isaiah Crowell (and likely No. 1 overall recruit Jadeveon Clowney ) barely even stings.

Video: Jeoffrey Pagan highlights

Georgia: Linebacker Kent Turene was an awfully nice pickup. But landing Crowell was a seismic development, the one member of the much-ballyhooed "Dream Team" the tailback-starved Bulldogs absolutely had to have. He alone was enough to push Mark Richt into the winner's column, but add in Turene and the successful fending off of challenges for commits like defensive back Corey Moore, and even missing out on Pagan won't be enough to wipe the smile off of the faces of Bulldog fans.

Video: Todd Grantham talks Signing Day  

Auburn: Losing Calloway to the hated Tide stung, and the euphoria of watching Kouandjio announce for the Tigers dissipated quickly as he elected not to sign his LOI on Signing Day, eventually joining Calloway and his older brother in Tuscaloosa. But Chizik got a ton of help for his occasionally-porous defense anyway, inking one of the nation's best safeties in Erique Florence and a rock-solid defensive tackle prospect in Crowell teammate Gabe Wright. The Tigers also wasted no time replacing cornerback decommitment Marcus Roberson with coveted Mississippi athlete Jermaine Whitehead, a Mississippi State commitment. Even without Kouandjio, the Tigers landed a top-10 class that proved their program-changing 2010 haul was no fluke. Still, Tiger fans have to wonder: if they weren't coming to Auburn, couldn't Calloway and Koundjio have gone somewhere other than Alabama?

Video: Gene Chizik talks Signing Day at CBS College Sports , Kiehl Frazier commits , Coaches react to Erique Florence decision

Ole Miss: Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen enjoys pointing out the raw numbers of his team's players and recruits come from the state they share with the Rebels, but it was Houston Nutt who ran away with nearly all of the state's top-ranked talent. Having already secured the signatures of former Bulldog commitment five-star linebacker C.J. Johnson and highly-regarded receiver Tobias Singleton, the Rebels added to their in-state haul by keeping top-100 wideout Nickolas Brassell out of the clutches of the Tide. The battle between Nutt and Mullen on the recruiting trail was more-or-less a draw in 2010, but there's little question who had the upper hand this season.

LSU: The day was unusually quiet by the usually madcap Bayou Bengals' Signing Day standards, but that happens when you have your state on virtual lockdown and that state provides enough talent for one of the nation's best classes all on its own. Simply making sure their commitments (most notably offensive tackle La'El Collins and defensive counterpart Anthony Johnson) made it across the dotted line would have guaranteed Les Miles a successful Signing Day. But keeping Shreveport's Jermauria Rasco (pictured) -- one of the nation's most highly sought-after defensive ends -- at home (and away from Texas) more than made up for missing out on Florida defensive tackle Tim Jernigan.

The Commodores won't finish anywhere near the top of the league's recruiting rankings, of course. But given the limited time James Franklin had to work with, the results were quite impressive. Franklin flipped Virginia Tech quarterback commitment Lafonte Thourogood first thing Signing Day morning and brought in several other candidates for immediate playing time, like Ohio tight end Dorien Bryant.


The Gators, as always, can still boast one of the nation's best classes, and no one anywhere signed a better QB-RB combo than Jeff Driskel and the underrated Mike Blakely. Roberson's arrival was a nice Signing Day surprise, and Will Muschamp and Co. turned away a serious Ohio State challenge for receiver JaJuan Story. But particularly looking at the way their rivals at Georgia and Florida State finished, Gator fans won't be happy about being unable to make up any ground with prospects like Jernigan, Curtis Grant, or Stephone Anthony. Roberson wound up the only new addition on Signing Day, and even he somewhat fell into the Gators' laps after his wild commitments and decommitments to Texas Tech and Auburn. Muschamp will be cut plenty of slack this season after his late arrival in Gainesville, but another class that so completely cedes the limelight to the Dawgs and 'Noles won't be as easily forgiven.

Mississippi State:
How thin was the Bulldogs' final class after seeing the likes of Johnson, Singleton and -- most painfully -- Whitehead decommit? Not one of their 23 commitments ranked among the top 25 at their position, according to Tom Lemming. The Bulldogs struggled going head-to-head with Ole Miss within Mississippi, and came up empty when going abroad for players like Washington D.C.-based Kevin McReynolds, who signed with UCLA. Players like receiver Joe Morrow and defensive tackle P.J. Jones are unquestionably SEC-grade talents, but after such a productive, promising year on the field, the lack of recruiting punch is puzzling.

Arkansas: There's nothing particularly disappointing about the Razorbacks' 2011 class (though watching tight end commitment Chris Barnett sign with Michigan wasn't fun), and keeping home-grown talent like quarterback Brandon Allen and tackle Brey Cook in Arkansas was a bright spot. But when you share a division with Alabama, LSU, and Auburn, "nothing particularly disappointing" may not be good enough to stay in the mix for a division title.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com