Posted on: January 18, 2012 11:25 am
Edited on: January 18, 2012 11:22 pm

O'Brien gets first recruit at Penn State

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Even though he's been busy leading the New England Patriots to the AFC Championship Game, new Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien has been working the phones and watching tape in his free time to help cobble together a recruiting class. It paid off on Tuesday with his first commitment in Worcester (Mass.) safety Jordan Lucas, who nearly enrolled at Temple before O'Brien entered the picture.

"I never really thought about it until I heard somebody say it, but that's big. I'm glad to be his first commit,'' Lucas told the Altoona Mirror. "Coach O'Brien accepted this as a challenge, and I take it as a challenge, too. I think that program is going to keep rising. He wants to take the program to the top and keep the tradition going, and I want to be a part of that. That's why I picked Penn State.''

The 6-foot, 190-pounder was also drawing interest from schools like Rutgers but the Nittany Lions were the first BCS school to extend an offer. He was set to enroll at Temple as early as Tuesday but will head to State College in the summer.

"I was surprised. It was nothing I was expecting. I was getting ready to go to Temple for a week here, and they came out of nowhere late in my recruiting process. I'm glad I waited,'' he said.

Lucas picked off one pass on defense and had over 500 yards rushing and 13 total touchdowns on offense during his senior year. He becomes Penn State's 15th class of 2012 commitment and joins fellow recruit Armani Reeves from the state of Massachusetts.

Posted on: January 16, 2012 7:01 pm

Miami Junior Day nets three 2013 commits

Posted by Bryan Fischer

With Miami's class of 2012 pretty much set with Signing Day two and a half weeks out, the coaching staff has turned most of their attention toward next year with one of their annual Junior Days on Sunday and it has paid off in the form of three commitments from Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) running back Alex Collins, Delray Beach (Fla.) defensive tackle Keith Bryant and former Auburn pledge and Fort Meyers (Fla.) athlete Jayron Kearse.

"The junior day was awesome and I knew during the visit that was the school I wanted to play for," Bryant told InsidetheU.com. "Miami is my dream school and as soon as they said they were going to offer me, I had to commit."

The 6-foot-2, 290-pound Bryant also held an offer from Marshall and was drawing plenty of interest from other top schools. He joined Kearse, a talented athlete who is the nephew of former NFL defensive end Jevon Kearse, and the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Collins as Hurricanes pledges after their trip to Coral Gables.

"I like how it is so close to home and I feel very comfortable with the coaches," Collins said. "I feel like I can go there and play right away."

The trio gives Miami four commitments in the class of 2013 with over a year before things become official. Kearse recently transferred high schools after rushing for 1,459 yards last year as a junior.
Posted on: January 7, 2012 3:48 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2012 7:47 pm

Barry Sanders picks Stanford over Oklahoma State

Posted by Bryan Fischer

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- With a famous last name, Oklahoma City (Okla.) running back Barry J. Sanders knew there'd be a lot of pressure and interest in where he chose to go to school. There was his dad's alma mater and school down the road, Oklahoma State, of course but also an intriguing program out West that was drawing his attention.

Sanders ended the suspense on Saturday however and committed to Stanford at the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

"I'm going to spend my next few years of college playing at the Farm," Sanders said. "I get a chance to play with the greatest student-athletes in the world. They've been improving each year and have a bright future."

The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder had also considered Alabama and Florida State among other schools but will try to forge his own path in Palo Alto. One of the top running backs in the country, it's clear the junior Sanders has plenty of his father, famous NFL running back Barry Sanders, in him and is a huge addition to the Cardinal's recruiting class.

"He shows remarkable balance, vision, and speed, plus the ability to break tackles," analyst Tom Lemming said. "Quick footed and agile, he shows inherited instincts and breakaway speed. He does a good job of pressing the line, and picking and sliding. As competitive and confident as they come, he can turn a game around with one play. Has the kind of speed and quickness to scare a defense to death."

The five-star back is ranked as the number two tailback in the country by MaxPreps and 15th overall in the class of 2012. Sanders rushed for 1,343 yards and scored 24 touchdowns this past season.

Posted on: December 29, 2011 7:34 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 7:37 pm

Foster playing well, recruiting hard as all-star

Posted by Bryan Fischer

ATLANTA -- All-star competitions are usually one of the few places that top 100-level players can go at the high school level and not stand out on the field or off next to their teammates. That's not the case for LaGrange (Ga.) linebacker Rueben Foster, an Alabama commitment who has been the center of attention this week at the Rising Seniors Bowl featuring the top players in the state of Georgia in the class of 2012.

"It's been amazing," Foster said of the experience. "I've been meeting new friends and playing on a team with guys I've always wanted to play together with."

With plenty of schools' attention still focused on the upcoming class of 2012, Foster is one of the few recruits in attendance holding a double-digit number of scholarship offers, much less being committed to a program. Having been an Alabama pledge since the middle of July, he is using the chance to talk to other top recruits about the virtues of going to Tuscaloosa to play football.

"We've been texting and talking about playing together. I'm definitely trying to get them to come to my school," he said. "I've been talking to (Georgia commit) Tray Matthews about coming to Alabama. I'm recruiting him the hardest. I want to play with him."

Matthews confirmed that Foster has been in his ear often about the Crimson Tide and admitted the two could see themselves playing together at the same school. There's also another player roaming around the Rising Seniors Bowl who Foster has no trouble selling on Alabama.

"I'm also trying to help (high school teammate) Cortez Leonard play well and get an offer," Foster said. "Coach (Kirby) Smart said he had to come to their camp and do well and he'd get an offer. If he does well and gets an offer, he'll commit with me. I really want him to come."

A MaxPreps 2013 player to watch and future top 100 member when rankings are released, Foster is one of four Tide commits for next year's recruiting class. Though it looks like the 2012 class is destined to be one of the best under Nick Saban, the 6-foot-2, 230-pound linebacker thinks that his group can be something special.

"Coach wouldn't let me use the phrase 'Dream Team' because Georgia uses it but we're trying to create a championship team," Foster said. "It's a tradition at Alabama now, because they always win championships and we're trying to be a future championship team.

"With Coach Saban and Coach Smart, who wouldn't want to commit to the #1 head coach and the #1 defensive coordinator? Everybody would and then go to the NFL."

Fast, aggressive and a hard-hitter, Foster has been an impact player on the practice fields in preparation for Friday's all-star game. Although he isn't done growing physically or learning the game, he already has the makings of a prototype Alabama linebacker destined to move on to the next level.

"It's a big deal because they've got some nice linebackers now and are known for putting them in the NFL," he said. "That's my dream."

Although other colleges recruiting him has slacked off plenty with his commitment earlier in the year, Foster is still keeping in contact with several coaches and will take some visits and possibly go to some camps in the spring and summer. He doesn't want to worry Alabama fans however and simply wants to get a glimpse of other programs.

"I'm going to take most of the official visits," he said. "I'm still in love with Alabama but of course I'm going to do my visits. It doesn't make a difference though, I know who I'm true to."

10 days after Foster plays in the Rising Seniors Bowl, Alabama will of course be taking on LSU in the BCS National Championship game and it's no surprise who he expects to win when he sits down to watch the game.

"Alabama is going to take it," he says with a smile, "by three. But it won't be 9-6."

His West squad is hoping they'll be able to produce a similar defensive effort from the first meeting in the game on Friday however.

Photo courtesy of Rising Seniors
Posted on: December 27, 2011 6:28 pm
Edited on: December 27, 2011 7:06 pm

Top quarterback Gunner Kiel commits to LSU

Posted by Bryan Fischer

After decommitting from Indiana and delaying his decision several times, Columbus (Ind.) quarterback Gunner Kiel has finally pulled the trigger and committed to LSU.

"I can't wait to play in the SEC," Kiel told 247Sports. "A lot of people call it the NFL of college football and it will be an exciting time. It would mean a lot to be a starting quarterback in such a great conference at a great school. I really love the players and the coaching staff. They were all great to me on my visit and seemed very welcoming."

Ranked as the top signal-caller in the class of 2012 and number two overall recruit by Maxpreps, Kiel holds scholarship offers from just about every program in the country, including Alabama, Oklahoma, Michigan, USC and others. He surprised plenty of folks by committing to Indiana in late July and new head coach Kevin Wilson but opened things back up in October. He quickly scheduled official visits to each of his finalists, Notre Dame, LSU and Vanderbilt.

"To be honest I'm just reevaluating my decision," Kiel told CBSSports.com at the time. "I just want to go out and see other places and see if IU is the right place."

The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder threw for 2,517 yards and 28 touchdowns this season while also rushing for 11 scores. He led Columbus East to an 11-2 record his senior year and was named Indiana's "Mr. Football" by the Indianapolis Star.

Kiel's brother, Dusty, is a sophomore at Indiana and his uncle, Blair, played at Notre Dame.

The strong-armed and aptly named Gunner will enroll early in Baton Rouge after playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on January 7th.

The commitment of the top quarterback in the country is another big boost for the Tigers class of 2012, which now sits at 22 commits. LSU took three quarterbacks with last year's class and Kiel figures to battle talented junior college transfer Zach Mettenberger for the starting job upon arriving on campus. Prior to Kiel's pledge, Les Miles' next recruiting class was ranked 9th overall in the MaxPreps team rankings.

Posted on: December 18, 2011 7:59 pm

Rios becomes Jim Mora's first commit at UCLA

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Several people doubted UCLA's hire of Jim L. Mora due mostly to his lack of recruiting acumen. After a few key hires and a quick trip around the state of California in his first week on the job, Mora answered his critics with his first commitment Sunday in Elk Grove (Calif.) cornerback Marcus Rios.

"I called Coach Mora and told him I was a Bruin and he was just really happy," Rios told Scout. "He said he was excited to have me be the first to commit to him and to just keep working hard and to be ready to play for him."

The 6-foot, 175-pound defensive back was committed to Boise State for most of the year but decommitted earlier this fall. Rios had offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Notre Dame and others but was sold on Mora's background and vision for the program down in Westwood.

"Coach Mora, being an NFL guy and a defensive guy, that means a lot because he knows a lot about defense," Rios said. "And he seems like he's going to be a really good coach and UCLA is a building program. And Coach Angus (McClure), we had a real close relationship and he was always recruiting me hard, way back since the spring."

In addition to being the first commitment for the new coaching staff, Rios becomes the 19th member of the Bruins' class of 2012. He had 59 tackles and four interceptions to wrap up his senior year.

Posted on: December 18, 2011 5:19 pm

Alabama flips four-star back Yeldon from Auburn

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The rumors had been circulating for weeks that Daphne (Ala.) running back T.J. Yeldon would be decommitting from Auburn and flipping to rival Alabama. Sunday afternoon, the four-star running back turned the rumors into news and officially changed his commitment to the Crimson Tide.

“Over the last few weeks, I’ve really put a lot of time and thought into where I want to go to school and continue my football career. I am blessed to be in a situation where I have several great opportunities and I appreciate everyone involved who has helped me get to this point," Yeldon said in a statement issued to the media. "I want to make an announcement so I can put this behind me and get to work on the things I need to do to prepare for college both athletically and academically. I am going to enroll at the University of Alabama in January"

The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder had been hotly pursued by the Tide coaching staff despite his commitment. Ranked 123rd overall and the 7th-best big back in the country by MaxPreps, Yeldon gives the program an able replacement should Heisman finalist Trent Richardson depart to the NFL.

"I have a lot of respect for Auburn, the coaches, and all of the people there, but at the end of the day I feel like the University of Alabama is the best situation and fit for me and my family," Yeldon said. "I am 100 percent confident with my final decision. I feel great about it and I’m excited to get started.”

An early enrollee, Yeldon becomes the 22nd commitment for Alabama's class of 2012 and is joined at the running back position by Kenyan Drake. He was recently named MVP of the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game and rushed for 2,193 yards and 31 touchdowns during his senior season.

"T.J. blends good size with great power and speed," analyst Tom Lemming said. "He shows explosive big-play capabilities, good movement skills, and is able to cut on a dime. He's a reliable receiver and also a very reliable between the tackles runner."

Posted on: December 13, 2011 10:59 pm

Mora boosts recruiting quickly with two hires

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Jim Mora knows that he has some limitations coming from a long career in the NFL and, recently, from television. Taking over at UCLA, he identified recruiting as one area he would need help in and he significantly boosted the Bruins ability to do that Tuesday night, hiring SMU offensive line coach/recruiting coordinator Adrian Klemm and Arizona State receivers coach Steve Broussard.

The two will take on slightly different responsibilities in Westwood, with Klemm also coordinating the run game and Broussard moving over to running backs.

Klemm's hiring is a coup for Mora given his signficant ability to land West Coast talent and, in particular, Los Angeles-area recruits. A former NFL lineman and three-time Super Bowl winner with the New England Patriots, Klemm went to school at nearby St. Monica High before playing at Hawaii. While at SMU, he had a knack at bringing Southern California recruits to Dallas.

Venice (Calif.) wide receiver Gabriel Marks and South Gate (Calif.) running back Robert Lewis are just two top recruits Klemm landed in the class of 2012 for the Mustangs. There's a good chance both stay closer to home and flip their pledges to UCLA with the hiring.

Broussard has numerous ties to the region thanks to time at Arizona State and Washington State, where he was a stand out running back. He managed to break into area powerhouse Long Beach Poly and snag five commitments for the Sun Devils this year.

UCLA has 18 commitments for 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