Posted on: January 17, 2012 12:28 am
Edited on: January 17, 2012 12:30 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Let's play a game called do you remember when? I'll start, do you remember when Monrovia (Calif.) defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy went on national television and committed to California?
If you don't, here's a post - picture and everything - of the moment.
Well, things changed Monday night following an in-home visit by assistant coach Demetrice Martin and multiple reports confirming that UCLA has flipped McCarthy to the Bruins, hot on the heels of the program picking up quarterback Eddie Printz. Gotta love 18-year olds and recruiting this time of year.
The 6-foot-4, 310-pounder figured to flip to one of the two Los Angeles schools with the departure of defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi to Washington and with his father being pro-UCLA, it ended up being the Bruins.
"The relationship I built with coach Tosh was a big factor in my decision to go to Cal," McCarthy said in a text message to Rivals. "The minute I found out he was gone I knew I didn't want to be there."
McCarthy racked up 55 tackles and nine sacks despite missing three games because of injury during his senior year and is ranked as the top defensive tackle in the country and number eight overall in the class of 2012 by Maxpreps.
Given the way things have played out, you have to think there's going to be plenty more drama between now and Signing Day.
Posted on: January 16, 2012 4:33 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2012 6:03 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
With just two and a half weeks until Signing Day, Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian picked up the biggest commitment of his tenure on Monday when news officially surfaced that California defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi would be moving to Seattle to become defensive line coach and defensive run game coordinator with the Huskies.
“Coach Lupoi is a terrific young coach and a dynamic recruiter,” Sarkisian said in the school's release. “He will have an immediate impact with our team both on the field and in recruiting.”
Indeed, Lupoi has developed a sterling reputation as one of the most dynamic recruiters in the country and is largely responsible for Cal's ninth-ranked recruiting class in MaxPreps's recent team rankings. In December, he made the list of top assistants who are good recruiters. Several of the Bears' socially savvy (i.e. those that have Twitter accounts) recruits have already weighed in on the move, from number five overall player Shaq Thompson saying, "he has a lot to think about," to five-star uncommitted lineman Arik Armstead adding that things just got real (he was thought to be close to committing Monday afternoon). CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter John Breech also points out that current players were left in the dark about the move, with defensive lineman Gabe King tweeting that he left without so much as a text.
The move will undoubtedly impact both Washington and Cal's recruiting classes this year and in the future. Thompson, who also seriously considered the Huskies and has a good relationship with new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox after he recruited Thompson's brother at Cal, is one to keep an eye on in terms of decommitting. Five-star defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy could also easily flip to USC or UCLA by Signing Day.
This is, in no uncertain words, a huge hire by Sarkisian and Washington. Combined with an already excellent recruiter and coach in Peter Sirmon and Washington has made significant moves in the Pac-12 North and conference at large. The road to Signing Day is always filled with a few twists and turns and this appears to be a big one out West.
More on Thompson/Armstead's recruitment from MaxPreps
Posted on: January 7, 2012 6:12 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2012 1:04 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Plenty of the nation's top recruits defended upon the Alamodome for yet another U.S. Army All-American Bowl and once again they did not disappoint. The final of the three major high school football all-star games wrapped up a busy start to 2012 with a West victory over the East 24-12 before a record crowd of 39,011 that put college bowl games to shame with the amount of talent on the field and the number of people in the stands.
"It was a great week," said Westlake Village (Calif.) wide receiver Jordan Payton. "It's so great to be out here with (the Army), that's the best part. It's an honor to be playing with all these guys, I love them all. I feel like we've been playing forever. It's been the best week of my life and football career."
Payton did not end up with a reception during the game but was one of 14 players to put on a school hat and commit. In the four-star receiver's case, he was one of three players to verbally pledge to California on national television, giving the Golden Bears as big of a win Saturday afternoon as the West squad.
"I think this is going to be real big," Sacramento (Calif.) safety and Maxpreps' number five overall player Shaq Thompson said. "Our class, the 2012 class, is really going to change things."
The top defensive tackle in the country and number eight overall player in the class, Monrovia (Calif.) product Ellis McCarthy was the other commitment.
"I just really like Coach Tosh (Lupoi) ," McCarthy said on NBC. "I like the progam a lot and I've built a relationship with him and the team."
While there was plenty of attention paid to the recruiting story lines taking place behind the end zone, there were also several players who had no trouble finding the area for six points either. The West took the opening drive 44 yards in eight plays and was capped off with a four-yard quarterback keeper by Washington commit Cyler Miles for the game's first points.
The East squad answered right back on the next series, marching down the field in a 10-play, 77-yard drive that saw Norfolk (Va.) linebacker and Virginia commit Kwontie Moore flip over to fullback and take it in for a two-yard touchdown.
"There was some real talent here and it was an honor to be on the same field as them," East quarterback and LSU pledge Gunner Kiel said. "This was the best of the best."
The Columbus (Ind.) signal-caller finished the day 3-of-6 for 71 yards and one interception to lead his team in passing. Kiel was one of several quarterbacks under siege by the opposing defensive line and struggled to stay in the pocket to find time to throw. The number two overall prospect in the class of 2012, he was overshadowed in the game by the only other player above him in the rankings, Hillcrest (Mo.) wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham.
The 6-foot-6, 220-pounder had what wound up as the deciding touchdown late in the 2nd quarter, connecting with Miles on a 79-yard pass with a one-handed grab over future Clemson defensive back Travis Blanks before pulling away for the score. The play was the longest touchdown pass in the bowl's history.
"It was great, some of these guys will probably start wherever they go to school," Green-Beckham said. "I came out here to get ready for next year and try to be the best worker out here.
"It was a big adjustment speed-wise but I wanted to just come out here and keep competing."
Green-Beckham and Miles were named co-MVPs for the victorious West team but the record that will be in future Army Bowl programs was just as meaningful for the quarterback.
"That's a great honor," Miles said. "It's a great feeling, (Green-Beckham) has such a range. You can put it in a lot of places. 6-6, 225, you really can't miss with him."
East defensive back Yuri Wright, who is uncommitted but considering Notre Dame, Michigan and Rutgers among others, also covered Green-Beckham was equally impressed.
"Dorial Green-Beckham is a really good player," Wright said. "I'm not going to lie, he's really good."
Both teams finished about even in the yardage department (202 for the West, 198 for the East) but turnovers turned a close game into a rout. UCLA-bound corner Ishmael Adams had one interception while Texas pledge Kendall Sanders grabbed two to help shut down the East passing game.
With all-star games typically dominated by defensive lines that can force quarterbacks out of the pocket, the West stood up to the test better and was able to help protect Miles, 7-of-8, 155 yards and two total touchdowns, and buy him plenty of time to find his targets.
"The offensive line did great, I'm proud with those guys," he said. "That goes back to coaching during the week. We prepared great and we showed it. The o-line definitely performed today."
"You have to be ready for this, you knew you were going to play against all-stars from across the country and they play big time football," Uncommitted West offensive tackle Zach Banner said. "For you to come out here and not expect it, you're either cocky or you're stupid. I knew what these guys were going to bring and I think I raised my game."
Tags: 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Army All-American Bowl, Cal, California, Clemson, Cyler MIles, Dorial Green-Beckham, Ellis McCarthy, Gunner Kiel, Ishamel Adams, Jordan Payton, Kendall Sanders, Kwontie Moore, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Texas, Tosh Lupoi, Travis Blanks, UCLA, Virginia, Washington, Yuri Wright, Zach Banner
Posted on: December 27, 2011 1:29 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
It's getting down to crunch time on the recruiting trail, with just over a month until National Signing Day. With most of the Holiday season over with and attention turned to the new year, things are about to pick up even more as the decommits, recommits and surprises start happening.
The Eye on Recruiting has already given you some players ticketed for a rise on offense and defense in the recruiting rankings and now it's time to cast a critical eye on the teams that are looking to move up and a few that could be on their way down.
Team rankings movers
Is there a better recruiter than Nick Saban? Currently, it's hard to argue with the man's success on the field and on the recruiting trail. He could be putting together an all-time great class in 2012 and just recently added lineman Alphonse Taylor and highly regarded running back T.J. Yeldon. Though they already have a quarterback in Alec Morris, the Tide are heavily pursuing dual-threat signal-caller Jameis Winston, one of the best players in the state and at his position, and top safety Landon Collins. If they can add Winston and close in on a few other top targets, Saban's team could vault to the top of the team rankings when everybody signs on the dotted line.
In just a short amount of time, Urban Meyer has made his presence felt in Columbus and nationally thanks to his recruiting acumen. The biggest splash has been made along the defensive line, where's he's grabbed commitments from the number three player in the country Noah Spence, tackle Tommy Schutt and end Se'Von Pittman. Though the NCAA handed out a bowl ban to the program, that probably won't deter too many recruits and playing for Meyer will be enough for some of them. They could land top 100 players like offensive tackle Jordan Diamond and athlete Davonte Neal so expect the Buckeyes to close well.
The Irish and Brian Kelly put together a great group of defensive lineman last year and appear to have a balanced group of quality players at every position this year. California commits Deontay Greenberry and Tee Shepard seem solid and can make an impact right away after getting aclimated to South Bend. As is usual for Notre Dame, plenty of top recruits like Nelson Agholor, Arik Armstead and Gunner Kiel have the Irish on their short list and could turn a good class into a great one.
The Trojans' great year in 2011 has proven they're one of the few schools who can shake off harsh NCAA sanctions and still play and recruit well. Lane Kiffin has a plan to deal with scholarship reductions and it will be put to the test in 2012 with 2012 being the first class limited to 15 players. USC has already signed a few top players early, such as linebacker Scott Starr and top JUCO safety Gerald Bowman. They have a chance at some top national guys Agholor and Andrus Peat so it's possible for it to be a small but great recruiting class for the Trojans.
Like their Pac-12 counterparts, the Bears could come on strong late with some top recruits. They're in good position to land Armstead and most consider five-star safety Shaq Thompson a lock to go to Berkeley. Ace recruiter Tosh Lupoi is a tremendous recruiter and with a great year out West for talent, should do pretty well. Cal's current group of commits, with quarterback Zach Kline and wide receiver Bryce Treggs, is a good start.
Team rankings shakers
This is still a very good group of players but there's no doubt that the Seminoles class has taken hit in the past few weeks - thanks in large part to Alabama. Defensive end Chris Casher is a solid building block but future teammate Mario Edwards is looking hard at Oklahoma and Texas. Losing Winston would be a huge blow and there's a slim chance some, like Dante Fowler and Mario Pender, could pull a switch on Signing Day. Jimbo Fisher has done very well with the 2012 class but fans have a reason to be a little nervous at how they'll close.
A 6-6 season and losing offensive coordinator (and noted recruiter) Charlie Weis to Kansas have caused the Gators to slip a little. It still looks like they'll be a lock for a top 10 class come February with so many top 100 recruits but there's no doubt the uncertainty surrounding the program could come back to bite them. The loss of Weis in particular could hurt with possible pledges like Agholor and put a damper on Will Muschamp's first full recruiting class. Expectations are high with Meyer doing what he's doing in Columbus so a class that isn't filled with five-stars will further the perception that the program is slipping a bit.
Will there be a meltdown on the Plains? It seems as though things haven't been going the Tigers' way recently with rival Alabama in the national championship game and stealing top commit in Yeldon. On top of that, defensive coordinator Ted Roof is gone and big time offensive coordinator Guz Malzahn surprisingly moved on to a head coaching job. This is still a very good class but they'll need to hold the current group together as well as snag a few top recruits to help reload an already young team.
Teams sitting pretty
Mack Brown has pulled in some impressive recruiting classes to Austin but this may be his best yet. The country's top running back and second-ranked wide receiver are headed to the 40 Acres and the depth of the group is one of the reasons why the Longhorns are the top ranked team in the latest Maxpreps rankings. There's no doubt that they should finish among the top three but it still remains to be seen if they can keep the top spot. Texas isn't completely done recruiting and could add a few impact players between now and Signing Day.
Brady Hoke put together the bulk of this class before even coaching a game and has occupied the top team spot for most of the year. From top-to-bottom this might be the best class in the country with plenty of players who should come in and make an impact early The Wolverines have seemingly filled all their holes and are still in the running for a few national recruits that could bolster their ranking so Michigan definitely has a shot at being ranked as the best.
Mora turning heads in Westwood
As soon as Jim Mora was hired in Westwood, the first question would be how well could the longtime NFL coach recruit at the college level? As it turns out, pretty well if early indications are to hold up in the future.
Mora's best recruiting job was the hiring of his assistants, notably ace recruiter Adrian Klemm, secondary coach Demetrice Martin and former Arizona State offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone. The trio, among others, have plenty of West Coast ties and have allowed the staff to hit the ground running despite being hired so late in the game. Keep an eye on this group poaching a few recruits from the Sun Devils once-promising class as well as a few Los Angeles natives.
December has seen the Bruins' class add several good players. Defensive backs Marcus Rios and Ishamel Adams are two players who could play early on defense and landing linebacker Kenny Orjioke out of Atlanta is a solid get for the staff. For the most part, the commitments prior to the new staff have hung in and seem sold on the direction of the program.
Though they're not anywhere close to getting elite talent, the signs out of UCLA are encouraging for a relatively inexperienced staff. The problem in the past has not been about recruiting however, it's been talent development and in that area things are still TBD. Still, given the progress on the recruiting trail, the coaching change has given plenty of Bruin fans something to smile about in a relatively dour year.
Video of week
I'm headed out to the Rising Seniors Bowl in Atlanta this year, which features some of the top juniors (class of 2013) in the state of Georgia. Among the headliners this week is linebacker Reuben Foster, an Alabama commit and easily one of - if not the - top players at his position next year. Here's some of his highlights:
Tags: Adrian Klemm, Alabama, Alec Morris, Alphonse Taylor, Andrus Peat, Arik Armstead, Arizona State, Auburn, Brady Hoke, Brian Kelly, Bryce Treggs, Cal, California, Charlie Weis, Chris Casher, Dante Fowler, Davonte Neal, Demetrice Martin, Deontay Greenberry, Florida, Florida State, Gerald Bowman, Gunner Kiel, Guz Malzahn, Ishmael Adams, Jameis Winston, Jim Mora, Jimbo Fisher, Jordan Diamond, Kansas, Kenny Orjioke, Landon Collins, Lane Kiffin, Mack Brown, Marcus Rios, Mario Edwards, Mario Pender, Michigan, Nelson Agholor, Nick Saban, Noah Spence, Noel Mazzone, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Pac-12, Reuben Foster, Rising Seniors Bowl, Scott Starr, Se'Von Pittman, SEC, Shaq Thompson, T.J. Yeldon, Ted Roof, Tee Shepard, Texas, Tommy Schutt, Tosh Lupoi, UCLA, Urban Meyer, USC, Will Muschamp, Zach Kline
Posted on: December 5, 2011 11:31 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2011 11:36 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Welcome to December, otherwise known as closing time. Bowl practices and holidays make things a little more complicated for some coaches but others enjoy the grind as they hit the home stretch two months out from Signing Day. Here's a list of four recruiters in each part of the country to keep an eye on in each part of the country.
Ed Orgeron, USC
Does any recruiter have a better reputation than Ed Orgeron? Probably not. The Trojans defensive line coach has been relentless in the recruiting trail and instrumental in helping manage the program's numbers situation with limited scholarships to hand out. He's hit SoCal hard and been a big reason why plenty of offensive (Max Tuerk, Jordan Simmons) and defensive (Ellis McCarthy, Noah Spence) are committed to, or looking at, USC. Also note that linebackers coach Joe Barry has done a great job with his position group, Orange County (Calif.) and Arizona during his time in LA.
Tosh Lupoi, California
It's been pretty amazing to see Lupoi's rise as a recruiter and coach at Cal but you can see why when looking at his handiwork. He's a younger Orgeron but is quickly becoming his equal after landing players such as Brennan Scarlett and Viliami Moala last year. As a Bay Area-native, he's done a great job of getting talent close to home while also going national and bringing players in. Though the Bears class is somewhat small, expect it to grow in a cover as Lupoi enters the home stretch. His top target right now is five-star Arik Armstead.
Demetrice Martin, Washington
The Huskies staff has lots of Southern California connections but Martin has been a great closer down the stretch with kids. He's relatable as a young guy and knows many of the high school coaches in the area. Don't be surprised if he lands some skill position talent for UW's class this year from the LA area.
John Neal, Oregon
One of the Ducks' ace recruiters, Neal has hit other areas of the country with success and does well in the cities. He landed nearby athlete Oshay Dunmore and had a hand in defensive backs Eric and Stephen Amoako committing from the Dallas-area. Several athletes from the East and Southern California are in contact with him and don't be shocked to hear his name come up some more.
Dameyune Craig, Florida State
Not sure anybody has gone into another powerhouse's backyard and raided it like Craig has Alabama's. The big star was quarterback Jameis Winston but he's also been instrumental in landing Chris Casher and Justin Shanks. There's a few more targets on the Seminoles board and don't be surprised if Craig is the one helping get them to Tallahassee.
Mike Bobo, Georgia
It's funny but Bobo's on the field duties have caused a few Georgia fans to want him out of the program but his time spent in recruits' homes and on the trail has been a big asset to the Bulldogs. He was one of the people behind last year's 'Dream Team' and has managed to sell stability at a program that only got it with 10 straight wins during the regular season. This year appears to be another time for him to shine with in-state recruits once again.
Tee Martin, Kentucky
That Martin has done a good job as a recruiter should surprise no one but given that he the former Tennessee star has done it at Kentucky is a little bit. He managed to get a huge surprise last Signing Day in wide out Daryl Collins and might be able to pull off the same magic again this year. Martin has done a great job in Alabama in particular and the only question seems to be if he can resist heading back to Knoxville with a staff opening there.
Frank Wilson, LSU
Last year he was a machine, with a hand in landing offensive tackle La'El Collins, defensive tackle Anthony Johnson and running back Kenny Hilliard among others (all three saw plenty of playing time in LSU's run to New Orleans). Easily the Tigers' best recruiter, Wilson has been one reason why there's a figurative fence around the state of Louisiana. Linebacker Trey Granier was one of his big gets with the 2012 group and don't be surprised if he gets a few others as well.
Tony Alford, Notre Dame
Don't be surprised if Alford can snag a big fish for Notre Dame late in the process. He got a commitment from Justin Ferguson out of Florida and appears to be focusing his time on the state to land a few others. With some issues at Florida, he could be one person to take advantage given his ties in the northern part of the state.
Fred Jackson, Michigan
The Wolverines have put together the best class of 2012 in the country and Jackson is a big part of it. He's mainly an in-state guy and lucky for him he's got a great group coming out and done an even better job of keeping them home. He's plucked two out of Farmington Hills (Mich.) in Devin Funchess and Mario Ojemudia and played a role in Royce Jenkins-Stone's pledge. He's been at the school a long time and knows how to sell Michigan to players.
Adrian Klemm, SMU
Klemm is not a household name by any means but should be based on what he's done this year. Though SMU isn't exactly a powerhouse, June Jones has engineered a turnaround in Dallas and Klemm has been a big part as recruiting coordinator. Though the school is located in a talent-rich area of a talent-rich state, the former New England Patriot has done a great job getting talented Los Angeles-area players to come East. Six SoCal natives are committed to the Mustangs class of 2012 at the moment and more could be coming. With rumors of Jones taking the Arizona State job, expect Klemm to come along to really ramp up the LA ties.
Urban Meyer/Luke Fickell, Ohio State
Yes, Meyer's not an assistant coach. But he hasn't really assembled his staff at this point and thus is going a significant share of the recruiting himself. He has certainly been active and because Fickell is remaining on staff, we'll count these two as one super-recruiter. Though recruiting hasn't been up to Ohio State standards with the 2012 group, that was to be expected given the turnover at head coach and NCAA violations in Columbus. Fickell landed Curtis Grant and Ryan Shazier last year and did a good job with Adolphus Washington this year. The two are going to be a very good asset despite what amounts to a false start with the upcoming class. Things have already paid off dividends and the Buckeyes are in the running for defensive end Noah Spence.
Davis decommits from Florida
Been a wild few days down in the South. Stone Mountain (Ga.) running back Mike Davis was one of the recent invites to the Army All-American Bowl and had the jersey ceremony for himself and fellow teammate Raphael Kirby on Thursday. At the time, rumors started to surface that he was having issues with the staff and would soon decommit.
Over the weekend he went on an official visit to Tennessee and finally on Sunday night, he made the new official that he was no longer a Florida pledge.
"My mind right now is open," Davis told Rivals. "My recruitment has opened back up. I've talked to my parents, my mom, my brother, all my family. Right now it's Florida State, South Carolina, Alabama and Miami. But things can change."
From the sounds of things, the 5-foot-9, 190-pounder is completely wide open and will not be considering the Gators despite being in their 2012 class since February and one of their biggest supporters.
"I can't really talk about it," he said cryptically. "Some things happened that I don't want to comment on between me and the coaches. All I'll say is that it was a miscommunication between them, me and my brother. Some things that weren't supposed to happen."
Ranked as the 10th-best running back in the country by Maxpreps, losing Davis is big blow to Florida as the new staff tries to remake the team using more of a pro-style offense. One of the central pieces of the class and expected to compete early on for some playing time as a change of pace guy, Charlie Weis is now down to just Matt Jones at running back in 2012. With their top 2013 target off the board to Georgia in Derrick Henry, Florida now has to scramble to get another player back into the fold at the position.
Busy week for Armstead
After decommitting from USC, the recruitment of Pleasant Grove (Calif.) lineman Arik Armstead has steadily picked up. He's been going on several official visits the past few weeks and has kept his phone close by.
USC and Notre Dame are among the schools that have already stopped by for an in-home and several more are lined up over the next few days. Among the scheduled ones this week are Washington, Oregon and Auburn. He'll be making the short trip to Cal at some point during the weekend. Also keep in mind that Armstead wants to play basketball and that will be a factor in his decision.
Video of the week
Tags: Adolphus Washington, Adrian Klemm, Alabama, Anthony Johnson, Arik Armstead, Arizona State, Army All-American Bowl, Auburn, Brennan Scarlett, Cal, California, Charlie Weis, Chris Casher, Curtis Grant, Dameyune Craig, Daryl Collins, Demetrice Martin, Derrick Henry, Devin Funchess, Ed Orgeron, Ellis McCarthy, Eric Amoako, Florida, Florida State, Frank Wilson, Fred Jackson, Georgia, Jameis Winston, Joe Barry, John Neal, Jordan Simmons, June Jones, Justin Ferguson, Justin Shanks, Kenny Hilliard, Kentucky, La'El Collins, LSU, Luke Fickell, mario Ojemudia, Matt Jones, Max Tuerk, Miami, Michigan, Mike Bobo, Mike Davis, New England Patriots, Noah Spence, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Oshay Dunmore, Raphael Kirby, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Ryan Shazier, SMU, South Carolina, Stephen Amoako, Tee Martin, Tennessee, Tony Alford, Tosh Lupoi, Trey Granier, Urban Meyer, USC, Viliami Moala, Washington
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: July 8, 2011 12:17 am
Edited on: July 11, 2011 4:37 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Day 2 of "The Opening" didn't finish up with a bang like day one did with a national champion being crowned in the SPARQ rating. Instead, some of the top players in the country took to the fields of the Nike campus for what amounted to a regular Nike camp in the middle of the day before getting chance to hang out for several hours before selecting 7-on-7 teams.
No more testing for some of the finest recruits in the country, it was time to get into the actual football part of the camp.
"It's been great. Playing against the top recruits, competing against each other, having fun in the lounge, it's great," Aledo (Texas) running back Johnathan Gray said. "I expected everything. If you've got the top 150 kids in the country, you expect nothing but the best. That's what you get (from Nike). They're treating us like superstars out here. We're just enjoying our time."
When not outrunning linebackers (he out ran them all on Thursday afternoon), Gray spent a good chunk of the afternoon in the players' lounge relaxing and mingling with other recruits. As one of several players committed to Texas at the event, the 6-foot, 200-pounder has been able to spend some quality time with his future teammates and the bonding they are doing is something Gray hopes will pay off later.
"There's a couple of us here from Texas just playing and going through the drills," he said. "It's fun, I met them earlier so being up here with them, it's fun being with your fellow commits and building that team chemistry up."
Ranked as the best running back in the country and eighth overall in the class of 2012 by MaxPreps, Gray knows there are plenty of eyes on him while he's going through drills, perhaps even more than on his fellow commitments. Despite the added outside pressure, he is saying focused on the task at hand.
"I don't really look at is as number one and all that stuff, I just come out here to have fun and compete," he said. "That's what this is about. Doing your best."
A solid verbal commitment to the Longhorns, there's not much Gray has on his docket football-wise between now and when his high school begins fall camp in August. With an outside shot of breaking the national rushing record, the upbeat running back is just looking to focus on getting better over the coming month.
"This will be the last camp I do," he said. "I'll just go back to my high school and go workout and go through conditioning drills and stuff to get ready for the season."
While 40-yard dashes and weight room sessions will take up a good chuck of his time in the near future, he won't be limiting himself to the football field. Though his high school team qualified for the Texas state 7-on-7 tournament next week at Texas A&M, Gray will be somewhere where there's plenty of lights, action and air conditioning.
"I'll be in Vegas for a basketball tournament," he said. "It's going really good, the team is doing good and they're winning. This will be my first time back with them since surgery and track and all that. I'm waiting to meet up with those guys.
"I'm a defensive guy, they put me in to stop the best player on the other team."
When asked if one of the greatest offensive threats on the football field is like former NBA defensive specialist Bruce Bowen on the court, Gray takes a second to think about it.
"Yeah," he said with a laugh. "You can call me that."
Everybody is recruiting Alexander
As one of the top linebackers in the country with scholarship offers from just about every school, Kwon Alexander knows all about the recruiting process. It follows him everywhere, from his phone to his email to, it appears, The Opening.
"Kwon's a good kid, I love him," Stephenson (Ga.) running back and Florida commit Mike Davis says while wrapping his arm around Alexander. "I just hope he comes to Florida. I'm recruiting him."
"They're up there," Alexander confirms within earshot of Davis. "They're in my top ten."
Such is life for the Oxford (Ala.) five-star linebacker. Luckily Alexander is aware that he can't be as open about schools as he once was. As a result of it getting closer and closer to the season, he has started to narrow down his list and dial in on just a few schools in the recruiting process.
"Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, LSU, Oregon, USC, Ole Miss," he said. "Distance is not a factor.
"I'm looking for a family. I'm looking for good academics, a great team, some good people to be around and to just play ball."
With one of the schools he is strongly considering just down the highway from Nike's campus in Oregon, Alexander acknowledges that the situation involving the NCAA is making him a little hesitant about the Ducks but not enough to eliminate them.
"I'm still looking at them," Alexander said. "I mean, it's Oregon. They still look good."
While the two West Coast programs are receiving attention, there's still plenty of schools closer to home that are trying hard not to let Alexander get away from the region. With plenty of SEC powerhouses chasing after him, he knows that things are only just beginning to pickup among is selected few schools.
"Of the local schools, probably Auburn is recruiting me the hardest," he said. "Then probably Alabama after that. LSU is coming after me."
It often takes a unique approach to land the signature of an athlete of Alexander's caliber and there's at least one school who has thrown something different at him.
"Ole Miss offered me in basketball," he said. "That stuck out because that's my first offer in basketball. I haven't really thought about (playing both sports). It's nice but I don't know.
"I know it would be a lot of stress and stuff from playing both sports. I know I wouldn't have time to do a lot of things so I really just don't know yet."
Alexander plans to narrow his list down again before the season starts with a decision coming next year.
McCarthy down to five
Monrovia (Calif.) defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy isn't planning on making a final decision on a school until the U.S. Army All-American Bowl but that hasn't stopped him from narrowing down his list to five. With all of that time before making a decision, the top interior defensive lineman in the country is using it to his advantage and taking in a few of the schools on his list.
“Right now, it's USC, Cal, Oregon, Washington and Florida,” McCarthy said. “(Unofficals) to just the close ones like USC. I went to UCLA a couple of weeks ago. It went really well, I just talked to the coaches and they showed me around campus."
With constant contact between him and all five of the schools, the 6-foot-4, 300-pounder is mainly looking for one thing in the recruiting process.
“When I talk to all those coaches, they make me feel comfortable,” McCarthy said. “When I went to Cal, they made me feel reel comfortable with all the players and stuff like that. When I talk with the USC players, they make me feel that way.
“I haven't talked to the (USC) coaches lately. After I get home, I might call them. At USC I talk to Coach “O” (Ed Orgeron). At Cal I mainly talk to coach Tosh (Lupoi).”
Ranked seventh overall in the MaxPreps Top 100 for 2012, McCarthy realizes he's a target for plenty of schools as an uncommited player ranked so highly. While it's hard for him to say if a school is standing out, it doesn't take him that long to come up with an answer to who is recruiting him the hardest.
“Probably Cal,” he said. “It's between Cal and USC.”
McCarthy is planning on taking official visits to four of the five schools on his list. The local school, USC, will likely not receive an official visit during the season because he has been to the Coliseum for plenty of games over the years. While on any of his visits however, McCarthy has a few things that he will be looking for and checking off once he gets there.
“I just want to go to a place where I feel comfortable and if I weren't playing football I could stay for four years,” he said. “I want to major in business. It's really important, I might want to go to a really big business school.”
Aziz Shittu is ready for action
With day two of The Opening marking the transition into actual football drills, there was perhaps no player who was happier to stop running 40-yard dashes and start doing some field work than Buhach (Calif.) defensive lineman Aziz Shittu.
"With the testing, I wasn't coming out here looking forward to the testing," Shittu said. "I'm a football player-type of guys, I play football. It was fun though."
The Opening is a unique camp because players will be in football pads, which should make for some great action along the trenches. Count Shittu as one of those that can't wait for full speed, one-on-one drills. In fact, he's already picked out one of the five-star offensive linemen at the event he wants to compete against.
"I'm looking forward to going against Zach Banner," Shittu said. "For reasons he should know. If he sees this, it's Zach Banner."
One of the more outgoing players at the event, the 6-foot-4, 275-pounder is making friends at the event just as quickly as he get to the quarterback.
"Oh yeah, it's great getting acquainted," Shittu said. "Me, I'm a talkative guy. Ellis McCarthy is my roommate, Korren Kirven, Luke (Kaumatule), I'm talking to everybody."
It's not to often you'll find McCarthy and Shittu more than 20 feet away from each other when they are at the same event. The two California defensive lineman have competed before at Nike Camps and it appears the two close friends are looking to ensure that their friendship lasts well through college.
"We're going to go to the same school," Shittu said. "That's the plan, that's what we talk about.
"Me and Ellis, we just chill. I'll be telling jokes and he'll be laughing and I'll be telling jokes and he'll be laughing. We're just compatible."
On the recruiting front, Shittu recently decommitted from Stanford because it was just too soon in the process for him to be locked into one school. Though the Cardinal are still under consideration, the door is open for several other schools to jump on the talented defensive lineman.
"Stanford is still in the mix," he said. "Everybody is kind of standing out in my top 10. Cal, USC, UCLA, Washington, all those schools are standing out, just to name a few."
Shittu doesn't have any visits planned and is looking to schedule his official visits after week two of the college football season once he gets a better idea of what teams he wants to visit and for what games.
Bivins doesn't mind getting schooled by a legend
Everybody knew he run some routes from the moment they saw that NFL legend Jerry Rice had on cleats and gloves. Rice was much more selective on day two of The Opening however. Though he was mainly a teacher Thursday, coaching many of the wide receivers on how to get a better release off the line for example, everybody knew he'd run a route or two against the defensive backs.
The only question was who would he go against?
"I was with him at first," Gainesville (Fla.) cornerback Chris Bivins recounted. "But then he ran like a 20-yard comeback. It was the longest comeback I've ever had to guard."
Bivins got the opportunity of the lifetime to defend against Rice. Though the former All-Pro managed to catch the ball, the 6-foot, 170-pound Bivins did a good job of staying close for most of Rice's route before the 'oohs' and the 'ahhs' came from the crowd after he caught it.
"I can tell why he was beating everybody back in the day," Bivins said.
A South Florida commitment, Bivins fought and clawed his way to the event with a very impressive run during the spring and summer camp circuit. One of the hardest workers in the defensive back group, the talented corner ended up with a great reward for all that he put in over the past few months.
"He only did one rep and that was with me," he said. "It was a real good experience. One of the best to ever play the game."
Tags: Alabama, Auburn, Aziz Shittu, Bruce Bowen, Cal, Chris Bivins, Ed Orgeron, Ellis McCarthy, Florida, Florida State, Jerry Rice, Johnathan Gray, Korren Kirven, Kwon Alexander, Like Kaumatule, LSU, Mike Davis, NBA, NCAA, NFL, Ole Miss, Oregon, Stanford, Texas, Texas, Texas A&M, The Opening, The Opening 2011, Tosh Lupoi, UCLA, USC, Washington, Zach Banner