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 2, 2011 10:28 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2011 10:39 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Lane Kiffin has had a heck of a Signing Day. But the recruit he and the Trojans hoped was their cherry on top was a bomb.
Los Angeles native De'Anthony Thomas, a consensus five-star athlete and the No. 15 player in the country according to Maxpreps , has turned his back on his hometown Trojans to sign instead with the Pac-12's current power program: the Oregon Ducks.
A 5'9", 175-pound dynamo who should thrive under Chip Kelly's lightning tempo and one-on-one open-field mismatches (not to mention the Ducks' nation-leading punt returns), Thomas had been a longtime USC commitment but took a surprising (and secretive) visit to Eugene just last weekend, throwing his recruitment into doubt. Rumors swirled throughout the day until "the Black Mamba" announced at approximately 10 p.m. EST -- the final recruit to announce on Signing Day -- that he would be a Duck.
Though both USC and Oregon will boast highly impressive classes, Thomas's decision looms as a potentially seismic moment in the new Pac-12 hierarchy. Though the Ducks have had the clear, dominant upper hand on the field the past two seasons, until now they haven't had the same kind of recruiting muscle as the Los Angeles glamour program. To not only steal away Kiffin's highest-ranked recruit but a highest-ranked recruit from Los Angeles suggests that the gap on the recruiting trail has been narrowed--maybe to such a point that it doesn't exist at all.
So yes, Thomas's decision was a big one. And for Duck fans, it was one that was certainly worth the wait.
More Recruiting Coverage can be found here at CBSSports.com
Posted on: February 2, 2011 4:28 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
USC stayed true to its roots and locked up another Southern California talent as the Trojans continue their strong push for one of the top classes in 2011. Gardena (CA) athlete Marqise Lee picked USC over Oregon and Miami after a few minor delays. Lee often said he preferred to leave California for much of the recruiting process but that did not stop Lane Kiffin and his staff from continuing to pursue Lee.
MaxPrep’s 14th-ranked athlete in the country, Lee is one of the best players in the state at both wide receiver and defensive back. USC is without a receivers coach due to the departure of John Morton to the San Francisco 49ers so it’s possible that the Trojans are looking at Lee primarily on the defensive side of the ball.
The four-star athlete is used to playing with both Trojans and quality athletes. Fellow Gardena wide receiver George Farmer signed with USC shortly after Lee did and Freshman All-American and current Trojan Robert Woods also played alongside Lee in high school.
In addition to becoming part of a talented class for the Trojans, Lee’s letter of intent also signifies that USC will sign more than 20 athletes on Signing Day in order to fill out the class ahead of scholarship restrictions to due NCAA sanctions.
More Recruiting Coverage can be found at CBSSports.com
Posted on: February 2, 2011 12:49 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2011 12:50 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
If you were watching CBS College Sports a few minutes ago -- and if you weren't, why not? -- you saw Rick Neuheisel get what had to be the best news he's gotten in a while: defensive tackle Kevin McReynolds announced for our CBSCS viewers that he'll be attending UCLA.
The 6'3", 304-pound sparkplug selected the Bruins over heavy interest from programs as diverse as Kansas State, Mississippi State and Syracuse. Tom Lemming rates McReynolds as the nation's No. 5 defensive tackle thanks to his leverage skills and run-stopping ability, with McReynolds showing off his talents at the Under Armour All-American game.
It's been something of a rocky recruiting season for Neuheisel as he worked to overhaul his coaching staff and deal with the fallout from the Bruins' disappointing season, and his failures on the trail have only been magnified by the work done by Lane Kiffin. But McReynolds represents a huge pickup, and shows that the Trojans don't have a monopoly on good Signing Day news out of Los Angeles today.
More Signing Day coverage is here at CBS.
Posted on: February 2, 2011 12:31 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
If the Georgia Bulldogs underwhelmed on the field in 2010 -- and they most certainly did, finishing 6-7 with a bowl loss to UCF -- you'd never know it by the Bulldogs' recruiting class, which is currently in MaxPreps' Top 10 and just got better with the addition of linebacker Kent Turene.
In a rare miss for Lane Kiffin and USC -- who have been absolutely solid today -- Turene decommitted from the Trojans in January and opened up his recruiting to several programs, including Georgia. USC stayed in the hunt, though, and Turene narrowed his choices to USC and Georgia before making his decision today.
While both schools' classes would still be Top-10 caliber without Turene's services, this is still a big recruiting win for the Bulldogs as they strengthen their defensive front seven. Turene can play inside or out for Georgia, and he might even benefit from a move to defensive end to make the most of his explosive athleticism.
Posted on: February 2, 2011 11:38 am
Edited on: February 2, 2011 12:29 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Say what you will about him, but there's no way to argue with this: Lane Kiffin is one heck of a recruiter.
He's proven it again today, having already added a pair of big out-of-state commitments early and building on that momentum with two more major signings in the lunchtime hour: Point Loma (San Diego) defensive tackle Christian Heyward and Javorius "Buck" Allen of Lincoln (Tallahassee).
Heyward (pictured) is Maxpreps No. 9 defensive tackle, an agile 6'3", 280-pounder who should provide a big boost to the Trojans' interior pass rush ... and something of a blow to the Trojans rivals at Oregon, who Heyward passed over in order to sign with USC. Allen, meanwhile, is a 6'1", 210-pound horse of a running back who chose the Trojans over offers from schools like Florida State, Georgia, and other Southern heavyweights. He should become a major factor on short-yardage downs for Kiffin and could become a workhorse every down back.
With the additions, USC currently sits at No. 5 in the Maxpreps team rankings, and it might be too soon to count out Kiffin from finding a way to move his team up as Signing day rolls on.
More Signing Day coverage is here at CBS.
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
Posted on: January 21, 2011 1:55 pm
Edited on: January 21, 2011 2:39 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Take a glance at MaxPreps’ team recruiting rankings for the class of 2011 and the familiar names are all there in the top ten: Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Texas, USC and others. It’s the number beside USC that has more than a few people scratching their heads.
How can they sign more than 15 guys after getting their hands tied behind their back by the NCAA last year? The answer is somewhat complicated.
First, start in June of last year when the NCAA Committee on Infractions released their report on USC centered on improper benefits received by Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo. The Trojans were hit with a charge of lack of institutional control and placed on probation until June of 2014. In football, the penalties included a two year bowl ban (2010 and 2011) and a limit of 15 scholarships per year for three years (class of 2011, 2012 and 2013) with a maximum of 75 scholarships total.
USC filed their appeal to the penalties on June 25th and specifically asked that the postseason ban be reduced to one year and that they be limited to 20 scholarships per year instead of 15.
“A successful appeal in my mind would be getting what we’re asking for in really splitting the penalty in half,” athletic director Pat Haden said in a video on the school’s website. “I’m not terribly optimistic that we’ll win the appeal. If you look, statistically only about 10 percent of appeals win. Having said that, we feel like we have some very good points to make.”
According to the NCAA, once the penalties are appealed, they are stayed. So USC could sign 25 players but they have elected to serve the one year bowl ban in 2010 and sign, at most, 20 players. USC’s Infractions Appeal Committee hearing is scheduled for January 22nd but it is highly unlikely – if not downright impossible – for the committee to render a decision between then and National Signing Day on February 2nd.
Last year, in Alabama’s appeal of penalties stemming from a textbook scandal, the Infractions Appeals Committee took 39 days from the hearing day until releasing their final report. Before that case, Florida State’s appeal involving their academic fraud case took 51 days from hearing to decision. USC’s case is far larger and more complicated than either.
At least one USC player might have given a hint on USC’s expected timeline. Starting quarterback Matt Barkley, on the Dan Patrick Show this week said, “We haven’t heard anything… I’ve been trying to ask around but no one really knows. Apparently we’ll find out in March what will happen in the fall.”
USC’s roster, as currently constructed, has 13 seniors, 13 juniors, 14 sophomores and 11 redshirt freshmen. That’s a total of 51 scholarship players for the fall. USC recently signed nine early enrollees a few weeks ago. Those scholarships count towards the class of 2010. USC could have signed a maximum of nine and they did so, bringing the roster count to 60.
As a result, USC can sign up to 25 players for the Class of 2011 and they would stay under the NCAA-mandated roster size of 85. If USC signed 20 players, they would be at 80 players for the upcoming season unless somebody transferred or took a medical redshirt. USC currently has 17 players verbally committed to be Trojans so it would appear they are leaning towards signing 20 players on Signing Day.
“I do believe that USC is the only school that could make it through these penalties as they are and still be able to operate at a championship level like we’re going to,” head coach Lane Kiffin said. “It’s because the kids still want to come here.”
So what happens after Saturday’s appeal hearing? The answer is not much until the appeal is ruled on. If USC wins the appeal, they would play in a bowl game after the 2011 season and be able to sign 20 recruits to letters of intent as part of the 2012 class. If they lose? Although details are sketchy, a source close to the situation but unable to speak publically about the matter, said that the scholarships USC uses above the original limit of 15 will be taken away in the class of 2014. If they go over by five for the class of 2011 for example, they’ll have five less scholarships in 2014.
“I think, in the brief that we’ve filed, we made a good case that the penalties that were imposed are more severe than perhaps they should have been given the violations compared to other cases,” associate athletic director for football J.K. McKay said. “We’ll see, we’re putting our best foot forward and keeping our fingers crossed. We’ll see what happens.”
It’s long, it’s complicated but bottom line, look for USC to sign as many as 20 recruits on National Signing Day and deal with any scholarship limitations later.