Posted on: August 12, 2011 11:01 am
Edited on: August 12, 2011 11:04 am

Ranking the Big Ten recruiting classes

Posted by Bryan Fischer

1. Michigan

Not much to say about the top class in the country other than to say you have to be impressed with what Brady Hoke has done without coaching a game. He's landed the elite Midwest talent and also gone to Utah, Tennessee and California to fill out the rest of the spots. There's plenty of players who should see early playing time as Hoke transforms the program in Ann Arbor.

2. Penn State (#20)

This is a meat and potatoes group for Joe Paterno as eight players are offensive or defensive lineman. There's no elite skill position player but quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg is a good pick up and tight end Jesse James was impressive this summer in 7-on-7. There are still some elite prospects the program could add but it's doubtful they can move up to the top spot.

3. Michigan State (#23)

The Spartans are seeing a little bit of a bounce from their big season last year with this class, landing players such as end Se'Von Pittman and Elite 11 quarterback Tyler O'Connor. They've gone out of region more and while they're not doing as well as in-state rival Michigan, there's a lot of solid, building block players.

4. Ohio State

Buckeyes are facing the double barrel of having their head coach gone and the possibility of NCAA sanctions, both of which are, without a doubt, effecting the program's recruiting. There's no true elite prospect, running back Brionte Dunn is as close as the school gets and he's has the weakest commitment in the class.

5. Indiana

Why is Indiana in the top half of the recruiting rankings? Number one quarterback and number two overall prospect Gunner Kiel is the biggest reason why. Head coach Kevin Wilson has done a good job overall of getting Midwest talent beyond the crown jewel too.

6. Wisconsin

A small but talented class, Wisconsin has the best bang for your buck in the Big Ten. Bart Houston is an Elite 11 and top 100 quarterback who is a perfect fit for the Badgers offense and linebacker Vince Biegel should be able to get into the lineup sooner rather than later.

7. Northwestern

An under the radar but solid effort from the Wildcats this year. Running back Malin Jones and guard Adam DePietro are both very good pickups. There's a little bit of a mix of in-state players and because of Northwestern's academic reputation, some national players in there too.

8. Iowa

The Hawkeyes are used to evaluating late and closing their class strong the past couple of months. This year they have a pretty solid start as cornerback Maurice Fleming is a good get from Chicago and offensive lineman Jaleel Johnson is a very good lineman.

9. Minnesota

Who wouldn't want to play for a coach named Kill? This class surprisingly has several players from the state of Florida (5) and the staff has locked up most of the in-state talent this year. Altogether a solid effort this year for the Gophers.

10. Nebraska

What's Nebraska doing down at number ten? Well it's a numbers game and the Cornhuskers just don't have them. They have a good group with linebacker Michael Rose and end Greg McMullen but they'll need to step up the number of commits soon.

11. Purdue

The headliner is quarterback Austin Appleby who has the size of a college signal-caller while still in high school. He impressed at the Elite 11 and has two targets in the pair of tight ends committed. Anytime a third of your class is kickers however, there's a reason why you're near the bottom of the conference.

12. Illinois

Also a smaller class, Ron Zook has recruited all over the country without focusing on one area in particular. There's potential in this group but the Illini still need to build some momentum.

Posted on: August 12, 2011 9:44 am

8/12 Recruiting Roundup

Posted by Bryan Fischer

- A top South Florida (the area, not the school) recruit has been ruled ineligible for the upcoming season.

- There's plenty of confusion over the NCAA's interpretation on recruiting services like Rivals and Scout.

Michigan State is one school enjoying the newest trend of getting early commitments.

Good read on Derek Dooley's recruiting methods, which are a little frustrating for some Tennessee fans.

Georgia Tech basketball recruit Chris Bolden will play football this year.

Oklahoma recruit Sterling Shepard talks about the upcoming season.

Quarterback Bennie Coney is one reason why Cincinnati is rolling.

Auburn commit Zeke Pike has thrown a few Twitter bombs at Iron Bowl rival Alabama.


Boise State's newest recruit is linebacker Andrew Pint.

Kentucky received a commitment from defensive back Jacoby Glenn.

Ohio State added local receiver Roger Lewis to their class of 2012.
Posted on: August 11, 2011 10:06 am

Ranking the Pac-12 recruiting classes

Posted by Bryan Fischer

1. Arizona State (#17 overall according to MaxPreps)

The Sun Devils have jumped out to grab the biggest class in the conference and done so by pounding away at Southern California. Quarterback T.J. Millweard out of Texas can compete for playing time early and receiver Kenny Lawler - if he sticks with his commitment - is also a player coming in with an eye on playing time.

2. Washington (#21)

Steve Sarkisian has one top 100 quarterback in Cyler Miles and another player at the position who did well at the Elite 11 in quarterback Jeff Lindquist. This class is largest but still has some talented in-state targets they are in the running for so the Huskies could certainly wind up with the top spot on Signing Day.

3. USC

The Trojans are limited numbers-wise, they have a hard cap of 15 thanks to NCAA sanctions but the number is fluid when you consider transfers, early enrollees, etc. Arik Armstead is a unanimous five-star and could be an excellent left tackle if he chooses to play on offense. Linebackers Jabari Ruffin and Scott Starr have the tools physically to play for Monte Kiffin's defense.

4. Utah

The Utes move to the Pac-12 has already resulted in getting a higher quality group of athletes. Quarterback Travis Wilson was sharp at the Elite 11 and Chase Hansen is bigger and stronger than most athletes the school has been able to bring in. Both lines are represented well and Kyle Whittingham has several players he is still pursuing that could keep Utah in the upper echelon of the rankings.

5. Stanford

A diverse class, the Cardinal has targeted athletes several athletes who can come in and develop with a redshirt year. Linebacker Noor Davis is the headliner and he holds offers from numerous elite programs but is heading West to join Stanford.

6. Arizona

Tight end Taylor McNamara is the top tight end in Southern California and a player who tops the Wildcats' class. Josh Kern is an underrated quarterback out of Texas and local defensive end Dwight Melvin also contributes to a very solid class at the halfway mark to Signing Day.

7. Colorado

It might take some time for him to develop but Shane Dillon is a Pac-12 caliber quarterback and the trio of Texas receivers who are committed are under the radar guys who can be solid contributors at the college level.

8. Oregon

So far, the Ducks haven't seen a championship game appearance bounce on the recruiting trail. Quarterback Jake Rodrigues is the top prospect in the class and fits Oregon's offense well as a guy who has a strong arm but also has the wheels to run when needed. Tight end Evan Baylis is a nice pick up from Colorado.

9. Oregon State

Down the highway, the Beavers are doing what they normally do: scout, recruit and develop. Offensive lineman Isaac Sumalo is the son of a coach on staff and though he looked elsewhere, Oregon State managed to keep one of the top interior lineman from going to a Pac-12 rival. Receiver Malik Gilmore is a recruit who brings good size and an ability to create separation.

10. UCLA

It's hard to figure out quite what the Bruins are doing on the recruiting trail because, in a strong year for California talent, the program has yet to land a top tier athlete. It's especially surprising given the surplus of elite offensive linemen and that's a huge position of need in Westwood. UCLA does have two all-name teamers in Steven Lakalaka and Psalm Wooching.

11. Cal

This class would be MUCH higher if you're going by quality but quantity has to come into play with team rankings given the fact that they have just four commits. Zach Kline is the top quarterback out West and receiver Bryce Treggs has exploded this summer on the camp and 7-on-7 circuit. Michael Barton is a top Bay Area prospect and a very good pick up for the Bears.

12. Washington State

Wazzu is doing a solid job of getting better talent than they have been in past years but the quality of talent still isn't like where the program was several years ago. Athlete Rashad Jackson is a nice grab out of Texas and the Cougars have done ok in California.

Posted on: August 4, 2011 7:33 pm

Halfway to Signing Day: Pac-12 Edition

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
18. Washington

Posted on: August 4, 2011 10:06 am

8/4 Recruiting Roundup

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Michigan has assembled the top class in the country by mining the best recruits in the Midwest.

Randy Edsall opens up about recruiting at Maryland.

Michigan State has five spots left in their class of 2012 and they are looking for a safety to fill at least one of them.

What if a Georgia high school had more FBS recruits than any in the country but Georgia or Georgia Tech didn't get one of them?

 Indiana, with the nation's top quarterback in the fold, has a strong in-state flavor with their recruiting class.

Is rock bottom for Ohio State a walk-on switching to Michigan because of the NCAA scandal at the school?


Kentucky picked up two linemen on both sides of the line in defenisve end Daniel Ross and offensive tackle T.J. Jones.

Iowa State received a commitment from cornerback Will Watson.

Following the departure of Butch Davis, cornerback Nate Dortch has changed his commitment to Miami.
Posted on: August 3, 2011 2:18 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2011 2:19 pm

Halfway to Signing Day: Big Ten Edition

Posted by Bryan Fischer

We're right about halfway to Signing Day and that means it is time to take a look at the Big Ten 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.

Big Ten Commitment List

Best class: Michigan

Quite the impact Brady Hoke has made in just a few months at the helm. The Wolverines have the top class in the country at the halfway point and have blown rival Ohio State out of the water on the recruiting trail. The program has five Top 100 players committed, with several others that are in the mix to make the list by Signing Day. This is a strong class that will be counted on to make an impact early in Ann Arbor with the transition to the new regime. 

Work left to do: Nebraska

Bo Pelini and company haven't seen a big bounce from moving to the Big Ten just yet. The Cornhuskers have one of the smallest recruiting classes in the country at the moment and though they have some nice players, such as linebacker Michael Rose, there just isn't any depth or impact players at this point in the process.

Under the radar class: Wisconsin

It's a small class but what it lacks in quantity, Brett Bielema more than makes up for in quality. Three of the eight players committed are in the Top 100 and they address key positions at quarterback, offensive line and linebacker. Bart Houston is a perfect fit for what the Badgers do on offense and they have done a great job of getting the best player in the state in Vince Biegel. Wisconsin is still in the running for several other players and could finish strong come Signing Day.

Top commit: Quarterback Gunner Kiel (Columbus, Ind.), committed to Indiana

Loading up: Northwestern (6) and Michigan on offensive linemen (5), Michigan State on wide receivers (3), Penn State on tight ends (3).

Frequent Fliers: Purdue with commitments from eight states.

Fence builders: Ohio State, all of the school's commitments are from Ohio.

Road to Signing Day storyline: Will Ohio State land some elite talent?

It's not fun for Ohio State to see Michigan grab all the headlines on the recruiting trail (though, as any Buckeye will remind you, it has been awhile since they had a headline about beating their rival on the field). Given the coaching change and possible NCAA sanctions, there's a great deal of uncertainty and that has translated into a lack of production at the halfway point. Ohio State is one of the few places that can land elite recruits despite off the field issues because they continually send players to the NFL. The issues are a little bit different this year but if USC could the past two years, so can Ohio State. The only question might be when, not if, the Buckeyes will land some elite recruits between now and February.

Top 25 Teams:

1. Michigan
18. Wisconsin
20. Michigan State

Posted on: August 3, 2011 11:33 am
Edited on: August 3, 2011 11:36 am

Pac-12 move paying off for Utah recruiting

Posted by Bryan Fischer

There are few programs that can expect a windfall on the recruiting trial without doing much at all. Such is the case at Utah where, by virtue of moving from the Mountain West to the Pac-12, the school has already begun to get better recruits out of high school just by selling the fact that they are now in a BCS conference.

"College football is all about recruiting," Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said. "80% of your success, or lack thereof, is tied directly to the athletes that you are able to get into your program. You obviously have to manage and develop those athletes once they get in your program but you have got to have the raw material. Being in a BCS conference now gives us a level playing field in that regard."

The Utes picked up several verbal commitments last year within days of the announcement that they were moving on to the so-called conference of champions. The program also beat out new division rival USC for running back Harvey Langi last year and are off to a very solid start with their class of 2012. Rival coaches have already remarked how much tougher it is on the recruiting trail with Utah fighting over some of the same players - just how Whittingham likes it.

"It's competitive, I'll tell you that," he said of recruiting this year. "That's something we anticipated and we didn't haves any surprises, we just knew that we're going to be battling with USC, UCLA, Cal, Stanford, Arizona, Arizona State and all of those schools for the top kids. It hasn't been anything we didn't expect."

There hasn't been a big change in how Utah goes about its business outside of a few coaches wearing polos with new logos though. Evaluation, especially during players' senior years, has been and will continue to be part of the Utes' secret to success.

"We evaluate hands on, our assistant coaches go out and beat the bushes," Whittingham said. "They watch film, they watch the kids practice, watch them in the weight room and all the things that the NCAA allows us to, we take advantage of. We don't rely on the Internet or recruiting services or anything like that. We've made a living on discovering that diamond in the rough.

"We've got a list as long as your arm of guys playing in the NFL on rosters right now that were not recruited or recruited very lightly."

Utah currently has nine commitments for the class of 2012 and is heavy (somewhat literally) with players on both sides of the line. An athlete such as in-state player Chase Hansen is a very good pickup for the school and he can end up at a number of spots on either offense or defense. Whittingham also added an Elite 11 quarterback this year in San Clemente (Calif.) signal-caller Travis Wilson.

In addition to being on the shortlist for a few top players, it wouldn't be surprising if the program picks up some recruits in this class that they'll eventually be able to add to that long list of NFL players. Not bad at all for switching conferences.

Posted on: August 2, 2011 4:33 pm

Halfway to Signing Day: ACC Edition

Posted by Bryan Fischer

We're right about halfway to Signing Day and that means it is time to take a look at the ACC 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.

ACC Commitment List

Best class: Florida State

One of only two schools to have multiple Top 100 commits, Jimbo Fisher is once again building a very strong class for 2012. The Seminoles address both needs (such as at the kicker spots) and go after some really high quality athletes. Dante Fowler and Mario Edwards are a scary combo off the edges at defensive end and there are some weapons on offense too in speedster Marvin Bracy and Christo Kourtzidis. A lot of top players have Florida State on their short list so it will be interesting to see how much stronger this class can become.

Work left to do: Wake Forest

Obviously the Demon Deacons have the smallest class but they do have some solid pieces to build around, such as in quarterback Alec Morris. Jim Grobe and will likely see recruiting pick up once they get a chance to evaluate players off of their senior years which means they have a lot of work left to do with the season coming up.

Under the radar class: Virginia

Rival Virginia Tech has the most commitments in the country but it is Virginia that has quietly put together a very, very good class. Unlike the Hokies, Mike London has managed to grab a Top 100 member in end Michael Moore and has a terrific linebacker headed his way in Kwontie Moore. The program has done a good job of relying on the in-state talent base while not forgetting to hit nearby areas like Maryland/Washington D.C. The Cavaliers are already ranked in the top 25 and if they can close strong, it wouldn't be surprised to see them move up a little bit in the team rankings.

Top commit: Defensive end Mario Edwards (Denton, Texas), committed to Florida State.

Loading up: Virginia on offensive linemen (5), Miami on quarterbacks (3), Virginia Tech on defensive backs (3+).

Frequent Fliers: Duke, commitments from nine states.

Fence builders: Miami, 19 commitments from Florida.

Road to Signing Day storyline: North Carolina.

It will be very interesting to see how the Tar Heels proceed without Butch Davis at the helm. The NCAA news has been swirling around the program since last summer but it is important to keep in mind that by the time this signing day rolls around, recruits will know what type of sanctions (if any) the program will be hit with. They've got a solid class at the moment but given that the news of Davis' departure only recently happened, it could take a while to see how it affects the current class and recruiting going forward.

Top 25 Teams:

3. Florida State
5. Miami
10. Virginia Tech
12. Clemson
16. Virginia

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