Posted on: December 27, 2011 1:29 pm

National notes: Movers & shakers in team rankings

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.

Ohio State

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.

Notre Dame

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

Florida State

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:

Posted on: December 22, 2011 10:48 am

Big 12 junior college early signees

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Wednesday, December 21st was the first day Junior College players can sign with schools across the country and the faxes are already in for several commitments. Here's a list of each Big 12 team and who has signed or is expected to sign paperwork soon. This is for the early period only.


Riverside C.C. (Calif.) linebacker Eddie Lackey
Corsicana JUCO (Texas) defensive tackle Joey Searcy

Iowa State

Iowa Western C.C. (Iowa) defensive end Cory Morrissey
Trinity Valley C.C. (Texas) defensive back Clifford Stokes



Kansas State

Navarro J.C. (Texas) wide receiver Marquez Clark
Trinity Valley C.C. (Texas) defensive tackle Wesley Hollingshed
Navarro J.C. (Texas) offensive lineman Tavon Rooks


Pierce C.C. (Calif.) defensive back Kasseim Everett
Fort Scott C.C. (Kan.) tight end Brannon Green

Oklahoma State

Navarro J.C. (Texas) defensive tackle Calvin Barnett
Scottsdale C.C. (Ariz.) tight end Blake Jackson




Northwest Mississippi C.C. (Miss.) offensive lineman Donald Hawkins
East Mississippi C.C. (Miss.) defensive tackle Brandon Moore

Texas Tech

Riverside C.C. (Calif.) defensive end Lee Adams
Gulf Coast C.C. (Miss.) wide receiver Javon Bell
Gulf Coast C.C. (Miss.) Rashad Fortenberry
Riverside C.C. (Calif.) Sadale Foster
Gulf Coast C.C. (Miss.) linebacker Chris Payne
Riverside C.C. (Calif.) linebacker Will Smith
Pierce C.C. (Calif.) defensive back Austin Stewart

West Virginia

Posted on: December 20, 2011 8:31 pm

12/20 Recruiting Roundup

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Colorado added a pledge from cornerback Marques Mosley to give the Buffs 22 commitments for the class of 2012.

Purdue added commit #23 in defensive end Kingsley Ike.

 Running back Greg Garmon enjoyed his visit to Arkansas.

 Top athlete Nelson Agholor has visited Oklahoma, Florida and Notre Dame already and all three are serious contenders for his commitment.

 Cornerback Tyree Holder was offered by Toledo.

 Big time offensive tackle Jordan Diamond has visits to Michigan, Arkansas and Wisconsin left.

 Arizona State's new coaching staff is going after a few top local players already committed.

 Looking back and evaluating Florida's class of 2010.

Posted on: December 18, 2011 4:49 pm

Cornerback Kevin Peterson commits to Oklahoma

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Oklahoma's recruiting class got a little bit bigger on Sunday as Wagoner (Okla.) cornerback Kevin Peterson committed to the Sooners in the middle of one of the biggest recruiting weekends in Norman in some time.

"My decision (to commit) was a collection of everything really," Peterson told SoonerScoop.com. "Talking to coach (Willie) Martinez through the day, what he had to say - it really stood out to me."

The 6-foot, 170-pounder had been on the Sooners' radar for a while but had not received an offer. With interest picking up in Peterson following the conclusion of his senior season, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M had extended offers before the one he finally wanted came through in Oklahoma.

"They said eventually they could see me at either, they could see me playing either (corner) position," he said. "They just said we just have to get you in the program and handle the weight room."

Peterson becomes the 17th commitment for the Sooners class of 2012 and second defensive back. He led his team to a state title two weeks ago and racked up 36 tackles and three interceptions on defense.

"He proves to be an outstanding cover corner," analyst Tom Lemming said. :Shows a nose for the ball, a smooth backpedal, and can turn and run with the best of them. Shows excellent lateral agility and the explosive burst needed to play major college ball."
Posted on: December 15, 2011 10:22 am
Edited on: December 15, 2011 10:22 am

12/15 Recruiting Roundup

Posted by Bryan Fischer

  Arizona couldn't even meet with Devonte Neal, he said he's going out of state.

  Michigan is expected to add at least one more linemen and has plenty of options.

  Baylor is already recruiting the next Robert Griffin III.

  Oklahoma has a big recruiting weekend scheduled, one of the biggest under Bob Stoops.

  Running back Mike Davis is visiting Georgia today. JUCO offensive lineman Mark Beard committed to the Dawgs.

  St. Louis is a priority for new Illinois head coach Tim Beckman.

  Nebraska's staff is on a cross-country recruiting blitz.

  Donovan Roberts and Keon Hatcher are still committed to Arkansas.

Posted on: December 10, 2011 2:02 pm

Sumlin can save promising Texas A&M class

Posted by Bryan Fischer

As soon as Mike Sherman was let go as head coach at Texas A&M, many speculated that Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin would take the drive up highway 6 and take over. That's exactly what will happen, with CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman confirming that Sumlin had accepted an offer to be the Aggies next coach on Saturday morning.

Sumlin, 47, understands the culture in College Station and knows how to recruit there. He worked under R.C. Slocum at the school and was an assistant on Bob Stoops' Oklahoma staff before moving on to Houston. Sumlin took over for Art Briles and led the Cougars to two 10-win seasons and two division titles while compiling a 35-17 record.

As Feldman notes, Sumlin has the reputation of being a good motivator, player's coach while maintaining discipline. Sherman left him some talent as the Aggies move to the SEC next season and a top 10 recruiting class for 2012. In addition to hiring a good staff, the first task that Sumlin has to do is hit the recruiting trail and try and keep the pieces for February together.

At the moment, there have only been a handful of defections following Sherman's firing and it's doubtful there will be many more. MaxPreps has A&M's class ranked ninth in the country with top players such as quarterback Matt Davis, linebacker Jordan Richmond and running back Trey Williams. After securing everybody's pledge over the next few weeks with in-home visits, Sumlin will have to go about filling the rest of the class out. He knows Texas high schools very well and can bring in a few players who maybe hadn't considered the Aggies before.

Going forward, it's obviously a step up in terms of a job. Conference USA to SEC is quite a leap on the field. Off the field, Sumlin knows the lay of the land and will have that added selling point of playing in the country's best conference. He likely will try to lock down the talent-rich Houston area and it should be fun to see how he does against Texas and other powerhouses such as LSU on the recruiting trail.

The facilities are there in College Station, it's a solid program and now they have a pretty good salesman. It shouldn't be too hard for Sumlin to save the 2012 class and hit the ground running in 2013.

Posted on: December 8, 2011 1:47 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 1:49 pm

Alabama adds another linebacker in Denzel Devall

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Alabama will play LSU in the national championship game and it appears they've already scored more often than they did in the teams first match up. The Tide reached into Tigers territory on Wednesday to pull a commitment out of Bastrop (La.) linebacker Denzel Devall.

"I just felt like it was a great fit from the get go," Devall told TideSports.com. "I like the system, the school and everything about it. Just everything about it. From all the programs, the academic programs, Coach (Nick) Saban, the coaching staff...it's the place to go if you want to be successful."

The 6-foot-2, 240-pounder held offers from Arkansas, LSU, Oklahoma and Texas A&M among others. A big fan of Saban's since his days with the Tigers, Devall has no divided loyalties with the home state team after making his commitment public.

"I'll take my official visit the weekend after we beat LSU in the national championship," he said.

Devall gives the Crimson Tide 22 verbal pledges for the class of 2012 and he becomes the fifth linebacker.

Posted on: December 8, 2011 1:54 am
Edited on: December 8, 2011 1:54 am

Sooners add California receiver Derrick Woods

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Oklahoma has built quite a successful pipeline from the state of California to Norman and it paid off once again with their latest pledge. Inglewood (Calif.) wide receiver Derrick Woods made things official Tuesday and committed to the Sooners.

“I have been thinking about it for a minute now,” Woods told 247sports. “I just felt it was the right place for me. I felt I had connected well with the coaches and the players and it was just about that time.

The 6-foot, 180-pounder has been coveted by the offensive staff for Oklahoma for some time. Woods also held offers from Alabama, California, Florida, Oregon and USC but felt the heart of the country was the right place for him primarily due to his relationship with his future position coach.

“Coach (Jay) Norvell and I have a great relationship and we pretty much just talk about the things that Oklahoma has and the things that I will bring to the offense," he said. "Once we got that across, and I talked it over with my parents and my coaches and they felt OU was a good place for me and so did I, so that is how it came together. They also have a good quarterback."

Woods is the 17th commitment for Oklahoma's class of 2012 and 11th on offense. He is rated as the 9th-best wide receiver in the country this year by MaxPreps.

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