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Tag:Andrew Luck
Posted on: February 28, 2012 6:54 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 7:16 pm
 

Tuesday Tweetbag: TCU/WVU to the Big 12 and more



Posted by Bryan Fischer

I started a new feature on the blog last week called The Monday Mailbag. I have now changed it to The Tuesday Tweetbag because can and because I like alliteration. I'm here to answer questions tweeted to me so make sure you follow me on Twitter at @BryanDFischer. So without further ado, let the smorgasbord of questions commence.
To be honest, I think both will have no issues transitioning to the Big 12. In 2012, both should have teams that will be very competitive and are likely dark horse picks to win the conference. Had TCU not had their issues, you would have seen plenty of people go out on a limb and put the Horned Frogs atop their preseason ballots. West Virginia returns their starting quarterback, Heisman candidate Geno Smith, and 14 other starters from a team that turned in one of the most impressive bowl performances in history. There are several holes they need to fill but a solid recruiting class should complement who is already on the roster. Both teams fit stylistically into the Big 12 and Dana Holgorsen knows the league well from his days as an assistant.

What really helps the two newcomers is the fact that the Big 12 has never really been this open. The Red River Rivalry might determine the eventual winner but neither Texas or Oklahoma will dominate like they have in the past. Last year Oklahoma State won the whole thing and Baylor - Baylor! - overcame a really bad defense to turn in a historic season. From top to bottom there was more parity than just about every other BCS league. I think TCU stands to benefit more than anybody going forward beyond 2012 as they're now the only BCS-level program in the talent-rich Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex and have upgraded facilities to the point that they come into the conference as equals. It's going to be a little more difficult for Holgorsen but he's proven he can turn unheralded recruits into big time offensive players and win at multiple levels. Of all the programs that have changed conferences, I would put all the money in my wallet on TCU and West Virginia being the most successful.
I've heard several good things about Beckman and think he's done a good job getting things going early on but faces an uphill climb. While Zook was known as a good recruiter (both at Illinois and Florida before that), his teams lacked consistency and, outside of when the Illini went 9-4 in 2007, never could break through into the top half of the conference. He had a few surprising gets on the recruiting trail but there were never enough good players on Zook's teams to make a difference. Anytime you upgrade in the coaching department, it's good for the program. How much Beckman elevates Illinois remains to be seen but it's a solid hire. Little things - ok major things - like not knowing the score, probably won't happen with the new staff. While it should mean the team is better on the field in terms of "the little things," I'm not sure that will translate into a huge number of wins.
I've seen Burfict since high school and there's no question that he is a talented linebacker. In his star-crossed career however, it has always come down to what the heck is going on between his ears. There was a point where most people had him pegged as a possible top 10 pick, now he'll be lucky to go on the first two days of the draft. I think there were plenty of issues with him and Dennis Erickson at Arizona State so I wonder if getting out of that environment and into the NFL will be a positive for Burfict. Perhaps the jolt of teams treating him like an adult rather than a kid that a coach's job is depending on will, in turn, make him a better player.

He is a good football player who will be drafted. How good and how high depends on how hard he wants to work and how serious he is about controlling his emotions and playing the right way. If he's still known for picking up personal fouls in two years, I'd say he's going to be looking for a new line of work much quicker than he first thought. Bruce Feldman has plenty more on Burfict and the draft on his blog.
This is such an interesting draft because the drop off from the first two quarterbacks (Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III) to the number three guy is huge. But because so many teams need a signal-caller, Tannehill has the potential to go as high as the top 10 during the draft. If you look at the CBSSports.com quarterback rankings, he has a first round projection but if I were an NFL GM, he would simply be too much of a risk to draft that high. Unlike most of the other guys, Tannehill doesn't have as many reps at the position because he played wide receiver - and was pretty good at it - for a while when in College Station. I think there is a lot to like about him, starting with his size and mobility, but I just can't see how the upside is worth a first round pick when you consider the caliber of players available.

If I had a need at quarterback, I think I would wait things out if I couldn't grab Luck or RG3. There are options on the free agent market (including, likely, some guy named Manning) and several guys who I think could be solid NFL guys in the 2nd round like Kirk Cousins or Brandon Weeden. Don't forget, there should be another strong group of QBs coming out next year like Matt Barkley and Tyler Wilson.

Our draft guys also tackled the Tannehill debtate and went into detail on what they saw from the tape.


Posted on: February 21, 2012 1:01 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 1:14 pm
 

Class of 2013 Storylines to Watch



Posted by Bryan Fischer

The class of 2012 is, with one notable exception, signed and done with. That means it is time to turn everybody's attention to the class of 2013 and keep it there. Here are a few storylines to follow on the road to the first Wednesday in February next year - in no particular order.

1. Will Nick Saban be able to close on the country's top prospect?

Nick Saban has certainly earned the title of the country's top recruiter after pulling in the top overall class (or close to it) since arriving in Tuscaloosa. The one thing he hasn't done, however, is land the nation's top recruit. In the class of 2012, he went after Dorial Green-Beckham but couldn't make the final cut. A year before Saban narrowly lost out on Jadeveon Clowney to South Carolina. Is the third time the charm in Grayson (Ga.) defensive end Robert Nkemdiche?

One of the top athletes to play the position coming out of high school, Nkemdiche can play multiple positions in college and has something that you rarely see in some recruits - the drive to be great. At this point, most expect him to sign with the Crimson Tide but in recruiting, as in life, things sometimes have a way of making an unexpected turn. His high school head coach played on an Alabama national championship squad and Nkemdiche has gotten the full court press from the staff for a while. Still, he's listed other schools, taken visits to some like Georgia and has his brother at Ole Miss. It looks good for Saban but we won't find out for sure until next February.

2. Who wins the battle of the Midwest behemoths?

The past year has seen Midwest recruiting go from some yawns and a few eyebrow raises to must-read headlines on a daily basis thanks to Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer recruiting like mad. Hoke had the country's top recruiting class before ever coaching a game and Meyer was able to land an impressive class doing the same. It's been an interesting transformation in the Big Ten over the past few months and turned the conference into two programs and a cloud of dust.

Both are off to a very solid start with the class of 2013 with plenty of momentum from signing top five classes earlier this month. The Buckeyes have landed elite guys like Trotwood (Ohio) linebacker Cam Burrows and are certainly in the mix for plenty of top 100 players. The Wolverines had a monster recruiting weekend to power them to a total of 11 commits, and have a headliner (and one of the top quarterbacks in the country) in Shane Morris. Should be a fun few months as each program jockey's to out do the other on the recruiting trail.

3. Is this the class where being in the SEC really comes into play for Missouri and Texas A&M?

There's no doubt the move to the SEC played a role in the Aggies landing a top 15 class and the Tigers getting a commitment from the number one player in the country but the class of 2013 can really be a selling point for both staffs. More than anything, it gives recruits a chance to watch A&M play Alabama and Florida, see how their fans travel, what the coverage of the team is like and if Mizzou's James Franklin can top Vanderbilt's James Franklin.

Already Kevin Sumlin has jumped out to a big start and has more commitments than anybody in the country right now. He's gotten quality as well as quantity to boot. What remains to be seen is what happens if things take a turn for the worse this season on the field. Will doubts creep into recruits' minds if either school has issues and struggles to get wins? It's something to keep an eye on but, for the moment, things are looking good as each joins the best conference in the country.

4. How will realignment help/hurt West Virginia?

Realignment has made the Mountaineers very interesting on the recruiting trail. There was a lot to like about Dana Holgorsen's first year, capped off with a blowout win in the Orange Bowl and Geno Smith likely entering 2012 as a legitimate Heisman candidate. The staff had a solid effort in recruiting and really got some speedsters out of Florida and from close by (such as Deontay McManus to the right) to sign up for the ride to the Big 12. Yet it's clear that there will be a emphasis on recruiting Texas and the South more with the change in conferences.

As my colleague Bruce Feldman pointed out to me yesterday, all but one of the assistants on staff has ties to the Big 12 footprint and several know the back roads in Oklahoma and Arkansas very well too. Holgorsen's wide open offense will no doubt be a good selling points for kids running the spread across the South and maybe, by hiring defensive staff members with area ties the recruits on the other side of the ball will take a look at the Mountaineers in this cycle as well. Should be an interesting look at how the program handles playing in the Big 12 this year and going forward and whether that translates in terms of recruiting as well.

5. How many does USC sign in year two of scholarship cuts?

If you doubted Lane Kiffin's ability to recruit, well, you must not pay a ton of attention. Despite getting slapped with deep scholarship cuts, the oft-bashed head coach enters 2012 with a preseason top two team and just signed a top 10 class with some elite talent. A pair of All-Americans at wide out were no deterrent to Nelson Agholor, who was lured to USC from Florida. There were a few offensive line targets that the Trojans missed out on late - they still signed a great class at the position - but that might turn out to be a blessing in disguise because they can take a few early enrollees to boost numbers.

Bottom line, who and how many Kiffin's staff sign will be a storyline worth following on the West Coast.

6. Who emerges during the spring and summer camp circuit?

One of the reasons why recruiting evaluation have tended to improve over recent years is the rise in getting a look at top players competing against other top players on the offseason camp circuit. It's also allowed those in the industry to discover more guys who don't back down from a challenge and have the speed and skills to be FBS-caliber talent. Because recruits are not in pads, we don't get a complete picture of a player but we can find out even more about how they play and how their recruitment is going. In many ways, the camps and combines that happen across the country from late February through early July will allow everybody to see who's an elite recruit and who we need to keep an eye on when the pads come on during the fall.

7. What impact will social media have on the class of 2013?

Ask any of the class of 2012 about Twitter and Facebook and they'll say it's changed recruiting. Players from across the country are getting to know each other more and more, going beyond just texting back and forth to DMing and Wall posting as early commitments explain to others why their school is the place to be. Recruiting is becoming more and more interconnected and there is no doubt that the 2013 group will be at the forfront of the new wave of change.

Forget hat dances, keep an eye on how many top 100 guys commit via Twitter. Should be a lot more than last year.

8. Who is the top quarterback nationally?

Upside, production, measurables, arm strength... there are plenty of things that go into deciding who the top quarterback in the country is. The candidates are out there and it will likely boil down to one of Max Browne, Tyrone Swoopes, Shane Morris, Ryan Brurns, Kevin Olsen and a handful of others competing to be the top signal-caller in the final rankings. It's important to keep in mind that quarterback is one position that should see plenty of movement as players go through spring ball, camps, 7-on-7, Elite 11 competitions and finally their senior season.

Olsen, Burns and Browne are your typical pro-style quarterbacks with the size coaches look for and big arms to boot. Swoopes is a dual-threat who some have compared to Robert Griffin III or Vince Young because of how electric he is with the ball in his hands. Morris is the rare lefty that is vying for top billing. Several others are hot on their heels in order to be considered part of the elite QB group in 2013 and will be interesting to see how each does as the pressure mounts each passing week.

9. Can Stanford keep things going?

When was the last time you talked about Stanford recruiting? Prior to the class of 2012: rarely if ever (provided you are not the type that tailgates with wine). All the Cardinal did this year was snag a top 10 class and land one of the best group of offensive line recruits in the modern recruiting era. But can the program keep the momentum going with out Andrew Luck leading the charge on the field? That's a question everybody is asking and at first glance, the answer appears to be yes.

Since David Shaw, a former Stanford player himself, returned to Palo Alto as an assistant under Jim Harbaugh, the program has had a remarkably high success rate when recruiting. If an offer goes out and that player qualifies, there's a very good chance that player will end up signing. The hit rate for Stanford the past few years has been nothing short of remarkable considering the restrictions the staff is under but there's no doubt the education, new stadium, major league and BCS-level success that has happened in the Bay Area has turned the program from doormat to door opener. Should be fun to follow over the next few years.

10. Does somebody finish their class before the season?

Michigan, Texas A&M, Florida and Texas are off to hot starts. The Longhorns are taking a very small class this year so they could wind up filling up with only limited room for recruits based on who leaves for the NFL early. The other schools are recruiting at a pace that will have local analysts taking a vacation much earlier than normal. So, we're left to wonder, could somebody actually get 90% or more of their commitments before the season starts?

Posted on: February 2, 2012 10:53 am
Edited on: February 2, 2012 11:17 am
 

Signing Day Coast-to-Coast Wrap



Posted by Bryan Fischer


It's time to pick up the wrapping paper, survey the damage and get excited to play with your new toys as Signing Day - i.e. Christmas in February for college football coaches and fans - has come to a close. Here's a broad overview of what happened from coast-to-coast.

Houston, we have a five-star

If there was one big - to borrow a metaphor from another sport - curve ball on Signing Day that made everybody scratch their head in disbelief it was word that Fresno (Calif.) wide receiver Deontay Greenberry had surprisingly signed with Houston during the middle of the day. It's normally a bit unusual when a program like UH signs anybody from outside the states of Texas or Louisiana and even more puzzling when they sign a highly rated player. But Greenberry? In addition to becoming the highest-ranked recruit the program has ever inked, the switch was cause for celebration inside the football office for a coup of epic proportions.

In short: Houston stole a five-star recruit on the week before Signing Day from Notre Dame.

This wasn't a local big time kid, this was the state of California's best wide receiver and somebody the Irish were counting on to play early and often with the departure of guys like Michael Floyd. The Cougars were not only closer to a BCS game than the storied program but they picked their pockets for one of their top recruits. It should have been a big day for Brian Kelly to trumpet guys like number two overall player and Columbus (Ind.) quarterback Gunner Kiel or Greenberry's cousin, cornerback Tee Shepard. Instead it was Kelly who was trying to spin the loss during his annual press conference.

"It is hard for me to feel disappointed about something I have never had, or someone I have never coached," Kelly said. "I'm more excited about the 16 who did sign."

The reason the 6-foot-3, 187-pound wide out flipped was primarily due to Houston receivers coach Jamie Christian, who came over from Arizona State. Christian had kept the Sun Devils in the running (Greenberry took a visit in October and considered them as late as December) despite a commitment to Notre Dame until Dennis Erickson's staff was fired and deserves the lion's share of the credit for getting Greenberry on campus last weekend and for ultimately landing a top-ranked guy. Cougars' head coach Tony Levine has developed some very successful wide receivers over the past several years and it appears he's got somebody a lot more talented than he's ever coached coming in with the class of 2012.

One in January, another in February

Texas coach Mack Brown has picked up the title Mr. February due to his penchant for winning a recruiting title but lack of success in translating that into a national title. After the run Nick Saban has had at Alabama recently, it might be time to find something that accurately describes his dominance in the first two months of the year because he's not limited to one or the other. As expected, the Crimson Tide took home the top recruiting class in the country in 2012 but perhaps the only thing that was surprising about it was that it wasn't, well, surprising.

"We knew exactly pretty much what we were gonna get," Saban said. "We didn't really have any surprises."

The only thing that even registered on the meter was when defensive tackle Korren Kirven decided to go away from home and play for the Crimson Tide (part of the reason why a numbers crunch led to some like defensive tackle Darius Philon signing at Arkansas). All told, 28 players will be considered part of yet another recruiting title for a program that seems to land any recruit they want, including an impressive six top 100 players.

The headliner is Geismar (La.) defensive back Landon Collins, who signed sans drama Wednesday and even seems to have patched things up with his mother following the bizarre reaction she had when he committed at the Under Armour All-American Game early last month. A ball-hawk who isn't afraid to lower the shoulder and stick the ball carrier, Collins is bound to find a role early on in the secondary. This class didn't really load up on offensive lineman but filled out just about everywhere else was stacked. The front seven in particular could see plenty of recruits turn into All-Americans, led by the impressive Reggie Ragland and Dillon Lee. Offensively there are some speedsters at wide out and T.J. Yeldon might be the best running back coming into the conference.

The Tide, it appears, just can't stop rolling.

M-I-Z-D-G-B

Though the news had broken that the country's top overall player in the class of 2012 would likely be headed to Columbia, nobody was truly sure until the the 6-foot-6 Dorial Green-Beckham put on the Missouri hat and officially sent his LOI in. The announcement seemed a little ho-hum despite the nearly 1,000 people watching locally and the national television audience but that's mainly a testament to the reserved Green-Beckham himself.

With many analysts calling him the second coming of Randy Moss, there's immense pressure on the top-ranked wide receiver and for good reason. There are few prospects as impressive physically as Green-Beckham and though he doesn't have great hands and needs some polish, the underlying natural talent is a good reason why he was highly regarded and highly recruited. Missouri has had success building around taller, bigger pass catchers in their offense and it looks like they'll have three years to see what kind of eye popping numbers

It can't be understated how big this is for a program like Mizzou. Landing the top recruit in the country is not just about getting a good player, it's about adding a level of prestige to the program. A talent like DGB only comes along once in a generation and for the Tigers to keep him at home is understandably huge, especially with the move to the SEC. Gary Pinkel has had plenty of success over the past several years even if it hasn't resulted in a championship and everybody understands that the competitions is about to be ratcheted up several notches going forward. With the signature of Green-Beckham, Pinkel and Mizzou proved that even if guys like Mack Brown, Bob Stoops and Nick Saban really want a kid, the Tigers can compete off and - hopefully - on the field in their new league going forward.

Nerd Search 2012

Outside of alumni and those that have to write about the Pac-12, there weren't too many mentions of Stanford on Signing Day every year.

My how times have changed.

Not only did the Cardinal tie for the national lead with six top 100 prospects, but they landed multiple five-stars and had people talking less about Andrew Luck and more about the fact that maybe this program can indeed sustain excellence going forward. There's no denying that it was one of the best years for talent on the West Coast in some time and the big reason why was the number of elite offensive lineman. If this were a few years ago, many of them would be penciled in to go to USC or Oregon or out of the area to programs like Notre Dame but instead it was Stanford who reeled the majority of the elite guys in this year (Josh Garnett, Andrus Peat, Kyle Murphy). If you were to call this the best offensive line class in recent recruiting history, you wouldn't find too many who would argue. That's just how much of a difference the school was this year and the coaches' efforts were rewarded with a top 10 class ranking.

It wasn't just an academic powerhouse like Stanford who made waves either. Northwestern landed a pair of top players in Malin Jones and Ifeadi Odenigbo. Vanderbilt brought in what some called the best class in school history. Duke landed a lightly recruited guy who, according to recruiting coordinator Matt Lubick on the CBSSports.com Signing Day Central Show, runs a sub-4.3 40 yard dash. Lots of recruits talk about wanting academics but it appears they're finally following up.

Pocket squares and pads seem to be the latest thing on the recruiting trail.

More recruiting SECcess

It wasn't quite the banner year for the league that it could have been but 2012 certainly was a great Signing Day for the best conference in the country. Eight of the SEC's 14 teams finished in the final top 25 class rankings, highlighted by Alabama at the top and both of the league newcomers turning in great first efforts. Texas A&M ended up stealing defensive tackle Edmund Ray from Missouri and added wide receiver Thomas Johnson, a former Texas commitment, to a group that finished 14th. Florida was a top five class despite missing out on some guys and even a few programs that have recently struggled did well with Georgia, Tennessee and Auburn grouped together from 20-22.

The Bulldogs had to land just about every target left on their board and they did ok, notably beating Florida State late for linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons despite a little issue with his grandfather not signing his letter of intent until Thursday. The Bulldogs missed out on Juco wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (who went to Tennessee) and offensive tackle Avery Young (to Auburn) but also landed five-star offensive lineman John Theus and what might be the best one-two punch at running back in the class with Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley. It wasn't a "Dream Team" but Georgia still showed you can have a very good class and it only be alright in such a deep league.

Kentucky brought in what might be the top quarterback in the state this year in Patrick Towles and took advantage of Alabama's number crunch in grabbing running back Justin Taylor. The state of Georgia was a big producer of talent for a lot of the league's schools and is quickly becoming the go-to state for most FBS programs after the big three of California, Texas and Florida. The theme this year was even if a school didn't pick up a commitment from a kid, there's a high chance he went to another SEC school.

Quality over quantity

This was finally the year that we'd see NCAA sanctions limit USC and Lane Kiffin had to be creative in how he managed the numbers on top of grabbing the best talent available. Even though the Trojans missed out on linemen Peat and Murphy, it was still a good haul with Zach Banner, Jordan Simmons and Max Tuerk on top of skill position talent like five-star Nelson Agholor, linebacker Jabari Ruffin, end Leonard Williams and wide receiver Darreus Rogers. Given the way the staff has recruited over the past two years, it's looking more likely that the school can get through harsh NCAA sanctions better than was previously thought. Missing out on three guys may seem like a lot but it should help next year by giving Kiffin those scholarships to use for early enrollees in 2013.

Meyer Mayhem

FYI to coaches across the country, if Urban Meyer starts circling your recruits, you better be prepared to bring your A+++ game if you want to land them. The master recruiter took Ohio State's class from middling prior to his hire to tying the nation's lead with six top 100 recruits and a number three overall class ranking. This was, mind you, with only two months on the job to recruit with a program that just got slapped with a bowl ban from the NCAA. Meyer really attacked the defensive line and looks like he'll be importing a high quality, SEC-caliber defensive line with Se'Von Pittman, Tommy Schutt, Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington. He's already jumped on several top 2013 players and if this year was any indication, it could be a long couple of years for his Big Ten counterparts.

Seminole DLight

Mark Stoops is the defensive coordinator at Florida State and he might be the happiest man in the state of Florida. As good as Ohio State's defensive line class was, FSU's might be the best in the country. Though they lost Dante Fowler Jr., they still signed Chris Casher, Mario Edwards, Eddie Goldman, Justin Shanks and should get Dalvon Stuckey in a year or two after he goes to a Juco. The thing about the Seminoles is that they don't need every guy to come in and play right away but each is talented enough to make an impact in certain situations. Edwards has the pedigree and drive to become a high first round draft pick with his skill set and Stoops should use him in multiple spots. Adding guys like Ronald Darby and P.J. Williams are also huge gets for the program in the secondary. Whoever plays the best defense likely has a leg up in the ACC and it appears that's where Florida State did the best on Wednesday.

More on Signing Day
Columns
Dennis Dodd

Urban strikes gold right away; stigma of Tressel scandal already gone



Brett McMurphy

Forget suspense and excitement, it's just another 'Bama Signing Day
Related links
The Golden Touch

The early indication that things would be going Miami's way came when one of the country's top uncommitted recruits, Miramar (Fla.) cornerback Tracy Howard, flashed the "U" sign on national television and made, to some, the surprising decision to stay home and play for the Hurricanes. Although Howard's recruitment was a bit difficult to read, it appeared there was only a slim chance that he'd leave the state and most were predicting he was Florida's to lose down the stretch.

Much like Stanford this year, there weren't a whole lot of recruits the program missed out on that they were after hard - a remarkable accomplishment given what's swirling around Coral Gables. The loss of linebacker Reggie Northrup hurts because he could play multiple positions and is easily one of the top linebacker prospects in the state. That he switched to archival Florida State stung a little but that was one of the rare occasions were the Hurricanes were slowed down. This was the largest class in the country and plenty of the recruits should see early playing time with guys like Duke Johnson making an impact from the moment they step on campus. Al Golden had to climb a mountain but did a great job grabbing the guys he did.

Tosh.Ohhh

Not sure any assistant had a greater impact on multiple programs than new Washington coach Tosh Lupoi. California's class imploded, Washington landed the #5 player in the country in Shaq Thompson, UCLA added Jordan Payton and Oregon picked up Arik Armstead due to the uncertainty. One wonders if Lupoi had been hired earlier how much more impact he would have had for the Huskies' class but it's clear he shifted the recruiting trail in the conference in just a few short weeks.

In addition to Washington, USC, Stanford, plenty of other Pac-12 programs landed strong classes in what was a very, very good year for talent West of the Rockies. Oregon managed to flip several recruits, such as wide receiver Chance Allen from Oklahoma State and a terrific pick up in Bralon Addison from Texas A&M (who took a late visit and should fit perfectly in Chip Kelly's system). Though many were skeptical of the hire initially, Jim Mora grabbed a terrific class and fellow newcomers Rich Rodriguez and Mike Leach also had good first efforts. There really wasn't a "bad" class among the bunch and even lowly Colorado landed a top 100 player.

Texas being Texas

The Longhorns finished in a familiar spot right at the top of the class rankings and even though they couldn't push Alabama off the top spot, this has some major players who can play early and often. Malcom Brown is a beast at defensive tackle and Manny Diaz' defensive staff pulled one of the big surprises in taking Torshiro Davis away from LSU. The class has the top running back in the country with record-setter Johnathan Gray and the state's top wide out in Cayleb Jones. Mack Brown also closed very well, grabbing speedy Daje Johnson and linebackers Dalton Santos and Bryce Cottrell in addition to Davis. It will be a young Texas team in 2012 but with this class and the current roster, it will certainly be a talented one.



Category: NCAAF
Tags: Adolphus Washington, Al Golden, Alabama, Andrew Luck, Andrus Peat, Arik Armstead, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Avery Young, BCS, Big Ten, Bob Stoops, Bralon Addison, Brian Kelly, Bryce Cottrell, Cal, California, Cayleb Jones, Chance Allen, Chip Kelly, Chris Casher, Colorado, Cordarrelle Patterson, Daje Johnson, Dalton Santos, Dalvon Stuckey, Dante Fowler Jr., Darius Philon, Darreus Rogers, Dennis Erickson, Deontay Greenberry, Dillon Lee, Dorial Green-Beckham, Duke, Duke Johnson, Eddie Goldman, Edmund Ray, Florida, Florida State, Gary Pinkel, Georgia, Gunner Kiel, Houston, Ifeadi Odenigbo, Jabari Ruffin, Jamie Christian, Jim Mora, John Theus, Johnathan Gray, Jordan Payton, Jordan Simmons, Josh Garnett, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Justin Shanks, Justin Taylor, Keith Marshall, Kentucky, Korren Kirven, Kyle Murphy, Landon Collins, Lane Kiffin, Leonard Williams, LSU, Mack Brown, Malcom Brown, Malin Jones, Manny Diaz, Mario Edwards, Mark Stoops, Matt Lubick, Max Tuerk, Miami, Michael Floyd, Mike Leach, Missouri, NCAA, Nelson Agholor, Nick Saban, Noah Spence, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Oregon, P.J. Williams, Pac-12, Patrick Towles, Randy moss, Reggie Northrup, Reggie Ragland, Rich Rodriguez, Ronald Darby, Se'Von Pittman, SEC, Shaq Thompson, Signing Day Wrap, Stanford, T.J. Yeldon, Tee Shepard, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Thomas Johnson, Todd Gurley, Tommy Schutt, Tony Levine, Torshiro Davis, Tosh Lupoi, Tracy Howard, UCLA, Under Armour All-American Game, Urban Meyer, USC, Vanderbilt, Washington, Zach banner
 
Posted on: February 2, 2012 12:25 am
Edited on: February 2, 2012 12:26 am
 

National Signing Day Winners and Losers: Pac-12

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Breaking down who won and lost in the Pac-12 on National Signing Day.


WINNERS

Stanford's future backfield. We don't want to say anyone could succeed at quarterback or tailback behind a line featuring Andrus Peat, Kyle Murphy, and John Garnett. Dame Helen Mirren would fail, probably. We wouldn't like Bill Nye, the Science Guy's odds. Most 12-year-olds would struggle.

But when we're talking about an offensive line class David Shaw said "could be one of the best in college football historywithout hyperbole, it's hard to rule anyone out. And when it comes to players like potential 2012 quarterback starter Brett Nottingham or new running back signee Barry J. Sanderswe think the chances of success are so sky-high as to be nearly guaranteed. Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck might be gone, but if the results of National Signing Day are any indication, the Cardinal as a program aren't going anywhere.

Players to watch: DT Aziz Shittu, RB Barry J. Sanders, OT Andrus Peat.

The checkbooks of future Pac-12 assistants. The conversions of five-star Shaq Thompson (pictured) and receiver Jordan Payton to Washington from Cal (even if the latter was only temporary) were already evidence enough for the impact of ace recruiter Tosh Lupoi's move from Berkeley to Seattle. The Huskies capping their late surge by stealing away USC commitment Pio Vatuvei and fending off a late challenge from the Trojans for quarterback Cyler Miles was just beating a dead horse, really.

Which is why any coach with bona fide West Coast recruiting connections is likely about to find himself a much hotter commodity than they were before Signing Day began. The Huskies aggressively pursued Topoi, doubled his salary at Cal with their new conference media money, and saw immediate, dramatic dividends. Topoi might have been the first coach to have his wallet fattened overnight by Larry Scott's TV negotiations, but with results like these, he won't be the last.

Washington players to watch: DB Shaq Thompson, ATH Jaydon Mickens, CB Brandon Beaver.

Jim L. MoraTo silence the doubters for good, Mora will have to win on the field as well as the recruiting trail. But there's little doubt that Mora has at least done the latterWith another high-profile Cal exile safely in the fold in Ellis McCarthy, the Bruins spent Signing Day polishing up an already impressive haul with a pair of blue-chip receivers in Payton and Javon Williams--an area of sore need with Nelson Rosario gone.

The Bruin brass appeared to be aiming to hire the next Pete Carroll when they took a chance on Mora, and though there's still a long way to go before the comparison is valid at the collegiate as well as pro level, this class is a heck of a step in that direction.

Players to watch: DT Ellis McCarthyATH Devin FullerDB Ishmael Adams.



LOSERS

Lane Kiffin's pied piper flute. Around mid-afternoon, this was shaping up to be a typical Signing Day for college football's most notorious late-game recruiter; sure, Vatuvei had gon to the Huskies, but Kiffin had also managed to pull both high-upside end Leonard Williams and No. 1 athlete Nelson Agholor (pictured) out of Florida despite each's various Sunshine State suitors. With Miles, Peat, Murphy, and Shittu all considering the Trojans and Murphy's late announcement rumored to be potentially affected by Peat's, another matching set of Signing Day coups appeared within reach.

Instead, the Cardinal swept the big linemen while Miles stuck with the Huskies. Those decisions didn't exactly make the Trojan class a disappointment--far from it, given that it finished 9th in the country while boasting just 16 (uniformly outstanding) recruits. But it does mark the first time that Kiffin wasn't able to simply snap his fingers on Signing Day and come away with a bushel of five-stars; it will be interesting to see if, in 2013, Kiffin doesn't leave things quite so late.

Players to watch: OL Zach Banner, WR Nelson Agholor, OL Jordan Simmons.

Cal. It's not that the Bears' class wasn't solid, maybe even better than solid; Tom Lemming ranked it 15th despite only having 17 signees, and the Bears did an excellent job of filling needs at both offensive line and wide receiver. It's that it was so close to being a game-changing, program-momentum-turning, spectacular class before Lupoi's defection took the air out of the sails. 

Tedford is right that the commitments at the Army All-American game from Thompson, McCarthy, and Payton didn't mean anything on the Bears' bottom line, but it's silly to think they didn't mean the Bears had a clearcut opportunity to sign all three (and others) they couldn't take advantage of. It's debatable, too, when that kind of opportunity will come again for Tedford.

Players to watch: QB Zach Kline, WR Bryce Treggs, OL Freddie Tagoloa  

Oregon State's secondary. Want another example of the impact of position coaches on current Pac-12 recruiting? Look no further than the Beaver defensive backfield, which saw no less than four players decommit after OSU secondary coach Keith Heyward -- like Lupoi -- defected to Washington. (One of them was highly regarded corner Devian Shelton, who did get Kiffined away to USC.) The Beavers recovered to still sign four defensive backs, but when even Mike Riley was admitting there were holes at corner that went unfilled, it's safe to say things didn't go as planned.

Players to watch: OL Isaac Seumalo, TE Caleb Smith, QB Brett VanderVeen  




Maxpreps photos by Gary Jones and Margaret Bowles.
Posted on: February 1, 2012 4:54 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2012 6:28 pm
 

Stanford's continued success to begin up front



Posted by Tom Fornelli


After Jim Harbaugh left Stanford for the San Francisco 49ers following the 2010 season, there were plenty of people openly wondering about how successful the program would be, even with Andrew Luck returning for another season. The Cardinal responded to any doubters by returning to the program's second consecutive BCS bowl.

Now that Andrew Luck will be taking his talents to the NFL, there are even more doubters about what Stanford will be on the football field in the future. While we won't know for sure for another seven months, if National Signing Day is any indication, the Cardinal are going to be just fine.

Stanford put the finishing touches on one of the best recruiting classes in the country on Wednesday, a class that is currently ranked #11 in the CBS Sports National Signing Day Top 25. 

Throughout the day big name recruits like Andrus Peat (pictured above in black), Aziz Shittu, Alex Carter, Kyle Murphy, Noor Davis, and Barry Sanders sent their signatures through a fax machine on their way to Palo Alto. The signatures of football players who should go on to prove that Stanford football is much more than just Andrew Luck or Jim Harbaugh.

The biggest reason this signing class will have such a positive impact on the program is because of the biggest players -- literally -- that were a part of it. The Cardinal signed six of the top offensive lineman in the country in Peat, Murphy, Joshua Garnett, Graham Shuler, Nick Davidson and Brandon Fanaika.

Stanford head coach David Shaw said his offensive line class "could be one of the best in modern football history," and I'm inclined to agree with him.

Matt Hinton of Yahoo's Dr. Saturday blog joked on Twitter Wednesday that Stanford's haul of offensive lineman was so impressive that whoever ends up playing quarterback behind it will have enough time to finish their homework while standing in the pocket. While that may be true, Stanford's identity the last few seasons, the one that has led them to BCS bowl games, has not been that of a passing team. 

No, this is a squad that likes to line up their big men against yours and ram the ball down your throat with a power running game.

A tradition that should continue thanks to this newest class of offensive lineman, plus the running back skills of Barry Sanders. Yes, this Barry Sanders happens to be the son of the running back of the same name who dazzled football fans at both Oklahoma State and in the NFL with the Detroit Lions. So we know of the talent that flows in his blood.

Of course, the Cardinal didn't just pay attention to needs on offense, as it added players like defensive lineman Aziz Shittu, linebacker Noor Davis and defensive back Alex Carter. Three premiere recruits at each level of the defense. The type of defensive playmakers that are needed in a Pac-12 conference that seems ready to explore the very edges of what college offenses are capable of.

So if you were one of the people that were ready for Stanford to fall back to the 2-10 seasons of old and fade from national relevance, it looks like you're going to be waiting a bit longer. 

Photo of Andrus Peat by Marc Estrada

Keep up with all the latest from National Signing Day at CBSSports.com's National Signing Day Central.
Posted on: August 23, 2011 6:50 pm
 

Gunner Kiel week one highlights

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Check out highlights of top-ranked quarterback Gunner Kiel in week one action. The Indiana-bound senior does his best Andrew Luck impression on a couple runs.

Image for MaxPreps Video.
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: August 23, 2011 6:10 pm
 

Ranking the decade's top recruiting classes

Posted by Bryan Fischer

When I saw my colleague Jeff Borzello rank the decade's top basketball recruiting classes, I thought it was such a good idea I decided to steal follow his lead and do the same on the football side.

Little did I know what a tough job it was, first sorting through each class and then deciding where to rank each one. It's much easier on the basketball side from a sheer numbers standpoint too, an issue when you're talking about several thousand more players on the football field versus on the court. It's a fun experiment and a good chance to see just how far recruits from each year panned out however.

There's no set formula for determining where each class ranks, it's too hard to compare one class with a great college player like Tim Tebow with one that has several players who developed into great players later in their careers. So, after looking up and down plenty of recruiting lists, are the decade's top recruiting classes by year. Feel free to disagree and complain in the comments.

1. 2003

Top Players: Reggie Bush, Ernie Sims, Greg Olsen, LaMar Woodley, Chris Leak, Steve Smith, Vernon Davis, Dennis Dixon, Michael Griffin, Sedrick Ellis, JaMarcus Russell, LaRon Landy and Sam Baker among others.

The class of 2003 laid the foundation for four national titles at two different schools (LSU and USC). The headliner looking back is Bush who, though his many records have an * next to them, was among the most electrifying players on the field. Leak and Caldwell led Florida to a national title and Dixon was on his way with Oregon until injuring his knee. LSU also grabbed first-round picks JaMarcus Russell, Dwayne Bowe, Craig Davis and LaRon Landry.

2. 2008

Top Players: Terrelle Pryor, DaQuan Bowers, Blaine Gabbert, Julio Jones, Patrick Peterson, Tyron Smith, Marcus Fortson, A.J. Green, Mark Ingram, Terrence Cody, Michael Floyd, Andrew Luck, Jeff Fuller and Corey Liuget among others.

A loaded class at quarterback and wide receiver, 2008 was one of the deepest classes in recent memory and several players are only now wrapping up their college careers. Pryor was the top player coming out of high school and though some people question how he went out, he was nevertheless 31-4 as a starter. It's hard to argue against one of the top NFL prospects in a long time with Luck and Ingram has a Heisman Trophy and national title to his name. With a  strong push from some seniors this season, this class could move into the top spot.

3. 2006

Top players: Percy Harvin, Andre Smith, Beanie Wells, Brandon Spikes, Gerald McCoy, Tim Tebow, Matthew Stafford, C.J. Spiller, DeMarco Murray, Jake Locker and Knowshon Moreno among others.

This class is littered with first-round draft picks and big-time college stars. Stafford the top pick in the draft and Harvin helped Tebow win two national championships before both left with plenty of records at Florida. This also was one of the more balanced classes with plenty of talent at multiple positions.

4. 2007

Top players: Eric Berry, Noel Devine, Ryan Mallet, Carlos Dunlap, Marvin Austin, Joe Haden, Dez Bryant, Tyrod Taylor, Rolando McClain, Lee Ziemba, Brian Price, Aaron Hernandez, Steven Garcia, Brian Bulaga and Joe McKnight among others.

Call this the class of misfits for their share of off-the-field issues but there's no denying this was a group of talented players. The top two guys, Jimmy Clausen and McKnight, failed to live up to expectations placed on them but still put together solid careers in college. Price, Austin, Dunlap and others are part of a great defensive line and Berry was one of the top safeties in the last several years.

5. 2009

Top players: Rueben Randle, Russell Shepard, Garrett Gilbert, Matt Barkley, Trent Richardson, Christine Michael, Cliff Harris, Devon Kennard, Vontaze Burfict, Shane Skov, Aaron Murrary, Dre Kirkpatrick, Manti Teo and Alshon Jeffrey among others.

This is still a class that's a work in progress but you can recognize several of these names on all-conference and all-America lists. There's some great running backs in Richardson and Michael among others and Murray and Barkley have been good, young signal-callers. Some elite linebackers in 2009 as well in Teo, Burfict and even Skov at Stanford.

6. 2005

Top players: Derrick Williams, Eugene Monroe, Mark Sanchez, Rey Maualuga, Jonathan Stewart, Darren McFadden, DeSean Jackson, Brian Cushing, Jamal Charles, Malcolm Kelly, Michael Oher, Doug Worthington, Ndamukong Suh, Colt McCoy and Mario Maningham among others.

Look up and down the top 100 recruiting lists and there were a lot of busts but this year still produced a lot of talent that had success. USC grabbed Sanchez, Cushing and Maualuga among others and they led the Trojans to the best four year winning percentage out this group of recruits (just six losses). Texas also found the winningest Division I quarterback in McCoy and Nebraska got one of the most dominant defensive linemen in years in Suh.

7. 2002

Top players: Vince Young, Haloti Ngata, Marcus Vick, Winston Justice, Tamba Hali, Tony Ugoh, Leonard Washington, Reggie McNeal, Eric Winston, Aaron Ross, Maurice Clarrett, A.J. Hawk and Troy Smith among others.

Not a deep group but a collection of college stars that proved they could beat top teams by themselves. Young is the big name after leading Texas to BCS Championship and upsetting USC in a magical run to the title. Clarrett, Hawk and Smith won a title early on and helped the Buckeyes to years of dominance in the regular season later on.

8. 2011

Top players: Jadeveon Clowney, Curtis Grant, Cyrus Kouandjio, Karlos Williams, Charone Peake, Malcolm Brown, James Wilder, Tony Steward, Stephon Tuitt, Colt Lyerla, Aaron Lynch, Nick O'Leary, Jeff Driskel, Savon Huggins, Ray Drew, Brett Hundley and Jaxon Shipley among others.

The players from the 2011 group haven't taken a snap in college yet but read the fall camp reports and you can see why they're higher than other classes. It wasn't a great year for quarterbacks but there were a ton of defensive linemen that will have an impact early, topped by one of the most dominant players in the country (and athletic freak) in Clowney. Lyerla and O'Leary will play early at tight end and Shipley should have fans in Austin thinking he's a mirror image of his older brother.

9. 2004

Top players: Adrian Peterson, Ted Ginn, Calvin Johnson, Early Doucet, Keith Rivers, Chad Henne, Fred Davis, Marshawn Lynch, Zach Miller, Dwayne Jarrett, Glen Dorsey and Michael Bumpus among others.

Peterson burst onto the scene as a freshman and established himself as a top tier running back. Johnson is one of the most athletic wide receivers in the game (some would call him a freak of nature) and he developed in a run-based college offense no less. Doucet and Dorsey had fun in the SEC and Henne was a successful quarterback at Michigan.

10. 2010

Top players: Ronald Powell, Seantrel Henderson, Kennan Allen, Robert Woods, DaRick Rodgers, Marcus Lattimore, Jackson Jeffcoat, Michael Dyer, Jake Heaps, Tony Jefferson, Sharrif Floyd and Jake Matthews among others.

Also a work in progress, were not a ton of impact players outside of Lattimore, Dyer, Heaps and Woods. The two players at the top, Powell and Henderson, have loads of talent but will need battle others to stay on the field. There's time for this group to rise up the list but for now, they're at the bottom.
Category: NCAAF
Tags: A.J. Green, A.J. Hawk, Aaron Hernandez, Aaron Lynch, Aaron Murrary, Aaron Ross, Adrian Peterson, Alshon Jeffrey, Andre Smith, Andrew Luck, Beanie Wells, Blaine Gabbert, Brandon Spikes, Brett Hundley, Brian Bulaga, Brian Cushing, Brian Price, C.J. Spiller, Calvin Johnson, Carlos Dunlap, Chad Henne, Charone Peake, Chris Leak, Christine Michael, Cliff Harris, Colt Lyerla, Colt McCoy, Corey Liuget, Craig Davis, Curtis Grant, Cyrus Kouandjio, DaQuan Bowers, DaRick Rodgers, Darren McFadden, DeMarco Murray, Dennis Dixon, Derrick Williams, DeSean Jackson, Devon Kennard, Dez Bryant, Doug Worthington, Dre Kirkpatrick, Dwayne Bowe, Dwayne Jarrett, Early Doucet, Eric Berry, Eric Winston, Ernie Sims, Eugene Monroe, Florida, Fred Davis, Garrett Gilbert, Gerald McCoy, Glen Dorsey, Greg Olsen, Haloti Ngata, Heisman Trophy, Jackson Jeffcoat, Jadeveon Clowney, Jake Heaps, Jake Locker, Jake Matthews, Jamal Charles, JaMarcus Russell, James Wilder, Jaxon Shipley, Jeff Driskel, Jeff Fuller, Jimmy Clausen, Joe Haden, Joe McKnight, Jonathan Stewart, Julio Jones, Karlos Williams, Keith Rivers, Kennan Allen, Knowshon Moreno, LaMar Woodley, LaRon Landy, Lee Ziemba, Leonard Washington, LSU, Malcolm Brown, Malcolm Kelly, Manti Teo, Marcus Fortson, Marcus Lattimore, Marcus Vick, Mario Maningham, Mark Ingram, Mark Sanchez, Marshawn Lynch, Marvin Austin, Matt Barkley, Matthew Stafford, Maurice Clarrett, Michael Bumpus, Michael Dyer, Michael Floyd, Michael Griffin, Michael Oher, Michigan, Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska, Nick O'Leary, Noel Devine, Ohio State, Patrick Peterson, Percy Harvin, Ray Drew, Reggie Bush, Reggie McNeal, Rey Maualuga, Robert Woods, Rolando McClain, Ronald Powell, Rueben Randle, Russell Shepard, Ryan Mallet, Sam Baker, Savon Huggins, Seantrel Henderson, SEC, Sedrick Ellis, Shane Skov, Sharrif Floyd, Stanford, Stephon Tuitt, Steve Smith, Steven Garcia, Tamba Hali, Ted Ginn, Terrelle Pryor, Terrence Cody, Texas, Tim Tebow, Tony Jefferson, Tony Steward, Tony Ugoh, Trent Richardson, Troy Smith, Tyrod Taylor, Tyron Smith, USC, Vernon Davis, Vince Young, Vontaze Burfict, Winston Justice, Zach Miller
 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com