Posted on: February 21, 2012 3:43 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 5:18 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
You can finally close the book on the class of 2012.
The country's lone remaining uncommitted top 100 recruit, Scottsdale (Ariz.) athlete Davonte Neal, ended all of the late drama and committed to Notre Dame after a no-show to a ceremony Tuesday morning.
“Deciding on a college is one of the toughest decisions a young player makes in his life, so we are very pleased with Davonte’s decision to attend Notre Dame,” Brian Kelly said in a school release confirming Neal had faxed in his letter of intent. “Davonte was an electric playmaker in high school and was capable of making the big play any time he had the ball in his hands. He excelled as a receiver, as a running back and as a returner for Coach (Charlie) Ragle at Chaparral High School. I imagine we’ll use him in a similar fashion here.”
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Neal can play either cornerback or slot receiver but will likely wind up taking snaps on the offensive side of the ball at the next level. His recruitment was kept under the radar for most of 2011 before heating up with late official visits and multiple suitors coming in late to make their pitch. In the end, he delayed his decision 20 days after Signing Day to pick Notre Dame over his other finalists Arizona, Arkansas and North Carolina.
Neal was named a MaxPreps first-team All-American as a defensive back while topping the 1,000-yard mark in total offense to go with 35 touchdowns last season as a senior. Many believed he would stay close to home because of numerous ties to Arizona, including the fact that his high school coach, Rangel, was hired by new head coach Rich Rodriguez before Signing Day and several of his teammates are committed to the program.
Bottom line however, the Irish are getting a great player who is ranked as the number four wingback and 67th overall player in the country.
"He is a receiver who must be double-teamed at all times," analyst Tom Lemming said of Neal. "He comes off the ball quickly with speed and strength, gets in and out of his cuts quickly, catches the ball, and then turns up field in a flash. He always takes what the defense gives him, can catch the ball at its highest points, and once he has secured the ball that's when the fun starts. He can out run almost every back he goes up against and shows excellent open field moves."
Neal's pledge gives Notre Dame 17 commitments for the class of 2012.
Posted on: February 21, 2012 2:29 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 7:30 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
I have the tab still open, ready to go at a moment's notice, with a commitment story about Scottsdale (Ariz.) athlete Davonte Neal. I don't know when I'm going to be able to post it or what school will ultimately follow "committed to" in the opening paragraph, but it's there.
In case you haven't heard, the Scottsdale Chaparral receiver/defensive back left plenty of people confused and, in an apt metaphor for the situation, standing at the altar Tuesday morning. He was supposed to announce his commitment on FoxSportsArizona.com in front of thousands on the Internet and a couple of hundred elementary kids in his hometown. He didn't show up but instead showed us a little bit about the drama of the modern day recruiting process. The way things are going, you half expect TNT to sign him up to commit on their air tomorrow.
Neal has waited 20 days after Signing Day because he wanted to take his time, make the right decision for himself and his family and commit to a school he truly wants to be at. At the heart of the issue, according to reports and sources, is the head-strong Neal clashing with his equally head-strong father over where exactly he'll be signing papers to play at. Most say the recruit wants to go to Arizona to play close to home and fit in Rich Rodriguez' spread offense while his dad Luke has pushed for Notre Dame. Arkansas and North Carolina are also considered finalists, followed by Stanford and Ohio State.
And for all that has surrounded Neal's recruitment, this will all come down to a decision by a talented young athlete. It will be made, people will move on and we'll see how he does this fall and for the next four years.
People follow recruiting not because they are really interested in the player but because the impact they can have on programs - especially their own. Recruitniks see the circus surrounding Neal and shrug their shoulders, filing the story away as just another one in the long list of unexpected twists that happen year after year. Columnists and beat writers, who check in a few times a year to write about recruiting, wave their fists. Fans get upset, angry and a select few might raise an eyebrow but couldn't give a damn. Hopefully they'll all learn that this is recruiting and it's not abnormal but very much part of the norm nowadays.
We've seen recruits delay their decision after Signing Day before. We've seen hat dances and live animal acts. Clothes have been ripped off and players rushed to a nearby car after making a crowd angry with their decision. Some kids see it as a game and enjoy their 15 minutes of fame and they're going to use every last second of it. They're wanted as recruits, they're just a number - with some expectations attached of course - when they step on campus. Nobody is at fault except those that care far too much about the whims of a teenager.
The ground the game is played on is still shifting. Major media companies are making investments in recruiting coverage which means more players and storylines in the spotlight. Twitter and Facebook has changed what information gets passed around and how quickly it gets from 1 to 100 to 1,000. It's fun, it's exciting, it's trying and above all interesting. Heck, coaches are offering athletes on Twitter and not-so-smartly tweeting out their cell phone numbers as well. Shaq Thompson enjoyed toying with fans during the Army All-American Bowl and extended the drama when he had the opportunity to assess things differently after top recruiter Tosh Lupoi went from Cal to Washington.
It's a bold new era and like it or not we're all just going to have to roll with the punches.
Neal is a talented player and many think he can be a dynamic scorer on offense in college or a very good corner on defense. He is smart, nice and a competitor with a drive to be a great player. Across the country last summer, Neal showed up for camps and only wanted to go against the best in order to prove he was the best. No matter what happens, that will serve him well as a player and young man.
Don't place blame for the saga on Neal, he will eventually do what he has to do. What he did Tuesday will be part of his story but it doesn't have to define him. We'll see where he winds up committing to soon and figure out what it means then. For now we'll just wait.
The elementary students at Neal's no-show were no doubt happy to miss class this morning. Based on the looks on their faces, they were probably more disappointed in having to go back to class than not seeing a football player make a decision.
They did end up learning a lesson, as did everybody watching - recruiting means turns when you're expecting twists and drama when you least expect it. Don't fret, just nod, at least it's not you on the other side of the lens.
Update: Neal committed to Notre Dame
Photo by Chris Pondy
Posted on: February 20, 2012 5:12 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 5:39 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Starting a new feature on the blog as the recruiting season picks up and spring ball starts across the country: The Monday Mailbag. My colleague Bruce Feldman runs a similar feature on Friday that is a must-read but there are plenty of questions out there that need answering and, well, I'm here to answer them since college football is very much a 24/7/365 sport nowadays. So without further ado, let the smorgasbord of questions commence.
Great start to the mailbag because it's a chance to bring up Dennis Dodd and Brett McMurphy's early top 25 ballots. I'm sure there's some griping from plenty of fans about how both have the order but I pretty much see eye-to-eye on most of the picks. To answer the question, I see a few teams that are a tad over-hyped going into next year, starting with Oklahoma, especially at number three overall. Are they top-10 worthy? Absolutely with 15 starters coming back and quarterback Landry Jones among them. But the way they struggled down the stretch last season was worrisome, especially with the injuries to Dominique Whaley and Ryan Broyles and how the offense just wasn't the same. I'm guessing the coaching staff will put more emphasis on spreading the ball around and hope for a boost in the run game with all of the tailbacks healthy to provide more consistency. Don't discount the loss of defensive coordinator Brent Venables either, the guys were not around for when Mike Stoops was and he didn't recruit them so it will take a little time to develop some chemistry. With plenty of time to study it, I don't think the 'Belldozer' package will be as effective as it was in 2011 unless there's more passing to keep defenses honest.
One other factor that should be noted is it'll be a tough Big 12 this year with newcomers TCU and West Virginia both having good teams on top of rival Texas taking what should be a step forward this year. It's possible the Sooners have a better team than last year but doesn't mean they'll be able to take advantage. I also expect several of the incoming recruits to see extended playing time, especially among the tight ends and receivers (I'd guess Taylor McNamara and Durron Neal for sure) Stoops signed.
A few others that are a tad over-hyped: Wisconsin, Florida, Oklahoma State and Notre Dame. Under appreciated? You're looking at TCU, Kansas State, Nebraska and South Carolina.
Great timing for this question considering what the Aggies did on the recruiting trail over the weekend. Seven commitments is an impressive number and pushes the program to a nation's best 13 total commitments for the class of 2013. After already grabbing a top 15 class with the group they just signed, Kevin Sumlin and his staff have certainly hit the ground running. It helps tremendously that several of the coaches came over from Houston and had already been evaluating some of these recruits and developed a prior relationship. One of the things that I got when talking with Sumlin last month was that he certainly would make it a point to sell the fact that A&M was the only SEC program in the state. While Texas will almost always have the pick of the litter when it comes to in-state guys, you can tell recruits going forward will give a longer look at playing in College Station because of that. With the 2013 class, they have two excellent offensive linemen who are two of the top five or ten guys along the line in the state and they have a handful of speedy playmakers on both sides of the ball committed as well. Bottom line is that the program has jumped out to a big start and probably should be able to hold on and better what they did on Signing Day in 2012.
Darrell, surely you know by now not to go against the great Les Miles. The Mad Hatter had a great team last year that went through a lot off the field that some people forget. I think the national title game helped, in some respects, prepare this team for 2012 because it tempered expectations a little and also gave them a reason for the team to think, 'it's us vs. them,' in some respect.
I'm like most writers and have LSU #1 based on what they return and disagree that they lose "key" players so that prohibits them from taking the top spot in the preseason. It could be, for example, a positive that the rotation of Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson is over and the Tigers stick with talented transfer Zach Mettenberger, who many expect to grab hold of the job this spring.
LSU returns only five starters on defense but they rotated so many players in last season that I don't think it will be an issue for them as younger players like Anthony Johnson get more snaps. Incoming freshmen like Avery Johnson - Patrick Peterson's younger brother mind you - should be able to contribute early on special teams and offense to complement the strong run game the team should have. The national championship game really colored a lot of people's opinion of LSU the wrong way and it's sometimes good to remember that there's a lot of talent on this squad.
Neal is referring to Scottsdale (Ariz.) athlete Davonte Neal, who will be committing to a school Tuesday morning. His recruitment has been an interesting one, not only waiting nearly a month after Signing Day to pick but because of all the twists and turns he's taken. First off, he's a dynamic playmaker who is built to be a slot guy in a spread offense and get the ball in space. He's also a solid cornerback and should play early on special teams no matter what - there's a reason he's a top 100 player in the class of 2012.
Neal is quiet and it was like pulling teeth for a while to get him to mention a school he had interest in before his senior season ended. He's taken a lot of recent official visits and most have him picking between Notre Dame, Arizona and Arkansas tomorrow. I've heard good things about Notre Dame in this case but I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up staying close to home and picking Arizona either. His high school head coach was recently hired there and family is very important to Neal so there are definite draws for the Wildcats. Old CBS Sports pal Rich Rodriguez no doubt told the 5-foot-9, 170-pounder how well he'd fit in the offense down in Tuscon too. I'll stick with a cautious prediction of Neal going to South Bend but I would be surprised for him to state in-state either.
That will wrap things up for the first Monday Mailbag, plenty of others to come in the weeks and months ahead. Tweet your questions to me at @BryanDFischer on Twitter and I'll try and answer as many as I can.
Tags: Anthony Johnson, Arizona, Arkansas, Avery Johnson, Big 12, Brent Venables, Brett McMurphy, Bruce Feldman, Bryan Fischer, Davonte Neal, Dennis Dodd, Dominique Whaley, Durron Neal, Florida, Houston, Jarrett Lee, Jordan Jefferson, Kansas State, Kevin Sumlin, Landry Jones, Les Miles, LSU, Mike Stoops, Monday Mailbag, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Patrick Peterson, Rich Rodriguez, Ryan Broyles, SEC, South Carolina, Taylor McNamara, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Zach Mettenberger
Posted on: February 2, 2012 10:53 am
Edited on: February 2, 2012 11:17 am
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: January 26, 2012 12:58 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 1:11 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
National Signing Day is almost here and recruits across the country are gearing up for plenty of last-minute pitches and school visits as head coaches look to shape their program for years to come. There was some head coaching turnover in the Pac-12 and a few interesting moves in terms of assistants which makes 2012 a very interesting year in the conference. Combined with the fact that this is the best year in a while for talent on the West Coast and there some buzz about what is going on in the Pac-12.
1. What's the fall out from Tosh Lupoi leaving for Washington?
The departure of Lupoi, Cal's best recruiter, might end up a seismic shift in the Pac-12 recruiting landscape. He was responsible for getting the Golden Bears into the top 10 in the team rankings and was on the verge of landing another five-star defender to give him an impressive three on defense. Instead plenty of Cal recruits and commitments have decided to take late official visits and only a handful can be considered solid verbal pledges. Lupoi might not be able to have a huge impact on the Huskies class but they're in the running for a few top players late in the process. Needless to say, this is a big move and one that might have a huge impact in 2012 and beyond.
2. How high does Oregon go?
The near departure of head coach Chip Kelly threw many recruits for a loop but it looks like, despite some negative recruiting by other schools, the current class will remain intact with the Ducks also in the running for some elite five-star guys on the West Coast come Signing Day. Oregon currently sits just outside the top 20 but if they land one or two of the guys that are left on their board, it's very possible to find them in the top 15 with one of the most talented classes headed to Eugene in a long time.
3. Roster management in Los Angeles
It's a good thing both head coaches in Los Angeles have NFL experience because they're going to have to do some good ol' fashioned roster management - something that does happen outside of the SEC - albeit for different reasons. Lane Kiffin and USC are finally starting to feel the effects of sanctions and have to be careful to not only sign 15 or fewer recruits on Signing Day but come in under the NCAA-imposed limit of 75 scholarship players by the fall. The Trojans are in the running for some top talent and, with early enrollees, will actually bring in more than 15 players so it will be interesting to see what the team looks like going forward. Across town, this was expected to be a small UCLA class of 17 or so recruits but the Bruins currently have 25 commits. There are some creative things Jim Mora can do so it will be interesting to see who winds up on the roster come the fall.
4. Which new coach winds up with the best class?
The massive coaching turnover in the Pac-12 has made things interesting among the conference's middle class. Rich Rodriguez had an early head start but it took awhile to get his full staff on board and that might have cost him some. Todd Graham has to deal with a lot of negative recruiting thanks to the way he left Pitt but has managed to do better than tread water and could land one of the state's top players. Meanwhile, Mike Leach has done a remarkable job of remaking the Wazzu class to fit his offense and aggressively get players who might have been overlooked by others but are simply players when it counts on the field. Finally, Jim Mora has done a great job getting some elite talent to get excited about UCLA. Should be an interesting finish.
Most impressive class: California
Most underrated class: Oregon State
Work left to do: Arizona
Assistant recruiters of note:
Robert Anae, Tony Gibson and Calvin Magee, Arizona
Mike Norvell, Arizona State
Marcus Arroyo, Ron Gould and Todd Howard, California
Eric Bieniemy, Darian Hagan and Bobby Kennedy, Colorado
Jerry Azzinaro, Gary Campbell, Mark Helfrich and John Neal, Oregon
Mark Banker, Brent Brennan, Mike Cavanaugh and Danny Langsdorf, Oregon State
Lance Anderson, Pep Hamilton and Mike Sanford Jr., Stanford
Adrian Klemm, Demetrice Martin, Noel Mazzone and Angus McClure, UCLA
James Cregg, Clay Helton, Kennedy Pola and Ed Orgeron, USC
Brian Johnson, Morgan Scalley and Kalani Sitake, Utah
Eric Kiesau, Tosh Lupoi, Johnny Nansen and Peter Sirmon, Washington
Mike Breske, Jeff Choate and Jim Mastro, Washington State
Head coach under pressure: Jeff Tedford, California
Top Pac-12 class prediction: California
Top Pac-12 signee: Shaq Thompson
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Posted on: January 25, 2012 12:46 am
Edited on: January 25, 2012 12:48 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Rich Rodriguez has always been a coach who has recruited nationally and he's bringing the same philosophy to his new job at Arizona. After picking up a commitment from Florida on Monday, he added another out-of-state player on Tuesday in San Antonio (Texas) defensive back Leo Thomas.
“The visit was really nice out there,” Thomas told WildcatAuthority.com. “I liked everything about Arizona. When I first got there, the campus was beautiful and the coaching staff from Rodriguez to (Tony) Gibson told me how much I would like it there and it was a good environment.”
The 6-foot-3, 175-pound safety was recruited by Mike Stoops and had committed to the previous staff but opened things up and held offers from schools such as Colorado, Illinois and Utah. A recent official visit over the weekend was chance to see Tuscon and get to know the program better, all that was needed to make Thomas feel comfortable enough to pull the trigger and commit.
“I just wanted to go back home and talk it over with my family,” he said. “When I got on the campus I closed my eyes and then opened them and everything just stood out to me and I felt like I fit. I can come right in and play. I just have to do what I do and keep working hard.”
Thomas gives Arizona 17 commitments for the class of 2012 and is the second from San Antonio.
Posted on: January 24, 2012 1:01 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Orlando (Florida) wide receiver Trey Griffey knows most people will take one glance at his name and recognize his famous father. Of course, while Ken Griffey Jr. accomplished plenty in a hall of fame-caliber baseball career, the younger Griffey is looking to blaze his own trail in a different sport and took the next step in doing so by committing to Arizona late Monday night.
“My parents said, ‘It’s up to you, you got to do what you want to do ... what you feel is right,'” Griffey told the Orlando Sentinel. “I’m going to the University of Arizona. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound receiver recently competed with some of the best players in the country at the Under Armour All-American Game and held a double-digit number of scholarship offers from programs across the country. Griffey has very good hands and is a savvy route runner with excellent ball control skills who caught passes most of his senior season from Boise State-bound quarterback Nick Patti. The talented pass catcher settled on new coach Rich Rodriguez and the Wildcats after taking an official visit to Tuscon over the weekend.
“I feel great … it was basically just the atmosphere and I loved everything about it,” Griffey told the paper. “It was just a great, enjoyable trip to Tucson.”
Griffey's commitment gave Arizona the program's 16th for the class of 2012, and third wide receiver, with National Signing Day just over a week away. He racked up almost 900 yards and 11 touchdowns receiving in addition to playing safety and returning kicks this past year.
Posted on: January 16, 2012 5:27 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Although he's had a little bit of a head start, Rich Rodriguez hasn't been able to get a ton of traction in his first experience on the West Coast recruiting trail. That changed this week as Arizona picked up the first two commitments under the new head coach's tenure in Temecula (Calif.) linebacker C.J. Dozier and Prosper (Texas) quarterback Javelle Allen.
“I came out for a visit and everybody was really nice and cool,” Allen told Scout. “I decided I wanted to come to Arizona and I made the commitment. I’m happy to be a Wildcat.”
Dozier is a former Arizona State pledge and decommitted after Dennis Erickson was fired and though he is still headed to the state, it will be to Tuscon instead of Tempe. He joins the 6-foot Allen, who should fit in nicely in Rodriguez' offense.
“I feel like Coach Rodriguez could develop me as a dual-threat quarterback,” he adds. “He coached Denard Robinson and Pat White, guys of that nature, so I felt comfortable.”
With about two and a half weeks left until Signing Day, the pair of commitments gives Arizona 14 with plenty of work left to do.