Parity exists in recruiting battles, tooPosted: Tuesday January 28, 2003 4:28 PM
Updated: Wednesday January 29, 2003 1:41 PM
When it comes to college football recruiting, there is a lot of parity. We have seen it on the football field. How else do you explain Louisville beating Florida State, Bowling Green beating Missouri and Kansas, and Miami of Ohio beating North Carolina?
In todayís game, schools only have only 85 scholarships to give, meaning all the big-name players canít all go to the big-name schools. That's why teams in Conference USA, the MAC and others sign some top prospects, and it translates to the football field. And we have seen the parity.
That said, the top six conferences continue to take in the best recruits, but it is much closer top-to-bottom than most people think.
Which is the best recruiting conference? That debate wonít be settled until Signing Day, but it appears the Big 12 and SEC will once again emerge at the top. The ACC has been the big surprise this season and USC has run away with the Pac-10. Miami has dominated the Big East scene, while Notre Dame, Ohio State and Michigan are the kings in the Midwest and Big Ten.
With just eight days left before Signing Day, Oklahoma has the best class in the land, but there are quite a few teams closing the gap. The Sooners have held the No. 1 spot for weeks. Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops and staff will bring in such headliners as safety Tony Cade, offensive lineman Akim Millington, quarterback Tommy Grady, linebacker Demario Pleasant, defensive tackle
Texas and Texas A&M are right there as well. Mack Brown has shown that he can recruit with the best. Cornerback Tarell Brown, linebacker Robert Killebrew, running back Erik Hardeman, and wide receivers Limas Sweed and Tyrell Gatewood highlight another stellar group headed to Austin.
Texas A&M went through a coaching transition, but the Aggies won't miss a beat in recruiting. Former head coach R.C. Slocum already had committed a strong group of prospects. New coach Dennis Franchoine has kept most of those kids and added a few big-name players of his own, like teammates Jorrie Adams and Joseph Bryant. Like the Sooners, expect the Longhorns and Aggies to get their share of blue-chippers at the end.
Colorado, Texas Tech and Nebraska are also bringing in good groups and should find themselves in the Top 25 at the end. Oklahoma State, Missouri and Iowa State will also sign solid classes from top to bottom.
In the South, LSU and Georgia dominated early with Florida and Tennessee really coming on of late, while Auburn, South Carolina and others have been consistent from the start. The Tigers in Baton Rouge currently have the top class in the SEC. Nick Saban will once again bring in a great group led by quarterbacks Robert Lane and Matthew Flynn, running backs Alley Broussard and Barrington Edwards, wide receiver Anthony Hill, offensive linemen Jerry Sevin and Will Arnold, defensive backs Nick Child, Jonathan Zenon, and Jesse Daniel, and defensive linemen Tim Washington and Sean Merrill.
Coming off an SEC title, Georgia has completely dominated the Peach State. All but two of their commitments are from Georgia. Running back Kregg Lumpkin, wide receiver Sean Bailey, offensive linemen Trey Chandler and Zeb McKinzey, linebackers Marcus Howard, Des Williams and Danny Verdun, and cornerback Paul Oliver lead a great group of athletes headed to Athens, Ga.
Chris Leak gave the Gators a big boost with his commitment in early January to Florida. Since then, blue-chippers Earl Everett, Demetrice Webb, Chad Jackson, and Reynaldo Hill have all committed to Ron Zook and the Gators will likely close stronger than any team in the conference and maybe the country.
Everyone has been asking, "Whatís going on in Knoxville?" Well, the Volunteers are starting to crank things up a bit. This may not be their typical top-10 class, but Tennessee will finish strong. Just in the last week, the Vols have landed two All-Americans in linebacker Daniel Brooks and offensive lineman Eric Young.
Speaking of Young, many thought he was headed to South Carolina. Well, it looks like Lou Holtz lost this one but he and his staff have put together a very good group as Signing Day approaches. The Gamecocks have landed some super junior college players and if they close with some in-state stars like they should, this will be a top-15 class.
Staying in the SEC, Auburn and Arkansas are doing very well once again and rivals Ole Miss and Mississippi State are starting to really pick it up. Vanderbilt is putting together their best recruiting class in years and Kentucky has a chance to make a splash over the next seven days.
Without question, the surprise conference in America is the ACC. It was always thought of as FSU and then everyone else when it came to recruiting. You canít say that anymore. Maryland, N.C. State, North Carolina, and Virginia will all have top-25 classes when it is all said and done next week.
UNC has had a great month of January so far, with many big-name verbals like linebacker Fred Sparkman and Donnell Livington. Defensive end Mario Williams and offensive tackle Derek Morris lead a super group to N.C. State as the Wolfpack did well in-state, up north and in Florida. Al Groh and the Cavaliers will put together their second straight great class lead by offensive linemen Jordy Lipsey and Ian-Yates Cunningham, cornerback Phillip Brown, tight end Jonathan Stupar, and quarterback Kevin McCabe. Maryland has won 21 games in two seasons and head coach Ralph Friedgen just landed a huge in-state verbal from one of the nationís top defensive prospects in Wesley Jefferson.
FSU is not even in TheInsiders.com Top 25, but that will change quickly. Look for the Seminoles to make a quantum leap up the rankings and finish somewhere in the Top 10. There are many possibilities for Florida State, and look for Bobby Bowden and company to close with a big bang once again.
Jim Grobe and Wake Forest are also surprising some folks on the recruiting front. Running back Micah Andrews, wide receiver Kenny Moore, quarterback Ben Mauck and linebacker Jon Abbate will all be Deamon Decons.
If you throw Notre Dame into the Big Ten, then the Irish, Buckeyes and Wolverines will be battling for the top spot in the Midwest. Notre Dame is a team that should always recruit well, and now that Tyrone Willingham is running the show, that is exactly what we will see when it comes to footballís second season. The Irish are putting together a great group from top to bottom and should have a fantastic finish.
Ohio State just won the national championship, and it should dominate in-state recruiting. Cornerback Donte Whitner and Dareus Hiley, and defensive tackles David Patterson, Brandon Maupin and Sian Cotton are all All-America types that are all headed to Columbus. Factor in tight end Louis Irizarry and defensive end Stanley McClover, who both have re-committed to Ohio State, and you have the makings of a potential Top-10 class. The one player they wanted badly was in-state star Prescott Burgess, who committed to rival Michigan.
Speaking of Michigan, the Wolverines, like the Buckeyes, have cleaned up. Michigan just went about it a little differently, signing players from in and out of state. Offensive tackle Jake Long, linebacker Jim Pressley and safety Ryan Mundy are in-state stars headed to Ann Arbor, while cornerback Leon Hall, tight end/ defensive end Will Paul, running back Anton Campbell, quarterbacks Sam Keller and Clayton Richard are some out-of-state blue-chippers that will wear the maize and blue.
The one thing Ohio State and Michigan have in common is a lack of avaliable scholarships -- if both schools had a full boat of scholarships, their current rankings would be even higher.
Illinois, Purdue, Iowa, Northwestern and Wisconsin are all putting together solid groups as well, and Penn State and Michigan State have a lot of openings they are still trying to fill.
Out West, Southern Cal is putting together the best Pac-10 class in roughly a decade. Defensive end Lawrence Jackson, running backs Reggie Bush, Lendale White and Chauncey Washington, offensive linemen Sam Baker and Drew Radovich, defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis and tight end/defensive end Chris Barrett are the Trojan headliners in a star-studded class.
Cal has been the big surprise in the Pac-10, and it finds itself ranked No. 2 in the conference with a week to go. Another surprise is Arizona State, as the Sun Devils are doing very well, especially defensively. Washington is just about finished and it remains to be seen how Washington State will close. Oregon, Oregon State, Arizona and Stanford are all doing fairly well. The big question is UCLA. The prospects love the new coaching staff, and it appears the Bruins could surprise some folks in the next week.
In the Big East, to say Miami has simply dominated the recruiting scene is an understatement. Once again, head coach Larry Coker could finish with the nation's top recruiting class. Already headed to Coral Gables are these All-Americans -- quarterback Kyle Wright, defensive tackle Nate Robinson, and running back Tyrone Moss. In addition, big-time blue-chippers Eric Moncur, Vegas Franklin, Tavares Gooden, Craig Davis, Daryl Johnson, Andrew Bain, Kevin Williams, Cyrim Wimbs, Clifton Dickson and Leo Waiters have all pledged to the Hurricanes. Miami is not done yet and should close with even more blue-chip prospects.
Three teams trying to keep pace with the 'Canes are Boston College, Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech. The Hokies have the highest rated group among those three, with the Panthers and Eagles nearby. West Virginia is also doing fairly well.
There will be a ton of commits between now and Signing Day. Who will close strong? The big three in Florida still have a lot of numbers and some great kids on the board, and they will all get their share. Look for Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, LSU, USC and possibly UCLA to also make a very strong showing, with more new commitments leading up to Signing Day.
The SEC and Big 12 will argue over what conference did better. Team-wise, when itís all said and done, Miami could once again claim the No. 1 ranking in the recruiting wars. Stay tuned because there is a long week ahead.
RB Drew commits to UCLA
Maurice Drew, a 5-foot-9, 190-pound running back from Concord (Calif.) De La Salle, said he'll become a Bruin.
ďI just came home a few minutes ago and called UCLA and told them I was committing," Drew told BruinReportOnline. "Today, when I left from my visit, I told them I was really considering it seriously, and then when I came home I called [running backs] coach [Eric] Bieniemy and [head] coach [Karl] Dorrell and told them I wanted to be a Bruin."
He said he had a great trip, but it was more of a feeling that made him know he wanted to go to UCLA. "Everyone says that you have to get that feeling, that you know in your heart. I knew it in my heart. It just hit me. I knew I had to go there."
The new coaching staff, Drew said, were huge influences. "Coach Bieniemy, coach Embree and coach Dorrell were all big factors in my decision. I feel really comfortable with them, like that's where I belong. When they got to UCLA, it made a big change in my mind. Coach Bieniemy, he was a great running back in college, and I want to be like him. And I really think he can help me the best."
Drew said that UCLA as a school, too, was a good fit for him.
"When I got there, everything was just great," he said. "There's so much to do. I met so many people. There's also so much diversity there. And it's in a great area. And it's a great education. You couldn't want anything else in a school."
Tyler Ebell and Manuel White hosted Drew and he said the two current Bruin running backs were great hosts.
"I got along with them great," he said. "You can tell that there's a lot of respect between them. And they told me, along with the coaches, that I'll be able to come in and compete. Wherever you go you're going to have to compete. But coaches told me that the best man plays. That's all I want, is a fair chance."
When it comes to his buddies from the CaliFlorida game, Drew said he didn't do much recruiting of them on the visit.
"I didn't talk to them too much about it," he said. "But Kevin Brown and Junior Lemau'u, they'll make their own decisions. I've talked to Kevin a bit, and he was going to decide later on this week. And junior said later on this week, too. I think we have a really good chance with them. Then I want to start recruiting the juniors at De La Salle."
Drew said not only does it feel good to get the decision over with, but that it was a decision he was sure about.
"I just wanted to know in my heart, and that's what I knew," he said. "I feel really good about it, and there's no chance I could change my mind."
-- Greg Biggins, PacWestFootball.com
Miami lands big-time wide receiver
The University of Miami had a huge recruiting weekend by hosting several top recruits. One of them, top wide receiver Craig Davis, committed to UM.
"I told the coaches I was ready to commit on the spot," Davis said. "Miami just had everything for me. Miami's the spot."
Davis, who checks in at 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, said he enjoyed everything about the visit.
"I really liked the campus and the surroundings," he said. "It's a small school and it's really nice around there. Just hanging out with the players and being around them, it seems like they have a lot of fun and they really enjoy being there. Me and Darryl [Johnson] just thought it was the right time to make commitments so that's what we told the coaches."
The standout receiver has some UM connections. Reggie Wayne's father is the athletic director at his high school. Davis said he hopes to follow in Wayne's footsteps.
"Reggie went in there and started making plays right away," Davis said. "I know Miami lost their top two guys from last year, so I can hopefully go in and do the same things. I know I'm going to work real hard to make sure I have a chance."
Davis said he got a chance to hang out with several players and other recruits during the visit.
"I was chilliní with Brandon Meriweather, Quadtrine Hill, Jonathan Vilma, and D.J. Williams," he said. "They all love it at Miami and said I would too. Me and Darryl are really looking forward to it."
-- Mike Bakas, TheInsiders.com
Top OL returns from Florida State
David Overmyer has been struggling with three teams for the past several months. Now that he has visited all three, it seems as if he is not any closer to a decision.
"My visit to Florida State went very well," Overmyer said. "I really liked the coaching staff, and Bowden is a winning coach, and I want to go to a winning school. Right now though, Florida State, Clemson, and South Carolina are all still about even."
It's getting down to crunch time for Overmyer, and one of the schools will be getting an outstanding true offensive tackle prospect.
-- Scott Kennedy, BorderWars.com
Will RB Young stick with Iowa?
Running back Albert Young took an official visit to Boston College this weekend, despite making a commitment to Iowa last week.
"It went nice," Young said. "It's alright there. But as much as I liked it, I'm definitely going to Iowa. It's a solid commitment."
Young said he's now finished with his visits.
"I'm done with them," he said. "Iowa's where I'm going. I'm excited about the opportunity there."
-- Mike Bakas, TheInsiders.com
Florida CBís decision comes Sunday
Kenny Scott will make his decision next Sunday at his football banquet. The senior cornerback from Daytona Beach (Fla.) Seabreeze High School says he has narrowed things down after his offical visit to Florida this weekend.
"I got it down to Tennessee, Georgia Tech and Florida," Scott said. "The main thing I wanted to see at Florida was how I got along with the players away from the field. I wanted to hang out with them and see what that was like. They are all good people and it is a good atmosphere there. I talked with coach [Charlie] Strong once again and he seems like a great guy. Right now, I am laying down and resting trying to figure this thing out."
Stay tuned as his football banquet is next Sunday evening.
-- Jamie Newberg, TheInsiders.com
Patrick now headed to Lincoln
Chris Patrick thought he was set for the Big Ten after originally committing to Wisconsin, and then switching to Purdue. However, Patrick recently switched again, and now he's headed to the Big 12.
"I committed to Nebraska this past Wednesday," Patrick said. "I took a visit there last weekend, and I loved the weight room and academic facilities. The weight room was just awesome. You could see how good they are developing players strength and speed wise."
Was Nebraska's involvement a more recent occurrence?
"Nebraska had been calling me all fall, and requesting an official visit. I finally took one last weekend, and coach [Frank] Solich left a lasting impression on both my parents and me. I felt it was the place for me to go."
-- Josh Clark, HeartlandRecruiting.com