Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ohio State Pulls Torrence's Offer

Do everything athlete from Massillon, OH Devoe Torrence has been committed to the Ohio State Buckeyes for quite a while now. Apparently, Jim Tressell and Co. have decided to pull his scholarship offer. There has been some growing concern about Torrence's off-the-field issues. Namely his grades.

Most schools would kill for a chance at a kid like Torrence but the Buckeyes have a top-10 recruiting class and, I guess, have the luxury of being able to basically cut him.

Torrence is ranked No. 57 in the Athlon Consensuc 100.

Torrence played running back, wide receiver and linebacker in high school, so needless to say he is a versatile prospect. He is even being recruited as a tight end by some schools. He is most ready to play the running back position, though. He is a bigger back who runs with great physicality that makes him difficult to tackle in one-on-one situations. He runs downhill and rarely loses yards. His power, strength and size will keep him durable on the next level. The most noticeable weakness on film is his ball-carrying technique. He will have to learn to tuck the ball better is he expects to play running back in the Big Ten.

At linebacker, he shows excellent physical tools and solid tackling ability. His reaction time is slow and his diagnostic skills seem to be lacking. When he does find the right lane, though, he attacks it well and generally gets the job done. In the open field, he can play too upright at times. Coverage skills will be a huge question mark.

He is just another athlete in Columbus but will be a major player for any of the smaller programs chasing his talents. Torrence's finalists prior to committing to OSU were:

Akron, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Michigan, Michigan State and Cincinnati

If I am Brian Kelly and the Bearcats I go after Torrence with full force and I make sure he gets into school. He could really give a boost to a mediocre Cincy class.

Photo by Athlon Sports

Athlon Sports National Recruiting Blitz

This week's edition of the Athlon Sports National Recruiting Blitz is listed up on the site on the Athlon Sports Podcasts page.

Or you can click here to listen:

AS National Recruiting Blitz

Mitch and I break down the top-20 prospects in the Athlon Consensus 100.

The Gators are the hottest team in the nation and are pushing for the No. 1 spot.
David Cutcliffe and Duke got their QB of the future.
Can Texas Tech salvages their class.
Clemson is closing strong.
Houston Nutt and Ole Miss is looking in familiar places for talent.
USC is still waiting on some really talented kids.

We also break down all the coverage Athlon will be providing during Signing Day Week 2008. Included is a LIVE CHAT AT from 1-2 pm ET on Signing Day.

All this and more on the Athlon Sports National Recruiting Blitz.

Don't forget about Athlon's free recruiting forum. Sign up is free and I am there everyday talking recruiting.

Athlon Sports Recruiting Message Board

Florida Gators Make Push for No. 1

The last month has been quite a successful month for Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators. Despite rumors of some scandalous activity, Meyer contniues to rack up big names on the recruiting trail.

Some issues surrounding No. 1 ranked JUCO wide reciever Carl Moore and his girlfriend as well as Patrick Johnson's ACT test scores have not made Meyer any friends of late. Stealing Omar Hunter from Notre Dame and Ramon Buchanan and Matt Patchan (yes, technically Patchan was never committed to the U) from Miami certainly did not add to his loveable nature.

Let's keep in mind, Urban Meyer does not get paid to put smiles on people's faces. He gets paid to win football games. Monday, he added another really nice prospect to his roster. Hoover, AL defensive end William Green announced his intentions to sign with Florida next Wednesday.

Green is a really nice pick-up for the surging Florida Gators.

The 6-4, 220-pound Spain Park High product is another one of the hybrid defensive end/linebacker prospects. Some scouts see him as a linebacker, but Green is likely to be playing along the line in college. Although Green will have to add significant weight to play a pure defensive end position, he does show flashes of physicality. One thing is for sure: Green will not give up on the play. He has a wonderful motor chasing and pursuing the ball-carrier until the whistle every time.

Although the size is not there, the power and strength seem to be present. His hand technique and his pursuit angles will all develop with solid coaching. He has not learned how to shoot his hands and shed bigger blockers just yet. However, with his long arms and big frame, Green could end up a dominating end in college.

Defensive end is a position that Meyer needed to address, especially once they pulled Savannah (Ga.) Jenkins defensive end Chaz Sutton offer over fear of his grades not be adequate enough.

On a side note, Florida has gone into a lot of backyards and pulled some very talented players:

Dee Finley - S - Auburn, AL (AC100 No. 51) self-explanatory
Omar Hunter - DT - Buford, GA (AC100 No. 49) a short drive form Athens
William Green - DE - Hoover, AL (AC100 No. 63) a Birmingham suburb
Sam Robey - OL - Louisville, KY self-explanatory

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sherman reels in Cyrus Gray

Mike Sherman certainly has a great resume in is hand when he walks into living rooms. He averaged more than 10 wins a year in the NFL. He coached arguably the greatest quarterback in history in Brett Favre. And he is a Texas A&M guy, having coached there during the famous "Wrecking Crew" days.

It worked in the case of Jeff Fuller, whose father played in the NFL and is familiar with Sherman's offense. Fuller switched from Big Xii South rival Oklahoma to A&M as soon as Fuller heard about the West Coast offense that the Aggies would be running.

Sherman has done a great job of keeping a pretty solid class together. For a while this class, which was built very early in the recruiting season, was hanging in the balance.

College Station got some more good news recently. DeSoto running back Cyrus Gray has made his pick and committed to the Texas A&M Aggies.

Gray is ranked No. 54 in the Athlon Consensus 100.

This Gray is quite the opposite of his counterpart Jonas Gray (Detroit, MI - Notre Dame). Cyrus is about 30 pounds lighter than Jonas and is more of a speed back rather than a power runner. He lined up predominately as a quarterback, taking the shotgun snap and running with the ball. His natural open-field running ability is outstanding. He shows great vision and cut-back ability, exploding into creases and slashing through defensive front sevens. He can be a home run threat from the running back position.

For a speed back, Gray is very comfortable between the tackles. He uses his explosion and vision to find holes and squeak through with great quickness. Because he is smaller in stature, though, his penchant to run with a mean streak will catch up to him in college. Gray is a hard worker in the weight room, so he should be able to strengthen his lower body. An aspect he will have to improve, if he expects to run with the same intensity that made him so successful in high school.

Gray will play behind Mike Goodsen and big J-Train Lane next season but should be ready to tote the rock shortly there after.

Mike Sherman is certainly going to have a nice roster to work with over the next few seasons. Of course, so did Coach Fran.

Tennessee Tries to Salvage Class

The recruiting cycle for the Tennessee Volunteers goes as such: No. 3 nationally one year, No. 40 nationally the next (which is where they are currently ranked this season), followed immediately by a top-5 class again. It is a roller coaster of emotions for Vol fans.

Many experts consider this season a bit of a disappointment for the Vols on the recruiting trail. Phil Fulmer is trying to change that late in the campaign.

To be fair, the two biggest 'newcomers' this next season are already attending class in Knoxville, just not at UT. Former Alcoa DE/TE and Florida St Seminole (and five star recruit) Brandon Warren and prodigal defensive back Demetrice Morley - who was previously booted off the team - are both working to get back into school at Pellessippi Community College. Both are slated to be on the roster in this fall. Both will be impact players.

However, Fulmer could make a move up recruiting rankings with a few late commitments. It would be nice for Vol fans to land big O-lineman Antoine McClain. The Vols did pick up two commitments recently: OLB Marlon Walls and DE Montori Hughes.

Hughes may not even make it into classes. Walls is the real catch.

The longtime Tennessee fan is a really solid player at the linebacker position. First, he has great size that cannot be taught. He is tall, rangy and thick, with room to get even bigger. In fact, if he gets too big he will likely be moved down to defensive end. At that spot, Walls would be a terror off the edge in pass rush situations.

As a linebacker, he shows nice physicality and burst. He explodes into ball carriers - at times he needs to be more under control when attacking - but generally gets the job done.

There are two major areas that are important to Walls development as a linebacker. First, he has really nice athleticism for his size. He can drop into the flats or deep middle if needed and play solid pass coverage. He also has solid range when pursuing outside plays. Second, his diagnostic skills will need improvement if he expects to play linebacker. He needs to be reacting more on instinct.

Walls moved to Mississippi prior to his senior year and had been committed to Ole Miss. The Vols got a prospect with tremendous upside and versatility...if they can hold on him.

Photo by Athlon Sports

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Clemson Makes Stong Push

Clemson is very close to competing for the top class in the ACC. It will probably need some help down the stretch if Tommy Bowden expects to take that ACC recruiting crown. He made up a lot of ground this past week though.

AC Flora O-lineman Kenneth Page and Thomasville, GA defensive tackle Brandon Thompson have both ended their recruitment processes and committed to Clemson.

These are two very strong pick-ups for the Tigers. Thompson is probably the better prospect; he is ranked No. 86 in the first annual Athlon Consensus 100.

Thompson may have the body of a defensive tackle, but he certainly does not move like one. He has the quickness and athleticism of a defensive end. An unbelievably quick player off the snap of the ball, Thompson uses a nasty swim move to consistently get into the backfield. His athleticism affords him other options as well. He has already learned to get his hands up into passing lanes if he gets blocked. His leaping ability, for a man close to 300 pounds, is stunning. He will knock down a lot passes.

When Thompson stays focused on keeping his pads low off the snap, he is a monster. He just tends to lose that focus too often. There is a noted difference on film of when he is paying attention to it and when he is just “out-athlete-ing” everyone. As quick and explosive as he is up the field, he can show limited lateral movement at times. He will need to work on his hips. All and all, Thompson is a great prospect.

Page is a relatively smooth athlete for a kid his size. He plays with solid pad level and will get a strong push off the ball. He moves well in space and this likely will lead to him playing guard. His pass protection is not top tier tackle-esque and will need work. Again, this means guard is where Page ends up.

Both of these kids are really nice prospects and both really bolster an already solid class for Clemson - some of whom are already on campus. Little Kyle Parker had a great Under Armor Bowl and really improved his national stock. Wideout Marquan Jones is a burner and we all love the best defensive prospect in the nation DaQuan Bowers.

To me, this class hinges on greatness if Bowden can land Jacksonville running back Jamie Harper. He is an NFL talent, who I compare to Jonathan Stewart with a little less speed. He will make people forget about James Davis. Not that I don't like Davis, I just think Harper is that good.

Photos by Athlon Sports

Friday, January 25, 2008

Miami Recruits Get a Head Start

It seems a pretty logical train of thought: the sooner you get to campus the better off you will be as a player, sooner. It also seems more and more of the big time recruits are adhering to this philosophy. Clemson's DaQuan Bowers, Florida St's Nigel Bradham and LSU's Patrick Johnson - well at least PJ tried - are just a few of the top prospects who will be on campus early this spring.

The ability to get acclimated with a new city, campus and class load without having to play football games is a major advantage. Learning a new system of play, starting a collegiate weight program and getting to know your teammates are invaluable for young prospects.

I did an article a few weeks ago tracking just a few of the major team's early enrollees: Early Enrollee Tracker

The Miami Hurricanes not only have a top-10 recruiting class but will have possibly seven of those players on campus this spring.

Miami Early Enrollees:

Marcus Fortson - DT - Miami, FL (Northwestern)
Aldarius Johnson - WR - Miami, FL (Northwestern)
Sean Spence - LB/S - Miami, FL (Northwestern)
Jacory Harris - QB - Miami, FL (Northwestern)
Arthur Brown - OLB - Wichita, KS (Wichita East)
John Calhoun - FB - Sebastian, FL (River)
Jake Wieclaw - K - New Lennox, IL (Lincoln-Way Central)

That might be the most impressive roster of early enrollees in the nation. Fortson, Brown, Johnson and Spence are all member of the prestigious Athlon Consensus 100.

Now if Randy Shannon can close with the other members of the Northwestern-7, they might challenge for the top class in the nation and will clinch the ACC recruiting crown. He would need to get a signature from wideout Tommy Streeter and o-lineman Ben Jones to land all seven prospects from the state championship football team from Miami.

PHOTOS: Aldarius Johnson (top), Sean Spence (right) Yes, they are two different people.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Athlon Sports Recruiting Blitz:

This week's edition of the National Recruiting Blitz is up on the site.

Mitch and I break down twenty more prospects from the Athlon Consensus 100.

The overall success of the PAC-10 during this 2008 recruiting class, Florida's controversial recruiting tactics and updates on Terrelle Pryor, Darrell Scott and Julio Jones all highlight this week's edition of the National Recruiting Blitz.

National Recruiting Blitz: 01.23.08

Athlon Sports Podcasts

Every time Athlon releases 10 more names on the AC100, I look a little deeper into those ten names...

Deeper Look: No. 21-30 Notre Dame and the offensive tackle position are very well represented in this group...

Mountain Brook's Tyler Love is just one of the names I break down in this release.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Boilermakers Top Off Class

The manner with which Purdue handled the "coaching search" - even though Joe Tiller is still the head coach - was questionable at best. However, they did secure the coach of the future in Eastern Kentucky's Danny Hope. Tiller is a few wins shy of becoming the all-time winningest coach in Purdue history and should get those wins next season. He then can - whether wants to or not - ride off in to the proverbial sunset.

This weekend, Tiller and Hope did a nice job of securing the linchpin of the 2008 recruiting class.

Destrehan, LA athlete Jerico Nelson turned down major offers from Tennessee, Arkansas, Florida and Auburn to head North to the Big Ten.

This versatile athlete could end up on either side of the ball - most likely corner back or running back. He shows great change of direction ability, making tacklers miss nearly every time he touches the ball. He can be a home run threat from any where on the field. He does not waste any steps. He is a bit small though, so will he be able to run between the tackles 25 times a game in the Big Ten? I don't know but in Purdue's offense, he may not have too.

His tremendous agility and flexibility is what gives him such high upside on defense. He gets in and out of his backpedal with great quickness. He is just too dangerous with the ball in his hands for him not to be playing offense.

In the spread Purdue offense, he is just too perfect a fit. He is a great receiver and will catch a lot of balls out of the backfield. Look for him to get plenty of 3rd down opportunities next year. He could also be an excellent return man.

Senior quarterback Curtis Painter will love having this safety valve at his disposal next season.

Sanders' Third Choice: FSU

Clayton, OH offensive lineman Zebrie Sanders has had a tumultuous recruitment process. The 6-5, 275-pound Northmont product thought he was done with this whole circus on more than one occasion.

December 4th, Sanders was expected to commit to the Florida Gators but instead backed out of it. Was that because the Gators had pulled their scholarship offer? Sanders says that Urban Meyer, did in fact, pull the scholarship.

Then he was supposed to commit to Georgia at the Under Armor All-American Bowl. That didn't happen. Rumors again swirled about Sanders losing a scholarship offer. The young offensive tackle says that the UGA offer is still on the table. It is interesting that the college that his mother attended mysteriously got axed off his list, though.

Finally, this weekend when visiting Tallahassee, Sanders committed to the Seminoles.

Its a good thing too. The offensive line is one of the main causes of FSU's recent struggles. Without Sanders, this OL class would be very weak.

What is concerning about the names that the Seminoles have committed is who they beat out. Big Andrew Datko has offers from only FIU and UCF. He may be a really good player but those schools are not ones that FSU should be competing with.

Even though Sanders is a really nice prospect, the rumors about Florida and Georgia basically handing him down the recruiting ladder to FSU is troubling. It may be nothing, lets say, the media making too much of it. Then again, the O-line has been a major issue on this football team for some years now.

Florida State should be the team to beat, not a recruit's third choice.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Wolpack's Class rounding Out Nicely

Tom O'Brien's move south to N.C. State was puzzling at first. Why leave a program that you built into a winner - Boston College has the longest current bowl winning streak. One word: recruiting.

Tommy-B has really done a great job on the recruiting trail this season, something that is just much more difficult to do at Boston College than at N.C. State.

The two gems of the class are offensive play-makers Brandon Barnes, a running back/wide receiver combo athlete from Bunn, NC, and quarterback Mike Glennon from Centreville, VA. Both are instant impact kind of guys. Glennon performed very well at the Under Armor Bowl in Orlando. He shows great poise and technique. I am very high on Mr. Glennon.

The Wolpack have cleaned up on the offensive line with names like Sam Jones and Anthony Wallace. But this weekend the OL class solidified itself as one of the best in the ACC when big R.J. Mattes decided to commit to N.C. State.

The Wolfpack beat out an impressive list of schools for Mr. Mattes: Miami, Va Tech, UNC, Clemson, South Carolina, Louisville, Wake and his father's alma mater Virginia. Ron Mattes played at UVa in the early 80's. You gotta love sons of former players.

What I love about this prospect is his fundamental development. It is ahead of the curve. He plays with nice knee bend, getting solid leverage for a kid with his height. He shoots his hands very well and gets good drive. He has a great motor and never stops working. He had a great week of practice at the Shrine Bowl, proving that he was the best OL prospect in attendance.

He will need to pack on some weight, his frame is still a bit on the slender side. But at 6-6, 270-pounds Mattes will fill out nicely and become a solid contributor from the tackle position.

Photo by Athlon Sports

The Price is Right for Penn State

Penn State picked up a big time sleeper prospect from Virginia this weekend. Reston, VA (South Lakes HS) wide receiver A.J. Price has committed to PSU.

I know what you are thinking and no, its not the same A.J. Price that got busted stealing laptops!

Price picked Penn St over Rutgers, Michigan, Virginia, North Carolina and Duke. That is a nice list of suitors for a kid ranked as low as he is.

Price is an underrated prospect. He uses a tall, lanky frame to make big plays in the vertical passing game - as is evident by his 26 yards per catch. He has good hands and great leaping ability. He goes up and makes tough catches in traffic; he will make the spectacular one-handed catches at times as well. These skills and his 6-4 body will make him a good red zone target as well.

Not only does he show solid instincts when catching the ball, he also has a smooth athletic running style. He has the straight ahead speed to be a real game-breaker for the Nittany Lions. He does not have great moves in the open field but he does a great job of slashing through defenses using his straight line speed to beat defenders to the edge.

He lacks power and strength at only 175 pounds. He will struggle against bigger, more physical corners - especially in press coverage - until he bulks up a bit. But in a class with so many big, tall pass catchers, Penn State found a sleeper in Price.

Photo by Athlon Sports

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Oregon Ducks Soar Into Signing Day

Things are good in Eugene, OR. The Ducks pulled a surprise mauling of the South Florida Bulls in the Sun Bowl out of their pocket. The nations top prospect, Terrelle Pryor, adds the Pac-10 team to his list of suitors. Then head coach Mike Bellotti choose Oregon over UCLA by turning down a less-than-flattering offer from the Bruins. To me, that last one is all that really matters.

Just look at the Big East and West Virginia. Two very similar programs - aside from the fact they run the same offense. Both programs were on the edge of greatness this season and injuries to their dynamic quarterbacks sealed their national championship fates. Since then they have gone in different directions. WVU lost their head coach and subsequently Pryor while Oregon is now poised to move forward. The next step?

Signing a great - and very underrated - recruiting class. This week Bellotti and Co. set the groundwork for potentially the best class in Oregon history. That, of course, hinges on Mr. Pryor heading west.

But this class is still very solid even without Pryor. Chris Harper, a Wichita, KS native, finally put his soap opera recruitment to an end, at least for now. The 6-2, 230-pound athlete committed to the Ducks. Harper had been headed to Kansas St but decommitted when there was a shake-up on the coaching staff.

Chris Harper is a very fluid smooth athlete who plays quarterback for his high school squad. He is the definition of 'athlete.' He has so many possibilities. He could bulk up and play tight end or H-back. He could stay where he is at size and play wideout. He might even be able to play safety or weakside linebacker. I do not see him on defense though.

He is a gifted, pure athlete with the ball in his hands. He would be very raw at wide receiver but will be best suited in that position. He is just too athletic to move to tight end. He would be solid after the catch as he is comfortable running with the ball. Oregon got a great prospect. Now they just need to figure out where to play him.

Something tells me that Chip Kelly might just give him a shot at quarterback. Darron Thomas, who I am very high on, has a head start in the potential QB battle as he is already on campus. Thomas is from Aldine, TX.

Speaking of Texas, the Ducks also yanked a talented little running back out of Texarkana this week. 5-8, 180-pound LeMichael James decided to head to the great northwest. James will be a nice speedy compliment to the bigger, JUCO signee LeGarratte Blount. A solid running back class could not have come at a better time for Oregon now that Jonathan Stewart has left for the NFL.

All and all, this is a really nice class. The offense adds plenty of playmakers. Nick Cody will be a name to watch. He has a great story and has a great head on his shoulders. He plays with great attitude and tenacity along the offensive line. He is a top-100 type player.

USC will win the Pac-10 recruiting crown but Oregon is making a strong case for No. 2.

Photo by Athlon Sports

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Terrelle Pryor heading to LSU?

Life for the top prospect in the nation is hectic to say the least.

The Oregon Ducks paid the young QB a visit a few weeks ago and they ended up on his short list of favorites. Then RichRod took the Michigan job and the Wolverines took the place of the West Virginia Mountaineers on his favorites list. Texas then got kicked to the curb. Tennessee followed when offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe left for Duke.

Then Pryor showed the nation at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl why he is the No. 1 prospect in the nation. He dominated the game winning the MVP for the game as well as the U.S. Army National Player of the Year award.

There is no doubt that he is inundated with phone calls, text messages and visitors.

Pryor, however, can only visit five schools officially. He visited Columbus and the Buckeyes on Nov. 2nd. He is slated to be at Michigan this weekend - he was supposed to be at Penn St but instead is headed to Ann Arbor. That is not a good sign for JoePa.

That leaves three more officials. PSU, Oregon, Florida and maybe even Duke might get a visit. Oregon and Florida are my prediction. He has been to Penn St so many times they may not get an official visit. So that leaves one more visit date.

Who gets it? There is a new player in the Pryor sweepstakes.

Les Miles and the LSU Tigers might end up with one of those visits. The main reason Pryor is interested in Oregon is the style of offense that they run. Gary Crowton was the OC in Eugene and worked with Dennis Dixon. Crowton is now at LSU. They have been supposedly pitching Pryor on the implementation of the zone-read offense in Baton Rouge. Music to young Mr. Pryor's ears.

Will Pryor end up at or even visit LSU? Who knows. All I know is that when a player visits the Bayou, they don't forget it. It is a fabulous place to hang out in and certainly an unforgettable football experience.

The question about LSU is the QB situation. It is the most clogged of all the favorites. The controversial Ryan Perrilloux and young Jarrett Lee both would be ahead of Pryor on the depth chart.

Pryor is on record as stating that playing time is not necessarily the important issue so LSU's depth chart may not matter. Either way, LSU is a very easy sell. Great culture, great football, great women, great weather, defending National Champs and a newly designed offensive system put in place just for him.

It sounds pretty tantalizing to me. The Bayou Bengals may have something to say about this thing before its all said and done.

What about Pittsburgh? In a word, no.

The young Western PA quarterback has developed a friendship and mentor in Pittsburgh Steelers QB Charlie Batch. He was seen with Batch at the Pitt-GTown basketball game recently. Rumors about Pitt's chances at Pryor are unfounded and ridiculous. He is not headed to Pitt. The Stache has done a great job on the recruiting trail, however.


Mich: 35%
OSU: 35%
Oregon: 10%
Florida: 10%
LSU: 10%
Duke: 0%
Pitt: 0%
PSU: 0%

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Big Day for Oklahoma

Muskogee High School in Muskogee, OK has a pair of very talented prospects on its roster. Wide receiver Jameel Owens and defensive tackle Stacey McGee are both considered top level prospects and are arguably the top two players coming out of the state of Oklahoma this year.

Tuesday, both prospects committed to Oklahoma.

Jameel Owens is the real gem, however. He is an exact clone of Oklahoma State's Adarius Bowman. Almost 6-4 and nearly 215 pounds, this kid has the physical make-up to easily beat press coverage. Owens has the power and strength to play like his NFL namesake Terrell, in that, he cannot be jammed at the line of scrimmage and is difficult to tackle in the open field.

In fact, the younger Owens probably has better hands than T.O. His aggressiveness makes him a great deep target. He does a great job of attacking the football when it comes his way. Its this mentality that turns a good wide receiver into a great wide receiver.

Owens is ranked No. 40 in the Athlon Consensus 100. Ranks as of 01.01.08:

Rivals: #46 overall
Scout: #71
ESPN: #73
PrepStar: 41

I have him at #15. With the departure of standout receiver Malcolm Kelly to the NFL, Owens and fellow commit Josh Jarboe really add depth to a position that still has names like Adron Tennell and Juaquin "Julio" Iglesias.

Stacey McGee is no small consolation prize, literally. At 6-4, 280 pounds, McGee could add twenty pounds and be at an ideal size for the defensive tackle position. He has nice strength and will end up being a nice player for Bob Stoops and Co.

Photo by Athlon Sports

Athlon Sports National Recruiting Blitz: 01.16.08

The latest edition of Athlon Sports' National Recruiting Blitz is now up on the site.

Mitch and I break down twenty more names from the Athlon Consensus 100. (51-70)

Team rankings, positional rankings and Oklahoma's recent success highlight this week's edition.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Pre-Signing Day Team Recruiting Rankings:

In the middle of November, the first edition of The UV's Unofficial Team Recruiting Rankings debuted. Notre Dame was the best class in the nation after the first unofficial rankings. Things have changed a bit since then.

Athlon's ranks were USC-1, UGA-2, OSU-3, ALA-4, MIA-5. Our rankings only act as one-fourth of the overall team rankings. Much in the same way that the Athlon Consensus 100 works, these team rankings are compiled using four expert sources. ESPN, Rivals, Scout and Athlon.

Rivals and Scout use a computer system that calculates a point total based on individual rankings and quantities. ESPN's list is a subjective group put together based on one man's opinion. Athlon's rankings are obviously subjective as well. This gives The Unofficial Team Recruiting Rankings equal parts computer and human.

Georgia's consistency at No. 2 across the board gave the Bulldogs enough to overcome Notre Dame's two No. 1's. USC and OSU have the best bang for their buck with the highest level of quality. But schools like Miami and Alabama have put together much bigger classes at the moment so they got the nod in most rankings.

Texas has the top running back class with five nice prospects. They would have one of the best classes at the position in history if land Ventura (Cali.) running back Darrell Scott, whom they seem to be leading for after Longhorn tailback Jamaal Charles declared for the draft. Scott is the No. 1 running back prospect in the nation. If the Gators were to add Jacksonville star Jamie Harper and DeSoto (Tx.) product Cyrus Gray, they might be able to challenge. If the experts want to count USC transfer Emmanuel Moody, Florida might be leading.

USC is pulling off the same feat along the offensive line with six outstanding prospects. Ohio State could challenge if they were to land a kid like Josh Jenkins and Notre Dame might have something to say if they could snag Kenneth Page from the southeast.

The depth of this wide receiver class is special and there is still a lot of work to be done. With names like Muskogee's (Okla.) Jameel Owens and Foley's (Al.) Julio Jones still hanging in the balance, any number of teams could claim the title.

Florida would certainly clinch this position if they can somehow pull the upset and land Jones. Carl Moore, Omarius Hines and Frankie Hammonds round out a very well-balanced class for the Gators.

USC's class is special. D.J. Shoemate is Percy Harvin plus two inches and 30 pounds. Brice Butler might be the most polished wideout in the entire class. Oklahoma would challenge if they land Owens - which seems likely. Notre Dame recently pulled Deion Walker off the east coast and Michael Floyd is a very special player. Miami could join the action if the 6-6 Tommy Streeter gives The U a clean sweep of the Northwestern-7. (Ben Jones would have to commit as with me here)

Spain Park defensive end William Green would give Alabama the best defensive line class. Miami boasts the best interior group led by Marcus Fortson, Texas A&M leads on the edge with six commits. Georgia has the second best overall class. Clemson and Oklahoma bring in the best two defensive line prospects in DaQuan Bowers and R.J. Washington respectively.

Miami has the linebacker class locked up. This class is so deep that the Canes might have five starters in the group: three linebackers, one safety and one defensive end. Michigan and Virginia Tech both have great depth in the linebacker corp. If the Buffaloes can hang onto Lynn Katoa, Colorado will have a dynamite group at linebacker.

LSU is atop the list of defensive back classes, led by Ely's (Fl.) Patrick Johnson. If Rick Nueheisel can hang onto Rahim Moore, E.J. Woods and company, UCLA might get my nod, however. It just seems so unlikely that will happen. The Gators claim the top safety group with New Jersey product Will Hill and Auburn High's Dee Finley.

The final team rankings will be released post-signing day.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Sun Devil Soap Opera

Corona's (Cali.) Centennial high school is loaded with top level talent every year. This year is no exception. Matt Scott, the quarterback is headed to Arizona to play for Sonny Dykes and Mike Stoops. The very talented all-purpose running back Ryan Bass had also been slated to play for the Wildcats.

In the immortal words of Lee Corso: "Whoa, noooot so fast my friends!"

Bass has recently committed to Arizona St. The interstate rival of the Wildcats, the Sun Devils have done a great job of poaching talent all season. Especially from Arizona. Bass marks the third player to decommit from Arizona and head to Tempe.

Superstar wide receiver prospect Gerell Robinson (ranked No. 80 in the Athlon Consensus 100) was originally committed to Arizona before re-opening his recruitment and then choosing ASU on national TV at the US Army AA Bowl. Also, talented safety prospect Jarrell Barbour had been slated to be a Wildcat but swapped to ASU when Dennis Erickson and staff told him he could get into school easier in Tempe.

Arizona State also stole a very talented wide receiver prospect from Los Angeles: Kemonte Bateman. Bateman had been a UCLA Bruin pledge. He is a top-100 type player.

Centennial also sends inside linebacker Shelly Lyons and athlete Brandon Magee to Arizona State next season. In my mind, that qualifies as "pipeline" status.


Outstanding linebacker prospect Uona Kaveinga has decommitted from UCLA and is instead headed to BYU. The Cougars added Harmony, FL wide receiver prospect O'Neill Chambers also. BYU and Fresno St are battling it out for the top Mid-Major class in 2008. BYU has a slight edge now with these latest pledges.

More importantly, this UCLA class now hangs in the balance. Rickie Neuheisel will have to work miracles to keep this class in the top-10. Aundre Dean, Rahim Moore, EJ Woods, Derrick Coleman could all end up bailing ship on the Bruins. There are many worried fans in Westwood at the moment.

Stay Tuned!

Photo by Athlon Sports

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Early Enrollee Tracker:

As time progresses, the list of spring enrollments will get larger and larger. In this first edition of the Early Enrollee Tracker, three southern powers, the Oregon Ducks, Sly Croom and Mack Brown will be reaping the benefits of kids getting into school early. Learning the campus, getting used to the schedule and starting a college level weight program all will dramatically aid in developing prospects.

Clemson Tigers:

DaQuan Bowers - DE - Bamberg, SC
Kyle Parker - QB - Jacksonville, FL
Tarik Rollins - LB - Hollywood, FL
Spencer Benton - K - Myrtle Beach, SC
Stanley Hunter - Duncan, SC (2007 signee)

Clemson has to be happy to see Bowers and Parker show up early. Parker, a quarterback, can never work too much on his game and Bowers is arguably the best defensive prospect in the entire nation. This Clemson team should already be really good next season, adding Bowers could make this defense very dangerous.

Florida State Seminoles:

Nigel Bradham - LB - Crawfordville, FL
Terrance Parks - CB - Creekside, GA
Vincent Williams - LB - Davenport, FL

FSU DC Mickey Andrews should be happy to see these three prospects step on campus early this spring. Like Bowers at defensive end, Bradham is arguably the best as his position nationally. Parks is also a very solid prospect.

Florida Gators:

Janoris Jenkins - CB - Pahokee, FL
Brendan Beal - LB - Bethlehem, PA
Matt Patchan - OT - Tampa, FL
Jeremy Brown - CB - Orlando, FL
Earl Okine - DE - Gainesville, FL
Caleb Sturgis - K - St. Augustine, FL

Florida's group is sick. Jenkins, Beal and Patchan are all top-100 type players. Beal and Patchan are both in the top-50 of the Athlon Consensus 100. They also enroll the top offensive JUCO player in the nation, 6-4, 220-pound wide receiver Carl Moore.

Carl Moore - WR - Roseville, CA
Troy Epps - DT - Union, SC

Oregon Ducks:

The Ducks bring in one of my favorite players in the nation: Darron Thomas. Thomas is a lighting quick Dennis Dixon clone with 20 more pounds of weight. Among the other early signees/enrollees are three JUCO kids as well. Bruising running back LaGarrette Blount could be an immediate fix to a running game that could lose Jonathan Stewart. Don't let Blount's power and size fool you, he can really move well in space too. Blount decommitted from FSU and signed with Oregon on JUCO Signing Day.

Darron Thomas - QB/ATH - Aldine, TX
John Boyatt - S - Napa, CA
Carson York - OL - Coeur d’Alene, ID

JUCO signees:
LaGarrett Blount - RB - Perry, FL
Lonnell Rice - DT - Palm Desert, CA
Justin Thompson - DT - Los Angeles, CA

Texas Longhorns:

Dan Buckner - WR - Allen, TX
Mark Buchanan - OL - Austin, TX
Tre Newton - RB - Southlake, TX
David Snow - OL - Gilmer, TX
Dravannti Johnson - Nederland, TX
Brock Fitzhenry - WR - Giddings, TX
Blake Gideon - S - Leander, TX
Justin Tucker - K - Austin, TX

Just another huge group of early enrollees. Buckner had a nice game in San Antonio in the U.S. Army AA Bowl. Snow, Buchanan, Newton and Johnson are all promising prospects.

Mississippi State Bulldogs:

Phillip Freeman - OT - Wesson, MS (JUCO)
O'Neal Wilder - WR - Carthage, MS (2007)
Mike Hunt - S - Meadville, MS (2007)
Nelson Hurst - TE - Plainfield, IN

Hurst is technically the only actual early enrollee but I am sure that Sly is happy to have them on campus this spring.

Stayed tuned to The Unofficial Visitor for more of the Early Enrollee Tracker.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Athlon Sports Radio: 01-11-08

Each week Athlon Sports puts on a college sports talk show here in Nashville. (104.5 FM The Zone, 10-11 am CT).

Athlon Sports Senior Editor Mitch Light and myself sat down this week and talked college sports.

The BCS National Championship game, the Spread-Option offense and its future, SEC Hoops all highlight this week's edition of Athlon Sports Radio.

The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer's Ken Tysiac join us to talk ACC basketball.

You can listen to Athlon Sports Radio every week via podcast at

We talk some recruiting to wrap up the show each week.

Athlon Sports Radio

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Athlon Consensus 100: 61-70

The next ten names have been released in the Athlon Consensus 100:

The AC100

Each release I have been giving my thoughts on the ten prospects and following the four major "games within the game" - (State, School, Conference, Position).

Deeper Look: 61-70

Gators: Hottest Team in the Nation?

Colorado had a nice stretch landing a lot of top notch talent. Ty Willingham and U of W are putting together a really nice class after a strong few months. Illinois, Minnesota and Oregon are all riding high right now as well. Down south it has been the Miami Hurricanes, Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide.

After a slow start, relatively speaking of course, the Florida Gators have come on with full force over the past few weeks.

It started with a pair of really nice wide receiver prospects. Super-sleeper, super speedy Frankie Hammonds and the polished, naturally gifted Omarius Hines both committed to the Gators.

Urban Meyer followed that up by signing the nation's top offensive JUCO prospect in wide receiver Carl Moore. Moore is a freak of an athlete with huge upside and potential to start right away. Another stellar wideout at Florida...shocking.

They were not satisfied though. They picked up two role players in defensive tackle Bryan Jones, who has great size at 325 lbs, and o-line prospect Sam Robey. They went into Kentucky for Robey leading me to believe that Meyer really likes what he brings to the table.

Then the Gators pulled somewhat of a recruiting upset. Seffner (Fla.) offesnive tackle Matt Patchan is arguably the best tackle in the nation and is a Miami legacy. Patchan's father played at Miami. So for Florida to snag this talented young blocker was a bit of a surprise.

The dominence is far from over. Wednesday night South Lake's Jeff Demps committed to Florida over Tennessee. The talented young running back picks the Gators over the Vols despite UT head coach Phil Fulmer recently hiring Sean Drayton away from Gainesville. Drayton was the running backs coach.

Demps has a lot of slot receiver in his game as well so it will be interesting to see where Meyer inserts him. They also have Savannah, GA product Franklin Green committed as well. The recent complaints about not having a true running back will not be answered by these two though. USC tranfer Emmanuel Moody looks to change that. Moody could be the starting tailback next year.

Memo to the rest of the SEC: the Florida Gators are not slowing down either. Big time defensive tackle prospect Omar Hunter has recently re-opened his recruitment. Florida looks to be the favorite for the 5'11" 320 hole-plugger from the Peach state.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Athlon Sports National Recruiting Blitz

This week's edition of the Athlon Sports National Recruiting Blitz is up on the site...

Athlon Sports Podcasts

Mitch Light and I break down prospects 61-80 from the Athlon Consensus 100 as well as give our analysis of all the high school all-star games. Florida, Clemson, Miami, Minnesota and Oregon all came up in discussion also.

National Recruiting Blitz

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Huge Weekend for Clemson

Tommy Bowden and the Clemson Tigers have a huge list of uncommitted prospects visiting campus this weekend. With Miami and Florida St basically dominating the ACC in the world of recruiting, Clemson and Va. Tech are left to battle for third.

The Hokies landed big time running back prospect Ryan Williams over the weekend bumping them into that third place slot in the ACC. If Clemson can make some hay over the weekend they would not only jump Va. Tech in the ACC but might even get themselves into the top-10 nationally.

This list of prospects visiting Clemson this weekend is staggering. Yes, 25 committed kids will be there. That is not what is impressive. Its the chance to get officials from some of the top ranked uncommitted kids in the nation that is really eye catching.

The group of offensive lineman is particularly impressive:
Kenneth Page - Flora, SC
Ben Jones - Miami, FL
A.J. Harmon - Louisville, GA
Antoine McClain - Anniston, AL
R.J. Mattes - Concord, NC
Brandon Washington - Miami, FL

Harmon recently committed to UGA after being a Clemson pledge. The huge visit weekend does not end along the offensive line though.

Jerrell Harris, a missile of a linebacker from Gadsden, AL is one of the top linebackers in the south yet to pick a school. One of the south's top uncommitted running backs, Jamie Harper will also be paying Bowden a visit. Clemson is also bringing in a trio of defensive back prospects too.

To a class that already has arguably the nation's best defensive prospect in Bamberg's DaQuan Bowers, two or three commitments this weekend would probably put Clemson right in the race for the ACC crown. Quarterback prospect Kyle Parker played very well this weekend at the Under Armor AA game. Andre Ellington also showed some wiggle and burst in Orlando.

Ideally, Clemson would like to add at least one more o-lineman, one more RB and probably one more d-lineman. They currently sit at 19 commitments and will max out at 26.

If they were to add Harris, Harper and one offensive lineman, Clemson would find itself in the top-10 nationally. They would also be giving Miami and Florida St a run at the top class in the ACC.

Photo by Athlon Sports

Monday, January 7, 2008

Athlon Consensus 100: 71-80

The third release of the Athlon Consensus 100 has hit the presses...

71. Chris Tolliver - WR - Rayville, LA (LSU)
72. Matt Meyer - OT - Stockton, CA (USC)
73. Lynn Katoa - LB - Salt Lake City, UT (Colo)
74. Brandon Barnes - ATH - Bunn, NC (NC St)
75. Antoine McClain - OL - Anniston, AL (und.)
76. Josh Jenkins - OG - Vienna, WV (und.)
77. Mark Barron - WR - Mobile, AL (Bama)
78. Jordan Futch - S - Hollywood, FL (Mia)
79. Mike Glennon - QB - Centreville, VA (NC St)
80. Gerell Robinson - WR - Chandler, AZ (ASU)

This is a tremndously versatile group of prospects. Futch could play LB but wants to play safety. Barnes, Tolliver, Barron and Robinson could all end up at wide receiver. But then again, three of them could be playing safety as Tolliver is the only pure pass catcher of the group. McClain and Meyer could end up at guard or tackle.

It is startling to me that it took almost thirty names to get to our first QB. And he is a good one. Mike Glennon is one of the best pure pocket passers in this class. He will never wow anyone with his mobility but once he gets on a roll in the passing game, he is very tough to stop.

Stay Tuned to Athlon Sports as we release ten names every Monday and Thursday.

The Athlon Consensus 100

Deeper Look: 71-80
Deeper Look: 81-90
Deeper Look: 91-100

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Miami legacy commits to Florida

Urban Meyer does it again. And he is not making friends.

Luckily for him he does not get paid to make friends, he gets paid to win football games. He is doing what he needs to do to accomplish those goals despite receiving some criticism for his recruiting tactics.

Big time offensive line prospect Matt Patchan, son of a former Miami Hurricane player, chose the Florida Gators over the favored Canes.

Maybe the most important point of evaluation for offensive lineman is the mental attitude. Or more importantly, how does the mental makeup translate into the trenches. Killer instincts or mean streaks are needed to be top flight players along the offensive line. Coaches want a player that never stops beating defenders into the ground. Patchan has that edge to his game.

The 6'7" 280 lb Seffner-Armwood product is arguably the best o-line prospect in the nation and is an excellent pick-up for the Gators.

Big time defensive tackle prospect, Omar Hunter, has recently decommitted from Notre Dame and has Florida at the top of his short list. He has really played well in Orlando at the Under Armor AA game. At 5'11" 315 lbs, Hunter would be another monster pick-up...literally.

Photo by Athlon Sports

US Army AA Game Notebook:

Heading into this game I really felt that the offensive skill position players were better on the West team and that the defensive front seven was better on the East team. That was pretty much how the game played out with one exception. No one can stop Terrelle Pryor.

There is no substitute for supreme talent. It was a clean sweep from the top prospect in the nation. He took home not only the win today but also the games' Most Valuable Player and the US Army National Player of the Year award too. It is very easy to see that he is clearly the best player in the nation.

Some random thoughts....

The athleticism was very apparent at the quarterback position for the East team with Pryor, Star Jackson and MarQuies Gray. The West had no answer for the speed at the QB position.

Miami defensive tackle prospect Marcus Fortson was dominate as the East shut down the West ground game. The linebackers were all over the field led by another Miami defender Arthur Brown. There is no way Brown plays in the middle. He was noticeably smaller than guys like Steven Filer and Etiene Sabino. Brown will be a fabulous weakside backer.

The wide receivers for the West were phenomenal. D.J. Shoemate, Dan Buckner, Jameel Owens and particularly Michael Floyd played well. I would have liked to see Shoemate used more out of the back field. I am very high on all four of these kids.

Gerell Robinson is very raw and very good. He is a smart, well-spoken kid that has freakish size and athleticism. He may want to redshirt at Arizona St to learn the subtleties of the wide receiver position. He is gifted enough to play right away though.

Speaking of the Pac-10. The west coast had a great day landing three of the kids announcing on Saturday. Robinson is headed to ASU; Solomon Koehler leaves Hawaii for the desert and Arizona; Covaughn Deboskie chose Cal.

Alabama and Georgia are in a heavyweight bout for the SEC recruiting race. After stealing A.J. Harmon from Clemson, the Bulldogs are making a strong push for not only the SEC crown but maybe the top class in the nation.

With Gray's commitment to Minnesota, Tim Brewster has found a piece to build a future around. The Gophers' class is very strong as the Big Ten doormat has dipped into Texas, Chicago and now Indianapolis to snag a lot of solid prospects.

AJ Harmon - Georgia
Patrick Johnson - LSU
Shayne Hale - Pitt
MarQuies Gray - Minnesota
Ryan Williams - Va. Tech
Solomon Koehler - Arizona
Gerell Robinson - Arizona St
Covaughn Deboskie - Cal
Brandon Smith - Michigan

Photo by

Friday, January 4, 2008

US Army All-American Announcements:

Every year the US Army AA game affords plenty of action for recruiting fans. It pits top flight talent versus top flight talent allowing evaluators to really get a look at prospects with the lights on. It gives football fans a taste of the future. And then there are the announcements.

This year there are plenty of big names making their picks on Saturday...


Shayne Hale - Ohio State
Young Hollywood Johnson - Florida (LSU is major player)
Solomon Koehler - Arizona
Ryan Williams - Va. Tech
MarQueis Gray - Minnesota
Brandon Smith - Michigan

Covaughn Deboskie was supposed to announce as well but it has leaked out that he chose the Cal Golden Bears. He is a nice pick-up for Jeff Tedford and Co.

The US Army All-American Game airs Saturday, Jan 5th at 2pm EST on NBC

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Athlon Sports National Recruiting Blitz

Athlon Sports Sr. Ed. Mitch Light sits down to grill me about the Athlon Consensus 100. We break down the first twenty names to roll of the press.

We touch on some other topics as well...Iowa, Cincy, Kansas and Missouri all came up.

You can listen to the Athlon Sports National Recruiting Blitz at Athlon Sports Podcasts.

Here is my Deeper Look at 81-90.

Athlon Consensus 100: 81-90

The latest ten names of the Athlon Consensus 100 have been released.

81. Lamaar Thomas - ATH - Friendly, MD (OSU)
82. Garrett Goebel - DT - Lombard, IL (OSU)
83. DeSean Hales - ATH - Klein, TX (Texas)
84. D.J. Monroe - CB - Angleton, TX (Texas)
85. E.J. Woods - S - Culver City, CA (UCLA)
86. Brandon Thompson - DT - Thomasville, GA (und.)
87. Jerrell Harris - LB - Gadsden, AL (und.)
88. Nick Perry - DE - Detroit, MI (und.)
89. Josh Jarboe - WR - Ellenwood, GA (und.)
90. Joe Adams - ATH - Little Rock, AR (USC)

This is a very athletic group. Thomas, Hales and Adams will all find themselves on offense although Adams could be used in both defensive and offensive capacities. Woods and Harris play like missiles and can really hit.

The state of Georgia is off to a great start with five players in the first 20 names. Cali and Texas both have three.

Corner and the mysterious 'athlete' position each have four prospects. However, this might be a bit misleading as at least Thomas and Hales will be playing WR, which has two players. WR might be the deepest position in the AC100.

Ohio State and UCLA each have three prospects committed. Texas and UGA have two.

The Big Ten and Pac-10 each have four commits. The SEC and Big XII have three each.

MOST UNDERRATED: Lamaar Thomas, this kids is a bigger version of Percy Harvin. Expect him to get the ball out of the backfield (maybe in a few sets as QB), as a wide receiver and especially a return man. He is a game-changer.

MOST OVERRATED: Goebel/Thompson. Now, they both could end being good. Goebel needs what Thompson has and Thompson needs what Goebel has. Goebel is very technically sound and plays very smart football but lacks burst and raw athleticism. Thompson has great explosion and athletic ability but lacks fundamentals and technique. Both could be good though. I actually like all ten of these kids but these two seem to have the most work to do.

Stay tuned to every Monday and Thursday as we release ten more names each day until Signing Day on Feb. 6th.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Year's Decommitments: Hunter/Johnson

Two major names celebrated their New Year's with two not-so-surprising resolutions. Both of these kids have had rumors swirling around their recruitment for some time now. They both just made it official this week.

Buford, GA defensive tackle prospect Omar Hunter has decommitted from Notre Dame and Ely High (Fla.) standout Patrick Johnson broke off his ties with Miami. Neither is a shock. Johnson has been rumored to have been decommitted for a long time and stories about Hunter had surfaced a few weeks ago.

Both of these players are considered top-100 type players. Both will be featured soon on the Athlon Consensus 100.

The Hunter loss hurts Notre Dame just a bit more however. Notre Dame's top priority this season in recruiting was defensive and offensive line play. Charlie Weis has done a great job of addressing those issues with names like Trevor Robinson, Ethan Johnson and many others. Hunter was a linchpin of the D-Line class though. With the new 3-4 scheme, it is imperitive that a big, versitile tackle can play head-up on the center. It is just a tough task to find guys like that and Hunter is one of them.

Miami is still loaded on the defensive side of the ball in this class. The-U has the best linebacking class in the nation and recently added top-flight safety and former FSU commit C.J. Holton. Plus, I think Patrick Johnson was a bit overrated. When a kid brings this much turmoil upon himself so early in his career, I back off.

Hunter's finalists: Auburn, Florida, USC (my guess is Auburn)
Johnson's finalists: Florida, Florida St, LSU (my guess is Florida)