1. Alabama: Average ranking past five classes: 4th Buzz: Alabama has finished in the top 10 in each of the past five recruiting cycles and in the top five in each of the past four, including three No. 1 rankings. The "worst" class in that stretch came in 2007, when the Tide finished 10th. That class provided four key three-star recruits on this season’s title team: DL Josh Chapman and Nick Gentry, C William Vlachos and WR Marquis Maze. The top-ranked 2008 class included Marcel Dareus and Julio Jones, and also had these four-star guys who played big roles this season: SS Mark Barron, FS Robert Lester, LBs Dont’a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw and OT Barrett Jones. The 2009 class was ranked No. 1 and had three five-star recruits who started this season: TB Trent Richardson, OT D.J. Fluker and CB Dre Kirkpatrick. Five-star LB Nico Johnson was a backup.
Atlantic Coast Conference football teams could benefit on National Signing Day next week and in the future because of a recruiting rule adopted by the Southeastern Conference. Last summer, SEC presidents and chancellors unanimously passed legislation prohibiting their programs from signing more than 25 players per recruiting cycle in an attempt to curb the practice of oversigning. ESPN recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill said several SEC coaches predict as many as 30 players per year that would have signed with SEC schools will now sign elsewhere. And where will those 30 decorated prep stars sign? Luginbill believes most will turn to the SEC's neighbor, the ACC, which has no oversigning rule. "This new SEC oversigning rule could create a real shift in power when you consider the caliber of player that may normally sign in the SEC," Luginbill said. "If they no longer have room to be signed, that player is going to go somewhere. Where do you think he's going to go? If he's in the South, he's going to go to the ACC. That could really aid and enhance a lot of teams that are considered to be at the forefront in the ACC, a Florida State, a Clemson, Miami and North Carolina."
Alabama vs. Florida State: The two powers had their tussles this season, which may continue until signing day. Out-of-state programs regularly grab top prospects out of Florida, but rarely do teams go into Alabama and grab recruits under the nose of Nick Saban. Florida State did this season. The Yellowhammer State's top prospect, Hueytown quarterback Jameis Winston, committed to the Seminoles in August but continues to be pursued by Alabama. Auburn grad and Alabama native Dameyune Craig, the quarterback coach, led the Seminoles' recruiting efforts in the state, landing Rivals100 defensive end Chris Casher (Mobile Davidson) and Rivals250 defensive tackle Justin Shanks (Prattville). The Crimson Tide returned the favor by dipping into Florida for key recruits. The Tide garnered a commitment from Rivals100 wide receiver Chris Black (Jacksonville First Coast) even though Florida State was the first program to start recruiting him. Five-star athlete Eddie Williams (Panama City Arnold) favored Alabama just as recruiting began. Alabama won another recruiting contest with Mobile Davidson defensive tackle Alphonse Taylor broke off his commitment to Florida State to commit to the Tide.
Star quarterback Russell Wilson's transfer to Wisconsin from NC State prior to the 2011 season helped the Badgers earn a trip to the Rose Bowl. Wisconsin's ability to take advantage of a little-used graduate-student transfer rule to land Wilson may have sparked a new trend in college football: free agency. College football programs have long used National Signing Day to build their programs for the future. But after Wilson's success at Wisconsin, those programs now realize the graduate-student transfer rule can help give them an immediate boost in the present. The rule, which has been around for years but was amended to its current form in 2007, appeared to be taking off in popularity over the holidays when numerous schools -- including Kansas, Rutgers and Arizona -- used it to bring in mid-semester transfers. "The Russell Wilson situation does make it look like a trend," said Kelly Brooks, the NCAA's associate director of academic and membership affairs. "The ability to do what he did was a new exception put in place for [student-athletes like] him. "You could see more student-athletes taking advantage of it."
A year ago this time, with the SEC coming off its fifth straight national championship, my colleague Andy Staples compiled some interesting data that confirmed one of the primary reasons behind the league's recent dominance: The wealth of elite defensive prospects in its backyard. Andy noted that a staggering 43 percent of NFL defensive linemen hailed from a cluster of 10 Southeastern states representing just 22 percent of the general population. But when Alabama won the conference's sixth straight title on Jan. 9, praise for the Tide's historically dominant defense came tempered with skepticism from the rest of the country. How could we truly know the strength of Nick Saban's unit when it never faced an elite quarterback from another conference? Even before Alabama faced LSU's chronically erratic Jordan Jefferson in New Orleans, it went through an SEC slate that included just one passer -- Arkansas' Tyler Wilson -- rated among the top 25 nationally (at 22nd). They had a point. While the Southeast continues to produce a disproportionate number of elite football players (including 39 of Rivals' Top 100 players in the Class of 2012), the one position it notably lags behind in is quarterback.
As the nation fixates on the ever-growing media maelstrom that accompanies the months leading up to the presidential election, another campaign comes drawing to a close. It's also characterized by powerful men traveling the country, attempting to woo their audiences with long term goals and promises of a brighter future. That's right, National Signing Day is just days away, and time remains for many coaches to significantly bolster their programs. "It's probably the sport that's most like politics," said JC Shurburtt, the national recruiting director for 247Sports.com, "because it depends on the opinions of young people and media and coaches. The voters get to vote for the championship and the young people decide if you're going to win because that's how you get personnel."
Florida coach Will Muschamp said social media also provides another glimpse into a player's character, warning that "kids need to understand that they have to be very careful about what they do on social media." Cornerback Yuri Wright found this out the hard way. Wright, No. 40 in the ESPNU 150, was kicked out of Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J., last week after several sexually graphic and racially explicit posts appeared on his Twitter account. Wright initially had numerous scholarship offers, but several schools cooled on him after the Twitter posts went viral. Wright ended up committing to Colorado this week. "If a kid posts something stupid on Facebook, it bothers you," Polian said. "You have to ask yourself, at what point is this a kid being a kid or is this what we will have to deal with?"
"I think the main thing is they run a pro-style defense with the calls and stuff they have," said Arizona Cardinals assistant coach Freddie Kitchens. "The complexity of their system is all things you apply in the league. Offensively, he'll always run a pro-style offense. I don't know if it's conceptual or what, but they do what we do in the league, so of course you'll develop more players like that for the NFL."
"You're always learning how to be a better coach, how to organize better, how to delegate responsibilities, how to motivate," said Hollins, whose 10-9 Griz hope to snap a three-game losing streak tonight at 7 in FedExForum against the Spurs. "You want to learn from the most successful guys. "I know a lot of basketball coaches, and they may show you a few drills. But they aren't telling you what they talk about in the locker room or at practice or when they talk to their players." So Hollins, who characterizes himself as someone who's "into other sports as much as I'm into basketball," chose to visit Saban, the only head coach in major college football history to win national championships at two different schools (LSU and Alabama).
Atlantic wide receiver Chad Ward, plus John I. Leonard defensive end Andy Daceus and wide receiver Nesly Ovincy are no longer headed to FAU. All three thought they would help rebuild the Owls, who are coming off a 1-11 season. This week, the Owls revoked their scholarship offer to Ward. While programs are not permitted by the NCAA to talk about unsigned recruits, FAU sources said the Owls currently need smaller, faster receivers who can play slot receiver in new coach Carl Pelini’s spread offense. Ward, at 6-foot-2 and nearly 200 pounds, is best suited to play on the outside. Ward, who committed to the program in August, now lacks an FBS scholarship offer. National signing day is Wednesday. "[Pelini] said the new coaching staff wasn’t going to honor my commitment," Ward said. "They should have told me earlier. Now I’m stuck." (ed.- how evil. sounds like something nick saban would do.)
After a weekend in Austin and a long week of rethinking his future, Dalton Santos (Van, Texas/Van) has backed out of his pledge to Tennessee and committed to Texas. Santos and his father confirmed the commitment in text messages to HornsNation. The No. 1 inside linebacker (No. 92 overall) in the nation according to ESPNU had been committed to the Vols since August, but a strong last-second push from coach Mack Brown and offensive line coach Stacy Searels resulted in Santos' change of heart. (ed. - how evil. sounds like something nick saban would do.)
You want to take a big step in cleaning up the whole recruiting process? My first step would be to reduce the number of "official" visits from 5 to 3 schools. Prospects do not need to officially visit 5 schools before making a decision. Prospects get the opportunity to take as many unofficial visits as necessary and most do take advantage of this by attending junior days, summer camps and games during the season. And the majority of the prospects just have 1 or 2 and sometimes 3 favorites in the process, even though they list so many schools/favorites. One example of abuse is when a prospect commits to a school early in the process and is truly committed to that school, but decides to take a "fun" trip in December/January because a school still has trips available and the prospect wants to have some fun. This is a waste of time, money and there's nothing good comes out of this for the school or the prospects.