Recruiting 2011 - What You Need To Know
LSU QB recruit Zach Mettenberger
LSU QB recruit Zach Mettenberger
Posted Jan 27, 2011

Is Zach Mettenberger the next Cam Newton? No, but he's a JUCO transfer who should make a huge impact at LSU. What running back could be this year's Marcus Lattimore? What power-program is dominating this recruiting season, and which one is falling behind?'s Scott Kennedy answers the big recruiting questions going into the 2011 Signing Day.

Recruiting 2011 

What You Need To Know

- Recruiting 2010 - Q&A with Scott Kennedy
- Recruiting 2009 - Q&A with Scott Kennedy

- Recruiting 2011 - The Key Questions
- Recruiting 2010 - The Key Questions
- Recruiting 2009 - The Key Questions

CFN Top Prospects for 2011
- No. 1 to 50 | No. 51 to 100 | No. 101 to 150
- No. 151 to 200No. 201 to 250 | No. 251 to 300
- Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Receivers
- Tight Ends | Off. Tackles | Guards & Centers 
- Def. Ends | Def. Tackles | Linebackers | Corners | Safeties 
- 2009 CFN Top 150 | 2010 CFN Top 200

What's happening in the recruiting world? What do you really need to know? Once again, here to answer some key questions is Scott Kennedy, one of's recruiting gods/national scouts to make sense of it all.

1. What's the biggest storyline this recruiting season. What are people buzzing about this year?

I think maybe the most commonly asked question nationwide has been about USC. The last time the Trojans were making national news, it was the announcement of devastating scholarship reductions that would limit USC to 15 new scholarships per year. According to Scout, not only do the Trojans currently have 25 commitments, they're also back in the Top 10 in recruiting.

USC is appealing the scholarship reductions from the NCAA, plus it's counting early enrollees backwards to the Class of 2010. That means the penalty has yet to take effect. Should they get no relief from the appeals committee, we could see some ridiculously small classes in the next couple years. Single digits isn't out of the question.

2. What impact is realignment having? Are Utah and Colorado going after a different group of prospects? Is Nebraska doing a good job of selling the Big Ten? How are Boise State and TCU doing with their big moves?

I think it's too early to tell. Boise's move won't make much of a difference going from the WAC to the MWC; it's not like moving to the Pac 10. Nebraska's move is one I'm curious to watch over the next couple of years.

Without an in-state recruiting base, the Huskers have to recruit nationally. My first assumption was that the move would hurt them, because they'll have more trouble recruiting the state of Texas, but Nebraska has been recruiting more nationally the last several years and not relying on Texas as much as many of their former Big 12 brethren.

Colorado has been recruiting California heavily the last several years, and their move to the Pac 12 makes a lot of sense for them on a regional recruiting level. Utah has a good in-state talent base to choose from and also does well in the Pac 12. They may see the biggest bump because of the perceived upgrade in conference.

3. Is Charlie Weis as the offensive coordinator at Florida a plus, and does Will Muschamp get a bit of a free pass recruiting-wise because last year's class was so stocked?

I think Charlie Weis being the offensive coordinator at Florida will help. He has a lot of hardware to take with him on recruiting trips and his offenses at Notre Dame were successful. I don't know that anyone gets a free pass in the SEC, and I think Florida is going to make a push for its typical excellent recruiting class in the next few days.

4. Can Brady Hoke fix the Michigan defense right away?

The good news for Hoke is there's no place to go but up for the Michigan defense. I attended the Wisconsin / Michigan game and the contrast in size and athleticism between Wisconsin's offense and Michigan's defense was really eye opening. San Diego State wasn't exactly TCU when it comes to playing defense, but getting more athletic defensively for Michigan has been Hoke's first priority.

5. In hindsight, really, how well did Randy Shannon recruit at Miami, and what can Al Golden do differently?

Miami's best Class was a talent-laden haul of 2008, which finished third in the country on Scout and included 11 players in Scout's 300. What the Canes didn't have in the last three classes was a quarterback ranked 4-Stars or better. Jacory Harris had a solid true freshman season, but he's been hot and cold, and Miami has had little depth behind him if he wasn't playing well. Miami has enough athletes to play at a very high level, but it has to get deeper, more talented, and more consistent at the game's most important position.

6. Who are a few new JUCO transfers with the potential to make a Cam Newton-like impact (even though no one can ever live up to that standard)? Who are a few JUCO transfers from last year with the potential to go from good to amazing, like Nick Fairley?

There's no one who's going to come in and win the Heisman or the Lombardi this year, but should quarterback Zach Mettenberger (LSU) defensive end Cornelius Carradine (FSU), defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (Missouri), wide receiver Rahsaan Vaughn (Oregon) and wide receiver Anthony Denham (undecided) all live up to their potential, they're going to be household names.

7. Considering the immediate impact of Marcus Lattimore, Michael Dyer, and Ronnie Hillman, which new running back has the talent and the team-fit to change an offense right away?

It's an unusually good year for running backs this year, but I wouldn't put any of them on the same level as Lattimore. Isaiah Crowell, is Scout's No. 1 running back, but he's looking at schools that have fairly established starters already. As well as Texas has recruited through the years, they've missed a marquee running back, Malcolm Brown has the talent to come in and make a big impact should no one else on the depth chart solidify the position.

8. What elite program is really, really rocking so far?

Ohio State is doing to the Midwest what USC did to the West over the last decade. The Buckeyes are getting their pick of the region's top players and are able to go nationally to recruit a handful of blue chippers. Talent is a big reason why Ohio State has the most wins and best winning percentage of BCS schools over the last six years, and it's bringing in yet another great haul.

9. What normal mega-recruiting power is struggling so far?

It's strange to see Florida outside of the Top 15 let alone the Top 25, but I think that's a matter of looking at a calendar right now. Flip the date to February 2nd, and Florida will be a lot closer to what we've come to expect from the Gators.

10. How are Lane Kiffin and USC doing with the eye on a few years from now?

The Trojans are bringing in a very talented class. They're shoring up their numbers for the inevitable loss of scholarships. They're playing a risky game by trying to be at 85 scholarships for the fall. If their maximum number of scholarships remains at 75 with no relief from the sanctions and a small outgoing senior class, the Class of 2012 could be historically small. They're recruiting as if they'll be getting relief from the sanctions, and the talent they're bringing in is worthy of a Top 10 class.

11. What should the average college football fans who aren't into recruiting be paying attention to over the next few weeks?

Don't make a judgment because of a star or a player's numerical ranking. If someone is just looking at a Top 25 list of teams, a list of commitments with stars next to their names, that only provides a tiny snapshot. Recruiting rankings are based on individuals, and the best individuals don't necessarily make the best teams. I always say not to pay attention to any one ranking of a player, we're not going to get them all right, but we hit on a lot more than we miss.