Who's Hot & Not?
Recruiting 2011 |
Recruiting 2010 |
CFN Top Prospects for 2011
to 50 | No. 51
to 100 | No. 101 to 150
to 200 | No. 201
to 250 | No. 251
Backs | Receivers
- Tight Ends |
| Guards & Centers
| Def. Tackles |
By Richard Cirminiello
Charlie Strong has the Cardinals roaring back, on the field and on Signing Day. By most accounts, the second-year coach crafted the Big East's best class, which hasn't happened since Bobby Petrino was still on the payroll. He put a dent into the state of Florida and addressed a nagging need at quarterback with the signing of Miami's Teddy Bridgewater.
9. Brady Hoke
Considering how late he and his new assistants were hired at Michigan, the staff did a commendable job of keeping recruits committed. While not spectacular, this first class is deep on talent and potential. Hoke is going to get a bunch of starters out of this group and possible stars in RB Justice Hayes and DE Brennen Beyer.
8. The Notre Dame D
Coordinator Bob Diaco is still smiling after the Irish corralled one of the nation's best groups of defensive players. The ends, in particular, will spark the pass rush for years to come, boasting blue-chippers Ishaq Williams, Stephon Tuitt, Aaron Lynch, and Ben Councell. At least one of these guys, likely Williams, is going to contribute immediately.
Ohio State may have had more quantity among the Big Ten teams, but the Huskers made a statement to its new brethren with the quality they were able to attract. In what might have been Bo Pelini's best class with the program, Nebraska loaded up on four-star players, inking players from as far away as Florida and Massachusetts.
It's going to take more than one tough year in Austin to impact this part of the business model. Despite being surrounded by a reshuffled coaching staff, Mack Brown continued to excel in February. He boasts the Big 12's best talent haul, at least on paper, and in Malcolm Brown, could have a feature back shortly after the 2011 season kicks off.
5. The SEC
Why single out one program when so many did well on Wednesday? Whether it was Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, or LSU, the SEC once again showed why it's the preeminent conference in college football. Heck, even two of the biggest question marks after the dust settled, Jadevon Clowney, is a heavy favorite to spend at least the next three years in the league.
The Tigers delivered one of the biggest Signing Day sucker-punches, compiling a top 10 class and more five-star gets than anyone else. The combination of Tony Steward and Stephone Anthony ensures that the program should be set at linebacker for the foreseeable future. Especially off a 6-7 season, Dabo Swinney and his staff did a terrific job of fending off negative attacks.
The Ducks fully capitalized on last year's perfect regular season and national title game appearance, amassing what might be the best class in school history. This was going to be a quality crop no matter what five-star athlete De'Anthony Thomas decided, but it became epic when he ditched hometown USC for the Ducks. It was the kind of move that could signal a shift in Pac-10 recruiting dominance.
2. Florida State
With Jimbo Fisher at the helm, there's a new climate in Tallahassee. You could detect it during the season, and it was evident on Signing Day. Depending on who you follow, the Seminoles either had the best class of recruits or pretty darn close. Regardless of the final ranking, there's no debating that the ‘Noles cleaned up in the state, which all but guarantees success.
1. Cyrus Kouandjio
The can't-miss blocker said he was going to Auburn, didn't sign his letter of intent, and quickly become the big story of the 2011 recruiting season. His saga, which ended by choosing Alabama, was one of the main storylines of Signing Day. On Wednesday night, his Q rating was almost as high as Miley Cyrus'. How often can an offensive lineman boast that level of notoriety? No, Seantel Henderson and his saga last year don't come close to this.
10. DB Floyd Raven
The kid might wind up being an All-American, but he'll forever be remembered for one of the more bizarre stories in recent signing day history. Although Raven wanted to sign with Texas A&M, it originally looked as if he'd be at Ole Miss. It turns out that his mom, eager for her son to be a Rebel, forged his signature and sent his letter of intent to Houston Nutt. It was an honest—albeit embarrassing—mistake and Raven will be an Aggie this fall.
The Buffs have assembled a staff that should do much better in the future in this area, but rookie head coach Jon Embree took his lumps with this first class. Getting Hawaii's top prospect, DE Juda Parker, was a nice development, but those kinds of wins were few and far between. The talent gap between Colorado and the rest of the Pac-12 got a little wider last Wednesday.
8. Mississippi State
Okay, maybe it's asking too much of the Bulldogs to reverse this trend so quickly, but didn't you expect a little more out of Dan Mullen & Co.? After finishing the season ranked and torching Michigan in the Gator Bowl, Mississippi State failed to fully capitalize on its recent success, losing steam—and commits—late.
7. The Rest of the ACC
Florida State and Clemson were outstanding. Butch Davis held up unexpectedly well in Chapel Hill, and Virginia was a very pleasant surprise. However, as a whole, the conference came up a little flat, failing to attract as many blue-chip recruits as it's been able to do in recent recruiting cycles.
See the University of Florida down at No. 3. Both schools, breaking in new head coaches, took a dramatic backseat to Florida State on the recruiting trail. Ends Anthony Chickillo and Jalen Grimble wound up putting a bow on an otherwise average group, but finishing somewhere in the ACC's midsection is an aberration that Al Golden & Co. isn't likely to repeat.
5. The Arizona Schools
What just happened in the desert? Neither the Wildcats nor the Sun Devils made much of a splash on the recruiting trail, ranking near the bottom of the Pac-12. Arizona State had a small class and Arizona failed to attract many headliners besides RB Ka'Deem Carey. Both programs struggled to keep the state's best talent from crossing the border and bolstering rosters of the Big 12 and other Pac-12 teams.
4. Lane Kiffin
Yeah, the Trojans overcome some hurdles, namely NCAA sanctions, to cobble together a very good class, but a few high-profile decommits are what everyone seems to be remembering. The decision of blue-chip athlete De'Anthony Thomas to leave Los Angeles for Eugene, in particular, was a body blow to Troy and its leader on a multitude of different levels.
Compared to their usual high standards, the Gators were disappointing on Signing Day, sliding to the middle of the SEC pack. While there's a good base for Will Muschamp and his staff to begin molding, the pool of talent was light on five-star athletes, the short-term price of a coaching change. If nothing else, modest results in 2011 will motivate Muschamp, one of the game's best recruiters, to rebound with authority in 2012.
Long-term, ditching Dave Wannstedt will probably wind up being a wise move for the program. Short-term, it's paying the price for change. The Panthers, boasting a Top 25 recruiting class in four of the last seven years, weren't even close during this cycle. In defense of new head coach Todd Graham, he was just hired a few weeks ago and was faced with a near impossible situation.
Wasn't this the year that the Bruins were going to narrow the divide on cross-town rival USC? Uh-uh. Even a Trojan team on probation wound up being more appealing to Southern California's best athletes, who almost universally thumbed their noses to Rick Neuheisel and his staff. After going 4-8, a forgettable recruiting class was something UCLA could ill afford at this stage of the rebuilding plan.