Recruiting 2012 - What You Need To Know
Posted Jan 29, 2012's Scott Kennedy answers the big recruiting questions going into the 2012 Signing Day.

Recruiting 2012 

What You Need To Know

- Recruiting 2011 - Q&A with Scott Kennedy
- 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 2012
- 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 | 2011 CFN Top 300 

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. Allow him to make sense of it all.

1. What's the biggest storyline this recruiting season? What's the big buzz?

Aside from Penn State, I think Urban Meyer getting back into coaching is the biggest story in college football and recruiting. I typically say that it takes a new coach a full year to develop the relationships with the players in order to make a big splash on the recruiting trail, but Meyer is not that far removed from the scene and brought instant star power to Ohio State. Ohio is the fifth-most talent-rich state in the country, the Buckeyes are the top program in the region the past decade, and now one of the most successful coaches of the past 10 years is there. Meyer has set a new high bar for what can be accomplished in six weeks before Signing Day.

2. Does Meyer have the recruiting fire he had when he was so driven at Florida?

If anything, the short stretch run has proved that he's even more tenacious. There was no bowl game to prepare for, no practices, etc. He basically had the same schedule of a team who was eliminated from bowl contention, giving him a clear focus on recruiting and only recruiting. The results have been astounding.

3. Are Michigan and Brady Hoke really doing as well as advertised? What are they doing differently now?

They are doing extremely well, and this plays into the second question. The only thing they're doing differently is taking advantage of a full year to recruit to one of the most tradition-rich programs in the country. What Meyer is doing is unprecedented; what Hoke is doing is to be expected for a team with the resources that Michigan has, and with its new, energetic coach having a full year to recruit.

4. Outside of a few top prospects, in general, are top prospects ignoring Penn State?

"Ignoring" might be too strong a word, but the problems facing Penn State as a university are well documented. It would be naïve to think that those same problems didn't filter down to the football program and recruiting. Penn State has added 10 commitments since the Jerry Sandusky story broke, and none of those is in the Scout 300.

5. Given their recent histories of securing top recruiting classes, is it fair to say that Ohio State, Florida, Miami, Texas and Notre Dame on the field have been massive underachievers?

No, I don't think that's fair. There are extenuating circumstances in a lot of cases. If you start using the word "underachievers," I want to see patterns. In the past five years, Florida and Ohio State are top-five BCS programs in winning percentage, and Texas is top 10. Miami may have signed a top-five class in 2008, but the next three classes averaged 24th in the nation. Notre Dame's '09 and '10 classes were not top 20. Did those teams live up to expectations this year? Some yes, some no? It doesn't matter how much talent you get on Signing Day if they're either not eligible or not on the team anymore after coaching changes.

6. If Nick Saban and Alabama want a prospect, does anyone else have a chance?

Alabama is tough to beat anywhere the past couple of years, on the field or in the living rooms. But there are too many players out there for any one team, especially in the South, to get them all. I've been asked whether Alabama won its BCS championships on Signing Day, and the question above concerning the teams not living up to expectations shows that coaches get paid a lot of money to do much more than just recruit. Alabama recruits and develops talent better than any team in the nation.

7. Who's Rich Rodriguez's quarterback? Are recruits interested in Arizona?

Recruits are very interested in Arizona. His offense is a perfect fit out West because most of the players don't want to play defense anyway. Scout's No. 3 quarterback, Devin Fuller, is a perfect fit for what Rodriguez does on offense, and it wouldn't be a total surprise to see him playing for the Wildcats next year should he choose Rodriguez on Signing Day.

8. Miami is in the top 10 in the Scout rankings. Is coach Al Golden ignoring the Nevin Shapiro situation? How is he getting so many good recruits?

I don't expect Miami to finish in the top 10. Its class is full for the most part, and historically the class coming in will finish near 15th nationally. But Golden is doing a very good job of getting a share of the guys in the state of Florida. Of their seven Scout 300 commitments, six of them are from South Florida. Running back Duke Johnson of Norland High School in Miami is a spectacular talent who can put a team on his shoulders raise the level of play of everyone around him.

9. Which recruits are the best immediate, Sammy Watkins-like fits for their programs?

I'd probably want to stick with the wide receiver position. Scout's No. 1 prospect overall is wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham of Missouri. He's 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, and is the closest thing to Calvin Johnson I've seen since Calvin Johnson. Stefon Diggs is Scout's No. 2 wide receiver out of Maryland. He's smaller at 6 feet and 185 pounds, but he has the type of ability that we saw out of Robert Woods at USC as soon as he stepped on campus.

10. So far, how much is the move to the SEC helping Missouri? Are Texas prospects looking harder at Texas A&M now?

There hasn't been a noticeable change in either of the teams' recruiting thus far. Missouri has one commitment from a player in the South and still seems to be making a living in the Midwest and Texas. Texas A&M was recruiting well before the announcement, and it has continued to recruit well. It will probably take a couple of years before SEC begins to resonate with recruits in regard to those two programs.

11. Out of all the new coaching staffs in big places like UCLA, North Carolina, Arizona State, Pitt, and the others, which ones seem to have
it when it comes to selling the change?

Of those four schools, it's UCLA by a long shot to this point. I talked about what Meyer has done at Ohio State, but UCLA was left dead in the water by Rick Neuheisel's tenure, bypassing a golden opportunity to seize the reins from USC. However, despite what the local and national media might have you believe, USC's real sanctions are just now beginning with its scholarship reductions. With nearly half of the original Pac-10's teams having coaching changes this year, and USC being crippled by sanctions, Cal was reaping the rewards until recruiting coordinator Tosh Lupoi bolted for Washington. Now, new coach Jim Mora has the Bruins on the cusp of a top-10 class in his first two months on the job. With the new television money coming in, the Pac-12 got serious about the product it's putting on the field, and the recruiting wars have been more tumultuous than ever out West.

12. Which big-name programs are struggling? Which midlevel programs are rocking?

When Nebraska moved to the Big Ten, I had a hard time figuring what its recruiting strategy was going to be. The Midwest isn't nearly as talent-laden as Texas and the South, and there are already established recruiting superpowers that it would have a hard time going head to head with in the region, including Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame. As it turns out, I may not have been the only one wondering what the strategy would be; as late as Thanksgiving, Nebraska had just six commitments and is ranked in the 50s nationally.

TCU is finally starting to get the attention of some highly recruited players. The question is, do the Horned Frogs need them when their system has been so successful? A move to a BCS conference is sure to help, and they've got more commitments from Scout 300 prospects (four) than Big 12 counterparts Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State combined (three).

13. What should the average college football fans who aren't into recruiting be paying attention to on Wednesday?

Keep an eye on Dorial Green-Beckham and where he chooses. He's a guy football fans are going to hear a lot about over the course of the next 15 years. I put him in my all-time top five receivers I've scouted, with Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, A.J. Green and Robert Woods.

For the most part, though, I like to remind fans that despite the shiny stars next to these recruits' names, they're still 18-year-olds. At that age, they generally aren't competitive with 22-year-old men the minute they walk on campus. The expectations can be a little outsized. The recruiting rankings are meant to reflect how good they'll be by the time they leave, not how good they are when they arrive.