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Recruiting 2013 - What You Need To Know
Posted Feb 5, 2013's Scott Kennedy answers the big recruiting questions going into the 2013 Signing Day.

Recruiting 2013 

What You Need To Know

What You Need To Know - Q&A With Scott Kennedy
- 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 
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 are people buzzing about this year?

Without a doubt, it's Ole Miss. The Rebels are having their best recruiting class of the modern age. They're sitting in the teens a day before Signing Day, but they could be headed for the Top 5 by the time Wednesday is over. The nation's No. 1 recruit, defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche of Loganville, Ga. He has been leaning there for a while, and he's been a Pied Piper of sorts.

2. Is Texas A&M the hot program right now in recruiting because of Kevin Sumlin, the SEC, Johnny Manziel, or all of the above?

I think it's probably a combination of all three, but the credit still has to go to the coach. If a team can't put a winning product on the field, they're going to struggle in recruiting. It helps to have the players, but Johnny Manziel flourishes in a system designed by Sumlin.

3. Really, how much better are Michigan and Ohio State doing right now than the rest of the Big Ten? How massive is the talent gap becoming?

Nebraska is doing well, but other than that, it's not a total surprise to see three teams dominating the rankings from the Midwest (along with Notre Dame), because those three are concentrating the talent of two regions in the East and the Midwest among themselves. The Big East is in flux; Penn State has had its well documented problems; Wisconsin's coach bolts for the SEC; and the three power players in the Midwest are taking advantage in a huge way.

4. Vanderbilt? Really?! What is James Franklin doing to beat out other SEC teams?

Coach Franklin is following a similar pattern that Stanford did. If you want to get world class education AND play in the SEC, Vanderbilt is your best, and arguably only, choice. Franklin is a high energy man who connects with the players he's recruiting. And the players he's recruiting are smart enough to understand the long term value of a Vanderbilt education.

5. Nine SEC teams in the top 22 so far and five of the top eight. Is any other conference coming remotely close to bringing in the top talent?

Not top to bottom, no. I talked about Michigan, Ohio State and Notre Dame in the Midwest, and the Pac-12 is having success, but the South has 1/3 of all D1 Signees and the ACC isn't putting up much of a fight. The West, which is Colorado to the Pacific, has roughly 400 D1 Signees, while the South has 900, and if you include Texas, half of the signees in the nation come from the South. That's a lot of talent close to home.

6. One of the teams conspicuously absent from that group is Arkansas, who’s hovering in the low 50s in the in rankings. Is Bret Bielema doing his recruit-to-a-type thing like he did at Wisconsin? If so, is that going to fly in the loaded SEC West?

There are several teams in the nation who have always outplayed their recruiting rankings, Wisconsin, Iowa, and I'd include Arkansas in that group. Arkansas is still in a transitional phase with the mess left behind by Bobby Petrino, but the Razorbacks know as well as anyone that one elite player can lift a group of blue collar teammates to an elite level as a team. 5-Star running back Alex Collins could be that elite player.

7. Of all the recruit-to-a-type programs (Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas State, etc.), which ones are actually bringing in the decent talents?

I'd probably choose Wisconsin here. They're knocking on the door of the Top 25, and that's a good transitional class for a team like the Badgers who have to make a living recruiting in other teams' states.

8. What’s the deal with Texas? Why aren’t the Longhorns playing up to their talent level?

I'd call Texas a donut team; they've got a big hole in the middle. Texas hasn't had good quarterback play since Colt McCoy left for the NFL, and without that it's tough to be a good team. Texas has a commitment from a high risk, high reward quarterback in Tyrone Swoopes of Whitewright. He's big, can run, can throw, and if he can do all of those things with consistency, he can be a special player for the Longhorns.

9. Who’s having a sneaky-good recruiting season – maybe someone outside of the top 25 – and what perennial power is struggling a bit?

Miami is a team I would look at as the team struggling, and it's not entirely of their own doing. Sometimes the threat of sanctions and an investigation are more damaging than the sanctions themselves. Pittsburgh has the top class in the ACC. That might not hold once Clemson and Florida State flush out their classes in the next few days, but Pitt is having a sneaky good year recruiting.

10. Dorial Green-Beckham didn’t exactly take the world by storm at Missouri, but there were plenty of factors at play. Which superstar prospect might not make the immediate impact everyone thinks he will?

It's one of the reasons it's so hard to choose a receiver that high, because there are so many things that have to go right for a receiver to even be a factor in play. But, offensive linemen are typically ranked for where they'll be in three years not as freshmen. I mentioned Tyrone Swoopes as a high risk, high reward type of prospect, Shane Morris of Warren, Mich. is another quarterback like that. He's headed to Michigan, and he has the physical tools to be an NFL guy one day, but if he doesn't develop the field vision and consistency that he needs, he'll become another name to add to the long list of 5-Stars who didn't amount to much.

11. For the average college football fan who doesn’t care much about recruiting – three names everyone needs to know to look smart.

Running back Thomas Tyner. In Oregon's offense, the 215-pound sprinter is going to be lethal. O.J. Howard is headed to Alabama and might be the best pass catching tight end prospect I've seen. Reuben Foster who has been back and forth with Alabama and Auburn all year is as good of a middle linebacker prospect I've seen.

12. What programs are going to make the most noise over the next several hours?

If I take a look at which players are left to make decisions, the teams I think will make the most noise are Ole Miss, Alabama, UCLA, and Florida State.

13. Is it fair to say that USC is getting more of the superstars while UCLA is building up a stronger overall base of talent? How is Jim Mora doing vs. Lane Kiffin?

No, I don't think that's necessarily fair to say. If I line up USC's Top 12 against UCLA's Top 12, assuming UCLA closes on some of the guys we think they will, they're not far apart. And USC would kill to have an extra 12 scholarships to simply add a bunch of talented 3-Star type guys who like to do the dirty work. UCLA is going to finish with a Top 5 class, and USC is going to have one of the more miraculous classes I've seen. I didn't think there was any way USC could bring in the quality of player that they're bringing in with 15 scholarships to give for three years. They were considered harsh sanctions for a reason, though, the depth problems USC is going to have haven't even reared their ugly heads yet. 2012 may have been a high water mark for USC over the course of the next five years.

14. Without getting too specific, would you say the recruiting world is getting more or less shady? How have things changed over the last five years?

I don't know if shady is the right word, but there’s definitely more drama because the stakes are so much higher. I don't know the exact answer, but I'd like to see the average salary for assistant coaches over the course of the last five years. I bet they've close to doubled at the Top 25 schools. As the stakes go up, the pressure goes up. The biggest difference I've seen is that the coaches are pressuring the players into making decisions before they are ready to truly decide. So like a game of musical chairs, the players make their reservation (commitment) without having made an informed decision. So we're seeing more and more decommitments in December and January. Is it shadier? Maybe. It's definitely more pressure-filled for everyone involved.