Recruiting 2008 - What You Need To Know
Terrelle Pryor
Terrelle Pryor
Posted Jan 22, 2008

You're a college football fan but you don't necessarily care about recruiting. That's fine. With the help of some of the publishers, here's the inside scoop on what you need to know, who you need to know about, like QB Terrelle Pryor, and what the main storylines are. More importantly, here's how recruiting will affect the 2008 season.

The 2008 Recruiting Season

What's Going On?

By Pete Fiutak   

- guru Jamie Newberg answers questions about the 2008 recruiting season

Joe "Stinky" Potts is a dream of a college prospect. He's 6-2, a chiseled 245 pounds, and runs a legitimate 4.3. Able to be a big, powerful tailback or be molded into a linebacker who'd be ready for the NFL with just a little bit of seasoning, he's the type of player every college falls all over themselves to woo.

(Pause to allow all the recruitniks a chance to come back after spending the last few minutes Googling.)

Yeah, Potts is a dream; he doesn't actually exist, but most college football fans wouldn't know the difference between him and Julio Jones, DeAndre Brown, and Omar Hunter. They're all merely names to 99% of the sports world, but Jones, Brown, and Hunter are Randy Moss, Plaxico Burress, and Glenn Dorsey, respectively, to the die-hard followers of the recruiting world.

So what really matters going into the big signing day coming up on February 6th? What's going on out there that actually affects the on-field college football world? Helped by some of the insiders, here's what you need to know.

What five players are can't miss superstars and where are they going?

1. QB Terrelle Pryor - Big, fast, and smart. He has it all. He's the make-or-break recruit for Michigan, where he'd probably start from day one, but it's still a battle for his services.
Best Guess On Where He'll Go ... Michigan, but Ohio State is close

2. RB Darrell Scott - One of the most productive runners in the history of California high school football, he's a lightning fast speedster who has everyone one holding their collective breath.
Best Guess On Where He'll Go ... He gave a quick look to LSU, but it appears to be dead-even between Texas and Colorado

3. DT Marcus Forston - Measurable-wise, he's NFL ready. Talent-wise, he needs work. In any event, with a little time, he appears to be the next superstar Miami lineman with the potential to clog up the middle for the next few years.
Best Guess On Where He'll Go ... Committed to Miami

4. C Josh Jenkins - A ready-made starter at either center or guard, he'll provide, at the very least, instant depth for Florida State, West Virginia or Ohio State.
Best Guess On Where He'll Go ... Ohio State

5. S Will Hill - A phenomenal all-around athlete, he's 6-3 and just over 200 pounds with room to get bigger. He could be one of the SEC's most athletic safeties from day one.
Best Guess On Where He'll Go ... Committed to Florida

Which team has been the biggest surprise so far?

While the overall rankings quickly change on Signing Day, when the final hauls come in, but Notre Dame has done a great job of picking up the pieces with a slew of fantastic prospects led by WR Michael Floyd from Cretin Derham Hall in St. Paul, the same school that produced Chris Weinke and Steve Walsh, and QB Dayne Crist, who could pose a challenge to Jimmy Clausen right away.

Does the "passing of the torch" really work? Now that Florida State knows that Jimbo Fisher is going to take over when Bobby Bowden is done, what kind of an impact is it having?

We won't really know until Wednesday, February 6th. Signing day. Right now, the Noles are bringing in its usual collection of great athletes and big-name high school talent, but every year Bobby Bowden does his best work at the last second. No one does a better job of closing on Signing Day, but as is, Bowden, Fisher and company are doing more than fine getting LB Nigel Bradham, QB E.J. Manuel, and WR Corey Surrency; three of the best prospects in America at their respective positions. If FSU is doing such a great job now, then the general feeling is that the final tally might be truly special once the first week of February is over.

With so many programs going the succession route with coaches (Florida State, Kentucky, Purdue), why isn't Penn State following suit? Is it affecting recruiting?

By most accounts, it doesn't seem to matter ... for now. Joe Paterno might still be in charge of the program, and he's certainly still the main man when it comes to coaching, but he's not exactly able to hit the recruiting trail like other top coaches. Back when it was legal, you'd have never seen JoePa firing off a bazillion text messages to land a top prospect, but when he needs to close, he'll make an appearance. Penn State is fine for now without a succession plan, but it's going to prove costly in the near future. There appears to be a ceiling on what the program can do until the future becomes clearer.

Did the Les Miles soap opera screw anything up at LSU?

Winning a national title made up for any possible issues. Miles might have been all but gone to Michigan before everything played out, but the fact of the matter is that he's at LSU, he's an LSU guy, and he's not leaving. That's all recruits care about now. LSU has had few problems getting a look from top talents over the last several years, and now, EVERYONE is at least thinking about the Tigers. No. 1 QB recruit Terrelle Pryor won't go there, but at least he's checking things out, as is top linebacker prospect Mark Barron. Miles has already brought in top corner Patrick Jackson and a sure-thing No. 1 receiver DeAndre Brown.

From Sonny Shipp, Louisiana/Texas Recruiting Analyst with ... "The common theme among recruits and their parents has always been how Miles is a man of his word and how much of a "good guy" he really is. He told recruits all along he wasn't leaving LSU and he turned out to be one of the few coaches around that stood by the word he gave the kids and parents."

What kind of a last-second impact is Bobby Petrino having at Arkansas?

Fine, but the real reward will come next year. Top quarterback prospect Ryan Mallett transferring over from Michigan was the big coup that won't show up in the final recruiting rankings, but getting him overshadows anything else Petrino is able to do. He hasn't lost the Arkansas high school players that originally wanted to come when Houston Nutt was the head man, and now the hope will be for Mallett to be the key to getting some of the top players, like CB/WR Joe Adams, who would've been a lock for USC before the coaching change.

After a big year, is Connecticut starting to turn a recruiting corner?

From John Mayerhauser from ...
"Recruiting has picked up over the past two years, but I don't think UConn is realizing a huge bump from the successes of the past season yet. They have pulled in some three-star players and they did attract two high-profile transfers (Zach Frazer (ND) and Jerrell Miller (UNC)) - the most encouraging thing is that they have beaten out some legit BCS offers for some prospects this season. If there is a disappointment, it's that they still really haven't been able to be a consistent player for the best prospects in-state. This year's junior class will be the litmus test for Edsall. He has new facilities that are as good as any program outside of Austin, Texas and he will be recruiting off of a very good year on the field - I'd expect next year's recruiting to be a clear step up."

Is Nick Saban doing for Alabama what he did at LSU when it came to bringing in the top talents?

From Kirk McNair, Editor, 'BAMA Magazine and ... "Alabama is having a good year (ranked second on Scout right now). Saban put together a recruiting machine with his first staff and he is tireless as a recruiter. Last year he had just a few weeks. With a full year, he has been getting commitments in since last spring. The proof will be how he closes. Alabama is still involved with a number of top prospects. If he doesn't get (No. 1 WR prospect) Julio Jones (I think he will), some of the bloom will be off the recruiting class. The father of a prospect who also has an older son who signed with a Division I school said that everything Alabama is doing is better than it is anywhere else on recruiting trips."

Is Cincinnati about to become the new Louisville? How is Brian Kelly as a pitchman?

From Dave Berk, Publisher of Bearcat Insider ... "
Kelly is a master salesman who knows what he wants and then puts together a plan to get it done.  For this class he had 16 verbal commitments before the team reported for preseason camp.  Since then he’s picked up seven more.  Keep in mind he did lose one of these as the kid didn’t take his test until mid December, and he felt there were too many QB’s coming into the picture. So the pace of recruiting has picked up as compared to Mark Dantonio.  Dantonio would have maybe 2-5 commitments by the start of the season and get the majority of the rest as the season went. But keep in mind both staffs recruit different as Dantonio used the slow sales approach and Kelly is more of get it done now.  There has been more high-profile recruits visit Cincinnati this past year and I feel the real questions will be answered for the Class of 2009.  Getting D.J. Woods over Michigan was huge."

Sylvester Croom was on a bit of a hot seat last year at Mississippi State, but now he's around for the foreseeable future after a great year. Has the recruiting gotten better?

From GenesPage, the Mississippi State site ... "
It's picked up a little bit, but Mississippi State's recruiting, other than 4 or 5 guys was over by mid-season this year. According to Coach Croom, next year is when they should feel the effects of this year's success."

Has West Virginia been able to make the transition, recruiting-wise, from Rich Rodriguez to Bill Stewart?

Expect there to be a little bit of a step back, but remember, West Virginia wasn't built to its current form on mega-star recruiting classes. It gets a few big guys here and there, Noel Devine was certainly a big-time get, but it's not like Steve Slaton and Pat White were guaranteed Heisman caliber playmakers when they came to Morgantown. Even so, recruits appear to be cautious at the moment, but that could quickly change.

From Kevin Kinder, publisher of ... "For about two weeks after the Fiesta Bowl, recruiting was down because Stewart was putting a staff together, repairing the scorched earth left behind, etc. However, things have picked up with a mix of some of the same recruits and some new ones, especially in Florida where Doc Holliday operates.
Overall, I would say there will be some losses that will hurt, but a handful of pickups here in the last three weeks will help repair some of the damage. There's a good much of experience (Holliday, Bill Kirelawich) and youth (David Lockwood, Chris Beatty) on the recruiting trail. That won't totally fix this year, of course, but I think WVU will be able to weather the storm of the past month. The numbers might be down a little bit from what was expected, but I don't anticipate a disaster."

Will Miami ever get the top players back and be Miami again?

Will Miami be Miami again? Only time will tell, but Randy Shannon is amassing a haul of talent worthy of some of the better classes from the hey day, led by DT Marcus Forston, LB Arthur Brown, WR Aldarius Johnson and QB Jacory Harris.

From Brian Knoll at ... "
I think it is similar to the job Butch did when he was here.  We will not know if it truly is at that level until the players leave but right now he is convincing kids and changing minds which we have not seen since 2000."

Considering the breakthrough year, is South Florida able to start stealing away more top prospects from the big boys?

Larry Weisbaum, Publisher,  ... "Things have really picked up from where they were at last year. The quality of players are considering the Bulls and visiting is unbelievable. USF has never had this many top talent prospects considering the program. Of course not all are committing, but getting those guys in on a visit, shows the gains the program has made. The class is shaping up to be the best ever, with guys like David Bedford, Kion Wilson, and others already committing, and plenty of top talent still on the board, it should be very interesting . If they didn't have that mid season swoon and the Bowl performance it could have even been better, but as you know it doesn't happen overnight."

No offense to West Virginia, but it's not Michigan. How is Rich Rodriguez doing so far with the spotlight on?

Tom Beaver, Publisher of ... "Rodriguez, and staff, are impressing, and impressive, so far. Dismissing the whole coaching staff (except long-time RB coach Fred Jackson) was a real shock to recruits, and got several of the commits taking visits elsewhere. I didn't say so publicly, but when the whole staff was let go I thought recruiting would be in deep trouble, with half the really-good commit-class - and all the key commits - likely to leave. However, except for drop-back QB John Wienke who quickly and wisely jumped to Iowa, these kids are all coming back to the fold, and fast. This is quite a credit to RR and staff. Coach Rod himself puts the kids immediately at ease, and his staff is young and enthusiastic. And - crucially - they have hit the recruiting trail fast and hard. Special kudos to Chris Singletary, the recruiting coordinator who was retained, and how he kept these kids on the line until RR & Co could re-sell them ... masterful job for the young guy. Of course if RR doesn't land Terrelle Pryor, fans will panic (and rightfully so for the '08 season) ... but, to me, as a long-timer, regardless, Coach Rod has impressed me recruiting-wise (and I'm not easily impressed) out of the gate - especially with WVA's ludicrous attempted-Fatal-Distractions."

Really, Mike Sherman? Are Aggie fans really happy about this, and does he have any recruiting pull?

David Sandhop, publisher of Aggie Websider ... "Sherman inherited a pretty good class and only had 5-to-6 spots to fill, but he immediately switched over four-star WR Jeff Fuller from OU. Four-star RB Cyrus Gray returned from Florida last weekend and was greeted by Sherman and three assistant coaches at 8:00 AM the next morning at school. After a four-hour conversation with Sherman, Gray is leaning heavily to the Aggies and an announcement could come after next weekend's official visit to College Station. He's doing a good job of selling his NFL experience and his ability to develop players for the NFL. Yes, fans and recruits seem pretty excited about how this class is closing."

Now that the buzz has worn off from the 2007 Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma, has anything really changed around Boise State? Has the recruiting picked up under Chris Petersen compared to the Dan Hawkins and Dirk Koetter eras?

From Kevin Hiatt from ... "Did it pick up?  Maybe a little, but really not that much.  Things have steadily improved each year, and this year's recruits are an improvement over last year's, but there hasn't been a jump that I'd contribute to the Fiesta Bowl victory.  It probably has gotten us into a few more living rooms, but I don't know that I'd say it's swayed more than maybe 2-3 recruits.
Coach Pete compared to Hawk or Koetter ... hard to compare.  Hawk is the master of the living room, but he can be a little too philosophical for some folks.  That was the criticism of the few folks that just didn't really hit it off with him.  Pete is very straight forward; there's no salesmanship, (or maybe that IS his salesmanship).. they really just put it out there and say, "you decide".  Koetter was much more intense, he was relentless, but he also had an approach that the Fathers really seemed to appreciate.  He was more drill-sargentesque. 
Koetter I'd describe as very straight forward and if people blinked, he just moved on.  Hawk would hang around and hang around and hang around. Even if you didn't want to play for him, he was just fun to talk with. Coach Pete, maybe because of his young staff, is more of a 'impress by our demeanor and our energy' kind of guy.  Everybody that I've talked with says that it's the young staff that won them over; they relate to the coaches and feed off their energy."

Can Paul Johnson actually get the guys to run his style of offense at a place like Georgia Tech?

From Jonathan Leifheit, Publisher, The Hive at ... "It's too early to say. He's only been the coach for about 40 days. Given that the dead period just ended, then really his effectiveness is yet to be determined. Any program that changes coaches is going to experience transition issues, but so far, he's done better than I expected given the circumstances. Recruiting buzz is comparable to past seasons. The only real change is that the targets on offense have shifted to fit the new offensive style that Johnson will bring. Lastly, the Jackets have 25 scholarships available this year. If Johnson can get over 20 recruits in this class (and indications from the coaching staff are that he will only take recruits tabbed to be real contributors as opposed to just filling scholarships), then he will have done incredible work in a short time and it bodes well for the future. Right now, the class looks to be shaping up to be around 20-22 strong."

Wake Forest now has to be considered a living, breathing ACC player. Is it translating in recruiting?

From Spencer Cagle, ... ""Things have definitely picked up over the last two years.  From a buzz perspective, higher rated prospects are really giving Wake Forest more of a chance over the past couple of years.  Wake's been able to land some prospects that they may not have a couple of years ago.  Still, the staff hasn't entirely changed its mindset.  They are still going after the same type of prospects, but they are now able to land better quality athletes who still have the grades, desired attitude, etc. that the staff has brought in over the years.  Wake's coaches have always looked at character and integrity first and then football skills and they're not compromising Wake Forest's academic values to pick up better players."

Has recruiting picked up at Boston College under Jeff Jagodzinski, or is this still a place that does what it can and gets the occasional big-time talent?

From Mike Chevallier, ... "It's like night and day with Jags and (former head coach Tom) O'Brien. Jags has already shown that he can out-recruit the factories and that he can close with some of the blue chippers, two things O'Brien rarely did in 10 years at BC. It's tough to say whether they're parlaying last season's success into the class, I do think the success is a direct result of Jags' personality and enthusiasm. He's got a young staff that works hard, especially WRs coach Ryan Day and recruiting coordinator Mike Siravo. BC should have its highest ranked class since 2003; according to Scout they're right around #20 presently. And it's not just the talent level, BC also recruits a type of player. As Jags said after the bowl victory, "I’m bringing in 25 players just like them (the departing seniors): character guys; BC guys.”