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Recruiting News - 02/07/05


Administrator Emeritus
<font color="#b90000">Monday, February 7, 2005</font> Recruiting News - 02/07/05

And some other news from the past few days ...

20 Offers Already for Quarterback - Scout PREMIUM

20 Offers Already for Quarterback
By Chad Simmons
Date: Feb 7, 2005

Tim Tebow is a 6'3, 225 pound south paw quarterback out of Jacksonville, Florida. Tebow already has over twenty scholarship offers and gets twenty plus letters a day. Who has offered this sunshine state quarterback and does he have a favorite? Also, see him in action in this presentation by ScoutTV.

Garfield running back commits to Ohio State - Akron Beacon Journal

Posted on Mon, Feb. 07, 2005

Garfield running back commits to Ohio State

Garfield junior running back Chris Wells made a verbal commitment to play at Ohio State. Wells, a 6-foot-3, 220-pounder who was first-team all-district and a special mention All-Ohio selection in Division II, is considered one of the best junior running backs in the country. This past season, Wells rushed for 1,930 yards and 22 touchdowns, helping the Rams to a playoff appearance.

OSU starts blitz on booster rules - MSNBC

OSU starts blitz on booster rules

Critics charge it won't help
By Jeff Bell
Business First of Columbus
Updated: 7:00 p.m. ET Feb. 6, 2005
Ohio State University's bid to broaden its efforts to rein in rogue sports boosters rings hollow to two critics of big-time college athletics.

advertisementBruce Svare and Linda Bensel-Myers, leaders in separate faculty-driven movements to reform intercollegiate athletics, discounted the chances of success for OSU's plan to have the university's fund-raising office and alumni association more involved in booster education.

Svare, director of the National Institute for Sports Reform in Selkirk, N.Y., said university presidents often express their concerns about booster misconduct with similar education efforts. He said such campaigns are undertaken at the same time the presidents court boosters "in the sky boxes of their stadiums" in pursuit of financial support for athletics programs and other university needs.

"The failure of Ohio State and so many other big-time colleges and universities that regularly experience booster-related scandals is that they always fall for the lure of more money," said Svare, a psychology professor at the State University of New York at Albany.

Bensel-Myers, who made headlines in 2000 for her efforts to expose academic corruption in the University of Tennessee's athletics program, said the reforms being undertaken by Ohio State are typically part of a strategy to avoid NCAA sanctions.

"I don't see it as an effort at reform," she said of OSU's booster education plan. "It's using the system to protect their competitive ability (in sports)."

Bensel-Myers, now a professor at the University of Denver, is a director of the Drake Group, a national faculty-led organization that pushes for academic integrity in the growing college sports industry. It was founded at Iowa's Drake University in 2000.

Bensel-Myers said university and alumni offices don't have the power to combat the "monied interests" that dominate big-time college sports programs like the one at Ohio State.

"To be fair," she said, "it's all they can do on this issue. You cannot unilaterally disassociate boosters. If you do, you can't remain competitive."

Eliminating 'I didn't know'

Ohio State President Karen Holbrook has asked Athletics Director Andy Geiger to work on three reforms before he retires in June:

* A beefed-up booster education approach.
* A new structure for academic counseling for athletes, in conjunction with the university provost's office.
* An alignment of the athletics department's NCAA compliance arm with OSU's general counsel's office.

University spokeswoman Elizabeth Conlisk denied the reforms are designed to help the school skirt possible NCAA sanctions against its football and men's basketball programs. Both are under investigation by the NCAA, with payments to athletes among the allegations being probed.

"We're doing this because it's the right thing to do," Conlisk said of the reforms. "We want to more fully integrate athletics into the workings of the university."

Geiger said the school's development office and alumni association have been involved in booster education since before Holbrook disclosed her reform plan.

"None of this is new," Geiger said. "We're just emphasizing it more. We'll be driving people crazy with this."

The ramped-up approach, he said, will include an article in the next OSU Alumni Association magazine and announcements on radio broadcasts of Buckeye sports contests. Materials on the "dos and don'ts" of contacts with athletes will be part of ticket mailings to season ticket holders.

"Because of the publicity we've gotten lately over boosters," Geiger said, "we are falling all over ourselves on this. One reason is to eliminate the argument (by boosters) of 'I didn't know.' If they didn't know before, they weren't listening. Now they will know."

The changes proposed by Holbrook came in the wake of revelations that Robert Q. Baker, a Springfield businessman and suite holder at Ohio Stadium, gave cash to Buckeyes quarterback Troy Smith. Smith was suspended for the Alamo Bowl game in December because of his involvement.

The university was already facing allegations from former Buckeyes football player Maurice Clarett. He told ESPN The Magazine last fall that he and other players received cash from boosters and were paid for summer jobs where they perfomred no work. Clarett also charged that OSU football coach Jim Tressel lined him up with an auto dealer to receive the free use of a car.

Tressel and Geiger have denied Clarett's charges, though Geiger had to back off a bit on the football program's innocence on booster payments when news broke in December about Smith's involvement with Baker.

Potential conflict?

Archie Griffin, president of OSU's alumni association, said the organization hopes to add value to whatever changes are made on the booster education front. Staffers already hand out booster education materials from the athletics department when they meet the association's 225 alumni clubs around the country, he said.

"The thing we want to do," he said, "is educate the public and certain alums and donors on the proper things to do when they come in contact with athletes - current ones or prospective ones."

But any university faces a challenge when it tries to tell alumni and supporters how to conduct themselves, said Griffin, a former Ohio State football star and a two-time winner of the Heisman Trophy, college football's top player honor.

"Certainly, they are their own people," he said, "but I think our alums really care about the university and don't want to do anything that would hurt it."

Conlisk said James Schroeder, OSU's vice president of development, doesn't want to be interviewed on the booster education issue until more details are ironed out on the collaboration between his office, athletics and the alumni association.

Bill Morgan, an Ohio State sports studies professor and expert on sports ethics, said it could prove difficult for development and alumni officials to send a tougher message to boosters since they are the very people they are trying to nurture for gifts to OSU.

"They want money from these people, so how much can they crack down?" he said. "But I'm far less confident of the intentions when (enforcement) is ensconced in the athletics department. It's pretty clear what happens under those conditions."

Geiger said it is "ridiculous" to question whether it is a conflict for the development and alumni offices to be involved with booster rules while asking the same people for donations.

"This is absolutely appropriate," Geiger said. "The athletics department asks for money, too. Why is this different for the people who raise money for the university as a whole? It's hardly a conflict."

Shared vision

Morgan said shifting more of the booster education responsibilities to the development office and alumni association is a bold idea.

"Not many athletics departments would let that happen," he said, "because those are competing interests for money (from donors)."

Morgan said OSU's hope appears to be that booster education efforts could improve because the development and alumni offices have a shared vision of the university that goes beyond athletics.

"At least there's a chance the university will represent itself as a larger community where sports has a place," he said, "but it's not the only thing."

Morgan said regardless of the structure, any university with a big-time sports program faces a conundrum.

"With all the money that's involved," he said, "they can't live with boosters and they can't live without them. It's almost impossible to keep tabs on them."

Big-time college sports are so corrupted by money that the time has come for a major overhaul of the system, said the Drake Group's Bensel-Myers.

She and other faculty members in the group would like to see an independent "farm system" created for athletes who have no interest in college beyond honing their skills for professional football and basketball careers.

The Drake Group is also planning to ask Congress to investigate the NCAA's nonprofit status, Bensel-Myers said. The group contends the NCAA is so dominated by commercial interests that it no longer meets the criteria for a nonprofit organization.

Svare, of the National Institute for Sports Reform, said booster misconduct will continue as long as universities allow "commercialized professional sports" to exist on their campuses.

"In view of the sad state of intercollegiate sports," he said, "one must ask if the never-ending search for more booster money is really worth risking the academic integrity and prestige of the university in the future."

Akron running back commits to OSU for 2006 - Canton Repository

Akron running back commits to OSU for 2006
Monday, February 7, 2005
By TODD PORTER Repository sports writer

If you weren’t all that excited about Ohio State’s 2005 recruiting class, you might be about 2006.


Less than a week after putting the 2005 recruiting season to bed, Ohio State landed one of its top recruits for 2006. Chris Wells, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound running back from Akron Garfield High School, verbally committed to the Buckeyes this weekend.

Wells visited OSU on Saturday during its annual junior day. He is the first player to commit in the class of 2006.

“I went down there and I just felt like it was home,” said Wells, who rushed for nearly 2,000 yards last season and scored 20 touchdowns for the Rams. “I knew nobody else would be able to make me feel that way. I felt comfortable with the staff and the whole community.”

Ohio State signed just one running back on national signing day last Wednesday, Florida prospect Maurice Wells. He will join Erik Haw and Antonio Pittman as the only three backs on scholarship right now.

“Next year, running back will be a top priority for us,” Tressel said during last week’s signing ceremony. “There are some good ones out there.”

But Chris Wells is a different back than Maurice Wells, Haw and Pittman. He is a physical, bruising back more like Eddie George. His size, speed and vision are cut from the mold Tressel prefers.

It helped Ohio State’s cause that Jason Gwaltney signed with West Virginia last week over the Buckeyes.

“That was real important to me,” Wells said. “Gwaltney is a big runner like me. If he had gone to Ohio State, that would have made my decision much more difficult. I doubt I would have committed to Ohio State this weekend.”

Few scouting services have ranked the 2006 recruits just yet. However. rivals.com has Wells as the country’s top-rated back. He already had offers on the table from Michigan and Oklahoma.

“This is a huge commitment for Ohio State,” said recruiting analyst Duane Long. “I don’t care what anyone else says, I need to see a back better than Chris Wells in the country. He’s the best in Ohio since Maurice Clarett. He’s the kind of kid who will get on the phone and call other kids and recruit them.”

Long said any comparison to Clarett should begin and end on the football field.

“If you hear anyone compare this kid to Clarett mentally, that’s the biggest lie you’re gonna hear,” Long said. “This is a kid of such character.”

Wells said no one should worry about him changing his mind despite committing so early.

“That’s not gonna happen,” he said before pointing out he planned to call other college coaches this week and tell them of his verbal commitment to Ohio State.

Garfield junior Wells orally commits to Ohio State - Cleveland Plain Dealer

Garfield junior Wells orally commits to Ohio State

Monday, February 07, 2005

Tim Rogers
Plain Dealer Reporter

The ink is barely dry on national football letters of intent for the class of 2005, but that didn't stop one of the top prospects from the class of 2006 from making an oral commitment to attend Ohio State.

Akron Garfield running back Chris Wells, regarded by many recruiting services as the top junior in Ohio, committed to OSU on Sunday, a day after attending Junior Day in Columbus.

Part of Saturday's visit in cluded the OSU-Michigan basketball game, and Wells said he made his mind up after leaving Value City Arena.

Garfield coach Bob Sax, who accompanied Wells and his parents on the trip, said they were sitting next to the student section when about 50 students started chanting, "We want Chris Wells. We want Chris Wells."

"Chris asked me if they were chanting what he thought they were chanting and I told him I thought so," Sax said. "I have no clue how all that came about."

Neither did Wells, but it didn't matter.

"It totally blew me away," he said Sunday. "I have no idea how that happened. Then as we were leaving all kinds of kids came up to me and said how important it was for me to attend OSU and how cool it would be for me to at tend OSU. From that point on I was pretty sure I was going to commit."

OSU has just three scholarship players at the running back position in Buchtel's Antonio Pittman, red-shirt freshman Erik Haw of Columbus and incoming freshman Maurice Wells of Jacksonville, Fla. All are about 6-0, 200 pounds.

Wells, who will not turn 17 until August, is pushing 6-3 and weighs 228.

"We sat in coach Tressel's office and he told us that all three of those other guys were the small back, the type of kid who can carry the ball about 10 times a game," Sax said. "He told Chris he was the big back type, the kind of kid who can carry it 30 times a game. He said that's what they needed."

Wells' stock undoubtedly rose when OSU lost 6-0, 234-pound Jason Gwaltney of North Babylon, N.Y., to West Virginia on national signing dayFeb. 2.

"Even if they would have recruited more running backs I still would have given them seri ous consideration because I just love everything about OSU," Wells said. "I might not have committed so early, but they still would have been high on my list."

Wells, who has a 40-yard best time of 4.48, ran for 1,930 yards and 20 touchdowns on 212 carries in 11 games last season in leading the Rams to their first playoff appearance since 1989.

Huskies among signing day disappointments - Rivals

February 7, 2005
Huskies among signing day disappointments

Chris Wallace
Special to Rivals100.com *
When the smoke clears after signing day, it's easy to identify the recruiting winners each year. But inevitably, there are also those schools that didn't meet expectations or struggled to land the key players it had targeted.

That was once again the case with the class of 2005. For every Southern Cal or Florida State, there was a program that came out of the recruiting process unfulfilled. The winners have been identified, now it's time to identify the teams that didn't make the grade.Tyrone Willingham found recruiting the class of 2005 to be a difficult task.

1. Washington ñ It was a tough year on the field for the Huskies, who finished 1-10 and saw coach Keith Gilbertson lose his job. Former Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham was hired to fill the vacancy, but his late arrival did little to help Washington's recruiting. The Huskies landed just 13 commitments who combined for a star rating average of just 2.57. They also lost out on in-state standout Jonathan Stewart, which was a huge blow. Washington did land J.R. Hasty, and UW fans are hoping he becomes a dominant player.

2. Notre Dame ñ At one time, the Fighting Irish would pick and choose the best players in the nation and the result was one exemplary season after another. Those days, however, are gone. Exit Tyrone Willingham, who was in the midst of a second straight disappointing class, and enter Charlie Weis. But with little groundwork in place, the result was another sub-par class, that had just 15 players and finished 39th in the Rivals.com team rankings.

3. Georgia Tech ñ The Yellow Jackets have been to a bowl game in each of Chan Gailey's three seasons, but recruiting remains a question mark. A year after landing some highly regarded players, including ACC rookie of the year Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech finished just 62nd in the Rivals.com team rankings, 11th among ACC teams. The Jackets landed 19 prospects, but their star average was just 2.37. They also lost out on coveted teammates Maurice Wells and Marvin Sapp from Sandalwood High School in Jacksonville, Fla.

4. Boston College ñ The Eagles wrapped up their final season in the Big East with a 9-3 record and a Continental Tire Bowl victory against North Carolina. BC now heads to the ACC, but its inaugural recruiting class as members of that conference was a bit of a disappointment. The Eagles landed just 16 players and their class ranked just 49th nationally, a figure that would have ranked 10th in the 12-team ACC. Coach Tom O'Brien was hoping to pull late surprises with running back Jason Gwaltney and linebacker Brian Cushing, but lost out on both players.

5. Kansas State ñ After three consecutive seasons with 10 wins or more, the Wildcats slipped to 4-7 in 2004 and a sub-par recruiting class followed for coach Bill Snyder and his staff. After a series of strong classes, including a No. 18 ranking a year ago, KSU's 2005 group, which includes 20 players, was ranked just 37th in the Rivals.com team rankings and featured just two four-star prospects and a star-rating average of just 2.85. KSU finished sixth among Big 12 teams.

Transcript Of Wells Interview On Rivals Radio - Buckeye Sports Bulletin

February 7, 2005
Transcript Of Wells Interview On Rivals Radio

BuckeyeSports.com Staff Reports
Akron Garfield running back Chris Wells, the first member of Ohio State's recruiting class of 2006, appeared Monday morning on Rivals Radio.
The 6-1 tailback, who is now up to 228 pounds, talked with show hosts Bill King and Bobby Burton about his early commitment, what led him to his decision and whether or not he is firm with that verbal to Ohio State.
Check it all out right here with this special transcript, edited by Rivals especially for BuckeyeSports.com readers, of the Chris Wells Interview

Are Bucks close to landing super junior OL? - Rivals PREMIUM

February 7, 2005
Are Bucks close to landing super junior OL?

Bill Kurelic
BuckeyeSports.com Recruiting Analyst *
Cincinnati (Ohio) Princeton offensive lineman Aaron Brown attended the Buckeyes' junior day on Saturday and met with coach Jim Tressel. With a scholarship offer in hand from the Buckeyes, where is OSU on Brown's list and is he close to committing to Ohio State?

OSU Kicks Off '06 Effort With Huge Get - Rivals PREMIUM

February 6, 2005
OSU Kicks Off '06 Effort With Huge Get

Mark Rea
BuckeyeSports.com Managing Editor *
Ohio State addressed one of its top priorities for the 2006 recruiting season just days after the 2005 effort ended, securing a huge verbal commitment from Akron Garfield running back Chris "Beanie" Wells. "Yep, I did it," Wells told BuckeyeSports.com. "I'm just in love with that place. I love the city of Columbus, I love the players, I love the coaches. There isn't anything about it that I don't love."

Video Interview - Freddie Lenix - Bucknuts PREMIUM

Video Interview - Freddie Lenix
By Steve Helwagen
Date: Feb 7, 2005

OSU signee Freddie Lenix of Cleveland Glenville was one of eight new Buckeye players in attendance at last week's North/South game player introductions. Steve Helwagen caught up with Lenix, who talked about several issues including what position he could be playing this year. Take a look at this special video interview for more.

The Little Lyons Would Be A Big Catch For OSU - Bucknuts PREMIUM

The Little Lyons Would Be A Big Catch For OSU
By Gary Housteau
Date: Feb 6, 2005

He has no scholarship from Ohio State at this time but Wesley Lyons has his big brother's school right at the top of his list at the very beginning of the next recruiting season. It's up to Ohio State now if they remain there as other big-time programs will be on him to be in their 2006 recruiting class.

Homan Enjoys Junior Day - Bucknuts PREMIUM

Homan Enjoys Junior Day
By Duane Long
Date: Feb 6, 2005

One of Ohio's top defensive prospects this year is Ross Homan of Coldwater. The linebacker was offered a scholarship a few days ago, and he recently stopped in at Ohio State for junior day. Duane Long caught up with Homan's parents for the latest.

Wells First In OSU's Class For 2006 - Bucknuts PREMIUM

Wells First In OSU's Class For 2006
By Duane Long and
Date: Feb 6, 2005

Akron Garfield junior running back Chris Wells took note of the fact that Ohio State only signed one running back on Wednesday. Then, after a great experience at Junior Day on Saturday, Wells decided to end the suspense. Click here for more on Ohio's top junior prospect.

More Of National Signing Day 2005 In Pictures - Bucknuts

More Of National Signing Day 2005 In Pictures
By Gary Housteau
Date: Feb 6, 2005

In case the first batch of photos from signing day weren't enough for you, then here's a few more to give you an even better picture of what the day was like while traveling from school to school in Northeast Ohio that day.

Mike Hartline, Brian's younger brother, will be a top recruit in not only Ohio next year but in the country as well.

Brandon Long, also from GlenOak, and his parents celebrated his signing with Michigan State. He'll join GlenOak grad Nick Smith who OSU passed on last year at MSU.

Nice catch Brian! Brian's girlfriend Lisa was also there to celebrate her man's official day.

Curtis Smith signed with Cincinnati.

Tim Conner inked with Eastern Michigan.

There were 12 Tarblooders in all who signed on the dotted line that day.

Mrs. Ginn was proud to share the special day with her son Jamario and Freddie Lenix.

Media members of all medium were there to cover the signing.

Rob Rose was offered a scholarship by Jim Tressel on signing day.

And so was Ray Small.

Coach Ginn was burning up the phone lines and the fax lines that morning.

Terry Robiskie, Brian's dad, spoke glowingly about Ohio State and gave his stamp of approval to his son.

Alex Boone would love to see his teammate and friend Joe Thomas follow him to OSU next year. Thomas played right guard next to Boone and actually looks small at 6-5, 285 next to him.

The day wouldn't have been complete without stopping off to visit next year's top recruit, Chris Wells from Akron Garfield who just happened to be in the weightroom working out.

And these two Buckeye fans pictured with Lawrence Wilson, Adam (left) and Joe, had a front row seat the entire day.


Mr. Bucknuts' Bucket Of Bullets - Bucknuts

Mr. Bucknuts' Bucket Of Bullets
By Bucknuts.com Staff
Date: Feb 6, 2005

Another year, another exhausting month of January for those who follow OSU recruiting (and even moreso for those who actually participate in it). The talk has already started about next year's recruits, but Mr. Bucknuts has one last look back at the recruiting report card and the class of 2005.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Yes, we have another recruiting season behind us. And - as I heard the pilot on my US Air flight to Charlotte say under his breath - we’ve walked away from another one. The world didn’t end in Babylon, New York. The Bucknuts message boards didn’t implode. And some of us were able to keep our heads while others around us were losing theirs.

We’ve analyzed this recruiting class from every possible angle. All that’s left are blood types, DNA analysis and some chromosome checks. But before we get quite that exhaustive, let’s exhaust the bigger issues. In our final look at the Class of 2005, we take a view from 25,000 feet at the following criteria:

1) How good is this class (and compared to what?)

2) How well did OSU fill their needs - really?

3) What happened – exactly?

How good is this class?

That’s the most obvious question. And the best way to answer it might be to examine how well the Buckeyes did given the variables with which they had to contend. Some years, it’s easy pickins – all you have to do is bend over and pick up the gold that’s lying on the floor of the gold mine. Other years, you have to dig hard. You have to contend with the elements and unexpected competition. Those environmental challenges can determine how well the staff did – not just in the vacuum of the quality of those players coming to Columbus.

As an example, the Class of 2002 was an outstanding class by anyone’s measure. Possibly the best class in the nation. But it was also a great year in Ohio for talent, and OSU had a lot of open scholarships available. So, I would say that we did “great in a very good time”. This year – the Class of 2005 – was not a bumper crop in Ohio. Plus, they were restricted in the total number of schollies, so they couldn’t go for pure numbers during the year. Plus – as some of you might remember – we had the harshest public relations climate in anyone’s memory. That probably cost OSU some looks. That probably cost OSU some players.

So, you might say that we had a “very good year in a very bad time”. And that might be even tougher than what was accomplished in 2002.

Let’s take a quick look at the 2002 super class and contrast it with this year’s group…

2002 Class 2005 Class

Bobby Carpenter Andre Amos

Maurice Clarett Jim Cordle

RJ Coleman Todd Denlinger

Mike D’Andrea Brian Hartline

Doug Datish Malcolm Jenkins

TJ Downing James Laurinaitis

Tyler Everett Freddie Lenix

Roy Hall Jamario O’Neal

AJ Hawk Brian Robiskie

Santonio Holmes Anderson Russell

Mike Kudla Rob Schoenhoft

Nick Mangold Austin Spitler

Brandon Mitchell Donald Washington

Derek Morris Maurice Wells

Joel Penton Ryan Williams

Quinn Pitcock Doug Worthington

Jay Richardson Alex Boone

Michael Roberts Lawrence Wilson

Nate Salley

Tim Schafer

Rob Sims

Troy Smith

EJ Underwood

Stan White

Justin Zwick

The 2002 class had three 5-star players, fourteen 4-star guys and eight at 3 stars for an average of 3.80. This year, according to Scout.com, we have three 5-star commits, eight 4-star guys, six with three stars and a radically underestimated Brian Robiskie with 2 stars. That average is 3.72.

Now, if you take out the late lamented Derek Morris (who never actually enrolled back in 2002), the comparison comes down to an average of 3.75 versus 3.72 this year. Hardly worth fighting over which class has a big advantage, eh?

So, then, it really comes down to:

How well did OSU fill their needs?

Very well, thank you. They needed offensive line help and they got two guys (Cordle and Boone) that will be starters one day. OSU needed depth at WR and they attracted three (Amos, Hartline and Robiskie). Defensive line? They killed it. Two Top 100 players in Worthington and Denlinger and two rush ends in Wilson and Williams. They got a quarterback. They got one of the top two DB’s in the nation (plus Jenkins). They got two inside linebackers in Spitler and Laurinaitis. And we have super athletes that flew under the radar in Lenix, Russell and Washington.

Oh, yeah, OSU also got a guy that was – at one time – rated the No. 1 running back in the country, in Maurice Wells.

For those of you whose Buckeye glasses are half empty (and isn’t that usually the case with the beer drinkers amongst us…), there were areas that we didn’t fill, of course. OSU didn’t get a fullback (maybe Spitler?) or a tight end (maybe Wilson?). They didn’t get a marquis receiver and they were short on O-line depth. And we probably needed two more linebackers.

So, OSU will get them next year. It’s a great year for offensive linemen in Ohio. Expect 3-4. It’s a good year for linebackers. Expect Ross Homan. You want a big great back? Beanie Wells from right here in Ohio.

OSU got a “B+” for overall talent, IMHO, but nearly an “A” in the filling-the-needs category. There. I have spoken.

What happened – exactly?

For those of you keeping score at home, I predicted (five days before LOID) that the Buckeyes would sign four more kids. Since three more did sign, I guess I was 75% right. Right. I felt pretty comfortable with Washington and Robiskie – although Brian injected a little adrenaline into the process before he succumbed to good taste. And I thought that two of the three of Gwaltney/Ashley/Wilson would be coming to Columbus. Honestly. I’m not sure that Gwaltney has made up his mind yet. And – in the end – the Hollywood lure for Walker Ashley simply proved too strong. Here’s a kid whose coach was connected to the Vikings (think “Minnesota”, right?), whose father starred at Penn State (think the Nits, right?), and who said that he wanted to go to Ohio State.

He picked USC. Because he will get playing time there amongst all the returning stars in the nouveau dynasty. Right.

The biggest surprise on signing day:

Ryan Perrilloux seemed to be locked down to Texas all year as a commit but refused to say anything about it at the Army All-Star game. On LOID, he then de-committed and out on an LSU cap. My thinking? He was scared to death of Ohio State next September 10. This helps him dodge a bullet next year and the year after in Austin!

Biggest disappointments:

Probably not getting Rico McCoy because OSU had already lost a bunch of headliners (Hodge, Mathis, etc.) and Rico looked like he was a Buckeye. Plus, this was a “position of need”. Losing Bemoll hurt but Kevin wasn’t at a needed spot…

Biggest disappointment to his mother:

That would have to be Antone Smith, who wouldn’t tell her where he was going. She wanted him to go to Miami so that she could see him play. He chose Florida State. Classie Smith (his mother) commented, “He never told me. I wish he had told me.” Antone’s (classy, he’s not…) rejoinder was, “It was my decision. I’ve been having people tell me what to do and what not to do, but it was my decision”.

The biggest mouth on signing day:

James McKinney, who Hollywood-ed it as long as he could. After de-committing to Michigan and making a mockery out of many of his recruiting trips, he was asked to leave his official at Louisville because he was talking up the Wolverines. He then announced, in front of a full high school crowd in Louisville that he was going to…Michigan. But he couldn’t stop there. He then scolded the local team saying that Louisville was the front-runner until they sent him packing. Sure. There’s a talented player that isn’t talented enough to want him on your team no matter how badly you might need him.

Biggest classes:

Nebraska had 31 commits at last count and Alabama was hot on their heels with 30. All the SEC teams had 25-30. All of that is interesting only in relation to the fact that the signing limit is 25. These schools know already that some of the incoming group isn’t going to qualify or else they over-sign and figure they will work it out later. Ohio State took 18 and plans to enroll them all.

Biggest bold Ohio statement:

Lawrence Wilson who had committed elsewhere and considered many out of state schools: “There’s no place like home”. You can say that again Dorothy. Runner-up for this award would go to Freddie Lenix saying, “Mel Tucker has been recruiting me since the eighth grade. That’s why I feel so close to them”.

On to 2006!

Forget the Class of 2005. That’s old news, now. Heck, we have already made offers to a bunch of Ohio juniors! You want to know about filling needs? Take a look at the junior offer list, most of whom were in Columbus for “Junior Day” over the weekend:

Chris Wells – RB

Justin Boren – OL

Aaron Brown – OL

Conner Smith – OL

Robert Rose – DE

Ray Small – DE

Ross Homan – LB

Thaddeus Gibson - LB

Wells should cure the need for that “big back” Boren, Brown and Smith will take care of the depth-at-offensive-line problem. Rose and Small will satiate our obsession for players from Glenville. Then, there’s Ross Homan, who will be the next great outside linebacker. And out-of-state kids already on the radar? Some of those alleged offers include:

Tim Tebow – Florida QB

Jamar Hornsby – Florida WR

Jeremiah Hunter – Pennsylvania RB

Antwine Perez – New Jersey DB

Myron Rolle – New Jersey DB

And the next great California running back hopeful to get your adrenaline going before he commits to Miami or USC;

Stafon Johnson

Gentlemen, start your engines…

Well, you can see this past recruiting class and glass as half-empty. I think we are full to the brim. And the Class of 2006 will further fill 2005 – The Year of the Buckeye!

The Final Chart and Grades

The 2005 chart is taking one last run across the page. In two weeks, we will begin our Chart for 2006. Hey – Aaron Pettrey might make it for three years in a row! As to the rest of the guys – and the final grades – take a look:

Running backs: Maurice Wells got us a B+ by himself; one more back and we were an A. We are still looking for a fullback so call that Incomplete.

Quarterback: One big guy, loaded with po-tential. That’s a B.

Receivers: Wilson might be a tight end but there is no grade there. All three of the other wide-outs could be good ones but they seem more in line with Devin Jordan expectations rather than a Holmes or a Ginn. Thus, a B.

Offensive Linemen: Two great ones in Boone and Cordle. Lack of depth kept us from an A- or an A.

Defensive ends: The Dubya Brothers are some of the best in the country. I might be quibbling with “only” an A- here…

Defensive Tackle: Denlinger’s a great one. It’s a quantity issue, not quality in this B.

Linebacker: We needed 3-4. We got two good ones, both probably for the inside. That’s a B.

Safeties: There’s security in numbers here as we project Lenix as a safety and Russell as well. Washington has the coaches excited, too, but with no headliners (only headhunters…), I stopped at B+.

Cornerbacks: Jamario O’Neal is all you have to say. But Malcolm Jenkins will have something to say as well. All in all, that’s an A effort, particularly noting that Amos and others could play here.

Final Offer Sheet

We have continued to track all the kids we think were extended offers in 2004-2005. Here’s a final look at that list and where they ended up:
* *
Committed Somewhere *
Committed School

Adkins, Spencer
Naples HS, Naples FL

Alaeze, Melvin
Randallstown HS, Randallstown, MD

Amos, Andre
Middletown High School, Middletown OH
Ohio State

Ashley, Walker
Eden Prairie SHS, Eden Prairie MN

Barney, Chris
Northwestern HS, Miami FL

Beckum, Travis
Oak Creek HS, Oak Creek WI

Bemoll, Kevin
Mission Viejo HS, Mission Viejo CA

Boateng, Nyan
Abraham Lincoln HS, Brooklyn NY

Boone, Alex
Lakewood St. Ed, Lakewood OH
Ohio State

Bright, Callahan
Hariton SHS, Bryn Mawr PA
Florida State

Brown, Aaron
Northeast HS, Zachary LA
South Carolina

Byrd, CJ
North Augusta HS, North Augusta SC

Collins, Conredge
Monsignor Pace HS, Miami FL

Cordle, Jim
Lancaster HS, Lancaster OH
Ohio State

Cushing, Brian
Bergen Catholic HS, Oradell NJ

Daniels, Alex
Brookhaven HS, Columbus OH

Davis, Mike
Columbia HS, Columbia SC
South Carolina

Denlinger, Todd
Troy HS, Troy OH
Ohio State

Dixon, Antonio
Milford Academy, New Berlin NY

Doering, Dan
Barrington HS, Barrington Il

Eaton, Byron
Lincoln HS, Dallas TX *

Ellis, Brian
Mainland HS, Daytona Beach FL

Felder, Anthony
O’Dea HS, Seattle WA

Gordon, Richard
Norland HS, Miami FL

Gowland, Stephen
Parkview HS, Lilburn GA

Gwaltney, Jason
N. Babylon HS, N. Babylon NY
West Virginia

Harris, Courtney
Jupiter HS, Jupiter FL

Harris, Nic
Alexandria SHS, Alexandria LA

Hartline, Brian
GlenOak HS, Canton OH
Ohio State

Henderson, Ray
Oak Creek HS, Oak Creek WI

Jackson, Carlton
Blanche Ely HS, Pompano FL

Jackson, DeSean
Polytechnic HS, Long Beach CA

Jackson, RaShawn
St. Peter’s Prep, Jersey City NJ

Jenkins, Malcolm
Piscataway HS, Piscataway NJ
Ohio State

Kearney, Tavares
Tucker HS, Tucker GA

King, Justin
Gateway HS, Pittsburgh PA
Penn State

Laurinaitis, James
Wayzata HS, Plymouth MN
Ohio State

Lewis, Elan
Phoebus HS, Hampton VA
Virginia Tech

Lymon, Selwyn
Paul Harding HS, Ft Wayne IN

Manningham, M
Warren Harding HS, Warren OH

Mathis, Andre
Cathedral Prep HS, Erie PA

McCoy, Rico
St. John’s College HS, Washington DC

McKinney, James
Central HS, Louisville KY

Moeaki, Anthony
Wheaton HS, Wheaton IL

Moffett, Neefy
Palm Bay Sr. HS, Melbourne FL
Florida State

Monroe, Eugene
Plainfield HS, Plainfield NJ

Morley, Demitrice
Killian HS, Miami FL

Murdock, OJ
Middleton HS, Tampa FL
South Carolina

Oatis, Shawn
Chino HS, Chino CA

O’Neal, Jamario
Glenville HS, Cleveland OH
Ohio State

Owens, Jeff
Plantation HS, Plantation FL

Perrilloux, Ryan
East St. John HS, Reserve LA

Phillips, Randy
Glades Central HS, Belle Glade FL

Robinson, Duke
Booker T. Washington HS, Atlanta GA

Roche, Brian
Don Bosco Prep HS, Ramsey NJ

Roark, Craig
Ada HS, Ada OK

Robinson, Lamont
Salem HS, Salem NJ

Rouse, Fred
Lincoln HS, Tallahassee FL
Florida State

Rowell, Chris
Warrensville Heights HS, Warrensville OH

Russell, Anderson
Marist HS, Atlanta GA
Ohio State

Rutland, Tray
Tri-Cities HS, East Point GA
Mississippi St.

Sanchez, Mark
Mission Viejo HS, Mission Viejo CA

Schoenhoft, Rob
St. Xavier HS, Cincinnati OH
Ohio State

Simpson, Mikell
Harrisburg HS, Harrisburg PA

Sledge, Eric
Apopka HS, Apopka FL

Smalls, Sean
Huguenot HS, Richmond VA

Spitler, Austin
Bellbrook HS, Bellbrook OH
Ohio State

Stewart, Jonathan
Timberline HS, Lacey WA

Taylor, Terrance
Muskegon HS, Muskegon MI

Thomas, Carlos
Banneker HS, College Park GA
South Carolina

Tucker, Taalib
Westlake HS, Eastpoint GA
Georgia tech

Wells, Maurice
Sandalwood HS, Jacksonville FL
Ohio State

Williams, Derrick
Eleanor Roosevelt HS, Greenbelt MD
Penn State

Williams, Gerald
Boyd Anderson HS, Lauderdale Lakes FL

Williams, Ryan
Mission Viejo HS, Mission Viejo CA
Ohio State

Wilson, Lawrence
Akron SVSM HS, Akron OH
Ohio State

Wilson, Marcus
Camden Catholic HS, Cherry Hill NJ

Wilson, Ronnie
Ely HS, Pompano Beach FL

Worthington, Doug
St. Francis HS, Athol Springs NY
Ohio State
* * * *

It’s been fun, keeping score along with you during this recruiting season. I feel OSU made a good case for a Top Ten class after all was said and done and faxed in. But the real test is the season. And how the kids play once they get out there and start running into one another.

I can hardly wait until September 3. What will we talk about until then?

Power runner commits for ’06 - Columbus Dispatch$

Power runner commits for ’06
Monday, February 07, 2005
Tim May

Ohio State missed out on signing a power back in its 2005 football recruiting class, but Chris Wells declared yesterday that the Buckeyes will get one in 2006.

Wells, a 6-foot-1, 227-pound junior at Akron Garfield, became the first commitment to that class. He is expected to be the top-ranked prospect in the state, but no matter what, he said, he wants to be known as a power back.

"I’m coming as a big back," Wells said. "They’ve already got a scat back. I want to be the power back."

The scat back he mentioned is the speedy Maurice Wells (no relation), an All-American from Jacksonville, Fla., who signed with Ohio State last week. But what if celebrated Jason Gwaltney, a power runner from North Babylon, N.Y., also had signed with Ohio State instead of West Virginia?

"Well, I don’t know," Chris Wells said. "Gwaltney is a big back like I am. I probably would have had to think about it for a while."

But with that point being moot, it took little time for Wells to make a decision after returning from a junior day at Ohio State during the weekend. He had offers from Oklahoma, Michigan, Penn State, Iowa, Minnesota and Syracuse, he said, but visiting Ohio State confirmed his feelings.

"All the rest of those schools are good programs, but Ohio State is where it’s at," Wells said. "I felt so comfortable there this weekend, it was amazing. It felt like home. I just want to be at Ohio State."

The feeling, no doubt, is mutual. Wells scored 20 touchdowns and rushed for 1,939 yards last year.

"I don’t think anyone would argue this is a great start for Ohio State on its 2006 class," said Bill Kurelic of OhioState.rivals.com. "Chris Wells is going to be one of the top backs in the country this year."


O'Neal serves as recruiter for Buckeyes - NN of Central Ohio

O'Neal serves as recruiter for Buckeyes

By Jon Spencer
Gannett News Service
COLUMBUS -- Jamario O'Neal has been described as a lock-down cornerback and special teams sensation, but persuasive recruiter?

Yep, recruiter.

In unveiling his 2005 recruiting class Wednesday, Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel said O'Neal paved the way for what is viewed by some analysts as a top 10 haul by verbally committing to the Buckeyes two years ago.

"A lot of times we talk about that last, midnight-hour guy to commit, but we can't lose sight of those guys who set the foundation for that class," Tressel said. "Jamario O'Neal and Alex Boone (a 6-8, 315-pound lineman from Lakewood St. Edward's who committed midway through his junior year) are marquee guys

"The rest of the guys who are looking around to where they would like to have good teammates, they look at Jamario and Alex and say, `Gosh, I would love to be on their team.' "

A lot has happened to O'Neal in the two years since he pledged his allegiance to OSU soon after his sophomore season at Mansfield Senior.

An off-the-field incident led to a two-game suspension at the start of the 2003 season and his transfer to Cleveland Glenville. O'Neal lost most of his junior season waiting for clearance from the OHSAA to play for the Tarblooders, but he complemented Ted Ginn Jr. in helping Glenville win a state track championship the following spring.

Last fall, O'Neal made 65 tackles, three interceptions and three sacks to help Glenville reach the state semifinals. He was named a Parade All-American and competed with Boone and fellow OSU signee, running back Maurice Wells, in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl last month in San Antonio.

"It (national signing day) is finally here and I feel good about it," said O'Neal, who along with Tarblooder linebacker Freddie Lenix will join Glenville alums Ginn, quarterback Troy Smith, safety Donte Whitner and linebacker Curtis Terry at Ohio State.

"I'll come in and try and stay focused. I've talked to them a couple of times about playing some on offense. We'll see how it goes. I just want to get on the field."

O'Neal could be another kick return threat for a team that already has a dazzling duo in Ginn and Santonio Holmes.

"After Jamario's 92-yarder against Canton McKinley (in the playoffs), I told Santonio, `You'd better watch it,' " Tressel joked. "I know Jamario is going to be a great one. I told him (Wednesday morning) I could see him smiling on the phone ... and it wasn't a camera phone."

O'Neal never wavered in his decision, even though some potential Buckeyes were scared off by the on-going NCAA investigation of the football program and improprieties alleged by former tailback Maurice Clarett.

"I think Ohio State is going to be OK," O'Neal said about the probe. "I was always solidly a Buckeye. I grew up watching them."

O'Neal will be reunited at Ohio State with Stan Jefferson, the associate director of football operations. Jefferson was O'Neal's head coach at Mansfield Senior for two years and the high school principal when O'Neal was suspended.

A meeting to clear the air was held at OSU last summer involving O'Neal, Jefferson, Glenville coach Ted Ginn Sr. (O'Neal's legal guardian) and Tressel.

"Ted told me that Jamario has matured a lot since being in Cleveland," Jefferson said. "He's going to have a great career here. That kid can do such much. After seeing what (wide receiver) Troy Brown did for the New England Patriots as a nickel back, coaches are looking at what they can do with their personnel. Jamario has the athleticism, the genetics ... and he's fast enough, too."

Ohio State scored a major victory late Wednesday afternoon when Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary defensive end Lawrence Wilson picked the Buckeyes over Notre Dame and Florida. Bagging Wilson helped soften the blow of losing New York running back Jason Gwaltney to West Virginia and Minnesota defensive end Walker Ashley to USC.

"If you don't get a guy at the end, that tends to overshadow the guys you got at the beginning," Tressel said. "We always talk about finishing plays, finishing games and finishing bowls, so (signing Wilson) was huge for us."

Rob Schoenhoft of Cincinnati St. Xavier, the only quarterback signed by OSU, didn't put up big numbers, but Tressel said the 6-6, 225-pounder has tremendous upside.

"I think he could be special," Tressel said. "He's big, strong, competitive and has a rocket arm. He moves better than some might anticipate and I like the way he managed his team."

The one downside, Tressel admitted, was signing only one running back. They had hoped to mesh Wells and Gwaltney with the only two tailbacks already on scholarship -- freshmen Antonio Pittman and Eric Haw.

Wells is generously listed at 5-10, 185 pounds. He more of a mighty mite, built along the lines of Michigan's Michael Hart and Kansas State's Darren Sprowles. Wells had an injury-marred senior year, but still ran for over 1,908 yards and 18 touchdowns after rushing for 3,076 yards and 31 touchdowns at the highest level in Florida.

"I'm sure (the recruits) heard a lot of things," Tressel said, downplaying the cloud cast by the NCAA probe. "That stuff didn't override where they wanted to be. So we do feel a sense of accomplishment."

Commentary: Tressel shines in tough times - NN of Central Ohio

Commentary: Tressel shines in tough times

By Larry Phillips, [email protected]
Gannett News Service
Any other year Ohio State's football recruiting class, rated anywhere from 7th to 13th nationally, would be considered solid if not spectacular.

However, other years don't include recruiting with Maurice Clarett's lurid allegations hanging overhead, and Troy Smith's suspension triggering a second NCAA investigation in as many years.

In that climate, landing the third-best recruiting class in the Big Ten (behind Michigan and Iowa) was fairly extraordinary.

Coach Jim Tressel and his staff had to fight national perception of a program out of control (15 arrests in four years) and under the microscope (the NCAA has launched its second probe in 18 months).

Despite other programs tossing about the word probation, OSU lost only one recruit outright, California offensive lineman Kevin Bemoll.

"I had a really firm commitment to Ohio State, but with all the stuff that is going on in Ohio, I'm going to see what else is out there," Bemoll told Scout.com.

Bemoll said the possibility of NCAA sanctions was one reason he reneged on the Buckeyes and went to California.

The Clarett scandal began more than a year ago, and it resonated in his old high school. Warren Harding receiver Mario Manningham, the state's top offensive player, signed with Michigan after committing prior to his senior season.

"Ohio State was having off the field troubles at the time I was being recruited, and it seems it's still going on," Manningham said last month. "Michigan was the right place for me."

The Bucks tried in vain to get on the travel list for Florida defensive back Eric Sledge.

"I probably won't visit because of the controversy," Sledge told Rivals.com last month before committing to Florida. "I don't know if I want to take that gamble."

The Buckeyes fell short on several out-of-state prospects. The bad publicity couldn't have helped in tight recruiting duels for: Washington D.C. linebacker Rico McCoy (who picked Tennessee over OSU), running back Jason Gwaltney (who signed with West Virginia), defensive lineman Walker Ashley (who chose USC on Wednesday), and outside linebacker Tavaras Kearney (who picked Georgia).

Still, a number of Ohio's best players expressed little concern.

The father of Akron defensive end Lawrence Wilson told the Cleveland Plain Dealer the Florida coaching staff in particular "trashed" OSU. But the Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary's star cast his lot with the Buckeyes anyway.

Former Mansfield Senior standout Jamario O'Neal said he had no reservations whatsoever about signing with the Buckeyes. Ditto for offensive lineman Alex Boone of Lakewood St. Edward's. Both are consensus top 100 players nationally.

The two biggest out-of-state catches, defensive lineman Doug Worthington (from New York) and running back Maurice Wells (from Florida), were also unwavering in their support of Ohio State -- despite fierce recruiting battles. OSU beat out USC and Florida State for Wells, and Worthington was wooed by Alabama and Florida among others.

The Buckeyes' 2005 recruiting class does not approach the highly-decorated 2002 class Tressel brought in during his second year.

Yet all things considered, this should be recognized as one of Tressel's finest recruiting jobs.

Now if the Buckeyes can avoid a haymaker from the NCAA, Tressel's staff should be in good shape to chase what promises to be an exciting Ohio class of 2006.

SEC Takes Conference Title - Scout

SEC Takes Conference Title
By Scout.com
Date: Feb 5, 2005

While Tennessee took home the national recruiting title, the SEC as a whole finished with the deepest recruiting pool in the nation with seven of the top 25 recruiting classes this year. Scout.com takes a more in-depth look at the recruiting classes for the top six conferences.

#1 Southeastern Conference

#2 Atlantic Coast Conference

#3 Pac-10 Conference

#4 Big Ten Conference (including Notre Dame)

#5 Big XII Conference

#6 Big East Conference

Big Ten Breakdown - Scout

Big Ten Breakdown
By Pool, Lichtenfels Big Ten Analysts
Date: Feb 5, 2005

Aided by Michigan's number two recruiting class in the nation, the Big Ten came in third in the scout.com conference rankings, and we also take at the first Charlie Weis recruiting class at Notre Dame.

Lloyd Carr and his Michigan staff once again signed one of the top recruiting classes in the country. This class is led by Michigan record-setting running back Kevin Grady Jr. Grady is already on campus in Ann Arbor and should compete for carries in the fall. Michigan landed five super defensive linemen in Marques Slocum (left, DT), James McKinney (DT) Terrance Taylor (DT), Chris McLaurin (DE) and Carson Butler (DE). Ohio’s Mario Manningham pledged Michigan as a junior and he has a chance to be a difference maker for the Wolverines. Michigan also signed the most electric athlete in the Midwest in Jackson, Michigan’s Antonio Bass.

Ohio State always has a one of the best recruiting classes in the country and ’05 is no exception. This Buckeye recruiting class is led by Alex Boone (right, OL). Alex is a U.S. Army All-American and one of the top tackles in the entire country. Jamario O’Neal was also a U.S. Army All-American and he could help the Bucks on either side of the football. Cleveland-Glenville linebacker Freddie Lenix is extremely underrated. Lenix is a tremendous athlete that could end up playing running back for Ohio State. Rob Schoenhoft is an “Elite 11” quarterback with an extremely strong arm. Akron’s Lawrence Wilson originally committed to Notre Dame but signed with Ohio State.

Iowa. Where do we start? How about with Hawkeyes raiding Illinois for the nation’s #1 TE prospect Tony Moeaki (left). Assistant coach Lester Erb also landed the signatures of All-American’s Dan Doering (OL), Dace Richardson (OL), Jake Christensen (QB) and Ryan Bain (DT), all from the Land of Lincoln. Kirk Ferentz went to the sunshine state to get super RB/FB Kalvin Bailey. Iowa also did a bang-up job in their own back yard by landing the signatures of top prospects Tyler Blum (OL/DL), Alex Kanellis (DT), Andy Kuempel (OL) and Pat Angerer (LB).

Joe Tiller and Purdue quietly put together a solid recruiting class. The Boilers were only supposed to sign about 10 prospects this year but that number ballooned to 22. Purdue signed a few gray-shirt prospects to LOI’s today including Christian Graham and David Ramirez. The Boilers also signed 2004 All-American Kyle Williams. Williams had originally signed with Iowa last year. Indiana wide receiver Selwyn Lymon is the cornerstone of this recruiting class and he’s backed up by U.S. Army All-American defensive end J.B. Paxson (right). Quarterback Joey Elliott has the potential to be a good one for the Boilermakers.

Any momentum Notre Dame had going on the recruiting front was tossed out the window when the Irish fired Tyrone Willingham. New England Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weiss was hired to right the ship. Weiss was able to get the signatures of Michigan wide receiver David Grimes as well as U.S. Army All-American receiver D.J. Hord (left). Both of these young men will benefit from Weiss and offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe’s pass happy offense. On defense, Notre Dame landed a couple of solid linebackers in Scott Smith (Illinois) and Kevin Washington (Texas). Minnesota Joey Hiben was one of the nations most sought after TE prospects.

Regardless of how the Penn State class turned out on signing day, it was already considered a success. Penn State landed two of the nation’s elite players in wide receiver Derrick Williams (right) and (CB) Justin King and on signing day (LB) Jerome Hayes chose Penn State. Though Penn State was stung by (OT) Jared Gaither signing with Maryland, (RB) Lydell Sargeant could end up be the gem of the class.

Wisconsin’s class is led by Scout.com’s #1 DE prospect Travis Beckum (left). The U.S. Army All-American had his pick of schools and chose the Badgers in December. The Badgers signed a solid group of linebackers led by Florida’s Elijah Hodge. O’Brien Schofield (Illinois) and Wisconsin’s own DeAndre Levy will play linebacker for Bucky as well. Wisconsin always does well in the state of Illinois and they did another great job this year. Schofield, Terrance Jamison (DE) and Dion Foster (RB) are all “Top 20” prospects from the Land of Lincoln. Two prospects to watch are Jae McFadden (TE) and Aubrey Pleasant (S). McFadden is an underrated prospect who comes from the talent rich Sunshine State and Pleasant became one of the most talked about prospects amongst college recruiters in December and January.

Michigan State and John L. Smith decided to strengthen his interior line by going after several top junior college prospects. Bobby Jones (DE), Jonal Saint-Dic (DE) and David Stanton (DT) will provide immediate depth on the defensive line for the Spartans. Michigan State signed a pair of tremendous running backs in Missouri’s A.J. Jimmerson and Ohio’s Javon Ringer. Ryan Allison, Diego Oquendo, Danny Fortener and Emory Jones are four wide receivers that outstanding speed. Remember the name Brandon Long (right). He’ll be one of the Big Ten’s best linebackers in a few years.

Ron Zook took over late in the recruiting game for Illinois but he still managed to sign a nice crop of recruits. The Fighting Illini are led by five-star Junior College defensive tackle Ismail Abdunafi and five-star U.S. Army All-American running back Rashard Mendenhall (left). Fork Union’s Derrick McPhearson could contribute early. Zook signed a solid corps of linebackers in Rahkeem Smith, Sam Porter and Brit Miller. Cornerback Guesly Dervil has outstanding speed and he could contribute early for the Fighting Illini as well.Quarterback Paul Blalock and defensive end Doug Pilcher are sleeper prospects that have a ton of upside.

I don’t want to put any undo pressure on Randy Walker but this Northwestern recruiting class has the potential to be one of the best in school history. The Wildcats need an athletic quarterback that can run their run and shoot offense and Walker signed three excellent signal callers in Oklahoma’s Andrew Brewer (right) and a pair of dual-threat quarterbacks from the Land of Lincoln in Mike Kafka and Eric Peterman. Tyrell Sutton (RB) is Ohio’s Mr. Football. Northwestern signed a super crop of offensive linemen led Kurt Mattes and Ramon Diaz. Remember the name Corey Wootton, he has All-Big Ten potential written all over him.

Minnesota once again went into Ohio and did a super job at signing some top prospects from the Buckeye State. Glen Mason was tickled to receive a LOI from Columbus, Ohio’s Alex Daniels (left, S). Daniels is a four-star safety that can make an immediate impact for the Gophers. Other Ohioans that signed with Minnesota include Dominic Jones (CB), Keith Massey (WR), Mike Chambers (WR) and Jason Sekinger (OL). Mason couldn’t keep the top three in-state prospects home but he was able to get the signatures of several top prospects from Minnesota including Ryan Ruckdashel (OL) and Nedward Tavale (OL). Illinois offensive tackle Otis Hudson is a one to watch.

Terry Hoepner is another coach who took over late in the recruiting game. Indiana ended up losing a couple of Gerry DiNardo’s verbal commitments but they did sign Ohio’s Bruce Hampton (CB) and Wisconsin’s Nick Polk (WR). Both of these young men have the ability to be contributors in 2005. Hoepner signed Fork Union’s Bryan Payton (right, RB), and he could provide instant offense for the Hoosiers. Indiana went into Florida and signed a trio of solid football players in Neal Jones (DE), Demetrius McCray (RB) and Jamie Kirlew (DE).

SEC Breakdown - Scout

SEC Breakdown
By Scott Kennedy Southeastern Recruiting Analyst
Date: Feb 5, 2005

Throughout the year, the Southeastern Conference looked strong in recruiting, and it came away the conference champion and Tennessee earned the recruiting mythical national championship

Tennessee got off to an early start with five star commitments Jonathan Crompton (right) and LaMarcus Coker, and they never looked back. They quietly added such star players as Demetrice Morley and Jeff Cottam, and then they carried the momentum into January and solidified the #1 Class in the Country.

The Volunteer Class of 2005 has stars at every position, and that is the key to it being so good. Even the loss of #1 wide receiver to USC was offset by getting U.S. Army All-American Slick Shelley out of Arkansas.

A typical Phil Fulmer class is solid on the line of scrimmage, and the Class of 2005 is no different. Chris Scott of Lovejoy High School in Georgia headlines another stellar group of offensive linemen.

There are a lot of weapons on offense, and LaMarcus Coker of Antioch High School in Tennessee may be the biggest weapon of them all. Coker is a home run hitter capable of taking it the distance as well as going between the tackles for the tough yards.

While we'll truly be able to tell how well this class rates in three or four years, Tennessee certainly signed the raw talent to be able to compete for championships.

Georgia's Top 5 class is absolutely stacked on defense. The Bulldogs went heavy on defensive line with players like 5 Star defensive tackle Kade Weston (left) out of New Jersey. Darius Dewberry of Peach County High School in Georgia headlines the linebacking class, and the Bulldogs went down to Florida to sign several top defensive backs including Bryan Evans of Jacksonville.

What strikes this class as out of the ordinary for the Bulldogs is how much of it came from out of state. Weston came from New Jersey, and 5 Star safety C.J. Byrd is the top player from South Carolina. Jeff Owens out of Plantation, Fla. is an excellent defensive tackle that will team with Weston to form a fearsome pair at defensive tackle.

Georgia established themselves as a national recruiting power this season by going out of state to secure their needs, and new defensive coordinator Willie Martinez is going to have a lot of tools to work with.

It says a lot about a recruiting class when fans are talking about the players they lost, and the team itself still finishes with a class knocking on the door of the Top 10 in the country, but that is just what happened with Florida. Coach Urban Meyer brought his impressive credentials to one of the most fertile areas of the country, and he went out of state to pick and choose some players that would fit his system.

Josh Portis (right) is a quarterback from California that is tailor-made for Meyer's offense. Portis will have two huge receivers to throw to in Louis Murphy Saint Petersburg, Fla. and David Nelson out of Texas. Both big receivers are better than 6-3.

Avery Atkins of Mainland High School in Daytona is one of the top overall prospects in the state of Florida, and he could end up playing corner or safety in college.

Simon Codrington of Miami Senior is a huge offensive tackle prospect. At 6-7 and 255 pounds, Codrington has a background in basketball, and the sky is the limit for him as he grows into his frame in Gainesville.

Alabama's resurgence into the Top 20 of recruiting rankings was tale of two seasons for the Tide. Alabama went heavy early in the season with eight of its thirteen early commitments being on the offensive and defensive lines.

Those linemen made up the meat of the Tide Class, and Alabama got its star power as the year wore on, specifically with running backs from the Sunshine State.

Mike Ford (left) of Sarasota High School is the second best running back in the state of Florida behind Scout.com's #1 running back overall in Antone Smith of Pahokee. Ford has excellent size and speed. The Tide also added South Hot 100 running back Roy Upchurch out of Tallahassee. Upchurch got the most national recognition, but the running back coming in with the least amount of fanfare may be the one to watch the closest, Glen Coffee of Fort Walton Beach.

The Tide went with numbers in this class signing over 30 players this year. There is good depth in the defensive backfield, offensive and defensive lines, and as stated at running back.

The biggest name in the SEC came back to the SEC in December in South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier. While the immediate impact of his recruiting seemed slow, the final product signing on February 2nd showed a definitive upgrade.

Like Ole Miss, South Carolina was short on commitments headed into the month of December, but the Gamecocks closed with a bang. Running back Mike Davis (right) of Columbia, wide receiver O.J. Murdock of Tampa, and tight end Jonathan Hannah of North Carolina were all huge pickups the last week before signing day. Cornerback Carlos Thomas of Atlanta was Spurrier’s first nationally recruited player to add to the roster, but he wasn’t the last as evidenced by the huge last week of recruiting before signing day.

Spurrier is going to be a player on the recruiting circuit for twelve months this year rather than just six weeks, and the impact he had in a short time was impressive. It will be interesting to watch Spurrier and his staff recruit for 12 months.

Coach Les Miles came into a good situation at LSU this season. The Tigers are loaded with talent, and they did not have many scholarships to offer so it was not imperative to sign a huge class of players this year. LSU would have been content if they simply could have held on to players like defensive end Alfred Jones of St. Augustine, but Miles was not content with just standing still.

Ryan Perrilloux (left) of East Saint John is the crown jewel of Miles’ first recruiting class, and he made a signing day decision for the new coach. Perrilloux is the #2 ranked player in the country by Scout.com regardless of position, and he can beat a team in so many ways. Perrilloux will push incumbents JaMarcus Russell and Matt Flynn to reach their potential or get out of his way. Either option is great a great one for LSU.

Perrilloux wasn’t LSU’s only coup the last week of signing day. Brandon La Fell and R.J. Jackson are two stars out of the state of Texas that are difference makers. Add those three players to the solid nucleus of commitments that LSU had going into January, and Miles’ first class can be considered an unmitigating success despite the lack of sheer numbers.

Auburn signed its typical class of players that helped them to a 13-0 season last year: several star prospects surrounded by solid football players. Tray Blackmon (right) of LaGrange High School was rated the #1 linebacker in the country by Scout.com, but he won’t be alone. Louisiana’ Patrick Trahan doesn’t have the star power that Blackmon does, but he and Rex Sharpe of Fairfield, Ala. will help keep a strong linebacking tradition at Auburn going.

Tommy Trott of Trinity Presbyterian is the #1 ranked player in the state of Alabama by Scout.com, and he is a difference maker at the tight end position.

The sleeper of this group is Jonathan Wilhite of Butler Community College. Wilhite is a shutdown corner that will be asked to step in and contribute right away. He will have a lot of help in Walter McFadden of Ely High School in Florida.

One can’t count on many things in the crazy world of college football, but saying that Coach Ed Orgeron is going to be interesting to watch at Ole Miss is one of them. Orgeron has brought a passion to Ole Miss that was lacking under the business like Cutcliffe, and the recruits immediately took to him.

After a slow start on the recruiting trails, Ole Miss closed with a flurry. The Rebels only had four new commitments going into the month of December, but then things got interesting.

Michael Oher (left) is the top ranked offensive line prospect in the south out of Memphis, Tenn., and he pledged to the Rebels the week he returned from the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Oher wasn’t the only Army All-American to make a commitment, Wayne County monster defensive tackle signed with Ole Miss.

Teammates Antonio Turner and Gary Aubrey of Edgewater High School in Orlando, Fla. went to three straight state championship games, and they are hoping to bring their winning ways to Oxford.

Arkansas got jilted by Roy Upchurch and Duke Robinson late, but they more than made up for the loss of Upchurch with Darren McFadden (right) of Oak Grove High School and a Signing Day pickup of Felix Jones out of Oklahoma.

The Razorbacks went into the state of Texas early to pick up commitments from teammates Casey Dick and Marcus Shavers of Allen High School as well as Colin Tucker and Matt Harris of Pearce High School.

The sleeper in this class could well be Michael Bibbs of Washington High School in Atlanta, Ga. Bibbs was a teammate of Duke Robinson, and while he didn’t get the fanfare that the offensive lineman, he may well end up being the better college prospect. He has excellent size and speed. He was fast enough to play corner for Washington, but he was also big enough to play linebacker.

Coach Croom’s first full class at Mississippi State brought what can be considered the surprise of the south in cornerback Derek Pegues (left) of South Panola. The term South Panola pipeline has been used to describe the predictable destination to Ole Miss through the years. Pegues bucked that trend on signing day, and he gives Mississippi State one of the Top 10 cornerbacks in the entire country.

With it being a down year for qualified talent in the state of Mississippi, both Ole Miss and Mississippi State ventured out of state to fill the majority of its class. As they do on so many topics, the Bulldogs and Rebels went in different directions. While the Rebels went west into Louisiana, the Bulldogs of Mississippi State raided the Peach State for several top players.

Keith Fitzhugh of Lovejoy High School in Georgia will team up with Pegues to form a dynamic pair of defensive backs. Corey Gardhigh is ranked the #1 wide receiver in the state of Georgia, and Mississippi State got a steal from the Cedartown product. Tray Rutland of Tri-Cities is a mobile quarterback with a strong arm that has the potential to do many good things Mississippi State down the road.

Kentucky went long on numbers this year. After signing several Junior College players in the Class of 2004, the Cats backed off of that approach somewhat this year with only two. That is a good sign that Coach Brooks is intent on rebuilding the Kentucky program, and what better place to start than Hopkinsville’s Curtis Pulley (right).

Pulley is a big quarterback that runs extremely well. He has a great arm, and the kind of athleticism that reminded me a lot of the more heralded Michael Bush when Bush was a junior.

Kentucky spent as much time in the Peach State this year as they did in the Blue Grass State, and their efforts were well rewarded with seven players from the state of Georgia. Teammates Braxton Kelly and Demoreo Ford won three State Championships in their time at LaGrange, and they are playmakers that know how to win.

Vanderbilt is going to have to start winning more games before they are going to make a huge splash on signing day, but they did pick up some key players to help them reach that goal.

Oklahoma’s Mackenzi Adams (left) is an athletic quarterback that can hurt a team in several ways. He likes the deep ball and is used to playing in big games.

Wide receiver Justin Wheeler from North Augusta High School in South Carolina is the type of prospect that Vanderbilt will bank on to develop into a star. He has a background in basketball, and he has an unlimited potential on the football field. If he reaches it, Adams will have a very dangerous target to through to.

Broderick Stewart of Riverside Military Academy in Georgia is a big tight end that will also open up the defenses. Earl Bennett of West End High School in Birmingham could end up being the best player in this class. Again, he’s a wide receiver prospect.
The Commodores’ top prospects all seem to be on the same side of the ball this year, and that will make the Vanderbilt attack more exciting in the very near future.


Pac-10 Breakdown - NAME

Pac-10 Breakdown
By Andrew Friedman Chris Fetters, Scout.com
Date: Feb 3, 2005

Now that the dust has settled, it's time to take a look back at who were the winners and losers in the Pac-10 recruiting race.

Arizona (#3 in the Pac-10, #14 nationally) – On paper, this is the best recruiting class in Tucson in a very long time. Mike Stoops and staff did a sensational job in their first full recruiting cycle. The first thing they did was go into California and land one of the top quarterbacks in the nation in William Tuitama of Stockton St. Mary’s. He is a player that will get looks as a starter as soon as he steps on campus. The four star signal caller will have a tremendous backfield to work with as the Cats landed the two highest rated running backs in AZ with four stars Terry Longbons from Peoria Centennial and Tucson’s own Xavier Smith from Sunnyside. UA also made another major coup in their own backyard by landing four star offensive lineman Daniel Borg from Ironwood Ridge High in Tucson. Arizona’s offensive line will be getting another huge boost as they added one of the three best offensive linemen in California with four star Eben Britton from Burbank Burroughs. The Cats also scoured the JC ranks and picked up some gems in four star safety Michael Johnson from Tyler JC in Texas, four star offensive lineman Adam Hawes from Yuba College in Wheatland, CA, and four star receiver B.J. Vickers from Santa Monica, CA. UA may have received its best news at the last minute as four star linebacker Adrian McCovey of Lakewood, CA, said he would sign with the Wildcats. McCovey has the skills to be something special at the next level. Arizona landed a four star player at almost every position across the board and if they continue to add classes like this year’s and last year’s they will be in the thick of the Pac Ten race in the very near future.
Immediate Impact - offense: B.J. Vickers/Willie Tuitama/Adam Hawes
Immediate Impact - defense: Adrian McCovey/Michael Johnson/Byron Smith
Biggest Sleeper: Garrett Fields
Biggest Shoes to fill: Brandyn McCall (Steve Fleming)
One that Got away: Luthur Brown (USC)

Arizona State (#7 in the Pac-10, #41 nationally) – The Sun Devils landed one of the most complete classes you will see. They landed the no.12 quarterback in the nation, four star Derek Shaw from Oceanside, CA. The Devils actually pulled Shaw away from his commitment to Miami. He will have a couple of great receivers to throw to in Brandon Smith of Bakersfield West, CA, and Chris McGaha of Phoenix Moon Valley, AZ. Keegan Herring from Peoria, AZ is a player that could be a stud running back for the Devils, or a blazing fast receiver. Herring is considered as one of the fastest players in the nation as he can run a consistent 40 in the legit 4.3 range. ASU went into Colorado and landed what are arguably the two best players in the state. They got the Colorado Springs Player of the Year, RB Shaun Dewitty from Doherty, and four star Denver CB Grant Crunkleton from Mullen. Dewitty could also be a terrific safety if the Devils opt to use his skills on defense. ASU landed a ton of talent in the trenches as they went into California and signed arguably the best center prospect in the state in Thomas Altieri from Vista, CA, and they also signed the best offensive lineman in the Phoenix-metro area in Richard Tuitu’u from Gilbert Highland. In all, ASU signed eight linemen between the high school and JC ranks; four on offense and four on defense.
Immediate Impact - offense: Shaun Dewitty/Keegan Herring
Immediate Impact - defense: Beau Manutai/Will Kofe/Zach Catanese
Biggest Sleeper: Jovon Williams
Biggest Shoes to fill: Beau Manutai (Justin Burks)
One that Got away: Mickey Pimentel (California)

California (#2 in the Pac-10, #9 nationally) - Head Coach Jeff Tedford went all-out to make sure the Golden Bears capitalized on an excellent 2004 campaign, and they did just that. A top-ten team Scout.com recruiting ranking attests to the balance and quality of Cal's class. They lose QB Aaron Rodgers and immediately replace him with the nation's top JUCO QB in Joseph Ayoob. Gone is Geoff McArthur, Chase Lyman, Burl Toler and Jonathan Makonnen; Lavelle Hawkins, DeSean Jackson and Jesse Canada are more than ready to step in and help pick up the slack. 2004 also saw the graduations of Wendell Hunter, Joe Maningo and Brian Tremblay from a talented linebacking corps. What does Tedford do? He grabs two of the top JUCO linebackers in the country in Mickey Pimentel and Desmond Bishop, as well as top prep LB Anthony Felder from Seattle. Pulling Jackson away from USC was a major coup and shows how far the Cal program has come since their 1-10 campaign in 2001.
Immediate Impact - offense: DeSean Jackson/Joseph Ayoob/Lavelle Hawkins
Immediate Impact - defense: Mickey Pimentel/Desmond Bishop
Biggest Sleeper: Tad Smith
Biggest Shoes to fill: Joseph Ayoob (Aaron Rodgers)
One that Got away: Will Powers (Stanford)

Oregon (#5 in the Pac-10, #30 nationally) - The Ducks, bolstered by an advertising campaign initiated years ago to enhance the program's visibility, is reaping the rewards of their broad sweep. UO landed 23 signees from as far away as Georgia and Alabama to the east and American Samoa to the west. But their biggest recruit was landed just to the north of Eugene, Oregon - Lacey, Washington, to be exact. Scout.com's number-one running back prospect, Jonathan Stewart, was the crown jewel; Stewart picked the Ducks over Washington State in a heated effort that went nearly to the wire. Of interest, Head Coach Mike Bellotti did not sign a quarterback, which should bode well for 2004 walk-on Kyle Bennett. Bellotti needed to get Duck starting QB Kellen Clemens some weapons; besides Stewart he also landed two highly rated receivers. James Finley was a Duck signee three years ago but because of eligibility issues went back to Los Angeles. He's earned his AA from Compton College and is now currently enrolled at UO and ready to play. Derrick Jones, a member of the 2004 Scout.com Hot 100 and a former USC signee, also signed with the Ducks.
Immediate Impact - offense: Jonathan Stewart/James Finley/Derrick Jones
Immediate Impact - defense: Jason Turner/Blair Phillips
Biggest Sleeper: Simi Toeaina
Biggest Shoes to fill: Paulani Ma Sun/Pat So'oalo (Michael DeLaGrange/Robin Knebel/Adam Snyder)
One that Got away: Rey Maualuga (USC)

Oregon State (#9 in the Pac-10, #51 in the country) - Oregon State Head Coach has to be pleased with how his 2005 class shaped up, at least on offense. Former UCLA QB Matt Moore and prep prospect Sean Canfield will be immediately thrown into the mix as Riley looks for a replacement for the departed Derek Anderson. With the recent departure of running back Ryan Cole, Nate Wright and Markel Devorce were added and should compete for immediate playing time. Riley also addressed needs at offensive line, signing four high school players. Defensively it's a little thinner, but Riley did an exceptional job in picking up JUCO DB studs Edorian McCullough and Aaron Miller. McCullough, a former Texas player, has legit Olympic sprinter speed, and Miller is a former Oklahoma signee. Those two should compete from the get-go this fall. Add to those two Oregon prep standout Kevin Maher, as well as Patrick Henderson from California and Al Afalava from the storied Kahuku program in Hawaii. Riley was also able to steal a couple of late commits - Afalava from BYU, as well as Moses Lake DT Wilson Holman from Washington State.
Immediate Impact - offense: Matt Moore/Nate Wright/Jason Vandiver
Immediate Impact - defense: Edorian McCullough/Aaron Miller
Biggest Sleeper: Markel Devorce
Biggest Shoes to fill: Matt Moore (Derek Anderson)
One that Got away: Gardner McKay II (Colorado)

Stanford (#6 in the Pac-10, #38 nationally) - The Cardinal, with their high admissions standards, did what they always do, despite the relative late arrival of new Head Coach Walt Harris. They culled the top student-athletes from all parts of the country; 16 signees from 12 states. This class should be known in the years to come by it's defensive standouts - DT's Ekom Udofia and James McGillicuddy, DE's Ben Ladner and Matt Kopa, linebackers Will Powers, Clinton Snyder and Tom McAndrew and DB's Kris Evans and Blaise Johnson. But the offense didn't get short shrift; QB Tavita Pritchard was arguably the top signal-caller in the entire northwest. Add to that OL Chris Marinelli and TE James Dray, and you have a group of players that addressed need and did so with excellent results despite a limited time-frame.
Immediate Impact - offense: James Dray
Immediate Impact - defense: Ekom Udofia/Will Powers
Biggest Sleeper: Bo McNally
Biggest Shoes to fill: James Dray (Alex Smith)
One that Got away: Aleksey Lanis (UCLA)

UCLA (#4 in the Pac-10, #24 nationally) – UCLA signed a complete class with players at every position, except the kicking game. There is no question that this class is centered around five star quarterback Ben Olson of Thousand Oaks, CA. Olson was the no.1 quarterback in the nation a couple years back before going on his Mormon mission, and has now returned. He opted for Westwood over Provo this time, and plans to lead UCLA to the promised-land. He will compete for the starting job immediately and will have three of the better TE’s in the nation to throw the ball to as the Bruins landed Adam Heater of Snohomish, WA, Ryan Moya of El Dorado Hills Oak Ridge, CA, and four star Logan Paulsen of West Hills Chaminade, CA. The Bruins fended off many schools for what could be the best offensive lineman on the west coast in Aleksey Lanis from Crenshaw, CA. Lanis will enroll early at UCLA and figures to compete for a starting job immediately. The team will enjoy a huge boost to their secondary with the additions of four star players Aaron Ware of Westlake Village Oaks Christian and Shawn Oatis of Chino, CA. Ware is a top running back and corner but figures to see his first action on defense while Oatis could see early playing time at safety. The Bruins also landed one of the most underrated players on the west coast in safety/receiver Bret Lockett from Diamond Bar, CA.
Immediate Impact - offense: Ben Olson/Aleksey Lanis
Immediate Impact - defense: Aaron Ware/Shawn Oatis
Biggest Sleeper: Jamil Turner
Biggest Shoes to fill: Kahlil Bell (Manuel White)
One that Got away: Adrian McCovey (Arizona)

USC (#1 in Pac-10, #3 nationally) – The Trojans have landed what is arguably the number one class in the nation. Signing Day had its ups and downs for ‘SC fans. The ups were the commitments of five star linebackers Brian Cushing of New Jersey Bergen Catholic and Luthur Brown of California Lakewood. Add these two to California Eureka’s Rey Maualuga and the Trojans have landed the best group of linebackers anyone has seen in years. Another late signing day addition was local star CB Cary Harris from powerhouse Sherman Oaks Notre Dame. Harris is a four star player and one of nine in the class. There were seven five star players signed including the nation’s no.2 defensive end Averell Spicer of California’s Rancho Cucamonga, the nation’s no.1 WR Patrick Turner of Tennessee’s Goodpasture, and the crown jewel of the class, the no.1 player in the nation overall, QB Mark Sanchez of California’s Mission Viejo. The only glaring loss was five star receiver DeSean Jackson of California’s Long Beach Poly when he chose Cal over ‘SC on signing day night. How much of a loss it was will be seen in the near future as Jackson may opt for a pro baseball career instead of college football. Jackson’s decision to go to Cal is the only negative you can pin on this recruiting cycle as a class like this will assure USC of competing for many more national championships in the future.
Immediate Impact - offense: Patrick Turner
Immediate Impact - defense: Rey Maualuga/Luthur Brown/Brian Cushing
Biggest Sleeper: Kevin Ellison
Biggest Shoes to fill: Rey Maualuga (Lofa Tatupu)
One that Got away: DeSean Jackson (California)

Washington (#10 in the Pac-10, #55 in the country) - With limited time and half a staff, it's pretty surprising how new Head Coach Tyrone Willingham fared. He had to keep Bellevue studs E.J. Savannah and J.R. Hasty home, and that's just what he did. He also added some much-needed help in the secondary. Pasadena (Calif.) City College's Qwenton Freeman and Nevada transfer Chris Handy will compete for immediate playing time now that both Derrick Johnson and Sam Cunningham have graduated. The Huskies, desperately looking for an answer at quarterback, may have found an answer in former Oregon signal-caller Johnny DuRocher. Freeman's teammate at Pasadena, Marlon Wood - son of former three-time All-American Richard 'Batman' wood - gives DuRocher an immediate deep threat like the Huskies haven't seen in some time.
Immediate Impact - offense: Marlon Wood
Immediate Impact - defense: Qwenton Freeman/Chris Handy
Biggest Sleeper: Daniel Te'o Nesheim
Biggest Shoes to fill: Ben Ossai (Khalif Barnes)
One that Got away: Ismail Abdunafi (Illinois)

Washington State (#8 in the Pac-10, #47 in the country) - The Cougars went well out of their normal territory to grab some serious studs that fell through the cracks and came up gold in the late rounds. No less than five players from Louisiana and Texas will be putting on the crimson and gray as a result of WSU's recruiting efforts - due in large part to the efforts of linebackers coach Leon Burtnett. They also went six-for-six in their final recruiting weekend to finish things off with a bang. It should be no surprise then that two of those players - Jason Stripling from Tyler and Greg Trent from Keller - are also linebackers. The Cougars went a little lighter in-state than they normally would, but the three prospects they did get are very good. Seattle Rainier Beach CB Shelton Danzy, Puyallup Rogers WR Brandon Gibson and Gig Harbor OL Kenny Alfred are all potential stars down the road. State also picks up some stragglers from the year before that either delayed enrollment or became eligible - the biggest name from that group is Tacoma Lincoln safety Michael Willis, considered an instant-impact player.
Immediate Impact - offense: Lorenzo Bursey
Immediate Impact - defense: Bryant Tarkington/Michael Willis
Biggest Sleeper: Greg Trent/Courtney Williams
Biggest Shoes to fill: DeWayne Patterson (Jeremy Bohannon)
One that Got away: Jonathan Stewart (Oregon)


ACC Breakdown - Scout

ACC Breakdown
By Kennedy, Safrit East Coast Recruiting Analysts
Date: Feb 5, 2005

With seven teams landing among the top-25 in the scout.com team rankings, the Atlantic Coast Conference made a strong push for number one, but fell just a bit short.

Florida State always finishes with a bang, but signing day this year was huge for the Seminoles. The combination of Fred Rouse (right), the nation’s number two wide receiver according to scout.com, and Antone Smith, the number one running back in the nation, could help bring back a jolt of offensive firepower to the Seminole game. On the defensive side of the ball, signing head-hunting linebackers was the name of the game signing seven in at the position, all rated as four-stars or higher by scout.com as well as Callahan Bright who was the number one defensive tackle for some time.

With limited scholarships, Miami still finished with a top-fifteen class nationally, according to scout.com. Headlined by three five-star signees, including the nation’s top safety in Kenneth Phillips (left), tight end DajLeon Farr, and offensive lineman Reginald Youngblood, the Hurricanes have a small, but power-packed signing class especially along the offensive and defensive lines.

Signing the top offensive lineman in the nation, Virginia went for size this year in recruiting, as 14 of the 22 players signed are listed at 6’4” or taller. Headlined by Eugene Monroe (right), and well complimented by Brandon Albert, an offensive lineman who spent the year at Hargrave Military Academy after signing last year, the offensive line is a strength for the Cavaliers, which finished at number five in the nation.

Virginia Tech, the reigning ACC Champions, used its clout in-state to sign a top-twenty class by adding 16 of the 24 signees from inside the state of Virginia. Headlined by U.S. Army All-Americans Victor Harris (left), a cornerback, and running back Elan Lewis, the Hokies spread out its class and added quite a bit of depth at the quarterback position in Ike Whitaker, number seven at the position nationally, and along the offensive line.

After signing a tremendous class over the summer, Clemson wanted to focus on just a small number of players headed towards signing day and pulled off a great final two months including stealing linebacker Antonio Clay (right)away from Oklahoma. The Tigers also did a good job of focusing on players along the offensive line by resigning Corey Lambert and adding the top three linemen in the state of South Carolina in Thomas Austin, Jamarcus Grant, and Barry Humphries as well.

Meeting the needs across the offensive line was the focus for NC State, which signed eight offensive linemen including Curtis Crouch, one of the top offensive lineman in the country. Most of the big men committed after Toney Baker (left), the nation’s number four running back and the headliner for the Wolfpack this year, announced his decision at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and began the avalanche. Baker is joined by Andre Brown in the number three running back class in the nation.

Keeping the local players at home was the goal for Maryland, and they did just that by picking up seven of the top fourteen players in the Maryland/D.C. area. Headlined by Jared Gaither, an offensive lineman who signed with the Terps last year and spent the season at Hargrave Military Academy growing into a mammoth athlete, and Melvin Alaeze (right), Maryland has two stalwarts that could start at some point next season. The defensive secondary was another key area for the Terps, and Jamari McCollough, Anthony Wiseman, and Jeff Allen are local guys that could make a big impact.

Duke finished the Class of 2004 very well with new head coach Ted Roof in command, and that wave continued into the Class of 2005 which finished as one of the highest ranked class in over a decade for the Blue Devils. The class is led by its defensive line which includes five-star defensive tackle Vince Oghobaase (left), who is already enrolled, and four-star defensive end Ayanga Okpokowuruk. The offense is also highly talented with two great quarterbacks in Gene DelleDonne and Zack Asack who bring with them four wide receivers in the class as well.

North Carolina filled its needs in the secondary, picking up Jordan Hemby (right), the top cornerback in the state, and Jermaine Strong who was the envy of coaches at the Fork Union combine in December. The headliners of the class certainly were on the offense with already-enrolled quarterback Cameron Sexton and wide receiver Kenton Thornton, who committed to Texas last January and could have the most upside in the class.

Georgia Tech struggled down the stretch run of recruiting, but they signed several key players that look like bonafied stars on the next level. Anthony Barnes (left) of Cartersville High School is ranked one of the Top 10 prospects in the state of Georgia regardless of position. He has the size of a linebacker, but will get his first shot at safety. Helping Barnes on defense will be linebacker Taalib Tucker from Westlake High School in Atlanta. Trying to get a more stable offensive attack for the Jackets should be made a lot easier with the addition of two terrific tight ends in Michael Johnson of Dallas County High School in Alabama and Colin Peek from The Bolles School in Florida. Johnson is a dynamic athlete that came into his own as a senior and ended up ranked the #2 prospect in the state by Scout.com. Peek has the prototypical size at 6-5 and 250 pounds to be a dominating blocker as well as a safety valve for the Tech quarterback.

Boston Collegelost out on two big blue chippers in Brian Cushing and Doug Worthington, but the prize of the class is offensive lineman Patrick Sheil (right). The Eagles landed some much needed depth with (LB) Mike McLaughlin, (S) Marcellus Bowman, (LB) Paul Anderson, (WR) Clarence Megwa, (OL) Matthew Tennant, and (DE) Allan Smith. The Eagles picked up a late prize when (LB) Brady Smith signed opting out of a previous verbal pledge to Connecticut.

Wake Forest went after offensive linemen early and often this year, and signed seven at the position, including already enrolled Chris DeGeare (left), who was the most consistent lineman for the North Carolina squad in the Shrine Bowl. He will be joined by highly talented cornerback Brandon Ghee, whose brother is already playing for Wake Forest, and Ted Randolph, the top tight end in North Carolina this year.

Big 12 Breakdown - Scout

Big 12 Breakdown
By Dean/Clark/Friedman Southwest/Midlands Analysts
Date: Feb 4, 2005

The Big XII finished fifth in the conference rankings, headlined by perennial powerhouse teams Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas, and Texas A&M.

Oklahoma finished No. 6 (overall) in the nation and grabbed the No. 1-spot in the Big 12 recruiting rankings per Scout.com. Inking 26 kids, which included three 5-star/nine 4-star athletes, OU nailed down another star-studded class heavy on blue-chip talent. Annually, Bob Stoops/Bobby Jack Wright and company recruit the state of Texas as well as anybody in the country, particularly where the superstars reside. Case in point: The Sooners once again reeled in the Lone Star state's top prospect when DeMarcus Granger (left, Scout.com Texas Hot 100 No. 1 and No. 1 DT in the nation) faxed in his OU LOI. They plucked three from the Top-10 but were not done. The Signing Day pick-up of the Scout.com Midlands Hot 50 No. 1 (and the nation’s No. 1 free safety), Reggie Smith, continued to prove OU and their staff recruit as well as any staff in college football. Incidentally, the Sooners also may very well be on their way toward earning the "Linebacker U" tag when you consider the wealth of talent they collected at that position: Ryan Reynolds (4-star), Lamont Robinson (4-star) and Curtis Lofton (4-star), who may have the most potential out of the group. Secondly, three wide receivers headed to the NFL Draft in April had the Sooners in hot pursuit to fill those vacancies. And, Oklahoma is in line for potentially a better group, collecting LOIs from Malcolm Kelly (5-star), Eric Huggins (4-star) and Manuel Johnson (4-star), not to mention sleeper wideout Juaquin Iglesias.

With its first top ten class in years, Nebraska signed the largest class in the nation with 31 players. There are stars at every position. The Huskers landed three four star players on their defensive line in defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (left) from Portland Grant, OR, and defensive ends Barry Turner from Brentwood Academy, TN, and Zach Potter from Omaha Creighton Prep. In all, Nebraska signed 11 four star players and the most JUCO players they have ever inked with 12. The staff believes they landed their future quarterback in four star Harrison Beck from Clearwater Countryside, FL. Beck will have some amazing assistance in the NU backfield in the future as the crown jewel of the entire group is five star running back Marlon Lucky from North Hollywood, CA. Jordan Congdon will help give the kicking game a boost. The four star, nationally rated no.3 kicker hails from St. Augustine High in San Diego. If the new staff can string together a couple of classes like this then Nebraska fans can expect them to be a dominant team once again.

Texas landed the No. 13-ranked class per Scout.com, finishing behind Oklahoma and Nebraska in the Big 12, landing a total of 15 for the 2005 class. While Mack Brown and Co. missed on some big-name recruits, particularly the Scout.com Nation’s No. 2 (QB Ryan Perrilloux) -- who decided to remain in-state, signing with LSU -- the Horns still accomplished quite a bit in this year’s class. They landed 12 prospects on the Scout.com Texas Top 100, including several blue-chippers. A few of the bigger names were Roy Miller (left, 5-star DT), Chris Brown (4-star LB/DE), Jamaal Charles (4-star RB), Henry Melton (4-star H-Back/DE) and Quan Cosby (4-star WR), who decided to come back to the Horns after a 4-year stint in the minor leagues. They also picked up the Scout.com Southwest Hot 100 No. 14 (overall) in Aaron Lewis, a 4-star DE, hailing from La Cueva, New Mexico.

Texas A&M finished up nicely, reeling in a No. 17 overall class per Scout.com, grabbing a total of 24 prospects. Dennis Franchione signed more Scout.com Texas Top 100 athletes than any other school, collecting a whopping 15 off the list. Some of the bluest of blues they managed to bring in include, Martellus Bennett (left, 5-Star TE), Vincent Williams (4-Star DT), Arkeith Brown (4-Star WR/CB), Michael Shumard (4-Star OT), Howard Morrow (4-Star WR), Jodie Richardson (4-Star LB) and Alton Dixon (4-Star CB). From top to bottom, particularly at the top, this was an outstanding class for the Maroon/White.

Texas Tech had a few more defections than they would have liked but stole a few down-the-stretch, including Marlon Winn (Waxahachie OT) who I tabbed as a Signing Day surprise when he was expected land elsewhere. The Red Raiders racked up 21 total signees, finishing No. 36 (overall) in the country per Scout.com and in the top-five of the Big 12’s top recruiting classes. If you look closely, Mike Leach and his staff corralled 10 prospects from the Scout.com Texas Top 100, including some key blue-chippers, no one better than McKinner Dixon (4-Star DE/DT). He will bolster the D-line, where they needed the most help, is a playmaker who has a motor that never quits and a huge pick-up for the Lyle Setencich defense. Additionally, the Scarlet/Black landed some other noteworthy blue-chippers, signing Todd Walker (left, 4-star WR), Chris Cunigan (4-star WR), Louis Vasquez (3-star OT), Catron Houston (3-star WR), Edward Britton (3-star RB) and LaShawn Vation (3-star FS).

The easy headliner for Missouri would be quarterback Chase Daniel, but I'm going to go in the direction of tight end Chase Coffman, the son of former All-Pro tight end Paul Coffman. Paul, who played at Kansas State, had many believing his son would follow direction, or even perhaps head four hours north to Iowa City, but in the end it was the familiarity with the program that kept Coffman in Columbia. Although a bit thin, Coffman has tremendous hands, and creates seperation as well as any tight end on film. The Kansas City area was good to Missouri in the early stages, especially with the commitment of defensive end Tarell Corby (left) of Kansas City North. At 6'4 and 210 pounds, Corby has been timed at 4.4, and is an explosive force coming off the edge. His hips will allow him to add some weight as his legs can use, but he should be a 260 pound relentless pass rusher for the Tigers in a few years.

The Colorado Buffaloes landed a better than expected class considering all of the off-the-field issues and recruiting restrictions they had to endure this cycle. Four star defensive end Maurice Lucas from Aurora Rangeview, CO was the first player to commit to CU in the class, then he changed his commitment to Kansas State, and eventually ended up back with the Buffs in December. The state of Colorado’s top receiver, Jarrell Yates, committed to Colorado, then to Kansas, and also went back with the Buffs in early January. CU landed four star running back Maurice Greer (left) from Denver Mullen and many have him tabbed as the state’s best player. Gardner McKay II from Crenshaw is considered to be the best cornerback prospect in Los Angeles. In Texas, CU landed a couple of gems in safety James Lewis from Franklin, TX, and linebacker Marcus Burton from Channelview, TX. Florida provided a big boost as CU landed one of the top running backs from the Sunshine State in Miami Northwestern’s Kevin Moyd and the no.2 punter in the nation in Wellington’s Matthew DiLallo. The class was linemen heavy with four offensive lineman and five defensive lineman.

This was a bit of a down year for Coach Synder and his Kansas State staff compared to past recruiting classes, especially the Class of 2004, but the Wildcats did walk away arguably the top junior college offensive tackle in Mike Friesen out of Bakersfield, as well, as landing DeLaSalle quarterback Kevin Lopina (left), who originally committed to Oregon State. Dallas Lincoln safety Courtney Herndon has the potential to be amongst the best in the Big 12 Conference. Kansas State may have found their sleeper on Signing Day in Sedan, Kansas prospect Brandon Rees (6'6 230 4.8) who has excellent athleticism for his size, and the flexibility to play a magnitude of positions in college. Don't be surprised if ends up as an offensive tackle with his frame, but at the same time, his explosion is impressive enough to warrant the possiblity of some defensive line play.

Iowa State landed one of the nation's top junior college tight ends, Walter Nickel (left), after graduating three tight ends at the end of the 2004 season. A few dropped passes from the tight end cost the Cyclones dearly in their game against Missouri to advance onto the Big 12 Championship. Nickel not only is an upgrade at tight end, but will allow them to stretch the middle of the field more than any other previous tight end under Dan McCarney. There are a lot of prospects that could fall under the sleeper category for the Cyclones, but I'm going to stay in the Midlands Region with my sleeper choice, Houston Jones. While some have questioned whether he will stay at quarterback or not, I believe he is the perfect successor to Bret Meyer with his ability to throw on the run, elusiveness, and he has such a quick release.

The Kansas Jayhawks had Pittsburg native Kerry Meier (left) as their top choice at quarterback from the beginning. They defied the odds as many pegged Meier to join his brothers, including current Wildcat quarterback Dylan Meier, in Manhattan under Bill Synder. Coach Mark Mangino is very well known for his development of quarterbacks, and his offensive schemes, which captured the attention of Meier, eventually leading to his signature. This was a huge commitment in more than one way, especially in establishing their ability to recruit in their own state against Kansas State. Meier will enjoy throwing to his favorite target, Raimond Pendelton, who improved as much as any wide receiver in Texas during his senior season. A three star prospect on Scout.com, Justin Thornton could excel on either side of the ball standing at 6'2 and 180 pounds. A raw athlete that has not even came close to tapping his potential at this point, Thornton could be an emerging star in the Big 12 Conference, especially under the direction of the Jayhawk strength and conditioning program. The Jayhawks may have lost out on defensive tackle Terrel Nemons, but they found two replacements that shown a lot of potential for long-term growth in Jonathan Thronberry and Bobby Johnson.

Ranked with the 64th best class in the nation, according to Scout.com, Oklahoma State could be a school that will surprise. Due to turnover on the staff, the Cowboys fought an uphill battle. However, OSU filled a pressing need in the secondary, grabbing three cornerback/safety prospects from the Texas Hot 100 list: Quinton Moore (No. 33), Andre Sexton (left, No. 38) and Ricky Price (No. 87), who could also excel at wide receiver. They also took advantage of two Big 12 North schools in taking away Jacob Lacey (Kansas) and Calvin Mickens (Nebraska). While Oklahoma State experienced a few setbacks, they were able to pick up a few soft verbals elsewhere, including Alex Odiari (Texas 100 No. 74), Jeremy Broadway (Texas 100 No. 57) and Zac Robinson (Midlands Hot 50 No. 15), who improved immensely during his senior season, and arguably one of the top 25 quarterbacks in the country. Oklahoma State needs to take advantage of its home turf, though, in watching the top five prospects in the state head elsewhere.

Baylor tied with Oklahoma State with the No. 64th-ranked recruiting class, which all things considered, was higher than some expected. However, expectations in Waco are much higher. The want the Bears contending in the top-half of the Big 12. That said, this class adds much more quality than meets the eye. The size/speed-packages of some of the kids inking with Baylor, reveals that they should have received a bit more attention from the gurus. Guy Morriss and Gang are taking two steps forward on the gridiron and in recruiting, forcing the gurus to pay more attention to their recruiting efforts and how their guys are evaluated. Prospects BU snagged from the Scout.com Texas Top 100 are Shon Brown (3-star LB), Jason Lamb (3-star TE) and Queito Teasley (3-star RB/WR). Their highest profile pick-up is David Gettis (left), a 4-star athlete from Los Angles, who gave his commitment to the Bears during the NBC-televised U.S. Army All-American game.

Big East Breakdown - Scout

Big East Breakdown
By Bob Lichtenfels Big East Recruiting Analyst
Date: Feb 4, 2005

Finishing sixth in the conference standings, the Big East was led by West Virginia and its signing of five-star running back Jason Gwaltney. Here is a look back at the top players for each team.

The Cincinnati Bearcats had one of their strongest recruiting seasons in recent memory. The gem of the class is Glenville , Ohio (DE) Curtis Smith. Smith had a lot of interest from big time programs before deciding in the Bearcats. (LB) Leighton Morgan is a wrecking ball, he consistently makes plays inside the box, and he has the speed to make plays sideline to sideline. (WR) Derrick Stewart is one of the fastest receivers in the nation. The sleeper of the class may turn out to be (CB) Brad Jones (lef, he is as good of an athlete as you'll find.

The Connecticut Huskies picked up two “Garden State” standouts in (WR) Todd Dorcelus and (DB) Kitt Pommells (left). Connecticut loaded up on offensive lineman signing six including Pennsylvania standout Lawrence Green. One to watch in this class is (DT/OL) Joe Akers, he may not pass a lot of eyeball tests but he gets it done between the hash marks. (QB) Dennis Brown has a outstanding arm and is very mobile.
With the type of season Louisville had this year, they opened up some eyes around the country and showed that the Cardinals have more talent than they typically get credit for on signing day. The Class of 2005 was really no different. It didn’t make a big splash on paper, but make no mistake about it, there are some big time players in this class starting with U.S. Army All-American Earl Heyman (left). Heyman has a motor that doesn’t stop, and he has excellent quickness and strength. Heyman won’t be alone on the defensive line as Johnathan Holston of Rickards High School in Tallahassee is a big time talent as well. The sleeper of this class is JuJuan Spillman. Spillman is an athlete that would have gotten a lot more attention down the stretch had he not made an early commitment. Corner, wide receiver, safety, it doesn’t matter with Spillman, just get him on the field.

Despite a late coaching change, Pittsburgh kept all but a few recruits who had committed to the previous staff. (DT) Craig Bokor was the obvious prize of the class, after a season at prep school Bokor could see significant time. (RBs) LaRod Stephens, Conredge Collins, Shane Brooks, and Irvan Brown give the Panthers the most depth they have had in the backfield in recent memory. (QB) Bill Stull (left) decided prior to signing day that he would back out of a prior commitment to Kentucky and sign with Pittsburgh. The Panthers landed two legacy players (OL) John Brown and (TE) John Pelusi.

While Rutgers lost in state standout (LB) Jerome Hayes on signing day, (DE) Gary Watts could develop into an outstanding college football player. (OL) David McClain (left) was a solid get for Rutgers, he should provide instant depth. (RB) Ray Rice chose to leave Syracuse and sign with Rutgers, bringing them a terrific two-way standout. (WR) Chris McClover could develop into an all-conference type of receiver.
The Bulls of South Florida are beginning to make some noise on the recruiting trails, and this was by far their best class to date. Quarterback Carlton Hill headlines the offensive side of the ball. He is a tremendous athlete that can hurt teams with his arm or his legs. Jessie Hester (left) is a player that found a home in Tampa, and his next destination is still unknown. He could end up playing on either side of the ball. The sleeper of this group is Antwane Cox of Killian. He didn’t get the publicity of teammate Demetrice Morley, but he is on of the top defensive backs in the state of Florida. USF could still end up with the biggest fish in its class in defensive end Ricky Jean-Francois.

Syracuse landed what some considered the surprise of signing day when they convinced highly touted (WR) LaVar Lobdell to stay home. (RB) Curtis Brinkley (left) decided to stay true to his word and join the Orange after a season at Hargrave Military Academy. (DT) Arthur Jones and (LB) Mike Stenclik were two big in state commits that signed with Syracuse. The biggest loss appears to be (RB) Raymell Rice who elected to sign with Rutgers, after previously committing to Syracuse.

Though Temple signed their usual slew of JUCO talent, the Owls however picked up a lot of high school prospects. (QB) Joe DeSanzo may end up as the prize of the class a solid Western Pennsylvania signal caller. (RB) George Coleman is lightning quick and could play immediately as a slot receiver or return man on special teams. The Owls picked up highly touted (WR) Fred Lee who originally signed with Virginia Tech. Lee left the Hokies for junior college and signed with Temple. Lee was a very highly regarded recruit coming out of Bishop McDevitt (Pa.).

The West Virginia Mountaineers landed the Big East Conference’s only five-star recruit (RB) Jason Gwaltney. The class was bolstered by signing Scout.com’s No.1 kicker and punter Patrick McAfee and Steve Kozlowski respectively. West Virginia landed a lot of three-star talent that could have an immediate impact (QB) Jarrett Brown, (RB) Ed Collington, (OL) John Walko, (DL) Rashad Roussell, (RB) Ovid Goulbourne, (WR) Ryan Dawson, (QB) Nathan Sowers, and (DB) Quinton Andrews.