Mike Farrell is a national football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly Ask Mike feature.
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Will Miami's class be small-but-mighty?
Is Michigan State landing the talent to stand with the best in the Big Ten?
Can Maryland keep its talent at home?
These questions and more are addressed by National Recruiting Analyst Mike Farrell in this week's mailbag.
What's up with The U?
The U is off to a steady, yet slow start to recruiting with fewer than 10 guys committed at this time. With the expectations of this being a small class that packs a lot of punch, which big-time guys do you see Miami closing with?
- J.W. from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Miami only has room for roughly 15 players in this year's class so with eight already committed it has to be picky and careful with offers. That being said, it really hopes to close out with some big names, especially if it wins the ACC as many think and end up in a BCS bowl game.
Sammy Watkins is a must-get in my opinion and it's down to Miami and Clemson and the 'Canes are battling Florida State and others for tight end Nick O'Leary. Bryant Dubose is also a very good possibility in this class and Miami is hoping to keep Jabari Gorman and Robenson Therezie at home. Those are some of the big names, but with a huge finish and a move back to national prominence, others could emerge if they visit. Last year no one expected Miami to land Seantrel Henderson and Latwan Anderson after National Signing Day, so anything can happen.
Michigan State's chances
So I really want to know what you see when you look at Michigan State and its recruiting class for this year, and potential future recruiting classes. Do these classes have the talent to challenge the top-tier teams in the Big Ten? Will they continue to improve? Also do you see them continuing to have success with in-state recruiting?
- Joe from East Lansing, Mich.
I think this is a pretty good Michigan State class but probably middle of the road in the Big Ten barring some surprises late. Lawrence Thomas is an absolute stud and there are some good players with potential such as Connor Cook, Taiwan Jones, Donavon Clark and Ed Davis.
With a 4-0 start heading into Big Ten play, Michigan State is hot and I think you'll see a bigger year out of the Spartans in 2012 if they have a great season. They could still pull some surprises by landing DeAnthony Arnett, Doran Grant, Donovan Smith, Anthony Zettel and some others, but I think a big 2012 could be in the making for MSU. It's supposed to be a good year in state and will be an important year for the Spartans.
Who was the best high school football player and what team had the best recruiting class since Rivals started?
- Kevin from New Rochelle, N.Y.
This is an interesting question and certainly open to debate among all the analysts. Personally, the best high school player I've seen since I've been covering recruiting is Noel Devine, that is until this year. Devine was simply amazing with his ability to cut without losing any speed and his spin move in high school was phenomenal.
However, this year when I saw Jadeveon Clowney I knew I was seeing something special. Not only is he rarer because of the position he plays, but his combination of size, agility, quickness and balance is outstanding. I've never seen a kid his size get off the ball quicker and move around so effortlessly. As for the best recruiting class, I'd have to go with the 2006 Florida class that featured Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Brandon Spikes, Riley Cooper and others. That group led the Gators to two national titles and will go down as one of the greatest classes ever.
What are the Terps' chances of getting local prospects Cyrus Kouandjio, who appears to be leaning toward Alabama, Donovan Smith, Travis Hughes and Darius Jennings? And when can we expect to see some big-time recruits come to College Park?
- Kevin from College Park, Md.
I think the best shot Maryland has is with Jennings, who is the kind of kid I can picture staying close to home and becoming a big fish in a small pond rather than go to a traditional power and potentially wait his turn. Kouandjio is all but done to Alabama in my opinion and I'd be stunned if he landed elsewhere. Smith is a lean to Penn State but the Terps still have a shot. Hughes' brother is at Maryland and I think the Terps are rising on his list. But in order I'd say Jennings, Hughes, Smith and Kouandjio as far as potential Maryland commitments.
Michigan's next star
Michigan needs an athletic running back to complement Denard Robinson. Will Demetrius Hart seize this opportunity to play for the Wolverines?
- Bill from Ada, Mich.
Bill, I think he will but it will be close. Demetrius is a perfect fit in a Rich Rodriguez offense, has enjoyed his visits to Ann Arbor, and has a couple of friends already on the team. He's visiting Alabama this weekend but it seems the Tide want him as a slot receiver instead of a running back. So unless that changes, this should come down to Michigan and Auburn. From what I hear, Michigan has the edge but this one wouldn't surprise me either way.
Clowney and the Buckeyes
With the recent rumors of Jadeveon Clowney and Ohio State talking, do you think that the Buckeyes have a realistic shot at landing him?
- Charles from Fort Bragg, N.C.
Charles, I have read the rumors and things change very quickly in recruiting, but in speaking to Jadeveon in person a few weeks ago, he wasn't looking north at all. South Carolina and Alabama are still his top two in my opinion, despite rumors of Auburn replacing the Tide. I think LSU and Auburn are in the next group and then its Miami and the rest. I'd even be surprised if he took an official visit to Ohio State, but if he does then things can get interesting. But right now I'd put the chances he ends up as a Buckeye as very slim.
UCLA on the East Coast
UCLA has made a huge push in the East this year with Ray Drew, Wayne Lyons, Gabriel Wright, Tony Steward, Donovan Smith, Kevin McReynolds, etc. Who do you think the Bruins have a shot with and what do you think of Rick Neuheisel going to the other coast for recruiting?
- Jacob from Westwood, Calif.
Jacob, I think Neuheisel realizes that to build a national power in California, you need to recruit nationally as USC did in the Pete Carroll years. It never hurts to offer top players from the East Coast. While I don't expect UCLA to land any of the players mentioned above, it could get a few out on official visits and that's how it starts. Top players talk to other top players in the next class about how nice it is at UCLA and momentum builds.
Last year UCLA got Aramide Olaniyan from Virginia and maybe it can steal someone this year as well. The win over Texas made national news and was a statement game, but UCLA will need to win the Pac-10 once or twice before it can truly start pulling four- and five-star East Coast kids.
Mike Farrell is a national football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. Click here to send him a question or comment for his mailbag.