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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Can Miami salvage a good recruiting class this year?
Where does Michigan stand with its top defensive targets?
Will the Crimson Tide land more five-star prospects in this class?
These questions and more are addressed by National Recruiting Analyst Mike Farrell in this week's mailbag.
Hey Mike, who do you think Miami finishes their class with in recruiting due to this disappointing season?
- Brian from New Iberia, La.
Right now your guess is as good as mine as it all depends on who they hire as the head coach. If they had been able to get a high-profile guy like Jon Gruden you would have seen a big boost in recruiting, but likely not until 2012. However, the Gruden ship has apparently sailed and that means Miami will need to land one of the remaining big names on its target list. Remember, Miami doesn't have a lot of numbers for the 2011 class which is one of the main reasons they stand at six commitments right now. There isn't a ton of room in this class, but a huge hire will re-energize the program and lead to a great 2012 class in my opinion.
Gruden, to me, was a home run. There are few coaches in college or the NFL that I respect more than Gruden when it comes to work ethic, smarts and attitude and he would have been a fiery recruiter for sure. Now that he has essentially eliminated himself as a candidate unless something is going on behind the scenes we don't know about, Miami has to be careful that this doesn't turn into a national embarrassment where they have the names of top targets continually leaked and have each one turn the job down one after another.
I think they could still do very well with Dan Mullen or Tommy Tuberville who might not make the same national splash as a Gruden would, but are good coaches and good recruiters. There are current commits looking around such as Teddy Bridgewater, Anthony Chickillo and Marcus Jackson and recently Albert Louis-Jean de-committed, but I think with the right hire they keep most of them. I expect Bridgewater, Chickillo and Jackson to remain part of this class. If Miami gets a Mullen or Tubberville, they will still be a program to watch but if they have to settle for a smaller name guy, it could spell trouble.
Help for Big Blue D?
Where does Michigan stand with Anthony Zettel, Kris Frost, and Blake Countess? Any other solid defensive recruits that could go Blue?
- Mark from Evansville, Ind.
This is what I'm hearing on each player you mentioned, but keep in mind the instability of the head coaching position at Michigan. Many feel Rich Rodriguez is on his way out and Jim Harbaugh could be on his way in.
If Harbaugh comes in, obviously there will be a bump in recruiting but it will be a late push as nothing will get done it appears until after Stanford's bowl game. Right now, regardless of who the coach is, Michigan leads for Frost and are on top for now with Countess as well, but a lot will be determined by how Countess' visit goes and how he likes Georgia Tech and Maryland. Countess likes Rich Rod's success with smaller corners so if he is on the way out, Michigan's chances could slide. The same can be said for Zettel. Michigan is his favorite and dream school, but he is a meticulous kid who will take his visits and see how he fits in with any new coaching staff before committing.
Right now Avery Walls and Frost are the two big early-enrollee targets and each could jump on board regardless of the coaching situation.
How good is this Clemson class? Do you see Mike Bellamy and Sammy Watkins starting as true freshmen next season?
- Marticus from Memphis, Tenn.
This is a great recruiting class for Clemson which makes me laugh at all this bunk about Dabo Swinney being on the hot seat. Sure fans are not happy with a 6-6 finish and a bad loss to South Carolina to end the season, but they lost C.J. Spiller to the NFL who meant so much to that team the last few years and Kyle Parker had a horrible season and never made the plays needed to pull out some close games.
Keep in mind they lost five of their games by total of 26 points, including three-point losses to Auburn and Florida State. And part of the job is recruiting and Swinney and his staff do as good a job as anyone in the country. This is currently a top 5 class and has a chance to finish as a top 10 or 15 class nationally when all is said and done.
As far as Bellamy and Watkins, I think both of them will see early playing time. They might not start right away, but they are too talented and fast to sit and they will have a huge impact on things next season where Swinney will obviously need to get his team back to the ACC title game or he'll truly be on the hot seat.
Latest on Grant
Do you think Georgia Tech has a good chance at landing Curtis Grant? I continue to see that he has the Yellow Jackets in mind.
- MJ from Atlanta
Actually Georgia Tech is not in play with Grant at all, sorry to say. He did visit the campus but he hasn't expressed interest in the Jackets now that he's narrowing down his list.
Grant favors Florida followed by Ohio State and then North Carolina with Michigan and Georgia being candidates for additional visits. Virginia is in the mix as well but Georgia Tech is out. In the end I expect it to be Florida if his visit goes well and barring a big surprise but keep an eye on the Buckeyes and Cavaliers.
Five stars for the Tide?
What uncommitted five stars will most likely pick Alabama?
- Chris from Mobile, Ala.
When it comes to current five stars, I will say just one and that would be offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio who will likely choose between 'Bama and USC in the end. The other uncommitted five stars are Jadeveon Clowney, Curtis Grant, George Farmer and Tony Steward and they all appear to be headed elsewhere.
Clowney is the closest to 'Bama and if a team is going to pull him away from South Carolina, it could be the Tide but I just have a feeling he'll end up staying home. However, there are two other potential five stars (remember, we have one more ranking to do) that could end up in Tuscaloosa.
Running back Demetrius Hart might have flipped to 'Bama from Michigan by the time this is written and he has a very good shot at being a five star. Isaiah Crowell is also within striking range of five stars and I think he is torn between Alabama and Georgia. However, if Alabama is telling Hart he can be a running back in their system, this could be an indication that Crowell's recent game visit to Georgia has pushed the Dawgs back out in front. If Crowell announces in December after the state championship game, it's highly unlikely he will choose anyone but Georgia. But if he waits, takes some officials in January and decides on Signing Day, Alabama has a chance to pull him out of state.
There has been a lot of talk about a lot of different incoming freshmen and where they are going, but no one is really talking about Nick O'Leary? Where do you think he is going to land?
- Eric from Haven, Kan.
Personally I think O'Leary ends up at Florida State with his teammate Jacoby Brissett. O'Leary is a quiet kid and plays things close to the vest, but sources continue to favor Florida State in this battle.
Watch out for Miami though if they get an offensive-minded coach because they have such a great tight end tradition and FSU hasn't exactly utilized a tight end in its offense over the years.
O'Leary wants to make his decision at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in early January and I don't see LSU or Alabama as a real threat here so it will be FSU unless someone dynamic comes in at Miami and steals him away. I also think Brissett joins him in Tallahassee.
New York talent
Considering the population size of New York state, how come there aren't more national level recruits being produced?
- Vincent from New York City
There are a few reasons. First, New York has long been considered a basketball state and hasn't been able to shake that reputation. When people, even college coaches, think of New York they think of hoops first.
Secondly, there aren't a lot of teams within the proper recruiting distance of the state to make it more of a priority. Syracuse is the only BCS program in the state and teams such as Rutgers, UConn, Boston College, Penn State and Maryland are all within a reasonable distance to recruit the state heavily, but it's not like Texas, Florida or California where there are multiple BCS programs all vying for the same guys.
Finally, the state of New York is big and spread out. It's the 27th biggest state in the country and bigger than Pennsylvania, Ohio and some other states with a lot more talent. College coaches want to be able to fly into an area, hit double-digit schools within driving distance and get the most bang for their buck when recruiting. For a big state like New York, which produces so few prospects compared to similar size states like Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama, Pennsylvania and Ohio, it's just not worth the trip for many of them.
UNC losing steam?
Will UNC's class improve between now and signing day? Will they land a top 20 running back?
- Tim from Raleigh, N.C.
Will it get better? I don't think so. The Tar Heels have fallen out of the top 10 with 18 commitments and I think they can finish somewhere inside the top 25 but not as high as they hoped as they continue to lose pledges.
They just lost Everett Golson (Notre Dame) Jamar Lewter (Marshall) and lost Daquan Romero (Virginia) before that and we are all waiting to see if Marquise Williams bolts for Virginia Tech. There also continue to be rumors regarding Landon Turner and Kiaro Holts as well although those are denied publicly each time.
I think UNC will add some nice commitments down the stretch but with the losses it will be hard to stay in the top 20. As far as a top 20 running back (and not an all-purpose back) unless Savon Huggins surprises everyone and chooses the Heels over Rutgers and Notre Dame, it doesn't look good for a top 20 workhorse this year.
Looking for linebackers
I know Lamar Dawson, Steven Daniels and Antonio Poole are all interested in the Cats and have a chance to come in and contribute immediately. What are the chances Joker Phillips and Kentucky close out with some quality linebackers?
- Jeremy from Cincinnati
They are in the mix for Dawson and could be the team to beat although Oregon already impressed him and he has officials set to Florida, USC, Michigan and Tennessee before all is said and done.
As for Daniels, I think if he heads to the state of Kentucky it will be more likely to Louisville where his buddy Chris Dukes is committed than to UK and he is also high on Boston College where his teammate Sean Duggan is headed. Cincinnati also can't be counted out for Daniels.
Finally, Poole is down to Kentucky and Cincinnati and it's unclear who has the edge but gut feeling is the Bearcats. There was talk of Nebraska jumping in, but that didn't happen so I expect him to choose Cincinnati over Kentucky in the end. In addition to those three, Kentucky is also in the mix for Troy Gray and Demarius Rancifer although Gray favors Virginia and Rancifer is a strong Ole Miss lean. Kentucky needs fast linebackers in this class and those are the biggies left because there isn't much room left in this class.
Mike Farrell is a national football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. Click here to send him a question or comment for his mailbag.