Nations top 25 recruiters
In what can only be described as an odd year in recruiting, Rivals.com has once again named its top 25 recruiters for the class of 2011. This edition, for the first time in our history, lacks a coach from any of the following programs - Florida, Miami, Texas, Oklahoma and Michigan - for many different reasons. However, traditional powers Florida State, Alabama, Auburn and USC all have more than one coach on the list, bringing us back to some sense of normalcy.
Here is a closer look at the coaches who made the list.
RIVALS.COM TOP 25 RECRUITERS
RIVALS.COM RECRUITER OF THE YEAR
Buzz: LSU running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson had a monster haul for the Tigers. Focusing primarily on in-state prospects, he helped LSU land three five-star players from Louisiana - offensive tackle La'El Collins, defensive tackle Anthony Johnson and wide receiver Jarvis Landry. Wilson also helped LSU sign receiver Odell Beckham Jr., running back Kenny Hilliard, offensive linemen Trai Turner and Corey White, all in-state four-star recruits. For good measure, Wilson had a hand in LSU getting four-star quarterback Zach Mettenberger from Butler County C.C. in Kansas, addressing the biggest need overall in this class.
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Buzz: Alford beat Florida State head-to-head for defensive end Aaron Lynch not once but twice and his tenacious recruiting allowed the Irish to finish with one of the best defensive line classes in the country. Alford also pulled in four-star athlete George Atkinson III from California and got three-star quarterback Everett Golson to flip from North Carolina. He also assisted on wide receiver Davaris Daniels and beat the following teams for his recruits - Alabama, FSU, USC, Georgia, Auburn, Clemson and Oregon, all of whom finished in the national top 10 along with Notre Dame.
Joe Barry, USC
Buzz: USC linebackers coach Joe Barry was really busy with recruiting this past season and has plenty to show for all his hard work. No one is like Orgeron but Barry has developed a strong reputation as well and he delivered once again by helping to land Christian Heyward, Tre Madden, Lamar Dawson, Cyrus Hobbi, Anthony Sarao, Isiah Wiley and Peter McBride. Dawson was a shocker because many thought Tennessee and Kentucky led for the Danville (Ky.) Boyle County four-star linebacker. Barry and the rest of USC's staff worked relentlessly on Hobbi. Getting four-star Sarao to flip from Stanford was a big deal, too.
Buzz: As a former high school coach in the state, Beck usually excels recruiting Texas and the class of 2011 was no different. He was the lead recruiter on Army All-American Aaron Green and Under Armour All-American Jamal Turner. He also landed one of the fastest rising prospects in the country in three-star Alabama athlete Ameer Abdullah, beating out USC and Tennessee. Beck was also the recruiter for Army All-American offensive tackle Tyler Moore out of Florida, an area that isn't exactly normally a hotbed for the Cornhuskers. Despite the family connections to Nebraska he had with Green and Moore, he held off many major programs for both.
Mike Bobo, Georgia
Buzz: Georgia pushed to the top five in recruiting this year largely behind the efforts of Bobo, who was credited with many of the top commitments. He landed five-star defensive end Ray Drew as well as four-stars Christian Lemay, Nick Marshall, Malcolm Mitchell, Jay Rome and Justin Scott-Wesley. Bobo had a hand in signing 10 of Georgia's 26 commitments in what is easily the most important recruiting cycle of his and head coach Mark Richt's career. Talk about clutch.
Lawrence Dawsey, Florida State
Buzz: Florida State's passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach was a major reason why the Seminoles made a surge for the top spot in the 2011 class rankings. Dawsey landed the services of Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast duo, three-star running back Eric Beverly and four-star defensive tackle Derrick Mitchell, as well as Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas four-star wide receiver Rashad Greene early on. Then he pulled off a major surprise when Tampa (Fla.) Plant five-star running back James Wilder Jr. chose the Seminoles over Florida, Georgia and numerous others. Down the stretch, he turned Plant City (Fla.) three-star offensive tackle Jordan Prestwood away from Notre Dame and he locked up Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades Central four-star wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin down the stretch, after FSU got involved with the wideout late in the process.
Buzz: Ohio State secured another top 12 recruiting class on National Signing Day when it landed the nation's No. 2 prospect, Richmond (Va.) linebacker Curtis Grant. It was the persistence of Fickell that allowed the Buckeyes to outlast Florida, North Carolina and Virginia for the five-star prospect. The Buckeyes' linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator was the lead recruiter on Grant, putting in the day-to-day work that eventually landed the headliner. But Fickell had started bolstering his linebacker group even before the addition of Grant. He landed four-star Ryan Shazier out of Florida along with three-stars Conner Crowell of Maryland and Ejuan Price of Pennsylvania. He was also the lead assistant in the recruitment of three-star Plantation (Fla.) defensive back Jeremy Cash, who spurned in-state programs Florida State and Miami to sign with the Buckeyes.
Odell Haggins, Florida State
Buzz: Florida State's defensive line coach didn't land quite as many prospects as his fellow Seminole coach on the list, Lawrence Dawsey, but he was pivotal in landing two of the top members of the class bound for Tallahassee. Haggins lured five-star Davenport (Fla.) Ridge Community safety Karlos Williams to Florida State after building a strong relationship with he and his family. Williams was pivotal in Florida State's class as he aggressively recruited his peers. Haggins also landed a pair of defensive tackles, three-star Terry Bell from Lakeland (Fla.) Tenoroc and four-star Timmy Jernigan from Lake City (Fla.) Columbia. Haggins established a relationship with Jernigan over four years ago and it paid off as he was able to hold off schools such as LSU, Tennessee, and Florida for the Rivals100 defensive line prospect.
Buzz: Hurtt helped lead Louisville to the Big East crown in recruiting by handling business as usual in Florida. Hurtt's haul is almost as impressive as anyone's in any conference, led by quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, a former Miami commitment, and defensive backs Gerod Holliman and Andrew Johnson, former Ole Miss commits. He also pulled in Bridgewater's top target Eli Rogers, also a former Miami commitment, and stole defensive end Bryant Dubose from the Canes as well. The former Miami defensive line coach has obviously been a thorn in the side of his former team, as well as one of the top recruiters overall on the East Coast.
Buzz: SMU has not exactly been a powerhouse as of late, only returning to the winning ways the past two seasons. However, that has not stopped Klemm from landing top prospects for the Mustangs. He scored one of the biggest stunners of the class when four-star California defensive end Davon Moreland chose SMU over USC and UNLV. Moreland was one of five prospects Klemm managed to snag out of California. He was also responsible for Lubbock (Texas) wide receiver Arrius Holleman and kept him despite officially visiting Texas Tech after an offer late in the process. Klemm was the primary recruiter or assisted on eight different signees and all but one of them are three stars or higher, very impressive for a non-BCS team.
Buzz: Lupoi, the Rivals.com Recruiter of the Year in 2010, did another outstanding job and had a big role in landing many of Cal's top prospects. He was the lead recruiter on nine signees, led by four-star defensive end Brennan Scarlett, four-star defensive back Avery Walls and four-star defensive tackles Mustafa Jalil and Viliami Moala. Known as a tireless worker who bonds well with recruits, Moala continues to prove he's arguably the top recruiter among assistant coaches in the Pac-12.
Buzz: Mangus has seven prospects on his list of signees with only two ranking as four-stars, but it's where they come from that makes his efforts impressive. His top three commitments came from New Jersey with little to no connection to the Palmetto State and in a year when Rutgers did a great job holding on to most of the talent in state. Four-stars Damiere Byrd and Sheldon Royster both spurned pressure from friends and teammates to stay home and headed to the Gamecocks, while Tanner McEvoy is another great grab from Northern Jersey. Mangus also recruited four three-star prospects from Georgia and was the most impressive recruiter on the South Carolina staff.
Buzz: Recruiting at Kentucky for his first year, Martin killed it for the Wildcats landing four-star defensive back Glenn Faulkner from Illinois as well as a ton of three stars. He also landed Eric Dixon and Rashad Cunningham from South Alabama, where he is from, and helped sway wide receiver Daryl Collins from Alabama on signing day. He was also the primary recruiter for Demarco Robinson, Nile Daniel and Theltus Cobbins, and has already earned a promotion in title and a contract extension for his efforts. Not a bad first year.
Jim McElwain, Alabama
Buzz: The Crimson Tide offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach was crucial in Alabama finishing with the top overall class. He went out-of-state to grab several quality prospects, notably a pair of five-star teammates from Orlando, Fla. - No. 1 safety Hasean Clinton-Dix and No. 1 all-purpose running back Demetrius Hart, the latter flipped from a longtime commitment to Michigan. Additionally McElwain signed four-star offensive lineman Aaron Douglas and four-star defensive tackle Jesse Williams, both of whom played for Arizona Western C.C. Alabama's lone quarterback signee, Phillip Ely was another McElwain recruit.
Ed Orgeron, USC
Buzz: Orgeron has developed a reputation over his career as a relentless recruiter, the guy head coaches put on a kid when they really want that prospect. He continues to deliver and did another fabulous job this recruiting cycle by getting some of the nation's top players to sign with USC even after a sub-standard season and looming NCAA sanctions. Orgeron was involved with Christian Heyward, Aundrey Walker, Victor Blackwell, Charles Burks, Tre Madden, Max Wittek, Antwaun Woods, J.R. Tavai, Greg Townsend Jr. and others. He's an invaluable resource on USC's coaching staff and he proved once again why this year on the recruiting trail.
Buzz: Pellum, Oregon's recruiting coordinator, had the lead role in landing De'Anthony Thomas, the five-star athlete who flipped to the Ducks from USC on National Signing Day. Oregon's staff relentlessly recruited Thomas late in the process and had him visit - rather quietly, too - on the last weekend before signing day. Pellum and the coaches convinced him that Oregon would be the best fit and it was one of the biggest coups in recent memory. Pellum was also the lead recruiter for four-star linebacker Anthony Wallace from Texas as well as California linebackers Rahim Cassell and Rodney Hardrick, and local 'backer Tyson Coleman.
Buzz: No one short of the USC staff had to overcome more off-the-field issues than North Carolina this year and Pittman was the lead dog for the Heels. Pittman once again led the charge for a strong group of offensive linemen including four-stars Landon Turner, Jarrod James and Kiaro Holts. He also reeled in defensive tackles Devonte Brown and Shawn Underwood despite constant negative recruiting against UNC and the NCAA investigation hanging over the program. Throw in defensive back Brandon Ellerbe and you have a terrific group of prospects next to his name once again.
Buzz: Poindexter is credited with nine signees in the Virginia class, including three of the highest-ranked prospects - four-stars Darius Jennings, Brandon Phelps and Dominique Terrell. In addition to the trio of four stars, he also landed in-state three-star Jay Whitmire, who was once considered a strong UNC lean and continued his strong work in Maryland by pulling in Vincent Croce, Marco Jones and Kelby Johnson. A holdover from Al Groh's staff, he has flourished under new head coach Mike London.
Buzz: Prunty was responsible for eight of the Red Raiders' 12 total defensive signees and only two - Kindred Evans and J.J. Gaines - came from the state of Texas. The rest came from completely new areas to Tech. Prunty was the deciding factor for Pennsylvania defensive ends Branden Jackson and Desimon Green, both of whom committed on signing day. He also fought off plenty of SEC teams for the signature of four-star Mississippi junior college defensive end Leon Mackey. The former head coach at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia is still a high-profile name when it comes to high school prospects across the country and it showed this year.
Buzz: There may not have been a recruiter hotter than Rudolph, the Badgers' tight ends coach, from mid-October to mid-November last fall. Within that span, Rudolph pulled six commitments - all from the state of Ohio - including Rivals250 tight end Austin Traylor, who picked Wisconsin over offers from Arizona, Boston College, Michigan, Michigan State and West Virginia. Earlier in the process, Rudolph convinced Imperial (Pa.) West Allegheny safety Mike Caputo to pick the Badgers over Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Pitt and others. Rudolph did most of his damage in Southwest Ohio, though, getting commitments from Cincinnati products Jesse Hayes and Darius Hillary, along with Trotwood-Madison three-star receiver A.J. Jordan.
Brad Scott, Clemson
Buzz: Clemson was the surprise of the nation, landing in the top 10 and securing four out-of-state five-star prospects despite a losing season and the postseason dismissal of key coaches. Scott, who will be moving into an administrative role at Clemson, was key in that effort as the man who lured five-star running back Mike Bellamy out of Florida as well as five-star wide receiver Sammy Watkins from the Sunshine State. Not only did Scott beat Florida and Florida State for Bellamy but he held off SEC power Alabama and others, as well as the lure of USC and Oregon in the Pac-10. For Watkins, he overcame a huge early lead by Miami and held off Florida and others who made a late push. In addition to the 1-2 punch from Florida, he also reeled in linemen DeShaun Williams, Ryan Norton and helped on Kevin Dodd in-state.
Sal Sunseri, Alabama
Buzz: One of the Tide's best recruiters, Sunseri did his work out-of-state, as usual, signing five-star stud offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio from Maryland in a battle with Auburn. On signing day, he landed four-star Rivals100 defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan from North Carolina, a player some thought might end up at Georgia. He pulled linebacker Trey DePriest from Ohio and assisted on both Xzavier Dickson and LaMichael Fanning. Sunseri is also credited for defensive end Quinton Dial, defensive back Chris Jones and another Ohio native in Ryan Kelly. Kouandjio flipped to Alabama on Saturday after choosing Auburn on national television on Wednesday and Sunseri is still alive for five-star Jadeveon Clowney, the nation's No. 1 prospect.
Buzz: The long-time recruiting star had a hand in the Tigers signing six four-star recruits with the bulk of his work done out of state. The headliner of the group is offensive lineman Greg Robinson, who was a priority for rival LSU followed by all-purpose back Quan Bray from Georgia. Taylor also signed Robenson Therezie and stole defensive back Jermaine Whitehead from Mississippi State at the last moment. He also assisted with tight end Brandon Fulse and wide receiver Jaylon Denson. Taylor is a regular on the Rivals.com list of top recruiters for good reason.
Tommy Thigpen, Auburn
Buzz: Thigpen, one of the nation's top recruiters, helped sign five-star outside linebacker Kris Frost, whom the Tigers pulled out of North Carolina despite his long-time interest in Michigan. Rivals100 safety Erique Florence and safety Jonathan Rose were the top in-state players signed by Thigpen. Thigpen also landed three-stars Angelo Blackson, Justin Garrett and Anthony Swain to round out his list of recruits for 2011.
Buzz: On National Signing Day, Iowa recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson said, "If it wasn't for Coach Wilson, we wouldn't have a recruiting class this year." That's because seven of the Hawkeyes' 23 signees were brought in by the 10-year Iowa assistant, including three-star defensive tackle Darian Cooper, who chose the Hawkeyes over Georgia Tech, Michigan and Michigan State on signing day. What makes Wilson's performance more impressive is that all the recruits he brought in were from states nowhere near Iowa. Three were from Maryland, two were from Pennsylvania and he grabbed one each from New Jersey and Texas. New Jersey linebacker Quinton Alston and Pennsylvania defensive end John Raymon were among Wilson's other big gets in 2011.Wilson nearly pulled off the impossible - getting five-star offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio to take an official visit to Iowa City and keeping the Hawkeyes in his top group almost all the way to signing day.