Two of Florida's powerhouse programs, down but not out in previous years while the third is winning National Championships in everything, continue to be resurgent on the recruiting trail during the Class of 2008.
Florida State and Miami, led by revamped coaching staffs and renewed recruiting efforts, both are set to have monster hauls this cycle and both should be expected to contend for the nation's top overall class when Signing Day 2008 rolls around. This success in the spring and summer will translate into some much-needed momentum next fall on the football field and has helped give both programs much-needed momentum.
So much of college football is about perception. Right down to the way we decide who plays for the National Championship, perception and judgment from the outside rule the day in this sport. Right now, because of the recruiting success at both schools, the perception is of two programs on the rise.
No longer will the Seminoles sit back and wait to fill up their class in the weeks leading up to National Signing Day and that more aggressive approach has paid off. They've already wrapped up the state's top prospect, Crawfordville Wakulla linebacker Nigel Bradham and have multiple additional prospects committed, including Jacksonville First Coast linebacker Nigel Carr, the nation's No. 51 overall prospect.
Bradham and Carr both have teammates heading to Tallahassee. Running back/slot receiver Jermaine Thomas and wide receiver Avis Commack from First Coast have committed early to FSU and potential four-star safety C.J. Holton of Wakulla already is a Nole.
On the First Coast prospects, new wide receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey played a big part in the recruitment of the First Coast prospects. Dawsey developed a relationship with the trio while he was an assistant coach at the University of South Florida and carried that over when he joined Florida State's staff.
It's not just in-state where FSU is succeeding. Florida State also has done well out-of-state. Linebacker Nick Moody of Philadelphia and fellow Pennsylvanian A.J. Alexander have said yes to the Noles. Virginia quarterback E.J. Manuel is the top pro-style quarterback in the country and Florida State has an excellent shot there. The nation's No. 2 overall prospect, California running back Darrell Scott used to live in Tallahassee and the Noles are a major factor there. Florida State is involved with Rivals100 defensive end Robert Quinn North Charleston (S.C.) Fort Dorchester and Rivals100 defensive end William Green of Hoover (Ala.) Spain Park, among many others around the Southeast.
The Canes, led by new head coach Randy Shannon and an outstanding group of recruiters, have rejuvenated their efforts in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties, making it tough for any other program to come into the talent-rich area and sign talent. Currently Miami is sitting with five-star cornerback Patrick Johnson from Pompano Beach Ely, four-star defensive tackle Jeremy Lewis of Palm Beach Lakes.
The Hurricanes also are strongly in the mix with Rivals100 defensive tackle Marcus Forston and Rivals100 wide receiver Aldarius Johnson of Miami Northwestern, Rivals100 offensive tackle/defensive end Matt Patchan of Seffner (Fla.) Armwood, Rivals100 linebacker Jordan Futch of Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna, Rivals100 linebacker Etienne Sabino of Miami Krop and Rivals100 linebacker/rush end Marcus Robinson (USC recently jumped in the mix here) of Homestead (Fla.).
As has been stated many times, the plan for Miami is to recruit the area around its campus. There likely isn't a better place in the country within that narrow of an area that produces the kind of talent that South Florida does. It's been proven time and time again that when the Hurricanes are winning championships, they are flat-out owning their back yard and if things fall into place, the "U" will be doing so again this year.
Tigers continue to roar in recruiting
While last season (losses to Maryland, South Carolina and Kentucky down the stretch killed their chances for an ACC Championship and a trip to the Orange Bowl) didn't end as well as it could have, Clemson's recruiting hasn't been hurt one bit. In fact, Tommy Bowden's 2008 class at Clemson could trump the highly-regarded classes of the past two cycles, which included landing five-star running back C.J. Spiller in the Class of 2006 and Rivals100 quarterback Willy Korn in last year's class.
The Tigers already have a commitment from five-star defensive end DaQuan Bowers, the nation's No. 9 overall prospect and the top strongside defensive end prospect in the country, as well as potential four-star receiver Marquan Jones and potential four-star running back Andre Ellington.
But it's not necessarily the players Clemson already has committed that make one realize the potential of the class. It's the ones that are well within their grasp.
Running backs Jamie Harper of Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian and Donatavius Jackson of Franklin (Ga.) Heard County (a Rivals100 selection) both have the Tigers high on their list. Harper's friendship with Jacksonville Bartram Trail quarterback Kyle Parker, an early commit to Clemson, helps the Tigers out tremendously. Alabama and Georgia are the main competition for Jackson. The Crimson Tide and Tigers are recruiting him the hardest. Running back recruiting has skyrocketed for Clemson because of the rushing-friendly scheme of offensive coordinator Rob Spence, which is based on some of the principals that the Denver Broncos use.
Thomasville (Ga.) defensive tackle Brandon Thompson continues to favor Clemson while the Tigers also are in excellent shape for Rivals100 offensive guard A.J. Harmon of Louisville (Ga.) Jefferson County, one of the nation's top guard prospects.
Laurinburg (N.C.) Scotland County linebacker Terrell Manning and Concord (N.C.) Robinson R.J. Mattes both are high on Clemson, which is also in the mix for five-star Bunn (N.C.) athlete Brandon Barnes.
Also, Clemson has already identified at least 7-10 Class of 2009 prospects to offer. They already have a verbal commitment from Greenville (S.C.) Christ Church offensive tackle J.K. Jay, perhaps the top in-state offensive linemen in next year's class.
Indeed one of the best early recruiting staffs in the country continues to get it done.
Offers continue to pour in for Rollins
Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna linebacker Tarik Rollins continues to get more offers.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder recently was offered by Michigan State and South Florida. The Spartans and Bulls join Arizona State, Auburn, Clemson, LSU, Ole Miss, Pittsburgh, Purdue, South Carolina, Wake Forest, Wisconsin and Florida.
Rollins also feels that a certain Big Ten power could be about to extend an offer.
"The University of Michigan coaching staff came by my school to evaluate me and talk with my coaches," Rollins said. "I also have been in contact with (Wolverines defensive line coach) Steve Stripling and I believe they are close to offering me."
Badgers, Buffs offer Monroe
The offers continue to roll in for Miami (Fla.) Coral Reef linebacker Malcolm Munroe. Wisconsin and Colorado are the latest teams to extend full rides to the 6-foot-4, 200-pounder.
Munroe talked about his offer from the Badgers.
"Athlon Magazine recently rated them the No. 4 team in the country," Munroe said. "They are a great team and it sounds like I could fit into their defense pretty well."
He doesn't know as much about Colorado, but was happy to get the offer.
"I don't know much about that program," he said. "But I know they have a new great head coach (Dan Hawkins) who came from Boise State and had an unbeaten season while he was there."
Four more for Furr
Columbus (Ga.) Carver dual-threat quarterback/wide receiver prospect Deron Furr has picked up additional offers from Auburn, South Florida, Troy and Marshall.
The 6-foot-2, 217-pounder, who could play a variety of positions in college, had previously been offered by Duke, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tulane.
Furr had more than 2,000 yards of total offense during his junior year.
This, that and the other
Suwanee (Ga.) Peachtree Ridge running back Brandon Davis recently picked up offers from Tulane, Purdue and North Carolina. The 5-foot-9, 190-pounder was a Rivals250 to watch selection for the Class of 2008. Virginia Tech, Ole Miss, South Carolina and others also have offered Davis. … Knoxville (Tenn.) Catholic linebacker Dustin Tait plans to camp at Colorado on June 18-19 and expects to receive a scholarship offer from the Buffaloes at that time. …Tait's younger brother Zak Tait is a Class of 2009 offensive guard prospect who has early verbal offers from Tennessee, Alabama and Marshall. …Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema stopped by Miami's Pace High to check on Rivals100 offensive tackle Greg Shaw during the spring evaluation period. Shaw was impressed by the visit and the Badgers are in the mix for the 6-foot-6, 280-pounder. … Fernandina Beach (Fla.) running back Terrell Dallas had 131 rushing yards on 12 carries in his team's spring game against Jacksonville Arlington Country Day. Dallas, who is recovering from a knee injury, plans to camp at Auburn and Middle Tennessee State this summer.