RIVALS.COM TOP 25 RECRUITERS
RIVALS.COM RECRUITER OF THE YEAR
Buzz: The Alabama wide receivers coach quickly is becoming known as one of the best recruiters in the country. Groh swayed five-star defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson to flip his commitment from Texas and snagged Rivals 100 defensive end Dee Liner, who flipped from Auburn. He also landed an early commitment from Rivals100 running back Altee Tenpenny while Arkansas heavily pursued him through the final moments heading into National Signing Day. In addition to Tenpenny, Groh played a huge role in the recruiting effort of Rivals100 wide receiver Robert Foster, whom many felt would end up at Pittsburgh. He was also in charge of the recruitment of linebacker Walker Jones and offensive tackle Brandon Hill. Hill signed with Alabama in 2012 but had to attend Hargrave Military Academy for a semester. Ole Miss flipped Hill, but Groh stayed on him and secured a verbal pledge after Hill's official visit. Groh went into Texas, Arkansas and Pennsylvania and pulled out players who were coveted not only by home-state schools but by others nationally.
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Buzz: Alford came to South Bend with strong recruiting credentials, and he delivered on that promise in the 2013 class by going into Florida and plucking two of the state's top ball carriers. The big prize was five-star Greg Bryant, who was not even listing Notre Dame at the beginning of the fall but committed immediately following his official visit to South Bend. Alford was also responsible for complementing the Bryant pickup with four-star Cocoa, Fla., running back Tarean Folston.
Buzz: The Aggies landed a huge class, and no one on the staff played a bigger part than Beaty. He was responsible for landing nine commitments, highlighted by four-star Laquvionte Gonzalez, a versatile athlete built for success in head coach Kevin Sumlin's offense. Beaty also helped to recruit Johnny Football's future understudy, four-star quarterback Kenny Hill, as well as fellow Lone Star State four-stars Justin Manning, Kameron Miles and Ishmael Wilson. While eight of the nine players he recruited hail from Texas, he also landed three-star wide receiver Jeremy Tabuyo, a Hawaii native.
Buzz: It was a banner year for Chavis, who played a major part in building a terrific class. He was the lead man on the recruitment of five-star defensive end Frank Herron and was key in LSU's ability to hold on to him after a strong push from Texas down the stretch. Chavis reached into North Carolina to grab four-star defensive tackle Greg Gilmore and high three-star defensive end Lewis Neal. But Chavis' impressive work wasn't just out of state; he recruited versatile four-star athlete Kendell Beckwith and four-star offensive lineman Josh Boutte, two of the top players from Louisiana.
Buzz: The last big story on National Signing Day was Notre Dame landing five-star defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes over UCLA and Alabama. It was Denbrock who was responsible for bringing Vanderdoes into the fold, and this was not his first five-star West Coast pickup in the class. Earlier, he landed former USC five-star safety commit Max Redfield out of Mission Viejo, Calif., in what was more than a mild upset. The Irish's passing game coordinator complemented his five-star recruiting efforts by being the lead in landing four-star wide receiver William Fuller out of Philadelphia.
Buzz: If you are trying to bring in a linebacker, chances are Durkin can deliver. The newly appointed defensive coordinator picked up pledges from four linebackers. Even more impressive was his ability to flip three of the four. Durkin stayed on five-star LB Alex Anzalone after it appeared Notre Dame would fend off the hard-charging Gators. In the end, the effort paid off and Anzalone flipped. Matt Rolin had been committed to South Carolina and even had his knee surgery performed at a hospital in Columbia by the Gamecocks medical team before announcing he would join the fun in Gainesville. It was Durkin who helped get Jarran Reed to switch from the Gamecocks late in the cycle, and he pulled in Daniel McMillian to boot.
Buzz: All Garner did was land the two five-stars in the Tigers' No. 8 class. The Auburn alum deserves high praise for his job getting of Carl Lawson to reaffirm his pledge. Not only did Garner have to re-recruit Lawson when he arrived to The Plains, he also had to recruit Lawson's parents. The defensive line coach played a huge role in getting Montravius Adams to take his official visit. Garner had been previously recruiting Adams from his time at Georgia, and he swayed the rugged defensive tackle to leave the state. It was a huge coup for Auburn, which sat outside of Adams' top two of Clemson and Georgia. Last, Garner stole Elijah Daniel from Ole Miss on Signing Day.
Buzz: After a huge haul last season, Haggins kept up the extraordinary work on the recruiting trail, serving as the lead recruiter for four four-star players: defensive tackle Keith Bryant, linebacker E.J. Levenberry Jr., linebacker Freddie Stevenson and offensive guard Ira Denson. Haggins hung on to Levenberry, Stevenson and Denson through long commitments to FSU. Bryant, who picked FSU on signing day, cited his relationship with Haggins as the key factor in his decision to pick the Seminoles over Miami.
Buzz: Outside of Ohio State, Michigan and Nebraska, which all finished in the top 20 nationally, the Big Ten had a lackluster recruiting season. There were, however, several impressive individual recruiting performances, making the title of the Big Ten's best recruiter hotly contested. The job that Herman, Ohio State's offensive coordinator, did by going to Texas and grabbing three of the state's top 20-ranked prospects, including five-star linebacker Mike Mitchell -- Texas' No. 1 prospect -- gets the nod as this year's most impressive feat. While Mitchell was a monumental pull, convincing Rivals100 running back Dontre Wilson to leave his Oregon commitment, spurn the in-state Longhorns and come to Columbus to play slot receiver was even more impressive. Add four-star quarterback J.T. Barrett to his total, and even though Herman did not get to pad his stats with in-state pickups, his was the Big Ten's best in 2013.
Buzz: A 20-plus-year member of the Michigan coaching staff, Jackson has been leaned on heavily by head coach Brady Hoke in the last two classes. Jackson recruits the all-important Detroit area for the Wolverines, grabbing four-stars Jourdan Lewis, David Dawson, Delano Hill and Wyatt Shallman from the region in 2013. What Jackson will receive the most accolades for in this recruiting cycle, however, is convincing the nation's No. 1 running back, Derrick Green of Richmond, Va., to sign with the Wolverines instead of taking offers from programs across the country. Jackson was the lead recruiter on Green, and he will be his position coach when the five-star back arrives in Ann Arbor.
Buzz: Johnson's reputation as a top recruiter has long been established, having taken home National Recruiter of the Year honors in 2006. However, Johnson has never had to face the obstacles he did during the 2013 recruiting cycle. The Nittany Lions had the makings of a strong class going early in Bill O'Brien's first year on the job when the NCAA handed down unprecedented sanctions against the program that included a postseason ban. Some prospects vacated their Penn State commitments, but many stayed, including Rivals 100 tight end Adam Breneman and four-star defensive end Garrett Sickels, who were brought in by Johnson. In total, the 14-year Penn State assistant had a hand in recruiting eight of the Nittany Lions' 17 signees.
Buzz: Recruits like Klemm's youth. They like his Super Bowl rings, too. That's all to say he can relate to where high schools players are and speak as an expert on where they want to go. Klemm has been on a few of these lists in the past, and for good reason. This time, he helped fast forward UCLA's rebuilding process by bringing a whopping seven four-star prospects to Westwood. Klemm was the architect of one of the nation's best offensive line classes, and he had a hand in landing Rivals250 wide receiver Eldridge Massington. It was clear early in the cycle that Klemm, who has connections in every corner of country, was the most valuable piece in the Bruins' recruiting success.
Buzz: After coaching elsewhere for 10 years, Locksley made his way back to the Maryland program and showed he can still recruit the DMV in a big way. It was important for the Terps to continue the recruiting momentum from last year when they landed Stefon Diggs, and it is safe to say they did just that. Locksley was responsible for getting commitments from the nation's top JUCO player Deon Long, four players from Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate Academy, four-stars Derwin Gray and Yannick Ngakoue and three-stars Jermaine Carter and Cavon Walker, plus a few other local players. The Terps continue to get it done in recruiting despite adversity on the field, a good sign for the building program.
Buzz: Rivals250 defensive end Joe Mathis is Lupoi's biggest trophy of the cycle, but he's not the only one. The Washington assistant was responsible for a haul of D-linemen that went four deep with solid talent and included a pair of four-star prospects (Mathis and defensive tackle Elijah Qualls). His role wasn't limited to linemen, though. Lupoi pitched in around the periphery and played a supporting role in the chase for touted wide receiver Damore'ea Stringfellow, among others.
Buzz: Martin and Klemm make up one of the country's best one-two recruiting punches. The Bruins secondary coach, Martin had six prospects to his name on signing day, and all of them were four stars. He made his killing in the contested recruiting hotbed of California and fought off dozens of schools to keep a nice haul of players in state. His most impressive acquisition of the year was probably former USC commit Kylie Fitts, whom UCLA snagged down the stretch. The fact that Martin rattled off pledges from elite-level defensive backs Johnny Johnson, Tahaan Goodman, Priest Willis and Tyler Foreman in a week's time served as an exclamation point.
Buzz: Martin wasn't supposed to be the recruiting star of the Trojans staff. Then again, nothing went as it was supposed to for USC all year. The rising star stood out on a staff full of coaches with reputations as closers. Martin was instrumental in landing five-star safety Leon McQuay III and was the driving force behind USC's signing day acquisition of Quinton Powell. While Martin made his name outside the state of California, he was involved in the recruitment of many of the program's local targets.
Buzz: The Baltimore Ravens' former defensive coordinator, Mattison has been head coach Brady Hoke's ace recruiter since he compiled his staff two years ago. Mattison continued to flex his recruiting muscle in 2013, pitching in on six of the Wolverines' commitments. Ohio is a key recruiting territory for the Wolverines, and Mattison was responsible for pulling four-star cornerback Ross Douglas, four-star linebacker Ben Gedeon and four-star safety Dymonte Thomas from the Buckeye State. He then did work on the East Coast, landing three-star Massachusetts defensive tackle Maurice Hurst Jr. and fended off Alabama late to hang on to Rivals100 defensive tackle Henry Poggi.
Buzz: McGriff was the lead recruiter for the nation's top prospect, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, as well as for the nation's No. 5 overall recruit and top-ranked wide receiver, Laquon Treadwell. McGriff built strong relationships with both families and landed them for the Rebels. In addition, McGriff was the lead recruiter for defensive tackle Lavon Hooks, the nation's No. 2-ranked junior college recruit. Hooks was heavily recruited by Auburn, Mississippi State and others down the stretch. For good measure, McGriff used his Texas connections to haul in four-star wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo and Elite 11 quarterback Devante Kincade.
Buzz: Why did he do such a good job? Considering that Florida State lost six coaches in the offseason -- including one who hasn't been replaced yet -- Pruitt was huge in keeping FSU's recruiting class on track. It starts with DeMarcus Walker, who flipped from Alabama to FSU (and enrolled in January) based almost solely on Pruitt's effort. It was a Rivals100 player at a need position -- FSU loses three defensive ends to the NFL entering 2013. Next came Jalen Ramsey, the nation's No. 10 player, whom FSU had zero shot with before Pruitt got on campus in January. He was instrumental in keeping Dothan (Ala.) Northview defensive back Marquez White committed and signed three-star Wilson Bell. Bottom line, he was the point man on two of the five Rivals100 players FSU signed, and he did it in an extremely short time frame.
Buzz: Rudolph successfully recruited nine players for the Panthers. Sure, some of them were two- and three-star players, but it wasn't all about the quantity for the Pitt offensive coordinator and tight ends coach. Rudolph was the lead recruiter for five-star offensive tackle Dorian Johnson and four-star quarterback of the future Tra'von Chapman. Among the other recruits Rudolph coaxed into committing to the Panthers were James Conner, Scott Orndoff, Tony Harper and Jester Weah. Rudolph's success on the recruiting trail will help the Panthers get prepared for ACC play.
Buzz: In a class light on numbers, Searels led the way or played a vital role in securing an offensive line class that headlines the Texas group of 15. He gained a late commitment from red hot Rami Hammad, who before committing to the Longhorns was committed to Baylor, and he played a strong role in landing Rivals100 members Darius James and Kent Perkins. He even helped kick the class off with a bang, landing Rivals250 standout Jake Raulerson, who can play offensive or defensive line.
Buzz: Smart is known as one of the nation's top recruiters. The Tide's defensive coordinator landed several big fish in the Rivals top-ranked class. He brought in five-star linebacker Reuben Foster, who has an Auburn tattoo on his forearm, while snagging an early commitment from the nation's top tight end in O.J. Howard. Smart did a great job in recruiting Georgia natives Alvin Kamara, Tyren Jones and Parker McLeod. It's a strong statement when three other top 100 running backs are committed in a class and you can lure away the best in Georgia (Kamara) from the Bulldogs.
Buzz: In Mike Stoops' first full-year back on the Sooners staff, he made his presence felt in a big way. He went outside of normal Oklahoma recruiting areas and secured the signatures of Fresno (Calif.) Central East Rivals250 teammates Hatari Byrd and L.J. Moore, and he was the lead recruiter for Tulsa (Okla.) East Central Rivals250 standout Stanvon Taylor. In addition to his Rivals250 additions, he went to Miami (Fla.) Central to grab three-star Ahmad Thomas, who committed to Stoops over the likes of Notre Dame, Auburn, and Florida State before he ever made a visit to Norman. Then, on the final weekend before signing day, Stoops extended an invitation to Dakota Austin to round out his defensive back class.
Buzz: Over the past few years, Clemson has done a tremendous job in recruiting and Venables has been a big part. This year was no different. He helped land four-star Ebenezer Ogundeko out of New York and pull four-star Mackensie Alexander on signing day. Alexander surprised many around the Southeast by signing with the Tigers over latecomer Auburn, but Venables and fellow assistant Mike Reed made a good impression on Alexander early and led privately for most of the recruitment. Venables was also responsible for landing Scott Pagano out of Hawaii and Adrian Baker, another Florida prospect.
Buzz: Herman's closest competition for Big Ten Recruiter of the Year may have come from his own staff. Vrabel is the Buckeyes defensive line coach and was responsible for bringing in a six-man defensive line class that included four four-star prospects. Vrabel went into South Florida to pluck the fourth-best strongside defensive end in the country, Joey Bosa. He went into South Carolina to grab Rivals250 defensive tackle Michael Hill and North Carolina to grab four-star defensive end Tyquan Lewis. Vrabel added three-stars Donovan Munger and Tracy Sprinkle in-state. He was responsible for flipping cornerback Gareon Conley from Michigan.
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