Previous nine year recruiting rank by SuperPrep as of March 10 of each year: (1, 7, 19, 11, 14, 16, 15, 5, 9) The Trojans pulled off an improbable recruiting coup, signing two of the top three WRs in the country: New Jersey's Dwayne Jarrett and Fred Davis, from Ohio, leaving Ohio State grasping for straws in both instances. That Pete Carroll recruited so strongly in Calif wasn't a surprise. But, much like his co-national championship caught the world of college football off-guard, Carroll's ability to sign elite personnel from New Jersey, Ohio, Florida (LB Keith Rivers, SP's #4), Utah (Taitusi Lutui, SP's #2 juco OL) and Colorado (OL Jeff Byers, SP's #1) demonstrated his plan to settle for nothing but the best in talent. Many strong Calif prospects were literally passed over by Carroll and his assistants, who successfully signed five of the state's top 13 prospects: SP Farwest Defensive Player of the Year DL Jeff Schweiger, OL Thomas Herring, QB Rocky Hinds, TE Dale Thompson and speedy WR Derrick Jones--another catch from Long Beach Poly program which has sent a long line of players to SO CAL, including Patriot's DE Willie McGinest. Carroll has to be pleased with his other OL/DL additions. He also signed SP AAs OL Chilo Rachal and DE/DLs Eugene Germany and Lawrence Miles. Germany, who thinks he may end up at MLB (don't count on it), was headed to Michigan until the very last. Juco transfers LB Ryan Powdrell and DB Scott Ware could be the best in the country at their spots. SO CAL's RB corp is young and deep and no tailbacks were signed. Still, Carroll went after the nation's finest RB, Texan Adrian Peterson, but couldn't turn his head away from Bob Stoops and Norman, Okla. One weakness in this recruiting effort is at CB, where no preps or jucos will be coming on board. The Trojans wanted Ohio's Ted Ginn badly, but SP's 2004 Player of the Year will be playing for the Buckeyes. Watch for the emergence of versatile TE/WR/LB Michael Stuart, who along with SS Josh Pinkard, are among fifteen total SP AAs signed and look to be possible sleepers in this second consecutive #1 Trojan effort.
(3, 19, 2, 26, 9, 9, 11, 10, 31) The Tigers nailed their state as usual, signing eight of the SuperPrep's top ten Bayou boys, highlighted by the nation's number one WR prospect, Early Doucet, and including SP Elite 50 LB Luke Sanders, SP's Southwest Defensive Player of the Year, as well as DL Glenn Dorsey. Florida WR Xavier Carter had 13 TD SR receptions and is the third SP Elite 50 team member among this large 29-man class. The TIGERS didn't need a QB in this effort, but Nick Saban signed some major future protection up front led by two giants: Texas OL Herman Johnson (6-6, 380) and in-stater Ryan Miller (6-6, 320). And OL Brett Helms (Ark) is SP's third best prospect in the state. It looked like Saban was going to be satisfied with athletes from the south and Texas until the end of this recruiting derby, when SP AA WR Lavelle Hawkins from Stockton, Ca, said yes to the Tigers over Miami and Washington. The other SP AAs from in-state to come aboard include DE Charles Alexander, DLs Marlon Favorite and Tyson Jackson and DB Craig Steltz. Saban also successfully dipped into the juco ranks for a trio of exceptional gap-fillers in DL Claude Wroten (#9 juco prospect overall) and CB Mario Stevenson (#34), both from Mississippi and already enrolled, and LB E.J. Kuale (#15) from Dodge City, Ks. Acknowledging that he's been less than successful in landing big-time LB talent in the past, Saban seems especially happy about bringing in five new 'backers, led by Sanders, Kuale and Matt Stoltz from Little Rock, Ark.
3 Florida State
(23, 4, 1, 3, 15, 4, 1, 3, 2) The legend of Bobby Bowden rolls on. After taking a brief hiatus last year and not managing to sign his usual top 10 class, Bobby is back and he did it his way again--with a final flourish. Each a SuperPrep All-America, DBs Tony Carter, Joe Manning and J.R. Bryant (the 'Canes took it on the chin here), all from Florida, heaped themselves on the 'Nole bandwagon, giving FSU the strongest DB class in the country. Kenny Ingram, SP's # 4 DB, Trevor Ford (# 15) and All-Regional pick Jonathan Warren, as well as Alabama safety Darius McClure, give Bowden a lethal back-line of defense. LBs Lawrence Timmons (a SP Elite 50 choice), AA Jae Thaxton from Georgia and SP Juco 100 Barry Wright (#58, already enrolled) will be sandwiched between two amazing DLs: Aaron Jones and Emmanuel Dunbar. Georgia DL Darrell Robertson decommitted to GT at the end. The three RB signees are headed by SP Elite 50 pick Jamaal Edwards (#2 in country behind SOONER signee Adrian Peterson) and they will be smartly balanced by Calif WR Kenny O'Neal, another Elite 50 pick and SP's Farwest Offensive Player of the Year. Five new OLs including SP AA Jacky Claude give Bowden the backbone to go out a big winner--whenever he decides to retire. Throw in two great QB signees: Xavier Lee (another SP Elite 50 team member) and Drew Weatherford--and you can see why this year's race should not be termed as any kind of runaway by USC and LSU.
(6, 2, 9, 7, 11, 30, 13, 18, 16) What do we do with the nation's number one rated LB Willie Williams, who duped us all, managing to slide through the entire recruiting process until his final trip to Florida just before Signing Day? The youngster got a little out of hand while in Gainesville and Willie now faces possible jail time based on his prior criminal history. He's a great talent and this 'Cane group's headliner no doubt--but we don't know if and when he'll be with the team. Assuming his legal troubles don't keep him away from the game, the 'Canes deserve this spot because they rallied big on LOI Day, signing two SuperPrep Elite 50 picks from the northeast (Pa LB James Bryant) and midwest (Wis DL Rhyan Anderson). The Cane's are the only school to match USC with five SP Elite 50 signees. In addition to Williams, Bryant and Anderson, Larry Coker also signed Colorado DE Calais Campbell and in-state RB Bobby Washington. Coker lost DB J.R. Bryant to FSU but finished strongly with DBs Lovon Ponder and Rashaun Jones and ATH George Timmons, all SP All-Regional picks from Florida. Miami has always been known for its D-line and this year, in addition to Anderson and Campbell, SP AA Dwayne Hendricks from New Jersey, as well as in-stater Antonio Dixon and Texan Kellen Heard joined the ranks. They'll be battling it out against the nation's number one juco OL, Tyler McMeans, a 23 yr old Marine Corp vet. The newest 'Cane AA QB is Kirby Freeman, one of four Texas signees, and he's coming in with a great target in fellow Texan Lance Leggett. McMeans and Freeman are already enrolled.
(9, 10, 3, 13, 4, 2, 4, 7, 7) Lloyd Carr started off very well when he took the commit of Pa QB Chad Henne back on 8/7 over PSU and MIA. Chad had already received about 40 offers by May and ended up as SuperPrep's #3 QB, behind Rhett Bomar (Oklahoma) and Brian Brohm (Louisville). Chad won't end up throwing to WR Cameron Colvin (Oregon) as he had hoped, but he is coming in with one of the nation's best receiver groups, led by SP Elite 50 pick Douglas Dutch from Wash DC, Iowa's Adrian Arrington and speedy in-stater Morgan Trent, all SP AAs. Carr needed some excellent O-liners this year and brought in several including Brett Gallimore from Missouri and Alex Mitchell, another in-state SP All-America. Defensive line was another area of concentration and five newcomers joined the Wolverines. Anybody who watched the U.S. Army All-America Bowl had to have noticed the outstanding play of Illinois DE Tim Jamison. Jamison was one of seven game participants, as well as Henne, Dutch, Arrington, Alabama RB Max Martin, Georgia OL Jeremy Ciulla and New Mexico DL Alan Branch. This class is represented by fifteen different states and the long arm of Ol' Blue reached all the way out to Calif to snap up Pomona DE Keston Cheathem, another SP AA. Cheathem's team-mate, SP All-America DE Eugene Germany, committed to Wolverine coach Ron English but ended up signing with SO CAL, one of Carr's few late disappointments with this effort.