Wichita (Ka.) East
(SLB) National Rank 4, Position Rank 1
Finalists – Florida, LSU, Miami, North Carolina, USC
Brown will announce today between North Carolina, Florida, Miami, USC and LSU and you could make a case for each one of his finalists. In all my years of covering recruiting this may be the best kept secret, Brown's ultimate decision. All of his visits are in the books and we will all learn of his decision on Monday (12-17) at 3:30 (central). As of Friday the Brown camp claimed a decision had not yet been made.
Let's speculate for a moment. Here's what we know. Brown visited only one school twice, Alabama. They were eliminated. Everyone thought he was headed to Oklahoma. They were eliminated. Brown and Brian Butler (Brown's Strength and Conditioning Coach) always said that all the teams he could see himself playing for would get either an official or unofficial visit. That held true, as he officially visited four of his five finalists. Florida was the lone school that didn't get an official visit, though he was in Gainesville for Friday Night Lights. Butler did attend the Florida/Tennessee game without Brown this past season. The Gators were scheduled to get the last in-home visit (last Thursday) but it didn't materialize.
We all know that he likes the coaches at each school as that seems to be a common theme. There will also be playing opportunity on every team as well. It seems like things could come down to where he feels the most comfortable.
How will Bo Pellini's (LSU defensive coordinator) departure to Nebraska impact his decision with the Tigers? Brown's father is also from the state of Louisiana and they still have family there. He loves Barrow at UM and Blake at UNC. I think three schools standout for Brown in UNC, Miami and LSU.
Then again, anything is possible with this one. We will all find out a little later today.
(WR) National Rank 1, Position Rank 1
Finalists – Alabama, Florida, FSU, Oklahoma, Texas Tech
For most of the recruiting season I figured Jones was pretty much a lock for Alabama. Then the Crimson Tide struggled down the stretch on the field. This allowed both Oklahoma and Florida State to make up ground with Jones. He visited Alabama officially this past weekend and he will trip to FSU, Florida, OU and possibly Texas Tech in January. I still contend Alabama is in the lead with the Sooners and Seminoles closing fast.
(QB) National Rank 2, Position Rank 1
Finalists – Florida, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State, Michigan, West Virginia
Pryor is a dazzling recruit on both sides of the ball and in basketball. Pryor contends that he wants to play both football and hoops at the next level. For those football programs that said no to Pryor on being a two sport athlete they were quickly eliminated. Things are down to basically six schools; Ohio State, West Virginia, Penn State, Oregon, Michigan and Florida.
Ohio State has been his lone official visit thus far. He has a very good relationship with many of the Buckeye commitments, Jim Tressel (and the rest of the staff) as well as the basketball coaches in Columbus. Pryor has recently stated that he's a little concerned about Ohio State's offense and what they do. Pryor will want two things in the end. First, he wants to play quarterback in a system that utilizes all of his skills, meaning he wants to have the chance to both run and throw the ball. So a spread offense or a version of something like that would appeal best to him. Second, he wants to play basketball.
What Pryor needs to understand is that Tressel will build his offense around the skill sets of his players. The Buckeye offense was different with Troy Smith compared to how things were done this past season with Todd Boeckman. Certainly if Pryor were to choose Ohio State then they would run more of what we saw with Smith at the helm. But will Pryor be convinced enough to select the Buckeyes in the end?
Penn State, to me, is the dark horse with Pryor. Why? They are the home state school that he is very comfortable with. Pryor has taken many unofficial visits to Happy Valley. He also really has a good relationship with Tom Bradley. Like Ohio State, how their offense would evolve with Pryor at the helm concerns him because they don't run the spread. Again, like Ohio State and Troy Smith above, you can say the same thing about former quarterback Penn State Michael Robinson. Robinson was an athletic quarterback for the Nittany Lions.
Recent coaching changes have changed things for Pryor as Tennessee is now out and Michigan is now in while there's a big question mark with West Virginia. Volunteer offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe is now the head coach at Duke and Pryor liked him and loved what he did for Peyton and Eli Manning. Rich Rodriguez surprised the college football world and took the Michigan job yesterday. One of his first phone calls was to Pryor. The Wolverines are now going to get a strong look. So what will happen to West Virginia? Here's an offense that everyone has seen light up the scoreboard with quarterback Pat White and running back Steve Slaton. But they just lost their coach. The Mountaineers went from being right in the thick of it with Pryor to being now on the outside looking in.
Oregon is a new team in the fray as Pryor likes the quack attack, where quarterback Dennis Dixon really came into his own this season for the Ducks. Teamed with running back Jonathan Stewart, Oregon put up big numbers in '07. In reality though will distance hurt the Ducks? It could in the end.
There's still Florida out there and the Gators are probably the least talked about team with Pryor. Obviously like Oregon and West Virginia the Gator offense would suit Pryor but I think UF is a long shot at this point.
So where are things at with Pryor? First he's about to jump right into basketball season. Pryor is also playing in the U.S. Army All-American Game. He has only taken one official visit thus far. We know he was supposed to visit West Virginia next month but will that even happen now? Time is running out and Pryor will be hard pressed to be able to actually make all five official visits.
There is something else to consider here. He doesn't have to sign on National Signing Day. He could extend this thing and even take some visits after February 6th. Former two-sport (football/basketball) sensation Ronald Curry did just that. In fact, he didn't make his decision until the spring (he signed with North Carolina). Pryor contends though that he will make his decision on National Signing Day.
Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure
(RB) National Rank 3, Position Rank 1 Finalists – Colorado, Florida, LSU, Texas
What school will the nation's top running back decide to pick? Right now I think Colorado has the lead followed closely by some others, in particular Florida. I have thought since last January that the Buffalos would have a great shot at landing Scott. A big reason why is that they signed his uncle, Josh Smith, this past February. Smith played well at receiver as a true freshman this past season. These two are very close and more like brothers than uncle and nephew. Last January Smith told me there would be a good chance that Scott could end up at the same school as he. Scott visited Colorado last month and walked away impressed and calling the Buffalos his leader. He has since backed off that but I think they are the team to beat right now.
Scott has already visited Texas and he will visit Florida next month and likely LSU as well. There is some speculation he could end up in Gainesville, where Florida head coach Urban Meyer is looking to sign a big time running back. Scott has ties to the Sunshine State, as he was born in Tallahassee. Don't underestimate Mack Brown and the Longhorns either. He was very impressed with the Texas program, tradition and facilities.
Pompano Beach (Fla.) Ely
(CB) National Rank 7, Position Rank 1
Finalists – Florida, Georgia, LSU, Miami, North Carolina, USC
Johnson is yet another interesting story. The nation's top cornerback committed to Miami early in the process. Since, he has visited Florida, LSU, North Carolina and Georgia. He has loved all his visits and still loves the 'Canes. This could be an in-state battle between the Miami and Florida. Watch out for LSU.
Seffner (Fla.) Armwood
(OT) National Rank 15, Position Rank 4
Finalists – Florida, FSU, Georgia, LSU, Miami
Patchan is a legacy to Miami, as his father played for the Hurricanes. They were thought to be the team to beat until Miami struggled from about the half point of the season. Florida and LSU are going to make this one very intriguing. If you read between the lines at some of Patchan's comments about Miami and how they played this year it would lead you to believe he's all ‘Cane. Then again, you could lean the other way and say he's not going to Coral Gables. I think it comes down to UM and Florida. Look for a decision between this week and Christmas.
Ocean Springs (Miss.)
(WR) National Rank 17, Position Rank 3
Finalists – Alabama, Auburn, Florida, LSU, Ole Miss
Early on LSU was the team to beat for Brown but the Rebels made a big push during the summer and early fall. Brown even gave a silent commitment to former Ole Miss Head Coach Ed Orgeron. All bets are off now. In situations like this I always go back to the early favorites – the Tigers and Rebels but you never know. My dark horse is Auburn.
Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln
(CB) National Rank 25, Position Rank 2
Finalists – Alabama, Auburn, Florida, FSU, LSU, Miami, USC
Things have been very quiet in the T.J. Bryant camp and that was by design, as he has not done any interviews in a few months. Bryant is concentrating on finishing up this semester, getting ready for the U.S. Army All-Star Game and setting his visits. He is down to the seven listed above. Prior to the end of the college football regular season it was believed that Alabama, LSU and USC were his frontrunners. But LSU lost defensive coordinator Bo Pellini to Nebraska (as head coach). Could that hurt the Tigers? Remember this, most of the elite prospects from Lincoln High School sign with FSU but the ‘Noles have been trying to play catch up since the spring. I think they have made up ground by naming Jimbo Fisher as Bobby Bowden's successor. He has family in Miami and likes the ‘Canes. Bryant has a very good relationship with Pete Carroll, has great respect for Nick Saban and loves the staff at Auburn. Despite the defensive back commitments for Florida the Gators are making a push. This will be another interesting soap opera of a recruiting affair that should get more intriguing by the day in January. Bryant will make all five of his official visits next month and announce his college destination on Signing Day.
Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway
(DE) National Rank 37, Position Rank 3
Finalists – Ohio State and Pittsburgh
Hale lists Ohio State and Pitt as his two favorites. He visited the Buckeyes last weekend and will visit the Panthers this weekend. Hale could likely follow teammate Cameron Saddler and commit to Pittsburgh, as the Panthers are on a big time role. Stay tuned. This is going to be a great get for Jim Tressel or Dave Wannstedt. Could Michigan creep into the picture?
Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington
(WR) National Rank (39), Position Rank (4)
Finalists – Miami, Florida, LSU, Ohio State and Central Florida
Harris help led his team to a state championship and he had a very good senior season. This is emerging as a three team race between the Hurricanes, Gators and Tigers. Harris has already visited Florida and LSU. I think Miami leads followed by Florida and LSU.