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October 24, 2010

The top 10: Disappointing team starts

MORE: Top 10 most versatile | Top teammates

From coast to coast, there are big-name football programs in need of playing major catchup in recruiting this class. And Penn State leads the list of disappointments.

Rivals.com's recruiting analysts break down the top 10 most disappointing teams so far in recruiting the 2011 class.

Top 10 Most Disappointing Teams

10) USF

Despite the hiring of Skip Holtz, the USF Bulls have struggled with seeing a bump in their recruiting in 2011. The class is currently headlined by quarterback Matt Floyd, running back Willie Davis and offensive lineman Max Lang - all of whom have been given a three-star designation by Rivals.

Where the Bulls are falling short is at the skill positions on offense, especially wide receiver, where they need a surge of talent. At this time, the only wide receiver committed to the Bulls is Punta Forda (Fla.) Charlotte wideout Alex Mut.

Holtz and his staff closed strong in 2010. They will need a repeat effort in 2011 in order to start turning things around on the field.

9) UCLA

The Bruins have two four-star commits in quarterback Brett Hundley and wide receiver Brandin Cooks, but only eight total pledges. That's considered a slow start even if UCLA's class might be limited this recruiting cycle.

Crosstown rival USC has 12 total commits but one is five-star De'Anthony Thomas and six others are four-star recruits, despite NCAA sanctions and scholarship limitations. Rick Neuheisel needs to pull some big upsets as he did last year or he'll finish outside the top half of the Pac-10 after an amazing recruiting season in 2010.

8) West Virginia

After winning the Big East recruiting title in 2009 and 2010, and finishing in the top two every year since 2006, the Mountaineers are struggling this year. West Virginia is currently fifth in the Big East despite clearly being the best and most consistent team in the conference this year on the field.

West Virginia currently trails Rutgers, Louisville and Cincinnati and is well behind Pittsburgh, the only other Big East team to win the conference recruiting title since 2006. The Mountaineers could still finish near the top but it looks like they won't be in the top 25.

7) Colorado

A year after getting shut out on all the top prospects in their own state and not signing a single four-star prospect, the Buffs' class of 2011 is not looking much better.

While the other Big 12 teams are almost full and all have double-digit commitments, Colorado only has five commitments in the class so far. It has one player rated as high as a 5.7 on the Rivals Rating - quarterback Brock Berglund of in-state Highland Ranch Valor Christian - committed at the moment.

6) Arizona State

The Sun Devils have only seven commits halfway through the season and only four are three-star prospects by Rivals.com. Many of Arizona's top prep players are fleeing the state this season and this has directly affected Arizona State's recruiting success this cycle.

Many of the state's top players, offensive linemen Christian Westerman and Andre Yruretagoyena, running back Ka'Deem Carey, quarterback Brett Hundley and others all decided on other schools.

5) N.C. State

Things may be turning around a bit on the field for N.C. State, but as far as recruiting this year it hasn't gone well. The Wolfpack is currently last in the ACC in recruiting and have only three players ranked as three-stars of their eight commitments.

This is after a 2010 recruiting year where they finished just behind North Carolina in the ACC rankings and the top 35. Could N.C. State get shut out when it comes to the top 30 players in state? Unless they pull a stunner for Stephone Anthony or steal a few commitments from other ACC schools, this could be a down year.

4) Oregon State

The Beavers have 12 commits so far - a good number halfway through the season - but five are unranked by Rivals.com. Oregon State has only five three-star prospects.

Coach Mike Riley has always done a good job evaluating undervalued talent but the Beavers have lost out on Brock Haman, Blake Renaud and Tyson Coleman. Oregon State also has whiffed in-state so far, not good for a team that was recently in the top 25 and was a Pac-10 title contender a year ago.

3) Texas A&M

The Aggies have 12 commitments but all are two- or three-star prospects. Sitting in the middle of the most fertile recruiting bed in the country, Texas A&M has been shut out on all of the state's top prospects.

Of the remaining uncommitted four-star players in the state, the Aggies truly only have a shot at LaDarius Brown of Waxahachie and many people think he is headed to TCU. The Aggies have not beaten Texas or Oklahoma for any recruits and have only beaten TCU twice, Baylor twice, Texas Tech twice and Oklahoma State once.

2) Tennessee

The Vols finished in the top 25 last year, mainly by stealing Da'Rick Rogers, Tyler Bray, Justin Hunter and others down the stretch. This year it appears the Vols aren't stealing anyone.

With 18 commitments, Tennessee has secured only two prospects ranked four-star or better. It is in the mix for some good prospects, but right now it barely is staying inside the top 25 and ahead of only Kentucky and Vanderbilt in the SEC rankings. Not good.

1) Penn State

After finishing 2010 with the top class in the Big Ten, it appears that the questions surrounding Joe Paterno have finally caught up to the Nittany Lions.

Penn State has only four commitments with one four-star and only two three-stars. But it's not about prospects landed, it's more about prospects missed.

Ben Koyack, Marquise Wright, Terrell Chestnut, Brandon Phelps, Kyshoen Jarrett and others all decided to head elsewhere and this has been a disastrous start for PSU.

It will get a share of good players and this will be a small class, but even the most diehard fan has to be disappointed so far.



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