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September 1, 2012

Roundtable: Surprising commitments


The Rivals.com analysts tackle current topics in the recruiting world in a roundtable format.

What's been the most surprising commitment to you so far from class of 2013 prospects?

Rob Cassidy: If Phoenix (Ariz.) Brophy Prep quarterback Tyler Bruggman wanted to play for a struggling Pac-12 team, he didn't need to leave the state to do it. The most shocking part of his commitment to Washington State has nothing to do with Arizona State. It's that the four-star prospect carried offers from programs such as Arkansas and Michigan State. Mike Leach's history of developing quality quarterbacks played heavily in landing Bruggman, but his decision to commit to the Cougars was still an act of faith.

Kynon Codrington: Well, it was a bit of a surprise when the nation's No. 1 player Loganville (Ga.) Grayson DL Robert Nkemdiche chose Clemson. Nkemdiche's brother is at Ole Miss and he mentioned playing with him in college. His list of top schools featured a range of SEC schools. It was a surprise when he pulled the trigger in June before taking any of his official visits.

Mike Farrell: I'd say Joey Bosa to Ohio State surprised me quite a bit. I'd never doubt Urban Meyer but I thought Bosa would stay south and play for Alabama as many had rumored early on.

Adam Gorney: I know USC was also one of the contenders for Khaliel Rodgers but when he committed to the Trojans it was still a little surprising. There was a chance that Rodgers would go to Auburn and USC commit Kenny Bigelow, his teammate at Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian Academy, might follow but now both are with the Trojans and they're both huge pickups for the top-rated class in the Rivals.com rankings.

Josh Helmholdt: Two guys I would not have placed at the schools they are committed to now a year ago are Joliet (Ill.) Catholic running back Ty Isaac and Lemont, Ill., offensive tackle Ethan Pocic. We thought Isaac would ultimately choose a school close to home, but after a couple trips to Southern California he fell in love with USC. Pocic's older brother stayed home to play for the in-state school a few years back, and expectations were Ethan would at least remain in the Big Ten. Again, though, a trip to Baton Rouge enticed the Rivals100 lineman to be a LSU Tiger.

Woody Wommack: Just prior to the recent round of de-commitments at Florida, I was surprised to see both Octavious Jackson and Chris Thompson added to the Gators class. At the time, both players were off the radar, but after further scouting, look like nice additions.

When you look at the current top 25 teams in recruiting, which one impresses you most and why?

Rob Cassidy: What Kevin Sumlin is doing on the recruiting trail at Texas A&M isn't celebrated enough. Taking over a team that has been wallowing in mediocrity for years and being forced to recruit in Texas' backyard isn't an easy task for a first-year head coach. Sure there's something to be said for the boost that comes with joining the SEC, but the Aggies' No. 10 ranking goes beyond that. The coaching transition in College Station has been smooth sailing so far.

Kynon Codrington:I have to go with USC. I think we all knew the Trojans would be able to land a top-10 class even with the NCAA sanctions. However, I'm impressed with the job Lane Kiffin and his staff have done so far. They've landed some of the best players in-state and have been very successful out-of-state. DB Su'a Cravens is the highest rated player in the class, but that could change if QB Max Browne has another monster year.

Mike Farrell: USC because of the sanctions they faced and continue to face and it hasn't slowed the Trojans a bit. In fact, they are practically making history with this class. I expected them to recruit well, but this is a different level.

Adam Gorney: I could easily go with USC since it has stockpiled an incredible class but it's never difficult to recruit there, even with NCAA sanctions. I'm going in a different direction and going with Arizona at No. 24. Four-star quarterback Anu Solomon proved on national television last weekend that he's an outstanding dual-threat quarterback and could be the future of the program. Rich Rodriguez and his staff have done a good job of landing some athletes that suit his system.

Josh Helmholdt: For a team that has gone 20-31 over the past four seasons, the Washington Huskies sitting at No. 16 in the team rankings should surprise people, yet many are not. Reason? Two words: Tosh Lupoi. The Rivals.com Recruiter of the Year in 2010 has redefined the recruiting game on the West Coast and has helped the Huskies land 19 prospects in the 2013 class, including five four-stars.

Woody Wommack: I hate to go with the easy choice, but it has to be USC. Despite the limitations, the Trojans have the clear-cut No. 1 class in the country. Lane Kiffin and his staff have done a great job weathering the storm and might even be stronger than they were at the end of Pete Carroll's run as coach.

Which team is the biggest disappointed that it currently is not among the top 25 in recruiting and why?

Rob Cassidy: East Lansing, Mich., isn't exactly an exotic destination. I get it. Really, I do. But Michigan State is coming off back-to-back 11-win seasons and still struggling to crack the top 30 in the recruiting rankings? The Spartans finished No. 41 a year ago and currently sit in 36th. In June, Mark Dantonio's program lost four-star quarterback Tyler Bruggman to Washington State, a Pac-12 doormat operating in a more remote and less desirable city. Ouch.

Kynon Codrington: Oklahoma is the biggest disappointment. The Sooners are coming off a 10-3 season, but didn't meet high preseason expectations. I think some recruits are taking a wait-and-see approach to see if Landry Jones and company can bounce back this fall. They currently sit at No. 27 in the team rankings, but if they can land a few more four-star targets I expect them to finish in the top 25.

Mike Farrell: Michigan State is coming off a dominant year on the field but are getting beaten too many times head to head by Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame and many others. I thought they would capitalize more on last year. They are taking a small class and have to be picky, but being so far away from their rivals is disappointing.

Adam Gorney: At this point, Oregon has only eight commits -- five are four-star commits but to keep up with the Joneses, basically USC, the Ducks have to load up in a big way. There are lots of potential stars in the class like four-star running back Thomas Tyner, four-star receiver Darren Carrington and some others but they need to move on getting more big-time players.

Josh Helmholdt: A couple teams came immediately to mind; then I looked at the updated rankings and saw Oklahoma at No. 27. For a perennial power like the Sooners, that surprises me. Obviously losing the commitment of new five-star Greg Bryant hurts, but just 12 commitments entering the fall is low compared to their contemporaries. I really liked what I saw out of a couple of their commits this summer -- Stanvon Taylor and Hatari Byrd -- but the Sooners lack numbers and the elite guys to take their class to the next level. With five months left and several top targets still on their board, I do not expect them to finish outside the top 25.

Woody Wommack: With just 10 commits thus far in the cycle, Miami (currently No. 45 in the team rankings) is off its typical pace. As usual, Florida is stocked with talent and the 'Canes need to make sure they reel in as many players as they can, before possible NCAA sanctions are handed down.



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