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September 9, 2012

Roundtable: Whose pledge won't stick?

MORE: New Rivals250 | Breaking down team rankings

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

What current commitment would shock you if it is still intact on National Signing Day?

Mike Farrell, National: I wouldn't say shocked would be the right word, but I'd be surprised if Christian Hackenberg sticks with Penn State. I know he's saying all the right things now and looks at this as an opportunity to be a leader and part of a special group of players at Penn State but as the losses mount and the pressure from other recruits and coaches continues, I think he finds a new home. I'd like to guess numerous USC players as well because I think they are short on room and players like Sebastian LaRue, Nico Falah, Jason Hatcher and others could end up elsewhere, but if we're picking just one high profile player I'll say Hackenberg. But USC will probably have the most movement of any one team down the stretch.

Rob Cassidy, West: Calling Eugene Brazley's commitment to Ole Miss "soft" is like calling Antarctica "chilly." People close to Brazley say the running back remains committed to Rebels but is still "undecided." It's a statement that only makes sense in 2012, and trying to apply logic to it results in a headache. Brazley attended a camp at Arizona State this summer and talked openly about a commitment switch at the time. If the right offer comes in (or even if it doesn't), everything could come crashing down.

Kynon Codrington, Southeast: I would be surprised if the nation's top prospect Robert Nkemdiche was committed to Clemson come February. His recruitment has been a roller coaster ever since he pledged to the Tigers. Nkemdiche went on record to say "Clemson would help seal the deal if they offered his teammate Ryan Carter a scholarship." Dabo Swinney did not comply. This week his mom told ESPN the Magazine that she was unhappy with Clemson. I wouldn't be shocked if Nkemdiche's recruitment lasted past signing day.

Adam Gorney, West: I know I'm going to catch hell for this but my guess would be Penn State quarterback commit Christian Hackenberg from Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy.

The family is saying all the right things and Hackenberg has acted with class through his recruitment but I find it hard to believe that when everyone around him soberly looks at this situation this is what he wants to get involved with. And this is coming from a Penn State graduate.

Penn State's offense was lackluster at best in a 10-point loss to Ohio at home in the season opener. It could be a long time until the Nittany Lions are among the nation's elite again. Hackenberg has the opportunity to play at many places where there aren't harrowing sanction hanging over the program for a long time.

Mid-September talk is different than early February talk. When all is said and done I'd predict Hackenberg heads elsewhere.

Josh Helmholdt, Midwest: I still think Clemson has a fighting chance to sign Avon, Ind., four-star defensive end Elijah Daniel, but they have a lot of work ahead of them to get that done. Daniel will take all five of his official visits, starting with one this weekend to Marshall where his brother plays. He visited Indiana last weekend, and the Hoosiers should not be counted out. He is also looking at Florida, Ole Miss and potentially several more schools for official visits. It truly is a long way until Signing Day in this recruitment.

Jason Howell, Southwest: Shocked may be too strong of a word, but there are a few I have in mind from the Southwest region. Missouri City (Texas) Fort Bend Marshall Rivals250 linebacker Deon Hollins Jr. is the first. He is committed to UCLA, but has openly talked about taking visits since pledging to the Bruins. The second is North Little Rock, Ark., running back Altee Tenpenny. The talented runner is currently committed to Alabama, and he says he is solid. However, he does plan to take official visits to Arkansas and Oklahoma St., and you can bet Arkansas is going to fight for him until the end.

Woody Wommack, Southeast: While I think he's still solid to UCLA, late interest and a new position at defensive end might change things for Memphis (Tenn.) East OT Christian Morris. He picked up an offer from Oklahoma this week and Nebraska is making a push after falling behind the Bruins over the summer. I wouldn't be shocked if he stuck with UCLA, but I also wouldn't be shocked if he changed his mind.

Are there any sophomores on your radar this fall, or is that simply too early?

Mike Farrell, National: I'm seeing Towson (Md.) Calvert Hall defensive back Dionte Austin this weekend and I'm looking forward to it. The 2015 corner already has offers from Boston College and UConn as far as BCS teams and he could be one of the top cornerbacks in the region for his class. Jaason Lewis from Virginia Beach (Va.) Ocean Lakes is a monster for a 2015 prospect and it will be interesting to see what position he grows into.

Rob Cassidy, West: When a player grabs an offer from an out-of-state program during his freshman season, you deposit his name in the back of your mind. That's exactly what happened with Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro wide receiver Christian Kirk. Standing just 5-foot-9, Kirk will need to grow a bit to be a top-level prospect, but he did pull in an offer from UCLA during his first year in high school after catching 34 passes for 589 yards and nine touchdowns. He has since added an offer from Arizona State. There are plenty more scholarship offers in Kirk's future, and if he continues to progress (as well as grow), there's no predicting the kind of force he could become.

Kynon Codrington, Southeast: Jordan Scarlett's performance against Trotwood-Madison in a nationally televised contest caught my eye. I saw him last year at the Miami NIKE Camp and he passed the eye test. Jacques Patrick and De'Andre Johnson, a Florida State pledge, have been on my radar after seeing them both in camp and game action a year ago. Don't sleep on Jaquan Johnson either; he has big time ability.

Adam Gorney, West: It's not too early for me since some very good ones have offers and are on the field. I'm not sure how thorough an evaluation I'm getting but it's worthwhile to get an early look and see which colleges are involved.

There is no question in the last few years the recruiting process has moved up. Sophomores across the country have been offered. Some have already committed. In our profession, that means we're forced earlier than we'd probably like to follow them almost as closely as seniors and juniors.

Josh Helmholdt, Midwest: There are definitely sophomores on my radar. In fact, I've identified a handful of freshmen prospects in games I've scouted this fall already. In the 2015 class, though, St. Paul (Minn.) Cretin-Derham Hall defensive end Jashon Cornell had five sacks in his career debut and running back Damien Harris is piling up yardage down at Berea (Ky.) Madison Southern High. Then, there are at least 12 more class of 2015 prospects I have seen play live this season I expect become Division I prospects.

Jason Howell, Southwest: Simply put there are several. The first one that leaps to mind is Rodney Anderson. The Katy, Texas running back was a standout on the summer camp circuit and already has the attention of Alabama, where his uncle Mark Anderson was a standout defensive end. Celina, Texas signal caller Nathan Elliott has attracted interest from Texas and is entering his second year as Celina's starting quarterback. Saginaw Boswell defensive lineman Dominic Hill is the guy I have not seen in person yet that I cannot wait to check out. He earned district newcomer of the year honors as a freshman after recording 35 tackles and 4 sacks. Hooks, Texas linebacker R.J. Williams is a monster in the weight room and on the field. Charleston, Ark., signal caller Ty Storey has the full attention of the Arkansas Razorbacks at 6-3, 205, and was one of the more impressive prospects of the summer. River Ridge (La.) John Curtis safety Hunter Dale already holds offers from Florida, Arizona State and Tulane. Then there is defensive end Hale Hentges of Jefferson City (Mo.) Helias who already holds offers from Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Iowa State and Wisconsin. That's just the beginning and I know I left some really good ones off.

Woody Wommack, Southeast: There are a number of 2015 guys I've got my eye on this fall, including Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy WR C.J. Sanders. His dad was a talented player at Ohio State, and he's already picked up offers from Stanford, Tennessee and Mississippi State. He could be one of the top prospects in the Southeast in his class when all is said and done, so I'll be keeping an eye on his progression this fall.

Has any prospect of any age played his way onto your radar so far this high school season?

Mike Farrell, National: Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) University School running back Jordan Scarlett is already on the radar with offers from Alabama, LSU and others as a 2015 prospect, but seeing him for the first time in live action even if it was on a DVR replay I was beyond impressed and think he's one of the top kids I've seen early for his class.

Rob Cassidy, West: Tempe (Ariz.) Marcos de Niza quarterback Josh Eckley wasn't on anybody's radar until this season, his first as a starter. I watched the junior start his second career game and came away impressed. Eckley is a true dual-threat that possesses speed, elusiveness, the ability to throw on the run and an accurate-enough arm. He looked indecisive in the pocket at times, but that's to be expected of a player with limited experience. His skill set needs refined, but all the tools are present. The fact that he ran for an 11-yard touchdown to win the game on the final play only served as an exclamation point.

Kynon Codrington, Southeast: St. Thomas Aquinas quarterback John O'Korn has played his way onto my radar. O'Korn started a couple of games last year, but struggled with turnovers and confidence. This year he is a different player. He has established himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the area. The Houston commit has his best football ahead and if he continues playing at a high level look for BCS schools to actively recruit him.

Adam Gorney, West: Not really so far this season since I've only seen powerhouse programs play but this summer one guy in particular stood out and that is Los Angeles Crenshaw athlete Mossi Johnson.

I saw Johnson at the B2G Elite Camp and he was among the best receivers there and that included four-star Laquon Treadwell, who has offers from all over the place.

Johnson only has an offer from UNLV and is hearing from Arizona State and some others and that's a surprise. Send some tape out from that camp and I'm sure he'd get some more offers. He has great hands, he's athletic, catches everything and if he ends up at UNLV it would be a major steal.

Josh Helmholdt, Midwest: I saw Hamilton, Ohio class of 2013 linebacker Marcus Oliver in week one, and he is playing his way onto everyone's radar early this fall. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Oliver has 35 tackles in two games and is making plays all over the field. Ohio State is showing new interest, while Iowa, Indiana and Boston College are watching closely as well. There are still plenty of teams in need of linebackers in the 2013 class, and Oliver is definitely worth a look.

Jason Howell, Southwest: Before the season I saw Liberty, Texas 2014 wide receiver Aaron Mosley at the Texas 7-on-7 State Championships in College Station, Texas. I know it's not the season, but he went from a no name to a must know very quickly. The 6-4, 175-pound pass catcher has the frame to add weight, great body control, and used his hands very well. Andrew Billings of Waco, Texas is another prospect. It's not that he was not on my radar, but I had him way too low. After watching him during preseason he has firmly established himself as one of the more intriguing offensive and defensive linemen in Texas for the 2013 recruiting class.

Woody Wommack, Southeast: After seeing him in person for the first time this year on Friday night, I came away impressed with Naples (Fla.) running back Manny Morgan. He's a senior who has yet to pick up an offer, but after going for 278 yards and four touchdowns agains North Miami last week and carving up a prospect-filled Immokalee defense for 176 yards and four more scores, his star is on the rise. If he can get things taken care of academically, he could be a nice fit for a C-USA or Sun Belt school.



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