CFB Recruiting 2013: The Top 15 Surprises so Far
There are surprises in every recruiting cycle, as that is just norm. With surprising commitments, decommitments, schools with great classes, schools with bad classes, coaches doing well and more, surprises take place each cycle.
For this read, I'm going to give you the 15 surprises thus far in the 2013 recruiting year. We're almost halfway done with this cycle, yet much has already happened to our surprise.
Let's get started.
15. Carl Lawson and Mackensie Alexander Ranked High by ESPNU
Carl Lawson is a 6'3", 255-pound DE from Georgia who is a very good prospect. Mackensie Alexander is a 5'11", 185-pound cover corner from Florida who is also very talented.
With that said, it was still surprising to see both ranked fifth and sixth, respectively, in the opening ESPNU 150.
14. Stanford and Oregon Running Low
The Cardinal and Ducks are two of the better programs in the Pac-12, and both finished with pretty good recruiting classes last year.
So, you'd expect both of the top-tier programs to have more than just four commitments right now, right?
Well, as of now, both Stanford and Oregon are a bit short on pledges, which is surprising based on their recent consistent success.
13. The Rise of Robbie Rhodes
Texas is a big state, and many, many elite prospects of the national class are coming from the state. So, it's a bit easy to get overlooked there.
Yet, pretty much nobody heard much about Robbie Rhodes before this spring.
Rhodes is a 6'1", 185-pound WR who is now committed to Baylor and ranked in the top 50 overall prospects by many recruiting sites.
12. Florida State in the Middle of Pack
Based on who you follow, FSU has a No. 1 class and several top-five classes under its belt in recent times. Last year's class was just phenomenal, and this 2013 class had gotten off to a solid start.
However, Florida State currently has just a borderline top-10 class, and rival Florida has a superior group.
It's a bit of surprise to see the 'Noles lurking just around the top 10 and not top five since they've been a juggernaut the past three cycles.
11. Louisville Outshining Kentucky for the State's Top Prospects
The two best prospects in Kentucky this year are WR James Quick and DE Jason Hatcher.
With this being a make-or-break year for Joker Phillips, you'd think the Wildcats would be going guns-blazing for these two to star for UK football.
Well, that's not the case, because Louisville sits in a vastly better position with the two Bluegrass State ballers.
10. Antonio Conner Still Not Committed to Ole Miss
I firmly believe Conner is going to end up in Oxford as a Rebel—I'm just surprised he hasn't made it official yet.
Sure, schools like Alabama, Mississippi State and LSU could make a run for him. Yet, South Panola High School is practically a pipeline to Ole Miss, and Conner even told Scout.com that he felt like was at home at Ole Miss.
No commitment yet? A bit surprising.
9. Mike Leach Not Landing a Top-Tier QB Recruit
No disrespect to Tyler Bruggman, as the Arizona native is a solid QB prospect.
However, with Wazzu having Mike Leach and his Air Raid offense at the helm in Pullman, I thought a top-tier QB prospect would see an upstart program, a chance at early playing time and a QB-friendly offense, and he would commit.
8. USC Having Five 5-Star Recruits
According to Scout.com, USC holds commitments from five prospects who rate as 5-star recruits.
S Su'a Cravens, QB Max Browne, DT Kenny Bigelow, RB Ty Isaac and RB Justin Davis are the elite hauls of the nine-man Trojan class.
With the scholarship sanctions, landing this type of quality is a surprise.
7. Bill O'Brien Showing He's at Ease in Recruiting
O'Brien is the new man in charge in Happy Valley and comes from the NFL. Player procurement there is via the draft and free agency, as in teams pick the players.
Well, in college, recruiting is basically the players picking their teams.
O'Brien already has shown that he can adjust to this and has 13 commitments. His top pledges include TE Adam Breneman, QB Christian Hackenburg and DLs Garrett Sickels and Greg Webb.
6. Derrick Henry Decommitting from Georgia
Henry appeared solid to Georgia, as he pledged as a junior over Florida and other schools.
However, he just recently backed off that commitment, due to Alabama getting in his ear and sparking his interest in the Crimson Tide.
Georgia likely could land him again, but Alabama is a big-time player now.
5. Ty Isaac Committing to USC
Distance was an alleged major factor in Isaac's recruitment, which gave Midwestern programs such as Notre Dame and Michigan a great shot at landing him.
From Joliet, Ill., Isaac took a trip out to Los Angeles and liked it enough to the point that he committed to USC. He will head to the West Coast to tote the rock in college and not in the Midwest.
4. Ricky Seals-Jones Decommitting from Texas
Seals-Jones is the top WR prospect in the country and committed to Texas very early in the 2013 recruiting cycle.
However, he's also an aspiring basketball player, and he wants to play both WR and be a 2-guard/small forward.
So, Seals-Jones surprisingly decommitted from Texas a few weeks ago, and he is looking at LSU, Baylor and A&M along with the Longhorns, per Scout.com.
3. Michigan's Hot Start
The Wolverines have the top recruiting class in the country right now. They have more than 14 prospects inside the ESPNU 300, and they've gotten off to a great start.
Brady Hoke landed a top-10 class last year, yet nobody expected Michigan to just surge out and dominate in early 2013 recruiting like this.
2. Robert Nkemdiche Committing to Clemson over Alabama
Alabama was my prediction for Nkemdiche as well as many, many others'.
However, late last week, the nation's No. 1 overall prospect decided to inform all of us subscribing to that school of thought that we were wrong.
Nkemdiche committed to Clemson, and while many claim he could end up somewhere else, I feel he's sewn up to the Tigers.
It's surprising nonetheless.
1. The Growing Trend of Early Commitments
I started to notice this trend last year, but thought that it may have just been the theme of the 2012 class.
However, it has continued in 2013.
The nation's top two prospects, DE Robert Nkemdiche and LB Reuben Foster, are already committed. Also toss in the nation's best QB in Max Browne as well as elite RBs like Ty Isaac, Thomas Tyner, Ryan Green and Keith Ford.
The top TE, Adam Breneman, is committed, as are elite DTs Kenny Bigelow and Dee Liner and S Su'a Cravens. In fact, just up until recently, the top WR in Ricky Seals-Jones was committed as well.
That's pretty surprising; in this day and age, many recruits love the signing day attention of their announcements.
Edwin Weathersby has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena League. He spent a year evaluating prep prospects and writing specific recruiting and scouting content articles for Student Sports Football (now ESPN Rise-HS).
A syndicated scout and writer, he's also contributed to WeAreSC.com, GatorBait.net and Diamonds in the Rough Inc., a college football and NFL draft magazine.