What If These 10 College Football Stars Picked Different Schools as Recruits?

Andrew KulhaSenior Analyst IIIOctober 11, 2012

What If These 10 College Football Stars Picked Different Schools as Recruits?

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    What if some of the biggest stars in the country picked the other school that was high on their interest list when they were recruits?

    What if the college football landscape as we know it was flipped around?

    Perhaps some of the top teams in the country wouldn’t be where they are today. Perhaps power could have shifted from one conference to another or even from one rival to another.

    One small decision could have altered the course of college football as we know it today.

    Things would look a lot different if the script was flipped and the following 10 college football stars chose the other school.

What If Johnny Manziel Committed to Oregon?

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    Freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel has put up 1,285 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Texas A&M Aggies, which is incredibly impressive.

    There was a time when Manziel was committed to play football with the Oregon Ducks, but he decommited and switched over to the Aggies due to proximity. Manziel is from Kerrville, Texas.

    If he never decommited though, would Oregon be starting freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota right now? The Ducks freshman has been a revelation for them and has thrown for 1,301 yards and 15 touchdowns so far.

    Not only that, but there's a good chance the Aggies woudn't be 4-1 and ranked No. 22 in the AP Poll, especially after losing Ryan Tannehill to the NFL.

    If Manziel stayed with Oregon, things would really look different, especially at Texas A&M.

What If Blaine Gabbert Committed to Nebraska?

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    Blaine Gabbert made a name for himself with the Missouri Tigers, throwing for 6,822 yards and 40 touchdowns in three years, but he was actually originally committed to be the signal-caller for the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

    What a huge difference it made in the college football world when he decommitted from Nebraska.

    I highly doubt the Tigers would have been as successful without Gabbert as they were with him, and there's a good chance we wouldn't be talking about Taylor Martinez.

    Martinez wouldn't have wanted to commit to Nebraska with Gabbert still at the helm of the program. Meanwhile though, imagine how good Nebraska would have been Gabbert under center...

    This one decision would have severely impacted both programs.

What If Alshon Jeffery Committed to USC?

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    Alshon Jeffery was one of the most dynamic receivers in college football during his time with the South Carolina Gamecocks. He left S.C. with career numbers of 3,042 yards and 23 touchdowns.

    Before committing to South Carolina, though, Jeffery was a commit for the USC Trojans and former coach Pete Carroll. He obviously ended up decommitting from USC.

    If Jeffery had gone to USC instead of South Carolina, I highly doubt the Gamecocks would have been as competitive as they were in the SEC for the past few seasons. Jeffery was a huge deep threat for South Carolina, and he helped stretch the field, which made Marcus Lattimore's life just a little bit easier as a running back.

    In the end, Jeffery decided to commit to the team from his home state, but he was very close to traveling to the West Coast.

What If T.J. Yeldon Committed to Auburn?

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    You know T.J. Yeldon as the stellar freshman running back who shows incredible promise with the Alabama Crimson Tide.

    For a while, though, it appeared as if he was going to be an Auburn Tiger.

    Yeldon was actually an Auburn commit before he decided to flip to its in-state rival, but think about how different things would be right now if the Tigers could have kept the 5-star running back.

    I'm pretty confident that Alabama would be the same, because depth is not an issue for the Tide, but would the Tigers be struggling as much as they are right now if they had Yeldon?

    The Tigers are 1-4 and 0-3 in the SEC, but if they had Yeldon rushing for them, it's not hard to see them picking up wins against Mississippi State and Arkansas, which would put them at 3-2 instead, which is much more promising.

    Alas, Auburn couldn't hold on, and Yeldon is now running for Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide.

What If Vontaze Burfict Committed to USC?

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    Vontaze Burfict was a highly skilled linebacker at Arizona State, but he was actually originally committed to play football with the USC Trojans.

    This was a huge recruiting win for the Sun Devils, and it was a big loss for USC.

    Had Burfict stayed committed to USC, I have a feeling he would have become one of the nation's most talked-about players, though. He got some great hype at Arizona State, but his talents would have been magnified for the nation to see at USC, sanctions or not. In the end, he may have become a better, more disciplined player with USC.

    Arizona State, on the other hand, would have missed out on a very talented player and been much worse off for it.

What If Jadeveon Clowney Committed to Clemson?

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    Jadeveon Clowney was the nation's No. 1 for the class of 2011, so he obviously had a ton of interest and a ton of offers.

    In the end, his decision came down to Clemson, Alabama and South Carolina.

    We now know him as the Gamecocks' dominant defensive end, but what if Clowney ended up choosing their in-state rivals, the Clemson Tigers?

    It would have been a huge recruiting win for the Tigers, and instead of making plays for South Carolina, he'd be doing that right now for the Clemson program. I dare say its defense would be much more intimidating with his skill set and athleticism coming off the edge.

    It's also interesting to think how Clowney's presence at Clemson would impact current No. 1 overall recruit and Clemson commit, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche.

    Would he want to play alongside Clowney, who is just a sophomore, or would he not even have considered Clemson with an already dominant defensive end on their roster?

    One recruiting decision could have not only impacted college football then, but also the world of college football recruiting as we know it today.

What If Geno Smith Committed to Miami?

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    Eugene "Geno" Smith is the quarterback for the West Virginia Mountaineers, at least according to history as we know it.

    He's thrown for an incredible 1,996 yards, 24 touchdowns and no interceptions so far on this season.

    What if Geno decided to stay home and play for the Miami Hurricanes, though? Smith went to Miramar High School, which is just a half-hour away from Coral Gables and "The U."

    He had an offer from Miami, so it's possible, and if he went, I can all but guarantee you that the Hurricanes wouldn't be struggling to remain relevant on the national stage right now.

    I can also guarantee you that the Mountaineers wouldn't be off to their stellar 5-0 start right now. Would they have beaten Baylor or Texas in those high-scoring games without Smith?

    Probably not.

What If Tajh Boyd Committed to West Virginia?

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    Tajh Boyd is the explosive signal-caller for the Clemson Tigers, but there was a time when he looked set to commit to the West Virginia Mountaineers.

    He decommitted from the Mountaineers, then went to the Tennessee Volunteers before eventually landing with Clemson.

    Can you imagine if Boyd had stayed with West Virginia? There's a good chance Clemson's offense wouldn't be as exciting as it is now without him, and Geno Smith would have had no reason to commit to WVU.

    This commitment alone would have changed the whole landscape of the ACC and the Big 12.

What If De'Anthony Thomas Committed to USC?

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    Sophomore De'Anthony Thomas has run for 377 yards and and six touchdowns on the year so far for the Oregon Ducks, but what if he had stayed committed to USC like many thought he would?

    Rivals.com's class of 2010 No. 1 5-star athlete was highly considered to be a lock to go to USC, but he decided at the last minute to sign with Chip Kelly and Oregon, and the rest is history as we know it.

    I highly doubt Oregon would be the No. 2 team in the land according to the current AP Poll without Thomas. Meanwhile, there's a good chance USC could have used him to beat the Stanford Cardinal, who handed the previously much-higher-ranked Trojans their only loss of the season so far.

    USC went from a national championship favorite to an outlier. That wouldn't have happened if Thomas was running the ball for the Trojans instead of Oregon.

What If Patrick Peterson Committed to Miami?

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    Patrick Peterson became a star at LSU for his abilities as a shutdown cornerback and kick returner. He was a huge reason for the Tigers' defensive dominance and a big part of all their success.

    Peterson was originally committed to play football at the University of Miami.

    Needless to say, the world of college football would have been a little bit different with Peterson at Miami.

    First off, there's a good chance Miami would have been a lot better defensively, but Peterson wouldn't have gotten the national exposure he did at LSU, thus probably changing his NFL draft stock as well.

    LSU, on the other hand, would have been OK due to its recruiting ability and plethora of other defensive players, but that defense would have not been the same one that appeared to be the most dominant in college football until Alabama proved otherwise.

    Miami really lost out here, as Peterson could have been the cornerstone of its defense, and he would have been even more impressive playing against ACC opponents.

     

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