National Signing Day 2013: Which Top Recruiting Classes Are Most Fragile?
December is closing and so is this 2012 calendar year. Moving into January, the beginning of the new year also marks that it is only a matter of weeks before National Signing Day.
During this time, as a program on the recruiting trail, you want to be sealing up commitments and putting the finishing touches on your recruiting class. While many programs are, there are several programs who are on the other end of the spectrum.
These programs have classes that are fragile and that are in danger of falling apart. For this piece, let's answer the question that begs which top recruiting classes are the most fragile.
The staff in Eugene is being cautious with this group due to the elephant in the room that is Chip Kelly's rumored departure for a NFL job. Tyner has already decommitted once, and others could back out, should Kelly leave after the Fiesta Bowl.
The U has a fragile class for several reasons. For starters, they've seen three crucial decommitments in recent months in RB Alex Collins, DT Keith Bryant, and TE Travis Johnson.
Second, their head coach, Al Golden has had his name thrown around for other jobs. Third, and finally, Miami probably has some serious sanctions coming their way from the Nevin Shapiro scandal.
ESPNU ranks their class 23rd, but don't be shocked if Miami doesn't land a top 25 class this year.
3. Penn State
Penn State's class is already fragile due to the heavy sanctions that the NCAA placed on the program from the Jerry Sandusky case. However, now, that is not the only cause for instability in Penn State recruiting.
Bill O'Brien did such a good job under the circumstances that he faced this year in Happy Valley that the NFL will come calling for him. O'Brien is a NFL guy, as he was the Patriots' offensive coordinator before departing for PSU.
Recruits will take notice of this, and it is causing uncertainty in Penn State's 18-commit, 24th ranked class by ESPNU.
Auburn once had a top 10 recruiting class going, but now the Tigers will be fortunate enough to finish in the top 15.
They've already lost recruits like Reuben Foster and Trey Johnson.
Carl Lawson, Dee Liner, Tashawn Bower and Jordan Wilkins also are recruits who could easily flee the Tigers' 2013 recruiting class, too. Gus Malzahn will probably have to spend as much time recruiting his inherited commitments as he will outside uncommitted recruits.
A class that was once ranked No. 1 in the country, USC has gone from having a very solid group to a very fragile one.
The Trojans have been rocked by decommitments from recruits like WR Eldridge Massington, ATH/S Max Redfield, and now DT Eddie Vanderdoes.
Other commitments like CB Chris Hawkins, OT Nico Falah, WR Sebastian LaRue, and CB Jalen Ramsey have looked around too.
Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron are going to have to re-seal several commitments in this class while also locking in an additional two pledges from a pool of uncommitted targets.
Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He 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 (formerly 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.