Spring Game Recruiting Report Cards For 10 Top College Football Teams
Spring games have (mostly) come and gone. Seeing the action play out on the field was, for many, a relief to watch.
But for those of us who still didn't get enough, the recruiting wars taking place off the field demand a look of their own.
For the premier recruiting schools, the spring game is a chance to generate early interest from recruits before summertime, give them a feel for the campus and show them where they belong in the system.
Here are 10 top schools who either got a commit (and sometimes more) out of their spring game or generated enough buzz that future commitments are more than likely.
Let's grade out how they did on a relative scale.
Auburn got Scout's No. 3 center Reese Dismukes on campus for their spring game, and gained his verbal a few days later.
Dismukes was down to Alabama and Auburn, and you know how good those fanbases feel when they pick recruits off of each other.
I know of at least three other big-time recruits who caught the game, one of which came away with very positive vibes. QB Kiehl Frazier of Arkansas was in attendance, but the almost requisite "had a great time" article didn't appear afterward. I wouldn't read too much into it.
Another QB, Georgia's CJ Uzomah, also caught the game, and came away impressed. He fell short of naming Auburn his leader, but indicated that the Tigers would likely make his next cut.
That article also mentioned North Carolina LB/WR Kris Frost, an early Michigan lean who had to miss the Wolverines spring game because he couldn't buy plane tickets. Frost caught Auburn's instead.
That slip might cost the Wolverines, as Frost came away raving about the visit and promising that the Tigers would surely make his next cut. Frost is a likely four-star linebacker who could be making a switch to wide receiver as well.
All in all, a solid trip that laid a good foundation for Auburn's future QB recruiting, a position of pronounced need given Cameron Newton's limited availability.
Alabama showed the world how to put on a spring game by drawing 91,132 patrons, getting televised on ESPN—and, most importantly, locking up four commitments from top defenders.
Scout's No. 1 safety, Hasean Clinton-Dix; No. 12 DE Lamichael Fanning; No. 10 CB Jabriel Washington; and No. 25 DT DJ Pettway all rolled Tide on or directly after April 17th, the date of the spring game.
I can't track down a full list of spring visitors, but don't be surprised when future recruits pledge to Alabama and an awesome experience at the spring game is one of the main reasons.
Texas' spring game recruiting was quiet—too quiet—until you consider the Longhorns were already sitting on 19 commitments.
In fact, Texas is so keyed in on the 2011 class that the spring game was more focused on 2012 players. It just gets worse the closer you look.
Nevertheless, the Longhorns added No. 20, DE Cedric Reed, who visited the game and committed a few weeks later.
Ironically, though Christian Westerman didn't attend Texas' spring game, it may have helped the Horns. Westerman's visit to USC for that weekend left him unimpressed, and after that, his decision was clear.
Goes to show even when the Longhorns lose, they win.
The Wolverines didn't gain any commitments—officially—from their spring game, something of a disappointment considering both the number of recruits attending and the importance placed on the event both by the staff and by the fanbase.
However, it's been rumored that the visit sealed up the silent commitment of four-star scatback Demetrius Hart, whose mother gave a glowing evaluation of RichRod and company after the visit that seemed to indicate Hart's questions about the staff had all been answered and he's resumed being Michigan's to lose.
Last year's spring game yielded the commitment of S Marvin Robinson—a longtime Michigan lean—and was considered a success.
If Hart drops and either Watkins or Barnes goes Blue down the stretch, you'd have to say Michigan, facing what it faces now, did very well.
From a host of visitors, the Huskers got one solid commitment out of their spring game—Ohio DT Kevin Williams, who was leaning strongly towards Nebraska beforehand and was pushed over the edge after the visit.
Tackle Christian Westerman was scheduled to attend the festivities, but had already committed to Texas, and Mack Brown doesn't appreciate when you go visiting other schools on Texas' time.
Texas running back Aaron Green was the other notable guest, and he came away saying the trip was a 10.
The Husker coaches have stopped in on Green during the evaluation period going on right now. I'm sensing he's moving a little closer to a decision now that Oklahoma has found its running back in Brandon Williams.
If Green drops, this will get bumped up—he could be the best thing for Nebraska's running game since the iso was invented. For now, it's a solid...
As mentioned, the Trojans gained the commitment of Scout's No. 5 DE, Jalen Grimble this past weekend (technically, he committed before the spring game).
USC also impressed DT Todd Peat—you can already see the effect Ed Orgeron is having on USC's recruiting—and despite the Trojans sporting two D-line commitments already, the buzz is positive for Peat and maybe another DT to drop any time now.
It's still too early to judge the full residual effect of USC's spring game, but keep an ear out for what recruits are saying in the next week.
The Sooners scored big at their spring game, flipping RB Brandon Williams from Baylor over to their side.
Weakside end Cooper Washington actually attended Oklahoma State's spring game the weekend before to Oklahoma, but that's how it goes sometimes.
In all, a very solid showing from Stoops and company.
The Buckeyes had already landed Plantation safety Jeremy Cash before the spring game, but Cash still offered to play host to the visiting Buckeye recruits on April 24th.
Monster tight end Jeff Heuerman was on the sidelines for the Buckeyes' spring game, and committed the Monday after festivities had wrapped. The 6'5", 230-pounder "just knew" Columbus was right for him.
DT Kevin McReynolds was mistakenly believed to have committed at the spring game. He emerged from Columbus with a Buckeye offer and the Bucks in line to make his final list.
Here's a great read from a fellow B/R writer on some more Ohio State recruiting returns. In all, it sounds like a very successful event for that school down south.
The Tigers generated a lot of buzz from their spring game, and it materialized in the form of a commitment from TE Eric Maclain, a 6'5", 246-pounder out of Fayetteville.
WR Charone Peake also dropped in and has the Tigers leading for his services thus far, though no commitment has materialized.
Georgia RB Isaiah Crowell attended as well, and called it the best trip he's taken to Clemson so far, adding Clemson to his unofficial top three afterwards.
Clemson soft verbal Brandon Ellerbe decided to take in UNC's spring game instead of Clemson's. Not sure if the Tigers will be holding onto him much longer.
WR Tacoi Sumler, a cousin of Clemson WR Bryce McNeal, came away raving after his visit. The speedy slot receiver looks like a lock for the Tigers if they play their cards right.
Maybe it didn't generate a lot of concrete commitments, but Clemson's spring recruiting laid the groundwork for a star-studded summer.
In my mind, one of the biggest stories out of the spring games was the news that Jadeveon Clowney, 2011's best defensive end—and maybe the top prospect overall—named the Tar Heels his favorite after attending their spring game in mid-April.
After wavering between Clemson and South Carolina for a time, Clowney's switch puts the Tar Heels in a privileged position at a time when they're one of the up-and-comers in the recruiting world.
No actual commitments were made, but the news on Clowney is pretty big. If he in fact keeps the Tar Heels in his top five throughout the year, we could see the winds of change shifting in the South.