Predicting July's Biggest Commitments of the 2011 Recruiting Class
If this college football recruiting season has taught us anything, it's that schools are pushing for earlier and earlier decisions.
At least half of the recruits on the Rivals 100 are either currently committed or down to a short list of schools. The process has become so intrusive that most recruits look to get it out of the way and have peace throughout their senior season.
With that in mind, I'd like to predict the next big commitments to drop just in the space of the next month. Some have hinted as much or even set announcement dates, and for them I've provided some clue as to who they might choose. Others are just a gut feeling of mine.
George Farmer, WR
Knowing now that USC's recruiting will not only remain intact despite the pending sanctions, but strengthen by four commits over the subsequent month, I see no reason to doubt the pending commitment of five-star WR George Farmer.
The Trojans established a reliable pipeline to his school, Junipero Serra, via the commitment of Robert Woods, a five-star wide receiver in last year's class, so Farmer had an immediate connection to the school not just on a professional level, but a personal one.
Farmer appeared on the brink of committing to USC for most of the spring, indicating that they were his favorite, attending USC camps, and having very little to say about their competitors.
Barring some unforeseen circumstance where USC's wide receiver recruiting is now complete with WR Victor Blackwell already in the fold, I don't see Farmer lasting into the season, or even past July. The Trojans, as usual are pulling in verbal at a pace beyond most normal schools, and commitments often beget more commitments.
Malcolm Brown, RB
Five-star running back Malcolm Brown is like the last Jenga piece in a tower of 2011 running backs. Once someone pulls him in, the rest of the tower should fall.
Brown was supposed to make his announcement in May according to the underground, so that tells me he still favors an early commitment.
With the growing buzz that Alabama is pulling even, I no longer think he's a lock to go to Texas. But I do suspect that wherever he does decide to go will be announced in the next month
If Alabama makes enough of a play for him to reconsider his status with Texas, the Longhorns may decide to make it easier on themselves and take in-stater Aaron Green (which would also smite Nebraska...bonus!).
And don't discount Florida State's pull. Brown mentioned them as a darkhorse. I think he'd fit well in FSU's 2011 class which, for all its salt, is light on gamebreakers like him. Jimbo Fisher is an ex-offensive coordinator, after all.
Aaron Green, RB
Aaron Green's recruitment seems to have been winding down since a string of favorable visits from and to Nebraska.
Green caught the Huskers spring game and then entertained a visit from Nebraska's coaches shortly after, and most of the buzz put Nebraska in the lead group. He fulfills a need in Nebraska's stellar recruiting class and, though he's kept Texas in his final four, is almost certainly option No. 2 for the Longhorns after Malcolm Brown.
That article hints at a decision coming sooner rather than later. If Brown's decision drops, either for Texas, Alabama or Florida State, Green's should be soon to follow.
Should Brown choose a school besides Texas, Green would probably jump at the open scholarship, but even if Brown chose the Longhorns, I think Nebraska has done a good enough job selling the program to get an early verbal.
Devon Blackmon, ATH
Cali athlete Devon Blackmon announced a short list of Florida, Alabama, UCLA, Cal, Oregon, USC and Nebraska, adding that he would make his decision "very soon."
How soon is very soon? Blackmon spent most of the spring and early summer focusing on track, but got down to business on narrowing his list as soon as it had his full attention, so he's clearly not someone that likes to prolong these decisions.
July might be just a little early, but I expect Blackmon to have a top three or two by month's end and to wrap things up by the end of summer. If he's even closer to a finalist than his top six, we could see it sooner.
As for who that could be, I'm not clear on who the frontrunner is, but you have to like the nearby schools who have the proximity advantage. I know the Alabama offer really excited him, too. If the Tide can get him on campus for an unofficial, I like their chances.
Angelo Mangiro, G
With three commits already at the interior line, I would count the Buckeyes out.
Pitt assistant coach Jeff Hafley has done an outstanding job recruiting New Jersey so far, landing four-star DT Marquise Wright and ATH Bill Belton, both Jersey boys. Per Rivals, he's the lead recruiter for Mangiro.
Rutgers naturally has done well in New Jersey, but their increased national profile also has to help for big-time prospects like him. Mangiro took a visit to RU just prior to narrowing his list. I'm not sure whether to take that to mean they were on the bubble before the cut was made or not.
Penn State's class is abnormally light at this point, and Mangiro visited Happy Valley a few times. As Penn State's only target on the interior line, I'd give them a legit chance to be the last men standing.
Ray Drew, DE
This one is going on more gut feeling than any solid indication. In fact, top weakside end and Rivals' No. 13 recruit Ray Drew has said he will do the exact opposite of making an early decision, preferring to wait until signing day to make his decision official.
But when the No. 2 weakside end in the heart of SEC country says he's going to wait until signing day and is open to any school, it's like hollering that you're unarmed during a dodgeball game.
Drew has been pelted with offers throughout spring and summer, and confessed that he faces enormous pressure to commit from Georgia and Florida State, both of whom are after him heavily.
I predict Drew will rethink the wisdom of waiting and, for the sake of his own sanity, give a verbal to a school just to quiet the uproar. Even if he decides to sneak out of it later, that should throw us recruiting jackals off his trail for a short time.
Trey DePriest, OLB
Word spread about two weeks ago that Trey DePriest, a four-star linebacker out of Springfield, OH, was a silent commit to Alabama.
When you're a four-star linebacker with Alabama in your top group, silence is not really an option the fanbase appreciates.
The news broke after DePriest visited Tuscaloosa for three days, so there was reason to believe the rumor had legs.
If it is indeed true and the Buckeyes haven't kept the battle for the four-star 'backer close enough, we could know (officially) before the month is out.
James Wilder, ATH
James Wilder, 2011's top athlete and top prospect to some, has repeatedly said he wants to decide soon.
As much as I'd like to entertain the intrigue about a possible commit to Georgia Tech, Florida State or Miami, a visit Wilder took to Florida last month made it sound as though Florida had answered all of his preliminary questions about where he would fit in the offense.
There hasn't been enough smoke from any other visits or schools (yes, even Alabama) to suggest that Florida is being challenged here. The Gators are turning up the pressure on commits, evidenced by the six verbals dropping in the past six weeks. Should Wilder's recruitment last past the end of the month, I'd be more willing to believe some other school has put the hook in him.