August is sure to be a busy month for 2011 recruiting. But before we get into the thick of those commitments, I'd like to take a look at what went down in the month of July.
14 big-name players made their future coaches very happy (for about twenty minutes; college football moves fast) when they announced their decisions to commit last month.
Who were they? Where did they go? And will they be staying there? All things I try to answer in the slides ahead. I've arranged them in (I think) chronological order from the furthest away to the most recent.
One of the more puzzlingly underrated recruits in Ohio State's class, safety Ron Tanner is a camp/combine-tested top 100 recruit and a heavy hitter who shows shades of Kurt Coleman.
Tanner committed to the Buckeyes right at the start of the month and got somewhat lost in the hoopla over in-state cornerback Doran Grant and his fickle mind.
But as a Michigan fan, I have a hard time sighing with relief that Tanner's only three stars. I like to think I know better.
Four-star tackle Brey Cook verballed to the in-state Arkansas Razorbacks on July 6th, choosing the Hogs over heavy pursuit from Oklahoma and offers from Alabama and Auburn, among others.
Cook is considered one of the premier tackles in the class, a top 50 prospect to Rivals and the No. 7 overall prospect at the position. He'll hold the line for some great quarterbacks in the future if the present is any indication.
I've crowed about this commitment elsewhere, but allow me to repeat myself—safety Gerrod Holliman is the missing link in the Ole Miss defense.
The Rebels' strength has recently been their front seven, which is a nice way of saying their liability has been their back four. Holliman, who committed to Ole Miss on July 4th, brings top-five talent and upside to the Ole Miss defensive backfield. Rebels fans should be...well, more excited than usual.
Four-star Florida linebacker Kent Turene shocked the recruit-o-world when he announced his commitment to USC on July 5th.
As though the distance and the sanctions weren't enough of a handicap for the Trojans, Turene had emerged hours earlier from the offices of the Florida Gators, presumably on the verge of committing to them.
Since then, reports are that Florida hasn't given up and that Turene is now considered a soft verbal who will look around. But should he stick with USC, that's a major coup for the Trojans and their razor-thin linebacking depth chart.
A major commitment that occurred while I was on vacation was of four-star tackle Zach Debell, Rivals' No. 14 tackle and the No. 115 recruit in the class, who committed to Georgia after a Dawg Night event.
Debell had his pick of southern schools but chose Georgia.
Interestingly, his visit led to a minor flap over secondary recruiting violations when he was photographed by a member of the media with a current Georgia coach. No ruling yet, but that should tell you how arcane the NCAA rulebook is and how thick it must be.
Once one of the highest-profile soft verbals in the class, Daytona Beach, FL safety Cortez Davis switched his commitment back to Clemson on July 11th. The Tigers were his original commitment, but he was briefly on his way to Florida State.
Davis is the No. 13 safety in the class to Rivals, a top 200 recruit with a flawless offer sheet, so you can see why Clemson never gave up. If you love something, let it commit somewhere else. If it decommits and comes back to you, it's a future Thorpe Award candidate.
Along with obvious needs at quarterback, wide receiver was the biggest area of need in Oregon's 2011 recruiting class. While the Ducks' spread-n'-shred offense is primarily a ground threat, there's nothing that says having an elite receiver will be detrimental.
The Ducks found their man in blazing Miami, Florida product Tacoi Sumler, a sub-4.4 runner and top 250 recruit who verballed to Oregon on July 28th.
He'll be using that speed for plenty of go routes as the Ducks stretch the field and try to punish teams for loading the box.
Four-star guard Angelo Mangiro chose Penn State over Rutgers, Ohio State and Pitt in one of the harder-fought recruiting battles of the summer.
The Nittany Lions' offensive line has seen its share of reshuffling in the past two years, so landing an anchor like Mangiro at the guard spot is something worth celebrating.
Four-star Texas linebacker Kellen Jones called his Michigan offer an offer from his dream school...and sometimes, that means exactly what it's supposed to mean.
Jones took an unofficial visit to Michigan on July 29th and committed that very day.
Though his Rivals' profile is modest, it's likely to improve if his impressive highlight reel is any indication.
He's the most touted linebacker the Wolverines have taken since four-stars JB Fitzgerald and Kenny Demens in 2008. So, given the state of our defense, you can imagine how exciting that is.
One of my favorite 1-2 commitments of the class, two of Pennsylvania's top recruits chose the Pitt Panthers in back-to-back days.
Bruising running back Jameel Poteat and versatile athlete Terrell Chestnut committed to Pitt on July 28th and 29th, respectively. Poteat's one-cut-and-go running style is the perfect fit for Pitt's methodical old-school offense. He'll do well backing up a junior Dion Lewis or have the benefit of a redshirt.
As for Chestnut, I've ">debated elsewhere where the Panthers might see fit to put the four-star athlete.
He could wind up a sideline-to-sideline rushing complement to Poteat...but I'm changing my prediction now to say that Pitt will try him out at the defensive backfield. With his recovery speed and field awareness, he could wind up the next Darrelle Revis with grooming from Pitt's underrated secondary coaching staff.
Just as July wrapped up, Notre Dame reared its ugly head, nabbing four big-time commitments in the space of two days.
Two of those are absolutely perfect fits for their squad. Aaron Lynch is a 6'6", 260 hulking defensive end, a perfect fit to play strongside defensive end or maybe outside linebacker in ND's remodeled 3-4. The Cape Coral, FL native will be Kelly's biggest verbal on defense to date should he wind up more decorated than last year's four-star signee, DT Louis Nix.
Grand Blanc, MI all-purpose back Justice Hayes was a top target for a variety of offenses, Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa, Northwestern and Tennessee.
The Wolverines' interest tapered off as their lead with Demetrius Hart, a recruit similar to Hayes, grew. But in reality, Hayes was the better fit at ND. He's a great pass-catcher and smooth route-runner, and I think he could see time immediately if the Irish haven't found a fit for the slot. Think a taller Mardy Gilyard, and you're getting there.
He's also a killer on returns, a facet of ND's game that might need a facelift with Golden Tate moving on.
After an achingly long and methodical decision-making period that rivaled Jim Tressel's greatest gameplans, Springfield, OH linebacker Trey DePriest chose Alabama over the in-state Buckeyes on July 30.
Ohio State strove valiantly, having lost last year's top in-state linebacker, Jordan Hicks, to Texas. But in the end, the Tide were the better schematic fit.
His commitment tipped the balance for the number two spot among the top defensive recruiting classes in favor of Alabama. Doran Grant's verbal, on the other hand, would shake things up again.