Re-Commits: CFB Teams That Will Win the Most Recruit Switcheroos
Part of what makes recruiting so interesting is that it ain't over until it's over.
But unlike its on-the-field counterpart, the score can be 100 to 0, and teams can still launch a fourth-quarter comeback to win.
Recruiting is a zero-sum game. No recruit ever partially commits to one team and mostly to another...at least, not once signing day rolls around.
And some schools are particularly good at convincing recruits that their first choice wasn't their best choice.
In the wake of three of the biggest commitments in the class (Austin Seferian-Jenkins to Washington, James Wilder to Florida State, and Malcolm Brown to Texas), I'd like to look at eight schools that are most likely to be the benefactors of a switcheroo (or switcheroos) on signing day.
Florida State pulled five-star athlete James Wilder from the clutches of a Gators commitment.
Florida State really flexed its recruiting muscle for the first time yesterday, pulling 5-star athlete James Wilder away from what seemed like a surefire verbal to Florida back in the spring.
Word is the Seminoles got Wilder on campus and harped on his desire to play running back in an offense that suits his talents a little better.
The pitch worked, Wilder verballed, and I expect the Seminoles to do it again for recruits that don't go their way the first time around.
I have in mind Clemson commit Cortez Davis, who switched to FSU from an original Clemson commitment and has now switched back. I also wouldn't be surprised to see current FSU commit Karlos Williams de-commit, only to re-commit later in the process.
And if the Noles decide they also need an elite quarterback in this class...watch out.
The Bruins grabbed five-star defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa in a Signing Day surprise for 2010.
They don't call him Slick Rick because he cleans up oil spills.
No, UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel is known, among other things, for taking recruiting battles to the wire.
And while the Bruins are off to a poor start against what should have been a battered USC team, the recruiting season still lasts until February.
The Bruins had probably the best signing day haul in the country last year, landing ATH Anthony Jefferson, DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa, LB Josh Zumwalt, LB Josh Shirley, and S Dietrich Riley (who is tearing up fall camp) just as pens hit paper nationwide. Most of those were switcheroos or surprises.
Zumwalt was a Stanford commitment days prior to signing with UCLA; Odighizuwa was rumored to favor Nebraska; and Jefferson and Riley were recruits Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly drove across the country to get.
I wouldn't put it past UCLA to pull something like that again, and chip a few off the Trojans if their record suffers this season.
Rich Rodriguez convinced Stanford commit Courtney Avery to join the Wolverines last year.
Wolverines head coach Rich Rodriguez led the country in switching recruits while not suffering any de-commitments himself in 2010.
There's precedent for Michigan to really clean up, especially if UM's record at the end of the season is encouraging. Many top-tier recruits like defensive end Ray Drew, Curtis Grant, and safety Avery Walls have vouched interest in Michigan, and have a wait-and-see approach to the season.
With starting cornerback Troy Woolfolk's season-ending injury fresh in my mind, I'm tempering my confidence in the Wolverines and a breakout year. But I still think recruits will be attracted to the rebuilding project...provided it isn't from the ground up, and under a new head coach.
The Sooners could have their eyes on flipping in-state corner Josh Turner before Signing Day.
Oklahoma has been quiet on the recruiting trail, winning some small battles, but losing the major ones against rival Texas, like the one for 4-star in-state cornerback Josh Turner.
If the Sooners are as good as CFB savant Phil Steele says they are, then winning the Big 12 and rolling to the national championship should have an immediate, overwhelmingly positive effect on their late-season, pre-signing day recruiting.
Not to mention the Sooners recruit nationally as well as any other traditional power. They took safety Tony Jefferson out of Chula Vista, CA last year, and this year their reach could extend to the Golden State again.
If they can pick off a few recruits from Texas' touted class, so much the better. Mack Brown likes defectors like Bob Stoops likes questions about winning the big game.
Stanford convinced QB Brett Nottingham to switch from UCLA to the Cardinal in last year's cycle.
The Cardinal are seeking vengeance after suffering a whopping 17 (!) de-commitments in last year's class, good for most overall in the country.
Stanford sent out a record number of offers this year, and coach Jim Harbaugh has taken to the challenge of recruiting like his doppelganger Pete Carroll, never shying away from a battle no matter how unreasonable.
I expect Stanford to be this year's version of UCLA, suffering a few late de-commitments and causing many more in the lead-up to signing day. They picked off QB Brett Nottingham from the Bruins late in last year's cycle, and if I had to guess, I'd say they have the best chance of benefiting from some late shake-ups at USC.
That's if Harbaugh still wears the Cardinal red and white at the end of the year.
Alabama will recruit top 2011 recruit Jadeveon Clowney until he either verbals, or it's no longer reasonable to recruit him.
In my mind, Alabama is the juggernaut this year, so I'm not sure how many recruits will flip to their side versus how many will get picked off by the time signing day rolls around.
What I do know is that they never stop recruiting a kid until the last possible moment. If they sense an opportunity to flip someone, they will pursue it until it's no longer legally possible.
If the Tide miss out on top targets like LB Tony Steward or DE Jadeveon Clowney on the first go-round, I expect them to consider it round one.
And they're in a unique position in that if they have a good year, they can invite good players to the party. If they struggle, they can petition for top recruits to lead the rebuilding effort.
Washington convinced fringe five-star tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins to stay in-state rather than commit to Texas or Florida.
Maybe I'm still stinging from losing safety Sean Parker to Washington in a 2010 signing day switcheroo, but I predict the Huskies' recruiting will take off after a year where they return to the postseason and, with a lot of luck, contend for a Pac-10 title.
Washington has been recruiting more and more raw athletes both on offense and on defense, which shows they're adapting to what's out there.
And don't forget they convinced 5-star tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins to stay in-state after the latter had nearly committed to both Florida and Texas. It might have been the biggest recruiting coup of the year, in all honesty.
If in-state receiver Kasen Williams decides to leave Washington (say, to Notre Dame), the Huskies could lure him back with a solid year. They have to show they're ready at the QB position after Locker, however, so tagging a top recruit at QB will be a big priority. Watch for a major battle with UCLA for QB Brett Hundley on that front.
Florida is expected to pursue five-star running back and Clemson commit Mike Bellamy with a vengeance.
Despite losing out for top recruits like Mike Bellamy (to Clemson) and James Wilder (to FSU) on an initial commitment, the Gators ought never be counted out of the race for a recruit, especially one from Florida.
The perception out there is that with Wilder out, Florida will now pursue 5-star running back Mike Bellamy with a renewed vigor. The all-purpose back verballed to Clemson in April, but if Florida, with its favorable RB depth chart and ideal system, turns up the heat, will Bellamy respond?
And don't think the Gators are done with Wilder yet. He was a borderline commitment as early as a few weeks ago, but a visit to Tallahassee changed his mind on what offense suited him best. If he decides to play outside linebacker, or sees something in Florida's offense this fall that he will excel at, he might think twice.
Not to mention there are countless recruits and commits out there who would reconsider their priorities if a Florida offer arrived in the mail. That the Gators are now the underdogs in the SEC only makes the pursuit more unrelenting.