Aaron Green has become a hot topic over the last few days, since his high school coach announced on August 8 that Cal, FSU, Nebraska, and Texas were the 5-star running back's final four options.
For months, most have considered Green's choice to essentially be a battle between the two Big 12 rivals. But that was before this past week, when two of the top five prospects in the country, Malcolm Brown and James Wilder, committed to Texas and FSU, respectively.
Green is ranked as the No. 3 running back on Scout and the No. 5 running back on Rivals. He's got the talent to really elevate any recruiting class in the country and will be a great addition for any school lucky enough to secure his commitment.
But is this really a war between Texas and Nebraska, with FSU and Cal closing out the pack in third and fourth?
Before August 18, maybe. After August 18, not a chance.
It was on August 18 that Brown and Wilder made their commitments to Texas and FSU, respectively. In the Longhorns case, the move for Brown closed the door on any more additions at running back.
Brown is the No. 1 running back in the country and is in prime form to take over the Texas backfield for the next four years. When he gets to Austin in 2011, it's going to be his show.
With Garrett Gilbert instead of Colt McCoy and an offensive line that could open up highways on running plays, coach Mack Brown wants to return to the power running game that used to define this team. With a star running back now in the fold, that dream becomes a reality.
Malcolm Brown's addition effects Aaron Green in a couple of major ways. Firstly, Brown will be the workhorse back and take the lion's share of carries from 2011 to 2014, unless he busts or heads to the NFL early. Those alternatives are harder to predict so we'll stay away from them.
Secondly, Brown's addition brought Texas' 2011 recruiting class to 23 commitments, with the team expected to give out no more than 25 scholarships for the year. With much greater needs at defensive end and tight end, the Longhorns will look at options to close out the class.
There just isn't room for Green anymore. Not in the backfield and not on the roster. Consider Texas out of the running.
FSU's James Wilder is the top athlete in the country and is considered a top five prospect of the 2011 recruiting class by most experts. He's a two-way player who projects at either running back, defensive end, or linebacker.
And while the consensus from a scouting standpoint is that he's best suited for the defensive side of the ball, where his ball-hawking skills could be put to good use, Wilder insisted he wanted to play running back and only looked at schools that would allow him that chance.
That's what led him to Florida State, a trust in coach Jimbo Fisher and the staff that they'd let him play running back. So the 5-star athlete will be doing just that in 2011. He might not be an offensive talent as highly regarded as Malcolm Brown or Aaron Green, but the potential is through the roof.
If there's a defensive prospect that can get it done on offense from the 2011 class, it's James Wilder or De'Anthony Thomas.
FSU was always on the outside looking in when it came to Green anyway, and while it still has room to add him, the addition of Wilder makes the situation in Tallahassee one Green will stay away from.
Aaron Green is the complete package when it comes to running backs. He runs with purpose, can make the first man miss, gets downfield in a hurry, and breaks tackles with surprising speed.
He's undersized at 5'11", 185 lbs, so he needs to bulk up or he just won't stay in one piece at the next level, but that's about all there is not to like about this kid.
There might not be anyone in the country who can change direction quite as fast as he can. Defenders are regularly left staring at the dust.
Texas might be happier with their addition of Brown, and Wilder might prove to be the next great big back, but there's a good chance Green emerges as the best of the bunch.
You'd have to go back to Marlon Lucky in 2005 to find the last time Nebraska brought in a 5-star running back. In fact, other than Marcus Mendoza in 2007, they haven't even brought in a 4-star back since.
The Cornhuskers don't pay much attention to star grades though. This is a team that focuses on player development, fundamentals, and teamwork.
It's how much less heralded senior Roy Helu Jr. was able to rush for over 1,000 yards with 10 touchdowns last year, after going relatively unnoticed throughout his career before then.
It's how 2008's 3-star receiver and high school quarterback Rex Burkhead has emerged as the Cornhusker's top home-run hitter out of the backfield and a dangerous weapon who will see a ton of playing time in 2010.
Nebraska might not have brought in the top-rated high school talent, but it turned what it had into a very strong group of rushers. Helu Jr. will be gone by 2011, with Burkhead and Dontrayevous Robinson entering their junior seasons.
They'll be the primary backs when Green arrives on campus, but he'll get his touches early and often. Expect him to compete for the starting gig by 2012 and be "The Man" by 2013.
Cal's road to a strong running game has come in quite a different way than Nebraska's. The Golden Bears bring in top 25 running back recruits every year, with 2010 the exception.
Jahvid Best might be off to the NFL, but that doesn't mean this team is lacking of talent in the backfield. Cal will simply call up their next star in the making in Shane Vereen. Vereen has been great the last two years in a reserve role, and the junior should be in line for a serious breakout season.
Behind him, Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson and Isi Sofele will battle for playing time as the No. 2 and No. 3 backs. The Golden Bears generally like to use tandem backs throughout the year, and that should leave about 10 carries a game for those two to split.
Expect that situation to carry over into 2011, when Vereen will be a senior and DeBoskie-Johnson and Sofele will be juniors.
With Green joined by 4-star running back Daniel Lasco in the 2011 recruiting class, the competition for playing time would be very rough at Cal, but you can't deny the developmental powers of this program.
Cal is a good option, in that the school has proven capable of bringing in and developing top-tier talent, but Green would likely be relegated to a reserve role with little to no playing time until 2013 at the earliest.
At Nebraska, he'll have to wait his turn as well, but the path to the starting unit is a straight and clear one. The Cornhuskers have some talented backs on the roster, but none who can hold up to Green once he really hits his stride in a couple of seasons.
He's had a good relationship with the coaching staff, dating back to his freshman and sophomore years of high school, and has long been considered a Nebraska-lean, even when Texas was still in the picture.
Now that the Longhorns took themselves out of the running and FSU essentially did the same, Green was pretty much gifted to the Cornhuskers.
Not to put down the Golden Bears, but there was never really any inclination that he'd be heading that way anyway.
Green is Nebraska-bound.