College Football Recruiting 2011: Latest News, Updates and Predictions
The college football recruiting season is in full gear as teams and prospects both take a break from their busy schedules for visits and talks.
December has already been a very active recruiting month and should only heat up more as we get closer to the holidays.
We'll give you all the latest on key uncommitted recruits, make some predictions of our own and dish out all the major updates as they develop.
5-star linebacker Steve Edmond committed to Texas way back in February when the Longhorns were considered championship contenders and had their coaching staff fully intact.
10 months later, after a 5-7 season that marked the worst year of the Mack Brown Era, the coaching staff has seen significant changes and the future of one of the country's most stable powerhouses is very much up in the air.
Part of the Longhorns coaching casualties, defensive coordinator and Texas head coach-in-waiting, Will Muschamp.
Muschamp left Texas to become the new head coach at Florida after Urban Meyer stepped down earlier this month.
He brings a wealth of knowledge with him that should serve the Gators well. But that's not all he brings.
Muschamp has a direct line right into the heart of Texas' crop of star recruits, many of whom he personally recruited while with the Longhorns.
He was one of Edmond's primary recruiters and was mentioned specifically as a major driving force behind the 5-star linebacker's decision to commit to the Longhorns.
Now that Muschamp is at Florida and Texas looks like a shadow of it's former self from the time Edmond committed, it wouldn't be out of the question to assume the Gators could swoop in the for the kill.
Of course it seems doubtful Muschamp would step on any toes in Austin considering he left the program on good terms, but the recruiting world is it's own beast that can't very well be predicted.
A major decommitment from Texas' 2011 class could play right into Muschamp's hands. After all, he's one of the reasons some of these prospects came to Austin in the first place.
5-star running back Savon Huggins was at Auburn this weekend for an official visit and according to the coveted prospect the trip couldn't have gone any better.
"It was a ten," Huggins said when asked how the visit went.
While Auburn is new to Huggins list of contenders, along with USC, Georgia and Tennessee, the Tigers appear to be the biggest threat to favorites Notre Dame and Rutgers.
A New Jersey native, Huggins has long been connected to Notre Dame and Rutgers; the two schools that have arguably the recruited him the longest and hardest.
But with Auburn's success on the field this season as well as it's strong recent history recruiting, you'd be foolish to think the Tigers aren't making a strong push.
At the moment Auburn has only 15 commitments on the books for 2011, none of whom are running backs. If the Tigers were to land Huggins, he would immediately become the top recruit from their class.
While there are a few other backs in the class who are higher rated, Huggins might turn out to be the best of the bunch.
With Michael Dyer, one of the top running backs from the 2010 class, already in the fold, the addition of Huggins to the mix could turn Auburn's backfield into one of the best running back duos in the country.
There's still a long way to go in the Hunt for Huggins, but Notre Dame and Rutgers should certainly take note of what Auburn has brought to the table lately.
5-star offensive tackle Christian Westerman is one of the top overall prospects in the country and one of the seven 5-star commitments from Texas' No. 1-rated 2011 recruiting class, but after the Longhorns 5-7 season and extensive coaching changes he appears to be wavering on his commitment.
“As of right now, I’m going to have to talk over some things and see what’s on the next level," Westerman said. “With the coaches leaving, it’s definitely a big change.It’s different from what they told me, from what I expected to see when I got there. That changes up a lot of things.”
The biggest beneficiary of the situation appears to be the Auburn Tigers. Westerman visited Auburn this weekend and appears to have left impressed with the message relayed to him by offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and offensive line coach Jeff Grimes.
“I definitely love the school,” Westerman said. “I had a great trip. We’ll see where it goes from here. I have a lot of interest in Auburn."
The news is huge for the Tigers, who are also now in the picture for 5-star offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio after he replaced Miami with Auburn in his final five that includes Alabama, USC, Iowa and New Mexico as well.
5-star offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, the No. 3 overall prospect from the 2011 recruiting class, has eliminated the Miami Hurricanes from his top five choices in the wake of former Temple coach Al Golden being hired as the replacement for Randy Shannon.
Just over a week ago, Kouandjio revealed his top choices to be Alabama, USC, Iowa, New Mexico and Miami, but with Randy Shannon out of the picture for the Hurricanes it was expected something like this would happen.
"I'm replacing [Miami] with Auburn," Kouandjio said in an interview with Scout.com without going into any further detail.
Auburn is in the midst of arguably it's most impressive season in school history, poised for a showdown with Oregon in the BCS National Championship and riding the coattails of Heisman-winning quarterback Cam Newton.
Though the Tiger's 2011 recruiting class isn't as strong as it's been in year's past, the revival of the program into a contender has turned Auburn into an intriguing option for a lot of the nation's top uncommitted prospects.
While Alabama and USC are heavily favored in the race to sign Kouandjio, Iowa and Auburn have picked up steam and should make the next couple months before National Signing Day all the more interesting.
5-star linebacker Curtis Grant is one of the top overall prospects in the country and and after a visit to Columbus over the weekend, the Buckeyes appear to be a big player in the hunt to land him.
While he wouldn't go so far as to name a leader, Grant revealed that his favorites at the moment are Ohio State, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia.
With the way he was talking about the Buckeyes after his trip to Ohio State, you might want to keep your eye on the scarlet and gray.
"Here's what I love about Ohio State: what you see is what you get," Grant said. "They are so humble there and there isn't a whole bunch of extra stuff. They are just chill and they don't force you to commit or anything. I really like that. It's an awesome place. It is so nice and everybody is so cool. It was still fun even though like half of the students weren't there."
With 4-star linebacker and former Florida commitment Ryan Shazier committing to the Buckeyes over the weekend, Grant was able to speak with someone in the same situation as himself.
"I just was asking [Shazier] what made him decide to become a Buckeye now and he said it was a better fit for him," Grant said about the text message exchanges the two had over the weekend.
"I remember when he was always all decked out in Florida stuff so that was crazy to see but he hasn't really tried to recruit me to Ohio State yet."
Grant isn't expected to announce his commitment until close to National Signing Day, but it's safe to say the Buckeyes are making a strong push after his just-concluded visit.
5-star defensive tackle Viliami Moala out of Sacramento appears to have narrowed his choices down to a field of Pac-10 teams headlined by USC and Cal.
Moala has already taken official visits to USC, Washington and Arizona State and plans to head out to Oregon and Oregon State after the U.S. Army All-American Game in January.
“I’m still looking at Cal, USC, Oregon State, Washington, Arizona State, Oregon and UCLA,” said Moala. “Cal and USC are my top schools. They’re recruiting me the hardest right now.”
While he doesn't have an official visit set up with Cal, Moala has visited the school unofficially several times and likely don't believe it necessary to return again on official business.
With USC losing out on 5-star defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, one of the top JUCO transfers in the country who signed with Missouri earlier this week, it appears the Trojans now have a big opening at the position that Moala could fill perfectly.
The Golden Bears have a distinct advantage though, already holding a commitment from Moala's close friend, 4-star defensive tackle Mustafa Jalil.
Jalil has been actively recruiting Moala since he committed to Cal back in April and could prove to be a key factor in Moala's decision.
Moala doesn't plan on committing until National Signing Day, but says it's possible he makes his decision at the All-American Game.
5-star defensive end Ishaq Williams announced this week that he's narrowed his list down to Note Dame, Penn State and Syracuse though he still plans on making his commitment at the U.S. Army All-American Game in January.
He was previously looking at USC and Alabama as well, but both appear to be out of the equation now.
An athletic freak with the potential to be a superb outside linebacker or strong safety as well as remain at his natural position at defensive end, Williams would be instantly become the top commitment of all three of his finalists 2011 recruiting classes.
He's long and rangy, runs a deceptively fast 4.7-second 40-yard dash and is one of the most intense players you'll ever come across.
Of his three finalists, Penn State appears to have the advantage, but it wouldn't be surprising to see Williams go with Notre Dame or Syracuse either.
We'll keep you updated with all the latest as the situation develops.
We're about 24 hours away from 5-star linebacker Travis Hughes' commitment announcement and at this point the field is as close to level as it could be.
On Saturday at noon at Jimmy's Steakhouse in Virginia Beach, Hughes will make his college selection from one of four finalists. It's either going to be Virginia Tech, Clemson, North Carolina or Maryland.
"I'm going to base it on where I feel the most comfortable, where there will be people that will take care of me and a school that can take me to the next level," Hughes told Tigerillustrated.com Wednesday evening. "I want to go to a school that's going to raise itself to the BCS level and do more than what the ACC has been doing lately, because I think the ACC is a league on the rise."
While earlier in the week it appeared that Maryland was Hughes' favorite based on his father's noticeable preference for the school's defense and quarterback situation; two keys for Hughes.
But now it appears that Clemson has really wedged itself between the two with a last minute visit by coach Dabo Swinney and Tigers recruiter Billy Napier.
Clemson might have struggled in a transition year, but the Tigers have a very strong draft class and Swinney preached the message of what the program is trying to accomplish moving forward.
You wouldn't want to be too quick excluding Virginia Tech from the Virginia native's list either though. Basically, it really is anyone's game.
Gut call though, Clemson.
4-Star wide receiver Bill Belton, a top 15 prospect at the position, decommitted from Pitt yesterday in a move that can't be too surprising considering that he was primarily recruited by former coach Dave Wannstedt and his staff.
Wannstedt resigned earlier this month and the program is expected to gut the entire coaching staff as a result.
This development doesn't have Belton on the fence though, he appears to have moved on entirely.
“I’m going to look at three schools going forward,” Belton said. “It’s going to be Penn State, West Virginia and Cincinnati. Pittsburgh is bringing in a new coach and that really worries me to be honest with you."
Of the three West Virginia has to be considered the favorite considering he nearly made his original commitment to the Mountaineers over Pitt.
But with an upcoming visit to Penn State, things could change very quickly.
We'll keep you updated with all the latest as the situation develops.
5-star running back Savon Huggins, one of the top prospects in the nation, recently opened up his recruiting from what was originally a final five of Notre Dame, Rutgers, North Carolina, Florida and Pitt.
Huggins began looking at USC, Auburn, Georgia and Tennessee in November and while most observers still peg Notre Dame and Rutgers as his favorites, Auburn will receiving an official visit from the coveted running back this weekend.
“Right now Savon has no particular favorite,” his father said about the trip to Auburn. “Everyone knows that he is interested in Rutgers and Notre Dame and he has visited those two already. We are talking about taking an official to USC and that is it right now.
“He wants to check out the atmosphere at Auburn and talk to the players and see how he likes it in Alabama."
With Auburn sitting at No. 1 in the polls and waiting to face Oregon in the BCS national championship, Huggins visit to Alabama could throw a wrench in Notre Dame's and Rutgers' plans.
We'll keep you up to speed with all the latest from Huggins trip.
With Florida State adding it's fourth 5-star recruit to it's 2011 recruiting class, the Seminoles now have more top-end talent than any school in the country besides Texas.
Defensive end Cornelius "Tank" Carradine, one of the top-rated JUCO prospect in the country, signed a letter of intent with Florida State today and now joins athlete James Wilder, safety Karlos Williams and defensive end Aaron Lynch as one of the Seminoles four 5-star prospects.
Add in two of the best offensive tackles in the country in Jordan Prestwood and Bobby Hart, 4-star JUCO offensive guard Jacob Fahrenkrug, top 25 receiver Rashad Greene, top 25 defensive ends Giorgio Newberry and Terrance Smith and suddenly FSU's 2011 class is looking like a monster.
There's no denying that Alabama and Ohio State have more overall talent, with each school having 10 4-star commitments compared to six for the Seminoles.
But when it comes to star power, Florida State is really packing and right now the Tide and Buckeyes can't match up with what the Seminoles are bringing to the table.
From where we sit, you'd have a pretty good argument to say that Florida State now has the No. 2 recruiting class in the country.
5-star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was the highlight of Miami's 2011 recruiting class until he decommitted from the Hurricanes on December 7 following the firing of head coach Randy Shannon.
Shannon had played a major role in Bridgewater's decision to join the Hurricanes and with him gone it wasn't surprising that the star quarterback decided to step back and see how things shook out in Miami.
Now that Miami has brought aboard former Temple coach Al Golden to head things up it might not be long before some clarity is provided with Bridgewater.
It should go without saying that making contact with Bridgewater should be Golden's first order of business on the recruiting front.
After all, he was Miami's only 5-star prospect from a class that at it's height had only seven commitments and now is down to just four after Bridgewater, 4-star safety Albert Louis-Jean and 3-star offensive guard Marcus Johnson all decommitted.
With 15 scholarships to offer, Golden needs to get things going immediately and there's no better way to kick-start recruiting by getting a 5-star quarterback back into the mix.
Five-star linebacker Travis Hughes narrowed his list of schools to four choices: Maryland, Virginia Tech, Clemson and North Carolina.
He's also decided when he'll announce which of the three he'll be attending, picking December 18 as his college announcement date.
While Virginia Tech has made a strong push as of late with coach Frank Beamer visiting Hughes at his home in impressive fashion after the Hokies won the ACC Championship Game, it still looks like Maryland has the edge in the hunt to land the Virginia native.
“It’s truly a family there [at Maryland]. Everyone really comes together as one," Hughes said.
It also appears that Maryland quarterback Danny O’Brien will play a big role in Hughes' decision, as his father Tony pointed out.
“I look at a program with a solid QB. If they don’t have a solid quarterback then their defense is on the field a long time. I think Maryland has that with a great defense coming back and a solid quarterback in O’Brien. I love him. He is one of best QBs out of Maryland.”
Check back on Saturday for full coverage of Hughes' commitment.
Jadeveon Clowney is the top overall prospect from the 2011 recruiting class and a defensive end with seemingly limitless potential as a pass-rusher.
While many have pegged South Carolina and Alabama as the only two schools legitimately contending for Clowney's services, he isn't so quick to agree.
"LSU, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida State and Clemson," he said in an interview with Rivals.com this week. "No leader, no standouts."
As for Alabama, Clowney might have thrown a wrench into the Tide's recruiting machine with his latest comments about the 3-4 defense—the system being used at this year's Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas as well as at Alabama.
"I don't like this defense, the 3-4," he said. "I play head over the tackle. I like to make plays off the edge. I would rather put my hand on the ground."
While he was clear in saying that this didn't negatively effect Alabama's chances of signing him, his comments say otherwise.
Clowney plans to announce his commitment on National Signing Day.
Over the last couple of weeks we've been breaking down the top recruiting targets of several major college football programs, but for those of you who don't want to dig through the archives you can find them all right here:
We'll go through more teams as the month goes on so be sure to keep an eye out for your favorite programs.