Year in and year out, the top college football programs seem to reload with the recruitment and commitment of the top high school players in the country.
The perennial powers reload and get set for another year of dominance. Wash, rinse, repeat. Sometimes, though, the underdog gets their man. Yes, sometimes, the smaller school or the school with less recent success on the field and in the recruiting game gets their man. And this year, we could see that happen on a few different occasions.
As National Signing Day approaches, here are four highly-touted recruits who could spurn powerhouses for smaller or less successful schools:
Heyward, a 6'2'', 270-pound defensive tackle, will take his official visit to San Diego State this weekend, leaving open the possibility that the Aztecs will steal the highly-touted recruit from perennial recruiting powers USC, UCLA and Oregon.
Heyward took his visit to Oregon last weekend, but the final visit of the season is sometimes swaying. San Diego State, of course, remains in the game for Heyward's services despite the loss of head coach Brady Hoke, who left for Michigan earlier this month.
The Aztecs had a terrific year on the field and seem to only be improving. Heyward could certainly be a big part of their success moving forward if he can spurn the big boys.
Simmons is considered the No. 3 defensive tackle in the country, and he is receiving interest from a host of schools, from coast to coast.
While USC, Oregon and Texas Tech remain in the game, it appears Simmons will spurn these BCS powers for either Rutgers or Pittsburgh.
The Pennsylvania native has surely been linked to Pitt, although Simmons has yet to take his official visit there. The new team in the mix again for Simmons is Rutgers. After Simmons dropped the Scarlet Knights from consideration, the interest was rekindled. A recent in-home visit from Greg Schiano only increased the chances.
Whether Simmons lands at Pitt or Rutgers, he'll turn down bigger schools.
The top recruit in the state of Kentucky is likely to stay in state and play for the Wildcats, spurning the likes of Tennessee, USC and Oregon.
Dawson has taken four of five visits and is scheduled to head to Tennessee this, the final, weekend of the 2011 recruiting season. The feeling in the Bluegrass State, though, is that the highly-touted linebacker will become the face of the Kentucky football program. Dawson has admitted staying in Lexington would be something that has a great amount of appeal to him.
While Kentucky isn't a small school, it's clear the Wildcats struggle to compete on the recruiting trail for the top players in the SEC. It sure would make things interesting for Dawson to spurn the other finalists—including SEC rival Tennessee—for Kentucky.
Kouandjio is one of the top-ranked recruits in the country and is reportedly choosing between a host of schools. Among Kouandjio's finalists are the usual suspects: Auburn, Alabama and USC.
His other two finalists, however, are a tad bit surprising given the extreme interest from the other perennial powerhouses. Kouandjio's other two finalists are Iowa and New Mexico. New Mexico remained in the hunt for quite some time but seems to have fizzled a bit. Iowa, on the other hand, remains a potential landing place for Kouandjio.
Now, this isn't to say Iowa is a small school, but when stacked up against Auburn, USC and UCLA, the Hawkeyes—at least the troubled Hawkeyes of 2010—shouldn't stand a chance, right?
Iowa's track record with sending offensive lineman to the next level has played a big part in Kouandjio's interest, and it could be enough to send the DeMatha Catholic (Maryland) offensive tackle to the Big Ten.