Posted: Thursday December 22, 2005 11:59AM; Updated: Thursday December 22, 2005 3:21PM
Rodney Garner, assistant head coach/recruiting coordinator,Georgia: How vital is Garner to the Bulldogs' success? Last January, head coach MarkRicht canceled a trip to Hawaii, where he was to coach the Hula Bowl, to dissuade Garner from accepting a job at LSU. The 39-year-old Garner has been instrumental in building a virtual wall around Georgia, a state he previously raided during stints at Auburn and Tennessee.
Rob Ianello, receivers coach/recruiting coordinator, Notre Dame: Charlie Weis' smartest move to date was hiring Ianello away from Wisconsin. The former Alabama and Arizona assistant has been well known in recruiting circles for most of his 18-year career, serving as recruiting coordinator at every stop. He's already made his presence felt in South Bend, landing several highly-regarded prospects (safety Sergio Brown, QB Demetrius Jones) for what will likely be a top-five class.
Urban Meyer, head coach, Florida: The first-year Gators coach wasted no time making his presence felt on the recruiting trail -- his 2006 class, which includes commitments from Scout.com's top-rated receiver (Percy Harvin) and No. 3 quarterback, (Tim Tebow), is considered the best in the country to date. The youthful 41-year-old makes the most of modern technology, sending prospects daily text messages and equipping his entire staff with Blackberrys.
Ed Orgeron, head coach, Ole Miss: One longtime recruiting analyst called Orgeron "the best recruiter I've ever seen" during his four-year stint as Pete Carroll's recruiting coordinator at USC. The relentless Orgeron, known for his 11th-hour snags of prospects who seemed to be leaning elsewhere, was instrumental in the Trojans' recruiting dominance, and he's already landed two U.S. Army All-Americas, linemen Michael Oher and Jerrell Powe, in less than a year at Ole Miss.
Kevin Steele, executive head coach/linebackers, Florida State: The former Baylor head coach joined Bobby Bowden's staff two weeks before signing day in 2003 and instantly swayed the nation's No. 1 prospect that year, linebacker Ernie Sims, to come to Tallahassee. Bowden has since assigned him to the lucrative South Florida territory, where the 'Noles have made significant progress the past two years. Steele's other prize catches include WR Fred Rouse, RB Antone Smith and CB J.R. Bryant.
Dave Wannstedt, head coach, Pittsburgh: Known as a relentless recruiter in the '80s at Pitt, Oklahoma State, USC and Miami, Wannstedt has picked up right where he left off, assembling what is currently considered a national top-five class. By reconnecting with Western Pennsylvania high schools, he had 17 commitments by the end of summer, including national top-100 prospects Dorin Dickerson, Nate Byham and Kevin Collier. Now, let's see if he can coach them.
While the aforementioned Top 10 work for fairly high-profile programs, some of the most respected recruiters are the ones who face a tougher sell. Here are 10 more of the best in the business, many of whom often fall into the "under the radar" category:
John Blake, defensive line coach, Nebraska Leon Burtnett, linebackers coach, Washington State Mario Cristobal, tight ends coach, Miami Lester Erb, receivers/special teams coach, Iowa Pat Fitzgerald, linebackers coach, Northwestern David Kelly, associate head coach/wide receivers coach, Duke Lane Kiffin, offensive coordinator, USC Mike Locksley, offensive coordinator/tight ends coach, Illinois Joker Phillips, offensive coordinator, Kentucky Lance Thompson, defensive coordinator, Central Florida
Finally, while only a few head coaches made the original top 10, there are plenty of others who have consistently produced top classes while taking an active role in the process. They include:
Mike Bellotti, Oregon Bobby Bowden, Florida State Lloyd Carr, Michigan Dennis Franchione, Texas A&M Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee Joe Paterno, Penn State Mike Shula, Alabama Bob Stoops, Oklahoma Mike Stoops, Arizona Jim Tressel, Ohio State