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Times are a-changin'

Carroll, USC starting trend to lock up recruits earlier

Posted: Friday June 15, 2007 4:35PM; Updated: Friday June 15, 2007 5:04PM
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Pete Carroll
Pete Carroll has already started building USC's 2009 recruiting class.
Aggie Skirball/WireImage.com

By Mike Farrell, Special to SI.com, Rivals.com

The recruiting process has shifted into fifth gear over the last few years, with programs offering prospects earlier and earlier.

Some of the schools that traditionally offer players later than most -- like Florida State and Miami -- have more early commitments than ever. Perhaps the most recognizable example of this trait is the strategy of Pete Carroll at USC.

Last year, Carroll and his staff accepted their first commitment for the class of 2008 in April. What does that mean? It means that Servite, Calif., athlete D.J. Shoemate -- easily one of the most talented players in his class -- committed to USC during his sophomore year of high school. It means that Shoemate, who would have had offers from almost every program in the country, decided to end the process a full five months before he could receive his first written scholarship offer.

Shoemate has been joined by six other top recruits in USC's 2008 class. Two current sophomores have decided to follow in Shoemate's footsteps. They have committed almost before the recruiting process can start, giving USC two commitments for the class of 2009.

Compton (Calif.) Dominguez linebacker Marquis Simmons committed on May 22. Simmons' older brother Maurice committed in March. Last weekend, Carson (Calif.) tight end Morrell Presley put on a show at USC's summer camp and earned an offer. It took him all of two hours to become the second big-time player to commit to USC for 2009.

These commitments also help to silence critics that say USC has a lack of Los Angeles-area talent. Between the classes of 2008 and 2009, seven of the last nine USC commitments play their high school ball within 40 miles of L.A.

The times are a-changin', and Pete Carroll and USC recruiting coordinator Brennan Carroll are a-changin' along with them.

Texas cruising along: Speaking of early commitments, many credit (or blame) Mack Brown and the Longhorns for the acceleration of the recruiting process. While Joe Paterno actually began the trend years ago, Brown has taken it to the next level. For the class of 2006, Texas had 19 commitments before July 1. For 2007, it was 18. This year, it's 20 and counting. The latest commitment to Texas is national top-100 prospect DeSean Hales from Klein (Texas) Oak. Hales is one of five Texas commitments ranked in the top 100 players in the nation by Rivals.com.

Long lists remain: In what seems to be another growing trend, an elite player for the class of 2008 has narrowed down his list of schools ... sort of.

Jeannette, Pa., quarterback Terrelle Pryor, the nation's No. 1 player, trimmed his list to 11 schools late last week. Pryor -- a 6-foot-5, 220-pounder who reminds many of Vince Young -- is down to Alabama, Florida, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia. Pryor told me that seven of those 11 stand out a bit more than the others. My best guess at those who will make the next cut when he narrows it down to five in August? Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee, Florida and Texas.

Hill keeps it under 10: Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter's Prep athlete Will Hill has also cut down his list. The nation's No. 7 player kept his list under 10 schools, choosing Florida, USC, Michigan, Virginia, Maryland, Rutgers, Penn State, Florida State and Miami. The Gators are the team to beat according to sources, but Hill will take all five of his official visits.

'Canes keeping it close to home: Randy Shannon continues to focus the efforts of his coaching staff on recruiting South Florida. Those efforts are paying dividends. The latest commitment is Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade linebacker Jordan Futch, who chose Miami over Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Auburn and many others. Five of Miami's nine commitments are a short cab ride from campus.