On the rise
Alabama is hoping to receive a commitment from Julio Jones, arguably the nation's prep wideout.
Chris Livingston/Icon SMI
These historically strong programs have fallen from grace lately, but they could get better quickly if their classes live up to their lofty billings.
Needs: Specifically, the Crimson Tide need help in the secondary. More generally, Alabama needs an overall talent upgrade.
Recruits to watch: Burton Scott from Prichard, Ala., likely will work with the safties when he arrives. Cornerback Robby Green from River Ridge, La., also could push for playing time. Alabama also boasts an impressive list of offensive line commitments led by Birmingham offensive tackle Tyler Love.
What now?: The class is about full, but coach Nick Saban will make room for special players. If Foley, Ala., receiver Julio Jones wants to join the class, he will certainly have a spot.
Needs: Quarterback, offensive line, linebacker, secondary.
Recruits to watch: E.J. Manuel from Virginia Beach, Va., could be the Seminoles' quarterback of the future. Linebacker Nigel Bradham from nearby Crawfordville, Fla., is already enrolled and could push for playing time quickly, especially considering the suspensions that kept more than two dozen players out of the Music City Bowl will carry over to the first three games of the season.
What now?: The academic scandal that produced those suspensions doesn't seem to have scared top recruits away. FSU's coaching succession plan (Jimbo Fisher will eventually take over for Bobby Bowden) seems to have satisfied recruits. The top remaining target is Tallahassee, Fla., cornerback T.J. Bryant.
Needs: Secondary, linebacker, receiver, quarterback.
Recruits to watch: The Miami Northwestern High foursome of quarterback Jacory Harris, defensive tackle Marcus Forston, linebacker Sean Spence and receiver Aldarius Johnson is a perfect example of what Hurricanes coach Randy Shannon wants. If Miami can continue to get the best players from South Florida, the 'Canes should return to glory.
What now?: The Northwestern group is trying to enroll for the spring semester, but a transcript delay could force the players to wait until the summer.
Needs: More depth at almost every position.
Recruits to watch: If linebacker talent runs in the family, the Fighting Irish may have struck gold with Aliquippa (Pa.) Hopewell High's David Posluszny, the younger brother of former Penn State star Paul Posluszny. Cornerback Jamoris Slaughter from Stone Mountain, Ga., should help with the athletic upgrade. Quarterback Dayne Crist from Sherman Oaks, Calif., is a longtime friend of Irish freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen.
What now?: Irish coaches have convinced recruits that they are building something special in South Bend. That remains to be seen once everyone arrives on campus, but the collection of talent is impressive.
Making the leap?
These programs are just outside the national title picture, but the right mix of young talent might push them into contention.
Needs: Defensive line, quarterback.
Recruits to watch: Defensive end Raven Gray, a junior-college transfer originally from Enterprise, Ala., is on campus, but a knee injury likely will keep him out of spring practice. Auburn also could get immediate help from a pair of players from Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military Academy. Tailback Enrique Davis and offensive tackle Jermaine Johnson may fit into new offensive coordinator Tony Franklin's spread scheme.
What now?: The Tigers remain in the hunt for Gadsden, Ala., linebacker Jerrell Harris.
Needs: Secondary, offensive line.
Recruits to watch: Anyone who watched the Capital One Bowl knows the Gators need immediate help in the secondary. Enter Jersey City, N.J., safety Will Hill and Auburn, Ala., safety Dee Finley. Receiver Carl Moore, a 6-4, 220-pound junior college transfer from Roseville, Calif., also could contribute quickly.
What now?: The Gators could take a few more players in this class. They are holding out for Julio Jones, Omar Hunter and T.J. Bryant, but so are several other schools.
Needs: The Sooners could use more depth at receiver, but they are in good shape at most positions.
Recruits to watch: Oklahoma grabbed receiver Josh Jarboe (Decatur, Ga.) from several Southern schools. Defensive end R.J. Washington from Keller, Texas, should provide speed off the edge, and Van, Texas, back Jermie Calhoun might compete for carries in an already talented backfield.
What now?: Oklahoma's class is small, but the Sooners have put together a quality group. They may not be done yet, either.
Needs: Offensive line, running back.
Recruits to watch: The Longhorns already have eight players from this class on campus, including Alief, Texas, running back Jeremy Hills and Allen, Texas, receiver Dan Buckner. Coming in this summer is Klein, Texas, back DeSean Hales, who is a threat to run or catch the ball.
What now?: The top recruit remaining on the Longhorns' board is Ventura, Calif., back Darrell Scott, who some consider the nation's best back.
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