Conference breakdown: TCU on the rise, Michigan eyes the future
After a slow start, TCU is primed to make a push for pledges in the coming weeks
With most of its 2013 class set, Michigan has offered 26 recruits in the class of '14
USF is beginning to press for verbals; Georgia continues to thrive with local talents
After another week of 2013 recruiting happenings, Rivals recaps the top storylines from each BCS conference.
With Maryland coming off a 2-10 season, many of the Terps' top targets are waiting to see whether last season was a one-year aberration or a sign of things to come. This fall's campaign is particularly pivotal to the program's recruiting future -- and potentially to the future of coach Randy Edsall in College Park.
Early in the cycle, however, Maryland has reason for optimism. It already has three commitments -- headlined by Baltimore (Md.) Gilman three-star quarterback Shane Cockerille -- and looks to be in good shape with linebackers Cavon Walker and Marcus Newby. It has also made inroads with several big-time local prospects, including defensive tackle Derwin Gray, linebacker Yannick Ngakoue and wide receiver Paul Harris.
While the Terps aren't likely to land Kendall Fuller or Henry Poggi, some analysts believe that a successful season could cause Dorian O'Daniel to reconsider his verbal to Clemson, though the four-star prospect has dismissed such rumors. This much is clear: Following a disappointing 2011, Maryland's class, and possibly its short-term recruiting future, could ride on a return to form in 2012.
South Florida has been stuck on two commitments since athlete Tshumbi Johnson and wideout Xavier Richardson, teammates at Immokalee (Fla.), both pledged to the Bulls on Feb. 15. But after more than two months of stagnation, USF could begin pressing in the coming weeks. Many of its top targets have become hot commodities during the spring evaluation period.
The Bulls continue to lead the way for Deland (Fla.) three-star running back Jojo Kemp, but their advantage may be diminishing. Nebraska recently offered the 5-foot-10, 189-pounder and his recruitment could become even more interesting if a few SEC offers enter the picture. Bartow (Fla.) three-star linebacker Freddie Stevenson, a long-time USF target, also recently received an offer from Jimbo Fisher and Florida State.
South Florida remains in the thick of things for offensive lineman Shawn Curtis, cornerback Blake McCain, offensive lineman Denver Kirkland and five-star cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, the last of whom has strong family ties to the program (his father is an assistant coach). As summer camps start, look for Skip Holtz and Co. to attempt to lock up several prospects before their offer lists become even more crowded.
With 18 commitments in the class of 2013, including 13 ranked in the Rivals250, Michigan has won its fair share of recruiting battles. But it has also has lost a few: Four-star running back Ty Isaac picked USC over the Wolverines two weeks ago, leaving Brady Hoke and Co. without the prized tailback they've long coveted.
The backfield is far from depleted, though. Four-star athlete Wyatt Shallman and three-star running back Deveon Smith have already committed, and Michigan is among the frontrunners for four-star recruits Derrick Green and Jordan Wilkins.
With its quarterback, tight end and offensive line hauls mostly finished, expect Hoke to also turn his attention to younger talent. Michigan's impressive list of early verbals has allowed the staff to scout many players in the rising junior class, and the Wolverines have already offered 26 players in the class of 2014.
While TCU got off to a relatively slow recruiting start, the Horned Frogs have begun to make their presence felt. TCU held just two commitments entering the middle of May. Since then, however, it added Bastrop (Texas) linebacker Paul Whitmill and East Bernard (Texas) athlete Ty Slanina, the latter a onetime Texas A&M pledge.
Even more encouraging, that momentum could carry over. The Horned Frogs remain high on the lists of Mansfield (Texas) Summit defensive end Bryson Henderson, Plano (Texas) Prestonwood linebacker Mike Mitchell, Atlanta (Texas) running back Corion Webster and Fort Worth (Texas) All Saints tight end Charlie Reid. Gary Patterson could be positioned to turn a sluggish spring into a very fruitful fall.
First-year coaches Rich Rodriguez and Todd Graham have both targeted a number of elite in-state Arizona players, and -- though neither team seem poised to land many of them -- the moves could pay long-term recruiting dividends. The efforts show that Arizona and Arizona State are serious about resurrecting their programs, which, coupled with on-field success, could spark turnarounds in perception.
Here's why that's especially pressing: The state of Arizona boasts an extremely talented 2014 class. Quarterback Kyle Allen, tight end Mark Andrews (who recently picked up an offer from Ohio State), offensive linemen Natrell Curtis, Andrew Mike and Casey Tucker and defensive end Qualen Cunningham all could become high-priority targets next cycle. With the recruiting process beginning earlier than ever, Rodriguez and Graham could take advantage of much-needed head starts.
Georgia is on a bit of a roll right now. Within a span of four days, it landed four-star center Brandon Kublanow and three-star offensive tackle Josh Cardiello. For those keeping track at home, that gives the Bulldogs 17 commitments in their growing 2013 class, 11 from in-state prospects.
In other words, Mark Richt and his staff are doing very well at home -- as usual.
A U.S. Army All-American, the 6-foot-3, 290-pound Kublanow is an excellent athlete, a cerebral player and an immensely strong blocker (he bench presses 430 pounds). Nicknamed "Bull", he anchored an offensive line at Walton (Ga.) that helped Alabama commit Tyren Jones rush for 2,375 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2011. Cardiello was among the most heavily pursued linemen in the South, and chose Georgia over Florida, Florida State and South Carolina, among others.
For more recruiting coverage, visit the Rivals.com football recruiting hub.
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