Recruiting Roundup: Kiffin, USC continue to angle for national stars
Armwood (Fla.) has two of the nation's top recruits: Leon McQuay and Alvin Bailey
Lane Kiffin is setting the tone by aggressively courting the nation's top prospects
Tennessee helped solidify its recruiting class with its opening win over NC State
In a new weekly feature, Rivals.com recruiting analyst Mike Farrell offers five thoughts on the notable events of the past week. This week focuses on two players in the news from Seffner (Fla.) Armwood, led by five-star safety Leon McQuay III.
1. Armwood has two stars on the rise: Armwood five-star defensive back Leon McQuay III made his trip to USC this weekend, and he told the staff that he plans to wait before making a decision. We'll see if that actually happens. McQuay has an amazing relationship with defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, and USC has the specific major he wants to study (he wants to get into the music industry). McQuay's teammate, wide receiver Alvin Bailey, may not be the highest-ranked prospect in the class, but he could be the most important one for the Gators in 2013. Florida has been lacking big offensive playmakers at wide receiver who can not only stretch the field, but also make people miss in space. Bailey is that guy. He will play early and often.
2. Goodman is a good fit in Los Angeles: California's Tahaan Goodman is USC's other safety target, and the Trojans will likely take whomever commits first. To me, it makes more sense for Goodman, a confident kid with friend and teammate Chris Hawkins already on the team, to stay close to home than it does for the very quiet McQuay to head all the way across the country. But these two talented safeties could in fact cross each other geographically. Goodman remains very high on LSU and a few other SEC programs, and some think he could be worried about a crowded secondary at USC that also features Su'a Cravens and Max Redfield.
3. Lane Kiffin is either a genius or out of his mind when it comes to recruiting: Based on his early results, I'm leaning toward the former. Kiffin told cornerback Jalen Ramsey, the nation's No. 3 cornerback and No. 11 overall prospect out of Nashville, that he could take officials to any other school as long as he saves USC for his last trip. Other recruits are reporting a similar attitude from Kiffin and staff. That's gutsy stuff -- the kind of swagger that has USC set to run away with a record-setting No. 1 class in 2013.
4. The state of Pennsylvania could get raided over the next few years by out-of-state competition: The unprecedented NCAA sanctions are crippling enough, but a loss on the field to Ohio and a potential two- or three-win season will be equally damaging to Penn State. I don't see many wins on the schedule this year if the Nittany Lions can't handle the Bobcats at home. And with Pittsburgh's embarrassing loss to Youngstown State, things don't look much better in the western half of the state. Penn State could hang onto Adam Breneman and Pitt could keep both Robert Foster and Dorian Johnson at home, but that'll likely only happen if both Keystone State programs start to do a better job on the football field.
5. No team helped themselves more this week in recruiting than Tennessee: The Vols sure helped themselves with a nationally televised win over NC State, a team that some had pegged as a sleeper to compete for the top spot in the ACC Atlantic Division. The Derek Dooley hot seat talk won't stop with one win, but the Vols now look like a formidable foe for the Florida, South Carolina and Georgia in the SEC East. If that continues, Rocky Top could reap the rewards on Signing Day.
With Devin Gardner dropping to third on the Michigan's quarterback depth chart behind a redshirt freshman, can the big three signal-callers from the state of Michigan in 2010 officially be labeled flops? That certainly appears to be the case. Gardner, who was ranked the highest among the trio of prospects that also included Robert Bolden and Joe Boisture, seems unlikely to see any real time as the Michigan starter with Russell Bellomy waiting in the wings and 2013 five-star Shane Morris arriving soon.
Bolden, the first true freshman to start at Penn State in 100 years, is now relegated to third string on the LSU depth chart behind Zach Mettenberger and Stephen Rivers. Boisture had to retire from football due to a serious back issue. Gardner was ranked No. 132 in the nation by Rivals.com in 2010, while Bolden was No. 136 and Boisture was a four-star outside the Rivals250.
It was only one game, but we feel pretty good already about being the only recruiting site to rank Georgia running back Todd Gurley ahead of fellow Georgia running back (and fellow North Carolina product) Keith Marshall.
The only reason I can think of that Alabama isn't higher on the consideration set lists for top uncommitted prospects is because of the depth in Tuscaloosa. That team is the definition of reload, and a few top prospects might be scared away because early playing time doesn't seem to be available at many positions.
Maryland got the win over William & Mary, but it will need to play a lot better to keep its solid recruiting class together. It also has to step up its game to land some of the big targets remaining on the board, such as Na'Ty Rodgers.
Notre Dame has been mentioned as the leader for Florida cornerback Mackensie Alexander, who was once committed to Tennessee and has been linked to various other schools. If he commits to Notre Dame now, he could be the next Ronald Darby or Deontay Greenberry-type decommitment waiting to happen. The best case scenario for Notre Dame: recruit him hard, continue to recruit others at his position and hope to convince Alexander and another defensive back to commit to the Irish on National Signing Day.
After seeing Gurley at Georgia and T.J. Yeldon at Alabama last weekend, am I the only one who thinks that Derrick Henry's best chance to be a starting running back could be in Knoxville? Henry is scheduled to make his decision Sept. 28 and will visit the Vols on Sept. 15. Alabama is still considered the team to beat and Georgia, where he originally committed, remains in the mix.
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