Rugby World Cup
This Week's Issue
Life of Reilly
SI for Women
CNN/SI - TV
Golf Pro Shop
MLB Gear Store
NFL Gear Store
SI FOR KIDS
Texas stampedes recruiting war
Posted: Monday February 08, 1999 09:49 PM
By Jeff Duva, PrepStar
The dust is just beginning to settle after one of the most competitive and hard-fought recruiting battles in recent memory. We had coaching changes in mid-stream, the usual number of de-commits from top prospects, some major surprises and of course a bomb or two to keep us all on our toes.
The first nuke that hit the recruiting scene was when QB Chris Simms snubbed the national champion Tennessee Volunteers in favor of the fast-emerging Texas Longhorns. However, Fulmer's loss of Simms was softened by Tennessee's signing of PrepStar's No. 2-rated signal caller in the South, A.J. Suggs from Powder Springs (GA). Suggs is currently enrolled at UT and will participate in spring drills.
The biggest surprise of the year may have been when C.J. Leaks, PrepStar's No. 6 rated quarterback turned away national powers such as Notre Dame, Nebraska and Penn State, shocking the recruiting world on national letter of intent day by signing with the Deacon Demons. Many recruiting services and web sites had already reported Leak as a Notre Dame signee before the news was made public.
The award for the best job recruiting as a conference overall has to go to the Southeastern Conference. SEC schools flexed their recruiting muscle and took advantage of the region's large talent pool. The SEC landed three teams in PrepStar's final top 10 rankings (Georgia, Bama, Florida), five in our top 15 (Tenn & LSU) and eight teams total earned a slot in our Top 30 (Auburn, Arkansas & SC).
Close on the heels of the SEC was the Pac-10, with seven team in PrepStar's final Top 30 poll, including two making PrepStar's Top 10 (UCLA, USC). In addition to both L.A. schools, Cal, Arizona, Stanford, Arizona State and Washington all landed in the Top 30.
The recruiting year also saw some surprise newcomers enter our Top 30 poll. Boston College cleaned up on the Eastern seaboard. The Missouri Tigers closed the recruiting border around the Show-Me state. The Cal Bears landed PrepStar's No. 1-rated quarterback, and South Carolina benefited greatly from the rebirth of Lou Holtz's coaching career. All these programs had celebrated recruiting classes that should propel them to bigger and better things a few years down the road.
Not everyone fared well with this year's recruiting race as there were some big losers in 1999. With the defection of Colorado head coach Rick Neuhiesel to Washington, so went the fortunes of this year's Buffalo class. Colorado was on the verge of having an outstanding class of freshmen prior to Neuhiesel's departure and incoming coach Gary Barnett did the best he could to right a sinking ship.
Papa Joe's class at Penn State has been called sub-par at best as they only signed 10 prospects and lost key recruiting battles for two of the nation's top quarterbacks in PrepStar Dream Teamers Chris Simms (Texas) and C.J. Leak (Wake Forest). However, what this class lacks in quantity it certainly makes up for in quality. Only minus a quarterback, Penn State still managed to sign four PrepStar Dream Teamers and four highly rated PrepStar All-America prospects.
Grading the class of '99 overall the first thing that comes to mind is great talent and depth at all the skill positions. Plenty of top-flight quarterbacks, running backs, receivers and athletes were available to choose from. What might have been lacking with this class was depth with the big guys up front. Overall the entire class would have to grade a B when taking into account the entire depth and talent level at all positions across the board.
However, the real story for the 1998-99 recruiting year is Mack Brown and his Texas Longhorns. Much of the dust that is settling on this year's recruiting season was created by a good old-fashioned Texas Longhorn stampede! The Longhorns took over PrepStar's No. 1 spot in early January and never relinquished their hold. From top to bottom the Longhorns recruited a very talented class which should be a positive step in reclaiming past glory.
Following is a rundown of how PrepStar magazine rates the nation's Top 30 Recruiting Classes:
In total the Longhorns signed 28 student-athletes, including eight PrepStar Dream Teamers and 11 PS All-Americans. Out of the 28 signees, 23 were from Texas. The Longhorns did a great job closing the Texas border, keeping the usual intruders with very few leftovers to choose from. The Dream Teamers are led by PrepStar co-Offensive Player of Year, Chris Simms, the son of ex-NFL QB Phil Simms. Riding high after the Simms' committal, the 'Horns landed the state's top prospect in LB/DL Chris Redding from Galena-North Shore (TX). The Longhorns also landed the top prospect in Colorado when they signed WR-TE Bo Scafie from Denver Mullen.
UCLA now has to be considered amongst the nation's elite after scoring their second straight Top 3 finish in the recruiting game. Last year the Bruins landed almost everyone's consensus #1 class and this year was almost as good with the signing of 6 PrepStar Dream Teamers, 10 PS All-Americans and 20 players overall. Leading the way is J.P. Losman the nation's #3 rated QB and the #1 and #2 rated offensive linemen in the western region in Shane Lehman from Corona (CA) and Bryce Bohlander from Salem (OR).
#3 NOTRE DAME
The Irish always seem to be among the nation's leaders every recruiting season and it's beginning to ware thin with Notre Dame fans who want to start seeing their team perform up to expectations. If this class lives up to its billing, Irish fans will have plenty to cheer about. ND signed a total 6 PrepStar Dream Teamers and 14 All-Americans. The only thing noticeably missing from this class is a QB and that's why the Irish dropped to our #3 spot. They thought C.J. Leak was their man but Leak shocked the Irish when he opted for Wake Forest instead. One of the few Texans to escape Mack Bown and his Longhorns was Gerome Sapp, who found his way to South Bend. Sapp was rated the nation's # 1 DB prospect by PrepStar. Adding firepower to the Irish offense will be PrepStar Dream Team RB Julius Jones from Big Stone Gap (VA). Dream Teamer Ryan Gillis the nation's # 2 OL prospect was another key get for the Irish.
#4 OHIO STATE
John Cooper and the Ohio State Buckeyes started their recruiting efforts very aggressively and never looked back. The Buckeyes wanted to dominate in-state recruiting and dominate they did! OSU signed a total of 24 prospects with 17 coming from within the Buckeye State. Included in this class of 23 high school and one prep school signees are three Dream Teamers and 16 are PrepStar All-Americans. The Dream Teamers are led by cornerback Curtis Crosby from Columbus (OH) who is expected to see ample PT as a true frosh. Cooper also landed the nation's #1 OL prospect, Bryce Bishop from Miami (FL), stealing this gem from the Florida giants. Another outstanding corner joining Crosby in the secondary is PS Dream Teamer Mike Doss from Cleveland (OH).
Former PrepStar Dream Team QB and current Bulldog freshmen sensation Quincy Carter was the bait that Georgia head coach Jim Donnan used to hook the nation's top group of wide receiver prospects. Durrell Robinson from Spartanburg (SC) and Reggie Brown from Carrollton (GA), both Dream Teamers, head a list of talented receivers. The Dawgs also signed PrepStar Dream Team OL Kevin Breedlove from Central (SC) the nation's # 9 rated trenchman. Vince Faison from Lyons (GA) was rated the third best athlete in the south and 8th best nationally. The Dogs are loaded with athletes, skill position players and linemen on both sides of the ball.
#5 ALABAMA (tie)
Alabama enjoyed the type of recruiting class that will help propel the Tide back to their winning tradition. Many who follow the Crimson Tide feel thtat this class is amongst the best they have ever recruited in Tuscaloosa. The late arrival of PrepStar's #3 rated DL, David Paine from Memphis (TN) was mere icing on the cake of an already incredibly rich class. Bama signed a total of five PrepStar Dream Teamers and 14 PS All-Americans. Joining Paine are LB Shaleem Rasheed from Birmingham (AL), rated the 7th best LB in America and Antonio Carter from Tallahassee (FL), rated the 4th best overall athlete in the country.
The Wolverines just wrapped up their second straight Top 5 finish in the recruiting game. This year's Wolverine class is a little different than last year's class in that last year's group of prospects was loaded with skill position players and this year's group appears to be much more balanced across the board. Big Blue singed a total of three PrepStar Dream Teamers and 19 others who received PS All-America honors in 1999. Heading their list are two top linemen in Demitrious Solomon from Flint (MI) and Tony Pape from Hinsdale (IL). Solomon was rated the 7th best linemen in the country and Pape was rated #11. Tyrece Butler, the nation's 5th best wide receiver will also add speed and firepower to the Wolverine offense.
#7 TEXAS A&M
The Aggies had to work hard to keep pace with arch rival Texas and based on the results of this year's crop they come up a close second for best honors in the Big 12 Conference. Like Texas, A&M also did a stellar job recruiting in-state talent. The Aggies class is loaded with talent, with 21 Texans and three more coming from the Golden State. Heading the Aggie list are three PrepStar Dream Teamers from Texas in QB Colby Freeman from Brownwood (nation's #10 rated QB), DL Tyron Warren from Bryan (nation's #4 rated DL), and LB Jason Frederick from Houston (nation's #14 rated LB). They also signed a gem from the Golden State in RB Joe Weber from San Bernadino whowas rated the nation's #7 best RB prospect.
Coach Steve Spurrier recruited another typcial Gator class with speed, balance, talent and depth across the board. The class is heavy on defensive palyers with 14 signees slated to help the Gator defense, especially at the LB position. Spurrier landed the QB he wanted early last year in Rex Grossman from Bloomington (IN) and he then went out and added 21 other outstanding freshmen prospects to play football for the Florida Gators. Joining Grossman are PrepStar Dream Teamers Lito Sheppard from Jacksonville (FL) and Matt Farrior from Ettrick (VA). Sheppard was rated the #2 DB in the country and Farrior was the nation's 2nd best linebacker. Quarterback Rex Grossman was rated the nation's 9th best signal caller by PrepStar magazine.
The Hurricane blew through Miami and when it landed it brought with it one of the best Cane recruiting hauls in recent memory. It's like days of old for Miami as this class is loaded with speed, talent and ability at the skill positions. Sixteen of their 23 prospects are skill position players and they can all run. Heading the Miami list are three local players from Miami-Northwestern. All three were PrepStar Dream Teamers and all should see early playing time for Miami. They are the Weaver twins, Jermell and Jerrell, the dynamic LB duo and Vernon Carey, the #3 rated OL in America. Add to that, Andre Johnson the nation's #1 WR prospect and you have compiled a recruiting recipe that spells speed, depth, talent and future success!
Troy accomplished what they had to do with this class and that was help on the offensive front. And get help they did! USC signed one PrepStar Dream Teamer and four All-Americans that will makeup their future foundation on the offensive line. Lenny Vandermade from Santa Ana (CA) was rated the #3 OL prospect in the western region. The Trojans also signed Marcel Almond from Santa Fe Springs (CA) who was rated the 7th best athlete in America and the gem of this year's class has to be Bernard Riley from Los Alamitos who was rated among the nation's top five defensive linemen by everybody. USC signed a total of 22 players comprised of five PrepStar Dream Teamers and ten PS All-Americans. They also signed some JUCO players who can help immediately bolster the Trojan defense.
Here is a rundown on the remaining top 20 classes:
#11 FLORIDA STATE
The Seminoles only signed 13 players this year but their top ten signees are as good as anyone's top ten. FSU signed the nation's #2 RB in Nick Maddox from Kannapolis (NC) and the nation's #3 rated LB in Kendyll Pope from Lake City (FL). Add to that four other players who received Dream Team honors and four All-Americans and you have the makings of a great class.
The Volunteers signed 16 high school and one junior college transfer to their roster this year lead by three PrepStar Dream Teamers. However, the big story with Tennessee was the one they let get away in QB Chirs Simms who signed with Texas. However, they did manage to land the #3 rated QB in the South, A.J. Suggs who is already enrolled in school and will participate in spring drills. The three Dream Teamers are Constantin Ritzman (nation's #6 rated DE) from Tallahassee (FL), Devon Davis (nation's #8 rated LB) and Charles Roberson (nation's #8 rated DE) from Fairburn (GA).
#13 NORTH CAROLINA
The Tar heels have to be pleased with this year's effort as they ended up with 22 high school student-athletes comprised of three PrepStar Dream Teamers and eleven other players who made PS All-America honors in 1998. Their top gets have to be WR Jamal Jones from Hyatsville (MD) who was rated the nation's 9th best player at his position and RB Daniel Davis from Stafford (VA) who was among the nation's top ten backs this year. Joining Jones at the wide receiver position will be Sam Aiken from Warsaw (NC) who was rated the 5th best wideout in the ACC region.
The Tigers are celebrating one of their better recruiting classes in recent years with the signing of 24 high school seniors and one junior college transfer. Leading the way for LSU are two outstanding tight end prospects in Eric Edwards from Monroe and Terry Phillips from Houston (TX). Edwards was rated by PrepStar as the nation's #1 TE prospect and Phillips was rated the 5th best in the BIG 12 region. The Tigers also landed Dream Team LB Bradie James (ranked 12th nationally) from West Monroe (LA) and a very athletic QB in Antron Seiber from Independence (LA).
#15 BOSTON COLLEGE
Can you saw Wow! The Boston College Golden Eagles just wrapped up a very successful recruiting season that ranks with their best we have ever rated in our 17 years of evaluating college classes. BC signed a very impressive list of 23 high school seniors to their roster that includes three PrepStar Dream Teamers and fourteen others that earned All-American honors. Tops on their list is William Green from Abescon (NJ) who was ranked by PrepStar as the nation's #3 rated back in the country. BC cleaned up in the east adding two more Dream Teamers from the Garden State in Tom Martin (13th ranked DL) from Farmingdale (NJ) and Augie Hoffman (10th ranked OL) from Montvale (NJ).
Total Signees: 25; Dream Teamers: 1; All-Americans: 8; All-Region: 3
Key Signees: PrepStar's #1 ranked QB in the nation leads a very impressive list of Cal recruits. They also signed the region's 9th best OL in Mark Wilson from McArthur (CA), the 11th best DL in Wayne Hunter from Honolulu (HI) and the 10th best RB in Joe Echema from Hawthorne (CA).
#17 MICHGIAN STATE
Total Signees: 26; Dream Teamers: 2; All-Americans: 8; All-Region: 8
Key Signees: The Spartans landed PrepStar's Defensive Player of the Year in linebacker T.J. Duckett who will be a major impact player for MSU. But that's not all. They also landed the region's 6th best OL in Joseph Patrick from Ithaca (MI) and the region's 9th best OL in DeMarco Monroe from Evansville (IN).
Total Signees: 21; Dream Teamers: 1; All-Americans: 12; All-Region: 3
Key Signees: The Cavs signed one of the nation's top athletes in Art Thomas from Mechlanberg (PA). Art was ranked as the nation's 11th best overall athlete by PrepStar. Othe key players include the 3rd best LB in the ACC region, Robert Cosby from Richmond (VA) and the region's 2nd best QB, Bryson Spinner from Alexandria (VA). UVa also added PS All-America QB Matt Shcaub from West Chester (PA).
Total Signees: 20; Dream Teamers: 1; All-Americans: 8; All-Region: 3
Key Signees: The Cats signed one of the nation's top JUCO classes along with 16 outstanding high school seniors. Leading the incoming freshmen are Joe Siofele from Honolulu (HI) ranked the 9th best linebacker in America and Bobby Wade from Phoenix (AZ) was was rankled the 14th best RB in the nation by PrepStar. Big JUCO transfer Kevin Brown from Hutchingson (KS).
#20 PENN STATE
Total Signees: 10; Dream Teamers: 4; All-Americans: 4; All-Region: 1
Key Signees: What this class lacks in numbers it certainly makes up for in quality. Penn State landed the nation's #11th best WR in Yaacov Yisrael from Palatine (IL), the 3rd best overall athlete in Bryan Scott from Buckingham (PA), the 8th best WR in Bryant Johnson from Baltimore (MD) and the 5th best DL in Dave Costlow from Landsdale (PA). The only thing noticeably missing was the signing of a top flight QB.
Here's the rest of our Top 30 classes:
#23 GEORGIA TECH
#28 SOUTH CAROLINA
#29 KANSAS ST
#30 WASHINGTON (tie)
On the Bubble:
Washington State, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Pitt.
Copyright © 1999 CNN/SI. A Time Warner Company.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.