Nittany Lions finish strong
This week, we continue our review of 2001 Signing Day with classes 21-30, many of which still include some of the highest-profile prospects in the country.
For more detailed information on these and other players, visit www.superprep.com.
21) PENN STATE (23 signees)
Last year Joe Paterno signed seven of the state's top 17 prospects but none of the top three. This year Paterno signed five of Pennsylvania's top 17 and one of the top three, SuperPrep Elite 50 DL Charles Rush, who along with late decision-maker OL Tyler Reed, gave the old master a fantastic finish and a double-dose of crucial victories over MICHIGAN. But the Wolverines still signed three of Pennsylvania's top six prospects, LB Leon Williams decommitted to MIAMI and No. 1 RB Kevin Jones, also from in-state, picked the Hokies. PENN STATE returned the favor by beating out Frank Beamer for Elite 50 QB/DB Michael Robinson. Back and forth. That's the way it went this year for the Nittany Lions, who didn't start out as fast as in recent years past, but finished quicker, signing five SuperPrep All-Americas -- but no big-time RB.
22) KANSAS STATE (28)
Not an easy class to evaluate. From a prep vantage point, there are 11 SuperPrep honorees, including four All-Americas: RB Carlos Alsup, OL Ray Green, WR Jerome Janet and Elite 50 FB Ayo Saba from New Jersey. Kansas City LB Scott Edmonds, Texas DB/WR Cedric Williams and smallish Kansan Darren Sproles (5-7, 170, 4.4) also come in with very high expectations. Eight different states, including hotbeds Florida and California, supplied talent. But where Bill Snyder drastically separates himself from much of the competition is through his juco recruiting. He signed six from SuperPrep's Elite Juco 100 team and a total of 10. That's an amazing number of juco tranfers for such a high-profile program. Snyder can get along with this type of recruiting as long as he continues to latch onto the truly superior performers. QB Mark Dunn (No. 13) and WR Taco Wallace (No. 48) come in the most highly regarded. Although WR Chavez Donnings (No. 49) signed with KSU, his mom wouldn't cooperate with her signature and he later signed a binding letter with SOUTH CAROLINA. Snyder also tried hard for, and needed, TE Travon McGee, but lost him to OREGON STATE.
23) N.C. STATE (29)
Talk about an important recruiting pipeline. The tunnel connecting Chuck Amato to his Florida stomping grounds is more a like fountain of prospects. Ten Floridians decided to head north for Raleigh, most notably CB/RB Tramain Hall, QB Jay Davis and WR Sterling Hicks, all SuperPrep All-Americas, as well as DB Marcus Hudson, WR Chris Murray (MIAMI decommit), DB Greg Golden and LB Pat Thomas. Alabama LB Avery Gibson and Missouri OL Jed Paulsen are other superior out-of-state additions. The best in-staters are LB Kenny Covington, WR Dovonte Edwards and RB Lamont Reid. This is a very well-balanced class headed by five SuperPrep All-Americas with nine of the signees headed for the trenches and the remainder set for skill slots.
24) GEORGIA (25)
What can you say about a recruiting class that contains SuperPrep's No.1 ranked QB, D.J. Shockley? You start out by mentioning that Shockley is accompanied by 17 other Georgians, including SuperPrep All-Americas LB Marquise Elmore, DL Darrius Swain (a MIAMI decommit) and OL Russ Tanner. New coach Mark Richt was also able to turn the tables on the Gators by convincing in-state WR Fred Gibson to change his mind in favor of his new regime. Successful out-of-state forays into Alabama (All-America DL Reggie Weeks ), Missouri (OL Dennis Roland ), Florida (RB Tony Milton -- ranked by SuperPrep as Florida's 47th best prep in '99) and South Carolina (DE Robert Geathers ) proved that Richt's decision to retain recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner was well considered. Although this class looks fantastic in the trenches, the key is Shockley, a lifetime 'Dog follower with the athleticism to reverse GEORGIA's fortunes in the rival games.
25) WISCONSIN (25)
What's the connection here with California? Nine from the state were on Barry Alvarez's roster before Signing Day and now he has three more, including Los Angeles QB Devin Hollins (6-1, 185, 4.6), whom everyone else recruited as an ATH. But Alvarez promised to give him a shot at QB. Most recruits will tell you it's the coaching and "football town atmosphere" they like. Whatever it is, it's working. SuperPrep All-Americas DL Anttaj Hawthorne (Conn.), DB Brett Bell (Ill.), OL Matt Lawrence (Del.), WR Jonathan Orr (Mich.) and DB Johnny Sylvain (N.J.) also cheered that Alvarez decided to shut the "Alvarez window" that opened for a few days when MIAMI came calling. For a power running outfit, these guys sure know how to recruit WRs, and Orr is just one of four (Oshkosh's Darrin Charles goes 6-6, 190) who are bringing their talent to Madison. Fourteen SuperPrep All-Regionals from Florida, New York, Texas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Hawaii, Ohio and Iowa also dot the landscape.
26) SOUTH CAROLINA (22) You begin here with DE George Gause, who should set the tone for GAMECOCKS defensive lines until he heads into the pros. Lou Holtz wants to improve his defensive edge so badly he actually recruited five potential DEs, including SuperPrep All-Regional picks James Scott and Charles Silas. In-state LBs Travis Weston and De'Adrian Coley are also top-notch. The lone prep WR is Matt Thomas from Georgia, one of five signees from the state. QB Bennett Swygert should be good down the line. But Holtz' five juco transplants should be good right away, especially DL Shaun Smith and QB Corey Jenkins, both ranked among SuperPrep's top 15 juco prospects. WR Ricky Ricks and DB Jermaine Lemon also made the Juco 100 team. Holtz thought he had Florida WR Dallas Baker, another SuperPrep All-America, in the bag until the GATORS worked their last-minute magic on him. Picking up late signee Chavez Donnings, a SuperPrep Juco 100 pick, helps fill the gap.
27) AUBURN (28) This large class is dominated by two SuperPrep Elite 50 team members: LB Lemarcus Rowell and RB Carnell Williams -- who finally said yes to Tommy Tuberville after a highly publicized battle with TENNESSEE. Tuberville also came from behind to sign Rowell, who strongly favored LSU before he officially visited AUBURN. Three other SuperPrep All-Americas also signed on with the TIGERS: Alabama WR Anthony Mix, Tennessee OL Steven Ross and Florida OL David Walker. Georgia WR Pedro Holiday and re-signee Silas Daniels from Florida (via Valley Forge Military) give the TIGERS a formidable receiver corp. Seven All-Regional SuperPreps also dot this roster and four signees hail from Hargrave Military and were all well-recognized by SuperPrep: DBs Carlos Rogers and Rodney Mars, TE Jay Ratliff and DL Jamaal Whyce.
28) OREGON (24) OK, the secret is out. OREGON manages to keep more of its recruits secret than any other school in the country. Look at its recruiting rankings over the last seven years. Those rankings don't jive with the excellence demonstrated by the Ducks on the field. Oh sure, coaching is the main reason for the discrepancy. That's absolutely true. OREGON coaching brings out the best in their players. But there are also all those "secret signees" who we hear so much about -- but not until right before Letter of Intent Day. These are this year's hidden gems: DL Roderkus Wright and Canadian DL Nuvraj Bassi. The Ducks rated Wright (29 sacks, 61 TFL, did not play in '99 after moving from North Carolina) higher than the hugely publicized Shaun Cody (USC). And, by the way, the Ducks should change their names to the Californians. Fifteen of their signees are from the state, including SuperPrep All-America WR Demetrius Williams, while only one two signees are from Oregon--but one's a very big one -- All-America QB Kellen Clemens. This class is filled with nine DLs, a fantastic group led by Nevada's Tim Day, who decommitted from OREGON STATE at the final hour. Watch out for superb California WR Terrance Whitehead, who rejected NEBRASKA to play in Eugene. No RBs to be found.
29) TEXAS A&M (23)
R.C. Slocum signed up five WRs, including SuperPrep All-Regional picks Thomas Terrance, Terrence Murphy and John Roberson. Roberson had a particularly productive year, catching 64 balls for 1,523 yards and 15 TDs. Another strong-looking area is the secondary, which has been bolstered by the addition of All-Americas Byron Jones and Jarvis Mays as well as Jaxson Appel, a do-it-all type who figures to play safety for Slocum. Four offensive linemen will also be playing in College Station, led by SuperPrep Elite 50 pick Jami Hightower. The LB group, for which Aggies teams have been noted, is not a strength of this group, although Louisiana's John Boutte (the only non-Texan signee) is a SuperPrep All-Regional choice. Only one RB, Derek Farmer, an ALABAMA decommit, came aboard with no TEs or FBs. Highly regarded QB Jason Carter turned away NEBRASKA.
30) FLORIDA (18) Surprise. We didn't see this coming. But when you're the Gators, you don't normally sign only two SuperPrep All-Americas from in-state: OL Mike Degory, who seemed always headed to Gainesville, and WR Dallas Baker, who nixed for the Gamecocks at the last second. Steve Spurrier went to North Carolina to sign three excellent OLs: Lance Butler, Jonathan Marvin and Wesley Bryant. He took SuperPrep All-Regionals FB Eraste Austin and DL Sylvester McGrew from Louisiana. His newest QB is All-America Ingle Martin from Tennessee. OL Maurice Mitchell signed with ALABAMA last year but after a year at Fork Union, is a GATOR. And don't overlook Florida, because WR Larry Kendrick, RB Antoine Sharp, DB Jarvis Herring and LB Todd McCullough were all ranked among SuperPrep's top 50 in-state prospects.
For more from SuperPrep, click here.