September 26, 2003

On The Recruiting Trail

Inside On The Recruiting Trail this week we tackle the following:

1. Nebraska
2. The Recruiting Race in Florida
3. Southern Cal
4. Michigan vs Notre Dame
5. Maryland's uprising

Team of the 90s: Nebraska was arguably college football's "Team of the 90s" by ushering in one stellar class after another and developing its talent as well as any program in the nation. The Cornhuskers' efforts produced a staggering 108-16-1 record, three national championships and a parade of star players. The 90s, however, must have felt like a distant memory last season in Lincoln as fans watched the Huskers stumble to a 7-7 record and saw their streak of 40 consecutive winning seasons come to a halt.
Although many expressed concerns about the future of the program, Nebraska's play early in the 2003 season is starting to erase the doubts and conjure up memories of the not-so-distant past, especially when it comes to the Huskers' recruiting profile.

They've already landed 10 verbal commitments and are in good position with several elite prospects from one corner of the country to the other. A whopping 18 players rated four stars or higher by Rivals.com are expressing considerable interest in Nebraska, including Florida offensive guard Calvin Darity, Arkansas fullback Peyton Hillis, Colorado center Jeff Byers and Wisconsin defensive end Rhyan Anderson.

Each of those players are ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 at their respective positions nationally.

The Race in Florida: The Sunshine State is always one of the most entertaining battle grounds in college football recruiting. This year's race is only in its first leg, but it appears Miami is positioning itself as the team to beat.

The Hurricanes have picked up six verbals, including four of the highest-rated players in the country - defensive back J.R. Bryant and running back Bobby Washington, both of Miami, Texas quarterback Kirby Freeman and Colorado defensive end Calais Campbell. Larry Coker & Co. could be on the verge of adding a few more prime prospects as in-state stars Willie Williams, the nation's top outside linebacker, and Charlie Jones, a four-star running back, are considered heavy leans to the Canes. The Seminoles have a pair of four-star players in the fold already - running back Jamaal Edwards and quarterback Drew Weatherford - but the Gators have been slow out of the gates.

Keep in mind, however, that Ron Zook's staff made one of the most impressive charges last year to finish with the nation's No. 2 class. The recruiting race in the state of Florida almost always comes down to signing day before many questions are answered.

Trojan Power: Southern Cal put together a monster 2003 class, finishing third behind only LSU and Florida.

Now it looks like the Trojans could be in contention for the national championship, and there's no end in sight to their recruiting triumphs. A pair of four-star prospects have already jumped on board Pete Carroll's bus - offensive lineman Chilo Rachal and defensive end Jimmy Miller - and several others already list the Trojans with high interest.

Most notable are five-star Florida linebacker Keith Rivers, the No. 3 rated player overall in the Rivals100, five-star California offensive tackle Thomas Herring and the nation's No. 2 prospect overall, Randy Estes. Herring would make a tremendous building block as offensive line will be one of the key position groups for USC this year.

The fallout of Michigan vs ND: One of the more impressive performances of the early season was Michigan's 38-0 browbeating of Notre Dame in Ann Arbor. Not only was it a big statement for the Wolverines in the national polls, but it also sent a strong message to the two dozen plus recruits who were in the stands at the Big House on that afternoon.

Five-star quarterback Chad Henne highlights the 12 players who have already committed to Lloyd Carr, and he was there in part to help urge more elite prospects to follow suit. Henne spent most of the day seated with five-star wideout Cameron Colvin of California, who was on his official visit.

He surely spent time chatting with the likes of four-star wideout Fred Davis of Ohio and four-star offensive lineman Brett Gallimore of Missouri. Regardless of the Wolverines' letdown that followed a week later at Oregon, they're well on track to putting together a great class.

New Sheriff in the State: Ralph Friedgen's Maryland program is widely regarded as one of the most improved in the nation during his time in College Park. The Terrapins are 23-7 under Friedgen and are coming off back-to-back bowl appearances.

The impact of that success has been seen in their recruiting efforts as numerous elite prospects are now taking a much longer look at Maryland. The Terps, who finished No. 32 in last year's team recruiting rankings, have already matched the number of four-star recruits they had in that class.

Offensive lineman Scott Burley and defensive end George Covington - players who may have been looking out of state in years gone by - are now staying home and casting their lot with Maryland. Four-star New Jersey offensive tackle Carlos Feliciano could be the next to jump on board.

On The Recruiting Trail is a collection of recruiting notes, quotes and anecdotes from across the nation by Rivals100.com publisher Bobby Burton.

Next week: Handicapping the recruiting race in the Lone Star State and a look at how Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden are able to keep the Nittany Lions' and Seminoles' recruiting efforts in tact despite constant haranguing from opposing coaches about their age.



 

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