February 1, 2006

Big East Breakdown

With a full recruiting season to get his bearings, Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt has made an immediate impact on the recruiting front in the Big East.

The Panthers jumped out to the lead and never looked back.

Louisville and Rutgers surprised many with some late commitments that really shaped the class and shook up the recruiting world in more ways than one.

Breaking down the Big East
1. Pittsburgh National Rank: 21st
Starting out hot, head coach Dave Wannstedt had the pieces coming together early in the process towards one of the top classes in the country. With another talented year in Pennsylvania, the Panthers dominated in-state and had fans looking past a rough 2005 season.
Biggest recruit: Dorin Dickerson, rated as the No. 5 player in the state of Pennsylvania, is truly a phenomenal athlete who can provide an early boost for the Panthers in a number of different spots.
Sleeper: A rising star in the Sunshine State, three-star athlete Tamarcus Porter brings skills at both receiver and corner. His versatility will go a long ways at Pittsburgh.
2. Louisville National Rank: 34th
Closing strong, the Cards definitely saw fireworks during the final weeks of the 2006 recruiting cycle with several big pickups coming down the home stretch. Heavily pursuing the state of Florida and the Southeast region, it was another solid class for coach Bobby Petrino.
Biggest recruit: Shocking the country with a Signing Day eve decision, Rivals100 defensive end Deantwan Whitehead made his pick for Louisville to finish off a strong defensive line class. Whitehead already has plenty of maturity and speed for a Division I splash.
Sleeper: Possessing abilities to play on either side of the ball, Tampa running back Anthony Allen should progress well at the running back position for Louisville in the next few years.
3. Rutgers National Rank: 45th
With a staff knowing the importance of the Sunshine state, Rutgers again made Florida first priority again this year and picked up several top pieces to a very solid class. Head coach Greg Schiano along with assistants Darren Rizzi and Chris Demarest led the way in the talent-rich state.
Biggest recruit: Some tough recruitment late in the process landed four-star running back Kordell Young for Rutgers adding to an already impressive group. Receiver Shamar Graves is a big receiver target that should fit in well and early.
Sleeper: Only playing organized football for two years, New Jersey tackle Mo Lange already looks the part at 6-foot-6, 351 pounds. His growth potential is sky high.
4. Syracuse National Rank: 51st
It was definitely not an easy transition for new head coach Greg Robinson, but getting busy on the recruiting trail has the new staff looking towards the future. Getting some top targets in the East region made for a solid first year of recruiting.
Biggest recruit: With a pro-style offense in effect, the 6-foot-3, 192-pound four-star receiver Andrey Baskin should help the offense in year two. Baskin brings great size, speed, and has freshman year play potential.
Sleeper: In the first three games of his senior year, Ohio runner Delone Carter put up 642 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. Carter should be a very competitive back in the future for the Cuse.
5. West Virginia National Rank: 52nd
A BCS bowl win definitely helped West Virginia's recruiting efforts down the home stretch. Though not a big class in quantity, there are definitely difference makers in the group like last year's haul that included top running back Jason Gwaltney.
Biggest recruits: Big framed recruits on both sides of the ball in wide receiver Wesley Lyons and defensive back John Maddox were two big Pennsylvania targets landed for the Mountaineers. Linebacker Anthony Leonard is also a specimen. All three should see the field early
Sleeper: Like his father who starred at West Virginia in the mid-90's, James Thomas is an athletic Florida prospect who should follow well in his dad's footsteps.
6. South Florida National Rank: 59th
After a very solid year for South Florida, catching national attention after a big upset over Louisville, that definitely carried over for a solid recruiting haul that included some national stars starting with an impressive defensive line class.
Biggest recruit: There was none bigger than when Rivals250 defensive tackle Leslie Stirrups pulled the trigger for the Bulls. Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia has coached six NFL players and says Stirrups is the best at this point.
Sleeper: The speedy receiver Edner Alcin was a consistent performer in high school and is taking his growth potential to USF where he should be a future starter.
7. Connecticut National Rank: 85th
The 2006 class was another big step at UConn and head coach Randy Edsall had an aggressive approach to recruiting that focused on a much broader scale. Some big commitments down the stretch really pushed this class's star power upward.
Biggest recruit: Though there are many top performers on this list, the Huskies are looking for big things from three-star mid-term linebacker Jarvis Hicks. Athlete Brad Kanuch and highly touted linebacker Greg Robinson should also fit in nicely and have enough ability to make huge impacts.
Sleeper: While he could also be listed as the biggest recruit, Jamie Nixon may even be undervalued as a high three-star prospect. He's also an All-American track star.
8. Cincinnati National Rank: 105th
There are a lot of possibilities for the Bearcats' 2006 class and it's obvious that some big time players could pop out of the group. Staying in-state during a talented year in Ohio, Cincy should use this class as another step towards working there way up in the Big East.
Biggest recruit: One of the most high-profile high schools was Cleveland Glenville and three-star athlete Freddie Lenix is just one reason why. The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder should bring big talent to the Bearcats' secondary and his strength is highly undervalued.
Sleeper: A late Signing Day eve switch to Cincinatti from Georgia Tech should really help the sleeper Ricardo Mathews blossom for the Big East school. He's big, physical, and has tons of upside to his game playing in a tough state for competition.

More Breakdowns:
ACC | Big Ten | Big 12 | Pac-10 | SEC

Photo Gallery: Signing Day 2006




 

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