Much has been made of the Alabama recruiting class for 2008, and with good reason.
New coach Nick Saban is putting together a great collection of talent as he builds for a run at the SEC title. But while the Tide is cleaning up in Alabama, let's not forget Saban's main competition for local talent. After all, a guy named Tommy Tuberville has led his team to 34-5 record since 2004 and has lured his share of talent to Auburn.
On top of that, the Tigers just added two key commitments for 2008.
Following a come-from-behind win over Kansas State this weekend, Auburn landed commitments from a pair of players on official visits. Miami (Fla.) Archbishop Carroll athlete George Baker and Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) Dillard wide receiver Harry Adams committed to Tuberville. The two latest pledges will bring South Florida speed to Birmingham.
Baker is a 5-foot-11, 167-pounder who plays running back and defensive back in high school. He is being recruited as a cornerback by Auburn. He rushed for 1,010 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior and had 50 tackles on defense. Baker had offers from LSU, Ole Miss, Kansas State, Rutgers and others. He ran a 4.37-second 40-yard dash at the 2007 Miami NIKE Combine, one of just a handful of players in the country to post a time better than 4.4.
He will be joined in the class of 2008 by Adams, who is one of the fastest players in the country. Adams continues an Auburn-Dillard pipeline to Birmingham. He is the fourth player from Dillard to commit to the Tigers in the last five years, joining defensive end Antoine Carter (2007), defensive tackle Pat Sims (2004), linebacker Stanley McClover (2003) and past Dillard stars like Frank Sanders, James Bostic, Junior Rosegreen and Otis Mounds.
Adams is a 6-foot, 175-pound track star who ran a 10.2-second 100 meters to win the Class 6A title as a sophomore. He ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash at Auburn's summer camp between his junior and senior seasons. Adams had offers from Florida, Florida State, LSU, Rutgers and others. He still plans to take a few other visits - including scheduled official visits to Minnesota and LSU - but he claims his commitment to Auburn is a strong one.
Baker and Adams are the 10th and 11th commitments, respectively, for Auburn for the 2008 recruiting class. Auburn now has five commitments from the state of Florida after signing 10 from the Sunshine State last year.
Tennessee heating up: Despite a setback on the field with a loss to Cal in the opener, recruiting for the Vols is heating up fast. After breaking a four-month drought with a commitment from College Park (Ga.) Banneker defensive end Steven Fowlkes a couple of weeks ago, Tennessee landed offensive tackle Preston Bailey from Nashville (Tenn.) Montgomery Bell Academy last week. Bailey, a top five player in Tennessee and the nation's No. 30 offensive tackle, chose the Vols over offers from Miami, Clemson, South Carolina and Ole Miss.
Two on top for WR: Boutte (La.) Hahnville wide receiver Laron Byrd is currently favoring one school that has sent him a written offer along with a school that hasn't. Byrd, a 6-foot-4, 205-pounder, has a written offer from Miami and lists the Hurricanes as his co-leader along with LSU. The Tigers have told Byrd he has an offer, but he hasn't received it in writing yet. Byrd is ranked as the No. 11 player in his home state. He had 20 catches for 347 yards and four touchdowns.
With the NCAA text message ban now in place, Rivals250 athlete A.J. Alexander of Altoona, Pa., has seen recruiting slow down a bit. Rivals caught up with the 6-foot, 180-pounder to find out if he's starting to line up official visits.
"I haven't really been thinking about any visits right now, I probably won't take all five anyway," he said. "I think I'll just be going to Virginia Tech, Tennessee and Penn State after the season.
"I talk with the coaches from those schools the most and feel the most comfortable with them. I haven't been to Virginia Tech or Tennessee. I've always liked Tennessee since they are in the SEC and that's the best conference in the country. When I think of Virginia Tech I think of Kevin Jones. He's my favorite player and he's from Pennsylvania. I always watch him on TV, too."
Previously, the four-star prospect has made it no secret that Penn State was his leader. Is that still the case?
"Probably, but I haven't talked to them in a month," he said. "It's just the comfort I have there and they are so close. They are the first team that offered me."
Clearly recruiting isn't on Alexander's mind right now. It's not surprising considering Altoona kicks off the season on Friday against St. John's in Washington, D.C.
"I think we have really come together and everyone has gotten better," he said. "I've been working hard to get better, too. I've been catching a lot of balls to improve my hands and I've been working on my route running as a wide receiver."
Four-star athlete Averin Collier out of Churchville, N.Y., knows three schools he'll be visiting.
"Clemson, Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh are definite visits I want to go on," he said. "I'm not sure of anywhere else I'm going to go from there. Right now, I'm more concentrated on my senior year of high school and I'll probably play it week by week. I do think I'll head up to see my brother at Pittsburgh in the next week or two. That's the only visit I'm looking at right now."
Collier, who is 5 feet 11 and 195 pounds, discussed why he likes those three colleges.
"It's just the coaching staffs and seeing where their program is going," he said. "They all have programs that are on the rise and are doing great recruiting. They are also Christian staffs that make me feel comfortable and at home."
It has previously been mentioned that Clemson is a leader for the Rivals250 star. Is that still the case?
"Right now I'd say they are my leader," he said. "The recruiting process has its ups and downs. I'm not set on Clemson, and others could jump in."
One other school Collier would like to see an offer from this season is North Carolina.
"They are talking to me, but haven't offered," he said. "I would love an offer from them."
While recruiting has slowed down, the No. 19 athlete in the country has been busy talking to other recruits.
"I've been talking to a lot of other guys including Marcus Sales, who is a good friend of mine," he said. "I talk to him about once or twice a week. I also talk to Marvin Jones and Hubie Graham."
Does Collier talk about playing together with some of these other prospects?
"We talk about it all the time," he said. "They are a great bunch of players on the field, but we all know we've got to look at what is best for us."
Leading into the Katy vs. Klein game last Thursday, everybody was focused on four-star offensive lineman J.B. Shugarts and four-star running back Aundre Dean. By the end of the game, everybody was talking about the play of Katy safety Trent Hunter.
The 5-foot-10, 189-pounder returned the opening kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown.
But he wasn't done there.
With Katy up 13-0, Klein mounted its biggest drive of the game but had to settle for a 27-yard field-goal attempt. That's when Hunter went to work again. Lined up on the right side, Hunter exploded off the line and laid out for the block. He got it easily and erased any hope of Klein getting on the board. Hunter also made several tackles and forced a fumble in the second half.
Hunter, who is committed to Kansas State, played much better than his two-star ranking.
While he might have only had scholarship offers from K-State, Army, Navy and Air Force, Hunter is without question a playmaker that has the tools to make an impact on the next level.
"I had a great game," Hunter said. "We wanted to come out and send a message right away at the start of the game, and we did that on the kickoff. My blockers opened up some great holes. I was able to make a few guys miss and then I was gone."
Texas A&M got off to an early start by offering scholarships to several juniors in the class of 2009 on Sept. 1, the first day that those prospects could officially get written offers.
Some of the big names include Dayton, Texas, quarterback Cody Green; Navasota, Texas, athlete Dexter Pratt; Lufkin, Texas, defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland and Cy Ridge quarterback Russell Shepard. McFarland and Shepard are both considered to be serious five-star candidates for next year's class.
After a month of contemplating, Forestville (Md.) Bishop McNamara cornerback Cameron Chism came to a decision. The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder decided to stay at home.
"I actually committed to Maryland," he said. "That's when I talked to Coach (Ralph) Friedgen and Coach (Chris) Cosh. They were really excited and said I made their day. They told me they'll take care of me."
What made the three-star prospect select Maryland?
"I felt comfortable there," he said. "I went up to see a few practices about a month ago, and since then all I've been thinking was Maryland, Maryland, Maryland. I like the way the coaches coach there, and I already know a few of the players including Drew Gloster, Jeff Allen and Anthony Wiseman.
"In addition, I've already learned some of their coverages and I just feel like I could play for the coaching staff. For me, there was no reason to wait anymore."
Chism will get a chance to compete for playing time as soon as he arrives at Maryland next year.
"They just said the position is open for me and I've got to fight for my spot. It's all on me."
Chism picked the Terrapins over offers from Boston College, Connecticut, Illinois, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh and Syracuse.
- Virginia Beach (Va.) Ocean Lakes athlete Marcus Davis took an unofficial visit south over the weekend. The 6-foot-4, 221-pounder made a trek to Gainesville to check out the Florida Gators.
"The visit was nice," he said. "I liked the game atmosphere and got to meet a lot of people and all the coaches.
"I got there Friday night, and on Saturday I trotted up to the stadium early to get good parking. I then walked on the field and watched the players. After that, I took the Gator walk and then watched the game. Afterwards, I went into the locker room and talked with a couple of coaches that showed me around the school a bit more."
What were his impressions of Florida?
"Just being there really impressed me," he said. "I got to meet the coaches including Coach (Billy) Gonzales, Urban Meyer and their offensive coordinator. It was the first chance for me to meet them in person, and it was a lot different. They were amazing. Coach Meyer is a great coach. I could tell by the way he ran stuff.
"As for the game, it was one-sided and it was fun watching them play in real life. I got to see how fast the game really was and the atmosphere there was real crazy. There was a lot of blue and orange. That town is all about the Gators. It was pretty neat."
Did Davis land a scholarship?
"I didn't get an offer," he said. "They first asked me if they thought it would be too far, and I told them I didn't mind. Then the coaches said if I show them what they think I can do this season then I'll get an offer. That really makes me want to go out and get better to get that offer.
"If they were to offer me soon, I'd probably accept pretty quickly. This really changes a lot for me. They throw the ball a lot and that makes me feel better since I'm a wide receiver. Overall though, it's still hard to say they lead since I don't have an offer yet. They would be my favorite if they do."
Previously the No. 27 athlete in the country was favoring the Hokies. Where do they stand?
"They are still up there
nothing has changed as of now," he said. "At this time, I'm only thinking about taking one official that I know of, to Florida. I probably will schedule one to Virginia Tech, too. I am looking at Penn State and Tennessee as well."
The Ohio State Buckeyes did not waste any time getting their first commitment in the class of 2009. On the first day that juniors could be offered, OSU extended an official offer to Jordan Whiting.
He decided that he didn't need any time to think about it, and he decided to accept the offer.
After recording 11 tackles and breaking up one pass in Louisville Trinity's victory on Friday night, Whiting woke up Saturday and received his official offer from OSU. Proclaiming the Bucks as his dream school all along, it was an easy decision for Whiting.
"It is a big relief," Whiting said. "I guess it is exciting to commit. Now I can really focus on the high school season and on my academics as well. It is just really good to be able to focus on football."
It is no secret that Whiting is friends with fellow class of 2009 member Storm Klein. Klein could soon be joining Whiting as an OSU commitment.
"As you know, I spent some time with him two weeks ago and we are good friends," Whiting said. "It is just exciting to possibly get to play with someone who you are really good friends with during college."
It's been a tough weekend for Michigan fans, coaches and players, with much of the sports world's attention focused on the Wolverines loss Saturday at the hands of Appalachian State. Michigan's 15 commitments in the class of 2008 have also caught some flack and good natured ribbing from friends and strangers alike.
Apparently, the question of whether this loss would affect their status as Michigan commitments has been asked several times. The prospects we spoke with offered up their determination to stand strong with the Wolverines without being prompted.
Wauseon, Ohio, offensive line commit Elliott Mealer took some additional heat because of his area's affinity for Ohio State and Mealer's former allegiances with the Buckeyes.
"Ironically, our County Fair is this weekend and people I don't even know have come up to me and asked me what happened this weekend - especially Buckeye fans," said Mealer. "I have been getting a really hard time from a lot of people. Especially being an old Buckeye fan, that's not the way I wanted to start it out.
"I have not talked to the coaches yet, so I don't know if they overlooked them or what. But everybody looks past a team once a season, whether or not they get beat by them. I do believe those coaches - which I love all of them. I do think it could be a blessing in disguise for them. It could help them get their heads on straight and bounce back strong. I think they will."
Though Stanford lost in new coach Jim Harbaugh's debut on The Farm, the Cardinal did win on the recruiting trail. Stanford picked up its first commit for the class of 2009. The player is linebacker Shayne Skov (6-2, 220, 4.64) who plays at Pawling (N.Y.) Trinity Pawling Prep. Skov is originally from Northern California.
"Shayne went on his second unofficial visit to Stanford yesterday at the UCLA game," Skov's father, Peter, said. "He sat in Harbaugh's office and gave a firm verbal commitment to attend Stanford pending admission. We are very proud and pleased he came to his decision so quickly and confidently. He is Stanford's first 2009 verbal commit that I know of."
Skov came to the attention of Stanford when he was proactive with his recruitment and sent his highlight tape of his sophomore year.
The versatile and athletic Skov actually played defensive back as a 6-1, 190-pounder. Skov now stands 6-2 and weighs in at 220, thus the change to linebacker.
From his cornerback spot, Skov racked up 35 tackles. As a wide receiver, he accounted for 27 receptions for 400 yards and three touchdowns.
Stanford was very aggressive in their pursuit of Skov. The moment they could make their offer official, they did.
Other schools that Skov had interested in were Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Duke, Vanderbilt, Northwestern and Notre Dame. Stanford was ahead of the recruiting curve on this one and was able to get Skov on board before the other schools were able to do their due diligence.
Don't expect a quick decision any time soon from Long Beach (Calif.) Poly defensive back Vaughn Telemaque. After saying he could pull the trigger early, the three-star prospect now says he's going to take his time. Not only will Telemaque not make an early commitment, he said his new plan is to take his official visits.
"I just need to see more of these schools before I can pick one," Telemaque said. "I've never even been to Oregon, so I know I want to visit there. I just got back from Rutgers and really liked it a lot. I mean, I liked it a lot more than I thought I would.
"Michigan and North Carolina are recruiting me the hardest right now. As a result, those are probably my two favorites. Still, the gap is small between all the schools. By no means are Oregon or Rutgers out of it just because they're not in my top two. That's what the trips are for, and I should know a lot more after I take them all."
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