Every year a school will unexpectedly emerge as a recruiting surprise and race up the top 25 chart. Rivals.com takes a look at the top five recruiting surprises this season.
Top Five Surprises
When Lane Kiffin bolted for Los Angeles, everybody assumed the sky was falling and there was going to be no way the Volunteers would still reel in an elite class. Somebody forgot to tell that to Derek Dooley and Co. The job they've done is nothing short of amazing. While everybody expected the wheels to fall off, Dooley went out and helped the Vols land a top 10 class in less than a month. Blue-chip recruits Rajion Neal, Mychal Rivera, Martaze Jackson, Glen Stanley, Eddrick Loften and Justin Hunter all came on board after the transition and the Vols aren't done yet.
People that watch the Mountain West should know this really isn't a surprise, but to those on the national scene, BYU hasn't really been a national recruiting player for the past few years. That changed this year. The Cougars jumped out of the gate early with a lot of great commitments, including probably the most college-ready quarterback in this year's class in Jake Heaps. Heaps should be able to immediately come in and see the field with quarterback Max Hall graduating. It's going to be tough to replace the one of the Mountain West's best quarterbacks ever, but Heaps has all the tools to make it happen. The Cougars also have a nice mix of offensive weapons around Heaps in this class. Receiver Ross Apo and running back Algrenon Brown are perfect fits for the BYU offense. The Cougars also did a nice job on the defensive side of the ball.
Ignore where the Ponies are ranked in the Rivals.com team rankings, because even though SMU is ranked in the 70s, this class is honestly much better than that. SMU reeled in of the Midlands' best offensive weapons with running back Darryl Fields, who many thought was worthy of being a four-star prospect with his performance as a senior. They also flexed some muscle by going outside of Texas to land talented offensive linemen Ben Gottschalk. But where SMU really did some damage was in the Lone Star State. Jeremy Johnson and Ricky Collins should be stars for SMU. Both are good athletes who are dangerous with the ball in their hands.
The MAC never grabs national headlines unless it beats a Big Ten team and everybody wants to call it an upset. However, MAC programs have always recruited better than many people give them credit for and this season the most under-appreciated MAC recruiting list belongs to Toledo. The Rockets has 2009 four-star receiver James Green enrolled in classes this semester. Cleveland Glenville's James Gordon missed most of this season with an ACL injury, but could be a steal if he makes a full recovery. Toledo has a trio of mid-three star prospects in David Fluellen, Ross Madison and Quintin Robinson. Another three-star commitment, Elijah Jones, won the defensive line MVP at the 2009 Illinois NIKE camp over players such as five-star prospect William Gholston and top Illinois prospect Bruce Gaston Jr.
There's a reason why Larry Porter was selected Rivals.com national recruiter of the year not just once but twice. In a matter of weeks since his hiring, Porter has made Memphis matter in the recruiting wars. Porter was able to spark interest from big-time recruits such as Lache Seastrunk and Barry Brunetti. Despite missing out on them in the end, Porter showed that the program can get elite players to listen. Porter and his staff have evaluated well, too. Memphis was the first school to offer defensive tackle Brandon Ivory, landing his commitment before he changed his mind and picked Alabama. Finally, the players that Memphis actually is bringing in are some of the best prospects in Louisiana and Memphis - two areas that likely will be crucial to Memphis' future success.