December 27, 2005

Bragging rights

At the American Football Coaches Association national convention next month in Dallas, one of the hot topics will be how each school's recruiting class is shaping up. But a select group of coaches will be able to crow a little more because their individual efforts have tremendously helped their school out.

It's extremely hard to single out one assistant at Florida because almost all of them have had a hand in putting together the nation's top group so far.

While most of the people in the national media are quick to credit Urban Meyer for the Gator's No. 1 class - and he does deserve a tremendous amount of credit - it's assistants like recruiting coordinator Chuck Heater, co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, offensive coordinator Dan Mullen and running backs coach Stan Drayton that have been vital in the Gators' success.

Heater hasn't personally landed too many recruits, but his ability to organize and put the pieces together has been nothing short of amazing. The run the Gators have been on in the past three weeks can be easily credited to Heaters' due diligence.

Mattison, a veteran that has had stops at other schools like Michigan and Texas A&M, has been the Gators' workhorse. So far he's played a part in pulling in six of UF's commitments, including stars like five-star quarterback Tim Tebow, four-star defensive tackle Brandon Antwine and four-star athlete Jamar Hornsby.

Mattison teamed up with Mullen on Antwine and Tebow, and pulling in the nation's No. 1 dual-threat quarterback always deserves special mention. Drayton has landed five commitments from five-players ranked at the four-star level. What's even more impressive is that two of the five are ranked in the Rivals100 (athletes Riley Cooper and Jarred Fayson) and four of the five are ranked in the Rivals250.

Until Florida recently passed them, the nation's top class belonged to the Texas Longhorns and a big reason why was because of the efforts of ace recruiter Bobby Kennedy. Known as one of the nation's best at Washington and Arizona in previous stops, Kennedy has been nothing short of amazing on the Forty Acres.

Kennedy recruited seven of Texas' commitments with an average star rating of 3.86. He played a monster role in landing the top player in Texas and the No. 3 player in the nation, Sergio Kindle.

He also landed studs with guys like defensive end Lamarr Houston, linebacker Jared Norton and receivers Phillip Payne and Montre Webber.

All of them are ranked in the Rivals250.

Much of the credit at Georgia goes to Rodney Garner, an old hand at recruiting in the SEC, but Dawg quarterback coach Mike Bobo is quickly becoming one of the nation's best recruiters. Bobo landed the nation's top quarterback in Matthew Stafford and personally had a hand in five other UGA commitments.

Still, though, it's Garner that has helped put this UGA class in the Rivals.com top five by landing six commitments also, including stud tight end NaDerris Ward and cornerback Asher Allen.

Notre Dame's staff is full of amazing recruiters and head coach Charlie Weis takes recruiting as serious maybe more than any other coach in the business, but recruiting coordinator Rob Ianello continues to prove why he's been named one of Rivals.com's top 25 recruiters each of the past two seasons.

Ianello has had his hand in seven of the Irish's commitments with an average star rating of 3.43 stars. His job in the states of Illinois and Ohio has been nothing short of amazing, and running back James Aldridge has the tools to be something special for Notre Dame.

At LSU two assistants have been the most valuable in the Tigers' top five group.

Recruiting coordinator Josh Henson has done a great job of organizing the Tiger assistants, but he's also pulled in five commitments on his own. His commitments include three-stud Mississippi recruits - tight end Richard Dickson, linebacker Derrick Odom and defensive end Marcus Tillman.

Tiger offensive line coach Stacy Searels has played a part in landing eight of LSU's commitments this season. Local stud running backs Richard Murphy and Charles Scott was nice pickups, but LSU is assembling one of the nation's top line classes because of Searels with great players like Matt Allen and Zhamal Thomas included.

Outside of the top five, there are great recruiting jobs being done by other assistants across the nation.

Arizona has one of the nation's top surprise classes and a big reason why is because of Wildcat assistant Tim Kish. Kish has landed five commitments for the Wildcats, including the nation's top junior college player, Louis Holmes. He's also done a great job in Northern California, picking up four-star linebacker A.J. Simmons and four-star cornerback Mike Turner.

A lot of people have been quick to credit other assistants at Clemson, but the job that recruiting coordinator David Blackwell has done has been quite impressive. He's had a hand in five of the Tigers' commitments, including star defensive end Jamie Cumbie. Receiver coach Dabo Swinney also deserves special mention for his effort.

Pittsburgh's great start in Western Pennsylvania can be traced to Panther assistant head coach Bob Junko. Junko has gained seven commitments from in-state players, including stud tight end Nate Byham and blue-chip athlete Dorin Dickerson.

Texas Tech has one of the biggest surprise classes in the nation and receiver coach Sonny Dykes has played a big role in that. Dykes, who is in his sixth season in Lubbock, has had a hand in 10 of the Red Raiders' commitments. He's recruited quite well in Dallas with four major pickups from the Metroplex.

Illinois recruiting coordinator Reggie Mitchell has also done a tremendous job, helping give the Illini some much needed talent to compete in the Big 10. He's had a hand in seven of Illinois' commitments, including four-star quarterback Isiah Williams.

Not only is his son blowing up in the NFL as one of the best backs in the league, but Larry Johnson is once again proving he's one of the best recruiters in the East. Johnson, Penn State's defensive line coach, has landed six of the Lion's commitments, including star linebackers Navorro Bowman and Bani Gbadyu and defensive tackles Tom McEowen and Jared Odrick.

Just a few months ago, people were calling for the heads of the Kentucky coaching staff, but now the Wildcats are assembling one of the SEC's surprise classes. A big reason why is because of offensive coordinator Joker Phillips. Phillips has been a part of 13 UK commitments, including the monster in-state commitment from Micah Johnson.

Maybe the most valuable recruiter so far for any team in the Big 12 this season has been Kansas recruiting coordinator Dave Doeren. He's had his hand in at least 10 of the Jayhawks' commitments and is a big reason why KU has a shot at a top 30 recruiting class.

Doeren has done a tremendous job in the Metroplex, landing four-star cornerback Anthony Webb and three other three-star prospects. He also recruits Kansas City - a vital area - for the Jayhawks.

At South Carolina, outside linebacker coach Ron Cooper has become a valuable recruiter for the Gamecocks. Not only does Cooper recruit South Carolina, Atlanta and Alabama for the Cocks, he's worked hard and got pledges from five players, including four-star quarterback Chris Smelley and twin juco stars Casper Brinkley and Jasper Brinkley. Cooper recently was named interim recruiting coordinator at South Carolina following the departure of 2005 Rivals.com top 25 recruiter Rick Stockstill, who was named head coach at Middle Tennessee State.

Be sure to check the Rivals.com database to see how your favorite school and favorite assistant coach is doing as signing day is little more than a month away.



 

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