January 31, 2009

Leaders emerge in state battles for talent

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Here's a closer look at which teams are winning the recruiting battles in California, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida and South Carolina - six key states for recruiting in the class of 2009.

The Combatants: California, Stanford, UCLA, USC

The Winner: USC

The 2009 class in California broke down much as it did in 2008, 2007, 2006 and 2005. USC dominated in-state, scoring commitments from six of the top 10 players. Sure, the Trojans still are sweating it out to see what's going to happen with Vontaze Burfict and Randall Carroll, but that doesn't take away from the dominance in their backyard. Nobody protects their home turf better in the nation than USC. UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel has said landing top talent in California would be his top priority and the Bruins did a nice job this year. UCLA has commitments from five of the state's top 25 players and 11 of the top 100. Stanford has seven commitments in the top 100. - Jeremy Crabtree

The Combatants: Michigan, Michigan State

The Winner: Michigan State

Michigan was able to grab the top player in the state two-way lineman William Campbell of Detroit Cass Tech but the big story in-state was the way Michigan State dominated. The Spartans have commitments from three of the state's top four players, including quarterback of the future Andrew Maxwell. The Spartans also have commitments from six of the top 10 players and 11 of the top 25 players. The Wolverines did have some local success, but their efforts were better rewarded with their ability to recruit nationally. But in a year where it was extremely deep in-state, there's no question many Wolverines fans would have liked to see more local stars playing for the maize and blue instead of the green and white. - Jeremy Crabtree

The Combatants: Penn State, Pittsburgh, Ohio State

The Winner: Ohio State

Ohio State "won" Pennsylvania this year by landing the state's only two five-star prospects defensive back Corey Brown and linebacker Dorian Bell as well as four-star athlete Jordan Hall. As for the battle between Penn State and Pitt, the Panthers won. While Penn State landed the No. 3 player in the state, offensive tackle Eric Shrive, Pitt pulled in four of the top 10. Wide receiver Todd Thomas might need a year of prep school before he makes an impact at Pitt, but his long-term potential is sky high. Defensive end Jack Lippert and linebacker Dan Mason are good enough to make an early impact. - Mike Farrell

The Combatants: Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, LSU

The Winner: Texas

It was a competitive year in the Lone Star State, thanks to on-field success from the teams that usually recruit well in-state. Texas A&M did not play well but maintained its typical presence, picking up commitments from 10 of the top 100 though only two from the top 50. LSU made a splash, landing two of the top four and four of the top 50. After arguably winning the state in 2008, Oklahoma again was strong with commitments from three of the top 15 and nine of the top 100. Even with such a large number of hands in the cookie jar, Texas still landed 14 of the top 50 and three national five-stars: quarterback Garrett Gilbert, defensive end Alex Okafor and offensive tackle Mason Walters. - Barton Simmons

The Combatants: Florida, Florida State, Miami

The Winner: Florida State

Which team won the in-state battle in the Sunshine State? It's a close call, but the edge goes to Florida State. FSU has 13 commitments from the state's top 100 players, including five of the top 20. Miami has 11 of the state's top 100 and three of the top 20. Florida has four of the top 14 and eight of the top 100. USF has recruited the best class in school history, with seven of the top 100. UCF has two of the top 100 in Josh Robinson and Leon Woods. Some of the state's best talent got away, though, including four of the top 10. The state's No. 1 player, Trent Richardson, is an Alabama commitment. The top quarterback, Aaron Murray, already is enrolled at Georgia. Top 10 players Jaamal Berry and Zeke Motta are headed to Ohio State and Notre Dame, respectively. South Carolina, Michigan and West Virginia are three out-of-state schools that recruited well in the Sunshine State. - Jamie Newberg

The Combatants: Clemson, South Carolina

The Winner: South Carolina

The slight edge in-state has to go to South Carolina over Clemson. The Tigers landed the state's top player in Malliciah Goodman, but the Gamecocks landed eight of the top 32, led by Stephon Gilmore, Damario Jeffery, Devonte Holloman and Duane Chisolm. Both in-state schools landed some quality prospects, but the numbers worked out better for the Gamecocks. Seven of the state's top 35 remain uncommitted, including No. 5 Sam Montgomery and No. 10 Quinton Washington. In addition, USC commitment Alshon Jeffery could end up at South Carolina or possibly Tennessee. Twelve out-of-state schools pulled at least one of the state's top 35 prospects. - Jamie Newberg

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