The big stories in the Heartland region for the 2009 recruiting year involved the tabloidesque stories surrounding the recruitment of Jamarkus McFarland and the changes of heart by some of the region's top prospects.
1) McFarland, OU, Texas and the New York Times
Considered one of the top defensive linemen in the country since his sophomore year, Jamarkus McFarland had a high-profile recruitment from high-profile schools (LSU, Oklahoma and Texas). That recruitment took a tabloidesque turn following his commitment to Oklahoma just after midnight on Christmas thanks to a New York Times article that painted the recruitment by Texas in a less-than-favorable light.
2) A change of plans for Pratt
One of LSU's earliest commitments, Dexter Pratt knew he was heading to Baton Rouge as early as March of his junior year. He even graduated high school early to allow him to enroll in Baton Rouge in January to get a jump on spring practice. Pratt, however, wasn't on the LSU campus long before he was looking for a new home, primarily due to some clearinghouse issues. Shortly thereafter, Pratt was on campus ready to enroll at Oklahoma State.
3) The travels of Oku
Not only is David Oku one of the top players in the state of Oklahoma, but he's also the top-rated, all-purpose back in the nation, so a heated recruitment was a given. Oku ended that recruitment in October with a commitment to Tennessee but since then there has been a coaching change in Knoxville and some new coaching staffs elsewhere that have gotten him thinking. With National Signing Day upon us, Oku is conflicted enough to delay his decision after late official visits to Syracuse and Auburn.
4) The curious recruitment of Michael
In Christine Michael you have a high character kid, an academic qualifier, an incredibly productive high school player and a running back who has dominated every camp, combine, 7-on-7 and All-American event he has ever attended. Yet, somehow, this five-star never felt the love from college coaches that you would expect. Michael made it clear that LSU was his favorite and even tried to commit only to find out the Tigers didn't have a spot for him. After committing to Texas A&M, here's betting that Michael puts his Aggies teammates on his shoulders right next to that nice big chip for a great Big 12 career.
5) Loston's roller-coaster recruiting ride
Five-star safety Craig Loston had an interesting recruitment to say the least. He committed to Texas A&M as a sophomore only to open things back up during his junior year. Prior to his senior season, Loston committed to Clemson, but rumors of him wavering began seemingly before he even committed. Soon LSU was his rumored destination. Finally late in his senior year, Loston de-committed and later officially announced to LSU. Throughout it all, Loston would rarely speak publicly about his recruitment. The only thing that would make this story better would be a National Signing Day surprise.