We answer those questions in this week's recruiting mailbag.
Do you see early, non-binding commitments in football as an important tool for recruiting?
-- Thomas in Panama City, Fla.
I don't know if I would say it's an important recruiting tool. Rather, I would say the early commitment is becoming the trend. We saw this coming a few years ago, and it has gained steam every recruiting season. If you compare the commitments to the "Big Six" schools from June 2002 to June 2007, they were up a whopping 500 percent.
The reason for this trend is Texas. Coach Mack Brown's recruiting strategies have altered recruiting as we know it. The Longhorns' staff identify who they want, offer early and get a bulk of their recruiting done each year by the May evaluation period. Getting ahead so quickly affords them time to jump on the next year's crop of players.
Big 12 rivals countered Texas by doing the same. Then it spread throughout the country.
In August 2007, Florida State and Miami had a combined 33 commitments. To me, that's extraordinary, especially considering that Florida's "Big Three" always waited until December, January and February to get the lion's share of their commitments.
Look at this year. National Signing Day was a week ago, yet 45 teams already have a combined 76 commitments from 2010 prospects. Texas leads the way with 10, and those came in a three-day span from Feb. 7-9.
Keys to a top class
I hear Notre Dame's 2010 class could be spectacular. Can you tell me a bit about it? And how good can Seantrel Henderson be?
-- David from Marysville, Ohio
Notre Dame has three commitments – offensive lineman Christian Lombard (Palatine, Ill.), linebacker Chris Martin (Oakland, Calif.) and wide receiver Daniel Smith (South Bend, Ind.).
I believe the key to whether the Irish's class turns out to be "spectacular" is how they do on the field this fall. At some point, the Irish have to start winning. They are 10-15 over the past two seasons, and that's simply not acceptable at Notre Dame.
Winning certainly will be the key to this staff's success, especially with big-timers such as Henderson, an offensive tackle from St. Paul (Minn.) Cretin-Derham Hall who has a chance to be the nation's No. 1 prospect. Henderson, who is 6 feet 8 and 301 pounds, certainly is the top offensive lineman in the country and one of those prospects who can name his school. Certainly, Notre Dame is in the early mix.
How long do you think before Rich Rodriguez is pulling in a top-three class? And how good is wide receiver Ricardo Miller from Orlando, Fla.?
-- Mike from Florida
I don't think I would concern myself where a team lands in the rankings as long as the team is filling its needs with the best available talent. Do that, and the ranking will take care of itself.
Having said that, Michigan always should recruit well. It is one of the most prestigious programs in the nation. Obviously, Rodriguez has changed the offense, and the Wolverines are looking for players to fit those schemes. It's difficult to run his spread offense without the proper pieces. Patience is the key, as it will take time for the Wolverines to get the players they need.
Michigan has three commitments for 2010, all from wide receivers. One of the three is Miller, from Dr. Phillips High in Orlando. Many in Florida say he's the top receiver in the state. I have seen Miller play, and he has a ton of talent and upside. But the state is loaded at this position, and I think it may be premature to say he's Florida's top receiver. At the same time, I feel confident in saying Michigan landed a heck of a player in Miller.
-- Craig from Springfield, Ark.
Rivals.com has yet to rank any 2010 prospects. Seastrunk, from Temple (Texas) High, and Dyer, from Little Rock (Ark.) Little Rock Christian, are tremendous running back prospects who are five-star candidates. Who's ahead of who hasn't been determined.
I wanted to know when the first rankings for the 2010 class come out?
-- Brian from East Lansing, Mich.
Right now, it looks as if it will be sometime in March when we will come out with our initial rankings for the 2010 class.