Sunday, February 04, 2007

Some Thoughts on the Class of 2007

USC will not win the mythical national recruiting title for the first time in four years, but that doesn’t mean that they are lacking in talent. The incoming talent is as strong as ever, it’s just that the numbers are smaller. Only 14 verbals to-date, with super DB/WR Ron Johnson committing today in a slight trade-up for USC vis-a-vis Michigan after they lost Donovan Warren. Interestingly, for a school that has recruited so well nationally in recent years Johnson is only the second verbal in the class not from California or Arizona. The other, Broderick Green, is a standout RB out of Arkansas who may possibly de-commit to Penn State in the next few days. With Johnson on board, the Trojans now have five elite verbals as he joins Everson Griffin, Kris O’Dowd, Marc Tyler and Marshall Jones as national top 30 types.

Florida is the my current choice as the top recruiting class for 2007 (with only LSU having a chance to catch-up). Urban Meyer is building a USC-type of talent-base at Florida as he takes advantage of the national title and Miami and Florida State both being down. With the exception of Jamar Taylor he recruited all of the D-I prospects out of national power Lakeland. He also recruited a defensive line for he ages, with Torrey Davis, Carlos Dunlap and John Brown leading the way. His fourth most highly-rated DL, Justin Trattou, was Notre Dame’s top DL recruit before de-committing to the Gators. He’s one of the top three prospects in New Jersey. Meyer also impressed in being able to leave the South to recruit blue-chippers out of New Jersey, California, Maryland and Connecticut.. He also turned a real magic trick in landing two blue-chip QBs in Cameron Newton and John Brantley a year after landing Tim Tebow. Amazing.

North Carolina picked up an outstanding WR on Sunday in Rashad Mason out of Tennessee. This could also put them in the driver’s seat for his talented younger brother DeAunte Mason, a 6-3, 195 WR who willl be one of the South’s best next year.

Michigan had a bizarre recruiting class. In failing to land Ron Johnson today they completed an atrocious in-state recruiting effort in a year when the state was more loaded than ever. Moreover, they did not recruit well in the rest of the midwest, landing only two players (Artis Chambers, Dave Molk) from the other Midwestern states and being shut out in Ohio. They also failed to leverage off of their fine season as they only picked up three verbals in 2007 (Michael Williams, Renaldo Sagesse and Donovan Warren) while losing two verbals (Jerimy Finch and Marques Maze) and not closing on a handful of talented prospects (Ron Johnson and Rashad Mason come to mind). The Class of 2008 will be a critical class for the Wolverine coaching staff as they will need to bring in some defensive difference-makers and offensive linemen. They got off to a good start this week with the state’s top-rated junior, Boubacar Cissiko, committing to them. This mitigates the sour aftertaste of a poor 2007 recruiting effort to some extent, as do the recruiting successes the Wolverines enjoyed in California and Texas.

Amazingly, Michigan’s class ranks right up there with Ohio State and Illinois at or near the top of the Big Ten. It is a poor year for recruiting in the Big Ten. Ohio State is bringing in a smallish class (just 15 verbals to date) that is high in blue-chip quality but includes probably only one difference-maker caliber recruit (Eugene Clifford and possibly Brandon Saine). Illinois has enjoyed an outstanding recruiting season and their top three or four verbals (Benn, Wilson, Brent, McCray) are as good as anybody’s in the Big Ten. Where they lag, as compared to Michigan and Ohio State, is in the quality of the second 50% of their class.

Some Comparisons of College Coaches to Historical Figures (Part I):

Urban Meyer: Lorenzo de Medici. Meyer has really taken recruiting up another notch at Florida the past couple of years. In 2006 he was a new hire and “flavor of the month”. This year he won a national title and also had USC or Texas-type of pickings over in-state talent as both Miami and Florida State were down. There has been an “Urban Renaissance” at Florida, so it is only appropriate that he be compared to Lorenzo de Medici. Like Lorenzo “The Magnificent”, not only is Meyer a wily diplomat and politician, but he has brought in a brilliant group of talent (football players as compared to Lorenzo’s scholars, artists, and poets) and is also accomplished in the manly arts of jousting and the hunt. They both are tough, passionate, and energetic, equally devoted to team/city and the pursuit of success. Lorenzo was the Prince of Florence during the height of the Renaissance while Urban presides over the Renaissance of Florida.

Charlie Weis: Henry VIII. Henry VIII proved by nearly all accounts to be a popular and energetic monarch at the outset of his reign, much like Charlie Weis his first year at Notre Dame. Things turned sour soon afterwards for Henry, just as they did for Charlie in his second season. Henry VIII is famous for having been married six times, and ultimately breaking with the Roman Catholic Church. He wielded perhaps the most untrammeled power of any English monarch. and he became the supreme head of the Church in England. Like Henry, Charlie has wielded substantial power vis-à-vis the Roman Catholic Church in getting Notre Dame to ease their admission standards to attract high quality prospects. Henry VIII is known to have been an avid gambler and dice player. Charlie did some gambling of his own during the 2006 season, and it didn’t always pay off. Henry was also an accomplished musician, author, and poet; his best known piece of music is Pastyme. Charlie was a genius, scoring a reported perfect 1600 on the SAT and leading the New England offense to a couple of Super Bowl titles. Finally, they have a common ground when it comes to their girth.


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