Tuesday, February 07, 2012
Honoring the top recruiters
February 7, 2012
Recruiting is a team effort. While one coach might be the lead recruiter and develop the best relationship with a player, in the end it takes the whole team to make a prospect feel comfortable.
Still, there are some who separate themselves from the pack each year and that's why we named a top recruiter for each conference. These coaches were the key in helping their programs land some of the nation's best players.
Of course, ask anyone on this list and they'd remind you it was a team effort. And that's probably part of what makes them successful to begin with.
Football Recruiters Of The Year
Odell Haggins, Florida State
The Seminoles' defensive line coach edged out his fellow staff member Dameyune Craig and Miami recruiting coordinator Brennan Carroll with the signing day signatures of ESPN 150 prospects Eddie Goldman(Washington, D.C./Friendship Collegiate), the nation's top DT, and Ronald Darby(Oxon Hill, Md./Potomac), a DB with world-class speed. In both cases FSU had to fend off major challenges from Auburn and the Goldman signing was primarily due to the five-star prospect's relationship with Haggins. The 19-year veteran assistant was also responsible for four-star linebacker Reggie Northrup's (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast) flip from Miami to FSU.
Honorable mention: Brennan Carroll, Miami; Dameyune Craig, FSU; Shane Beamer, Virginia Tech; Jeff Scott, Clemson.
Clint Hurtt, Louisville
If the Cardinals are going to challenge for a Big East title in 2012 it will be behind much of the talent Hurtt has pulled from South Florida over the past two seasons. Hurtt was credited with eight commitments, seven of which are Miami-Dade county prospects. Four-star linebackers Keith Brown (Miami, Fla./Norland) and James Burgess Jr. (Homestead, Fla./Homestead) were both former Miami verbals he flipped to Louisville. Hurtt also fought off some tough competition for three-star defensive end Pedro Sibiea (Homestead, Fla./Homestead) and running back Brandon Radcliff (Miami, Fla./Columbus).
Honorable mention: Kyle Flood, Rutgers; Robert Gillespie, West Virginia; Phil McGeoghan, South Florida; Kerry Coombs, Cincinnati.
Mike Vrabel, Ohio State
Vrabel moved from linebackers coach to defensive line coach with the hire of Urban Meyer. And in the process the two-year assistant helped secure one of the nation's best defensive line classes. Five-star prospect Noah Spence (Harrisburg, Pa./Bishop McDevitt) was the biggest signing in the class, but four-star prospects Adolphus Washington (Cincinnati, Ohio/Taft), Se'Von Pittman(Canton, Ohio/McKinley) and Jamal Marcus (Durham, N.C./Hillside) give the Buckeyes four of the nation's top 16 players at the defensive end position. Vrabel deserves much of the credit for that.
Honorable mention: John Garrison, Nebraska; Randy Bates, Northwestern; Jeff Hecklinski, Michigan; Mark Staten, Michigan State.
Bo Davis, Texas
Bo Davis settled right in for the Longhorns and did very well in his first season as a recruiter for Mack Brown and Texas. His impact was immediate as ESPNU 150 defensive end Torshiro Davis (Shreveport, La./Woodlawn) signed with Texas on signing day instead of LSU, where he had been a longtime commit. These are battles LSU doesn't normally lose to Texas. Davis was also responsible for landing junior college standout Brandon Moore (Scooba, Miss./East Mississippi C.C.), who originally signed with Alabama out of high school two years ago. Davis also had a key hand in the Longhorns getting defensive end Caleb Bluiett (Beaumont, Texas/West Brook) and defensive tackle Paul Boyette Jr. (Humble, Texas/Humble) on signing day. Davis, who is from Louisiana, is a big reason Texas, which normally isn't very active late in the process, made some big, late moves.
Honorable mention: Stacy Searels, Texas; Joe Wickline, Oklahoma State; Terrell Williams, Texas A&M; David Yost, Missouri.
Steve Buckley, Southern Miss
The headliner of the Southern Miss recruiting class is ESPNU 150 athleteAnthony Alford (Petal, Miss./Petal) and Buckley helped Southern Miss beat several SEC schools and Nebraska for his signature. Anthony is a two-sport star who will more than likely be a high draft pick in June's Major League Baseball draft. Buckley, who didn't follow coach Larry Fedora to UNC, helped keep the Southern Miss class intact. Other key recruits for Buckley were linebacker Leland Ducksworth (Hattiesburg, Miss./North Forest), defensive end Anthony Wilson (Ellisville, Miss./Jones CC) and wide receiver D.J. Thompson (Pearl, Miss./Pearl).
Mike Elston, Notre Dame
Elston was essential in the Fighting Irish landing ESPNU 150 DTs Jarron Jones (Rochester, N.Y./Aquinas Institute) and Sheldon Day (Indianapolis, Ind./Warren Central). Jones and Day are both top 15 D tackles and will be a big keys in building the defensive line roster in South Bend. Elston also played a key role in the additions of four-star OT Mark Harrell (Charlotte, N.C./Catholic), wide receiver Chris Brown (Hanahan, S.C.) and defensive end Romeo Okwara(Charlotte, N.C./Audrey Kell).
Jason Candle, Toledo
Though former coach and savvy recruiter Tim Beckman left for Illinois, Toledo was still among the top teams in the MAC in the recruiting rankings. A key to that was naming Matt Campbell, arguably the Rockets' strongest recruiter to coach, and keeping Candle on staff. Candle recruited a number of the Rockets' top recruits, including the Pittsburgh trio ofJaylen Coleman (Pittsburgh, Pa./University Prep), Corey Jones (Pittsburgh, Pa./Penn Hills) andChaz Whittaker (Pittsburgh, Pa./Penn Hills). Coleman and Jones are the Rockets' top two prospects, and Candle helped secure them late. Coleman was a Cincinnati lean originally, and Jones and Whittaker were committed to Pitt and West Virginia, respectively, at one time. Candle also helped haul in Damion Jones-Moore (Pittsburgh, Pa./Central Catholic), Danny Larkins(Madison Heights, Mich./Madison Heights) and Armani Miller (Huber Heights, Ohio/Wayne).
Pete Kwiatkowski, Boise State
"Coach K" is one of final original staffers under Chris Petersen. Despite turnover in much of Boise's staff, Kwiatkowski continued to impress on the recruiting trail. When three-star offensive lineman Mario Yakoo (Spring Valley, Calif./Steele Canyon) split with UCLA, Kwiatkowski was able to convince him to join his best friend and teammate, three-star defensive back Chanceller James, on the blue turf. Kwiatkowski also secured commitments from three-star prospectsTravis Averill (Anaheim, Calif./Servite) and Donte Deayon (Fontana, Calif./Summit).
Mike Bloomgren, Stanford
It's a tough call in the Pac-12 because there are so many deserving coaches, but Bloomgren and Stanford closed big. Literally. Stanford landed ESPNU 150 offensive tackles Kyle Murphy (San Clemente, Calif./San Clemente) and Andrus Peat (Scottsdale, Ariz./Corona Del Sol) on signing day to give the Cardinal the nation's top O-line class. A nod also goes to former Stanford coach Brian Polian (now with Texas A&M), who started the recruiting, but it was Bloomgren who closed the deal. He fought off USC and Nebraska for Peat, and the Trojans again for Murphy. Bloomgren is a recruiter on the rise out west.
Honorable mention: Adrian Klemm, UCLA; Tosh Lupoi, Washington; Demetrice Martin, UCLA; Ed Orgeron, USC.
Jeremy Pruitt, Alabama
Sure, it's easier when you are selling the University of Alabama, but you still have to beat out the rest of the SEC. Pruitt had a banner year, helping the Crimson Tide reel in ESPNU running back T.J. Yeldon(Daphne, Ala./Daphne), who was a longtime Auburn commitment before Pruitt flipped him to Alabama. He also landed Yeldon's teammate, ESPNU linebacker Ryan Anderson. Pruitt also turned Florida State commitment Alphonse Taylor (Mobile, Ala./Davidson) at the last minute. He also landed two of the very best prospects from the Sunshine State in five-star athlete Eddie Williams (Panama City, Fla./Arnold) and explosive ESPNU 150 wide receiver Chris Black (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast). Pruitt also spearheaded the recruitment of junior college star cornerback Travell Dickson (Thatcher, Ariz./Eastern Arizona College).
Honorable mention: D.J. Dirken, Florida; Todd Grantham, Georgia; Sean Spencer, Vanderbilt; Lorenzo Ward, South Carolina.
Raymond Woodie, Western Kentucky
This wasn't Western Kentucky's biggest class but it is a quality group helped greatly by Woodie's ties to the west coast of Florida. Woodie was instrumental in getting three-star linebacker DaQual Randall (Palmetto, Fla./Palmetto) to flip from Louisville and also secured the signatures of running back Leon Allen (Bradenton, Fla./Manatee) and wide receiver Austin Aikens (Tampa, Fla./Plant), both major contributors to state championship teams in 2011.
Pierre Ingram, Louisiana Tech
Ingram was responsible for three of the top 10 prospects to sign with WAC teams in three-star athlete Lloyd Grogan (Morgan City, La./Central Catholic), three-star wide receiver Jaydrick Declouet (Patterson, La./Patterson) and three-star running back Kenneth Dixon (Strong, Ark./Strong).