February 6, 2008

Coaching changes have impact on recruiting

Wednesday is National Signing Day (like you didn't know that), and we decided to take a look at how the new coaches in the "Big Six" leagues were faring on the recruiting trail.

Duke: David Cutcliffe
The buzz: Cutcliffe has done a good job since taking over, landing a couple of three-star recruits and generally impressing most of the recruits with whom he has interacted. He's well-respected in recruiting circles, especially with quarterbacks and offensive players. But there's not much he could do to keep this Duke class from finishing last in the ACC. Mike Farrell
West Virginia: Bill Stewart
The buzz: Stewart and the new staff have done a solid job keeping the class together, with the biggest exception being OL Josh Jenkins, and they've added a few top players. They stole DE Tyler Urban from Maryland and landed junior college stud Tevita Finau over many other top programs. This class likely will finish in the middle of the pack in the Big East. Mike Farrell
Michigan: Rich Rodriguez
The buzz: The Wolverines' new staff did a great job of keeping most of the pieces of the original recruiting puzzle together. That's helped them land what likely will be near a top-10 class. Throw in some new recruits that the new staff brought in such as RB Terrence Robinson from Klein (Texas) Oak and it's a very good group. The one big thing missing at this point, though, is a true dual-threat quarterback to run the system. Jeremy Crabtree
BIG 12
Baylor: Art Briles
The buzz: Briles made an instant splash at Baylor. He got his quarterback of the future in four-star Robert Griffin almost immediately after his hire, and Briles already has created an early buzz for 2009 with players like Cody Green. Briles is clearly making in-state talent his top priority. He has yet to receive an out-of-state commitment with the exception of junior college OT Rodney Brisbon. Barton Simmons
Nebraska: Bo Pelini
The buzz: The Huskers' new staff has done an amazing job of taking what was a train wreck when Bill Callahan left and turning it into an almost top-25 recruiting class. The Huskers have closed as strong as anybody in the nation, and I love how they're opening new areas for talent. Going into Texas and getting some good kids is huge for the future success of the program. Jeremy Crabtree
Texas A&M: Mike Sherman
The buzz: Sherman hasn't taken much time to get into the recruiting saddle. He and his new staff have done a good job of retaining the recruits that had committed to Dennis Franchione, and have gone out and grabbed some other premier players, particularly in-state talent such as RB Cyrus Gray and DT Rod Davis. Barton Simmons
UCLA: Rick Neuheisel
The buzz: Much like at Michigan, the new UCLA staff had a good recruiting foundation already in place when it arrived. The new staff then did a great job of keeping most of the pieces together. They did lose a few guys here and there, and that definitely stung. But they did a masterful job of working hard to keep what could be a top-15 group together. It'll be fun to see what happens next year when this staff has a full year to go head-to-head against USC in Los Angeles, although the Trojans are already off to a fast start for 2009. Jeremy Crabtree
Washington State: Paul Wulff
The buzz: The Cougars have made California a priority and have reeled in some quality players from Los Angeles. There are a few prospects who are under the radar, but the new staff knew they needed to get some key depth at certain positions; they definitely did that. I was impressed at how quickly they were able to land some quality prospects in Los Angeles. Jeremy Crabtree
Arkansas: Bobby Petrino
The buzz: In terms of the 2008 recruiting class, Houston Nutt left Petrino with plenty of prospects in the fold. Petrino has done a good job of retaining the majority of the commitments, including a strong group of receivers. The strength of this class is built around in-state talent, and Petrino was able to land another local product - running back Dennis Johnson from Texarkana. Petrino's premier signee could be Jerico Nelson, an athlete he pulled out of Louisiana who previously was committed to Purdue. Barton Simmons
Ole Miss: Houston Nutt
The buzz: A solid recruiting class has taken some hits since the firing of coach Ed Orgeron. More specifically, it has taken some hits since the loss of some of his assistants. The relationships developed with recruiters such as Tony Hughes and Hugh Freeze have limited the Rebels' ability to keep players such as Marlon Walls and Quin Sanford in the fold. It also hampered Ole Miss' previously strong standing with big names such as DeAndre Brown. But Nutt has managed to come in and put his own touch on this class. The Rebels landed four-star wide receiver Andrew Harris and have made strong moves for premier names such as Enrique Davis and De'Anthony Curtis. Barton Simmons


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