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Florida adds top recruiting title to national crown
Florida adds top recruiting title to national crown
By JOSH DUBOW, AP Sports Writer
February 7, 2007
AP - Feb 7, 6:39 pm EST
Florida won the recruiting crown in nearly as dominating fashion as the national championship.
The Gators capitalized on last month's national title win over Ohio State and down years from Sunshine State rivals Florida State and Miami to bring in the top recruiting class in the country Wednesday.
"No one is even that close to them," recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CSTV said. "They got help everywhere. In the past 10 years, this has to rank right at the top in recruiting classes. Every position is absolutely loaded."
The Gators also were picked as the top class by SuperPrep, Rivals.com and National Blue Chips, beating out Southern California, SEC rivals Tennessee and LSU, and Texas.
The Trojans closed strong, adding top running backs Joe McKnight from Louisiana and Broderick Green from Arkansas on Wednesday to a class that already included another top back in Marc Tyler; defensive end Everson Griffen, SuperPrep's No. 1 overall player; the nation's No. 1 receiver, Ronald Johnson from Michigan; and blue chip linebacker Chris Galippo from Anaheim, Calif.
"USC continues to be the place that a lot of skill-position players look to first," said analyst Bobby Burton of Rivals.com. "That doesn't mean the guys they get on defense aren't special. It just means they have the pick of the litter when it comes to offensive skill players."
But the Gators' class was best of all, signing nine of the top 16 players in talent-rich Florida and the No. 1 players from South Carolina, Indiana, Maryland and New England, according to Rivals.com.
A coaching change at Miami and another down year for Florida State played a key part in the Gators' success.
"They play an exciting brand of ball on offense and defense and a lot of kids want be in that situation," said Allen Wallace, the national recruiting editor for Scout.com and publisher of SuperPrep magazine. "There's no question they've moved into the catbird seat in Florida. They have taken advantage of tough times for both the Hurricanes and Seminoles."
Florida's class includes Rivals' third-best pro-style quarterback in John Brantley, the nation's top guard in James Wilson, top weakside defensive end in Carlos Dunlap, second-best defensive tackle in Torrey Davis, and top two safeties in Jerimy Finch and Major Wright.
Two recruits from last year's stellar class, quarterback Tim Tebow and receiver Percy Harvin, played key roles in the 41-14 win over Ohio State in the BCS title game, and coach Urban Meyer is hoping for similar production from some of the players in this year's class.
"We have taken a new attitude toward recruiting this year that every freshman in my opinion will play next year," Meyer said. "Obviously, that won't happen but we are taking that approach. It used to be, 'Boy, I will be able to save this guy.' But that's over."
Florida's haul was part of a banner recruiting year for the SEC, where Tennessee, LSU, South Carolina, Auburn, Georgia and Alabama all received at least one top-10 ranking.
"The SEC is loaded," Burton said. "They are year in and year out the most talented conference. But even this is unusual."
Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel talks about the new recruits Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2007 in Columbus, Ohio during a news conference.
AP - Feb 7, 6:38 pm EST
Jimmy Clausen, the top-ranked player by Rivals and CSTV, headlines a top-10 class at Notre Dame and could be ready to step in next season as Brady Quinn's replacement at quarterback. Clausen is one of many players who already have started college, giving him a leg up because he can take part in spring practice.
Clausen made a high-profile commitment to the Irish last April, arriving at his news conference in a limo and predicting four national titles for Notre Dame.
"He heaped pressure on himself with the way he announced he was going to Notre Dame," Wallace said. "He's demonstrated that the added pressure has not affected him at all. If you play quarterback, especially at Notre Dame, you have to be able to handle that pressure. He could be perfectly suited for the situation."
Notre Dame's overall ranking was hurt by some late defections. Athlete Greg Little switched at the last minute to North Carolina and offensive lineman Chris Little decommitted and signed with Georgia. The Irish earlier lost a commitment from defensive end Justin Trattou from New Jersey, who decided to go to Florida.
The biggest surprise was at South Carolina, where Steve Spurrier brought in a top-10 class to a school that normally struggles to attract blue chip players. Receiver Chris Culliver of North Carolina headlines a class that also includes quarterback Stephen Garcia of Tampa, Fla.
"It is sort of neat to see our name in there with Texas, Southern Cal, Florida and Notre Dame," Spurrier said.
Other schools that did surprisingly well included North Carolina, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, Oregon and Illinois.
New Tar Heels coach Butch Davis got a commitment Wednesday from CSTV's defensive player of the year Marvin Austin, a defensive lineman from Washington, D.C.
"We want to make North Carolina a major emphasis in recruiting, and I think we made up a tremendous amount of ground in a short amount of time with the players and the coaches in this state," Davis said.
Illinois coach Ron Zook, who recruited many of the players that led Florida to the national title, signed one of the nation's best receivers, Arrelious Benn out of Washington, D.C., and beat out Notre Dame for one of the top defensive linemen, Martez Wilson of Chicago.
He put together a class that rivals Ohio State and Michigan for the best in the Big Ten, despite winning only two conference games the past two seasons.
"It's stunning that they won those kinds of recruiting battles," Wallace said.
Re: Florida adds top recruiting title to national crown
Man, Florida is going to be dangerous for a few more years.
You know, the Big Ten seems to be a bit more cerebral than most conferences but in the words of Jimmy Johnson......
"Jimmies and Joes beat X's and O's everytime".