National Outlook

On February 25th the University of Texas had their first Junior Day of 2006 and it resulted in twelve verbal commitments. This past weekend, the Longhorns hosted Junior Day number two and three more recruits declared for Texas bringing their total number of 2007 commitments to seventeen. All three of the new commitments are residents of Texas. Of the seventeen junior commitments, sixteen live in the Lone Star State.

The first recruit to commit to Texas last weekend was Waller running back Cody Johnson. Johnson is powerfully built at 5-10, 220-pounds, yet he possesses very good speed for a player that size. Despite being taken out of many games early due to lopsided scores, he still rushed for 1,608 yards and 21 touchdowns. LSU, Texas A&M, and Nebraska were among the other schools that offered Johnson a scholarship.

John Chiles is the new Longhorn commitment that is best known to Irish fans. An electrifying athlete with 4.45 speed, Chiles was recruited by many schools, including Notre Dame, as a wide receiver/defensive back prospect. However, the Arlington native was looking for the opportunity to play quarterback at the next level and maintains that Texas recruited him to play that position. It will be interesting to see what develops if highly regarded quarterback prospect Ryan Mallett chooses Texas, as he has told GoBlueWolverine.com that he believes Chiles was recruited to play another position.

While Chiles may be the most publicized of the three new Texas commitments, the one with the highest rating in the initial Scout.com rankings is wide receiver Malcolm Williams of Garland, TX. They gave the 6-3, 205-pound Williams a four-star rating even though he played just six games this past season because of a broken foot. That injury also did not scare off college recruiters as he received offers from Texas A&M and Texas Tech as well as interest from USC, Miami, and Florida. Williams had stated back in January that he intended to stay close to home, so his decision was hardly a surprise.

UCLA picked up a four-star prospect of their own this past week when cornerback Courtney Viney decided to spend his college career in Westwood. Viney has known new Bruin defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker for several years and their relationship was a major factor in his decision. He currently attends Edison High School in Fresno, which is where former Bruin and current Carolina Panther defensive back Ricky Manning went to high school. The 5-8, 170-pound Viney also had offers from California, Nebraska, and Washington State, but was sold on UCLA after visiting for their Junior Day on March 11 th along with the other two Bruin commits, Brian Price and Raymond Carter.

The Boston College basketball program has had good success recruiting southern California players. Craig Smith and Jared Dudley are two Golden State natives that helped the Eagle hoopsters reach this year's Sweet Sixteen. Head football coach Tom O'Brien followed basketball coach Al Skinner's path this week when he got a commitment from kicker Billy Bennett from Torrey Pines High School in Encinitas, CA. Bennett can punt as well as kick and is considered one of the best at both positions on the west coast. He chose BC over Arizona State and Kansas State.

Mississippi State received a commitment as a result of their Junior Day last weekend and they also obtained one from junior college defensive end Jonathan Williams. The Mississippi Delta Community College star visited Starkville for last year's Georgia game and knew then that he wanted to be a Bulldog. Williams became head coach Sylvester Croom's third commitment. Early this week, Hazelhurst, MS cornerback Damein Anderson also accepted an offer from Mississippi State. After visiting MSU last weekend, Anderson knew that he would accept a scholarship if the Bulldogs offered. When they did, he did. He becomes the first high school player to commit, joining Williams and two other junior college recruits in the Bulldog fold. The most interesting development at Mississippi State's Junior Day was the visit of offensive lineman Antwane Greenlee. Last week, Greenlee committed to Florida State and said that he would attend their Junior Day on March 25 th instead of going on his previously scheduled visit to Mississippi State. But on Saturday, he was in Starkville. Greenlee also said he will take trips to Florida and Georgia as well as returning to Florida State. When asked by Dave Peters of RenegadeReport.com what the chances are that he will sign with Florida State in February, the Columbus, GA native said that he was 75% percent sure he would be a Seminole. I guess that would be considered a very soft verbal commitment.

Two other SEC programs added to their 2007 roster this week. Georgia received a pledge from 6-3, 235-pound defensive end Conrad Obi. The Loganville, GA native has a brother that attends Georgia and he was just waiting for their offer. He had previously been offered by Florida. LSU added to its running back corps when Natchez, MS running back Steven Ridley announced that he will become a Tiger in eighteen months. Ridley had previously committed to Ole Miss, but changed his mind after attending LSU's Junior Day earlier this month. With signing day ten months away and with one de-commitment already behind him, I would guess that Ridley's recruitment is far from over.

Last recruiting season, Miami got an early commitment from Pennsylvania quarterback Pat Devlin only to see him change his mind and sign with Penn State in February. This week they received another early quarterback commitment and this time they hope it sticks. San Antonio native Nick Fanuzzi chose the Hurricanes after receiving an offer at their Junior Day. His only other offer at the time was Kentucky, though many schools were recruiting him hard.

Another school that received a quarterback commitment this week was West Virginia when Morgantown's own Charlie Russell decided to play for the hometown Mountaineers. Russell is 28-0 as a starter during his high school career and has led Morgantown High to three consecutive state titles.


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