National Outlook

With Tim Tebow all but penciled in as the starting quarterback at Florida for at least the next two years, many believed that the Gators would have difficulty recruiting a signal caller this season. As it turned out, nothing could have been further from the truth.

Five-star prospect John Brantley of Trinity Catholic High School in Ocala, Fla. this week committed to Florida, becoming the third quarterback to pledge to Urban Meyer's crew this year. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Brantley is from a family with deep University of Florida roots, so it came as a big surprise back in April when he announced that he would play for Texas in 2007. But last week, Scout.com's No. 3 quarterback switched his pledge to Florida, confirming rumors that had been circulating for weeks in both Gainesville and Austin.

Brantley's change of heart leaves Texas in a very precarious spot at the quarterback position. Starter Colt McCoy will be a third year sophomore next season that injured his shoulder in the last regular season game of the year against Texas A&M. The No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart, Jevan Snead, recently announced that he would be transferring to Ole Miss. That leaves freshman Sherrod Harris as the only scholarship quarterback on the roster besides McCoy. Five-star commitment John Chiles will enroll in January, but he is scheduled to play wide receiver in college. And with most of the top quarterbacks in the class of 2007 already committed, it will be difficult for head coach Mack Brown and his staff to obtain additional quarterback depth for next year.

On the other hand, before Brantley's commitment, Florida already had a commitment from four-star prospect Cameron Newton. Also, four-star junior college product Bryan Waggener will be enrolling at Florida in a couple of weeks. So there will be fierce competition to be Tim Tebow's backup in 2007.

Florida also received a commitment from four-star running back Boo Williams of Oakland Park, Fla. The Gators had lost out on early running back targets Caleb King, Armando Allen, and Antwain Easterling, so the 6-foot-0, 205-pounder's commitment was very important. Williams rushed for 1,033 yards and 12 touchdowns this season after rushing for 783 yards as a junior. The No. 21 senior running back as rated by Scout.com narrowed his choices to Florida, Florida State, and Pitt before choosing the Gators.

Along with Brantley, two other five-star prospects made their college decisions known this past week. Everson Griffin of Avondale, Ariz. is Scout.com's No.1 defensive end and their No. 5 prospect overall. Last Wednesday, he committed to USC. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound Griffen is extremely quick, especially for someone his size, and should become a dominant force at the college level once he refines his technique. Notre Dame and Michigan joined USC in Griffen's final three.

Notre Dame was also finalist for Scout.com's No. 2 defensive end. Chicago's Martez Wilson turned down the Irish and committed to Illinois at a press conference last Thursday. At 6-foot-4, 228-pounds, Wilson has the ability to play wide receiver or tight end, though he will be looked at primarily as a defensive player. Wilson, along with Arrelious Benn and D'Angelo McCray, is the third five-star recruit in the class of 2007 to commit to Ron Zook and the Illini.

Offensive tackle Jack Cornell of Quincy, Ill. became the fourth four-star recruit to select Illinois when he gave his commitment last week. The 6-foot-7, 305-pound Cornell already has the size needed to play tackle in the Big Ten, but will need to work on his footwork and flexibility. Cornell had committed to Michigan State over the summer, but re-opened his recruitment when Spartan coach John L. Smith was fired. He picked Illinois over Nebraska.

Then, on Tuesday, 6-foot-3, 300-pound Josh Brent became Illinois' fifth four-star commitment. The Bloomington, Ill. product had originally planned to announce with Martez Willson on December 21st. But when one of his basketball team's games was rescheduled for that day, there was a change in plans. Despite visiting both Ohio State and Michigan multiple times, Illinois had been considered the team to beat for a while. Brent has considerable potential, as he has only been playing football for two years.

One of the top linebacker prospects in 2006 was Highland Springs, Va. native Jarrell Miller. He played in last year's Army All-American game and signed a letter of intent to play at North Carolina. When he failed to qualify academically, he enrolled at Fork Union Military Academy. Due to the coaching change at UNC, the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Miller asked for and was granted his release from North Carolina. This past week he committed to Connecticut. When Miller signs with the Huskies in February, he will become the most acclaimed recruit in the history of UConn football.

Jordan Bernstine of Des Moines, Iowa was the only junior named to the Des Moines Register's All-State team in 2005. But it was not until last April, when he was named MVP of the Scout.com All-American Combine in Iowa City, that the eyes of the top coaches in America were opened. This past Saturday, the four-star safety made Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz very happy when he committed to the home state Hawkeyes. Bernstine's uncle, Rod, played nine seasons for the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos. UCLA, Pittsburgh, Iowa State, and Nebraska, along with Iowa, made up his final five.

Oklahoma picked up its third wide receiver commitment of the season when Round Rock, Texas speedster James Kirkendoll decided on the Sooners. The 5-foot-11, 178-pound Kirkendoll may use his 4.4 speed not only on the gridiron, but on the hardwood as well. He averaged over 25 points a game last year for the Red Rock High School basketball team and is averaging over 27 a game this year. But make no mistake, he is a football player first and foremost, accumulating over 1,400 total yards and scoring 16 touchdowns this fall. He picked Oklahoma over Florida, Nebraska, and Texas Tech.

Two programs are closing 2006 with a flurry. Nebraska received five commitments this past week, bringing their tally for the month of December to ten. They are currently No. 6 in the Scout.com team rankings with 27 total commitments.

Meanwhile, South Carolina is currently No. 13 after also taking in ten commitments in December. After starting the month by landing five-star safety prospect Mark Barnes and four-star quarterback Stephen Garcia, the Gamecocks added four more recruits this past week. Included in that group are defensive tackle Ladi Ajiboye, who had originally committed to Virginia Tech, and juco star Jonathan Williams, who de-committed from Mississippi State.

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