Early Success

Yesterday we took a look at Notre Dame's competition and how well they've been doing on the recruiting trail. Today I thought we'd take an early look at some of the top teams across the country and see where they're at with their 2008 recruiting class.

I'm basing all my research on the Scout.com ranking system. For comparison, the Irish have 13 total commitments right now--1 five-star, 7 four-star and 4 three-star players. Keep that in mind when comparing Notre Dame's class to others across the country.

When speaking of early recruiting success, the first place one usually looks is Texas. Mack Brown and staff have done an excellent job over the years of locking up the top talent in the state of Texas long before the other top teams can get into the action. It appears Texas is back at it for 2008.

The Longhorns already have 19 commitments including 2 five-star, 8 four-star and 7 three-star commitments. Among them are familiar names like Dan Buckner, Tre Newton and Dravannti Johnson. Texas continues to stockpile talent, but Oklahoma has given them a run for their money this season.

Speaking of the Sooners, Bob Stoops and company are having a lot of early success so far this recruiting season including landing 3 five-star recruits, all from the state of Texas. Two are excellent running backs in Justin Johnson and Jerime Calhoun, and another is top pass rusher, R.J. Washington. The Sooners also have 2 four-star commitments, including a familiar name in Ben Habern. Five of the Sooners eight commitments are from the state of Texas, so it appears Oklahoma is having a lot of success this season in Texas. Look for the momentum to continue with a good season expected in Norman, Okla.

UCLA is another team that's come out strong out of the gate, most likely capitalizing on their big victory over USC at the end of the 2006 season. If you look, UCLA's class is very similar to Notre Dame's currently.

The Bruins currently have 14 total commitments, including 7 four-star players and 6 three-star players. All but one are from the state of California, and most are local to the Los Angeles area. Two familiar names on the Bruins commit list are Datone Jones and Rahim Moore. The Irish pursued both, but it appears both want to stay closer to home. Irish fans have to hope UCLA can continue their strong recruiting to give Irish rival USC some competition in Southern California.

Funnily, Penn State used to be a name synonymous with early recruiting success. Just a few years ago one would see a large number of commitments on the Penn State list by now. Right now Joe Paterno and his staff only have one commitment, a three-star offensive guard from Pennsylvania. Has Penn State changed their opinion on early recruiting? I was surprised to see only one commitment by the Lions at this point.

Another team having some impressive early success is Ohio State. So far the Buckeyes have eight current commitments on their list, and it could be nine if Andrew Sweat chooses Ohio State today. The impressive list includes one five-star commitment, and 5 four-star commits. Familiar names to Irish fans are Jacob Stoneburner, Mike Adams, Michael Brewster and J.B. Shugarts. The Buckeyes certainly have an impressive O-line class so far, and adding Sweat would be another fine four-star addition.

Two first-year coaches that most people will be watching are Butch Davis at North Carolina and Randy Shannon at Miami.

Many expect Butch Davis to be a strong recruiter as he was at Miami previously before leaving for the NFL. He also added top recruiter John Blake to his staff. They had a lot of success last season landing both Marvin Austin and Greg Little late, but so far they have zero commitments for 2008.

Randy Shannon and Miami have had more success this season. The Hurricanes are sitting with seven commitments with 2 being five-star commitments. Many expect Shannon will be a strong recruiter, and so far he's doing a nice job. If he can lock up Miami, and land the vast majority in Southern Florida, he'll be fine.

Georgia is another team that's off to a strong start. The Bulldogs have 10 total commitments currently. 2 are five-star commits, and two more are four-star commits. Winning the state of Georgia goes a long way in recruiting success for Georgia, but Georgia Tech has had some recent success with the top talent in the state. So far Georgia appears to have the advantage in 2008.

I was surprised to find out Florida State currently has 11 commitments. Usually the Seminoles lurk in the background and finish with a flurry. Bobby Bowden and company appear to be aggressive this season and are having some good success. The Seminoles have 1 five-star commitment and 3 four-star commitments so far out of their 11 commitments, including landing A.J. Alexander this week.

Finally, Florida is always a team to watch. Right now they're sitting on one commitment, but we know they'll be in on all the top players after winning the National Championship last season. One thing I've noticed is Florida appears to be very aggressive in their offers right now. They have a very large number of offers out there currently. It should be interesting to watch and see how things are handled there throughout the recruiting season.


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