National Outlook

Carlton Thomas had several visits set up for the fall. But after visiting Athens, Ga. the last weekend in September, he decided to wrap up his recruitment by committing to the Bulldogs.

The 5-foot-7, 175-pound Thomas put up huge numbers as a junior, rushing for 2,283 yards and 25 touchdowns. Take one look at his highlight film and you will notice that despite his small stature, the Frostproof, Fla. product is very difficult to bring down. Scout.com ranks Thomas as the No. 13 running back in the class of 2008. The four-star prospect chose Georgia over Notre Dame, Clemson, Iowa, and West Virginia.

A few days later, Georgia picked up another running back commitment from Ellenwood, Ga. star Xavier Avery. The 6-foot-0, 190-pound Avery rushed for more than 1,200 yards last year while reaching the end zone nine times. While Georgia may have landed his commitment, their recruitment of him is far from over. Avery is one of the top high school outfielders in the south and if he is drafted high enough next June, he may play baseball. For now, he plans on being a Bulldog, turning down scholarships from schools like Georgia Tech, Maryland, and Virginia Tech.

LSU had several top recruits visit for this week's Florida game and one of them, offensive lineman Alex Hurst, committed while on campus. The 6-foot-6, 305-pound native of Arlington, Tenn. had an idea that he might commit before heading down to Baton Rouge. Once he soaked in the atmosphere at the much anticipated clash of two the top SEC programs, it was over. Scout.com gives Hurst just a two-star rating, but he had offers from Tennessee and Vanderbilt, along with LSU, and was being heavily pursued by Alabama and Notre Dame.

Everyone is looking for a left tackle. At 6-foot-6, 327-pounds, Bobby Massie from Lynchburg, Va. has the ideal frame for that position. The Virginia Tech Hokies hope he has the skill set to match, as he committed to them in late September. Massie earned all-state honors for his play on both sides of the ball, but there is no doubt that he will be on offense in college. Massie committed to Virginia Tech during his visit for the North Carolina game. He selected Tech over North Carolina, Clemson, Tennessee, and Maryland.

In order for Washington to compete in the Pac Ten, they must recruit well in the state of California. Recently, they got a commitment from four-star defensive tackle Craig Noble from Woodland Hills, Calif. Noble is the fifth Golden State resident to commit to Tyrone Willingham this year. The 6-foot-3, 285-pound Noble had just 21 tackles last year and was not widely known in most recruiting circles. But after turning in an impressive performance at Scout.com's Los Angeles combine in April, everyone knew his name. He is now ranked as the No. 11 defensive tackle prospect in the land by Scout.com. Noble also held offers from Oregon, Mississippi, and Washington State.

Michigan is slowly but surely putting together a solid class this season. Currently ranked No. 11 by Scout.com, the Wolverines recently landed three-star weak side linebacker Kenny Demens of Beverly Hills, Mich. Demens is a teammate of Nebraska commit Jonas Gray at Detroit Country Day School and had narrowed his options to Michigan and Nebraska before going with the maize and blue. The biggest factor in his decision was location. Nebraska was just too far away for the family oriented Demens.

Purdue's victory over Notre Dame on September 29th was viewed by four recruits that wound up giving their commitments to the Boilermakers. Offensive tackles Kenny Plue from Rensselaer , N.Y. and Peters Drey from Mobile, Ala.; along with quarterback Caleb Terbush of Metamora, Ill. and cornerback Kenny Green of Tallahassee, Fla. all pledged to Purdue shortly after watching the game. Plue committed to Boston College last year, but he failed to qualify academically and enrolled at Milford Academy in New Berlin, N.Y. This time around, BC lost out to Purdue, as Plue chose the Boilers over the Eagles and Maryland.

Auburn picked up three commitments recently, the headliner being junior college defensive end Raven Gray. The 6-foot-5, 263-pound Gray is originally from Enterprise, Ala., but now attends Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Wesson, Miss. He is rated as a five-star prospect by Scout.com. He will graduate in December and enroll at Auburn in January. Gray signed with Auburn out of high school, but was unable to academically qualify. He also had offers from Alabama, Miami, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State.

Auburn also gained a commitment from Birmingham quarterback Barrett Trotter. Trotter had received offers from Troy, Army, Duke, and UAB, but after starting the season by completing 65-90 passes for 976 yards, 12 touchdowns, and just one interception in his first four games, bigger schools started to take notice. Auburn was one of those schools and when they offered, the 6-foot-1, 192-pound Trotter accepted.

IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories