National Outlook

With three high school all-star games taking place this past weekend, there were plenty of big time commitments being announced and the new BCS champion landed the highest rated commit.

Cornerback Patrick Johnson of Pompano Beach, Fla. committed to Miami last March. But even when he gave that commitment, he admitted it was not solid and that he would look at other schools. After checking out other options, he announced at the U.S. Army All-American Game in San Antonio that he would attend LSU next fall. The 6-foot-1, 197-pound Johnson intercepted five passes this past season after picking off seven as a junior. In 2007, he played more on the offensive side of the ball than he did in '06, rushing for 733 yards and nine touchdowns. Scout.com's top ranked cornerback and No. 7 player overall picked LSU over Miami, Ohio State, and Florida.

LSU also got a commitment from a participant in the Under Armour All-American Game. Four-star tight end Tyler Edwards from Monroe, La. chose the Tigers over Florida and Alabama. The 6-foot-4, 238-pound Edwards is a two-time Louisiana all-state selection and caught 19 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns this past season.

LSU knows that the other schools in the SEC will be tougher than ever in the coming years. Especially Florida. The Gators also got a five-star commitment this past weekend and re-affirmed an earlier commitment.

Matt Patchan is a 6-foot-7, 265-pound offensive tackle from Seffner, Fla. that committed to Florida at a press conference in Tampa. Patchan is the No. 4 tackle in America according to Scout.com, who also lists him as the No. 15 player overall. His father and uncle both played at Miami in the 1980's with current Hurricanes head coach Randy Shannon. Patchan did consider Miami, but they were never thought to be the clear-cut leader. In the end, his final three were Florida, Miami, and LSU.

Florida also solidified its commitment with wide receiver Janoris Jenkins. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Pahokee, Fla. native committed to the Gators in September, but decided to visit Auburn for its Iron Bowl clash with Alabama in late November. This past week, he turned down the Auburn offer and committed again to Florida.

Two high-profile east coast products made commitments at the Army game and both will attend college in their home state. Shayne Hale, who committed to Pittsburgh, is a 6-foot-3, 240-pound five-star prospect that is No. 37 on Scout.com's Top 100 list. Hale had 105 tackles as a junior and did even better this season, racking up 114 tackles, 25 for lost yardage. Hale could play defensive end or linebacker for the Panthers. His commitment, along with that of tight end Mike Cruz of Johnstown, Pa., vaults Pittsburgh to No. 16 in the Scout.com team rankings. Hale picked Pitt over Ohio State.

Virginia Tech landed four-star running back Ryan Williams from Manassas, Va. The 5-foot-10, 205-pound Williams had a great week of practice in San Antonio and followed it up with a strong showing in the game, including catching a 46-yard touchdown pass from Terrelle Pryor. As a junior, Williams ran for 1,574 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also looked at Boston College, Rutgers, and North Carolina State.

Missouri did not get a commitment during any of the all-star games, but early this week they received commitments from two four-star recruits that had previously committed elsewhere. Offensive tackle Dan Hoch of Harlan, Iowa joined the long line of players de-committing from Nebraska when he pledged to Missouri. At 6-foot-7, 315-pounds, Hoch is already huge. He needs some refinement, but he is strong and mean, which are two good traits for an offensive lineman.

The other commit is a St. Louis resident. Wide receiver Wes Kemp, who had chosen Wisconsin last June, started looking at Missouri in October. The Tigers' great season certainly did not hurt their chances. Also, one of his teammates at De Smet Jesuit High School, cornerback Robert Steeples, will play for Missouri next year. When five-star quarterback Blaine Gabbert switched his commitment from Nebraska to Missouri, the 6-foot-4, 223-pound Kemp knew that he would have someone to get him the ball for the next four years if he chose Missouri. All of these factors led Kemp away from M adison and to Columbia.

Teammates at Hamilton High School in Chandler, Ariz. made their college decisions known at the Army All-American game and in the future they will be suiting up for Pac Ten rivals. Wide receiver Gerrell Robinson picked Arizona State over Notre Dame and Oregon while running back Covaughn Deboskie went with California over Arizona State and Stanford.

Several other coveted recruits announced their college intentions at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Safety Brandon Smith of New Brunswick, N.J. chose Michigan over Rutgers and South Carolina; defensive tackle Solomon Koehler of Kaneohe, Hawaii picked Arizona over Hawaii and Oregon State; and quarterback MarQueis Gray of Indianapolis selected Minnesota over Oregon.

Finally, offensive lineman A.J. Harmon from Louisville, Ga. committed to Georgia at the Army game on Saturday, de-committing from Clemson. But just one day after committing to the ‘Dogs, the 6-foot-5, 328-pound Harmon told the Atlanta Journal Consitution that he is still unsure of his decision.


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