National Outlook

When Alonzo Whaley of Madisonville, Texas moved up his Nebraska visit and canceled his trip to Baylor, the writing was on the wall.

Once the 6-foot-1, 210-pound linebacker saw the Lincoln campus, he committed. Whaley was rated as the No. 11 prospect in Texas for 2008 by Texas Prep Insider, while Scout.com ranks him as the country's No. 50 weak side linebacker prospect.

Whaley piled up an impressive 162 tackles during the 2007 campaign, forcing eight fumbles and recovering five. His younger brother, Chris, rushed for 2,119 yards and 28 touchdowns this past season. Alonzo picked Nebraska over Oklahoma State, Louisiana Tech, and Arizona State.

In mid-December, four-star athlete Chris Harper of Wichita announced at a press conference that he would attend Kansas State. Less than a week later, after Wildcat offensive coordinator James Franklin left for Maryland, the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder was back on the block. This week, with much less hype, Harper committed to Oregon. Scout.com ranks Harper as the class of 2008's No. 34 running back.

Many schools, including Notre Dame, wanted Harper as a wide receiver. Others thought his speed and size would make him an ideal linebacker. But Harper played quarterback at Northwest High School and Oregon (along with his other finalists KState, Illinois, and Missouri) recruited him to play that position.

North Carolina and North Carolina State both picked up four-star commitments this week. Zach Brown is a 6-foot-1, 212-pound weak-side linebacker from Columbia, Md. that is prepping at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va. He had been a Maryland commit until he visited Chapel Hill this past weekend. His Hargave teammate, four-star wide receiver Dwight Jones, is committed to North Carolina but is still looking at other options because he has still not received a qualifying ACT score. Brown must also receive a high enough ACT score before he can be admitted to UNC.

Ron Mattes played at Virginia before playing in the NFL with Seattle and Chicago. His son, A.J., recently turned down an offer from the Cavs and committed to North Carolina State. A.J. is a 6-foot-6, 260-pound offensive tackle from Concord, N.C. Scout.com ranks him as this year's No. 11 offensive tackle and is No. 129 on their National 300 list. He also seriously considered Clemson, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Zebrie Sanders wanted to wait to make his college decision. But the longer he waited, the more offers disappeared. First, Florida. Then, Georgia. After eliminating Florida State from consideration a few weeks ago, the 6-foot-6, 273-pound offensive tackle decided to visit Tallahassee this past weekend. Before returning home to Clayton, Ohio, Sanders committed to the Seminoles. A participant in the Under Armour All American game, Sanders also looked at UCLA and Miami.

Malik Jackson of Van Nuys, Calif. committed to Fresno State in October. But that was before the Trojans came calling. This week the 6-foot-5, 228-pound defensive end dropped the Bulldogs and committed to USC. Jackson helped lead Birmingham Senior High School to its second straight Los Angeles city championship this fall, and his play during their drive to the title caught the attention of the USC coaches. Jackson also had offers from Arizona State, Colorado State, Nevada, and UNLV.

That was not the biggest USC commitment of the week, however. Matt Barkley, a five-star quarterback that may be the top prospect in the 2009 recruiting class, gave his commitment to the Trojans. The 6-foot-3, 219-pound Barkley has a wide variety of skills, which helped him throw for 3,560 yards and 35 touchdowns at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif. USC already has six players committed for the class of 2009. Five of these players, including Barkley, have earned spots on Scout.com's initial 2009 National 100 list.


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories