National Outlook

By landing seven players in the last week, including four on signing day, the University of Alabama claimed the top spot in Scout.com's post-signing day team rankings.

The Tide's signing of Foley, Ala. wide receiver Julio Jones was one of the top stories on signing day. The 6-foot-4, 212-pound Jones is the nation's top receiver and the No. 3 player overall according to Scout.com. Jones caught 75 passes for 1,301 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior. Despite being targeted by every opposing defense his senior season, he still managed to catch 68 balls for 1,181 yards and 16 touchdowns. Jones won just about every award you could win in the state of Alabama and played in the Under Armour All-American game in January. Along with Alabama, he also visited Florida, Florida State, and Oklahoma.

Alabama also picked up a stand-out on the other side of the ball. 6-foot-3, 215-pound Jerrell Harris of Gadsden, Ala. is ranked as the No. 3 weak side linebacker in the land by Scout.com, which also has him at No. 67 on their National 100 list. Harris joined Jones in Orlando at the Under Armour All-American game after piling up 145 tackles his senior season. He was named to the Alabama all-state team after both his junior and senior years. Harris selected Alabama over Clemson and Auburn, who at one time was considered to be his favorite.

Alabama also received signing day commitments from the Dareus brothers from Birmingham. Demerius is a 6-foot-5, 245-pound defensive end that had 12 sacks this season and holds a two-star ranking. His brother, Marcel, is bigger and more highly acclaimed. He stands 6-foot-4, weighs 275-pounds, and is ranked as the No. 5 defensive tackle and No. 69 prospect regardless of position by Scout.com, thanks in large part to his 20 sacks this past fall. The brothers visited the same schools and chose Alabama over Auburn, North Carolina, and Marshall.

Another program that closed well was Miami. Five players announced for the Canes on signing day, to go along with four others that committed during the week leading up to February 6th. Ramon Buchanan committed to Miami last summer, but in late January he switched his commitment to Florida. Then, on Wednesday, he switched back to Miami when he faxed his letter of intent to head coach Randy Shannon. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Buchanan is Scout.com's No.64 prospect and its No. 2 weak side linebacker. He will have to add size and strength, but he is lightning quick and never gives up. The Under Armour All-American from Melbourne, Fla. also looked at LSU and Florida State.

Brandon Harris of Miami is a five-star athlete that excelled on both sides of the ball. But when he suits up for the Hurricanes, he will be a corner, where Scout.com ranks as their No. 5 prospect. At 5-foot-10, 175-pounds, Harris is not the biggest guy in the world, but like Buchanan he has great speed and has sensational instincts at the corner spot. He had four intercetions as a senior even though opposing teams were hesitant to throw to his side of the field. Harris also considered LSU, Ohio State, and Central Florida.

When wide receiver Tommy Streeter pulled back his commitment to South Florida and signed with Miami, he became the eighth member of the Northwestern High School football team to join the Hurricanes this year. Streeter, at 6-foot-5, 200-pounds, is a big receiver that was named second team all-state as a junior. He had considered South Carolina, Oregon, and Boston College, along with South Florida before receiving the late Miami offer.

Benjamin Jones is another of the Northwestern High School guys that decided to stay home and play at Miami. Jones is a 6-foot-6, 280-pound offensive tackle that picked Miami over Clemson and Tennessee. The Hurricanes also signed three-star defensive tackle Jeremy Lewis from West Palm Beach on Wednesday. The 6-foot-3, 275-pounder had offers from Clemson, Florida, and LSU.

Michigan had an up and down recruiting season that included their well publicized coaching change. The Wolverines ended things up on a positive note, picking up six recruits after February 1st. Three players that were committed to other schools signed with the maize and blue on Wednesday. Michael Shaw, a four-star running back from Trotwood, Ohio, was in the Penn State camp until he visited Michigan in January. Shaw will be joined in Ann Arbor by his former teammate at Madison Hign School in Trotwood, Ray Roundtree. Roundtree is a 6-foot-1, 186-pound wide receiver that had been committed to Purdue. And just a few weeks ago, 6-foot-3, 260-pound Ricky Barnum committed to Florida. The three-star offensive guard visited Michigan this past weekend and decided on Wednesday to sign with Michigan.

USC did not finish in its usual place at the top of the recruiting rankings, ending up ninth. But they landed three four-star prospects on signing day and all of them could be considered surprises. After sacking the quarterback 11 times as a junior, defensive end Nicholas Perry burst upon the national scene this fall by breaking the Michigan state record with an astounding 36 sacks. He also had 147 tackles, 68 of which resulted in lost yardage. What looked like a tug-of-war between the two Michigan schools changed significantly after his performance in 2007 and schools from all over the country became involved. In the end, the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder picked USC over Michigan, Michigan State, and Miami.

Four-star cornerback T.J. Bryant attends Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, Fla., which has long been known as a feeder program for nearby Florida State. Someone forgot to tell that to Bryant, who on Wednesday signed with USC. Scout.com's No. 6 cornerback has good size for the position, standing 6-foot-0 and weighing 185-pounds. He was also used as a receiver and as a return man at Lincoln. FSU, Florida, Alabama, Miami, and LSU were in contention to get Bryant.

Due to his Mormon roots, many thought that 6-foot-1, 225-pound middle linebacker Uona Kaveinga would choose Brigham Young. And he did. That was after he selected UCLA and before he signed a letter of intent with USC. The four-star prospect from Lawndale, Calif. originally committed to UCLA but de-committed after head coach Karl Dorrell was let go. He then committed in early January to BYU. But after meeting with USC coach Pete Carroll, Scout.com's No. 9 middle linebacker signed with the Trojans. Kaveinga was an Under Armour All-American selection.

Perhaps the strangest de-commitment of the year was Fayetteville, N.C. tight end Dwayne Allen. Allen committed to Georgia in September then re-opened his commitment shortly thereafter. After visiting North Carolina and Clemson, the four-star prospect announced on Monday that he was staying with Georgia. Immediately after his announcement, he had a change of heart. On Wednesday, the 6-foot-3, 217-pounder signed with Clemson. The Tigers inked two other big time talents on signing day. Five-star running back Jamie Harper of Jacksonville, Fla., Scout.com's No. 35 player overall, picked Clemson over Miami and Illinois. And Scout.com's No. 9 offensive tackle, Antoine McClain of Anniston, Ala., chose Clemson over LSU, Auburn, and Tennessee.

The nation's top running back waited until signing day to announce his decision. 6-foot-2, 215-pound Darrell Scott selected Colorado, where his uncle Josh Smith is a freshman wide receiver. Scott played his junior year at Moorpark High School in Moorpark, Calif. and rushed for 3,194 yards and 45 touchdowns. His family moved to Ventura at the end of his junior year and Scott transferred to St. Bonaventure High School. As a senior, he rushed for 1697 yards and 21 scores. UCLA, Florida, and LSU at different times were thought to have a chance at getting Scott, but his two finalists were Colorado and Texas.

The biggest surprise on signing day was easy. Five-star wide receiver DeAndre Brown of Ocean Springs, Miss. turned down offers from Florida, LSU, Tennessee, and Auburn and instead signed with Conference USA member Southern Mississippi. The 6-foot-6, 222-pound Brown is Scout.com's No. 13 player in the class of 2008, making him easily the highest ranked player ever to sign with Southern Miss.

The most bizarre story of this or any other year has to be the saga of Kevin Hart of Fernley, Nev. The 6-foot-5, 320-pound offensive lineman, in a ceremony at his school, selected California over Oregon. The only problem was that neither school had offered him a scholarship. He has admitted that it was all a hoax.

And as we look to the class of 2009, we are not quite done with the class of 2008. Scout.com's No.1 overall player, quarterback Terrelle Pryor, did not sign a letter of intent on signing day. The Jeanette, Pa. product said that he was not ready to make his decision and he is still considering Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, and Oregon.


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