National Outlook

Now that signing day 2008 is gone, college coaches have shifted their full attention to the class of 2009. No program has made the transition better than USC, who already has nine commitments for next year.

The first Trojan commit for 2009 actually occurred last May when four-star linebacker Marquis Simmons gave his word to head coach Pete Carroll. The 6-foot-0, 220-pounder from Dominguez High School in Compton, Calif. has a brother that played for USC and another brother, Maurice, signed with the Trojans last week. Marquis is more of an inside linebacker, while his brother Maurice plays on the weak side.

Simmons is one of five 2009 Trojan commitments that are ranked on the initial Top 100 list. When the individual rankings come out, the nation's No. 1 overall player will probably be quarterback Matt Barkley, who committed to USC in January. The 6-foot-3, 219-pound Barkley threw for 3,560 yards and 35 touchdowns as a junior in 2007. He was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of California this fall.

The most recent USC commit is Chris Metcalf, who is a cousin of the Simmons brothers. While he also lives in Compton, the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder attends Compton High School. Metcalf is a linebacker that will probably move to safety in college. His other cousin, defensive tackle Justin Brown, is a teammate at Compton High that is hoping for a USC offer.

Metcalf received his offer while visiting USC for their Junior Day on February 2nd. Two other recruits committed to the Trojans that weekend. Wide receiver Devon Flournoy spent much of the year watching UCLA recruit Milton Knox, his teammate at Birmingham Senior High School, run wild. But Flournoy did catch passes for over 750 yards this past season, which attracted the attention of some of the top programs in the country. Southern Cal's other Junior Day commitment came from safety Patrick Hall of St. Bonaventure High School in Ventura, Calif.

Ohio State is another program that got started on 2009 recruiting before putting a wrap on their 2008 class. They have six commitments, including three of's Top 100. Johnny Simon from Youngstown, Ohio is one of just ten players that have been given an early five-star ranking. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound defensive tackle has tremendous athletic ability and will only get better as he adds size. Simon was a teammate of Notre Dame recruit Dan McCarthy at Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown.

Ohio State's other two Top 100 commitments are linebackers that received their offers last September 1st, the first day offers could be extended to juniors. The funny thing is that Louisville product Jordan Whiting committed immediately while Ohio native Storm Klein, from Newark, waited until mid-October to make his choice known. They will give great depth to a unit that signed Etienne Sabino and Andrew Sweat this year.

The Buckeyes recently received a commitment from Clayton, Ohio cornerback C.J. Barnett. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Barnett committed during the Ohio State Junior Day this past weekend. He had also received an early offer from Stanford.

The undisputed king of gaining early commitments is Texas. This year is more of the same as they currently have seven members of the class of 2009 already on board. That number will most assuredly rise after the Longhorns host their own Junior Day later this month. The first commitment came last Thursday from an Austin native, quarterback Garrett Gilbert. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Gilbert had a huge 2007 season, throwing for 4,826 yards and 52 touchdowns while directing his Lake Travis High School team to a 4A state title. 6-foot-6, 265-pound offensive tackle Paden Kelly, another member of that Lake Travis squad, also committed to Texas this week.

Gilbert is on the Top 100 and is joined there by two other Texas commitments. Running back Chris Whaley of Madisonville, Texas had been a Texas target since rushing for 2,130 yards and 27 touchdowns as a sophomore. This fall, he had another 2,000 yard season and was named as the second best 2009 prospect in central Texas by Texas Prep Insider, coming in just behind Gilbert. Thomas Ashcraft, a 6-foot-5, 275-pound offensive tackle from Cedar Hill, Texas, is the other Top 100 player that chose the Longhorns.

Both Bowdens have picked up multiple 2009 Top 100 players. Tommy Bowden and Clemson got their first four-star commitment last April when 6-foot-7, 275-pound offensive tackle J.K. Jay, who is from just up the road in Greenville, S.C., committed to the Tigers. Their other Top 100 commitment came in September and it was from a player more than 120-pounds lighter than Jay: 5-foot-10, 153-pound running back Larry Raper of Shelby, N.C. This past week, they landed another small running back, 5-foot-9, 174-pound Roderick McDowell from Sumter, S.C.

Meanwhile, Tommy's dad received commitments this week from safety JaJuan Harley from Tallahassee, safety Willie Downs also from Tallahassee, and defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel of Madison, Fla. Downs and McDaniel were hearing from Clemson before selecting Florida State.

A few other Top 100 players have made early decisions. Defensive tackle D.J. Fluker of Foley, Ala. picked Alabama; quarterback Zach Mettenberger of Watkinsville, Ga. committed to Georgia; Detroit defensive tackle William Campbell chose Michigan; quarterback Blaine Dalton of Blue Springs, Mo. picked Missouri; and wide receiver Joshua Adams of Cheshire, Conn. selected North Carolina.

In closing, a couple of 2008 notes.'s No.1 overall player, quarterback Terrelle Pryor, has still not made a decision. He did narrow his choices to Ohio State and Penn State, eliminating Oregon and Michigan. Michigan did get a signed letter of intent from four-star wide receiver Martavious Odoms from Pahokee, Fla. The 5-foot-8, 171-pound Odoms picked Michigan over West Virginia and Miami. Miami did not offer him a football scholarship, but had offered him a track scholarship. Top Stories