National Outlook

Bryce Brown is the younger brother of 2008 five-star linebacker Arthur Brown. Like his big brother, Bryce is also a five-star prospect and has decided to play his college football at Miami. The 6-foot-0, 200-pound Wichita, Kan. native rushed for 1,865 yards and 26 touchdowns this past fall.

He was the only junior named to the USA Today All-American team. Brown had offers from just about every program in America, but he took many visits with his brother and they considered the same schools: Miami, LSU, North Carolina, USC, and Florida.

Along with Brown, Miami recently picked up two other commitments. 6-foot-1, 180-pound A.J. Highsmith of Sugar Land, Texas had grown up a huge Miami fan because his father, Alonzo, was a star for the Hurricanes in the 1980's. In 2007, Hightower threw for more than 2,200 yards and 22 touchdowns. Though he was being recruited by all the Texas schools, Miami was his first offer. The 'Canes also went out to Phoenix and landed 6-foot-4, 235-pound tight end Billy Sanders.

Fueled by a Junior Day on February 23rd, LSU took in commitments from five prospects during the past week. Five-star running back Michael Ford knew that he was going to commit to the Tigers when he arrived in Baton Rouge, and he actually committed the day before the Junior Day festivities took place. The Leesville, La. native is a life-long LSU fan and saw no need in prolonging the recruiting process. The 5-foot-10, 210-pound Ford suffered a broken collarbone in Leesville High School's fourth game. He had rushed for 567 yards and four scores before being injured. Alabama, Ole Miss, and Florida State, along with LSU, had extended Ford early offers.

That same day, four-star defensive end Mike Brockers from Houston also committed to LSU. Brockers did not attend the Junior Day at LSU, in fact he had planned on going to one at Texas. But he had always wanted to play for the Tigers and he had told this to all the other schools that extended him offers. Scout.com ranks Brockers as the No. 13 player in Texas for 2009. The 6-foot-6, 260-pounder put up a double digit sack total in 2007 while averaging more than seven tackles per game. Texas, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma were some of the schools in the mix for Brockers before he received his LSU offer.

LSU's other commitments were cornerback Janzen Jackson from Lake Charles, La.; offensive guard Joshua Downs from Bastrop, La.; and running back Drayton Calhoun from Tucker, Ga. Calhoun also has the skills to play receiver or defensive back. With Ford carrying the ball at LSU, Calhoun may very well be forced to switch positions.

While Miami and LSU getting early commitments from Top 100 running backs is not a surprise, Michigan State receiving one is. But that happened this week when four-star running back Edwin Baker committed to the Spartans. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Baker fell in love with Michigan State's coaching staff during his visit last weekend and that meeting confirmed what he already suspected: that he wanted to be a Spartan. Baker, who hails from Oak Park, Mich., rushed for 1,295 yards and reached paydirt eight times as a junior. His other offers were from Michigan, Purdue, Texas, and Georgia.

Michigan State also picked up Ypsilanti, Mich. wide receiver Donald Spencer. The 6-foot-2, 192-pound Spencer caught 18 passes for 435 yards and eight touchdowns last fall. His only other offer was from Indiana.

Texas A&M received a commitment from a four-star running back only to lose it a week later. Beaumont, Texas star Christine Michael committed to the Aggies after attending their Junior Day on February 16th. But the following weekend, after going to the LSU Junior Day, he decided that he decided too quickly and de-committed from A&M. He now plans to visit USC, UCLA, Miami, and Florida. In late January, Michael said that if Texas offered, he would commit to them. What this all means, is that not even Michael knows what he is going to do next.

USC pulled in their tenth commitment of the year in Corona, Calif. middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict. The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Burfict seemed to be everywhere this season for Centennial High School, piling up 162 tackles and even playing some quarterback. Burfict had made his choice public before USC had formally extended him an offer. This week the offer came and he is officially committed. UCLA, Nebraska, and Arizona had been recruiting him, but none of those programs had offered Burfict a scholarship, as they knew all along that he would wind up a Trojan.

Texas has always used Junior Days to stock pile early commitments. Last weekend, they did it again, adding four names to their commitment list, bringing their total to 11. Of the four players that committed on Junior Day, only one had other offers. 6-foot-3, 230-pound defensive end Dominique Jones of Kilgore, Texas had been offered by Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, and Texas Christian.

But the award for most productive Junior Day so far this year goes to North Carolina. The Tar Heels received commitments from five recruits at their Junior Day, plus another one three days earlier. Ray-Ray Davis, a wide receiver from Monroe, N.C., is probably the most highly regarded of the bunch. He had 76 receptions resulting in 1,134 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior and he picked UNC over Tennessee.


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