National Outlook

Ohio State's stifling defense has led to their recent success in the Big Ten. Look for that to continue, as the Buckeyes have already secured commitments from six defensive players in the class of 2009. The two most recent defensive commitments are linebacker Dorian Bell and cornerback Darrell Givens. Not to be outdone, the offensive coaches got some help in running back Jordan Hall

Bell had visited several schools this spring, looking for that perfect fit. This past weekend, he found it in Columbus, Ohio, where he saw their spring game. The 6-foot-1, 220-pounder from Monroeville, Pa. is the No. 1 strong side linebacker in the country according to Scout.com, earning that ranking with a 131 tackle and 11 sack season in 2007.

After signing Jeannette, Pa. quarterback Terrelle Pryor last month, Bell's commitment means that Ohio State will get the top prospect in the state of Pennsylvania two years in a row. Some of the other schools that Bell visited were North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Penn State. Earlier in the weekend, Ohio State accepted a commitment from Givens. The Indian Head, Md. native was named first team all-state after making 82 tackles and intercepting three passes last fall. Scout.com lists as the No. 9 cornerback prospect in the country and has him at the No. 83 spot on their Top 100. At 6-foot-1, 178-pounds, Givens has good size for a corner. He is the second highly-rated cornerback to give a commitment to the Buckeyes this year, joining C.J. Barnett, who committed in February. For a time, Miami was thought to be his leader and he also considered Penn State, Florida, and Illinois.

The Buckeyes certainly have seen quite a bit of Jordan Hall. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound running back was taking hand-offs and catching passes from Pryor at Jeannette Senior High School this past fall. He ran the ball to the tune of 891 yards and 20 touchdowns and caught 27 passes for 704 yards and nine scores. Hall is Scout.com's No. 127 overall prospect and is a four-star recruit. Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Penn State, and Michigan also extended scholarship offers.

If you were to think of a pipeline to the University of Oklahoma, a high school in Las Vegas would not immediately come to mind. But that is just what Bishop Gorman High School has become. Linebacker Ryan Reynolds signed with the Sooners in 2005, and star running back DeMarco Murray did the same in 2006. Last week, 6-foot-5, 265-pound defensive end Justin Chiasson followed suit by committing to Oklahoma. Chiasson is Scout.com's No. 79 overall player and No. 9 defensive end. As a junior he piled up 23 sacks and 102 tackles in a 14 game season. Chiasson had interest in a whole bunch of schools including Florida, Nebraska, and LSU.

Oklahoma also went down to Texas last week and grabbed three other commitments. Tom Wort is a very productive linebacker that hails from the home of Gruene Hall, New Braunfels, Texas. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Wort had over 200 tackles as a junior playing in the middle, though he may wind up at any of the linebacker positions in college. He picked the Sooners over LSU and Texas A&M.

Oklahoma got another linebacker in Brandon Mahoney, who was a teammate of 2008 Sooner signee R.J. Washington at Fossil Ridge High School in Keller, Texas. Kansas, Texas A&M, and Arizona had also offered the 6-foot-2, 205-pounder. Also, Steve Williams, a 5-foot-9, 165-pound cornerback from Skyline High School in Dallas, committed to Oklahoma over Miami.

Rutgers picked up a commitment from one the nation's top quarterbacks, Tom Savage of Springfield, Pa. At 6-foot-5, 220-pounds, Savage has prototypical quarterback size and had impressed scouts at several combines during the past year. He suffered multiple injuries during 2007, including a broken foot and a concussion. But he showed a toughness that all coaches look for in a quarterback. His other finalists were Louisville, Pittsburgh, and Georgia.

Protecting Savage at Rutgers will be 6-foot-6, 300-pound offensive tackle Jamal Wilson from Brooklyn. He had visited Rutgers several times and felt very comfortable on the campus and with the team. He held offers from Penn State, Syracuse, Maryland, and Buffalo, as well as Rutgers.

West Virginia took advantage of their spring game by getting commitments from three recruits. Middle linebacker Chris Snook of Medina, Ohio chose the Mountaineers over Maryland and Wake Forest; wide receiver Deon Long from Wahington, D.C. selected WVU over Michigan State and Duke; and West Virginia was the first offer for Steubenville, Ohio linebacker Branko Busick.

Lastly, the University of Michigan has seen rival Michigan State take in the top two 2009 in-state running backs, Larry Caper and Edwin Baker. So the Wolverines went to a familiar place in hostile territory to get their running back. Fitzgerald Toussaint is from Buckeye country, Youngstown, Ohio. But his teammate at Liberty High School, defensive back Isaiah Bell, committed to Michigan three weeks ago. Toussaint made his commitment this past weekend, and Michigan may not be done at Liberty. Linebacker Julius Farrell visited Michigan recently with his two friends and Michigan is evaluating him as well.


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