National Outlook

Over the past few weeks, the college football season crescendoed, with a number of big games that determined conference championships and bowl match ups. At the same time, recruiting has slowed, though one team that was involved in big games down the stretch also added three valuable commitments.

Alabama may have lost to Florida in the SEC title game, but the recruits that they landed in late November and early December should help keep them near the top of the conference for years to come. Chris Bonds is a 6-foot-4, 275-pound defensive end from Columbia, S.C. that has lost parts of the last two seasons to knee injuries. But when he has been on the field, he has been a terror. Bonds has played so well in his limited time that Scout.com lists him as the No. 18 defensive end and the No. 143 overall prospect in the class of 2009. Another indication of his ability is his offer list. Besides Alabama, some of the schools that offered Bonds a scholarship include Notre Dame, USC, Florida State, and Tennessee.

Playing on the level behind Bonds in the Alabama defense will be linebacker Jordan Atchison. The Atlanta native burst on the scene his junior year when he had 112 tackles and 12 sacks in 2007 and followed that up with a 125 tackle, seven sack senior season. In August, the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder committed to Auburn. But on December 3rd. Atchison told Burke Hayes of Scout.com that head coach Tommy Tuberville was the main he reason he committed to Auburn and three days later, he switched his commitment to the Tide. Before originally committing to Auburn, Atchison also considered LSU, Clemson, and Kentucky.

Alabama's other recent commitment came from junior college offensive tackle James Carpenter from Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College. The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Carpenter signed with Iowa State out of high school, but after two seasons at Coffeyville he saw his stock rise significantly. He chose Alabama over Oklahoma and also had offers from Texas Tech, Ole Miss, South Carolina, and Oklahoma State.

Staying in the SEC West, Mississippi added four promising recruits, including Thad McHaney of Brentwood, Tenn. The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder is a teammate of Notre Dame commitment Alex Bullard at Brentwood Academy. Scout.com ranks him as the nation's No. 47 tight end prospect, but McHaney will most likely wind up as a defensive end in college. In 2007, he had 12 sacks and 42 tackles. He saw less time on defense this season, but he still managed five sacks and 14 tackles for lost yardage. He picked Ole Miss over Vanderbilt and had offers from Tennessee, Auburn, Oklahoma, and South Carolina.

Coming out of high school in 2005, safety Jamar Hornsby was a five-star recruit that signed with Florida. After playing as a redshirt freshman, an off-field incident resulted in his dismissal from Florida and led him to Northeast Community College. He will now take his skills back to the SEC as part of the Ole Miss program. This fall, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Hornsby had 111 tackles and two interceptions and was named his conference's defensive player of the year. His past issues did not scare away the big programs, as he picked the Rebels over Alabama, Kentucky, and Oregon.

The Rebels also picked up wide receiver Montez Phillips, who is a local Oxford product. He went with Ole Miss over Mississippi State and Southern Mississippi. And offensive tackle Logan Clair, who is originally from Miami and attends junior college at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, had an offer from North Texas and was going to visit Oklahoma State before committing to the Rebels.

Despite their dismal 3-9 season, Michigan is having a solid recruiting year, currently sitting at No. 13 in the Scout.com team rankings. In late November they added two three-star prospects in defensive tackle Pearlie Graves and safety Vlad Emilien. The 6-foot-3, 260-pounder from Tulsa had trimmed his list to Michigan and Oklahoma State several months ago. For a while it appeared that the Cowboys would win his services due to proximity to his home. But after taking a visit to Ann Arbor in October and mulling it over for a few weeks, Graves decided that MIchigan was where he wanted to be. Along with Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Kansas were starting to get involved, though neither had offered.

At 6-foot-1, 190-pounds, Emilien is currently better against the run than he is in pass coverage. The Plantation, Fla. native registered 93 tackles as a junior in 2007, many of the punishing variety. Emilien tore an ACL last year and missed all of the 2008 campaign. He told GoBlueWolverine.com that the fact that Michigan stayed with him through his injury was a big reason why he chose the Wolverines. His plan all along was to announce his decision on his birthday, November 23rd, which is what he did, selecting Michigan over Ohio State, Stanford, and Wisconsin.

The big winner in recruiting over the past three weeks was probably North Carolina. They received five commitments, three of which were from four-star recruits. Donovan Tate of Cartersville, Ga. is similar to Emilien in that he is a big, strong safety that supports the run well, but needs to improve in coverage. He picked UNC over Georgia, Alabama, and USC. One potential problem for the Tar Heels is that Tate is one of the best high school baseball players in America. If he is selected high in the 2009 MLB draft, he will consider signing a pro contract.

North Carolina's other recent four-star commits are offensive guard Johnnie Farms of Perry, Ga. and middle linebacker Hiawatha Bell of Matthews, N.C. Farms had committed to South Carolina in September but changed it to North Carolina on November 23rd. Bell picked UNC over Illinois. Three-star cornerback Terry Shankle of Norwood, N.C. chose the Heels over North Carolina State, Clemson, and Alabama, while junior college tight end Prizell Brown committed to North Carolina instead of Arizona, Alabama-Birmingham, and Kansas State.


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