National Outlook

USC has owned the Pac Ten since 2002, winning or tying for the league title each of the last seven years. Other schools must to step up their efforts to compete on the field and in recruiting in order to compete with the Trojans. The two Bay Area schools made strides over the last two weeks to even the playing field with USC by getting a total of seven combined commitments.

California went into the belly of the beast to grab two commitments from recruits that reside in southern California and held USC offers. Cassius Marsh is the No. 28 overall prospect on's Top 100 and is ranked as their No. 3 defensive tackle. He is a 6-foot-4, 280-pounder from Oaks Christian High School in Westlake Village, Calif. In 2008, Marsh had 55 tackles and five sacks, which helped him earn first team All-State Underclass honors. He committed to Cal on Easter Sunday, turning down programs such as USC, UCLA, and Tennessee.

Cecil Whiteside, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound middle linebacker from Newport Beach, Calif., also chose Cal despite holding a USC offer. Whiteside is the No. 10 middle linebacker in the country according to He had 55 tackles and six sacks as a junior and joined Marsh on the All-State Underclass first team. Whiteside is also one of the best discus and javelin throwers in the state of California and will also compete with the Cal track team. Along with USC, some of his other offers included Nebraska, Arizona State, Colorado, and Texas A&M.

The Golden Bears stayed in the northern part of the state in getting their third recent commitment. Four-star middle linebacker Dave Wilkerson hails from Danville, Calif. and, like the other two Cal commits, was named first team All-State Underclass last fall. At 6-foot-3, 238-pounds, he is a stronger, more physical player than Whiteside, who is more quick and athletic. Wilkerson was being recruited by USC, but did not have an offer at the time of his commitment. He did have offers from Michigan, Nebraska, and Oregon.

Of Stanford's four most recent commitments, the highest rated is four-star Gainesville, Ga. wide receiver Tai-ler Jones. The 6-foot-0, 174-pounder is a fluid athlete that runs precise routes and catches everything thrown his way. Jones also played cornerback as a junior and has the skill set needed to succeed at that position. But everyone recruited him as a wide receiver, where he caught 81 passes and scored 13 times as a junior. His finalists, along with Stanford, included Notre Dame, North Carolina, and Georgia. He intends to graduate in December, even though Stanford does not accept early enrollees, and plans to take a couple of official visits, so his recruitment may not be finished.

The Cardinal also got commitments from teammates at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas. First, 6-foot-2, 235-pound middle linebacker Evan Palelei told Stanford that he would be part of their program and three days later, 6-foot-1, 245-pound defensive end Alex Turner did the same. Palelei had 45 tackles during his junior season leading to scholarship offers from Stanford, UNLV, and Colorado. Turner had 57 tackles and three sacks last fall and had offers from Oregon, UCLA, Washington, and several others.

Stanford's other commitment was Lexington, Ohio product Courtney Avery. Avery plays quarterback at Lexington High School, but at 5-foot-9, 158-pounds, he will not be playing that position in the Pac Ten. He will start out at safety and will also contribute in the return game. He had offers from most of the MAC schools as well as Army.

Three SEC powers each picked up three commitments during the past two weeks. Alabama got their second quarterback commitment of the year in Phillip Sims of Chesapeake, Va. Sims followed up a sensational sophomore season by throwing for over 2,400 yards with 32 touchdowns and just four interceptions during his junior campaign. He is's No. 4 signal caller and checks in at No. 29 on their Top 100 list. Sims looked at a lot of schools including Georgia, Tennessee, Clemson, and Virginia Tech.

Linebacker Devonta Bolton signed with Alabama out of Norcross (Ga.) High School, but wound up at East Mississippi Community College. He has now given a second commitment to the Crimson Tide. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder had some other schools contacting him, but he never considered anyone but Alabama. Defensive tackle Wilson Love of Mountain Brook, Ala. is the younger brother of Alabama offensive lineman Tyler Love, so it was no surprise that he committed to the Tide. He also had offers from Auburn, Stanford, Clemson, Duke, and Vanderbilt.

Georgia's big commitment was from Kissimmee, Fla. defensive end B.J. Butler. But first they had to get Marc Deas, his teammate at Osceola High School. Deas is listed as a cornerback in the database though he plays linebacker in high school and was recruited as a safety by Georgia. He was the District 10 player of the year in 2008 and piled up 211 tackles over the past two seasons. He picked the Bulldogs over Mississippi, Kentucky, and Central Florida.

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Butler played almost exclusively on the offensive side of the ball in 2008, mostly at quarterback and tight end. But Georgia recruited him to do one thing: put pressure on the opposing quarterback. They look at his size and quickness and see a potentially dominant rush end. They were not alone as Alabama, Florida, Florida State, and many others were recruiting him to do the same thing.

Buford, Ga. offensive guard Kolton Houston also committed to the Bulldogs, doing it during a visit to Athens the Saturday before Easter. The 6-foot-5, 270-pound member of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution All-State team selected Georgia over Auburn, Clemson, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Certainly, you knew that the mighty Gators would keep up with their arch rivals. Florida secured commitments from two four-star prospects and one three-star legacy recruit. Jordan Haden of Friendly High School in Fort Washington, Md. will be joining his brother, starting cornerback Joe Haden, in Gainesville. The younger Haden is a 6-foot-0, 200-pound safety that has good speed and is effective in defending the pass. However, his true strength is in run support, as evidenced by his 62 tackles during his junior season. Georgia and LSU were two of the other schools that Haden considered.

Florida also landed's No. 9 wide receiver, and No. 59 overall prospect, Jaylen Watkins of Cape Coral, Fla. Though he is not huge at 6-foot-0, 175-pounds, Watkins is a tough player with good speed that played all over the field as a junior at Cape Coral High School. He has the ability to play in the defensive backfield at Florida if things don't work out at receiver. Florida State, Alabama, Miami, and Tennessee were among the dozens of offers that Watkins received.

Four-star defensive end Gerald Christian from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. also recently decided to become a Gator. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Christian, who was selected first team All-Area last fall, had offers from Alabama, Florida State, Miami, and Georgia.

Marvin Robinson recently committed to a school outside of his native Florida. The four-star safety from Eagle Lake committed to Michigan last week. At 6-foot-1, 204-pounds, Robinson is equipped to handle either safety spot, though he has been a free safety during his time at Lake Region High School. Robinson had offers from most of the nation's elite, including Florida, Ohio State, Tennessee, and USC.

Also, five-star offensive tackle James Hurst shocked many when he picked North Carolina. The Plainfield, Ind. star is the No. 3 offensive tackle in the class of 2010 according to Hurst impressed everyone with a dominant performance at the U.S. Army All-American combine in San Antonio back in January. The 6-foot-5, 271-pound Hurst also considered Tennessee, Mississippi State, Florida, and Georgia. Top Stories