Brandon Huffman (West)
Former five-star defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes has to have one of the craziest recruitments, mostly because of what happened AFTER he signed his national letter of intent. Not long after The Opening Finals in the summer of 2012, Vanderdoes, who was named the DL MVP in Beaverton, committed to USC. But over the course of the fall, other schools continued to pursue the former Auburn (Calif.) Placer tackle and when he took a surprise official visit down to UCLA for a game against Stanford, it looked like he was ready to open things up. At that same time, Notre Dame was in the midst of an unbeaten regular season, which would eventually put them in the BCS National Championship game. The Irish visited Vanderdoes at his school and pursued him heavily, getting one of his last visits before Signing Day. Vanderdoes eventually opened up his recruitment. He would then visit Washington, USC and Alabama (the weekend before Signing Day), and late in the day on Signing Day, Vanderdoes, at a press conference at his school, would announce he was signing with the Irish. Then came the spring, and word trickled out that Vanderdoes wanted out of his NLI with Notre Dame, his grandmother ill and in Northern California, and Vanderdoes wanted to be closer to her. Notre Dame didn’t want to lose Vanderdoes and fought his release. Vanderdoes decided to risk playing as a true freshman since he wasn’t released from Notre Dame, adamant that he would enroll at UCLA. Eventually, Vanderdoes enrolled in Westwood and was cleared to play as a true freshman and ended up being a starter on the defensive line (and even played some goal line fullback, scoring a touchdown against USC, the first school he committed to) for the 10-win Bruins.
Brian Dohn (East)
Chris Clark, the five-star tight end at Pittsburgh, had a recruitment for the ages, and it did not stop at his signing his national letter of intent in the class of 2015. The one-time Avon (Conn.) Old Farms standout committed to four schools, transferred from one and decommitted three times. It began with a March 2014 commitment to North Carolina, but quickly after that Michigan became a player. He wound up committed to the Wolverines and coach Brady Hoke, but decommitted after Hoke was fired. His recruitment eventually came down to UCLA and Michigan, and he chose the Bruins on national signing day to apparently end the saga. However, a few weeks into his first training camp at UCLA, Clark left and returned to his New Jersey home. He then committed to Syracuse, but a few days later the sides decided to split and Clark was again on the market. He eventually landed at Pittsburgh, where he is currently rehabbing from a torn ACL.
Chad Simmons (Southeast)
Linebacker Roquan Smith announced live on ESPN signing day that he was headed to UCLA. At that time he chose the Bruins over the in-state Georgia Bulldogs. Within minutes of Smith's announcement, the news hit the air that UCLA's linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich was leaving L.A. to go coach under Dan Quinn for the Atlanta Falcons. Smith decided not to sign the papers that day. Ulbrich was the reason why Smith chose UCLA on live T.V. He hung around his high school for hours thinking about what he wanted to do. He spoke to Jim Mora, Georgia's coaches quickly got in touch with those close to Smith, and at the end of that day, Smith was still uncertain on what he was going to do. He then thought he would make his announcement within two weeks, then it became three weeks, and a decision was still not in. Smith eventually decided that he was not going to sign a letter of intent with any school. He took a few visits, he stayed in contact with multiple schools, and late in May, just a week before starting college, he announced that he was headed to play for the Georgia Bulldogs.
Greg Powers (Midlands)
There are many cool recruiting stories floating out there, but one of the ones that seemed to have a lot of twists and turns was that of Class of 2016’s No. 1 rated Midlands running back Kameron Martin. What I like a bit about this one is that there is not really a negative tone to any of it, there was not a wave of decommitments or deceptions and games played within the media, but it was just a recruitment that was full of twists and turns (and a tattoo) and included some surprises. Many thought Martin would certainly end up at Texas. He was after all related to Jamaal Charles, so there was always talk about him ending up in Austin, Texas despite the fact that he had committed to Art Briles and Baylor and even got a tattoo on his arm to prove the commitment on a more permanent level. He signed with the Bears in February and would be one of the recruits to seek and be granted a release in the wake of the scandal that cost Briles his job. Many thought that UT would again be the ultimate destination, but in a bit of a surprise he took an official visit to and committed to play for Auburn in the SEC. Martin has already been drawing positive reviews by the Auburn coaching staff in the Fall camp.
Allen Trieu (Midwest)
While some recent recruitments, like Malik McDowell's spring to mind, I am going to go with Muskegon's Ronald Johnson. He was one of the first big time recruits I ever covered, so that makes it probably seem crazier to me than what it was compared to what I have covered since then. This one seemed like it was Michigan for a long time, then USC came into the picture and I am not sure how many people knew how close he was to going to Florida too. There were a lot of rumors and a lot of stress placed on Johnson. I know he took a day or two off from school just to avoid some of the stress of the process. I remember driving through a brutal snowstorm on Super Bowl Sunday to watch him choose USC. That whiteout added to the craziness of that one. It gave me a good taste of what I was in for with covering recruiting.