NCAA Football News

Re-Evaluating Penn State's 2011 Recruiting Class

While it's fun to grade and rank recruiting classes in the present, the truth is no one really knows how a group of kids is going to work out until after the fact.

Penn State's 2010 class was ranked 11th in the country and included the likes of Silas Redd, Khairi Fortt, Rob Bolden, Paul Jones, Dakota Royer and Kevin Haplea. Four years later, that class has become a bit of a punchline after each one of those players transferred or didn't finish his career as a Nittany Lion.

As fate would have it, the 2011 class—ranked 31st nationally—introduced us to the "Supa Six" and provided Penn State with arguably its best receiver ever as well as a group of kids who held the program together through trying times. 

Let's take a look back at the 2011 class after the fact and see how those players have worked out compared to expectations.

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Oregon Football Recruiting: Re-Evaluating Ducks' 2011 Signing Class

If Oregon ends the upcoming season with a Pac-12 or national championship, the 2011 signing class will be a primary reason why.

Former head coach Chip Kelly landed an impressive collection of recruits in 2011—certainly one of the program's best ever as far as individual talent.

The 2011 signing class features highly touted recruits who met their expectations and plenty of under-the-radar talents whose production at Oregon has vastly exceeded the scores they received as high schoolers.

 

Who Signed?

RB Antwan Baker: N/A

ATH Devon Blackmon: 4-star

RB Tra Carson: 3-star

LB Rahim Cassell: 3-star

LB Tyson Coleman: 3-star

DT Jared Ebert: 3-star

CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu: 4-star

OT James Euscher: 3-star

OT Jake Fisher: 3-star

ATH Christian French: 4-star

LB Carlyle Garrick: 3-star

LB Rodney Hardrick: 3-star

WR Miles Johnston: N/A

OT Tyler Johnstone: 4-star

DE Koa Ka'ai: 3-star

WR B.J. Kelley: 3-star

TE Colt Lyerla: 4-star

QB Marcus Mariota: 3-star

OT Jamal Prater: 3-star

WR Tacoi Sumler: 4-star

WR Rahsaan Vaughn: 3-star

LB Anthony Wallace: 4-star

OT Andre Yruretagoyena: 4-star

 

Re-Evaluation

De'Anthony Thomas was the lone 5-star prospect of the class, and the Crenshaw High School star lived up to his prep accolades from the very outset of his Oregon career.

The multiskilled Thomas evolved from a primary receiving weapon and return specialist into an explosive running back, as well. He bolted early for the NFL draft after three standout seasons. Thomas, along with tight end Colt Lyerla, who was dismissed from the program early last season, are two 2011 recruits whose absences will leave noticeable voids on the Ducks offense.

Nevertheless, the remaining 2011 signees help make the 2014 Oregon offense one of the most fearsome in college football.

The diamond-in-the-rough mined on the recruiting trail in 2011 was quarterback Marcus Mariota. Mariota was just a 3-star prospect coming out of Honolulu's Saint Louis School.

Mariota was one of college football's premier players each of the last two seasons, certainly playing more at a 5-star level than 3-star.

An outstanding offensive line has helped Mariota establish himself as one of the top dual-threat playmakers in college football, and fellow 2011 prospects Tyler Johnstone and Jake Fisher are two cornerstones. Andre Yruretagoyena will provide much-needed depth, and potentially start early on as Johnstone recovers from a knee injury.

Oregon's defense also owes plenty of its strength to the 2011 class, particularly at linebacker. Much like 3-star prospect Mariota outperformed his ranking, the Ducks linebacker corps is loaded with former 3-stars who have developed into top-level contributors.

Rodney Hardrick is key to the Ducks' run-stopping efforts, and Rahim Cassell provides invaluable depth. Pass-rusher Tyson Coleman is expected to see a more prominent role at strong-side linebacker 2014.

Meanwhile, drop-end and former 4-star recruit Christian French should get his opportunity to break out this season. French has drawn comparisons to former Ducks star Dion Jordan.

"I look up to him a lot. That's my idol right there," French said of the versatile Jordan in a 2013 interview with Adam Jude of The Oregonian.

The face of the Oregon defense is another 2011 recruit, cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. He earned 4-star billing at Chino Hills High School in Chino, California and has since developed into a true shutdown cornerback.

 

Grade

Quarterbacks: A+

Running Backs: A

Wide Receivers: C

Tight Ends: B-

Offensive Line: A

Defensive Line: D

Linebackers: A-

Secondary: A

 

Recruiting rankings culled from 247Sports.com composite scores.

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Re-Evaluating Crimson Tide's 2011 Recruiting Class

When the University of Alabama football program celebrated national signing day in 2011, safety Vinnie Sunseri enjoyed seeing it from both sides for once, as he had already enrolled.

His joy was obvious. Sunseri's dad was part of Nick Saban's coaching staff, and everything had fallen just right so that the father and son could be together with the same team.

"Growing up I didn't get to see him too often because he was always out recruiting, always talking to other kids and stuff and I grew up envious of that," Sunseri told reporters that day. "Actually being able to be with him 24/7 is something that I'll remember the rest of my life. He is my hero."

While 2011 will always be remembered for the Crimson Tide winning the national championship after the devastating April tornadoes that went through the state, including Tuscaloosa, Alabama first won another recruiting title.

Even before offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandjio flipped from Auburn (three after signing day), Alabama was No. 1, according to 247Sports and Rivals, while ESPN and Scout gave the nod to Florida State.

"Recruiting is a big part of football," linebacker Trey DePriest said after enrolling early as well. "It makes your program what it is.

"We have a great class. I can't wait until they all get here in the fall."

With Kouandjio's addition, Alabama signed three 5-star recruits and 15 4-star recruits in 2011. Those who were incoming freshmen would now be seniors (juniors if redshirted), but five players from the class are already in the National Football League, including two who were junior college transfers.

The two things in particular that coaches coveted were leadership and more athletic defensive linemen, which on paper the Crimson Tide appeared to add.

"I think we have a lot of good players in this class. I think Trey (DePriest) and Vinnie (Sunseri) both, and maybe because they've been here so they were involved on a couple of recruiting weekends, you're talking about guys who are everything you could wish for if your children grew up to be like them," head coach Nick Saban said during his signing day press conference. "They have a lot of ability, they are hard workers, they are very committed, but they're very personable and caring for other people and can put somebody else ahead of themselves in terms of what they're doing and what their commitment is. Those two guys have been very impressive to me as well."

He added about the defensive line: "Even though we had some good players last year and I was pleased with the progress our defense made throughout the course of the year, so I'm not in any way trying to be critical, we weren't quite as athletic, we didn't have as many good pass-rushers."

Here's a look back at the Class of 2011. Rankings are the composite listings by 247Sports, nationally, position and by state. Positions are where the player was initially recruited:

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Best Fit for 6'7", 275-Pound Stud DE Canton Kaumatule to Succeed at Next Level

Canton Kaumatule, a 6'7", 275-pound defensive end from Hawaii, is one of the top playmakers in the 2015 class. Still uncommitted, Kaumatule is being recruited hard by some of the biggest programs in the country. 

His unique combination of size and speed gives him the potential to be an impact player immediately. CFB Analyst Michael Felder breaks down where Kaumatule will flourish at the collegiate level. 

Which program will give him the best chance to succeed at the next level?

Watch the video to find out.

 

Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital.

Rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

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UCLA Football: Power Ranking Bruins' 2014 Schedule from Easiest to Toughest

Reaching the championship heights to which UCLA aspires in 2014 means navigating one of the most difficult schedules in college football.

Head coach Jim Mora leads the Bruins in a slate that features two power-conference opponents in the nonconference portion, as well as each of the top three finishers from the Pac-12 North a season ago in cross-divisional play.

With the top-to-bottom strength the Pac-12 exhibited last year only expected to solidify more in 2014, the Bruins' schedule embodies the cliche of "no weeks off."

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World Cup Counterparts for College Football's Top 2014 Teams

Summer is a difficult time for college football fans. The days are long and the news cycle is short, and it feels like an eternity stands between the middle of June and fall practice.

This year, though, the summer is a little less difficult—or at least it can be with an open mind. The FIFA World Cup, which is played every four years, has taken to Brazilian shores and is already in its infant stages. It is a spectacle like few (if any) in the sporting world.

It can make your summer go by faster.

Fans of the sport of soccer already understand this and are grateful for the World Cup's presence. Fans of college football alone do not and are not, which is why we have put together this list.

Not every World Cup nation has a close college football analogue, but many of them do. Drawing such comparisons—while far from a scientific exercise—can help put some of the games into context and, if all goes well, add a little intrigue for casual soccer viewers.

Sound off below, and chime in with any suggestions!

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Power Ranking Notre Dame's 2014 Schedule from Easiest to Toughest

Don’t look now, but we’re only two-and-a-half months out from the return of Notre Dame football.

The Irish commence their 2014 campaign Aug. 30 against Rice at Notre Dame Stadium and wrap up the regular season Nov. 29 against USC in the L.A. Coliseum.

Notre Dame’s slate of games features six tilts at home, three on the road and three at a neutral site—the Shamrock Series game against Purdue at Lucas Oil Stadium, and two away games, against Navy and Syracuse, at FedEx Field and MetLife Stadium respectively. 

In ranking those 12 matchups from easiest to toughest, we’ll consider the projected quality of the opponent, the venue and the time of the season.

Let’s see how the schedule is shaping up.

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Insider Buzz: The 5 Players Atop Texas A&M's 2015 Recruiting Big Board

The Texas A&M Aggies are trying to build on their recruiting success by landing a monster 2015 class, and five names are currently at the top of their list.

Bleacher Report's Adam Lefkoe checked in with Billy Liucci of TexAgs.com to discuss the names atop the Aggies big board and which recruits will most likely end up in College Station.

Watch the video, and learn the latest on Texas A&M recruiting.

 

Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital.

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Bleacher Report's College Football Locks of the Year for 2014

More then 200 college football games now have point spreads, a luxury made possible by the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas.

For the eighth consecutive year, the Nugget released its CFB "Games of the Year" lines (h/t SB Nation), an exercise that has soared in popularity, especially in recent years. It began as a small 25-game release for the true degenerates. Now, it features point spreads from every week of the college football season, all laid out and available for your enjoyment.

Of course, much can change between now and August 30. Even more can (and will) change between now and late November.

But because we have betting options, it’s almost an obligation to handicap some of our favorite early picks. And to showcase the broad buffet of selections, each week of the college football season has been handed one “lock” along with a list of the notable opening numbers.

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Re-Evaluating Michigan's 2011 Recruiting Class

When Brady Hoke was hired in January 2011 to replace Rich Rodriguez after a disappointing 7-6 third season, he quickly had to assemble his staff and build a recruiting class.

Under Rodriguez, Michigan was capable of offensive fireworks but never found consistency on defense. Three seasons of defensive meltdowns were enough for athletic director David Brandon to send Rodriguez packing.

Now, Hoke finds himself at a crossroads, trying to rally the Wolverines after his own 7-6 third season and retooling his offense to better compete in the Big Ten.

He struck some gold in his first recruiting class but also missed—nine of the 20 commitments are no longer with the program.

This is a look back at Michigan's 2011 recruiting class, which was ranked No. 26 overall by 247Sports.

Position grades are determined by impact and whether the player is still with the program.

 

All season statistics from MGoBlue.com, the official University of Michigan athletic department website.

Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this article were obtained via press conferences or in person.

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Why Monster ND Signee Quenton Nelson Is Hardest-Working Recruit in the Country

2014 Notre Dame signee Quenton Nelson is one of the top-rated offensive tackles in the country, according to 247Sports, and he has the potential to contribute for the Irish right away.

The 6'5", 295-pound athlete has a work ethic that can't be matched, and Bleacher Report went behind the scenes with Nelson to capture his routine as he prepares for Notre Dame.

From the weight room to taekwondo, watch the video and see why this massive athlete will be so successful at the next level.

Special Thanks to Nelson's taekwondo coach Grand Master Kyong Hoon Kim, speed and agility coach Bobby Smith (RYPT), and weight strength coach Joe Mcauliffe

 

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Can Jake Heaps Make Miami an ACC Contender in 2014?

The old college try is now the old graduate student try. That's how you can sum up Jake Heaps' college career to date.

Heaps left high school in 2010 as a touted 4-star recruit on 247Sports.com. Other sites like Rivals.com had Heaps listed as the No. 1 quarterback prospect that year.

Despite the hype, it's been a tough go for Heaps. Things didn't work out for him at BYU after two years, so he transferred to Kansas in time to compete for the 2013 season. That lasted one year, with Heaps completing a mere 49 percent of his passes for eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Entering his final year of eligibility, the Miami Hurricanes' official website reports that Heaps has been added to the team's roster to essentially help bridge the gap for life after Stephen Morris.

Ryan Williams, a Memphis transfer, appeared to be the heir apparent to Morris, but sustained a torn ACL in the spring.

His status for the 2014 season is questionable, though his mother previously told the Miami Herald's Susan Miller Degnan that her son plans to return in time for the Sept. 20 game against Nebraska.

In any case, Miami is working with Heaps and redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen for now. By bringing in Heaps, Miami is adding depth to the position and can be more patient with true freshmen Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier. 

It also shows that head coach Al Golden isn't sold on Olsen just yet.

"This time of year we always have our eyes open," Golden said during an ACC coaches conference in April about bringing in a transfer quarterback.

Olsen is the young talent, and Miller Degnan suggests he technically exited spring as the No. 1 guy but doesn't have any game experience. At least the same thing can't be said about Heaps—even if that experience is dicey.

Golden's choice boils down to which player gives the Hurricanes the best chance to win, but he's taking a risk either way.

If Golden goes with Heaps, it will demonstrate that the grad transfer was able to take command of the offense in a short period of time, developed good chemistry with the team's receivers and tight ends, and knows the playbook.

That, or Olsen really isn't ready to take the reins.

Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports opines that Heaps has a "good chance" of winning the starting job. He wouldn't have joined Miami if he didn't have a good chance. With programs looking for quick fixes at quarterback, grad transfers are en vogue.

The question is whether Heaps is the so-called "missing piece" for Miami. 

There's talent around the quarterback spot, for sure. The Hurricanes have playmakers on offense—namely running back Duke Johnson—and a good core of returning starters off last year's defense.

Still, that's a side of the ball that has to improve after finishing no higher than 10th in the conference in major categories.

The ACC's Coastal Division is wide-open this year. Miami has as good a shot as just about anyone to win it, even if the quarterback spot is a question mark.

That question mark may not be answered with Heaps, Olsen or anyone else.

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All stats courtesy of cfbstats.com

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Re-Evaluating Auburn's 2011 Recruiting Class

After winning the BCS National Championship in 2010, the Auburn Tigers turned the momentum from a storybook season into one of the program's highest-ranked recruiting classes.

The nation's No. 5 class signed the second-most 4-star recruits in the country and finished second in the SEC behind in-state rival Alabama.

The members of Auburn's 2011 class had wild starts to their Auburn careers, as the Tigers followed up a national title with an 8-5 season in 2011 and a historically bad 3-9 campaign in 2012. Their head coach was fired and replaced with the offensive coordinator from their first season on campus.

Auburn was able to rebound under Gus Malzahn in 2013 with an unforeseen 12-2 run to a SEC title and the final BCS National Championship Game, but how many of the 2011 signees played a role in the reversal?

The Tigers' top four recruits from the class of 2011 did not pan out at Auburn, but several other 4-stars played major roles in resurrecting the program last season.

Two of them became two of the nation's best players in 2013. Several others are still on the Plains, ready to finish their Auburn careers as full-time starters or important contributors.

Here is a look back at the booms and busts of Auburn's highly touted 2011 recruiting class.

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Brett Hundley's Heisman Campaign: Expect UCLA QB to Have Monster Season

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley had a stellar 2013, throwing for 3,071 yards and 24 touchdowns. He also added 748 yards and 11 TDs on the ground, showing off his skills at extending plays. 

What does Hundley have in store for 2014? Does he have what it takes to be among the Heisman finalists in New York City?

Check out Adam Kramer and Michael Felder predict what to expect from Brett Hundley in 2014. 

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What Will Muschamp Really Needs to Do to Keep His Job

College football is a fickle business, and Florida head coach Will Muschamp has found that out the hard way.

Just one year ago, his Gators were coming off an 11-2 season, a berth in the Sugar Bowl and a season in which they danced on the periphery of the national title hunt all the way through rivalry weekend.

Fast forward 365 days, and he finds himself on the hottest seat in the SEC.

Of course, a 4-8 record, a loss at home to then-FCS Georgia Southern and a comedy of errors including the Gator-on-Gator blocking incident will do that to a coach.

Everybody will have a win total Muschamp has to hit to keep his job. That's a dangerous proposition for Muschamp, who, in addition to the tough intradivision schedule, permanent cross-division rivalry with LSU and intrastate rivalry with defending national champ Florida State, has to travel to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama in late September. The margin for error for Muschamp will be very thin, especially after a five-game stretch that features the Tide, Tennessee, LSU, Missouri and Georgia in the middle of the season. 

Even a good Florida team could have a less-than-stellar record, which is why the win total should be just part of the equation. What does Muschamp need to do to stay employed?

 

Eight Wins

This should be the bare minimum for this Florida team, and it doesn't necessarily ensure Muschamp's future employment depending on which eight games those wins are in and, perhaps more importantly, which four games are losses.

One bad loss for the Gators could send Muschamp packing in a hurry, and while the Gators won't be favored in eight games right out of the gate, that could change as the season progresses, especially if some of Muschamp's highly touted prospects live up to their potential.

Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports.com agrees that anything below eight wins sends Muschamp packing.

@TomahawkNation@BarrettSallee@ThomasNassiff - Toast with 7, to me. You start 3-0, 4-5 down stretch with no good wins won't cut it.

— Thomas Goldkamp (@Goldkamp247) June 13, 2014

To get to eight, Florida may have to upset a team along the way. But with the defense Florida boasts and the change to a more versatile offense that is predicated on athletes being athletes, that's not out of the question.

 

Progress on Offense

It wasn't just a big move for Muschamp to lure offensive coordinator Kurt Roper away from Duke, after he played a big part in what essentially was a football renaissance in Durham. It served notice that Muschamp swallowed his pride a bit, abandoning the pro-style offense he prefers in favor of the hurry-up, no-huddle offense that Roper boasts.

A major step forward for Muschamp, but the scheme change absolutely has to work—and work in a hurry.

The Gators get three tuneups before the brutal five-game, midseason stretch, and they cannot hold anything back against Idaho, Eastern Michigan and Kentucky. Florida needs to know right away not only what works on offense, but what doesn't, what's a work-in-progress and what needs to be ripped out of the playbook entirely.

Quarterback Jeff Driskel—formerly the No. 1 dual-threat prospect in the country in the class of 2011 ahead of Ohio State's Braxton Miller, UCLA's Brett Hundley and former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel—is a perfect fit for what Roper wants to do. He's accurate, can run and is comfortable with tempo.

"I really do like the tempo," Driskel told B/R in early June. "When you get in a tempo and don't huddle, you can really get into a groove as a quarterback. There were times in spring where I felt really comfortable and everything went smooth."

The one major issue is the downfield passing game, but Demarcus Robinson has the skills to be a weapon downfield, Quinton Dunbar has experience that can be valuable during the transition, and getting playmaker Andre Debose back healthy will work wonders for an offense that thrives when playmakers get the ball in space.

 

In The Discussion

Does Florida have to win the SEC East, even in what could be a "down year" by SEC standards? No. But they have to be in the discussion.

To be in the discussion, Florida needs to get take care of those critical midseason division games against Tennessee and Missouri and head into the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party against Georgia with a glimmer of hope of making it to the Georgia Dome Dec. 6.

If that happens, and the rivalry game with the Bulldogs Nov. 1 in Jacksonville means something within the division, it'll be a sign of progress. It would be incredibly beneficial for Muschamp if he beats his alma mater Georgia—a team he has failed to beat in his first three seasons in Gainesville.

Think about that for a second—Florida used to own Georgia to the tune of 18 of the previous 21 games.

But even if it's a loss, a Cocktail Party with real implications would serve as a sign of progress—especially after the Gators' brutal late-September and October schedule.

All is not lost in Gainesville. Muschamp recognized that he had to make a philosophical change on offense to stay employed, and it's one that could save his job.

But that margin for error is razor-thin, which will ratchet up the pressure in Gainesville from the moment toe meets leather in 2014.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted, all stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports

 


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Watch Hottest 2015 QB Blake Barnett Nail Target from 50 Yards

Highly sought-after 2015 quarterback Blake Barnett recently caught up with Bleacher Report NFL analyst Chris Simms about his decision to decommit from Notre Dame and open up his recruitment.  

Barnett also showed off his skills with some trick shots.

Check out the video and see Barnett easily nail a target from 50 yards. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

The 10 Biggest off-the-Field Moments of the BCS Era

College football’s highly anticipated 2014 season is just over 10 weeks away from kicking off.

When toe meets leather for the important matchup between Texas A&M and South Carolina on Aug. 28, the long, dreaded offseason will finally be over.

On the field, college football thrills us with high-powered matchups, amazing athletes and the emergence of stars.

Off it, college football’s world can be consumed by scandals, controversy and minutiae that tend to grab the attention of fans, message boards and reporters alike.

College football’s Bowl Championship Series era had no shortage of controversy, and as the game transitions to the College Football Playoff, there is little doubt new controversies will arise to take their place.

Here’s a look at the 10 biggest off-field controversies of college football’s BCS era.

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Re-Evaluating Virginia Tech's 2011 Recruiting Class

The nature of analyzing recruiting in the college football world is that it demands the instant quantifying of winners and losers, but the best way to evaluate a recruiting class is to examine how it performs years down the line—the Virginia Tech Hokies’ 2011 class represents a perfect example of this.

At the time, people were starting to wonder if Frank Beamer and company had lost their touch.

After all, 247Sports ranked the Hokies 36th in the nation for the year, a whole 13 spots below the rival Virginia Cavaliers, and they rated just seventh in the ACC

Most merely considered the class a mediocre one, but others went so far as to even call the class the “worst recruiting class in modern history.”

Mike London had just taken over for the Cavs, and there were major concerns that the new coach would help UVa wrest control of the state away from the Hokies, no matter how ridiculous the notion seems in hindsight

Yet, given the narrow focus of recruiting analysis on the number of 5-stars and 4-stars each program signs, it’s understandable that fans were concerned when presented with the numbers. Tech only managed to sign three 4-star recruits and missed out on big in-state prospects like Richmond’s Curtis Grant.

However, three years later, it’s clear that the staff knew what they were doing when they brought this class in. The athletes they recruited might not have been the most prominent coming out of high school, but many have since turned into key contributors for the Hokies.

 

The Misses 

Even though Tech managed to land some future stars in this class, there’s no doubt that there were still some duds in this group.

For starters, the team’s highest-rated recruit, defensive tackle Kris Harley, isn’t with the team anymore after transferring. He never fit in at a crowded position group and just never harnessed the talent he displayed when he was rated the second-best player in the state.

Similarly, the team also never made it work with safety Boye Aromire, cornerback James Farrow or tight end Christian Reeves, all of whom transferred after barely playing for the Hokies.

Additionally, running back Michael Holmes initially got on the field early in his career, but off-the-field troubles led to him getting dismissed from the school in July 2013.

Despite some players who never found their place with the Hokies, there were plenty of others in 2011 who did.

 

The Hits

The name that truly pops off the list of Tech’s 2011 recruits is defensive tackle Luther Maddy.

Although he was just a lowly 3-star recruit back then, the coaching of Beamer, defensive coordinator Bud Foster and defensive line coach Charley Wiles has helped him transform into one of the premier defensive tackles in the country.

Maddy has already put together a fantastic career with the Hokies, and after briefly flirting with declaring for the NFL draft at the end of last season, he’s back to improve on his already impressive numbers. Both Athlon Sports and Phil Steele have named him to their preseason All-ACC first teams, and it’s no mistake why—Maddy is simply dominant on the field.

Safety Kyshoen Jarrett has similarly defied expectations. He was at least rated a 4-star recruit, but he’s become an outstanding safety since then.

He was third on the team in tackles last year and second the year before. Pittsburgh’s Devin Street is probably still smarting from this hit, and he too has NFL aspirations.

Phil Steele named him to his All-ACC second team heading into the year, while Athlon put him on its third team.

These two players alone have been so meaningful to the greatness of Tech’s defense these last two years, but there are other key contributors to the program in this group.

One pair likely hasn’t demonstrated their full value just yet.

Dadi Nicolas only really made his talent known last year, but the numbers he piled up in limited snaps last season have to make it clear that he’s ready to break out in 2014.

Meanwhile, Corey Marshall also looks like he’s ready to finally come into his own at defensive tackle. He made some contributions early in his career, but now that he’s moved past some off-the-field issues, coaches seem excited about what he can bring opposite Maddy at DT this year.

Linebacker Ronny Vandyke and tight end Ryan Malleck also seem to be poised to tap into their tremendous potential after fighting through injuries in 2013. 

Both of them suffered shoulder injuries that put them out last year, but each started a number of games for the team in 2012 and looked good doing it.

Vandyke started to get a handle on playing coverage in the latter half of the season, while Malleck started seven games at the position.

Now they can rejoin the lineup and offer more flexibility for the staff on both sides of the ball.

This class didn’t offer a lot in terms of offensive talent, but the coaches did manage to find one future starter in Demitri Knowles.

Knowles looked tentative in his redshirt freshman year, catching just 19 passes for 240 yards. However, last year he turned into a major threat for the offense, notching 45 receptions for 641 yards and three scores. He’s never developed into the kind of downfield option the coaches were likely hoping for when they signed him, but he’s since managed to find ways to be effective all the same. 

On offense, Darius Redman has also offered some value as a blocking tight end, while wide receiver Kevin Asante started a game in 2012 before leaving the program in 2013. However, he recently rejoined the squad and has two remaining years of eligibility.

Looking forward, defensive end Dewayne Alford finally seems ready to enter the rotation this season after an uneven redshirt freshman year, and he too could end up demonstrating his value.

Safety Michael Cole also deserves a final mention. He started four games for the Hokies in 2012 and could’ve been a valuable reserve contributor in the defensive backfield had he not been forced to retire with a neck injury

All in all, this class wasn’t perfect—in fact, it probably was one of the more underwhelming ones Tech has brought in recently in terms of immediate impact. 

However, the staff and these players deserve tremendous credit for transcending what the recruiting services said about this class. Maddy and Jarrett are a pair of players Hokie fans will remember for a very long time, and several other athletes in this class could cement their legacy this fall.

It’s all proof that, while 2011 might’ve seemed gloomy for Tech at the time, it was actually a seminal year for the rebuilding of the defense.

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Re-Evaluating USC's 2011 Recruiting Class

USC's 2011 signing class was the last one before their scholarship ban went into effect. It was the last opportunity for the Trojans to bring in a fully loaded class with the hopes that those talented athletes would help carry USC through the years of reduced classes to come.

So how did they do?

On paper, the Trojans' 2011 signees were considered third-best in the nation and No. 1 in the Pac-12, according to 247Sports.

But for all the usual reasons that cause athletes to transferplaying time, academic eligibility, "family reasons"several of those 19 signees came and went from Troy without leaving a dent in the program. Of those that stayed, some shined brightly while others are still trying to find the limelight. Others were just flat-out busts.

This is a look back at USC's 2011 signing class. 

 

All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

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Georgia Football: Re-Evaluating the Bulldogs' 2011 Recruiting Class

In the midst of a disappointing 6-7 campaign in 2010, Georgia head coach Mark Richt saw recruiting as a reason for optimism even as the Bulldog football program floundered. On a weekly call-in radio show, he offered the following encouragement to fans (per Tim Tucker of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution):

When you talk about in-state kids, that’s why I’ve been talking about this Georgia ‘Dream Team,’ this team of guys that I think are the best players in the state of Georgia. And I believe if they will stay in the state and come together, we can prove to the United States of America that we have the best football in the country [in] the state of Georgia. We need those Georgia kids to stay at home and do that thing for the Bulldogs, and I think everybody is going to get excited about that.

When all was said and done a few months later, his goal was largely accomplished.  

According to 247Sports, Georgia signed the nation's sixth-best recruiting class in 2011 and in the process reeled in five of the state's seven best prospects.

Here's a position-by-position re-evaluating of that Dream Team recruiting class.

 

Unless other wise noted, all recruiting stats, rankings and ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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