Which Pac-12 team will hoist the conference's championship trophy in 2013? The answer to that question might depend on which team is able to sign its most important recruits in the 2013 class.
With only one week to go before national signing day (Feb. 6), all of the Pac-12 teams are scrambling to hold onto their prized recruit commitments, and continuing to chase top prospects.
According to Rivals.com, the Pac-12 currently holds seven of the top 30 classes and 10 of the top 50—only Stanford at No. 57 and Colorado at No. 77 rank outside the top 50 classes in the nation.
There is, however, a one-week sprint remaining in this recruiting marathon, and this daily-changing, fluid process is not for the timid. Cross your fingers that your favorite team can hold on to its biggest recruit.
In reverse order of their current Rivals.com standing, let's look at each Pac-12 team's most important recruit.
Huge turnarounds are what college football is all about. While national championships are wonderful, but there's no feeling like watching your team win one after a long drought.
There's something about the sweetness of the victories during that season that is infinitely more intense than almost any other game during a period of sustained success.
Prior to the 2009 National Championship, Alabama hadn't won that title since the 1992 season.
Prior to the 2010 National Championship, the Auburn Tigers only had one national title, back in 1957.
When your team is down, the "we'll be back" mentality almost immediately sets in. Sometimes it's years later, and other times it's decades later when your team returns to prominence. Eventually, it happens.
There is nothing like the feeling of a national (or conference) championship after more than a decade of hoping you can back into the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. No offense to the Potato Bowl, but it's not exactly a destination bowl for teams like Texas or Notre Dame.
From coaching changes to injury issues, the 2012 season was terrible for many nationally recognizable schools. Luckily, those very coaching changes could be the keys to success next year.
Here are 10 schools that are poised for major turnarounds in the 2013 season.
*Ranking was determined first by expected improvement over 2012's season, measured in number of wins. After the teams were arranged, the individual groups (two wins better, three wins better, etc.) were sorted by predicted total number of wins in 2013.
Wide receiver Marquez North has decided to take his immense talents to Tennessee.
As Fox Sports’ Bob Redman said regarding North’s announcement via Twitter, this was a big-time get for the Vols:
The elite recruit was courted by several coaching staffs before deciding Tennessee was his best option.
North features a rare combination of size and speed that should make him a star at the collegiate level. Once he gains the necessary experience and learns the system, there aren't many cornerbacks capable of shutting a player with his natural ability down for 60 minutes.
247Sports' composite rankings have North as the 11th-best wide receiver and the No. 90 overall recruit in the 2013 class. He's a 4-star athlete and is deemed the second-best prospect coming out of North Carolina this year.
Some concerns were raised in November when he underwent shoulder surgery, according to Langston Wertz Jr. of the Charlotte Observer. Mike Palmieri, his coach at Mallard Creek High School, didn't sound worried about any long-term issues, though:
"This is something he’s had issues with," Palmieri said. "He didn’t miss any games. It’s a lingering thing. We’ll be alright. Of course, this hurts a little bit. But we’re confident in what we’ve got."
Given his upside, a shoulder injury wasn't going to be enough for programs around the country to stop pursuing him. At least 21 top programs showed interest, according to 247Sports, including some from the SEC, and all but one (Alabama) made him an official offer.
Clearly, this young man has wide-ranging appeal.
He checks in at 6'4'' and 212 pounds, boasting an exceptional 40-time of 4.41. Normally a player with that type of size at such a young age is viewed as a possession receiver who can move the chains, but North's speed brings another dimension to the table.
Not only does he have the ability to run those middle routes to pick up first downs, but he's also capable of getting behind the secondary for long touchdowns. It's a combination that surely had a lot of offensive coaches hoping he would land on their rosters.
As long as he's back to full strength before practice gets underway, he should be able to make a pretty quick impact at the next level. And it probably won't be long before he's tearing apart secondaries on a regular basis.
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College football recruiting is difficult enough these days. The last thing a head coach needs to contend with is his program's lack of impressive facilities able to entice top-ranked recruits during campus visits.
But there are still programs around the nation—even some major programs—that are woefully behind the competition when it comes to practice facilities, weight rooms and even stadiums.
With so much emphasis on putting together top recruiting classes year in and year out, these programs could do themselves and their coaching staffs a huge favor by making some desperately needed improvements to their football facilities.