Texas boasts best early recruiting haul for 2009
Nonetheless, it doesn't look as though an early period will be coming anytime soon, thus the recruiting battles will wage on for committed and uncommitted players alike. The following 10 teams seem to be on the verge of a great class in 2009. For some it's the same old, same old, and for others a change in a program's forecast could come from posting another quality class to build on a promising 2008 group.
Obviously it is extremely early in the process and many of these teams will rise and fall, but these programs definitely have a leg up as we head into the summer.
Top 2009 recruiting classes (June 2008)
(verbal commitments as of June 6, 2008)
What else is new? If ever there was a proponent for an early signing period, it would be Mack Brown's Texas program. Most importantly, it has hit the marks at quarterback in Garrett Gilbert (Austin, Texas/Lake Travis) and on the offensive line. Cornerback Marcus Davis (League City, Texas/Cleer Creek) is very talented and physical. Why no one is talking about TE Barrett Matthews (Houston/North Shore), we have no idea. If RB Chris Whaley (Madisonville, Texas) pans out, then Texas may have filled its running back need, but we feel Whaley could still end up at another position.
The team expected to win the SEC and compete for a national title is recruiting like it. Quarterbacks Aaron Murray (Tampa, Fla./Plant Senior) and Zach Mettenberger (Watkinsville, Ga./Oconee County) are a good problem to have for Mark Richt -- both are outstanding. RB Washaun Ealey (Twin City, Ga./Emanuel County Institute) does not get the notoriety he deserves. Ealey's teammate Dexter Moody can run on defense and OG Chris Burnette (LaGrange, Ga./Troupe County Institute) adds depth and talent to the offensive line as one of the best guards in this class.
We think the Trojans will have a better class this year than they did last year and are adding needed depth on the offensive line led by OT Kevin Graf and at linebacker with ILB Vontaze Burfict (Corona, Calif./Centennial). Much-needed speed is on the way at wide receiver with Randall Carroll (Los Angeles/Cathedral) and De'von Flournoy (Van Nuys, Calif./Birmingham). In a couple of years, USC may have college football's best tight end tandem in Morrell Presley (Los Angeles/Carson) and Blake Ayles. And let's not forget the highlight of the class, talented and polished QB Matt Barkley (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei).
There is something in the water in Clemson, S.C., because it is on the verge -- if it continues this pace -- of having another stellar recruiting class in 2009. Luring safety Craig Loston (Aldine, Texas/Eisenhower) out of Texas as well as Devonte Holloman (Charlotte, N.C./Independence) when last year's class featured excellent defensive backs is impressive. Linebacker Eric Fields (Warner Robins, Ga./Northside) may be another Sean Spence (2008 Miami signee).
Head coach-in-waiting Jimbo Fisher seems to be paying dividends as far as the future of this program is concerned as prospects are joining up with the Seminoles earlier than ever before. Defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel (Madison, Fla./Madison County) headlines this speedy, athletic group. Despite signing QB E.J. Manuel in the 2008 class, the Seminoles still need another topflight signal-caller in our opinion. Normally a closer near signing day, FSU is off to a hot start.
Joe Pa continues to lure talent to State College and is off to a fast start, rare for this program as we sit here in June. Cornerback Darrell Givens (Indian Head, Md./Lackey) can really run and OT Eric Shrive (Scranton, Pa./West Scranton) is a workhorse on both sides of the ball. Cornerback Stephon Morris (Greenbelt, Md./Eleanor Roosevelt) had a nice showing at the Penn State Nike camp.
On the cusp: UCLA, Alabama, Auburn, North Carolina, West Virginia.
Bill Conley, Craig Haubert and Billy Tucker contributed to this story.
Tom Luginbill is the national director of recruiting for Scouts Inc. Luginbill is a college football and recruiting studio analyst for ESPNU.